A collection of portraits, books and drawings belonging to Maria Graham – the first professional female travel writer – has been allocated to Chawton House via Arts Council England’s Acceptance In Lieu Scheme.

Maria Graham (1785-1842) was a pioneer: the first woman to build a whole career as a published travel writer.

She published journal accounts and letters of her residences in India (1812 and 1814), Rome (1820), Chile and Brazil (both 1824).

She became further known for her art histories and popular histories for children, including Little Arthur’s History of England (1835).

Highlights of the Maria Graham Collection include portraits of Maria and her husband Thomas that have remained in family possession.

They have been on loan to Chawton House for public display for the last decade.

Katie Childs, the chief executive of Chawton House, said: “It is an enormous privilege to have this very important collection assigned to Chawton House, and we are grateful to the Graham family and Arts Council England that these rare works are now in a public collection, allowing us to tell the story of the remarkable Maria Graham and ensure she receives the attention her pioneering writing and illustration deserves.”

Emma Yandle, the curator of Chawton House, said: “The Maria Graham Collection is a fantastic addition to our collections, supporting our mission to promote the work and lives of early women writers through books and manuscripts while giving these pioneering women a visible presence on our walls.”

The portrait of Maria Graham from the Maria Graham Collection is currently on display in Chawton House’s major exhibition Treasures of Chawton House, which runs until April 28.

It will remain on permanent display, alongside the portrait of Thomas Graham, following the exhibition.