Lady Frances Compton’s Library

February 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm (books, chutes of the vyne, entertainment, europe, jane austen, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , )


Compton_Lady FrancesLady Frances Compton, sister of the 1st Marquess of Northampton of Castle Ashby, is just one of the many strong women I have come across in the extended Smith of Suttons family. You cannot image how thrilling it is to see a picture of her. And sold so long ago (see Sotheby’s 2006 auction). Her father’s miniature I had seen, but it’s hers I’m happy to see!

She is more easily tracked than her niece (and namesake), Lady Frances Elizabeth Compton (aka Lady Elizabeth Dickins, wife of Charles Scrase Dickins), and among the items unearthed yesterday are some BOOKS.

I have long been interested in the library holdings of the extended family. And was just overjoyed to be holding in my hands — thanks to a gift from Martyn Downer (author of, among other texts, Nelson’s Purse, which traces the friendship of Lord Nelson with Mary Gosling’s uncle, Alexander Davison) of an actual book once in the library of Mrs Gosling (her bookplate attachment). More about that important gift at a later date.

A small image of Lady Frances’ bookplate will continue my story.

bookplate_Lady FrancesThis appears in what seems to be a CURRENT sale of a book entitled, Wild Flowers, or, Pastoral and Local Poetry by Robert Bloomfield, published in 1806.

But there’s more out there…

This one is of great interest to me, being an ‘American Lady‘: Memoirs of an American Lady: with sketches and manners and scenery in America, as they existed previous to the Revolution. By the author of Letters from the Mountains, &c &c {Anne Grant}. Published in 1808. How wonderful to picture Lady Frances, whether in England or abroad on the Continent, sitting down to read about a woman who “spent her formative years” in Albany, New York — which is a few hours to the south of me in northern Vermont.

But there’s more….

A copy of Amelie Opie’s Valentine’s Eve (3 vols; 1816) also comes complete “Mit dem heraldischen Exlibris von Lady Frances Compton auf den Innendeckeln.” The seller is in Switzerland, a country which Lady Frances frequented.

And more…

Richard Johnson’s Lilliputian Library; Or, Gulliver’s Museum containing Lectures on Morality. Historical Pieces. Interesting Fables…. has a subscription list. Lady Frances began early then, as she is listed in this 1779 title.

Last, I will mention one academic library – King’s library at Miami University – which has in its Special Collections a volume once owned by Lady Frances. I LOVE the title, which I include in full: An essay on the art of ingeniously tormenting: with proper rules for the exercise of that pleasant art, humbly addressed; In the first part to the master, husband &c. In the second part to the wife, friend &c. with some general instructions for plaguing all your acquaintance.

I leave my best two thoughts for last.

The sellers of the first book, Wild Flowers, have possibly seen Deirdre Le Faye’s excellent Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family – for they cite the following as an inducement to purchase: “Lady Frances was a friend of the Austen family and frequently visited and dined with them.” Hmmmm….

And then there’s this:

The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets.

4 volumes. [6], 436; v, [1], 431; [4], 409 + [1] ad; [4], 452 pp. Copper-engraved frontispiece portrait of Johnson in Vol. I. 8½x5, period straight-grained red morocco ruled in gilt, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Attractive edition, in nice period bindings. With the bookplates of Mrs. Chute, and an ink inscription in the first volume, “Elizabeth Chute, Lady Francis Compton’s gift, 1799.”
Heading:
Author: Johnson, Samuel
Place Published: London
Publisher Name: Printed for T. Longman, et al.
Date Published: 1794

lives_English Poets

Did Eliza really write her name as Lady Francis Compton?
The entire family (until Emma’s involvement with James Edward Austen)
did typical write Austin rather than Austen.
“Misspellings” make searches more challenging.

Check out Lot 6 from the same 2006 sale. Who was Lady Tara?

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