National Library Week: FREE OUP Online Sources

April 14, 2014 at 8:22 pm (books, fashion, news, research) (, , )

If you’ve ever been frustrated by finding the obscure person you needed to read about in DNB - but then hit their paywall, now is your chance!

Oxford University Press is giving U.S. readers FREE Access from April 13 through April 19th to several databases. Along with the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB), there’s such as Berg Fashion LibraryGrove Music OnlineGrove Art Online.

Celebrate National Library Week, without even having to travel to your local library!

fashion 1819

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Everything’s Comin’ up GEORGIAN

April 8, 2014 at 6:49 pm (british royalty, entertainment, history, news) (, , , , , , , , , )

In anticipation of the 300th anniversary of the accession of the first Hanoverian King (1 August) British television is beginning to present a lot of things “Georgian”.

A friend watched the first among this series  – and recommends the collaborative BBC2/BBC4/Radio3 EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BRITAIN: MAJESTY, MUSIC, AND MISCHIEF.

Being in the US, I can only look on, and drool. The BBC website has teasers that include:

  • Explore the story behind the Charity Concert “The Messiah” at the Foundling Hospital (1750)
  • The “mass consumption” of music
  • A look at “the first Georgians”
  • An examination of the World Premier, in Prague, of Mozart’s Don Giovanni

mozart_ye

And SO much more!

It’s a RICH era, and lucky will be those who can watch/listen, or find items online. READ more at The Telegraph.

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Austen in Boston Reviews “Jane Austen and the Arts”

March 17, 2014 at 11:42 am (books, jane austen, news) (, , , , , )

With her ear always to the ground for new books, Janeite Deb alerted me to an online review of Jane Austen and the Arts, on the Austen in Boston: A Jane Austen Bookclub.

I’ll let Kirk’s own words tell his thoughts on the book, but give this hint:

ja and the arts

He awarded it 4.25 Regency Teacups!

Here’s a skimming of the table of contents to whet your appetite:

Acknowledgments
Preface: Jane Austen’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment by Vivasvan Soni
Introduction by Natasha Duquette and Elisabeth Lenckos

I. The Fine Arts in Austen’s World: Music, Dance, and Portraiture
C
hapter 1 –”Daily Practice, Musical Accomplishment, and the Example of Jane Austen” by Kathryn Libin
Chapter 2 – “A ‘Reputation for Accomplishment’: Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse as Artistic Performers” by Kelly McDonald
Chapter 3 – “Miss Bingley’s Walk: The Aesthetics of Movement in Pride and Prejudice” by Erin Smith
Chapter 4 – “The Sister Artist: Cassandra Austen’s Portraits of Jane Austen in Art-Historical Context” by Jeffrey Nigro

II. Austen and Romanticism: Female Genius, Gothicism, and Sublimity
Chapter 5 – “Portrait of a Lady (Artist): Jane Austen’s Anne Elliot, Madame de Staël’s Corrine, and the Woman of Genius Novel” by Elisabeth Lenckos
Chapter 6 – “Jane Austen’s Comic Heroines and the Controversial Pleasures of Wit” by Belisa Monteiro
Chapter 7 – “An Adaptable Aesthetic: Eighteenth-Century Landscapes, Ann Radcliffe, and Jane Austen” by Alice Davenport
Chapter 8 – “Exploring the Transformative Power of Literature: Joanna Baillie, Jane Austen and the Aesthetics of Moral Reform” by Christine Colón
Chapter 9 – “Jane Austen’s Influence on Stephenie Meyer” by Deborah Kennedy

III. Austen in Political, Social, and Theological Context
Chapter 10 – “Aesthetics, Politics, and the Interpretation of Mansfield Park” by Russell Perkin
Chapter 11 – “Reflections on Mirrors: Austen, Rousseau, and Socio-Politics” by Melora Vandersluis
Chapter 12 – “‘So much novelty and beauty!’: Spacious Reception through an Aesthetic of Restraint in Persuasion” by Jessica Brown
Chapter 13 –”Augustinian Aesthetics in Jane Austen’s World: God as Artist” by Diane Capitani
Chapter 14 –”‘Delicacy of Taste’ Redeemed: The Aesthetic Judgments of Austen’s Clergymen Heroes” by Fred and Natasha Duquette

* * *

  • review (brief) and interview with JA & the Arts editor Natasha Duquette on British Weekly - Gabrielle Pantera: “A Must Read for JA Fans”
  • Biola University’s Book Launch on YouTube (71 minutes)

“’I think it could be adapted
into a fantastic BBC documentary
,’
says Duquette.”

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Leave YOUR Mark: at Memoirture

March 16, 2014 at 1:08 pm (europe, history, news) (, , , , , )

The site where I have been s-l-o-w-l-y posting about my Jane Austen Summer (2007) (further posts can be accessed here), Memoirture, is hosting a Kickstarter campaign for a TIME CAPSULE, to be opened at the next millennium. Yep: a 1,000 years from now.

As readers of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN know, my research is predicated upon finding primary materials: letters, diaries, portraits, biographies &c. I’ve been lucky, in that the Smith & Gosling families not only retained items, they wrote them in the first place!

Will your blogs and tweets last 1,000 years? I’m not even sure my paper diaries will withstand that test of time. Memoirture’s ambitious project will preserve both written words as well as sound. Join me in supporting this unique project by checking out the Unified Time Capsule Kickstarter Project Page.

Prof Harris

Professor Ruth Harris, University of Oxford

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What WERE they Thinking? Dull?! NEVER –

March 1, 2014 at 10:47 am (diaries, history, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I am in seventh heaven this weekend transcribing letters written by Augusta Wilder, her main correspondent being her sister Charlotte, now Mrs Arthur Currie.

This particular letter dates to January 1834.

It opens with a comical story of a “black dog” whom “Mr Baillie” (related to Joanna Baillie??) would like to foist upon Henry Wilder, then moves on to the affecting story of two “Cousins” who are in line for the “Orphan Asylum”! This begging for an act of charity segues into a discussion very close to my heart: the lamented demise of William Ellis Gosling, Mary’s eldest brother. Augusta calls him “a valued friend“. He died, aged only thirty-nine, of scarlet fever, contracted at Christmas time. One day well; next day ill; days later – dead.

Next is mention of Mr & Mrs Knight, with a fine description – though a bit puzzling too – of the lady. Then begins a lengthy discussion of Edward Austen’s great friend, fellow clergyman Mr Majendie. Augusta compliments his singing and his conversation – but saves her highest praise for the man’s preaching. A nugget, indeed!

A heartbreaking assessment of Augusta’s son Frederick is tackled, thanks to her noticing the progress Emma’s children make – including one (“Charlie”) born in the same year as Fred (1832), and only days before him. I’ve yet to name any kind of illness or debility from the references given to baby Fred’s health. He ultimately lived into his 60s – and had three wives.

Much more letter follows (Augusta was given to crossing her writing, and this letter is a typical example of that practice), but what caught my eye was the direction. The letter was originally addressed — and, yes, opens with My dear Charlotte — to Mrs Currie in London; and that address is struck out and the letter forwarded to Mrs Smith at Tring Park.

There is a pen notation of the receipt of the letter (19 January; it is dated the 18th); but a pencil note that surely reads Jan ’31. And “beneath” that a correction to 1834, with the last digit underlined. Considering the letter is dated, there are many postal stamps, and of course notice of the death of William and the illness of Mr Gosling, 1831 is clearly incorrect – but who made the mistake? who in a separate dating “corrected” it?

That matters less to me than what is written – again in pencil – at ninety-degrees to the address. Can you read it?

augusta wilder letter

Pencil is one of my *frights* to read – it wears off, is often light to begin with – and is typically used as a third application to a crossed letter, which simply is NOT a help in deciphering the contents! But I’m quite sure I’ve puzzled this one out:

Mrs Augusta / Smith / to Charlotte / Currie / dull  

Oh, dear…

Firstly, the writer is not Mamma; it is to Charlotte Currie, but it is FAR FAR from D-U-L-L! In fact, the letter is a jewel! Who could be so cruel??

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Mystery portrait ID’ed: Queen Elizabeth I

February 18, 2014 at 2:27 am (british royalty, estates, fashion, news, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , )

Back in November 2013 I ran a lengthy post, hoping to ID a portrait which was a focal piece in a drawing – possibly sketched by eldest sister Augusta Smith – of some room that was wholly unidentified.

mystery lady and deer

click photo to read original post

In trying to find information about the ceiling medallions in Tring Park’s drawing room (still in situ!), I found this Hertfordshire website that I’m sure I have read before. Only, last evening, it took on new meaning! The description is all about Drummond Smith’s Tring Park, c1802:

The apartments are handsomely furnished, and in several of them there are some good paintings, among which we cannot avoid noticing a singular whole length of Queen Elizabeth, which hangs in the small drawing-room upon the right of the hall. This painting is not improbably a copy of that by Zucchero, which hangs in the palace at Kensington….

In my original post I was hoping against hope that it might have been a family member. BUT: I’ve now found an image of that very “singular whole length” portrait!

queen elizabeth

Major OMG!

Several books, like this one from 1802, describe the painting, identifying it as a Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, and one among several full-length portraits owned by Drummond (Emma’s great uncle; it is his baronetcy that Charles Joshua Smith, Emma’s eldest brother, inherited). Rather than Kensington Palace, its home is Hampton Court. But even this portrait carries some mystery: fascinating article by Francis Carr (a companion page can be read here).

So much is up for grabs: the portrait’s sitter – its artist – the date it was done. But my mystery has been solved: The room at Tring which once contained the portrait in the sketch being described as “the small drawing room upon the right of the hall.”

faces of QEI

NB: In looking for confirmation that it is indeed a portrait of QEI, I found this fab array of portraits:

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Say it Ain’t So: Winchester flooding (2014)

February 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm (news) (, , )

News out of Britain has been rife this past weekend; now comes reports of the River Itchen overflowing its banks.

itchen

I remember taking this riverside walk, often!

Downtown Winchester – with its towering Cathedral (resting place of Jane Austen) – is not super far from this spot. The Itchen snakes through so many places I remember well, from my two months in the area, working at the Hampshire Record Office, with the letters and diaries of Emma, Mamma, Fanny, Eliza Chute, et al.

Here in New England, we’ve nothing but snow (and rain is now predicted for us, later in the week…); in Olde England nothing but rain. There is nothing worse than drastic flooding. Must get letters out to my friends, and see how they are fairing.

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Robert Gosling: 200 Years ago TODAY

January 27, 2014 at 6:09 am (a day in the life, diaries, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , )

Reading through the first chapter of my book (those purchasing Two Teens in the Time of Austen: Random Jottings, 2008-2013 get a slightly-stale taste of that opening chapter) I was submerged into Mary’s world via her 1814 trip to Oxford when I read aloud the following:

“Two of Mr. Gosling’s four sons resided in college in 1814: William Ellis, the eldest of the seven Gosling children, only weeks beyond his twentieth birthday; and Robert, one year younger. William had entered Brasenose College on 10 July 1812, and seems to have taken no degree. Robert was fairly new to college, having matriculated on 27 January 1814. He stayed through 1822, leaving with a Master’s degree.”

January 27th?! I long have had Monday in mind as “Mozart’s birthday” (you can always tell when the anniversary of that day approaches: the local radio station plays a LOT of Mozart!). But reading my little history, I found myself whispering to myself: two hundred years ago to the day…

I have been lucky enough (thank you Mark & Emma!!) to see a portrait of all three Gosling boys – William, Robert and Bennett – painted some few years later. What a handsome trio! Though, in some ways, the most “pleasing” countenance can be said to belong to Robert. As a toddler he was compared to Falstaff for his roundness; as an old man in a long-exposed photograph he reminded this American of Abraham Lincoln: long, lean, and wearing a stove-pipe hat!

But two-hundred years ago TODAY, on 27 January 1814, Robert Gosling, a young man, had matriculated at Christ College, Oxford — and that summer his sister Mary wrote down the trip her family (“Mama, Papa, my Sister and myself”) took in order to visit the boys. That wasn’t the first diary of hers that I read, but ultimately it has so-far become the earliest of her writings that I have found.

christ church college

    • Did the “Great Hall” of Christ Church College really serve as inspiration for HOGWARTS HALL? Mary was there… and left her thoughts: “The Hall is one of the most magnificent in Oxford.” (and I remember that scene in the first film, vividly)

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Georges Simenon & The Age of Aquarius

January 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm (books, history, news, research) (, , , , , )

suttons_Mary-silhouette2Mary Gosling (aka Lady Smith) and I are both born under the sign of Aquarius: Mary born February 2nd; me on February 4th. Although I have never had a horoscope cast, I am a keen reader of the generic tidbits that turn up in newspapers. These past several months there have been several that spoke to the writer in me. I cannot express how comforting these “predictions” feel. When no one “known” to me (as I call it, in my daily life) seems to care whether this project breathes life, or dies on the vine, I take courage from these Aquarian words of encouragement.

So imagine my opening the local paper 7 Days and finding this juicy morsel to chew upon this week:

“The Aquarian author Georges Simenon (13 Feb 1903 – 1989) wrote more than 200 novels under his own name and 300 more under pseudonyms. On average, he finished a new book every 11 days. Half a billion copies of his books are in print. I’m sorry to report that I don’t think you will ever be as prolific [me neither...] in your own chosen field as he was in his. However, your productivity could soar to a hefty fraction of Simenon-like levels in 2014 — if you’re willing to work your ass off. Your luxuriant fruitfulness won’t come as easily as his seemed to. But you should be overjoyed that you at least have the potential to be luxuriantly fruitful.”

I thought drafting a novel (still in first-draft mode, many years later) in a summer a feat of diligence. Eleven days? Yow! I’ve read Simenon (been a while though), and only in English of course. I do remember enjoying them; and, of course, got turned on to them via TV’s Maigret series (the French series also ran locally, from time to time).

Mary and I certainly ‘hoo-ray’ the idea of being ‘luxuriantly fruitful’ in getting ahead in our project. And here comes Emma, and even Mamma, to add their voices to the mix….

I’ve been finishing (not yet finished though) Book of Ages and was wonderfully surprised to see the fanaticism shown by Jared Sparks in hunting down, amassing, and even acquiring “original” Benjamin Franklin documents. I, too, have that fever! It rages, flames, and settles as embers, only to rage again as certain items come to light – a new batch of letters, an unknown portrait. It is exciting, but it takes T-I-M-E. Certainly more than eleven days.

Addendum: I knew I had mentioned Mr Darcy and Aquarius before; see also my October 2013 post.

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You’re Invited: Fashion in 1811 Project

January 25, 2014 at 1:02 pm (europe, fashion, history, news) (, , , , , , , , )

Serendipitous Stitchery recently announced a year-long project:

journaljourney

Four costume historians will update monthly the news of fashions in 1811 from:

  • Journal des Luxus und der Moden
  • Journal des Dames et des Modes
  • La Belle Assemblee
  • Ackermanns Repository

JANUARY 1811 is up! Click on the picture for more information on the project, as well as to see and read about London / Paris / Weimar Fashions from January 1811.

Fabulous Project!

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