MUCH has been happening in the past week, some diaries, some letters, some images have been turning up. Many, MANY thanks to those collectors for contacting me!
But the news I really want to share is the fantastic news that the Smith & Gosling homes in “Town” (ie, London) still exist!
Toby in Essex confirmed that indeed a renumbering had occurred and he had proof that No. 28 was once designated No. 5 Portland Place. The rather chuckle-worthy remainder of the story? Today No. 28 is the Royal Institute for Public Health and Hygiene!
On the “well-what-do-ya-know” front is, the Royal Institute has rooms for hire — and pictures are online! It’stheAgency offers some photos and hiring info. Square Meal has further photos and 360-degree virtual tours of the rooms. Another site had floor plans (showing the size of each room – a bit of a challenge for me: all in meters rather than feet and inches), but I can’t put my finger on the URL at the moment. UPDATE: Here’s the link at Chester Boyd.
THEN came the map, dated 1790, sent by Mike in Surrey. It clearly shows that No. 5 was next door (as I always hoped) to No. 6 — so Mary Gosling (at No. 5) truly did marry the “boy next door” — Charles Joshua Smith at No. 6!
Am I surprised to see numbers in the 60s across the street… Not really. I encountered as much in Paris years ago, when searching for an address so I could pick up the key to the flat I had rented. And yet, the numbering is NOW what I would recognize as typical (ie, like the street I live on): all the odd-numbers are on one side and all the even-numbers are across the street. Therefore, if No 5 is now No 28, then No 6 is now No 30 Portland Place.
If you’re in the area, stop and gaze at the windows that used to find the Smiths and Goslings as inhabitants. Close your eyes, and hear the clomp of the horses’ hooves as the carriage pulls around the corner, from the mews. Maybe when you again open them, you will see Papa — Mr. William Gosling, come out in order to be driven to his banking firm, Goslings & Sharpe, on Fleet Street, at the Sign of the Three Squirrels!
Ah, it’s after work. De-lic-ious. Made a tea — some Baker Street Blend, obtained from Upton Tea Imports. Baker Street Blend is described as “a bit of Lapsang Souchong blended with Keemun and Darjeeling, yielding a mildly smoky tea. Perfect for an afternoon uplift!”
Had a visit at Kleidung um 1800 — Sabine has been doing some spring cleaning, so this is the last time you will be seeing her now-outdated background illustration. Check out her new “look” — and her newest Spencer. Elizabeth Bennet would be happy to find this garment in her closet!
Sabine also always has some interesting blogs which she follows and I just had to click and find out more about The Grand Tour Nineteen Teen has been presenting — they are up to Part 6 and are now “Climbing over Mountains.”
So, grab your Spencer, let me get a second cuppa – and let’s join a Grand Tour!
In the Times Literary Supplement a wonderfully-informative and well-balanced piece by Paula Byrne entitled “Who Was Miss Jane Austin“.
The beginning tracks some of the Byrne portrait’s “back story” – part of a collection, the purchase by Byrne; some theories and dialogue. The TV program gets a couple mentions.
And then what I was waiting for: MORE!
Readers learn about the precise architecture featured on the right – not only St Margaret’s and Westminster Abbey, but also Westminster Bridge is visible, as is a building on Bridge Street.
A possible 1st-floor window is proposed: one belonging in the premises of a Rev Edward Smedley (1750-1825), evidently (from his letters) an Austen Fan! And his wife was the former Harriet Bellas (1754-1825). A very familiar name…Bellas.
Author Alan Hustak, who leads these tours, can be seen on VPT’s YouTube video, which I found so informative. For instance, one man — who had survived two prior ship-sinkings — would not survive the Titanic. And a pair of lovers, who kept their romance under wraps, were only made known to the man’s mother and sister when he entrusted his girlfriend to them after the ship struck the iceberg.
Montreal is only a 90-minute drive from my northern-Vermont home; I used to go with some frequency, before border regulations threw up difficulties for those of us with expired passports (but that’s another story…); so, this connection to the Titanic’s maiden voyage is something totally fresh and of great interest!
And to give just one “for-instance” about families with Titanic connections, read this story about one visitor to the Halifax cemetery.
That’s how Edie Falco described learning about her ancestors on the NBC TV program Who Do You Think You Are? For once this season, this episode had me glued to the TV. Of especial interest was her trip to Cornwall to find out about the Marriner History of Captain Kindley.
Why did I so like this episode? Because of the “mysteries” which everyone could relate to. The “what happened?” aspect crawled in at the beginning and never let go. Which is rather like doing research among primary materials! One small piece – a new letter, say; or a whole diary – can shed light on something totally new and never thought about: a love affair hinted at, or cryptic comments about someone hitherto unknown.
For an episode recap – if you want to spoil the mystery rather than watch it unfold, click here.
Where does time go… too many things to do, and not enough time for READING. Here are two recent books sent to me that, sooner rather than later, will be reviewed here.
The first is the newer of the two, and what I’m currently reading:
<–The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After, by Elizabeth Kantor (Regnery Publishing).
The second is Louise Allen‘s Walks Through Regency London–>
JASNA members will get a chance in the not-too-distant future to read my review of Romanticism and Music Culture in Britain, 1770-1840 by Gillen D’Arcy Wood (Cambridge University Press).
I’ve been “living” in the early part of the 19th century since this weekend. Lives filled with parties, Balls, travel, upsets in the carriage. So these two books fit my mind-set of the moment: one discussing Jane Austen’s novels and the other the landscape she would have known. The time period and the landscape, of course, are the same for my two girls — Mary and Emma. Stay tuned!
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A Spanish-speaking Austen fan, interested in fashion, has picked up on my review of Penelope Byrd’s delicious text: Jane Austen’s Fashions: http://hablandodejaneausten.com/2012/04/03/jane-austen-y-la-moda-libros-para-leer/