This middle aged lady, looking dowdy and severe could well be dubbed an archetypal old maid, bitter and shrivelled, typecast as a sad lonely old thing. Popular imagination is less likely to explore the possibility that she could just as easily be a hard working mum, with no time to spruce up for a picture, that may have been a spur of the moment indulgence.
I see her as neither of the above options. I am going to dub her a spirited independent woman, who made her own way in the world. She worked hard against many obstacles but persevered and succeeded. Although unmarried she was not in any way wanting. She was constantly surrounded by friends, nieces and nephews who appreciated the uninterrupted time she was able to give them. She was adored by her siblings and friends as she was able to step in to help them at a moments notice, an integral support to them all. By the relative freedom of time in life, she offered opportunities to friends and family that otherwise would not have been open to them.
This is not a portrait of my Great Aunty Kit, (but it could have been), it is a description of how valuable her life was, how loved she was, despite the fact she never married or had children. She may have been typecast by society, as most unmarried women once were, but the reality is that the contributions of these women were as big as they were unseen. RIP Aunty Kit, you are still loved and remembered despite your departure so many years ago.