For FOUR DAYS we all certainly DID LIVE in Jane’s Austen’s World! But I’m back, having roamed to the state of My Old Kentucky Home for oh-so-short a time only.
I never thought about it, until the guide at Locust Grove (a Mr. Boone !), said that Kentucky was the fifteenth state in the Union. Vermont (as some may know), was the FOURTEENTH! We joined in 1791!
(Kentucky, for those wishing to know, entered a year later, in summer 1792.)
It put the “geography” of the JASNA AGM in perspective, a bit, for me. Of course, being a conference, unless you make TIME for something by bumping something else you don’t get to see too much of the conference city. Did take a lovely walk by the Ohio River…; did take a drive through some neighborhoods of “historic Louisville”…; and did get out (thanks to JASNA member Lady Smatter and her husband [Lord Smatter? I’ll have to ask. We quickly got down to first names, and I’m unsure of the gentleman’s title… Lady Smatter may be a lady in her own right.]) to Locust Grove Sunday afternoon.
NB: we’ve heard a rumor that a portrait within the house – and we sense two contenders – had her decolletage painted over at some point (which has been removed… like the lady’s clothing in a JASNA special session!). IF anyone can tell us WHICH painting, Lady Smatter and I would be delighted to know. (Mr. Boone had had no clue.)
Speaking of Mr. Boone – I will say that I did ASK. For I watch some mornings (on ME.TV) the TV series Daniel Boone. Today’s episode was QUITE delightful: the Daniel and Mingo (and even Rebecca) was helping to destroy some new rifles the British were acquiring:
I, too, love a “red” coat. And powdered wigs. (Apologies for the poor images: will have to check my camera setting…; NB: Mingo stands besides Rebecca, in “disguise” as a British Major.) Mr. Boone said his family predated that of Boonesboro’s founder.
To toot my own horn, although so much of the 30-plus minutes is a blur to me (I can see why people getting the Academy Award later say they don’t remember…), my talk entitled:
went quite well. I remember a roomful of people (standees even). And was very happy to have a woman come up to me prior to Saturday’s banquet saying how much she had enjoyed the talk. I don’t get much feedback on my work (and sometimes, in my daily life, I don’t get much encouragement for the pursuit of the Smiths & Goslings), so this was really touching to me that she would take a moment and come up to tell me her reaction.
I had brought with me a new purchase – the 1793 Will of Eliza Gosling (Mary’s mother), a eight-page original document; and a letter I gifted to myself for my 50th birthday, an 1824 letter written by Augusta (the sister) and Augusta (the mother) Smith. Not too many people have seen an original pre-stamp era letter. I am lucky enough to own two full letters (the other from 1837). And (ah-hem) always on the lookout for MORE Smith & Gosling ephemera and materials.
I was lucky enough to be gifted, by the author, with this delightful Jane Austen Daybook:
LOTS of illustrations – I couldn’t locate it on the US site, so the link is to the UK one; but do check both.
A woman beside me at the banquet (who also had attended my talk! small world sometimes…), asked if breakout session speakers were compensated in any way. I was holding up my hand, with fingers meeting the top of the thumb, when my roommate said, “You got a mug”.
True: in our registration packet there was a half-page letter, telling us to pop over to the Kentucky Table at the Regency Boutique to claim our prize! (I have no letter to show you, b/c that was the “prize” they claimed in return.) There was a Jane Christmas Ornament (haven’t put up a tree in decades) or a license plate surround (never put anything on the car) or a MUG. It’s lovely! With the quote of Captain Wentworth’s letter, Jane’s silhouette on one side and a “man” on the other.
But who IS that “masked” man???
I swear it looks like my Edward Austen. (Someone in the know: tell me!)
I’m sure there are mugs for sale (JASNA’s website as “shops” for various regions; if I find that Kentucky and this Persuasions mug is there, I’ll pop in a link later). Your price would be far less than the amount of time it takes to write a paper, condense it (for it has more info than could possibly be rattled off in 30 to 40 minutes), AND come up with a very lengthy and involved Powerpoint presentation.
This morning I did christen it with a cuppa! But I have SO MANY mugs – and only three that I perpetually drink tea from.
MUST mention one of the most intriguing of the special sessions: “Thomasina’s Notebook and Tom Lefroy’s House“, presented by Prof. Glynis Ridley. FASCINATING *find* at a flea market (of all places) of this handwritten commonplace book.
I feel like Mamma Smith… a visitor has captured my attention, mid-blog, and now I once again pick up my “pen” – BUT: my original train of thought may – or may not – be followed. If I’ve left out anything I REALLY wanted to say, I’ll either put addenda to this post, or post anew.
I simply must share my “pins” – the Emma one in our “goodie bag” (next year’s AGM is in Washington, D.C.) and the butterfly (my one splurge) comes from Locust Grove’s giftshop:
and you might like to see our tote bags, for JASNA AGM 2015:
A Kentucky Derby theme! Our own “colors” in jockey silks.
I travelled – by bus – for over 24 hours (include ride & wait times); a tale to be told on the ride back: in Ohio a fist fight broke out in the aisle! The guys landed on a woman in the set of seats right in front of me. Police were called – and the bus, at that point, was already running more than an hour behind schedule. (Up to that point, no one at Greyhound/Trailways in Ohio seemed to worry about trying to make up time! Bus arrived IN Louisville about the time it should have DEPARTED. Ditto for all the other stops along the way. Luckily, my layover IN Buffalo had been two-plus hours = I made it with about 20 or 30 minutes to spare.). The police came instantly; didn’t even come on board to ask questions, except from the guy who broke them up. It was an odd occurrence: no shouts, not “wham” or “bamm” (like in the TV show BATMAN), just a pair of bodies moving in the aisle in the middle of the night (it was like 3 AM).
It might be “All in the Name of Jane,” but at the same time I will never again bus through Columbus-Cincinnati!
Here I am at the JASNA – Jane Austen Society of North America – Annual General Meeting 2015. I’ve given my paper Saturday (the room seemed filled; but it is rather all a blur), and some participants had interest in my book that went on sale at the Boutique shop JANE AUSTEN BOOKS.
The bookshop does mail order! so click on the link to ask about obtaining YOUR copy of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN: RANDOM JOTTINGS, 2008-2015. This is a new expanded version of the Kindle book (sorry to say, I’ve no current plans to re-do the Kindle version). I may do PDFs of the updated book version (write to me, if that interests you).
Copies arrived at my home a couple months ago (above), but have not been on sale prior to this AGM weekend. Here they are (unfocused, I’m afraid; not my camera!) on the table, amid all the other JANE AUSTEN goodies, at the Regency Boutique here at the Galt House hotel:
I’ll have more to say a bit later. So enjoy this view of Louisville in the meantime (from our hotel room):
Jane Austen Books will need time to get their inventory home – but I’d love to see readers support this research, and I hope the book would interest — given all the pertinent articles spelling out the family of Emma and Mary exist in one place. Thanks – no matter what – for reading and commenting on the blog. Support comes in many forms, and from many people. I’m always GRATEFUL when you “lend an ear”.
NB: Amanda Vickery was plenary speaker this year. Fascinating talk – and she signed TWO of my books, The Gentleman’s Daughter and Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England.
Note: This article was published in the most recent JASNA News (Jane Austen Society of North America’s newsletter), in an abbreviated form. The pictures (by Mike in Tring; thanks, Mike) looked GREAT! But the story I wanted to tell was only half-told.
Here is the story of my Spring Fling (last May, 2014) in a place that is THIS YEAR celebrating it’s 700th anniversary (chartered in 1315), Tring in the county of Hertfordshire, England.
In the Shadow of James Edward Austen
The recipient of the (in)famous “piece of ivory” letter, Jane Austen’s nephew James Edward Austen authored two late-in-life books: Recollections of the Early Days of the Vine Hunt (1865) and A Memoir of Jane Austen (1869; 1871); and served as the subject of a memoir by daughter Mary Augusta Austen Leigh (1911). In concentrating on his wife Emma Smith — one half of my “Two Teens in the Time of Austen” project — it’s easy to overlook the young husband who joined the predominately-female Smith household on 16 December 1828.
The wedding ceremony took place in the parish church of Tring; Edward was to serve as curate until the Austens left in November 1833. His stipend: ₤20 per annum. “The place must have a curate,” wrote Emma’s sister Fanny Smith, “as there are three churches to serve”. With an income of £850 a year (not counting the stipend, earmarked for Edward’s own substitute when he had to be away), the couple had the opportunity to build a nest egg by living with Emma’s large family at Tring Park, a substantial estate once owned by great uncle Sir Drummond Smith. Five sisters and two brothers, under the watchful eye of the widowed Mrs (Augusta) Smith, provided Edward Austen with a bustling household that he came to adore. Edward’s superior, the Rev. Mr. Charles Lacy, was an unmarried man (though with an intended), only three years older than himself, who had held the living for nearly ten years. The Smiths all commented favorably on their vicar’s preaching, conversation, and singing. Edward looked back on the Tring years, during which the Austens welcomed their first three children, with great fondness.
During the wedding breakfast, the servants had danced in the hall. The day I visited Tring Park (now a performing arts school), the pale light of a rainy English day filtered through the super-sized window on the far side of the stair well, weakly illuminating the hall that echoes still with notes from violins and dance. My tour guide, Mike, was able to show the nooks and crannies thanks to school being out for the week. The soft rain dampened thoughts of tramping the grounds, so we ventured no further than the small church where Edward Austen “did the duty,” to use the phrase Edward used [see uppermost photo]. Vestry Minutes for September 1832 marked a milestone in the church’s history: “The Revd J.E. Austen proposed on the part of the Miss Smith’s [sic] of Tring Park to present the Church with an Organ.” A vote was moved, seconded – and passed! Mr Lacy was tasked with conveying the news to Emma’s sisters. Mike and I had hoped to glimpse the little organ, as it may still exist – but the church of Long Marston was unfortunately closed, except for service.
The third church – at Wigginton – was open to visitors! Described by Mary Austen Leigh as “a scattered village on a picturesque common,” it was in the “damp and cold little church” at Wigginton that chills caught while preaching and teaching affected Edward’s throat to such an extent that his voice grew weak and was never again the same. His diary entry for January 13 (1833) places him in Wigginton, and ends in the remark “I did no more Sunday duty on account of my throat”. His ability to read aloud, his family’s “evening enjoyment” since Edward “could always make the characters, to use his Aunt Jane’s expression, ‘speak as they should do,’” was also affected. During months of inactivity, Edward Austen cut keenly-observed silhouettes, now published as Life in the Country with Quotations by Jane Austen (2008).
To piggyback on my previous blog post (on the Electronic British Library Journal), I spent last night reading this FASCINATING account of book binding in the (mainly) eighteenth century. I felt a bit at a loss, not SEEING the book bindings and having little idea, for I lack the grasp on the terminology the author assumes, but that makes _me_ want to seek out more information and give it another read. How I’ve love to see their vellum technique, especially. And the book described that was made for Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire sounds exquisite! I’ll update this post as I find pertinent links to either images or book binding terms. Or: if YOU know of some, let me know!
- Edwards of Halifax bindings (with photos) at the British Library (main “search” page) – NB: I can’t get the images to enlarge; could be my browser, or the site. Nice to SEE the Queen Charlotte prayer book!
- some Book Binding Terminology (PDF)
- interactive (searchable) Book Binding (and conserving) Terminology (with illustrations)
- basic book-parts
In seeking information on a new book just coming out from the University of Toronto Press – The Edwardses of Halifax: The making and selling of beautiful books in London and Halifax, 1749-1826, by G.E. Bentley, Jr. – I stumbled upon this very apropos article in the British Library Journal. That find opened up an entire WORLD of journal articles, from 1975 to today!
“The eBLJ is the journal of scholarly research into the contents and history of the British Library and its collections. It is the successor to the British Library Journal, which appeared in twenty-five volumes between 1975 and 1999. Its purpose is to advance knowledge of the British Library’s collections by demonstrating their wealth and the ways in which they are used by researchers. It is available free to all users of our website.”
As you might guess, eBLJ is wide-ranging in topic as well as time-period. You can search by year or author; pity there is no subject or “search” capability. So much information, given the amount of publishing they’ve done! You can, however, put the journal title AND a search term (I used ‘austen’) into a search engine and see what comes up. (After all, that was how I found the Edwards article in the first place!) This won’t necessarily give you an article on (for instance) Austen, but finds all instances of your search term(s) within articles. The first on the list for ‘austen’ was a 2006 article entitled LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD (by Morna Daniels), which “hit” because of a mention of Northanger Abbey and “Gothic romances”.
A second “hit” was an article (from 2014) by Christina Duffy (THE DISCOVERY OF A WATERMARK ON THE ST CUTHBERT GOSPEL…), which cites Jane Austen’s letters in the Morgan Library as being a large deposit which has recorded watermarks.
Another “hit” – which was a mistake (for the publication location AUSTIN, cited within the article) – was Miles Johnson and A.D. Harvey’s POLITICAL VERSE IN LATE GEORGIAN BRITAIN: POEMS REFERRING TO WILLIAM PITT THE YOUNGER (1759-1806) .
Goes to show, though that a “search” is possible and the plethora of material covered in the journal articles. Happy hunting!
Several weeks ago (I always have GOOD intentions about posting *News*… then don’t do it!) I came across Geri Meftah‘s blog post from FEBRUARY 2015, mentioning the purchase of a letter book by the Huntington Library in California. I visit Geri’s delightful JANE AUSTEN blog (kleurrijkjaneausten) with some regularity, but am not (and never will be) one “on top of” new news….
Better late than never, right?
But one thing about being half a year behind the time: The Huntington has had time to DIGITIZE the collection!
kleurrijkjaneausten @ blogspot will fill you in on the background of the purchase – and has a link to The Guardian‘s article about it. The letter book was at the time described as “52 unpublished letters, poems and other material from six generations of the Leigh family”.
As you might imagine, I held my breath: Anything from the family in the nineteenth century? Indeed: YES! and two letters (though late for my research) from James Edward Austen Leigh!
I see that the catalogue will be off-line on September 16th (2015), but before or after, do look through the images. The Huntington has made it exceptionally easy to read the LEIGH LETTERS online, or download images. [use search term: leigh family papers]
The above “snippet” is from the first Edward Austen Leigh letter, and is a DELIGHTFUL snippet of memories of his aunt, Jane Austen, and Stoneleigh Abbey.
- for the Digital Images of the LEIGH LETTERS from the Huntington
- for Edward’s own letter to Frederick Leigh Colvile (1866)
- for Edward’s follow-up letter to same (also 1866)
The Huntington describes the small collection as “letters, poems and other manuscripts written by various members of the Leigh family and other people in their circle. The letters are mainly concerned with the intimate, mundane, playful and tragic aspects of family life from the early modern period until the middle of the 19th century”. They would be a wonderful addition to anyone reading Maggie Lane’s Jane Austen’s Family: Through Five Generations.
Susan Bennett, who’s researching the diaries of Georgiana Henderson (née Keate), has spotted my GOSLINGS once or twice. I suspect they are “Old Mrs. Gosling“, William Gosling’s mother (my Mary’s grandmother, who died in the summer of 1811), for she seems to have been the one to introduce Miss Norford to Eliza Gosling (William’s first wife; Mary’s mother). Susan IDs Miss Norford as “Annabella” – so terrific to have a FIRST NAME! Now she’s a bit less anonymous…
Two others of interest have turned up as well: Mr & Mrs Gregg — who (in company with Mrs Gosling) can only be William’s sister, Maria, and her husband Mr Henry Gregg of the Middle Temple. SUCH a thrill to catch these little glimpses of them in the early years of the 1800s.
Susan also sent me a newspaper “clipping” from 1805 – though the “Mrs Gosling” listed currently remains an unknown. Eliza Gosling had died in December 1803; and William doesn’t remarry until 1806 – so it’s not his wife. And there is always the possibility that any given Gosling is from the branch of the family attached to Francis Gosling (William’s cousin and partner in the banking firm Goslings and Sharpe).
But it’s less about the PEOPLE mentioned than the THINGS: carriages to be exact!
The news comes out of MARGATE (The Morning Post, dated 25 Sept 1805), and concerns the Dandelion Royal Fete. How enchanting to read of the “persons of exalted character” as well as the “sultry heat being tempered by the sea breezes”. Then arrive “the fashionables from Ramsgate”!! And the article’s writer is only too ready to tell you (the audience) which “fashionable” arrived in which equipage; it’s simply TOO DELICIOUS.
My currently-anonymous “Mrs. Gosling” appeared in her chariot —
Others (as you can see) came in landaus and curricles (guess none in phaetons or barouches were “prominent” enough to be mentioned!), though some “in full regimentals” came on horseback.
Now, if anyone has a diary or some letters from 1805 which pinpoints which Mrs. Gosling was in Margate and Ramsgate in September… come find me!
For those lucky enough to be within striking distance of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California: Funny Business: Humor in British Drawings from Hogarth to Rowlandson. The exhibition opened on August 15 and runs until 30 November 2015.
The things you find when you aren’t LOOKING! Today, among the gifts at London’s National Portrait Gallery, it is this little JANE AUSTEN CUSHION.
The “portrait” is that which appeared in Edward Austen’s book on his aunt, written late in life (c1870). Measuring 45cm (approximately 17-inches square), it’s described as being of a “super soft faux suede” that’s machine washable. A bit pricey for those paying with dollars: £35. Comes with “cushion pad” which I assume is the pillow insert.
In yesterday’s mail the terrific-looking new book by Jenny Uglow (I have her humongous biography of Gaskell), “In These Times”: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815.
Nothing can be more up my alley! It’s about the Napoleonic era without being all about battles, and strategies, and War-War-War (to quote Scarlett O’Hara). I need information of the 1790s through 1810s, but I want to learn from it, not be BORED by it. (Yeah, war bores me. Though when I worked at a local college [uni-aged students for those of you in the UK], the POPULAR courses in history were Black Death and World War II. Still, I am what I am: more interested in social history and women’s history.)
I recognize a few names – for Uglow uses personal accounts to paint a full picture. There’s the Heber family (I adore the book Dear Miss Heber…); Lady Lyttleton (née Sarah Spencer); Jane Austen’s “sailor brothers”, Frank (Sir Francis Austen later in life) and Charles Austen; Betsey Fremantle (I’m still waiting from more from her current biographer, Elaine Chalus; though I have the complete set of three volumes published in the 1940s); Mary Hardy, the Norfolk diaristabout whom I have blogged before, at RegencyReads.
Can’t tell you much about the book, as I’m only in chapter 1 – but I’m enjoying it so far! Just the right amount of detail, and well-written. It opens with an idea VERY dear to my heart – for my own book (tentatively entitled The Brilliant Vortex, about my Two Teens during the Regency era, and all those London seasons, from 1814 to 1821.) discusses the same thing: the dissemination of news. Uglow, of course, looks at newspapers. I know, for instance, that Richard Seymour, in the 1830s, borrowed newspapers. So I already knew that some people had subscriptions, some people got papers passed on to them. And I LOVE Uglow’s descriptions of particular coffee houses:
“Visiting Glasgow in 1802, Dorothy Wordsworth found ‘the largest coffee room I ever saw’, in the piazza of the Exchange. ‘Perhaps there might be thirty gentlemen sitting on the circular bench of the window, reach reading a newspaper’ …. The linen-mill owner John Marshall also admired the room, brilliantly lit with candles, and rarely with fewer than a hundred people in it. ‘There are 1100 Subscribers to the Coffee Room at 28/- a year’.”
I remember back in the 1980s & 90s when VIDEO stores started out with yearly membership SUBSCRIPTIONS. Of course, the next store would open, offering LOWER rates – until ultimately the “membership” was free.
(And now every GROCERY store sports a RedBox!)
But I-M-A-G-I-N-E: 1100 subscribers at 28 shillings a year each! Sounds like it was a little goldmine! Marshall went on (and Uglow follows suit) with what the coffee house carried: “‘They take London & Edinburgh papers & journals, country papers & 9 copies of the Sun, Star & Courier & all the monthly publications.'”
Dissemination, of course, comes from MANY sources – including correspondence (my diarists’ chief avenue), and we all have heard of the dreaded PAMPHLET and the satirical CARTOON. No one reading about the French Revolution can get away from the ideas of salacious pamphlets against Queen Marie Antoinette; and no one reading about the Regency can escape the cartoons of Rowlandson (for just one example) skewering the Prince Regent.
I have a friend whose research has turned up a COUPLE different narratives. The conundrum: WHICH pamphlet is more truthful than the other?? That made me think of this conundrum from the writer’s point of view – and that made me think of James Boswell. For he put quite a lot into print (anonymous as well as with his name) during his lifetime. I’ve blogged a LOT about Boswell’s diaries and books about the Boswell Papers.
Then it HIT ME:
Pamphlets, in the 18th & 19th century, were to the likes of Boswell what BLOGS are to the likes of me TODAY! Those with a point-of-view, or even just “something to say”, stick it out there for anyone and everyone to see. Only, today, I don’t have to locate a printer and a bookseller – I just needed to stumble upon WordPress and have an internet connection!
Can you IMAGINE: Boswell as Blogger?!?
(I sure can…)
My point to my friend was: Veracity wasn’t always on the minds of the pamphlet writer; so I find it wholly understandable that two versions of the same incident could exist. It’s like Twitter today: how many times do we hear about someone apologizing for BLASTING on social media, only to regret it later. Hard to do with a penny publication: not like you can go back and find everyone who bought your pamphlet – though a retraction, or even another pamphlet pointing out the errors (and thought to be by a DIFFERENT writer!) are not impossibilities to contemplate.
It’s that old adage back again: “Plus ςa change, plus c’est la même chose.” The more things change, the more they STAY THE SAME!
* * *
Since I’m talking BOOKS here, I’ll make brief mention: Readers interested in obtaining a FREE copy of Hazel Jones’s Jane Austen’s Journeys – please take a look at the giveway I’m running on RegencyReads. I’m taking names for a lengthy period: till the end of this month (August 2015). I had an extra copy, so it IS a book I’m keeping on my own shelves.