Knitting with Jane

November 24, 2015 at 9:39 pm (entertainment, history, jane austen, travel) (, , )


I recently joined this online knitting & crocheting committee: RAVELRY. I was surprised, though I shouldn’t have been, that some of the “groups” are JANE AUSTEN fans!

Among the groups:

  • Jane Austen’s Girls Swap, which includes “chats about her books”
  • Jane Austen Knits, based on the Interweave knitting publication
  • Jane Austen Book Club
  • Sense & Sensibility, the film and book
  • For the Love of Darcy

Indulging myself, I also joined groups who love opera and historical knitting patterns (like the Aran sweater) and those living in my geographic area.

If you dip your toes in, stop by – my username is JaneiteKelly (though, at present, my profile &c are under construction).

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“poor John H, B. Gosling’s friend”

November 21, 2015 at 4:42 pm (estates, history, news, people, research) (, , , )

It was a cryptic sentence, written by Emma’s brother Spencer Smith:

“… the latter have been in town all the Autumn on account of poor John H, B. Gosling’s friend, who is I believe in almost a hopeless state from repeated epileptic fits.”

Trouble was, with Spencer’s scrawling, sprawling handwriting I wasn’t sure what the “H” stood for.

b gosling


Initially, I guessed Heraby? – fairly certain of the capital “H” (since it appeared also after the word John) and the ending “-by”. The lumps of the letters in between were rather up for grabs.

b gosling2

BECAUSE there is so little information on Bennett Gosling, the third (and youngest) of Mary’s elder brothers, his friend John H. grabbed out at me: IDENTIFY ME, and maybe find some letters – at the very least some momentary companions. Though Spencer’s letter was dated January 2, 1841. This, therefore, could indicate a LIFE LONG friend.

I toyed with various letters of the alphabet.

Heraby?  Heneby?

Hanby? Hornby?

Either of the last two seemed more probable for a last name – yet some British names can be complicated – like the one directly preceding this one: Cholmedeley. Don’t know about you, but not a name _I_ run across every day…

The man, if really so ill, probably died in 1841. And that was how I FOUND him: looking for a will among probate records. Working on the theory that the man could have been a Gosling neighbor, a London postal directory lead me to think that John HORNBY was more probable than John HANBY; but I tried both. When John Hunter Hornby, of Portland Place, Middlesex came up – and he had died in September 1841 – the tripartite name gave up more clues.

John Hunter Hornby was the second son of John Hornby of The Hook, Hampshire. Spencer’s letter, written from Brooklands (an estate new to him and Frances; read more about Brooklands here), discussed neighbors who were resident at the New Year. The Hook and Brooklands DID neighbor each other!

Knowing the family seat helped secure several siblings, for instance John Hunter Hornby’s sisters Elizabeth, Caroline, and Jane. This last was especially interesting: her married name (mentioned in the father’s will) was JANE PERCEVAL. An unmistakable spelling… Surely, somehow related to the Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, who was assassinated in the House of Commons in May 1812.

I already had TWO Jane Percevals – the widow of the P.M. and her eldest daughter had both been named ‘Jane’; though the mother had remarried within a few years. Lady Elizabeth Compton (aka, Lady Elizabeth Dickins), Emma’s cousin, had both women as correspondents.

Jane Hornby, Mrs. Perceval, turned out to be the daughter-in-law of Spencer Perceval’s brother, Lord Arden; her husband, George James Perceval, becoming the 6th Earl of Egmont.

George Perceval and Jane Hornby married in 1819. And it was during that period (if not even earlier) that Bennett Gosling can be connected to John Hunter Hornby. Both were graduates of Christ Church, Oxford. Both were admitted to Lincoln’s Inn – Bennett in October 1817; John in February 1818. Bennett was the elder by two years.

On the hunt for “The Hook”, images turned up – including this hand-colored lithograph currently (November 2015) going for £115:

the hook_hornby

Ah, isn’t it a lovely looking place? Alas, it was a victim to FIRE in 1913. The grounds are still talked about, though the Hampshire Gardens Trust research skips over the Hornbys from this period. Sense of Place South East has a photograph (circa 1900) and news about the fire, calling it Hook House.

warsash ferry

Another missed opportunity, when I was last in Warsash at the behest of my host & hostess and we crossed the Hamble on the ferry. How near I was, not only to Spencer and Frances – but now also to John H. and B. Gosling!

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Left at the Church Door

November 20, 2015 at 12:18 pm (books, jane austen, jasna) (, , , )

One point made in my October JASNA AGM paper at Louisville was the propensity for Jane Austen to close after the relevant couples departed the church. We are told little of Wedding Breakfasts, Honeymoons, or burgeoning of “twigs” on “family trees”.

elizabeth and darcy

BUT: In amongst the “happily ever after” intentions of the closing chapters is also the recent history of Mrs Weston (Emma’s former governess). Hers is a narrative arc that encompasses Spinster – Wife – Mother all in one novel. Mrs. Weston (or Mister Weston, for there are men in JASNA audiences!) was someone to keep in mind, as I went on to speak about Mothers-to-be preparing for confinements.

Let me mention here that anyone able to visit Montpelier, Vermont in March 2016 will be welcome to attend the same talk, “Who could be more prepared than she was? True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in Early 19th Century England”, thanks to JASNA-Vermont.

KM at agm_Steve(click pic for Steve’s photos from the Louisville 2016 AGM)

Just visible in the photo above is an image (lower corner) showing Emma and Mr Knightley, during a discussion of “due dates”. (You might just recall Mr. Austen’s comment that he and his wife had “in old age grown such bad reckoners” when Jane Austen failed to appear as predicted, in November.)

I can’t say I ever think of Austen’s characters as other than relatively happy couples and families – much like what I’ve seen played out over the course of fifty years (1790 to 1840) of family letters for Emma and her siblings. So, it was with great interest that I read Deborah Yaffe’s recent blog post HOW DARE YOU?, a refutation of the “long-term chances” of Austen couples like Emma & Mr. Knightly (deemed to have “So-So” chances) and Anne Elliot & Captain Wentworth (whose chances were assessed as “Dodgy”).


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… but we have flowers

November 19, 2015 at 9:19 am (europe, history, news) (, , )

flower power 2015

A departure today, for I cannot forget this video of a little French-speaking boy and his father.

I’ve been reading about the assassination of Spencer Perceval – related to Emma’s cousins, the Comptons – in May of 1812. In another fifty years, the U.S. would lose its president to an assassin’s bullet – Why was Lincoln’s death shocking, while Perceval’s shocked his family but left others quite blasé. Lincoln became an obsession with historians, and Perceval seems to go down in history as one whose death in office was simply something that sometimes “happens”.

Yesterday, I finally looked up some newspapers of the incident. British newspapers of 1812 were only four-pages – sheets printed front and back, folded down the center like a letter. They were jam-packed with ads, notices for plays and routs, goings-on at court, and of course news of the day. I was quite surprised at the Perceval story in The Times. A LOT of talk about Members mulling around the Woolsack; it reads more like a trial transcript, with testimony, than the story of a statesman’s death. A more enlightening article was published the same day (12 May 1812) in The Morning Chronicle – which even included mention of Mrs. Perceval and the children.

And, for one only too confronted nightly with television images of soldiers and guns, the Chronicle‘s article touches on the mayhem in the streets of London. For crowds DID gather around the Houses of Parliament as word got out. “The deadful [sic] intelligence spread with amazing rapidity, and before six o’clock, the crowd collected on the outside was so great, that it was deemed prudent to close the doors of Westminster Hall, as well as to plant constables at all the entrances… Ingress was denied to all persons but Members and witnesses.”

The Horse Guards were called out, though the Chronicle uses the curious phrase “to ensure tranquility, and produce a dispersion of the mob”. The Foot Guards and the City Militia were also called upon. Other than people gathering to hear, first-hand, the latest news, there was never a need to hunt for Bellingham; the assassin had never left, and came forward within minutes.

The Chronicle hints at why Perceval never became an historian’s goldmine. Towards the article’s end, a lengthy paragraph reads (in part): “Thus has the existence of the Right Honourable Spencer Perceval been terminated – a man of whom much good may and ought to be said, and who errors shall be, with his remains, consigned to the grave…. However mistaken may have been his political views, and however disastrous for his country the result, none have denied him the praise of integrity of intention.”

Then, rather like “the king is dead, long live the king” talk turns to the open seat (Perceval was Member for Northampton; Spencer Compton, Emma’s cousin, would be elected) as well as giving “the Prince Regent time to arrange a new Administration”.

In 1812, they were convinced Bellingham had acted alone, and for his own ends and grievances. “Sense” could (I presume) be made of a”senseless” act.

With so much misery in the world from so many sources, WHY impose more misery upon others so senselessly? I, too, take a bit of comfort in this father’s idea of Flower Power 2015.

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Bias of Family Histories?

November 12, 2015 at 11:43 am (books, estates, europe, history, jane austen, research) (, , , , , )

Readers of Jane Austen all recognize the (lack of) funds heroines likes Elizabeth Bennet or Elinor Dashwood have as their marriage portion. And, what happens to the family estate when their fathers die: Norland goes to the only Dashwood son; Mr. Collins, a male relative, will inherit Longbourn.

But, in a highly interesting and exceptionally valuable book, A.P.W. Malcomson tells us that the HEIRESS, such as Wickham’s Miss Grey, may have been as cash poor as anyone else. Marriage portions didn’t always get paid, or paid in a timely manner. Sometimes, the lady’s fortune was quite tied up by trustees, and sometimes “a fortune” ended up meaning that you inherited nothing else other than your marriage portion – even when your parent had a healthy bank account.

This last seems to have been the lot of Mary (Lady Smith; née Gosling) and her sister Elizabeth (Mrs. Langham Christie). A letter written by Augusta Wilder, Emma’s eldest sister, passes on news following the decease of father William Gosling, partner in the Fleet Street firm Goslings and Sharpe, in January 1834. He left the bulk of his HUGE estate to Robert Gosling, the eldest surviving son. (Elder brother William Ellis Gosling predeceased their father by only three weeks.) The main item going to Bennett and Thomas Gosling (the remaining sons) was the country estate of Roehampton Grove, although each were said to be receiving a healthy £135,000. Mary and Elizabeth, who had married, respectively, in 1826 and 1829, surely thought some further monies would come to them – one a widow and the other living “in limited circumstances & with an increasing family” – especially given the size (possibly up to a million pounds, in 1834 currency) of Mr. Gosling’s estate.

Augusta Wilder’s letter passes on information gained from young Charlotte Gosling. Augusta wrote:

“It seems to me perfectly unfair to heap riches so upon the sons & portion off the daughters with comparatively such small sums.”

Augusta’s mention of “to cut off I may say the daughters with 20.000 is inexplicable” reflects the marriage portion Mary was said to have brought with her in 1826 (which was a decided surprise to Mrs. Chute! She wrote of it in a letter).

Charlotte Gosling, one of two children born to her mother, formerly the Hon. Charlotte de Grey (the Walsingham barons of Norfolk were her siblings), still had a living mother – which circumstance was seen as a blessing to Augusta: “Charlotte who if her mother were dead would be very poorly off after what she has been used to…”

Augusta said of the news of William Gosling giving so little to his daughters, in comparison to his sons: “It really passes our comprehension & is quite distressing – for it is irreparable; no wonder Mary did not wish to talk about the will.–”

Writing on the same day (but from a different place), Spencer Smith, Emma’s brother, passed on knowledge (gleaned from a Gosling cousin, Henry Gregg) “that Mr Gosling out of his vast wealth has left her [Mary] & Elizabeth nothing, or what is next door to it”. Bennett Gosling could tell Spencer about his own inheritance (Roehampton and a sum of money): “The bulk of the property … is entailed in the most strict & inconvenient manner possible, & the Will … is most exceedingly complicated.”

Such documents – diaries, letters, wills, settlements, court documents – are the bread and butter of Malcomson’s edifying research into THE PURSUIT OF THE HEIRESS: Aristocratic Marriage in Ireland, 1740-1840.

heiress_malcomson has a “healthy” preview of the book – it is what convinced me to buy a copy. You cannot beat BooksIreland, which has the hard cover for £9.99 (on sale from £24.99) or the eBook at £7.99. Although the airmail postage to the U.S. from Northern Ireland was as much as the book, even U.S. readers will want to plump for the hard cover; it is so fully illustrated and a handsome book.

Malcomson discusses a range of topics. His first chapter introduces the idea of “the by-passed heiress” => the woman who seems on the brink of inheriting, but who in fact may not only be “by-passed” in favor of a male – she may also have her “fortune” so tied up in the estate of her deceased parent that funds aren’t even forthcoming to her! Mention is made, for instance, of two sisters – daughters of Edmond Sexten Pery (Viscount Pery). The father’s estate passed to a nephew (son of the Viscount’s brother), “the 1st Earl of Limerick. In toto, the ladies seem to have received c.£20,000 each. £5,000 of which represented their original (and still unpaid) marriage portions. (These figures are belied by the usual family anecdotage, according to which one daughter got £60,000 in cash and the other the equivalent in land.)”

On the heels of the Pery girls comes the tale of the co-heiresses of Sir Arthur Brooke, bart. Selina and Letitia Charlotte received marriage portions – which, along with another debt, were evidently “charged” to the estate (ie, monies taken out after the owner’s death; in short, while his bank account remained healthy, “less” was there to be inherited). The Brooke “estates were not huge, and Francis Brooke, the nephew who succeeded to them, and Francis Brooke’s descendants considered themselves aggrieved and impoverished by the open-handedness of Sir Arthur. This is typical of the male whingeing of the period and of the bias of family history written by men. It would be more to the point to suggest that the two by-passed heiresses… were not well done by.”

Makes me glad to come from a family with no money or landed estate…

Other chapters touch on “the younger son”; “The ‘marriage of affection'”; and “Elopements, mésalliances and mis-matches”. All are fascinating topics, and relevant to Smith and Gosling research, as well as Austen studies.

As mentioned, the volume is generously illustrated (full color more often than not), and the writing is engaging and always informative. The research is deep and well presented; the focus (geographically and chronologically) is tight and always on point. Generous notes; a useful bibliography; a handy index.

HIGHLY recommended. Five full inkwells.

* * *

  • a note: Malcomson’s earlier treatise on the same subject, from which this book grew – given new information and sources, has the same title. This edition was published in 1982 and has the years “1750 to 1820” in its title (70 pages). Malcomson rightly claims in his preface that the volume under discussion above (published in 2006 by the Ulster Historical Foundation [same as in 1982]) is “new, greatly enlarged and more widely focused”.

heiress_malcomson earlierthe 1982 edition
(not to be confused with the 2006)

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Women Writing Women’s Lives

November 8, 2015 at 11:06 am (books, history, research) (, )

As a member of BIO – the Biographers International Organization – every month I get to savor a Newsletter (The Biographer’s Craft). This month features another piece about the group WOMEN WRITING WOMEN’S LIVES. I’ve known about WWWL for some little while, but find myself compelled to write about their latest conference because of the comments and questions raised in the BIO Newsletter.

For instance,

  • Whose life is valuable enough to deserve a biography?

WWWL’s response: “Any life has the potential to be a biography.”

At the “founding”, 25 years ago, ‘the two organizers listened as one woman after another poured out her concerns about the obstacles involved in researching and writing the lives of women—including the need to find “the courage to think that women’s lives, on their own and without any attachment to men, were important and interesting enough to deserve being put into print.”’

I can never claim for Mary or Emma – even for someone as dynamic as Mamma (Mrs. Charles Smith) – that they “overcame obstacles and achieved remarkable things”. But I know, in my heart, that their lives, so indicative of the “ordinary”, being so well-represented in letters, diaries, even published memoirs, IS remarkable. If just for the tenacity of the items to surface! Certainly, we cannot understand – cannot imagine – life in another time (200 years ago) without the ability to feel placed within the shoes of someone who LIVED in that other time.


And, truth be told, their lives WERE filled with so much drama and pathos, joy and heartbreak. It would be beyond fiction, if it weren’t all true!

A very interesting section of the article concerns the “selling off” of female-related material. Rather brings to mind the wonderful cache of letters relating to Emily Duchess of Leinster. It’s amazing that the family would, at some point in the past, have given up such TREASURE (Emily’s letters are in the collection of the National Library of Ireland).

I have the book Dear Abigail (about Abigail Adams and her sisters), cited further down the article; with its emphasis on the life of Abigail (and therefore John Adams), I’m not sure the author was as successful as could be hoped in presenting the story of a “sisterhood”. I, on the other hand, an only child, SEE how a “sisterhood” of siblings (brothers and sisters) functioned in the gentry class of London society at the beginning of the 19th century. Their solidarity is FASCINATING to study.


One question near the article’s end is of major concern to me:

  • Do publishers still care if no one has heard of the subject? Well, yes.

And there’s a major reason for the existence of this blog! Not only to help me find more material (and it has!), but also to connect with people who just might give a damn about Mary & Emma and all my “cast of thousands”. That “connection” has been its own reward.

The parting shot of the article?

‘[B]y holding the biographer to a high standard of both writing and scholarship … [i]t has also raised the bar for biographers as narrators. Nowadays, as Bair noted, “the biographer has to be able to write a page-turner and yet refuse to relinquish truth and authenticity.”’ I feel that my skills are up to the task, but in the end only people like YOU will give thumb down or up.

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Good News, New Book: Agnes Witts

November 2, 2015 at 3:00 pm (books, diaries, history) (, , , )

Well, it’s ABOUT TIME! I’ve long owned volume one in the series (formerly) entitled The Complete Diary of a Cotswold Lady:


Published back in 2008, the promised continuation of the series never seemed to materialize. Sigh – Unhappy Face – Boo!

TODAY, looking for the name of another scholarly press (no, not Amberley), I looked up – once more – the Complete Cotswold series (there is another one for Agnes’ son, Francis Witts: Complete Diaries of a Cotswold Parson), and there came news of Alan Sutton, Fonthill Media, and (on Fonthill Media’s website) the news that come January 2016 we shall see a further entry into the Agnes Witts diary series!!


edinburgh diary

As you can see from the dates (and the title, too), this diverges a bit from the original “second volume” projected in 2008, with the original publication:

  • The Exile Years, 1793-1800 (vol. 2)
  • Places of Fashion, 1800-1808 (vol. 3)
  • A Settled Life, 1808-1817 (vol. 4)
  • Life without Edward, 1817-1824 (vol. 5)

As suggested by the title, An Edinburgh Diary, this volume will have the diaries Agnes Witts wrote following the end of the first volume – when, selling up, the Witts were heading north, over the border. (The original projection, up to the year 1800, would therefore have included the Witts’ journey to Germany – hoping for further opportunities at saving precious family funds that were dwindling even in Edinburgh.)

The Smiths & Goslings have Scottish ties – so it will be doubly interesting to see volume two of Agnes Witts’ diary. Fingers crossed for further volumes!

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Museum Bound

October 31, 2015 at 11:02 am (books, entertainment) (, )

VERY interesting article in this week’s Seven Days:

collection bound

A southern Vermont book store (which I haven’t visited in AGES) used to carry a LOT of these “illustrated” bindings, so I’ve seen some “in the flesh” (how ghoulish a thought! considering today is Halloween…). A Burlington collector, Kathleen Roberts, will see her collection of nineteenth (and twentieth) century books become part of the collections of the American Bookbinders Museum. Alas: all the way out in San Francisco…

I’ve some older books – though never purchased for their bindings (and never very costly – or collectible).

GREAT fun to read about the items wanted by the Museum! Things like, a cloth embossing press (which does what you THINK it does: embosses fabric for covers); photographs; ephemera related to books & bindings. And it must be a wonderful museum to volunteer at! Still, rather sad to think of someone’s “home collection” now in a “museum” – rather like finding one’s goods & chattels in the neighborhood “antique store”! (been there…)

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Lady Northampton’s Aviary

October 26, 2015 at 2:17 pm (entertainment, jasna) (, , )

While staying at Louisville’s Galt House hotel, and traipsing DAILY back and forth from the JASNA AGM to our hotel room, I never realized the overpass, described by the hotel as their “conservatory”, was “Modeled after the Crystal Palace in London”.

Galt House

Their aviary of “exotic and colorful songbirds”, within the conservatory, however, fascinated me! You can just glimpse it in this “empty room” shot from the hotel’s website:

Galt House_interior

And even a dolt like me sees the Crystal Palace likeness, when I’m no longer rushing through it. Thank goodness I can say I breakfasted one day (Friday, the first day of the conference) under its arches.

As a child I had one pet: a dog. He spoiled me for ever contemplating a “replacement”. Other relatives had pets, among them a few dogs and the odd cat. I’m sure I had a goldfish at some point. But they never seem to last long, do they… Can’t say I recall any aquariums of vast size; or any caged birds. Maybe they were there, though.

In short, _I_ have often scoffed when reading about the Smiths & Goslings and Aviaries. Seemed like a “wealthy” kind of thing to have…, a fruitless “nothing”…, a “bauble” added to a room.


The hotel was busy-busy-busy. There was our conference – with over 800 Jane Austen enthusiasts. There was the Ironman Louisville Triathalon. And at least two other “groups” with conference space taken up in BOTH “towers” of the hotel. How wonderful it would be to sit, at leisure, and watch the little birds….

I remember one that swooped down, plucked up straw from the floor of the aviary, and brought it back up to the “basket”-like nest. I watched, amazed, as the straw piece was twisted and turned by the rapid movements of the little beak.

Only now do I wish I had “video”. But I post these photographs in order to share a little of my enthusiasm.

galt house birds1

galt house birds2

galt house birds3

galt house birds4

And from the letters, although I put my finger only on one comment by Lady Northampton about her aviary, I give you these snapshots of Smiths & Birds:

1804, Sarah Smith to Eliza Chute:

thank her [Mrs Bramston] for the kind offer of sending me a Canary Bird or two for the Aviary, Fanny [Lady Frances Compton] I am sure will be so good as to bring them with her


1807, Mamma to Augusta:

If the weather is as bad with you, as it is here, you cannot walk out much, & poor Grandmamma will be quite a prisoner; but you can always get to the Aviary, & there see a chearful scene.


1812, Maria Lady Northampton to her daughter:

my little birds are cheering me with their soft notes & appear pleased to see me


1825, Mamma to Maria:

my condolences on Valentine’s abominable behaviour [a Canary bird is written underneath]; the only excuse for such unnatural voraciousness is that she has been living constantly in the world w:h is a great trial to many people’s principles, you must not expect her to lay any more eggs this year.

and, a few months later:

Valentine is building another Nest, which excites Maria’s anxiety

I’ve now made a memo: The next estate that I buy must CERTAINLY come complete with an AVIARY!

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Further Thoughts on the JASNA AGM in Louisville

October 24, 2015 at 1:16 pm (jane austen, jasna) (, )

Searching for reactions, thoughts, and etc. from other participants, I bring to the attention of readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen the following useful “follow-ups” on the Jane Austen Society of North America’s recent annual general meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.

ja world

clicking on the image above will bring you to the facebook page for the AGM 2015. As many know, the Louisville region hosts a yearly Jane Austen Festival, at Locust Grove.

I had been told that it was writer Sharon Lathan‘s husband who acted as AGM “PRESS” Photographer. And Sharon has posted countless photos of speakers, events, companions, and even Louisville. If you couldn’t make it to Louisvile in October 2015, take a look at Sharon’s 2015 AGM Album.

If you were there: You might see yourself! Or, at the very least, “relive” the experience.

  • JASNA Central & Western New York has a nice blog post, complete with photos, that you might wish to visit. I kept hoping we’d see more, following their Saturday (Oct. 17) meeting at a local Barnes & Noble, but I’ve not yet seen any newer post.
  • Sophie’s Diary offers a brief “first-AGM” write-up called “Weekend with Jane”.
  • JASNA linked various Persuasions articles into a “sampling” of Reading about LIVING IN JANE AUSTEN’S WORLD. Two of my early publications are there: look for Elizabeth Bennet’s trip to Derbyshire; as well as Elizabeth Darcy’s wedding journey [both listed under “TRAVEL”]


I’d like to address a personal aside:

On Saturday, October 10th (breakout session D), I gave my paper, “Who could be more prepared than she was”?  True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in early 19th Century England.

In the front row sat someone who seemed to photograph EVERY slide in my presentation. We’ve all been in an audience where some image grabbed our attention so much that we wanted to remember it, to keep it. But I have a vivid memory of changing images at one point quite rapidly – for some slides were “topic” cards (like the above). And it is that memory which I cannot shake: of a camera being lifted, and lifted again, and yet again.

It’s a harried atmosphere, when presenting a breakout paper at a JASNA AGM. My session came immediately after the plenary speaker Amanda Vickery. I had to hustle to my room, unpack the computer, my “script”, my couple of “show and tell” objects.

I had planned on an iPad app for keeping track of time. The last portion of the paper could run as long or as short as required. It was an Excel sheet comparing & contrasting “confinements” in Emma’s family, beginning with the confinement Claire Tomalin pointed to in her biography of Jane Austen: Lady Compton’s 1790 confinement with her son Spencer (the future 2nd Marquess of Northampton).

There’s a certain amount of material to get through; there’s a time limit — and I had three different people telling me when my time was running out (no two in sync). Waiting for the AV tech to arrive with the correct projector connection (HDMI), I neglected to even turn the iPad on (No room ON the lectern, it sat on a shelf below.)

My paper had specific references, letter and diary excerpts, that I wanted to introduce – to an audience who would have NO CLUE who Emma Austen or her family members were. I put a lot of effort into the slides that accompanied my words. So much so, that it felt as if I wrote two papers!

Only late into the paper did I spot the audience member taking “snaps”.

Even as I went through my Excel sheet of “confinements”, I saw the camera rise each time I moved the text on the screen.

My research – culled over nearly ten years now – is very dear to my heart. I’ve written and blogged and talked, always with the hope of exciting others about the “history” of people in another land at another time.

But to what end does someone photograph an entire presentation?

The images and the conclusions made while culling stacks of letters and diaries, was something I wanted to SHARE – with the people in the room.

Cell phones and cameras and selfies are too ubiquitous, for my taste. Nowadays, no one thinks about the possibility that I might have prefered NOT to have my presentation so faithfully reproduced.

It’s great for people to share their thoughts, their photographs; but please do not make assumptions about how I wish to share my work.

If this is a new trend in “note-taking”, I hope audience members will consider asking the speaker beforehand. I, for one, will be more guarded – both about what items I bring and what I include as images during a presentation.

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