Lilias Trotter: Missionary, Artist

Isabella Lilias Trotter (1853–1928) was a gifted artist and Protestant missionary to Algeria during the Victorian Era. Born into a privileged, intellectual British family, she showed skill as an artist early in life. She also had a naturally sympathetic and nurturing soul toward those in need. The death of her father at the age of 12 would prove to be a life-altering event for her, during which she turned deeply toward prayer. In her early twenties, art critic John Ruskin encouraged her budding talent and championed her work. Although drawn toward the pursuit of a life in art, her devotion to serving God led her to surrender an artistic life of privilege and leisure. In 1888, reminiscent of Joan of Arc, Lilias claimed to be called on by God to engage in missionary work in Algeria. Facing a complex language barrier and the challenge of being a young European woman ministering in a male-dominated Muslim country, she taught the Christian faith using her appreciation of literature and artistic gift.