Campbell, Gertrude Elizabeth (née Blood ) (1857–1911), writer, journalist, and critic, was the second daughter of Edmond Maghlin Blood (d. 1891), of Thurloe Square, London, and Brickhill, Co. Clare, and Mary Amy Fergusson (d. 1899), of Leixlip, Co. Kildare. Owing to her father's poor health, much of Campbell's youth was spent in Italy, where she received her early education. A precocious and talented child, she studied art in Florence, later exhibiting her work in England. Her literary career began at the age of fourteen, when she contributed ‘A Turkish bath in Cairo’ to Cassell's Magazine. This was followed in 1878 by the children's book Topo, a tale about English children in Italy, published under the pseudonym G. E. Brunefille (alluding to a family joke about her tanned skin) and illustrated by Kate Greenaway. Set in Italy, this story about a trouble-prone heroine and her siblings ran into seven editions.
In September 1880 she met Lord Colin Campbell, youngest son of the eighth duke of Argyll, and following a brief courtship she accepted his proposal of marriage. After some delay – caused by his family's disapproval and his ill health – they were married 21 July 1881 at the Chapel Royal in London. The marriage was a disaster from the outset: in 1883 Campbell obtained a judicial separation on the grounds of her husband's cruelty, and in 1886 both sued for divorce. The court case that followed became one of the most sensational divorce cases of the century. She alleged infidelity and that he had knowingly infected her with syphilis, while her husband accused her of having had affairs with several prominent men, among them Sir William Butler (qv). After a lengthy hearing, extensively and salaciously reported in the papers, the jury decided that neither side had committed adultery, but no divorce was obtained, and the couple remained married until Lord Colin's death in June 1895. She never remarried.
Her reputation ruined, and ostracised by London society, the resourceful and talented Campbell decided to support herself by pursuing a career in writing and journalism. She submitted her first article to the Saturday Review in October 1883, which was so well received she was immediately invited to join the editorial staff. Subsequently she contributed reviews, criticism, and leaders on a diverse range of topics. W. T. Stead admired her work and became a friend and colleague, commissioning articles for the Pall Mall Gazette, usually on artistic subjects. She also wrote for the National Review and the Art Journal. From 1889 to 1903 she was art editor of the World – the first female editor on a London paper not intended exclusively for a female readership – and wrote two very successful columns for it: the first, ‘A woman's walks’, under the pen-name Vera Tsaritsyn, was a series of travel articles (at least 200), some of which were later collected and published in A woman's walks (1903). Campbell succeeded George Bernard Shaw (qv) as the paper's art critic, writing under the name QED a widely read and highly regarded critical column ‘In the picture galleries’ on contemporary visual arts. She continued to paint: during her divorce case, her landscape Thalassa was shown at the Royal Society of British Artists, and she later exhibited with the Society of Women Artists. In 1894 she founded the Realm, a short-lived weekly review (it folded in December 1895), and from 1901 to 1903 she was editor of the Ladies’ Field.
Though her most significant work was perhaps achieved in the field of journalism, Campbell also pursued other projects with considerable success. She drew on her own experience to write Darell Blake (1889), the powerful story of a provincial journalist of Irish descent whose London career is destroyed by a liaison with a calculating aristocrat. This, her only novel, was comparatively successful, selling over 5,000 copies in its first year. She wrote two plays, ‘Bud and blossom’ and – with Clotilde Graves (qv) – ‘St Martin's summer’, both of which were produced in the West End. She was also a fine singer, possessing an ‘admirable contralto voice’ (Men and women) trained by the renowned Italian singer and songwriter Sir Paolo Tosti. Though her reputation never recovered from the notoriety and scandal of her divorce, Campbell edited and revised Etiquette and good society (1893), which was extremely popular. An established figure in artistic circles, she entertained in her west London flat notable personalities such as George Meredith, Henry James, and Alice and Wilfred Meynell. She also enjoyed a reputation as a formidable sportswoman: recognised as a leading expert in fencing (she studied under the French master Camille Prévost), she was also an adept fly-fisher, and contributed articles on these subjects to the Gentlewoman's book of sports (1892). A series of articles on freshwater fish, originally written for the Saturday Review, was collected and published as The book of the running brook (1886). She was an accomplished horsewoman and early advocate of cycling for women.
In later years Campbell suffered from rheumatism, which left her confined to a wheelchair from 1906. She died 1 November 1911 at her home, 67 Carlisle Mansions, London, and was cremated at Golders Green. Her portrait, by Giovanni Boldini (dating from c.1897) is in the National Portrait Gallery, London; a portrait by J. M. Whistler is now lost.