And they called her MARIA Ramsay

June 27, 2020 at 9:11 pm (diaries, news, people, research, World of Two Teens) (, , , )

She popped up in a search of wills in the search engine of The National Archives. These are records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, and the wills date from 1384 until 12 January 1858. Jane Austen’s will can be found through this site. Fun Fact: Due the Covid-19 closure, TNA offers free downloads of their digital wills.

The “She” in question was a woman named Maria Ramsay, Spinster of Whickham, Durham. I had been searching (again…) for a first name for Emma’s “Miss Ramsay,” their young governess who died in August 1819, aged only 28. Miss Ramsay can also be found in the journals of The Highland Lady, Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus. It’s frustrating to SEARCH for someone when you have little more than (1) her last name, (2) the date of her death, and (3) the place of her death. This Maria Ramsay hit the last name and the place, but the date?!? Her will was proved 25 January 1820, nearly five months after my Miss Ramsay’s death. I didn’t hold out much hope, but: I HAD TO KNOW FOR CERTAIN!

The will was super short, and the opening line sealed the deal – and solved a very long-standing mystery. “This is the last Will and testament of me MARIA RAMSAY late of Portland Place in the County of Middlesex.” The address is that of Mrs. Smith, No. 6 Portland Place.

Finally… I KNOW HER NAME!

They called her MARIA! The “they” being her family, rather than the family with whom she lived. None of the girls would have called her anything other than MISS RAMSAY – even Elizabeth Grant (and her book editors) would only ever call the dear governess “MISS RAMSAY.”

HighlandLady-Lady Grant

I wish I could say the entire world opened up, and I now knew all about her. Alas…! The only tidbits I have are her mother’s name – Mary Ramsay – obtained because she’s named in her daughter’s will, as the only heir to the few possessions of her young daughter. Emma took Miss Ramsay’s death quite to heart, writing in her diary about the loss of this true friend. Ancestry indicates, though the actual images are not online, that a daughter of RALPH Ramsay was born on December 26th in the year 1790. This could be her. Again the place of WHICKHAM is mentioned, and Emma did once mention Miss Ramsay’s birthday (though not her age). The date is correct. And from her obituary I had already guessed circa 1789. It must be her! I would love to have seen an image of the parish registers to ascertain that RALPH was a correct reading; this child was baptised on 9 January 1791. The child’s mother is merely listed as “Mary”. I could find no marriage of a Ralph Ramsay and Mary xxx (presumably in Whickham), nor any siblings. (Miss Ramsay had at least a brother.)

But, finding a FIRST NAME is a great start!

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Sydney Smith’s Blue Plaque at York

June 21, 2020 at 10:35 pm (books, people, places) (, , )

sydney smith blue plaque

The Blue Plaque scheme of the United Kingdom brings the homes and haunts of the “famous” to the present-day masses. This April 2019 ceremony unveiled the Blue Plaque for the Rev. Sydney Smith at More House, Heslington, York. Known for his wicked wit, Sydney Smith supplies incisive reading to those lucky enough to grab any of the books based on his letters and published writing.

While awaiting the launch of the *new* website for the Sydney Smith Association, I was pleased to find this lengthy write-up for this dedication.

More House now houses the Catholic Chaplaincy to the University of York. It was Sydney Smith’s vicarage from 1809 to 1814. Smith is connected to the Beach family, neighbors to Jane Austen’s family; the writer may have met Smith in Bath – but more on that story later!

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Autograph Letter Signed, 1790s

June 14, 2020 at 8:55 pm (Help Wanted, history, people, research, World of Two Teens) (, , , )

Back in 2012, I wrote about various SINGLE LETTERS potentially held by collectors of (Great Britain or GB) postal history items, saying I’d *LOVE* to hear from them. In “Autograph Letter Signed,” I talked about the difficulty of searching for individual pieces of Smith and Gosling mail. Can’t search for ALS, without tons of pages about Lou Gehrig’s disease. Not everyone discusses “entire” letters, and sometimes the letter is not present in its entirety.

But today I wish to put out some images, with brief information, about the postmarks and where letters, in the Smith and Gosling world, got sent from and to.

I am _not_ a collector of postal history or pre-stamp items, per se. My interest is in the CONTENTS. When I studied these photographs a few nights ago, as I saved the address panels for posting here at Two Teens in the Time of Austen, there were moments when I *suddenly* noticed a post mark, buried among the strokes of the handwriting. Sometimes, the post marks are not well struck. The striking might be repeated, or blurred, or partial. And, as a non-specialist and non-collector I don’t know what SHOULD be there. I only know what I can read.

Among the earliest letters – and I will let my original page on Autograph Letters Signed tell who lived where – are those from the estate of the parents (grandparents to my not-yet-born “Teen” Emma Smith – later Emma Austen Leigh), Joshua Smith, MP and his wife Sarah Gilbert. By the 1790s, they lived at Stoke Park, near Devizes, in Wiltshire. As is often the case, this estate bore several spellings of its name: Earl Stoke Park, Erle Stoke Park, even Erlestoke Park. You will see from the examples what they themselves typically called the estate. Joshua rebuilt it in the late 1780s, onward.

There are indications that the Four Sisters of Erlestoke Park lived, priorly, at Eastwick Park in Surrey. Eliza Chute, after her marriage living at The Vine (The Vyne), near Basingstoke in Hampshire, briefly waxed nostalgic on their time at Eastwick (rented by the Smiths), but I’ve never yet seen a letter from that address, or to them there. THAT would be a *find* indeed!

1790_Brodie_Devizes1790: Joshua Smith to John Brodie;
from London to Stoke Park, Devizes, Wiltshire
FRANKED: Joshua Smith;
circular post mark and something above Joshua’s name;
seemingly assessed 1d (1 penny)

The Smith family had SEVERAL MPs in their family in the 1790s. Joshua Smith, Lord Compton (later: the 1st Marquess of Northampton), William Chute, and even for a short time Charles Smith (the father of Emma, my “Teen“; there are other Emma Smiths in the family, over three generations). So, in the early 1790s, I came across a LOT of “free” mail. Mail was free because a Member of Parliament fill out the address, and wrote his name. A frank meant that the recipient (who usually paid the postage) did not have to pay for postage. Of course, such mail should have been concerned with Parliamentary business. These contain family news.  So you will see several examples of various “FREE” postal marks, over the years. An “abuse of privilege,” but even Jane Austen used a frank to mail a letter to her sister Cassandra, from time to time.

1790_Steuart_London1790: Joshua Smith to George Steuart;
from Stoke Park to London;
FRANKED: Joshua Smith;
POST MARKS: circular “FREE”; one-line “DEVIZES”

These two letters (above) both deal with work being done at Erlestoke Park. George Steuart was the main architect; John Brodie worked at the site.

1793_ASmith_Stoke1793: Maria, Lady Compton to her sister Miss Augusta Smith;
from Weymouth to Stoke Park, Devizes;
FRANKED: Lord Compton;
POST MARK: one-line “WEYMOUTH”

Here, we are in the midst of the wars with France, with Lord Compton serving a group of Northamptonshire militia who are based in the south of England, for training and maneuvers. The envelope is written in Lord Compton’s hand, as is proper for any piece of franked mail. The actual letter was written by his wife.

You can view samples of the different handwriting for the Four Sisters of Erle Stoke Park on a prior blog post. Their hands are ALL quite different. From Aunt Emma’s sometimes difficult to decipher “spiky” hand (she was the youngest), to Lady Compton’s rounded child-like hand (she was the eldest).

To read more about each sister, personally, see Further Thoughts on Four Sisters.

1793_ASmith_Tring1793: Lady Compton to her sister Miss Augusta Smith;
from Weymouth to Tring Park, Hertfordshire;
FRANKED: Lord Compton;
POST MARKS: circular “FREE”; one-line “WEYMOUTH”

Tring Park, in the 1790s, was the country estate of the Smith sisters’ uncle, Drummond Smith. He would, in 1804, be awarded a baronetcy. His first wife, who never lived to become “Lady Smith” of Tring, was Mary Cunliffe, the elder daughter of Sir Ellis Cunliffe. Lady Cunliffe (his wife) was a friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and it is Lady Cunliffe and her two daughters who appear in the online article, “Boswell’s ‘my Miss Cunliffe’: Augmenting James Boswell’s Missing Chester Journal“. The younger sister, born posthumously, was Margaret Elizabeth Cunliffe. Tring Park (now a performing arts school) is a VERY important estate in my research. Mrs. Charles Smith (the former “Miss Augusta Smith”) and her children moved to Tring in the late 1820s, and Emma and James Edward Austen lived at Tring for the first years of their marriage. You see here a peep at Augusta Smith’s own handwriting: she endorsed it right above Lord Compton’s signature.

1793_EChute_Vine1793: Sarah Smith to her daughter Eliza Chute;
from Stoke Park to The Vine, Basingstoke, Hampshire;
FRANKED: Joshua Smith;
POST MARK: one-line “DEVIZES”

You see here, in pencil, to the left of “Via London” an indication of to whom this letter (and others) were given, possibly in the 1840s after the death of Eliza Chute. The initials are EAL = Emma Austen Leigh. Mrs. Chute’s letters typically are covered, in the address area, with reminders of who sent the letter (“Mama”) and what the contents covered. “Mrs. Gosling” denotes Margaret Elizabeth née Cunliffe. In 1793 the two Elizas married – Eliza Smith married William Chute, MP and Eliza Cunliffe married William Gosling, banker. EVERY letter that mentions Eliza Gosling is special to me: in 1800 she gave birth to my “TeenMary Gosling, who, with Emma Smith, make my “Two Teens“. Mary Gosling married Emma Smith’s eldest brother, Sir Charles Joshua Smith; and, as mentioned, Emma Smith married Jane Austen’s nephew, James Edward Austen. Thus the full title of my blog: Smith and Gosling: Two Teens in the Time of Austen.

1794_EChute_Vine1794: Sarah Smith to her daughter Eliza Chute;
from Stoke Park, Devizes to The Vine, Basingstoke;
FRANKED: Joshua Smith;
POST MARKS: circular “FREE”; one-line “DEVIZES”

You can easily spot that this is one of Emma Austen’s batch of letters (EAL in pencil) and that the letter was originally written to Eliza Chute, who wrote out hints about the contents.

1795_EChute_London1795; Sarah Smith to her daughter Eliza Chute;
from Stoke Park to (1) The Vine; forwarded to Great George St, London;
FRANKED: “FREE MP” in Sarah Smith’s hand;
POST MARKS: circular date and “FREE”;
two-line “BASING STOKE”; faint “DEVIZES”

Although this was a letter from mother to daughter, it was addressed to William Chute, a Member of Parliament, at The Vine, and forwarded to the Joshua Smiths’ London address, 29 Great George Street, Westminster. During this period, the families often “bunked in” with Joshua Smith when Parliament was in session.

1795_EChute_Vine1795: Sarah Smith to her daughter Eliza Chute;
from Great George St., London to The Vine, Basingstoke;
POST MARK: circular “FREE”

Again, unmistakably with notes written by Eliza Chute on the envelope section indicating contents, including “Mrs. Melford’s dance”.

1796_ASmith_Stoke1796: Lady Northampton to her sister Augusta Smith;
from Castle Ashby, near Northampton to Stoke Park, Devizes;
FRANKED: Lord Northampton;
POST MARKS: circular “FREE”; two-line “NORTH AMPTON”

In April 1796, upon the death of the 8th Earl Northampton, his son Lord Compton succeeded him as the 9th Earl. It is his frank you see in the above envelope. We also see “Miss A. Smith” has now become the eldest unmarried daughter, and her mail is addressed now to MISS SMITH. Castle Ashby, in Northamptonshire, a few miles from Northampton itself, was the country estate of sister Maria, Lady Northampton.

1796_ASmith_Vine1796: Lady Northampton to her sister Augusta Smith;
from Bath to The Vine, Basingstoke, Hampshire;
FRANKED: Lord Northampton;
POST MARK: “BATH”

With the Northamptons in Bath, Maria was writing to her sister Augusta, who was visiting their sister Eliza Chute. Lord Northampton was again at the head of the Northamptonshire Militia in the summer of 1796.

1796_EChute_Roehampton1796: Sarah Smith to her daughter Eliza Chute;
from Stoke Park, Devizes to Roehampton Grove, Surrey;
FRANKED: Joshua Smith;
POST MARKS: faint circular “FREE”; one-line “DEVIZES”

As mentioned, above, the William Goslings were important friends and relations to the Smiths. Letters like this are among  my very favorites because of the pictures they paint of “Life at Roehampton Grove” (now part of the University of Roehampton). Eliza Gosling died in December 1803, after a lengthy illness. ANY news of Eliza Gosling is always welcome news.

1796_Joshua Smith_Stoke1796: Lady Northampton to her sister Augusta Smith;
from Castle Ashby to Stoke Park, Devizes:
POST MARKS: circular “FREE”; two-line “NORTH AMPTON”

Here is a sample of the handwriting of Lady Northampton, she’s writing her sister Augusta. Unmarried, until 1798, Augusta and youngest sister Emma Smith often remained at Stoke with their mother, until the London Season (approximately, February through June) brought them to “Town” for the balls, parties, dances, and other dissipations. Lady Northampton wrote frequently, keeping up a “conversation” with each of her sisters, her parents, her husband, and later her children.

The difficulty in locating single specimens is that I am looking for specific writers and recipients. Collectors talk of cancellations and post marks; hand stamps and free fronts; if I’m lucky, they mention whether there is an “entire letter” and if I’m REALLY lucky, they include an image of the contents.

A for instance: Aunt Emma’s 1799 letter was missing pages 1 thru 4, the extra sheet (folded in half) which would have been “wrapped” by the additional page (a half-sheet). With franked letters, the weight of that extra page did not cost the recipient extra – it was “free.” Such a second sheet often ended the letter on one side and had the direction written on the reverse side. This often is described as a “wrapper.” If the franked address panel is cut out – a small oblong rather than a half-sheet of paper, then you have a “free front.” The rear may be blank or have portions of text (the rest of course has been cut away). These are the saddest to find: Letters that once were!

Early on I got into the habit of calling divorced letters “WIDOWS” (a beginning with no end) and “ORPHANS” (an end with no beginning). In “Orphan in search of its Widow,” I included text AND images of Aunt Emma’s 1799 letter. I am convinced that sometimes family kept the letter, but jettisoned the “envelope.” I live in hope of uniting my orphan with its widow. Thanks to my work in various archives, “The Case of the ‘Noble Torso‘” tells the tale of two halves reunited (at the SAME archive; different folders).

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Just one more thing…

June 1, 2020 at 8:45 pm (diaries, people, research, travel) (, , , , )

Michael in Wales has seen the diary entry made by Lady Eleanor Butler about the Goslings’ 1821 trip through Northern Wales, when they made a four-hour stop to visit Lady Eleanor and Sarah Ponsonby – better known to the Goslings (and posterity) as The Ladies of Llangollen.

butler-and-ponsonby

This is exciting (though dampened by Covid-19 closure of archival libraries), and FAIRLY puzzling: Michael’s comment unearthed an additional person visiting with the Ladies at Plas Newydd!

Michael’s summarization of Lady Eleanor’s comment:

5 Sept 1821 – Mr. and Mrs. Gosling, son, and 2 daughters.

led me to relook at Mary’s diary and two letters, written about the Goslings’ 1821 trip (i.e., merely reporting news of them NOT their news written by one of them). I doubt that Lady Eleanor gave much information, beyond WHO their visitors were, but I’m dying to know what SHE said! Oh, for libraries and archives to reopen.

This is NOT the first time that I have “waited with baited breath” for a tasty morsel; it usually turns out to be a mere TIDBIT only.

There once was hint of a letter’s contents: mention of “Master Charles Smith” and “our little maid” (i.e., his elder sister Augusta) during a stay with Grandpa and Grandma Smith at Stoke Park near Devizes, when the two children were quite young. Alas, there wasn’t much beyond the FACT of their stay, though there was enough extra to be satisfied with a small picture of their childish antics.

Another letter, different archive, was written on the very day William Gosling married his second wife, the Hon. Charlotte de Grey. Ooooohhhh, wedding news! And written by the mother-of-the-bride!

Alas… only the statement that they had married. NO details!

That felt like a sprinkling of crumbs, never mind a FAR tastier letter.

Beechey-Mary
(I used to hope THIS was the face of Mary Gosling)

But, BACK TO WALES. The 1821 diary by MARY GOSLING was my FIRST acquaintance with her, her family, and the Smiths of Suttons, the family Mary married into in 1826. Little did I know then how much I would discover, and how far-ranging this project would become. But I always took Mary at her word: That they departed from Roehampton “Papa, Mamma, my sister [Elizabeth Gosling] and myself,”  which makes up the very first sentence written to record this trip.

WHERE and WHEN did a “son” come into the mix?? Mary never says!

As I read and cogitated, an image of Columbo (yes, the 1970s TV detective) came to mind: “Just one more thing…” Only Mary didn’t come back with some second thoughts. (NB: I now wonder if she wrote up her entire diary once she got home.)

It was the second of the two letters (written in October 1821) that mentioned, “Mr. G-, Bennett & the two girls only crossed the sea” (ie, went to Ireland). LONG had I recalled that letter saying that Mrs. Gosling had stayed behind, with her relations the Irbys. WHY had I never thought about the inclusion of BENNETT Gosling in the same sentence?

Mary never mentioned that Bennett accompanied them, nor that her step-mother did not accompany them to Dublin. Nor was mention made about everyone in their party suffering from SEASICKNESS aboard the steamship! (Coming and going.) Only Emma, in a letter repeating news of a letter, let slip these vital details.

Of course, without Mary, I don’t know when Bennett joined them. But – thanks to Eleanor Butler’s diary! – I do know that he, too, visited the Ladies of Llangollen.

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Art and Artifact in Austen

May 3, 2020 at 10:32 am (books, history, jane austen) (, , )

A new book, based on a SUNY-Plattsburgh Conference entitled, Jane Austen and The Arts: A Bicentenary Conference, which took place 23-25 Marcy 2017. I remember it being rather cold and even snowy up here, especially whenever I ferried across Lake Champlain to reach upstate New York. “Jane” always does seem to bring out the extremes of our Vermont weather in March….

Art-Artifact in Austen

Editor Anna Battigelli, the conference organizer, has included articles presented in 2017, as well as some c”omplimentary material, covering all aspects of “art” in Jane Austen’s writing and life.

I well remember this three-day conference. It remains *special* for several reasons: the size was perfect – the enthusiasm high – the scholarship thought-provoking. A highlight was the song cycle “Marianne Dashwood: Songs of Love and Misery“, an original piece commissioned and sung by Meaghan Martin (Douglas Sumi, piano). No CD with the book, I’m afraid! But a peek at the table of contents will give indication of the wealth of topics between the covers:

  • “Portraiture as Misrepresentation in the Novels and Early Writings of Jane Austen” (Peter Sabor)
  • “Jane Austen’s ‘Artless’ Heroines: Catherine Morland and Fanny Price” (Elaine Bander)
  • “Legal Arts and Artifacts in Jane Austen’s Persuasion” (Nancy E. Johnson)
  • “Jane Austen and the Theatre? Perhaps Not So Much” (Deborah C. Payne)
  • “Everything is Beautiful: Jane Austen at the Ballet” (Cheryl A. Wilson)
  • “Jane Austen, Marginalia, and Book Culture” (Marilyn Francus)
  • “Gender and Things in Austen and Pope” (Barbara M. Benedict)
  • “ ‘A Very Pretty Amber Cross’: Material Sources of Elegance in Mansfield Park” (Natasha Duquette)
  • “Religious Views: English Abbeys in Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Emma” (Tonya J. Moutray)
  • “Intimate Portraiture and the Accomplished Woman Artist in Emma (Juliette Wells)
  • “‘Is she Musical?’ Players and Nonplayers in Austen’s Fiction” (Linda Zionkowski and Miriam Hart)
  • “What Jane Saw—in Henrietta Street” (Jocelyn Harris)

You can read the “Introduction: The Intimate Ironies of Jane Austen’s Arts and Artifacts” online, when you click on “Look Inside”. I look forward to reliving some *warm* memories!

 

 

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“I felt an immediate bond with this diarist”

April 18, 2020 at 4:21 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, history) (, , , , )

As promised back in February, Margaret Bird’s monumental 4-volume “commentary and analysis” of The Diary of Mary Hardy, 1773-1809 is primed for release on Thursday, April 23, 2020.

I first found Mary Hardy following the 2013 publication of the full diary. Editor Margaret Bird now celebrates the completion of 32 years of work – on the four diary volumes (plus a single volume of entries not included) and now the four companions.

An excellent article on her passion, tasks, and triumphs is now online in the Eastern Daily Press article by Rowen Mantell, “Secrets of a Norfolk Diary revealed after almost 250 years.’ Says Bird of the diarist, “The best aspect for me is the way Mary Hardy depicts the social, economic and religious forces of the time.” Says Bird of her project, “I could see the diary’s significance just from short extracts.” Bird also comments on her affinity for and partnership (if I may call it such) with Mary Hardy: “I knew the church, the lanes, the waterways and the public houses familiar to her.” She confesses her “immediate bond” with Mary Hardy, and we get a fabulous snapshot of two pages from the diary itself.

As Mantell recognizes, “Margaret had no idea the project would take her more than three decades.” In the kind of dedication that _I_ can attest to, Margaret Bird has “given it [the Mary Hardy project] 10 to 15 hours a day, usually seven days a week, other than during our time on the boat on the Broads. When in Norfolk I carried out the fieldwork and worked in libraries and the record office.”

This link will give you several of the posts at Two Teens in the Time of Austen dedicated to Mary Hardy and Margaret Bird. I’ve also talked about the diaries in my blog Georgian Gems, Regency Reads & Victorian Voices, a site dedicated to letters and diaries – those primary materials that are so important to find and to celebrate.

mary-hardy vol 1 of the DIARIES

Read Margaret Bird’s latest Press Release, even with the disappointment of the 2020 Launch party (due to coronavirus closures and distancing), which would have taken place last evening, the article still ends with a “Clink” of champagne glasses! Scroll to the bottom of that page for information on both the DIARIES and the COMMENTARIES. The Companion volumes are ably described on this page, with links to further information on each volume.

A “Hardy” CONGRATULATIONS, Margaret, for your achievement!

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Travels with Lady Anne

April 11, 2020 at 3:45 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, travel) (, , , , )

Some time ago the mailbox contained the lovely biography of Lady Anne Barnard by Stephen Taylor entitled Defiance: in the U.S. the subtitle is “The Extraordinary Life of Lady Anne Barnard“; in the U.K. its subtitle is the more enticing “The Life and Choices of Lady Anne Barnard“. I love, too, the cover art – which includes a depiction by Lady Anne of life aboard ship.

Defiance_UK Defiance_US

But as my blog, Two Teens in the Time of Austen, deals so much with original letters and diaries, my main comments today will be about three volumes – available on the used book market – that have arrived in the past week or two.

Lady Anne Barnard diaries

These volumes, published by the Van Riebeeck Society, cover the the years this valiant, diary-keeping Scotswoman spent in South Africa. The dust jacket on the U.S. edition mistakes Lady Anne’s date of birth, which is 1750, making her nearing the age of 50 when she undertakes to follow her husband to the Cape of Good Hope.

The first volume (VRS second series No. 24) are Lady Anne’s own “revised” diaries, and are therefore called The Cape Journals of Lady Anne Barnard, 1797-1798, edited by A.M. Lewin Robinson (with Margaret Lenta and Dorothy Driver), published in 1994 (for 1993). This is broken into three “journals,” which includes the sea journey (thus the drawing on the U.K. cover of Defiance); the “residence” ; and a tour into the “interior of Africa”. Extras include a literary assessment of Lady Anne’s work.

The two further volumes (VRS second series Nos. 29 & 30) publish her extant diaries: The Cape Diaries of Lady Anne Barnard, 1799-1800 (vols. 1 and 2), edited by Margaret Lenta and Basil Le Courdeur (1999 for 1998; and 1999). 

This far-away land is a fairly new departure for me — though for a later traveler to Africa, see the published diaries of Mabel Hall-Dare, a relation to the Smiths & Goslings.

I am looking forward to spending some down-time with the warm-hearted Lady Anne Barnard. Whether you start with Taylor’s biography, or end with it, the quartet makes for weeks of reading.

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My first blog post: Emma and Mary

April 2, 2020 at 2:10 pm (books, entertainment, introduction, research, World of Two Teens) (, , , , , )

My first post introduced Emma Smith and Mary Gosling, my TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN, on 1 June 2008. it was called:

WHY EMMA and MARY?

I called them ordinary English girls. And so they remain to me. And, yet, they are extraordinary in that they left personal writing – diaries and letters – behind. More extraordinary: so did one mother and several aunts; so did brothers, sisters, cousins (though SOME items I have not yet located). Most extraordinary, _I_ found these girls, and their families. And I located, on several continents, their literary (and artistic) remains.

Eliza-Chute-letters

Of course, over the years, I’ve blogged about some of those finds. I’ve also *dreamed* about locating other bits and pieces, certainly those bits that I know once existed, and hoping – always – for those pieces of their puzzle that I didn’t know were out there. Kind readers of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN (thank you!!) have written to me over the years, some with a diary, others with a book, a couple with portraits, many with LETTERS, all of which I absolutely cherish. There’s no such thing as “enough”. One line in one letter potentially could ‘solve a mystery’. A relationship disclosed in a diary could point me to the next BIG STASH of stuff. And to be able to look at the faces of those who have penned their thoughts (and thereby penned their life stories): priceless.

Of course, the years of research also means that I’ve uncovered tidbits about MANY people – famous as well as extended family – with whom the Smiths and Goslings interacted. A VERY long list. Including members of the extended Austen – Austen Leigh – Knight – Lefroy families. Members of the British Royal Family. Many of these people I’ve listed on the CAN YOU HELP? page. Of course, since their names turn up in my research,  _I_ can help those looking for more information about people they research too.

I’m currently working on a book chapter, for the book “Women and Music in Georgian Britain,” edited by Miriam Hart and Linda Zionkowski. My chapter will cover the years 1815 to 1825, with a focus on Augusta and Emma Smith, the two eldest sisters. These were formative years for them; a decade of music masters, London concerts (the “London Season” was astoundingly busy), travel, and of friends with whom they ‘make music’. The decade culminates with a year-long trip to the Continent and stays in Rome and Naples. If the trip was a ‘high,’ of course, the return home – to the “same old way of life” – led to angst over hearing less and less from their new acquaintances left behind.

The possibility of a beau or two left behind was also of concern to the brothers and sisters who remained home for that year (June 1822-June 1823).

cover-twoteens

Several years ago I collected blog “essays” into a book-length Kindle: TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN: RANDOM JOTTINGS, 2008-2013 – and that book is still available. Given the times we currently live in, it is readily available. All you need is your Amazon account. No mailman or -woman need be involved.

As new information slowed, so too did my dissemination of information. And so too did my enthusiasm for talking to people whom I couldn’t see. I wondered: Is Anybody there? / Does anybody care? I plugged away at transcribing, and searching & finding – but I didn’t talk about it as much. For later “finds” were hard-won, or they were family images, or they were items that I purchased and didn’t want to share.

Then came a recent Kindle sale. (Thank you, dear reader)

The picture’s linked to the US site; but there are other Amazons, including United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia.

The Kindle version includes a couple items not found on the blog; though disregard the “early” first chapter – the same thoughts are still extant, but the chapter has totally evolved. Every purchase helps support this research, so: THANK YOU!

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Stop to Smell the ROSES

March 29, 2020 at 9:35 am (jane austen, people) (, , , )

Last week I divided a bouquet – flowers at my mother’s grave; gifted to my aunt; and a couple retained for myself.

Photo Mar 22, 12 36 45 PM

The color GRABBED me when I saw them, a deep blush pink – They “called to me.”

Then I spotted their ‘name’:

Photo Mar 22, 12 36 06 PM

LOVELY LYDIA

How could someone who reads Jane Austen and researches her niece-by-marriage, Emma Austen Leigh, RESIST? Instantly, sprang to mind: “LYDIA BENNET” (Pride and Prejudice, of course).

By the time I got home, though, I found the name had morphed in my mind into:

Laughing Lydia

and that is what I call them now, whenever I glance at these roses, though the blooms in my vase have now “dried” into little dangling bells of pink blush.

I leave you that thought today, and wish you – especially those who are home, sheltering from the coronavirus – to “take a moment and smell the roses.” Enjoy what brings you pleasure, whether online or in a book (for instance). Revel in good health, or increasing health if you’ve been ill (any illness). Leave a moment, too, to remember those no longer in your life. And always: LAUGH along with Lydia.

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Metropolitan Opera (NYC) nightly streams

March 23, 2020 at 6:00 pm (entertainment, news) (, , , )

The Met

From the vaults of the Metropolitan Live in HD broadcasts come NIGHTLY Met Opera streams. Tonight (beginning 7:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time in the US) is TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, starting off a week of Wagner. New opera every day at the same time; each available for 23 hours.

Homebound opera-lovers take note!

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