Janet Stone

I have been investigating the career of Janet Stone in connection with a review I’m writing of the Kenneth Clark exhibition at Tate Britain.   The daughter of a bishop and sister of two, she was one of Kenneth Clark’s many lovers, the recipient of more than 1,500 letters from him (currently unavailable for consultation at the Bodleian), describing herself as ‘his sink’.   The wife of Reynolds Stone, the old Etonian wood engraver, they lived in the Old Rectory in Litton Cheney.   She gave a collection of photographs to the National Portrait Gallery which, so far as I know, have never been exhibited.   I used to see her occasionally in Salisbury in broad-brimmed Edwardian hats and remember spotting her as a guest (presumably of John Sparrow who she photographed in a tea cosy) at an Encaenia lunch at All Souls.   This is her photograph of Kenneth Clark:


Janet with Daisy Gili:

JanetStoneand Daisy Gili  May 1977 LC copy

And here is John Sparrow in a tea cosy:



2 thoughts on “Janet Stone

  1. Humphrey Stone says:

    My mother would be amused to have a blog about her!
    Janet did mix her metaphors engagingly but I never remember using the word ‘sink’! I wonder what it means? Perhaps that she was good at listening and responding in her common sense way to his daily problems? Lumping her with ‘his many lovers’ makes their relationship too crude. Their relationship was really on paper, so ‘lovers’ is misleading. Lovers they may have been but as she herself said, it lasted for 30 years just because the extraordinary relationship was conducted mostly through their letters. As it is my mother always loved my father whom she would never have left.
    Referring to my father as ‘Old Etonian wood engraver’ makes him sound like a rich amateur. Couldn’t be further from the truth. His body of work was immense and he worked seven days a week until his death. This subtle and deeply modest man (who only went to Eton as his father and grandfather were classics masters there) was, as I’m sure you know, (of course I’m not biased!) one of the most distinguished wood engravers and letterers of the twentieth century. Myfanwy Piper, Alan Powers, Iris Murdoch and K wrote perceptively about him and his work.
    Meanwhile Janet gave up a promising singing career (trained at Royal College of Music) to look after Reynolds’ work and four children. Her photographs were exhibited around the country in 1982 entitled Contemporary Faces and another one is planned for the Ashmolean next year.

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