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Wornum Family Bible



Wornum Family Bible



Archive reference number



The Pictorial Bible, being the Old and New Testaments according to the Authorized Version. London, Charles Knight & Co., 1839, presented by Charles Knight to Ralph Nicholson Wornum on the occasion of his marriage to Elizabeth Selden.

Volume 1: inscribed 'From Charles Knight | January 14, 1843 | See Proverbs, chap XXXI, ver. 10 to 31' and 'Ralph Nicholson and Elizabeth Wornum' [the latter inscription in Wornum's hand]

Volume 4: genealogical notes on flyleaves recording marriage of Ralph Nicholson and Elizabeth Wornum and their respective date and place of birth together with those of ten their children; also records the deaths of Elizabeth and two children

Record type


Administrative history

Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812-1877) was born at Thornton, near Norham, North Durham on 29 December 1812, the eldest son of Robert Wornum (1786-1852) and Catherine Nicholson (1784-1856). He served as Keeper at the National Gallery from 1855 until his death in 1877. Wornum was married first to Elizabeth Selden (1823-1860) of Virginia, stepdaughter of George Long; her father, Joseph Selden, a judge of the Superior Court of the Arkansas Territory, was killed in a duel in 1824 (NGA2/1/1, p.17). In 1861, after Elizabeth Selden's death, he married his first cousin Harriet Agnes Nicholson. He had fourteen children in all. Between 1855 and 1871 the Wornum family resided in an apartment at the west end of the Gallery.

Charles Knight (1791-1873) was an English publisher, editor and author. He published and contributed to works such as The Penny Magazine, The Penny Cyclopaedia and The English Cyclopaedia. His Pictorial Bible was designed to appeal to a working-class audience and contained illustrations after paintings by Old Master artists along with modern wood engravings 'depicting the lands, customs, and plant life of the Bible' (Rachel Teukolsky, Picture World: Image, Aesthetics, and Victorian New Media, 2020). Four of Knight's letters to Wornum, including a letter of condolence on Elizabeth Selden Wornum's death, are in the NG Archive, NGA2/4/2/108, NGA2/4/5/30-1.

Custodial history

Purchased from a private collector, Mar 2023

Related material

Material held at the National Gallery: NGA2 Ralph Nicholson Wornum Papers

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