No Words Can Express…

January 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm (books, jane austen) (, , , , )

EdwardAusten-silhouetteAccording to his daughter, Mary Augusta Austen Leigh, it wasn’t until the end of 1814 that James Edward Austen was “admitted to the knowledge of a well-kept secret, this being that his Aunt Jane had lately published two books, though he had read these books with a keen enjoyment.”

The two books, of course, were Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813). The latter first saw the light of day TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO TODAY (28 January).

Many in the family traded poems, and Edward composed this one after finally being let in on the “secret” of Jane Austen’s authorship:

To Miss J. Austen

No words can express, my dear Aunt, my surprise
Or make you conceive how I opened my eyes,
Like a pig Butcher Pile has just struck with his knife,
When I heard for the very first time in my life
That I had the honour to have a relation
Whose works were dispersed throughout the whole of the nation.

….

And though Mr. Collins, so grateful for all,
Will Lady de Bourgh his dear Patroness call,
‘Tis to your ingenuity he really owed
His living, his wife, and his humble abode.

Cheers! to the author who invented Elizabeth Bennet, Mr Darcy of Pemberley, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, my dear Charlotte Lucas, and of course the sisters Bennet and their relation the Reverend Mr Collins.

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Clue to Kutzebue

January 27, 2013 at 8:21 pm (books, entertainment, europe, jane austen, research, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Thanks to the “power” of the internet, a question five years in the making, has been answered! Danke, Sabine!

A letter written in 1833 regarding a trip into Derbyshire by Mamma, her three unmarried daughters (Fanny, Eliza, Maria), and the Austens – not only Edward and Emma but also Edward’s sister Caroline Austen, has been used as a source in my Persuasions article “Derbyshires Corresponding: Elizabeth Bennet and the Austen Tour of 1833” (the 2008 print article also appears online).

In the midst of discussing the beauties of Derbyshire, the letter writer draws on a memory – but I was never sure quite what memory had been stirred…

The original transcription read:

– Ashbourne is quite small, & the town all very close together: Eliza made me look out of the bedroom window of our nice little Inn when it grew dark, she was so struck with its likeness to one’s idea of the street scene at Crackwinkel – do you remember when Sabina & [Thuars; Sh???ars] hide themselves behind the dark lamp post? there was just such a one in the little narrow street there, & even Spurling’s window. —We got up at 6 the next morning to make a little sketch…

I have searched for this; my guess at the time was ‘sounds like a book?‘ But what do you search for? Look up Crackwinkel and Google asks if you mean “crack winkel”… Not a help!

And Sabina’s company, the loss of that second name meant I had only SABINA to search for. Not a help either.

But the place name, ending in Winkel, pointed to something in German. I’m still not sure whether Maria has written the character’s name as Sabina (an anglicized version of the correct German spelling, Sabine) or that Spurling isn’t what she writes. The letter came to me as a xerox, AND it’s cross written!

I emailed my Sabine (whose delightful blog is Kleidung um 1800), a picture of the paragraph, but she had already cracked this old nut.

I’m going to include the photo, and if you would like to see if you can decipher this section of the letter, click on the photo to enlarge. The answer to the puzzle will be given after the “MORE” link in this post.

1833 letter-2

The lines begin 2nd line from the top. You will see …windows are beautiful — Ashbourne is quite small… Keep reading. Read the rest of this entry »

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Waiting for Jane Austen

January 25, 2013 at 8:44 pm (books, jane austen) (, , , , )

Can’t wait for the arrival of yet another book: coming soon (fingers crossed…) is

matters_barchasMatters of Fact in Jane Austen, by Janine Barchas.

“Janine Barchas makes the bold assertion that Jane Austen’s novels allude to actual high-profile politicians and contemporary celebrities as well as to famous historical figures and landed estates. Barchas is the first scholar to conduct extensive research into the names and locations in Austen’s fiction…”

Read more about the book at The John Hopkins University Press.

More about the book once I’ve read it!

(Thanks, Ron, for the recommendation)

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Inauguration: Kelly Clarkson

January 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm (entertainment, jasna, news) (, , , , , )

jane austen ring

I had originally blogged about this ring, once the property of JANE AUSTEN, because she handed it down to  her niece CAROLINE AUSTEN, the younger sister-in-law of my Emma Austen Leigh.

Tonight – inauguration evening – I put an end to the story: Guess who PURCHASED this ring?

Inaugural Swearing InSinger Kelly Clarkson, pictured at the inaugural performance of My Country, ’tis of Thee.

JASNA NEWS (rec’d last Friday) mentions that Clarkson paid $243,000. A snafu, however: Austen’s ring has been designated ‘a national [UK] treasure’ – and it cannot be exported! “So Clarkson owns a ring she can wear only in Britain. Ms. Clarkson also collects first editions of Jane Austen’s novels.”

A gal with great taste…

Click on her photo to go to Huffington Post’s story on her performance at the Obama Inauguration.

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Miss Mary A. Leigh

January 18, 2013 at 8:30 pm (jane austen, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , )

mary augusta austen leighs

As mentioned a few days ago, Paul Frecker’s website includes a photo by Camille Silvy of a woman identified as “Miss Mary A. Leigh” — my immediate thought: Mary Augusta Austen Leigh?

Truthfully: I just don’t know!

On the left is Frecker’s sitter, ID’ed as sitting number 10,508 taking place on 10 July 1862 – which puts her in Silvy’s Daybook 8. The National Portrait Gallery has an extensive “gallery” of the Daybooks. They, however, are not exceptionally enlightening on this young lady.

Mary Augusta Austen Leigh (right) was a younger daughter of Emma Smith and Edward Austen Leigh (see their portraits); she was born on 2 February 1838, her aunt Mary’s 38th birthday! It is a curious fact that Emma’s diaries all have pages cut out whenever she delivers a child. 1838 is no different. These pages are missing, and a small notation in pencil “2d Mary Augusta born” on a remaining page.

On the 21 March, Emma writes, “Baby was christened by the names of Mary Augusta — Ed: christened her — Her Sponsors were Mrs. Lefroy  Lady Smith (Julia her proxy) & Denis (Mr E. Lefroy his proxy).”

Mrs. Benjamin Lefroy was the former Anna Austen, Edward’s half-sister. Lady Smith – my Mary – was surely the person for whom “Baby” was named. The Augusta could be for either Emma’s sister (died 1836) and/or mother. Baby’s third sponsor was Eliza Smith’s husband, Denis Le Marchant.

Looking around for mentions of Mary A. Leigh and Mary Austen Leigh, I found notice of a portrait listed in the Royal Academy of Arts: exhibited in 1856, #954 “Miss Mary Austen Leigh” painted by Edmund Havell, Jr (1819-1894). I asked to have the identity of the painter of the little portrait, which is young Mary Augusta Austen Leigh, but no signature can be detected. Could this be the Edmund Havell  portrait? — UPDATE: 1/25 I’ve seen a more detailed photograph of the little portrait (it’s gorgeous!), it seems a drawing with chalk highlights and pastels. I know very little about Havell, but suspect he painted in oils — unless this was a preliminary sketch for a full work in oils. Without more information about the 1856 exhibition’s work, and without more knowledge of the original (above) portrait, all is supposition, I’m afraid.

I have one vote against Miss Mary A. Leigh being Mary Augusta Austen Leigh. I want to think it the same person, especially after viewing this pair of portraits of Catherine Anne Austen (daughter of Frank Austen, [follow the arrows under the photo to read Frank’s entire entry]).

Help! What do YOU think?

* * *

UPDATE: transcribing some pages from the 1856 diary of the Rev. Richard Seymour, there comes a visit from “Emma and her 2 daughters”. Then he notes their departure: “Emma  Amy – Mary Leigh left us for Bray” = note the use during this period of the sole familial name: LEIGH. He was not alone in that designation.

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Morning Dresses, Summer 1798

January 17, 2013 at 9:14 am (entertainment, europe, fashion, history) (, , , , , , )

morning dressesClaremont Colleges Digital Library has a fabulous fashions collection. The link will bring you to the main page with its “small, random sampling of items in this collection.”

This “sample” is called Morning Dresses for August 1798. The descriptive page includes a detailed explanation of what you are viewing.

On a quick perusal: there are fashion plates for men, women; English fashions; French fashions. A nice feature is the ‘zoom’ feature each plate allows.

The plates come from a VAST variety of sources, including Ackermann, Petit Courrier des Dames, La Belle Assemblée; alas, evidently no Heideloff!

Would love visitors to share their thoughts on this digital collection!

*

Heideloff figures in Penelope Byrd’s
Jane Austen Fashion

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Lady E. Compton

January 16, 2013 at 7:54 pm (portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , )

A bit of a puzzle has come up and I’m curious if anyone has any clue(s) that would help.

lady e comptonPaul Frecker has this photo designated Lady E. Compton – is this woman any member of the Comptons of Compton Wynyates / Castle Ashby / Marquess of Northampton family?

My own Lady Elizabeth (daughter of the 1st Marquess) married in 1829 — Emma writes about her cousin’s marriage to Charles Scrase Dickins. Therefore, by the time Silvy was active, she was Lady Elizabeth Dickins.

(Sitter #628 would date to 1860 — see the Silvy Daybook 1 at the National Portrait Gallery, where Adelaide Kemble is sitting #586 and Vicountess Jocelyn is sitting #657; images that are not represented online seem not to have their sitting number provided.)

Lady Marian Alford is sitting #631 (at NPG and Frecker; both claim to have the same sitting number).

It would have been nice had this been her sister, Margaret-Mary-Frances-Elizabeth. Why? Poor Lady Northampton (the former Margaret Maclean Clephane) died weeks after this daughter’s birth in 1830. But the daughter too had a short life; she evidently died in childbirth in 1858.

UPDATE: Thanks to Philip, I know more of the history of this youngest child of Margaret Maclean Clephane: she contracted measles from her brother and died soon after her son was born.

I don’t know who this Lady E. Compton might have been, but sending Philip a portrait, by Augusta Smith (the daughter), of Aunt Northampton, I swear I see the same nose!

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Kirkus Reviews Real Jane Austen (Byrne)

January 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm (books, jane austen) (, , , , , , )

Two weeks before publication, those of us without a subscription to Kirkus can read a book’s review. Hard to tell, really, whether the unnamed reviewer of The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things is enthusiastic or slightly bored.

real austenWhat makes me say that? The very first sentence: “For Austen obsessives, this latest study offers a few flashes of revelation amid long stretches of minutiae.”

Obsessives?!? {must say, I rather resent such a word}

Long stretches of minutiae?

I wrote of liking the progression through the life of Mary Delany in Molly Peacock’s The Paper Garden (highly recommended!); and really appreciated the idea of a focus on objects as a way to talk about Austen’s life (granted, the “facts” are well-known).

That “she [Austen] was more worldly than many might suspect” elicits an ‘of course’ response from me. Even those stuck in a small village had news from the “outside” – via papers, letters, visitors.  But I must hold judgement in the value of Byrne’s supposition that “the author was ‘a very well-travelled woman’…” VERY well-travelled? Certainly not to the degree of the Smiths & Goslings, with their sometimes lengthy trips to the Continent, never mind frequent travel through much of southern England and several branchings-off into Wales. Young Edward Austen (Emma’s eventual husband, and son of James Austen – Jane’s eldest brother) does not seem to have had half the opportunity of young Emma to learn languages and travel abroad.

In general, how does Byrne measure “well-travelled”?

To comments culled from Byrne that Austen “‘very much enjoyed shopping'” and “was ‘a dedicated follower of fashion’…”, I can only add that I see the same evidence in my Two Teens.

Can’t wait to read more about the “phobia” Byrne saddles Austen with, when it comes to childbirth. I think women held no illusions 200-years ago about childbirth, and just the amount of deaths associated with it within one’s circle of acquaintance should have given any woman pause. But does it really come across in the book as a ‘phobia’? Time will tell, once I’ve read it!

Do _I_ expect revelations? Hardly. The primary materials currently in use typically recycle the same “facts”. A lot about Paula Byrne’s new biography will depend on presentation and writing.

I expect my copy in early February…

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Photo Frustrations

January 14, 2013 at 2:14 am (fashion, history, jane austen, news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

wwknightonThis past weekend I have been looking through portraits by the famed Camille Silvy. I found several “new to me” portraits at Paul Frecker’s website, including William Wellesley Knighton (right; son of Sir William Knighton, uncle of Richard Seymour of Kinwarton), a second picture of Captain Seymour (probably Ned Seymour, Richard and Fanny’s son), Henry Le Marchant (son of Eliza and Denis), and a couple of puzzles – “Lady E. Compton” and “Miss Mary A. Leigh“. (Without more information, these last two remain tantalizing names).

I was MOST intrigued by seeing members of the family of Sir John Mordaunt. Especially by a photo Frecker alludes to as “Lady Caroline Mordaunt“. Here, Frecker has a lengthier bio to accompany the picture. She was the daughter of a bishop, wife of a baronet. Her obituary (1913) consistently calls her “Lady Mordaunt” — which is the name the Rev. Richard Seymour uses for this lady’s mother-in-law, the Dowager Lady Mordaunt (née Marianne [Mary Ann(e)] Holbech). Richard wrote exceedingly highly of Lady Mordaunt and her daughters, Mary (born c1811) and Emma (born c1813).

Was “Lady Caroline Mordaunt” Silvy’s designation? As the wife of a baronet she should be Lady Mordaunt; maybe Lady (Caroline) Mordaunt. But if this incorrect appellation comes from Silvy … How does that fact affect the two photos at the National Portrait Gallery that has, in someone’s hand, “Lady Louisa Seymour” emblazoned across the top. NPG used to call this sitter Maria Culme Seymour (ie, Emma’s youngest sister). She, too, was married to a baronet – she shouldn’t be known as anything other than Lady Seymour or Lady Culme Seymour. And Maria was a mere year older (born in 1814) than this Lady Mordaunt (born in 1815).

Maria Culme-Seymour2I had previously inquired of NPG how they came to equate “Lady Louisa Seymour” with my Maria Louisa Culme Seymour. Their answer was basically “process of elimination”. Evidently no one else could be found. At the time I had compared it to another family photo, of Lady Marian Alford (daughter of the Smiths’ cousin, Spencer – the 2nd Marquess of Northampton). Lady Marian (or Marianne) was born in 1817; yet in her portrait by Silvy she seemed matronly. So how could “Lady Louisa Seymour”, a fresh-looking young lady, be Maria Culme Seymour?

And now comes THIS portrait of Lady Mordaunt – another “fresh-looking” lady. (All three are in the neighborhood of being 45-years-old.) It genuinely has me wondering yet again about the Maria picture. I have nothing, however, to compare it to – except this portrait miniature (left).

It is ESPECIALLY hard to “compare” a drawing to a photo. See, for instance, this pair from Ronald Dunning’s website JANE AUSTENS FAMILY, which depicts Catherine Anne Austen, later Mrs Hubback.

Also on Two Teens in the Time of Austen:

* * *

Fascinating news: Speaking of old photographs, I just HAVE to make note of this news story: “100-Year-Old Photos Found in Antique Camera“. Anton Orlov recently purchased a 1911 Bellini Jumelle camera — which was found to have World War I-era photos still in it! I’ve not watched the video yet, but the eight photos found inside are a wonder of accidental re(dis)covery!

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In with new / Out with old

January 13, 2013 at 12:22 am (entertainment, history, jane austen, news, people, portraits and paintings, travel) (, , , , , , )

In The Burlington Free Press a TINY notice from Vienna that the Salzburg Mozarteum authenticated a new portrait of MOZART. I don’t mention it often here, but I became a Mozart-fan after seeing (and seeing again) Amadeus. I’ve tons of books – even bought the German edition (four volumes; no commentary) of Mozart’s Correspondence AKA Mozarts Briefe – a magnificent set. I used to take the commentary out of the library (my set didn’t come complete: seven volumes). To me, this “standard” is what Austen studies needs to emulate: all the extant letters, scraps &c — ie, for the entire family; extensive commentary and indexing. Simply fabulous.

mozartwoche

Mozartwoche 2013: Coming Soon!

Looking, I found only the most shallow (repetitive) stories. There are so many questions! How do “they” know? If it’s been “centuries”, where was this portrait, who painted it? when? So much nothingness, that I link up this Washington Post story just for the curious. Still hoping to find some in-depth piece…

Part of the head-scratching for me is that another portrait has been discredited, the so-called Boy with Bird Nest. Similar questions pop into my head: why no longer thought to “be” Mozart? This question may be more easily answered. An interesting site called, what else?!, Mozart Portraits, talks about this portrait as possibly by Zoffany, and possibly a portrait of one of the three sons of Lord Bute (a theory being that Zoffany painted Bute’s boys and the nest was an ongoing motif for them). Nice collection of portraits — authentic, spurious, under consideration, and also fantasy & caricature!

Here’s my own little collection:

The Old: Boy with Nestmozart_old

mozart_newThe New: Detail

The Cute: by Liu Yemozart_ye
For a cartoon that had me LAUGHING OUT LOUD, see Pinterest.

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