Gray, Bessie (Eliza) Brownlow
(1854 – 1925)
Bessie Gray was an accomplished watercolourist and poet. She was the daughter of Sir Samuel Brownlow Gray and Eliza Anne Trimingham Gray. She had 4 brothers and sisters, one of whom, a sister, died young. There are many poems about death in Bessie Gray’s book, A Bermuda Garden of Song, published in 1927, after her sister’s death.
She left the island once [dates unknown] for a two-year period, visiting London, Venice and Rome. We have no indication of where or even if she was ever trained as a painter. It is possible that she took classes from Edward James. An undated painting of his, Overland Views Looking Towards Hamilton Harbour shows a sketching or painting party on the lawn of either “Claremount”, Bessie’s parent’s house or “Wentworth” Bessie’s house next door.
Family lore suggests she was also mentored by another Bermudan artist, Susan Frith [1843-1925] who was ten years her senior and who lived nearby.
Besides A Bermuda Garden of Song, published in 1927 by Marshall Jones Co. Boston, Bessie Gray had another book of poetry published, Bermuda in June by L. Prang & Co. Boston in 1893. She also had a piece, Song of the Bermudians, Keepers of the Western Gate set to music, published in London by Novello and Co. in 1913.
Her poetry was published in Munsey’s Magazine, Scribner’s Magazine and Bermuda in Poetry.
Bermuda National Gallery