A busy weekend; have one article in the proof stage and another that needed some revision (and got a bit expanded — all to its benefit, if I say so myself). Last night I was so wide awake that I pulled out the newest book to land in my mailbox: A Life in the Country (British Library, 2008). This may have Jane Austen quotes, but I wanted it for the silhouettes done by James-Edward Austen-Leigh! So what a couple superb bonuses… an intriguing painting of Edward in the days near his marriage to Emma. The cleft chin is depicted but why does his hair seem a bit thinning? (As an older man he had quite the full head of hair, as one photograph attests.) For the first time I see a portrait of Emma and Edward’s daughter, Mary Augusta – who authored the memoir of JEAL that comes in handy to anyone looking into the lives of the Smith sisters; and a lovely silhouette of a young Caroline Austen, Edward’s sister.
But it is ELIZA and WILLIAM CHUTE which interested me, and, as I discuss Eliza quite a bit (and have so much more to say about her) I include here this lovely silhouette.
I will have more to say about the book (the British Library was kind enough to send a review copy), though probably on Jane Austen in Vermont’s blog. I will just say that it is wonderful to see it in a so-called trade edition, for I could never had afforded the limited edition copy. But JASNA-News ran a nice review of that when it first came out in 2005.
BTW, poor Edward deserves a bit more of the credit, don’t you think?? Yet it’s JANE AUSTEN’s name that sells a book nowadays… Hope we can change that. For the Austen-Leighs are fascinating, as are the Smiths and Goslings and all the in-laws — as can be seen from the comment on the Le Marchants! They all lead such ordinarily extraordinary lives.
Thank God people saw fit to save their portraits, letters, diaries and ephemera!