(b Dublin, 19 May 1794; d Ealing, Middlesex [now in Greater London], 17 Mar. 1860).
British writer, daughter of an Irish miniaturist, Denis Brownell Murphy (d 1842), who moved to England in 1798. Her literary output was large and varied, including the well-known Characteristics of Women (1832), later retitled Shakespeare's Heroines. In the last two decades of her life she concentrated on art and she has been described as the first professional English art historian. Her books include several on Christian iconography, among them Sacred and Legendary Art (2 vols., 1848) and Legends of the Madonna (1852). Although antiquated in certain respects, they are clearly written, full of information, and still useful.
Subjects: Literature — Art.