Lady Morgan’s Memoirs

September 29, 2012 at 11:25 am (books, history, people) (, , , , , , , )

I first came across Lady Morgan through John Waldie. Waldie has a connect with Langham Christie and the online items from his diaries give a fascinating glimpse of the theatrical and musical world during the long nineteenth century.

Today I was pulling books off shelves and out of their floor piles to augment my much-neglected online bibliography. Found a few forgotten print-outs, and finally located some I’d been searching the house for: they are always in the LAST place you look, huh?!

So while trying to find the URL for one of my “is this where that had gotten to” items, I found online the two volumes of Lady Morgan’s Memoirs

Sydney Owenson lived a glittering life (c1776-1859); two of her travel book volumes are online as well.

  • Lady Morgan’s Memoirs: Autobiography, Diaries and Correspondence (1862): vol. I; vol. II
  • France in 1829-30 (1830) vol. I; vol. II {dedicated to General Lafayette!}
  • Lady Morgan’s fiction and other writings at Internet Archive

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The “Original” Jane Austen Book Club

September 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm (books, entertainment, history, jane austen) (, , , , , , , , , )

In reading about Jane Austen and the Plumptres of Fredville, I took down my copy of Jane Austen’s Letters to see for myself her mentions of the Plumptres.

I’ll blame it on the early morning, and the fact that my tea was still steeping; I turned to a letter that in the index was cited for its mention of the Papillons. Right letter of the alphabet, wrong family.

But I was sucked into this letter in an instant!

Jane is writing to Cassandra from Chawton, and mentions the reading she has been doing:

My Mother is very well & finds great amusement in the glove-knitting; when this pair is finished, she means to knit another, & at present wants no other work. — We quite run over with Books. She has got Sir John Carr’s Travels in Spain from Miss B.  & I am reading a Society-Octavo… by Capt. Pasley of the Engineers, a book which I protested against at first, but which upon trial I find delightfully written & highly entertaining.”

Le Faye’s endnote explains that Jane Austen was part of “the Chawton Book Society, or reading club.”

Time and again the Smiths mention the purchase of books from the reading club, or attending club dinners. My assumption is that various members clubbed together, the purchased books made the rounds, and afterwards were up for sale – and purchased (or not) by the club members.

NB: I’d love to hear from anyone with specific news on how these reading clubs worked.

Jane later writes, “Yesterday moreover brought us Mrs Grant’s Letters, with Mr White’s Comp:ts,– but I have disposed of them, Comp:ts & all, for the first fortnight to Miss Papillon — & among so many readers or retainers of Books as we have here in Chawton, I dare say there will be no difficulty in getting rid of them for another fortnight if necessary.” [letter 78; 24 Jan 1813]

CAN YOU IMAGINE?! a place as small and intimate as Chawton, with all these readers?! Gosh, I would be in heaven to be among so many booklovers!! By the way, I found myself laughing at loud at so many of Austen’s turns of phrase. Just DELIGHTFUL!

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“Dear Hammy”: Mary Hamilton & the Bluestocking Circle

September 23, 2012 at 10:51 am (books, diaries, history, news, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Some days — after spending all day on the computer at work — I spend all evening on the computer. A research project, such as Smith&Gosling, is exceptionally dependent on FINDING sources. One way is to wait for people to contact me; and I am GRATEFUL for those who have done so. The other way is to search-search-search. Selling sites for letters; library catalogues; published books and their invaluable bibliographies. It was a published book that set me on scent of the letters of young Drummond Smith (Emma’s third brother); the author had cited them and I tracked down the owner. That was four years ago.

So last night I was searching and searching. And somehow turned up the holdings for Mary Hamilton (1756-1816) at the John Rylands University Library.

Mary Hamilton (married in June 1785 to John Dickenson) was a royal governess; friend to Fanny Burney, Joshua Reynolds, the ladies of the Bluestocking circle. How I long to hear more about the content of her sixteen diaries and thousands of letters. Why? Lady Cunliffe (Mary Gosling’s maternal grandmother, who lived until 1814) was in company with many of these same people.

Did Mary Hamilton encounter Lady Cunliffe, her daughters Mary and Eliza?

Although there are internet stories about the sale (via Sotheby’s) and the denial of export to the US (I’m not sure which Library had purchased the archive; I rather suspect the Houghton at Harvard) and the subsequent matching price by John Rylands University Library, I find only veiled hints that scholars are doing research among Mary’s papers, but no hint that there is any plan afoot for the PUBLICATION of her papers. Ah! that would be news! I *love* full printings, big books, multiple volumes. But perhaps that is too much to hope for in this day and age… Especially when academic presses charge so much for the slimmest of books.

Mary Hamilton is being described as a “courtier and diarist” and many headlines call her The Female Pepys! (So doesn’t she deserve the Pepys treatment: to have her full writings published?!)

A quotation writes of Mary’s “keen zest for life, and her intense interest in everything pertaining to it — books, languages, art, travel, politics, people.” Ah! for a Mary Hamilton in my social circle!

Mary was niece to Sir William Hamilton and his wife, Lady Hamilton (the former Emma Hart); she “inadvertently ensnared the heart of the teenage Prince of Wales” while sub-governess to his sisters; and in January 1783 she settled in at 27 Clarges St, off Piccadilly. London, in the 1780s, was the scene for many in the generation prior to Mary and Emma — the grandparent generation, as I often call them.

The biggest “hint” I have about Lady Cunliffe’s social movements is the book Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings (Yale 2000). David Mannings has taken note of Sir Joshua’s notebooks: “Lady Cunliffe’s name appears almost every year in Reynolds Pocket Books 1777-89 [yes, I AM assuming this is the correct Lady Cunliffe, and not one of her relatives], usually at eight or nine o’clock, apparently in the evening, on one occasion with a note: ‘Cards & supper.’ Sometimes she arrives with Mrs Vesey, Mrs Shipley or Mrs Boscowen and it is clear these are social calls.” [p156]

I do have evidence that she and the girls knew Sir Joshua, and had run into James Boswell — a letter exists between the two men!

There are sixteen diaries (beginning mid-1776 to 1797; not fully consecutive; the bulk covers 1784); thousands of letters; other manuscripts.

It is in the letters from the Royal Princesses that we see Mary Hamilton addressed as “Dear Hammy”. Those “love letters” from the Prince of Wales are also extant. How exciting! Mary Hamilton also has ties to another Mary: Mary Delany, of The Paper Garden fame! Small-small world.

Vanessa Thorpe, in a 2006 article in The Observer, wrote:

“Fortunately when Hamilton began writing her diary she followed the good advice of her friend Lady Charlotte Finch, the head royal governess, who urged: ‘In your journal pray do not forget particulars about yourself.’ As a result her entries give ‘a remarkably complete picture of the day-to-day lives and preoccupations of fashionable and cultivated 18th-century Londoners,’ said the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council’s government adviser, Dr Harris. Especially interesting to social historians is an unpublished 10-page entry detailing a theft in Hamilton’s household and a quarrel between two servants.”

There is SO MUCH here, that I can only skim the surface in a short blog post. I will end with a BBC radio interview (a short listen: only nine minutes), discussing the importance of the Mary Hamilton Papers.

Is THIS the face of Mary Hamilton?

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An Evening with Mr Wickham: Langrishe & Lukis

September 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm (entertainment, jane austen) (, , , , , , , , , )

Today, a Guest Blogger: Calista, writing on her attendance at Bath’s Jane Austen Festival event: An Evening with Mr Wickham:

“Oh Kelly what an evening it was! 

On Sunday we went to the Bath Assembly rooms, the Tea Room where the show was held. We got parking right in front. Quite a few people were in costume; actually come to think of it, very few were not in costume. So many were dressed in ballroom gowns and looked ever so elegant; made me wanted one so badly. 
Anyhow, there we were, in that enchanting room with the grand chandeliers and all. We were there at 7:00pm and the show started at 8. We talked to a couple of  ladies who were attending the show from London. They were here for the Austen festival and had booked a hotel close by for few days. They saw the costume parade which I did not attend on Saturday (the only event I would have liked, apart from the ones I am attending). Perhaps next year.
So there we were at the Tea Room, sitting in the front row, and soon the room was completely packed. I was very curious to see Caroline Langrishe and my goodness she looked stunning. Adrian Lukis showed up with her and the two read different parts from Austen’s books. Starting with Northanger Abbey in which Tilney inquires of Catherine Morland about all those places she had visited in Bath. The fun part was the one in which he describes to her about the haunted bedroom which she is to occupy. Moving on to Pride & Prejudice: the first marriage proposal from Mr. Darcy. Adrian Lukis did a good job in describing to Elizabeth about how cruelly Mr. Darcy had treated him in his portrayal of Mr. Wickham. Adrian looks good, he is very very tall.  
I found Caroline Langrishe’s performance as Mrs. Dashwood pretty good. There was also a section read from Persuasion in which Anne Elliot and Captain Benwick discuss men and women. The show started at 8 and had a 20 mins interval and ended around 9:30, I believe. The organizer told the audience that we could mingle with the actors in the bar and perhaps take photographs with them.
Now comes the fun part. My husband Francis had taken the DVD covers of Caroline Langrishe’s shows. Initially, I wanted only one cover of season 6 Lovejoy, but we took season 5; as well also she was Kitty in my favourite Anna Karenina TV series done in 1977 and A Christmas Carol, George C. Scott’s version in which she played Janet Holywell (Mr. Scrooge’s nephew’s wife). While I was waiting along with others, Francis came in and asked me to come to another part of the room outside the bar where the two actors were talking to some people from the audience.
I was most anxious to meet Caroline. When I asked her about the autograph she had no problem. When she saw Anna Karenina she was so surprised. She asked us where we got the DVD from, since she too wanted one and her mother wanted one as well. It was her first role. 

We were the only ones with all those DVD covers and were really there to see her. I told her that I loved her performances in Lovejoy, as Kitty in Anna Karenina, in my favourite Christmas Carol etc and she was so happy to hear of it. She signed all our covers and we took a couple of photos with her. When one lady saw our Christmas Carol cover she didn’t realize Caroline was in it since she too owns the DVD. We talked a bit, wished her luck and bid her good-bye. She and Adrian are doing a play right now called Handyman
We got the ticket autographed by Adrian, and took a photo and wished him well.

It was a wonderful evening. We left there by 10 and got home closer to 11:30.”

* * *

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Say it ain’t so: Nicholas Hoare Bookstore

September 15, 2012 at 8:44 am (books, entertainment, news, travel) (, , , , , , , , , )

With an expired passport and no “enhanced” driver’s license, I’ve been unable to cross the US-Canada border for some time. Why, you might ask, don’t I just get the documents I need? Well, my mother’s older – never walked well; does worse now – she used to come with me. I always visited Marks & Spencer – if for nothing else, some tea and buscuits! That’s long closed. Used to attend a few productions of l’Opera de Montreal; but tickets grew more expensive as the CN$ came on par with the US$. You see my dilemma? All my favorite reasons for travelling north have slowly disappeared.

One thing along remained: the presence in Westmount of Nicholas Hoare Books. Here in Vermont we see Nicholas Hoare himself on our local PBS station. He sponsors some of their British offerings. So without visiting Montreal (and once CBC radio’s frequency got taken locally=no radio; and I got rid of cable=no CBC-TV), I never knew what had been going on behind the scenes: closure of their Ottawa branch, and the Montreal branch in danger!

Looking for their latest Random Notes, I clicked on “Blog” and there in three brief entries is much of the story. You can read their history yourself.

They are forging ahead as a sponsor of Vermont Public Television’s Downton Abbey (series 3) airings in 2013. I urge all British booklovers – in and around Montreal: Help keep Nicholas Hoare in Westmount!


Some backstory:

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Lizzie Selina Eden, authoress

September 14, 2012 at 10:27 am (books, europe, news, travel) (, , , , , , , , )

Have you ever read a book — an old book, especially — for which there’s just NO information on the author beyond a name? For me that bothersome bit has LONG circulated around the works of Lizzie Selina Eden.

I first came across her book My Holiday in Austria – I just LOVED her stories and travels in a country that I loved. Gosh! how long ago: it was a book I interlibrary-loaned — in the summer of 2003! Now you can find it at several sites, including through a site I have contributed to in the past: A Celebration of Women Writers.

The illustration reads “Lauffen, near Ischl – from a drawing by the author.”

Published in 1869, My Holiday in Austria was a palm-sized book, with lovely marbled papers. I remember being SO enchanted with the cover, the end papers. VERY colorful! And the smooth, buttery feel of the leather. You don’t get that from an online copy.

I then interlibrary loaned another book she published, A Lady’s Glimpse of the Late War in Bohemia (1867) – and this one I worked to get online at A Celebration of Women’s Writers:

 Oh! how I wanted to know more about her. That Eden name; was she related to anyone “known”? It was early internet days; and she was just too obscure.

In Bohemia there were TANTALIZING clues to her identity:

  • On Whit Monday, the 21st of May, we dined…with my cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Eden. Mr. Eden was attaché at the English Embassy… (p 114)
  • ….I showed him my name on my passport, and asked him if he knew the gentleman of that designation, who was acting as Minister now for England in Dresden, as he was my cousin… (p 277)
  • Just as we had finished our dinner my cousin, Mr. C. Eden, with his pretty wife, drove up to see us and take leave. He was now acting as Chargé d’Affaires, as Sir C. Murray had left…. (p 290)

I could find a Sir Charles Murray — and wondered if a “Miss Eden” would have been writing him letters in 1847.  I wondered if she were any relation to George Eden, 2nd Baron Auckland. I wondered if her C. Eden would have been Charles Page Eden (1807-1885), or Charles Henry Eden (1839-1900) or someone totally different.

Further queries and observations:

  • really true (p. 3) that her family could call out “the horse guards or foreign secretary”??
  • sister marries in NICE (in the “little English church”) March or April 1866 (“last summer”).
  • sailed on the “Marco Polo” in “early April”, en route to Genoa.

I evidently knew she’d have been around 40-years-old in the mid-1860s, though it comes as a surprise now to learn that she was born in 1826.

Yes, after nearly ten years, I’ve appended Lizzie Selina Eden to a family tree!

Elizabeth, called Peg, was the eldest surviving daughter of Ann Maria Kelham (1792-1875) and her second husband Rev. Hon. William Eden (1792-1859). Indeed related to the Barons Auckland; and even writer Emily Eden, whose books I recently have re-read. Peg’s father and Emily Eden were cousins.

Lizzie Selina Eden died in 1899; the only notation is that she was buried in the “churchyard at Glemham, as are her brother Robert and sister Charlie.” GEDView gives dates for family weddings: sister Flora Jane Eden was the Bride in April 1866!

Finding Elizabeth Selina Eden online at The Peerage I see she was born 8 April 1826 (GEDView: at Beaksbourne, Kent) and died 20 August 1899, aged 73. NO mention of her books. Boo!


“My Holiday began on the hottest day
of the very hot June of the year 1868….”

— Lizzie Selina Eden, My Holiday in Austria (1869)

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Google celebrates Clara Wieck Schumann’s birth

September 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm (books, europe, history, news) (, , , )

Born 13 September 1819, Clara Wieck could almost be a “younger sister” to my Emma (who’s youngest was born in 1814 — only days after their father’s death). Was just listening to a Schumann piece on the radio, and when I spotted this Google Celebration: well I just couldn’t resister. Maybe time to get one of my Clara Schumann books down off the shelf…

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The Thrill of a FIND: a new Emily Dickinson?

September 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm (fashion, history, news, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , )

A quick “share” today of the news that has been making headlines lately — for I can certainly share in the excitement of the finding, even if I could never spend five years trying to authentic said find!

So a couple of quick links to pass the story on:

After spending the weekend in search of a new Smith of Suttons letter, I can say that all finds —  any single find — is important to a researcher. How wonderful that the private collector came forward and revealed this picture to the world!

* * *

NB: some after-thoughts: How wonderful to read that the public is being asked to come forth and maybe provide (for OR against) more information. Even with all the overwhelming thoughts about the sitters, the “experts” still wonder IS this Dickinson?? — compare this “search for the truth” with the publicity surrounding the “Jane Austin” portrait in Paula Byrne’s hands.

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Sarah Smith – wife of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park, Wilts

September 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm (a day in the life, chutes of the vyne, history, news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I wish I had a picture of Sarah, Mrs Joshua Smith, to share. Alas, the one citation I have of a miniature of her — by Anne Mee — came with NO illustration!

So, to illustrate this lengthy obituary of Sarah, I include this illustration of Stoke Park, where she died. The write-up comes from The Monthly Magazine and British Register, 1810:

“At Stoke Park, near Devizes, Mrs Smith, the lady of Joshua Smith, esq. one of the representatives in parliament for that borough. She was the daughter, by a second wife, of Nathaniel Gilbert, of the island of Antigua, sequire [sic], a gentleman of large landed property there, and chief legal magistrate of the island, the maternal sister of the late lady Colebrooke, and mother of the present lady Northampton. Through life, this lady was conspicuous not only for great good sense and very amiable manners, but also for the great sincerity of her attachments; a sincerity which was the result of affection, principle, and benevolence, alone. In an age in which the woman of fashion too frequently affects the most extravagant degree of moral sentiment, the purity of her conduct expressed the innate worth and value of her mind; and while her charitable heart was ever ready to mitigate distress, the delicacy of her pecuniary favours never wounded the feelings of those, whom her bounty so liberally relieved. Though handsome in her youth, she was totally free from vanity and affectation; her charity, though exerted on the precepts of the divine word, in secrecy and silence, was not confined merely to alms, but manifested by a liberal and charitable opinion of the conduct of all. So far was she from uttering scandal of any one that she did not even think it; and as to pride, if it resided in her, it was of that decent kind which preserved her within the bounds of virtue and propriety. Thus beloved and revered for three generations, in consequence of a debility of body produced by an arthritic complaint, she expired at the end of her sixty-second year, when threatened with a total loss of sight, leaving her inconsolable husband, children, and other connections, the example of a woman, illustrious in every social department of life. Her remains were conveyed for interment to the family vault at Lambeth.”

[Curious mistake: the Lady Colebrooke, who was half-sister to Mrs. Joshua Smith, died in 1818 – eight years later.]


Sarah Smith of Erle Stoke Park lives on in letters, especially those to her daughter Eliza Chute of The Vyne, now housed at the Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, England. Eliza, in 1793, was newly married, and frequent correspondence passed between the two households.

A plea to anyone coming across letters of the 1790s: This important decade connects the Smiths & Goslings together in the “parent generation” – not only is Sarah Smith writing to Eliza and William Chute, she also writes of the newly-married pair William and Eliza GOSLING. Eliza Chute, as well, writes of her life — at The Vyne, at Roehampton Grove (the Gosling home), at Richmond — to her sisters Emma Smith (at Stoke); Augusta Smith (at Suttons, in Essex); Maria, Lady Compton (later: Lady Northampton = Marchioness of Northampton). Please contact me (see about the author for contact information) if you have letters to share!

  • Just bought a letter from eBay, for instance, and
  • its contents point to the people in this blog??
  • Contact me; I’d LOVE to hear from you!

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James Edward Austen Leigh: His Oxford University Years

September 5, 2012 at 8:21 am (a day in the life, chutes of the vyne, jane austen, people, research) (, , , , , , , )

James Edward Austen was the only son of James Austen — eldest brother of Cassandra & Jane Austen; and the clergyman who said Sunday service (at Sherborne St John) for William & Eliza Chute of The Vyne.

Edward, as he was known within the family, visited and dined with the Chutes as the years went by. And in 1828 he married my little Emma Smith — their wedding taking place on the 16th of December, the birthday of Edward’s dear Aunt Jane.


I don’t know that I will ever be able to answer that question. Of interest, is Emma’s diary notations that she and Edward read Emma together in the days surrounding their engagement (September 16, which Emma calls “This day proved one of the most important in my life”). These days were the basis for my Persuasions article entitled “Edward Austen’s Emma reads Emma“.

This blog post, however, is about Edward rather than Emma. A fine biography looking at Edward’s Oxford University years by Chris Viveash, originally published in JAS Reports and reproduced in an updated but abridged essay. The future clergyman is caught here as a vivacious young man, complete with a circle of close friends, all of whom enjoyed hunting while doing the required coursework to gain their university degrees.

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