This lovely rose , so generous , free flowering and charming, was raised by Joseph Hardwick Pemberton, a vicar, who was born on 5 October, 1852 at Havering-atte -Bower in Essex… Reverend J.H. Pemberton would have been well-trained in the Classics and the names of his roses such as Danae and Cornelia would have come from this source. Penelope was the faithful wife of Odysseus in Homers classic tale. She kept her suitors at bay for twenty-one years whilst her husband was away on his travels. The story is more developed than this but she is generally famed for her faithfulness.
In 1874, Joseph made up his mind to enter some of the family roses in a rose show… He won second prize, and from that moment he was
an exhibitor of roses, with his sister Florence as his willing and enthusiastic helper… By 1896 they were growing about 4,000 roses He dearly loved the remnants of his grandmother’s roses in the garden [‘Aimee Vibert’, ‘De Meaux’, ‘Tuscany’ and others]. In 1882, he took some of them to a National Rose Society Show in South Kensington, and asked permission to stage them ‘Not for Competition.’… He labelled his exhibit ‘Grandmother’s Roses’. . He wanted roses which would survive and bloom after all around them had perished. In 1919, Pemberton adopted the term Hybrid Musk to describe his roses and in 1924 he introduced Penelope.