Jane Maria Strachey was born on board the 'Earl of Hardwick' off the Cape of Good Hope on 13 March 1840. Considerably younger than her husband, her father's secretary Sir Richard Strachey, she became his second wife in 1859. A tall and impressive looking woman, she designed her own, slightly unconventional clothes. Her household was always busy with scientific, artistic, and politically active friends, and her ten surviving children. Lady Strachey was a passionate feminist and a great lover of literature. She was very ambitious for her children and encouraged them to read widely, to write, and to act. This rather sombre portrait was painted by Dora Carrington, who had a relationship with Lady Strachey's son, the writer Lytton Strachey.