Fascinating Diaries of Gertrude Savile

December 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm (a day in the life, books, diaries, people) (, , , , )

I have written elsewhere (see Regency Reads) about the diaries of Gertrude Savile, specifically: my search for a copy of the book Secret Comment edited by Alan Saville. Today, amid the howls of snow and wind I finally sat down with the Gertrude Savile TWITTER page and … read.

While applauding the dissemination of the diaries, I must confess that I dislike reading them backwards (newest tweet to oldest), yet what I have read today – starting with Christmas Day, December 1729 back to September 1729 – her grumbles and concerns and pleadings are truly fascinating!

Some favorite entries:

(Sept 7) At 12 went in a Chair to Mr Farhams the Painter (Nany came to me). Sat 2 hours. Came home near 3. Sat the first time for my Picture. It does not yet promise to be at all like. It is not out of vanity (for I never had less reason) yet I can give no better reason for my doing so silly a thing as having my own Picture Nobody elce thinks it worth it. In short I had a mind, & have gratified my self. Never could have chose a worse time.

(Oct 9) Sent for Mr Wellbroke who came before his time & before we had dind – he dind with us.  A fortnight since I gave my Harpsicord to alter, which is a very indifferent one, tho it cost £40, was much cheated. He undertook to mend the Toutch & Stops & a few other faults – & I gave him 4 Guineys. It came home 2 or 3 days since. To day he came to Tune it again, & be paid – he look’d also at the Organ, which took up most of the Afternoon. Playd of the Organ after he was gone. O Lord William how I gnol ot wonk ruoy traeh [=how I long to know your heart].

{I’ve not quite figured out what has brought about her longing for Lord William – or even who he was. And, yes, she sometimes writes BACKWARDS!}

(Oct 15) I think I may need make no appologies to my self for my many intermitions forgetts &c. in this now tyrsome task I set my self many years ago I did propose some good in it & have often found pleasure At least an imployment for many tedious hours that has hung upon my hands, which spent quick without doing any thing woud have made me mad. Tho I am at presant pretty weary of it – & the writing of my Actions & thoughts is grown as disgreable to me as the performance. Yet I do not design to renounce it, but to take off all restraint (which always disgusts) & the notion of a Task & business that I may have hitherto imposed as indispensably necessary upon my dear self who is grown so weary of it. I think fitt to declare to my dear self – that henceforward I will go on with it without any further apologies in this broken manner. In short I will imploy my time & paper in this work without impeachment of wast. I will write half a sentance if I please, half a thought if I please, or Half a Word. This Indenture Triperite agreed to by all the partys consernd in wittness wherof they have interchangable sat their Hands… I. Me. My Self.

I’ll leave you with the latest tweet:

(Dec 25) Xmas Day. Not Unhappy.

The twitter account can be found @GertrudeSavile.


What made me so *mad* for Miss Saville?? It was watching the episodes of Amanda Vickery’s At Home With the Georgians. I highly recommend the DVD, as well as the segments where Gertrude Savile is portrayed by Hannah Boyde.

The actual diaries are at the Nottinghamshire Archives. Start now, for you’ve only 2,664 tweets to catch up with!

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Merry Xmas to Two Teens in the time of Austen readers!

December 24, 2012 at 8:54 am (news) (, )


I spy with my little eye someone in need of Christmas Cheer!

Wishing friends & readers around the world

from Australia – to Germany – to the UK,
Canada, and the US

Merry Christmas!

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Paula Byrne: The Real Jane Austen

December 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm (books, jane austen) (, , , , , , )

I was planning to read Paula Byrne‘s biography of Jane Austen — how could I not?!? Not after the near-miss of having Jane’s portrait sketched by the likes of Eliza Chute (which I no longer think probable).

But so many biographies! So little *new* information…

However, after reading the following publisher’s description, I’m rather looking forward to it. So enjoyable to think of items and how they illuminate small pieces of a whole – like someone’s life.

Publisher’s preview of The Real Jane Austen (2013)

Who was the real Jane Austen? Overturning the traditional portrait of the author as conventional and genteel, bestseller Paula Byrne’s landmark biography reveals the real woman behind the books, exploring the forces that shaped the interior life of Britain’s most beloved novelist.

Byrne uses a highly innovative technique whereby each chapter begins from an object that conjures up a key moment or theme in Austen’s life and work—a silhouette, a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a laptop writing box, a royalty cheque, a bathing machine, and many more. The woman who emerges in this biography is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of ‘dear Aunt Jane’ would allow. Published to coincide with the bicentenary of Pride and Prejudice, this lively and scholarly biography brings Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.

I, of course!, can never denigrate the Memoir: there is no denying that James Edward Austen Leigh knew his ‘Aunt Jane’ extremely well; and unlike many of the next generation of Austen offspring, he was in his late teens when she died — old enough to retain memories, and he was a bit of a jotter-down as well.

In applying for the Leon Levy Fellowship in Biography, I cited two books that I find useful in writing biography: The “slice” of life approach that Laurel Thatcher Ulrich used in her winning A Midwife’s Tale — whereby vignettes in Martha Ballard’s life are closely examined. (Martha Ballard left one diary… The Smiths and Goslings have left TONS of material.) And the more recent Behind Closed Doors, in which Amanda Vickery dissects the lives of dozens of letter-writers and diary-keepers in order to open a window on their Georgian World. (I have about as many people – and they’re all one family!) How to “handle” a mass of material is almost as difficult as how to present slimmer pickings… Personally, I can’t wait to read about Austen’s vellum notebook and her royalty check!

Here’s the two covers I’ve come across:


real austen



In mulling over the (presumed) emphasis in The Real Jane Austen this morning, I was rather pleasantly surprised to finally remember where such a treatment had been utilized to great success: The Paper Garden, by Molly Peacock.

Molly Peacock’s device of choosing one “flower mosaic” made by Mary Delany, and discussing its history and her history at a certain point in life, be it youthful marriage or elderly patronage by the Queen of England, was a fascinating way to encounter both the artist and her art. I hope Byrne uncovers her “real” Austen half so skillfully. (By the way, I hope someone at Harper-Collins corrects this notice of the book – whereby Edward Austen Knight has usurped his brother JAMES for the mantle of “eldest Austen” sibling!)

If you wish to read an excellent biography, while awaiting the Austen release, do think about Mary Delaney (1700-1788):

paper garden2

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12 – 12 – 12

December 12, 2012 at 10:06 pm (a day in the life, diaries, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , )

I couldn’t resist posting today, on 12th December 2012; I have ONE diarist who wrote down what she was doing on 12th December 1812:

“The Duke dined again with us,” wrote Mrs Thomas Smith. The Duke was HRH the Duke of Clarence (later: King William IV). The Smiths had a far more thrilling 12-12-12 than I have done today…

Duke of Clarence, c1800duke of clarence

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LondonLiveStreet: Portland Place

December 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm (history, london's landscape, people, places, travel) (, , , , , )

A couple of nights ago I was trolling YouTube for anything interesting. Putting in “Portland Place” london, I happened upon this video of a drive up the street, from Langham Place — and the lovely All Souls Church — to the Park Crescent area near Regents Park. Frankly, how dare they call Portland Place – that dignified boulevard – the A4201!!

Alas for progress…

Mike at Tring had already snapped a few pics for me of Nos 28 and 30 Portland Place, London – so I knew what I was looking for. A set of townhouses, on the right. I watched and watched this short video, despairing that the camera’s focus on the left side of the street would swing towards the right too late. When: THERE THEY WERE!

portland place

No. 28 – the old “No 5 Portland Place”, home of William Gosling and family – is more readily seen: the portico juts out towards the sidewalk, and is beneath that pediment and those pilasters. No. 30 – the old “No 6 Portland Place”, home of Augusta Smith and her children – is the next doorway. At present, painted blue, the doorway of No 5 / 28, with the entrance blocked in, has surely been changed – the walls can’t be original, even if the columns are. I can see Mary and Elizabeth sheltering by the door, waiting for their carriage to pull up – can’t you? And is that Emma and Augusta at the first-floor window of No 6 / 30, waving??

I invite you to take the ride: we board at Langham Place and get off near Regents Park (click here or on the photo)

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Letters: Unspoken Speech

December 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm (diaries, history) (, , , , , )

A Pinterester got me excited, less for the image than the sentiment written beneath it:

pen and letters

“….when someone can still speak to you even after they’ve gone…”

This sentiment speaks VOLUMES to me. Mary and Emma have lived lives so long ago – and yet, because they left diaries and letters, I begin to feel I’ve known them. When I applied for the Leon Levy Fellowship in Biography, I wrote that these people haunt me. How true! I continually want MORE: more information, more letters, more answers – hell, even more “mysteries”, for that would mean “more digging.”

I’ll take a moment to post a couple of thank yous – to Kildare, to Philip, Michael in London, and especially Michael in Aberystwyth.

And I’ll mention also that Two Teens is also on Pinterest! Visit, drop by and say hi.

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Regency with Worsley

December 4, 2012 at 11:07 pm (british royalty, fashion, history, jane austen, london's landscape, people, places, travel) (, , , , , , , )

Worsley_EleganceLucy Worsley in a three-part BBC production.

The series is Elegance & Decadence: The Age of the Regency.

*Warts and All: Portrait of A Prince

*Developing the Regency Brand

*The Many and the Few: A Divided Decade

Join Worsley at Kew – Devizes – the Dulwich Picture Gallery – Beau Brummel’s dressing room – Brighton – Waterloo. A real “look” at Regency people, places, and things.

Including, a bird’s eye view of All Souls, Langham Place — extremely important to the history of the Smiths & Goslings:

all souls_langham place

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(Time) Travel to London for Xmas

December 2, 2012 at 7:56 pm (books, history, jane austen, london's landscape) (, , , , , , )

Looking for a stocking stuffer?

I highly recommend Louisa Allen‘s delightful Walks Through Regency London – your Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer fan will thank you..


I’ll add more about the book later!

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