I am always on the hunt for new books relevant to this project — therefore, I am especially interested in published accounts of letters and diary and yes sketches.
It was great recently to be reintroduced to a book I had seen in the hands of a friend many years ago (the book even older: published in 1987!): Sophie du Pont: A Young Lady in America – Sketches, Diaries, and Letters, 1823-1833.
Unlike what is currently known about the drawings of Fanny Smith Seymour (see previous post on her topographical drawings at Oxford University), little Sophie excelled in drawing “carics”, cartoons of her home-life — although, from the samples included here, her etymological and topographical drawings weren’t too shabby either!
In many ways, Sophie’s “topics of conversation” are oh so similar to the lovely drawings of Diana Sperling (her book: Mrs Hurst Dancing). And that is where the interest lies: even across the pond, life for Young Ladies was similar in so many ways! Bathing houses, log see-saws, shoes lost in squelching mud – Diana and Sophie both tell these tales of everyday.
The one thing that draws me into this book are the letters. Just the most comical turns of phrase one would ever hope to read! Sophie’s recipients were lucky indeed. If Jane Austen could write to Cassandra that her letters showed her to be one of the comic geniuses, then Jane would have loved corresponding with young Sophie (born in 1810, she lived until 1888).
Sophie’s age puts her right in line with the younger sisters of Mary and Emma — both (coincidentally) named Charlotte: Charlotte Gosling and Charlotte Smith. Charlotte Gosling, I now know, had a couple reasons for being named Charlotte: her mother was a Charlotte (the Hon. Charlotte de Grey) and her sponsor at her christening was another : Charlotte, the Queen of England.
Watch here for some samples!