March 28, 2010 at 5:16 pm (people) (, , , , )

Ever wonder what some of the people this blog is concerned with looked like??

Sometimes the closest one gets is a silhouette, sometimes a quick sketch, but at other times you find a full oil portrait – like this Raeburn portrait of Spencer, Lord Compton used on a cover for a new reprint of a Georgette Heyer book.

Those posted online usually come from online sources – websites, books, catalogues, etc. And the current list can be seen by clicking on PORTRAITS on the menu above.

There is also a listing of known family portraits whose whereabouts are unknown to me. Any leads would be greatly appreciated!

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“White Soup Enough”?

March 22, 2010 at 9:31 pm (books, entertainment) (, , , , , , , )

When writing about the Hyde Park Jane Austen Weekends, at the Governor’s House B&B – I queried the JASNA members reading JASNA News with the question: WHY was it that Mr Bingley could only have a ball once “Nicholls has made white soup enough”? We did receive some knowledge from our well-informed audience! But now I stumble upon this audio program at the BBC: Food writer Hattie Ellis prepares white soup, and Deirdre Le Faye tells why and what white soup was.

See the introductory article at the BBC; there is a link to the audio piece from October 2003 (opens on RealPlayer), and a white soup recipe! Bon appetit~

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Elizabeth Grant and Miss Ramsay

March 21, 2010 at 11:22 am (books, news, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

WHAT a *thrill* comes when an old book yields a new discovery — and who would have thought to find Emma’s “Miss Ramsay” in such as place as the Memoirs of a Highland Lady, a book written by Elizabeth (Grant) Smith for her grandchildren and first published by her niece Lady Strachey in 1898.

It was while reading through Emma’s diary for 1819, and finding they met a “Miss Elizabeth Grant, niece of Miss Devall” that I began to look online for Elizabeth Grant and tumbled upon the book I’ve owned (along with its sequels) for many years. Actually, I’m surprised I never consulted its index, but perhaps I thought “Highlands” and never remembered “London” enough to think, despite the time period (1800-1830s), the book at all relevant. [NB: I am NOT convinced that this Elizabeth Grant and Emma’s Miss EG are the same person.]

But the wide circle of relatives and acquaintances do intersect and overlap in the most strange manner: Jane Austen and Walter Scott, just two circles that touch the Smiths and Goslings.

It was the original edition of Memoirs online that made me pull off the shelf my own copy of the “entire” memoir – and finding Mr Nattes, the artist, in the index (who, by the way, was at Suttons in 1811 and again a few years later; Emma comments on him “paying a visit” in December 1818). There, on the page discussing him was mention of Miss Ramsay! And not long after, mention of “a rich Mrs Smith, sister of the Marchioness of Northampton”! You might imagine my joyous delight:

“Mr Nattes had another pupil in whom he was much interested. He said she would never draw much nor be first rate in any art, but she was so excellent a person that he had recommended her as Governess to a family in which he taught. This was our old friend Miss Ramsay, who had come up to London to improve herself. She often came to see us, both before and after she went to live with a rich Mrs Smith, sister to the Marchioness of Northampton, with whom and her very nice daughters she lived for many years, in fact till she died, tended by them in all her failing health with all the affectionate care her good conduct merited.”

Unfortunately… Miss Ramsay still remains first-nameless. But I now know much more about her than ever imagined for a woman truly lost in the mists of time. Including, how she came to be in the Smith household.

Anyone with any information on Miss Ramsay, her mother, her brother and his wife – please let me know. In the last months of her life Miss Ramsay returns “North” — according to Elizabeth Grant the city she must return to is in or around Newcastle.

From Emma, I know that she — and Coulthard, a servant named for many years to come — sailed north on the Theodosia (captained by a Mr Jullocks, if I read and typed correctly). They leave London on Tuesday, and arrive at “Shields Harbour”:

“We had the happiness of hearing that dear Miss Ramsay arrived safe at Shields Harbour Sunday Morn:g & got to Whickham Sunday Even:g. She had borne the voyage very well till the last night which was very rough at the bar she had not suffered from sea sickness but Coulthard had.” (5 May 1819)

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Explore the Tunnel under the Thames

March 19, 2010 at 9:34 am (a day in the life, entertainment, news, places) (, , , , )

Last Friday and Saturday the news story on the BBC that made me prick up my ears announced, “The Thames Tunnel is Open!” Why, living thousands of miles and one large ocean away from London did this grab my attention? Because Mary Smith had toured this, in 1830! Only a 180 years ago…

It was a Friday in April, the 30th to be exact:

“We went to see the Thames Tunnel  it is ultimately to extend 1300 feet, and they have advanced 600 ft though we only advanced 400. the shaft is 60 ft in depth and the top of the Tunnel is 20 ft below the bed of the River. It would require full two years to finish it.”

Even then, ‘experts’ were a bit over-ambitious about their target finish dates. The Thames Tunnel opened in 1852.

Lulu Sinclair, for Sky News Online, writes: “[T]he tunnel gripped the nation’s imagination: nothing had been seen like it before and it paved the way for the present day Tube system. Lying deep beneath the River Thames, it is one of the Brunels’ [“engineering geniuses” father and son Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel] greatest engineering triumphs — and the only project they worked on together.” According to this article, the finished tunnel did grow in length to 1300 feet. The article speaks of the grand opening and the “half the population of London” who paid it a visit in 1852, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; but Mary’s comment demonstrates that even in its unfinished, still-under-construction state the Thames Tunnel was a touristic draw.

In discussing the “opening” of the Tunnel, however, we must acknowledge that the one reason for the tunnel being opened last weekend is that it will close “forever” now that it is being taken over by the London subway (“tube”) system, which will open later this year (in anticipation of the 2012 London Olympics). Tickets must have gone quickly for the mere two days of its being open for tours; online, there were several “want” ads for spares.

Some articles of interest found online:

  1. Wikipedia, I suppose, is a good place to start
  2. The Sky News report cited above
  3. The Tunnel discussed on “Thames Water
  4. The Tunnel as part of the series “Engines of our Ingenuity” at the University of Houston
  5. Discussion of the Tunnel being the ‘world’s first bored tunnel’ on Thames Pilot
  6. And the best source on the Brunel 200 website.

I will continue on with some thoughts, as I find them, of those who walked the walk.

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A Portrait of “Aunt Smith”

March 11, 2010 at 9:45 pm (people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , )

Mary’s mother, Eliza Gosling (née Cunliffe), died at the end of 1803; less than two months later her only sister Mary Smith (Mrs Drummond Smith) died. Poor Lady Cunliffe! Two daughters, then no daughters. Her grief was the subject of a letter written by Mrs Piozzi (Hester Thrale, as she was when Dr. Johnson and Mr Boswell knew her).

This portrait, from a 1913 issue of The Connoisseur, is based on the ‘famous’ Reynolds’ portrait which hangs in Castle Ashby (still in the Northampton family, as in Emma’s youth). It was confused with having been done by Romney well into the 19th century, but is probably the portrait begun before her marriage (1786) to Drummond Smith — Augusta Smith (Emma’s mother) paternal uncle. In the book Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete catalogue of his Paintings (2000), we read:

“Painted 1786-87, wearing a vast hat with soft crown, the brim decorated with lace ‘curtains’, the height of 1780s fashion. There are appointments with Miss Cunliffe in 1786: June 19 (at eleven o’clock), 23 (midday), July 3, 7 and 10 (at one). She was married on 12 July and had two more appointments that year on Aug. 1 (at one) and Nov. 20 (midday). Further appointments are recorded in 1787: Mar. 12 (midday), 15 (two sessions, at eleven and at 12), June 12 (at eleven), 14 (eleven thirty), 16 (at one), Aug. 22 and Dec. 17 (both midday). There is one further appointment with either Mr or Mrs (not clear) Drummond Smith on 16 June 1789 (midday). A payment of 100 gns is recorded in the Ledger in July 1788 (Cormack 1970, 164). This picture passed as a Romney in the nineteenth century.”

This picture – or I should say the copies of the original in etchings and whatnot – has been long found online. As well, the girlhood picture of her is easily come by. Including at the National Portrait Gallery.

It was difficult, therefore, to READ about a portrait, offered through Sotheby’s in 2003 (which failed to sell then) and not SEE it. But now it’s been found!

Every source keeps attributing this portrait to Thomas Phillips. A rather ‘unknown’ name to me.

Phillips seems to have come to London in 1790, and by 1796 was painting nothing but portraits. He was elected an Associate Member of the Royal Academy in 1804 — a fateful year for many: Mary Smith died that February; Drummond Smith became a baronet some months later.

I would be interested in hearing from Costume Experts to see if this could be dated. Unfortunately the picture I have you cannot read the legend in the lower right of the picture, which may answer such a question. The curiosity for me is the black lace: it makes me think of mourning (though the red is not in keeping with that, obviously).

For me, I look at the FACE: how much did she resemble her sister?

To see the purported artist, see NPG (including one self-portrait).

Since Drummond (Charles’ great uncle, from whom he inherited the baronetcy in 1816) was not a baronet until after “Aunt Smith’s” death, unless this sitter is as in contention as its painter, this must portray Mary Smith rather than Sir Drummond’s second wife (married in 1805), the widowed Elizabeth Sykes. Anyone with any information to give on this sitter – contact me!

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La Bella Voce II

March 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm (books, entertainment, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , )

With the publication of Jane Austen’s Regency World Magzine’s article on the Knyvetts, readers with an abiding interest in the family might like to consult some of the sources used in the article — which the magazine had no room to publish. This comes from the original, uncut version of the article ‘There Once Was a Golden Time’: The Knyvett Family Musicians.

In addition to Dictionary of National Biography (1892), Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1906) and New Grove Dictionary (2002), Brown and Stratton, British Musical Biography (1897):

Charles Knyvett, senior: Burke’s Extinct Baronetage (1841); Park, Musical Memoirs (1830); Gentleman’s Magazine (1802, 1808, 1822, 1832).

Charles Knyvett, junior: Smart, Leaves from the Journals (1907); Sainsbury, A Dictionary of Musicians (1824; rep. 1966).

William Knyvett: London Magazine (July-Dec, 1822); An Authentic History of the Coronation of His Majesty (1821); Annual Register (1856).

Deborah Knyvett: Victoria Magazine (1876); Matthew, ‘The Antient Concerts, 1776-1848,’ in Proceedings of the Musical Association (1907); London Magazine (Sept-Dec, 1825); The Quarterly Music Magazine (1818); The Manchester Iris: A Literary and Scientific Miscellany (19 Oct 1822).

Many of these sources are available online at The single most wonderful find of a source is the 1907 article on The Antient Concerts. Reading that I found out why young Belinda had to be smuggled in!

The first part of this post can be found here; anyone wishing to see pictures of the Knyvett quartet, visit the New York Public Library website; the three Knyvett men can also be found at the National Portrait Gallery. Anyone wishing to read the longer version of this article, email me (contact information found under “the author” tab).

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Another Fanny Knight

March 4, 2010 at 8:45 pm (a day in the life) (, , , , , , )

Today, while looking up information on Jane Austen’s niece Fanny Knight, I came across an old — 1960 — article on an entirely different Fanny Knight. The interesting thing here is that she and her parents spent FIVE years on a “Grand Tour”. Their home? New York. VERY interesting reading because this young Fanny spots the likes of Queen Victoria. My favorite line in the article is about her; the Queen, passing in her carriage, “sat there in her pink silk bonnet. One of [the policemen standing nearby] said to Pa: ‘She looks just like a little girl’.”

Beside the Queen rode Prince Albert, the Princess Royal (Vicky), the Prince of Wales (Bertie) and Helena. The year was 1854. Presents a vastly different image from the little Queen all enveloped in black we are used to seeing in photographs!

Mary and Emma, of course, were alive when Victoria first ascended the throne. They were as thrilled as any with gaining a young and vibrant woman as monarch.

I invite you to read about young American Fanny Knight’s trip — though beware of a poor ‘translation’ from magazine (American Heritage) to website. A LOT of mis-read words on behalf of their OCR program. Also: the pictures referred to are not shown; a real loss (you’ll see why, once you read the article).

Find it at American Heritage.

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Jane Austen & Music

March 2, 2010 at 1:01 am (books, news) (, , , , , , )


Just published!

Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine

issue 44, March/April 2010

Jane Austen and Music:

  • Franz Joseph Haydn describes his visit to Bath in 1794
  • Maggie Lane poses the question: Jane Austen, Music Lover?
  • David Owen Norris examines ‘What Was On Jane’s iPod?’
  • Composer Thomas Linley, a Mozart rival?
  • Tidings of My Harp: Instruments and Social Status
  • Matters of Taste: Sense & Sensibility examined
  • and my own ‘composition’: A Golden Time: Emma Smith entertained by the Knyvett family of musicians.
  • includes: a free CD of music performed when Jane lived in Bath!

Order your copy from the U.K. today!

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