Jean Ingelow's formative relationships with her mother and siblings, especially her brother George, have been omitted or misrepresented in her two biographies. By reexamining the documentary history of an anecdote about the young Jean Ingelow having written poetry on the shutters of her room the article argues for the importance of reading these biographies critically and in conversation with neglected primary sources. Such a reading both illuminates her family's support of, and influence on, Jean Ingelow's career, and demonstrates the value of forms of biography that do not separate authors from family and community.