Cara Bray

Painting of a woman with side ringlets dressed in white. In gilt brass (gilt now missing) frame.
Self portrait by Caroline Hennell (Cara Bray)

Cara (Caroline) Bray was the sister of Charles and Sara Hennell. She married Charles Bray and they lived at Rosehill in Coventry where they met George Eliot and became good friends. Cara became a writer of children’s stories and school text books, as well as a radical thinker on religious and political matters. Caroline was interested in the education of the poor and taught in a school set up by her husband. She was also a pianist and painter. Her 1842 portrait of George Eliot is part of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

Charles and Cara Bray took Eliot on a trip to Europe after the death of Eliot’s father in 1849. Cara Bray used this sketchbook on the trip and it contains two sketches of her friend George Eliot. This trip came at an important time in Eliot’s life. Her father had left her with a limited income on his death. At the end of the trip Eliot would have to decide how to support herself financially.