Hester Wheeler, The Vyne and “Sense & Sensibility”

April 4, 2015 at 5:43 pm (chutes of the vyne, diaries, history, jane austen, people, portraits and paintings) (, , )

As promised, I’ve posted an *all new* and rather lengthy article on Hester Wheeler. By the end, you will not only be familiar with Hester’s history, you’ll also SEE her face! For a portrait has been located!

Digging deeper into the background of someone tangential to the Smiths has proved rewarding and also a bit frustrating! I’ve come to the conclusion that my two Carolines — Caroline Austen (Edward’s younger sister) and Caroline Wiggett Workman (the Chutes’ adopted niece, at The Vyne) — were “challenged” when recollecting. Until further evidence comes forth, some points about Hester Wheeler will simply remain “cloudy”.

vine_dundee

The above abode is The Vine – not in Hampshire, but in Dundee Scotland. And yet it does have a relationship to The Vyne near Basingstoke. This home, certainly built to “honor” the Hampshire estate, once belonged to George Duncan, MP. If you read the article, you will see why he and his “Georgian” home is important to the later history of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

I DO WISH that the Jane Austen Society Reports article by Anne Hardy was still available online. If anyone can pinpoint its later history (it showed up online because it hadn’t made the print edition), let me know. This snippet from “Women Writers Through The Ages” forum will have to give a flavor of the original, which I used as a jumping-off-point for my article, “Uncovering the Face of Hester Wheeler“.

For another (quick) look at the Duncan monument, see the video discussed in the post about the Dundee Howff. It begins at the minute mark 25.38.

[I, of course, disagree about WHY Hester is not buried under the name DUNCAN!!]

I invite anyone with further information — on Hester; the Marshalls; Eliza Chute’s diaries, Edward Austen’s interactions with George Duncan &c — to contact me (see About the Author for my email address). I’d dearly love to solve some of the “mysteries” the two Carolines have created.

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Highbury Imagined (map for “Emma”)

March 29, 2015 at 7:27 pm (books, history, jane austen, jasna) (, , )

Penny Gay’s “A Hypothetical Map of Highbury” has hit the JASNA website (although destined for Persuasions On-line late in 2015). Emma has been on my mind after reading a letter – written at the time of Edward Austen’s engagement to Emma Smith (and they were reading Emma about this time too!) by his great aunt Mrs. Leigh Perrot. She quite liked Mr. Knightley (who doesn’t) and Jane Fairfax, but I’m afraid she was not a fan of Emma Woodhouse – and had grown QUITE tired of Miss Bates. As to Frank Churchill: she would not have married him, had she been Jane Fairfax!

map-highbury

My paper for the 2015 JASNA AGM (‘Who could be more prepared than she was?’  True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in Early 19th Century England) looks into Mrs Weston’s pregnancy and delivery by talking about the confinements of Lady Compton (c1790) and Emma Austen (c1830). So to illustrate what a FABULOUS map Penny Gay has come up with I supply at peep at RANDALLS, the Weston home. CLICK on the map for the story and the “full picture”. And then pull your copy of Emma off the shelf…

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Memento Mori

March 27, 2015 at 10:53 pm (history) (, , )

Although a bit of a morbid subject to contemplate, this hour-plus video tour of the cemetery known as The Dundee Howff, is quite fascinating.

howff

For instance, I can’t say I ever realized an Hour Glass on its side indicated a person who hadn’t lived “a full life” (ie, 70 years). It’s a pity those monuments that are on the ground are hard to see, as the explanations make you wish to view them closely. Iain Flett and Innes Duffus are the two archivists showing us around.

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Prinny’s Taylor now on Kindle

March 20, 2015 at 10:17 am (books, british royalty, fashion, history) (, , , , )

prinnys_taylorThe ever-vigilant Charlotte Frost (Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician) — who is working on an exciting new project herself! — passed on word of a book we both have been anticipating with great pleasure:

Prinny’s Taylor: The Life and Times of Louis Bazalgette (1750-1830)

Louis’ descendant Charles Bazalgette has worked for YEARS to piece together the life of the man who tailored some of the wardrobe worn by the Prince Regent – Charles even gives insight into the story behind the nickname Prinny (which I never knew, since, like Charles, it isn’t a term I often seek to employ).

There are even several chapters about 18th-century tailoring, which should be of especial interest to those who sew and create. The fascinating story, however, is the rise of Louis Bazalgette. I mean, how DID he become a preferred tailor to the Prince of Wales?? If he existed nowadays, he’d be displaying a Royal Warrant of Appointment at his premises!

To quote the book synopsis: Prinny’s Taylor “presents a new angle on Georgian and Regency life, as seen through the eyes of a little French tailor who by his own efforts became a very wealthy propertied merchant”.

A little-known aside: my Emma mentions Mr Bazalgette in a letter, as a neighbor to a friend she visited!

 

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Anna Atkins (Google Doodle)

March 17, 2015 at 8:30 pm (books, entertainment, history) (, , )

Often I stare at any given day’s “Google Doodle” with a thought for the cute design. YESTERDAY I found myself thoroughly entranced by learning about a woman who lived during the lifetime of my Two Teens!

Anna Atkins was born in 1799 — the same YEAR as Emma’s eldest sister Augusta Smith; she died in 1871, five years prior to Emma’s own death. Right there, given the overlapping time-frame, I was captivated.

atkins cyantope

But there are also ties to Tonbridge (Kent) and Fox Talbot (an important figure in the early days of photography). And her images are GORGEOUS!

  • Read Fox Talbot Letters online (for fun: search for COMPTON to find some ties to Two Teens [not ALL hits will be for Lord &/or Lady Compton])

I have to admit, that I am partly captivated by these Cyanotypes because of their “relationship” to the flower paintings done by the Four Sisters of Erle Stoke Park (ie, Emma Austen’s mother and three aunts).

rhs images

Search for “Meen” to see some Erle Stoke floral drawings!

 

Two Teens actually HAS an “early photograph component to it too: Charles Spencer Scrase Dickins, son of Lady Elizabeth Compton and Charles Scrase Dickins. Some of his photographs of Italy are reproduced in the book PICTURING PLACE: PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE GEOGRAPHICAL IMAGINATION. (<-Yes, this book gets the ordering of his name incorrect; and this one incorrectly IDs his uncle as a “duke” ->) His biography appears in the text Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860. (online preview)

Anna Atkins also provided engravings of shells to illustrate works. Of the Four Sisters of Erle Stoke Park, Lady Northampton (the eldest of the quarter) had an intense interest in shells, which included painting them with a similar attention to detail that one finds in the floral paintings!

I’m a bookworm, so will have to see what is available about Anna Atkins. Thrilling discovery! And a name I will now be on the lookout for in any of the later letters and diaries.  Did any of “my people” meet Anna Atkins??

 

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Vermont: Reclaim History thru Re-creation

March 13, 2015 at 11:00 pm (entertainment, fashion, history) (, , )

reap-sew

 click to enlarge

If you’re in Vermont, check out this Town BrainTap event in Twinfield, Vermont on 8 April 2015!

A Talk and Trunk Show” by Justin Squizzero, with Eliza West – The aim is to showcase Early American Apparel, 1770 to 1815. I’ve seen Eliza West’s beautiful “Jane Austen” creations, and can say that anyone able to attend will not be disappointed. A $10 donation is suggested; a non-profit, proceeds are donated.

Check out the BrainTap website – as well as the recent 7 Days’ article: Reaping what was Sewn.

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Allan Maclean, Jacobite General

March 7, 2015 at 12:39 pm (books, history) (, , )

In trying to give greater access to my launching series of “Online Articles”, I was searching for a paper I knew to be on Academia.edu, and in that search found a very interesting book: on the uncle of Margaret Maclean Clephane (ie, Lady Compton).

allan macleanAllen Maclean: Jacobite General, by Mary Beacock Fryer (1987; 1996) is at the very least available on Kindle, though probably copies of the original printing are out there.

Anyone reading even a few posts on Two Teens will know that women’s history is more up my alley. BUT: Maclean not only has a slim attachment to my Smith & Gosling research, he also served in the United States (more correctly, “the Colonies”) – and I see mentions of Lake Champlain (VERY near to me) in the text.

Anyone who has read the book, don’t be shy – drop by, say ‘hello,’ and give your thoughts on the book, the man, anything really.

The blurb for the book (on books.google) begins, “Born on the Isle of Mull to an impoverished laird of the clan Maclean, young Allan fought his first battle — for Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden”. Maclean fled to Holland, then served during the Seven Years War (AKA The French and Indian War) here, in North America, and again during the American Revolution. Allan Maclean was born in 1725 and died in March, 1797.

Early in the book (page 123), MARGARET’s letter discussing the history of this uncle is cited:

“The adventures contributed to a fund of stories that delighted his niece Marianne [the mother of Margaret, Anna Jane, and Wilmina Douglas-Maclean-Clephane], growing up at Torloisk, which she later passed on to her daughters. The eldest, Margaret Clephane, wrote to a friend, a Miss Stanhope:

his history would make a novel; he once passed through the American Camp in the disguise of a quack doctor, and sold a whole box of physic to the Yankees, and reached the British headquarters.

This ruse occurred when Allan slipped through the rebel army surrounding Boston…”

What a FASCINATING thing for Margaret to envision, given her close relationship with Walter Scott — his books were often the subject of Clephane-Compton correspondence.

 

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Announcing: Online Articles

March 6, 2015 at 11:46 am (books, entertainment, history, jane austen, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , )

As a writer – especially with as LARGE a project as Two Teens in the Time of Austen (<=click to see how the volumes break down) – articles have enabled me to hone little details into precise pictures-of-a-moment. Alas! readership depends on those who stumble upon the journals or magazines.

So I’ve decided to write “for myself”. These Online Articles will be much lengthier, more in-depth than blog posts, and cited (where appropriate) like journal articles. I hope you will enjoy them; and I invite comments on them.

I open the series with the original manuscript of artist Margaret Meen‘s “history” = Margaret Meen: A Life in Four Letters.

flowering of kew

Miss Meen (like Cassandra Austen, she later employed the “brevet rank” of Mrs) is a fascinating woman. At the time of writing the article, my BIG surprise was to discover how much of a fan she had in author Richard Mabey; and by extension, Martyn Rix who reviewed Mabey’s book The Flowering of Kew (1988). The explosion of information on the internet meant _I_ could supply a lot of the biographical information unavailable to them in the 1980s — all thanks to the existence of four letters written by Miss Meen, saved from a conflagration of Chute correspondence!

But I’ll leave you to read about her letters – and her life – on my Academia.edu page. Check the site often for further articles (I’m working on one relating to Sense and Sensibility) in the future.

* * *

March 7th: apologies for those viewing the page, who then could NOT then download the article without logging in to Academia.edu (although it does allow for log-ins via Facebook and Google).

Once articles are online a bit longer, they will search – but I want interested readers to have “access” now!

Here’s a current screen-shot [click pic to follow link] (the “info” button was toggled, which is why the upper portion shows the abstract &c):

meen article

“Margaret Meen: A Life in Four Letters”

I want people to see a “page” view, but also have the ability to download (and save, if you wish) the PDF. The link attached to the screen-shot enables the “preview” (the article runs four pages), but the “download” still asks for a log-in.

If I come across a better link, I’ll post it.

further info on Margaret Meen ILLUSTRATIONS:

I should also take the opportunity to add some links – there ARE images of Miss Meen’s wonderful Flower Paintings — combined with those from my Smith Sisters of Erle Stoke Park (as I’ve long mentioned on this blog). See Artwork Done By on this site; then click on the RHS pic. Or direct to the Royal Horticultural Society site, and either click on EMMA SMITH [who is “Aunt Emma” to my Emma Austen] or search for MEEN – which brings up all five artists.

You should “hit” on 48 images; and can either view them as larger thumbnails in a grid, or a row of images and descriptive text.

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Could have Danced All Night (1794)

February 27, 2015 at 4:21 pm (diaries, entertainment, jane austen) (, , , , )

Has it been staring me in the face…???

austen 1794

This transcription, from A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family, 1700-2000, by Deirdre Le Faye, copies out Eliza Chute’s diary entries for 1794. Born in 1768 and therefore only in her mid-20s, and still a fairly new bride, too, Eliza was in seventh heaven with her parents and sisters at The Vyne for a visit (January 14th), and was up for a bit of dancing.

First, some identifications:

  • Ld. C. from Weymouth” was Eliza’s brother-in-law, Lord Compton (the future Lord Northampton).
  • Ly. Compton” is of course his wife, and Eliza’s eldest sister Maria (the future Lady Northampton).
  • Papa Mama” are Joshua Smith and Sarah (née Gilbert) Smith, of Erle Stoke Park, Wiltshire – the “Stoke” from where they all arrive. (Lord Compton’s involvement with the Militia was his reason for being in Weymouth.)
  • Augusta Emma” in this early instance are the two sisters “Mamma” and “Aunt Emma”.

I’ve read this passage over and again – but only yesterday saw an image of the actual entry. And I wondered: If Henry Austen was at the Basingstoke Ball, were other members of the family?

Would this be the moment… even if neither Augusta nor Emma nor Eliza left specific word… that I could point to and say “The sisters met Jane Austen!

Perhaps not…

Claire Tomalin, in her biography Jane Austen: A Life puts Jane elsewhere; but her sister Cassandra Austen at Steventon:

austen2 1794

First then, the couple from the Vine…William and Eliza Chute. No mention of the two young ladies they had brought with them: 22-year-old Augusta Smith and 19-year-old Emma Smith. (Long before they were “Mamma” and “Aunt Emma”!). Augusta would have celebrated her birthday only a couple weeks before (January 4th).

There are, I will take a moment to say, other Smith relations present! Sir Colebrook and even that kill-joy “Squire Le Fevre” of Heckfield. (click the link, above, for the entire poem)

Not having seen the original poem, I can only give, for your consideration, Deborah Kaplan – the author of Jane Austen Among Women – although she uses it to illustrate the people Jane Austen would have known and encountered on a fairly regular basis. Kaplan ID’s the author as “Mrs Austen”; the date as “1794”; and places TWO Austens in company with each other: Henry and Cassandra.

David Selwyn merely ascribes the poem to “another occasion” of dancing, without saying when or who was there; he intimates the poem was written for both daughters. Jane Austen: A Family Record cites a Basingstoke Ball of 7 November 1799 as the source (Anna Austen Lefroy as the copyist).

Sometimes a writer can just be wrong; as in Tomalin’s assertion:

austen3 1794

“I danced six dances with Mr. H. Austin” – giving ALL the dances Eliza Chute mentioned to one partner, and attributing that excess to “Henry’s charm working as usual”. Le Faye’s transcription reinstates the additional two partners, Misters Wallop and Terry.

And, while I agree that Eliza often spelled Austen Austin, she seems not to have dotted an ‘i’ here (compare to ‘i’ in Basingstoke):

austen4 1794

But secondary interpretations are all I have to go on – That Henry was there, is a given; that Cassandra was probably there. Any chance that Jane Austen attended this particular Basingstoke Ball, 16 January 1794? Happy to hear from those in the know.

Le Faye’s Chronology uses the phrase “It is probably this month” – meaning December 1793 – “that JA and CEA go to Southampton to stay with the Butler-Harrison family, and while there dance in the Southampton Assembly…”; the entry is cited as Letters 62. That letter, written in December 1808 tosses out the comment “It [ie, a dance] was in the same room in which we danced 15 years ago!” Tomalin puts Jane Austen’s visit to the family from December 1793 up to the christening of their daughter, Austen’s godchild – which took place in Southampton on 18 January 1794. Lengthy stay versus return for the church service versus being represented by proxy? All a matter of interpreting slim source material.

ball19

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Meet me in LOUISVILLE – JASNA AGM 2015

February 21, 2015 at 12:31 pm (jane austen, jasna, research) (, , , , , )

The list of breakout speakers for the 2015 Annual General Meeting of the JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA is up. Under the banner title of “LIVING IN JANE AUSTEN’S WORLD”, breakout speaker topics are diverse, and fascinating.

ja world

In the appropriately-named novel Emma, Jane Austen wrote of a marriage – that of Miss Taylor (Emma Woodhouse’s governess and dear friend) to Mr Weston, that resulted in the birth of a child! and a woman’s lying-in or “confinement” is the topic of my breakout talk, taking place in the Saturday, October 10th “D” session.

As before, that means _I_ miss some great speaker, such as: Sheryl Craig (whom I know) on “William Wickham”; Kristen Miller Zohn (whose AGM talk on miniatures I so enjoyed) on “silhouettes”; and Sue Forge on “London High Society” – which readers of this blog will know, I consider my Smiths & Goslings to be, if not “movers and shakers” in society, at least “prevalent” among the party-goers. And here’s why:

Of course, as an AMG participant, I must also pick speakers to hear. Too many to choose among!

Do I hear about Jane Austen’s ideas on being “Past the Bloom” (Stephanie Eddleman) or “A Quack or Dr. House” (Sharon Latham)?? When, equally, I’d dearly love to learn about Embroidery (which I used to enjoy) (Julie Buck)… or Estate Tenants (Linda Slothouber)… or Austen family cookbooks (Julienne Gehrer)… or Village Life (Sara Bowen)… or the treatment of poor George Austen, Jane Austen’s sometimes-forgotten brother (Bridget McAdam).

And that’s only the FIRST session!  Good thing there are several months to think over the possibilities.

I’ll say more, at a later date, about my topic — “Who could be more prepared than she was?”  True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in early 19th Century England — at a later date, but will take the time to say that many of the letters & diaries excerpts come from the copious examples of this Smith & Gosling research. From the “bantling” born in 1790 — the future 2nd Marquess of Northampton (Emma’s cousin “Lord Compton”), to the Confinements of Emma Austen herself.

And, no, I won’t forget Mrs Weston!

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