Le Faye’s JASA Article: “Not Jane Austen’s Portrait”

June 16, 2013 at 5:52 pm (books, history, jane austen, jasna, portraits and paintings) (, , , , )

A few weeks ago I received the last issue of Persuasions, the Jane Austen Journal. Only today did I catch up with some reading! But I’ve a quick favor to ask of readers.

austen by elizaDeirdre Le Faye has written an article which appears in the JASA (Jane Austen Society of Australia) publication Sensibilities. Entitled, “Black Ink and Three Telltale Words; or, Not Jane Austen’s Portrait,” it is a lengthy article (pp. 18-30) which obviously propounds Le Faye’s thoughts against the portrait. I’d love to read it! If somone could forward a digital copy of the article, I’d be grateful. Otherwise, I’ll have to inquiry whether JASA has a copy of the publication available and snail mail it here to the States.

Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen might remember that there once was a possibility (early on…) that Eliza Chute — yes, Emma’s Aunt Chute — could have wielded the graphite stick and paintbrush:

I admitted to being a bit surprised that Paula Byrne could cite an upcoming article in her book on Austen hastily released in January (2013). It’s this very article, by Deborah Kaplan (Persuasions: “‘There she is at last’: The Byrne Portrait Controversy”), which in turn cites Le Faye’s article. From the article title (and, frankly, my memory of Byrne’s use of the article), I expected an out-and-out endorsement by Kaplan of this picture.

The Persuasions’ article isn’t as black and white as all that. In fact, Kaplan’s discussion is less on the portrait and more a critique of the BBC special cited above, “Jane Austen: The Unseen Portrait?”. On the whole she makes some well-placed points about the TV program. Proponents for either pro or ante will find Kaplan’s thoughts of use.

{an aside: Kaplan is the author Jane Austen Among Women, which has its own lengthy discussion of Eliza Chute and her circle of acquaintance!}

I have long thought Byrne would have an uphill battle at any authentication of her portrait as portraying the Jane Austen. Why? The Eliza Chute Connection. If she had Eliza Chute as artist there was a chance that this portrait could have been done from life, could have been something few within the family remembered by the late 1860s, when Edward Austen was looking for a portrait of his late aunt to grace A Memoir of Jane Austen.

But the more I compared the “Austin” portrait with a known portrait done by Eliza Chute, the more I had to conclude that Eliza was not Byrne’s artist.

paula-maria

Anyone watching the BBC special that Christmas in 2011 would not have realized the portrait seen in the screen, sharing space with Byrne’s own face (above), WAS the reason Byrne contacted me a few months before the show aired.

Maria Lady Northampton

This is the portrait, on vellum, by Eliza Chute of her eldest sister Maria Lady Northampton. A similarity – in pose, for instance, is there for anyone to see. The execution, however (even though I have never seen EITHER portrait in the flesh), seems much more accomplished than that of the “Jane Austin”. As much as I had _hoped_ my Eliza had drawn her neighbor Jane Austin (and she did spell the family name this way), I think her a better artist, even if she might have become rusty by c1814.

If anyone can supply the Sensibilities article, please see email contact information under About the Author.

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The Diary of Mary Hardy 1773-1809: a 25-Year Task

June 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm (books, diaries, history) (, , , , , , )

Today I’m in conversation with Margaret Bird, of Kingston upon Thames, England, editor of the delightful series of Mary Hardy diaries. Margaret “stumbled by chance” across my blog “Georgian Gems, Regency Reads & Victorian Voices” and found her own book under discussion!

Margaret Bird: In the small hours I found myself watching a delighted reader across the Atlantic turning the pages of one of the four weighty Diary volumes. I saw you confiding to viewers what you found appealing about the content and, just as importantly in these days of e-books, about the look and feel of the book. Within hours Kelly and I had exchanged a series of e-mails, and with permission that YouTube video was featuring as a link from the Mary Hardy websites. As the editor, designer, typesetter and photographer I instantly warmed to someone who so obviously revelled in the visual and tactile quality of the volumes.

Please fill us in on who Mary Hardy was.

MB: I need not take long to explain who Mary Hardy was, as she features on these websites:

http://maryhardysdiary.co.uk

http://www.burnham-press.co.uk

Briefly, Mary Raven was born in 1733 into a shopkeeping and farming family in a remote village in central Norfolk, a county on England’s North Sea coast. She married an excise officer, William Hardy, in 1765. They had three children, to whom both were devoted. Her husband turned to farming, malting and brewing in 1772. She died in 1809; her husband in 1811.

None of that suggests anything out of the ordinary. What is really extraordinary is the document she left us: a 36-year daily diary recounting the world of work, of farming and manufacturing, of the drinks trade, distribution and transport, and of family and religion. It is not a literary affair. In their trademark terse style Mary Hardy and her young nephew, the brewery apprentice Henry Raven, have left us manuscripts which in word count (573,000 words) amount almost to the length of the Old Testament of the Bible.”

mary-hardyWill you tell “Two Teen” readers about your “25-year mission” to bring Mary Hardy to the public?

MB: In September 1988 Ronald Reagan still had some months left to him in the Oval Office. The Berlin Wall was to stand for more than another year. Margaret Thatcher had two years more to serve as Prime Minister. It was in September 1988 that I took on the task of working on these manuscripts, which were—and are—still in the hands of Mary Hardy’s descendants.

I was drawn to the texts for many reasons. Although I live well over four hours’ drive from where they are set I knew the fields and waterways of the diarists’ villages very well as all my life I have gone boating on the rivers of Norfolk. Our family boat was berthed in the same village where the Hardys had lived and where they launched their own sailing wherry to carry their produce to the port of Great Yarmouth.

In 1980 some Norfolk friends told me about the brief extracts already published by one of Mary Hardy’s descendants, and I immediately set about reading the book in a library in Norwich. Eight years later an article by a wherry skipper who drew on those extracts made me resolve to transcribe and publish the diary in full. I now know that well under 10 per cent of the text had by then reached the public domain. I had not the slightest idea it would take me 25 years of continuous research and striving to accomplish the initial part of my mission.

A daunting task under any circumstances, did you do your own transcriptions of the diaries?

MB: Yes, throughout it was the joy of feeling myself in the much-loved landscape and waterways as I transcribed the photocopied manuscripts at home that sustained me through the quarter-century.

Having the project take so many years of intensive work, was there any downside?

MB: It was not all unalloyed pleasure. Compiling the 460 pages of index was testing in the extreme. I had to do it the moment I started transcribing the text in 1988 as I needed the navigational aid of an index. This I referenced not to page numbers (the final pagination then of course being unknown), but to the fixed point of the date of the diary entry. As that method of indexing proved such a useful database in its own right I retained it in the published version, so the reader can now draw useful conclusions just from a search of the index without looking up the actual entries.

The index is very impressive – and especially useful in this age of limited indexes in books and the easy ability to “search” online texts. How has technology impacted your ongoing work with the diaries?

MB: By far the most difficult task was keeping up with changes in computing technology. The eventual 2500 printed pages were first transcribed on an Acorn Archimedes, with a dot-matrix printer.

Ten years later I transferred to a completely new system: a Dell computer with laser printer, into which I scanned the whole book from First Word Plus into Adobe PageMaker. No electronic transfer was possible. It was all from hard copy, requiring tens of thousands of corrections to the resulting corruptions.

Eleven years later I acquired an HP computer and mercifully was able to complete an electronic transfer into Adobe InDesign—which nevertheless took nearly three years.

You sound dedicated not only to the material, but to a certain presentation of that material. Can you elaborate?

MB: Much remained constant. Right from the start I vowed to set the book on A5 pages as I liked to handle small books. Coffee-table tomes I find unmanageable. This is a book which can easily be read in bed.

Also right from the start I vowed to have one or more illustrations on every double spread, to draw the readers’ eyes onto the page. The long captions are designed to entice readers so that they can keep going when the laconic style of the diary text seems difficult to fathom. At times an image can shed light more clearly than a note.

Right from the start I elected to have sidenotes (in which the editorial annotations are placed not at the foot of the page but in the outer margins). This is laborious as there is no automatic way of setting and numbering such notes. Instead they have to be “embroidered” onto the page, and I often felt I was creating a cross-stitch sampler or a gros point tapestry rather than a printed spread.

Being immersed in the life of people long dead sooner or later takes on a life of its own; you want to talk about them, share “finds”. I imagine family and friends have greatly supported your project?

MB: My wonderful family have given me enthusiastic support and help throughout and have joined me in exploring the ground in Norfolk and beyond. They consistently applauded what I was doing. But when I explained to many other interested people the principles behind the book’s layout their reactions ranged from bafflement to ill-concealed scepticism.

In this day of publication “wariness”, was it important to bring out a full diary? And you’ve plans for a 4-volume companion set!

MB: These long, long manuscripts are now published in full. The four hardbacks contain Mary Hardy’s abridged text, and her nephew Henry’s full text. Again right from the start I realised I had to abridge. The dross of the dullest entries would drive out the gold dust of the more interesting ones; and the thought of having to index the 160,000 words which I have instead consigned to a separate paperback publication The Remaining Diary of Mary Hardy was not one I relished. Some of the website pages set out my decision-making process. By publishing the dross, however, I have enabled database-compilers to access the complete text.

Lastly I always knew that bringing out the Diary was not enough. As a result four volumes of commentary and analysis will follow, explaining the background in 39 chapters and highlighting what is significant about the Diary. There is no room in the Diary volumes for graphs and tables.

You’ve published a set of four diary volumes, plus the “Remaining Diary”; have you been pleased with public reception of Mary Hardy?

MB: Yes, very. The volumes of Diary came out at the end of April 2013. The book launch in Norwich Cathedral proved a really happy evening, with nothing but smiling faces among the many who had helped me. Our thoughts that evening also strayed to those who had not lived to see the launch, but who had been steadfast and unwavering in their support.

To my delight the readers have responded warmly and very positively, and I am getting heartening feedback. This sometimes centers on the very aspects of page layout and indexing which had seemed so controversial in the preceding 25 years.

And I think that aspect of my reaction is what attracts you to the YouTube video!

MB: Yes, I was entranced. Here was someone who had sought the book from across the ocean; who delighted in the pictures, layout and index; and who wanted to share that delight with others.

May all my other readers experience something of your joy, and my own, in a project which in its physical form represents the creative force I have put into it during the past 25 years.

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the Shades of Pemberley…

June 8, 2013 at 11:37 am (books, entertainment, fashion, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Among the preeminent cutters of silhouettes stands Auguste Edouart; and it was while searching for something completely different that I came across this wonderful little book from 1921, Ancestors in Silhouette, cut by August [sic] Edouart. Illustrative Notes and Biographical Sketches by Mrs F. Nevill Jackson. Mrs F. Nevill Jackson, as you can see, being ID’ed as Emily Jackson.

Mrs Jackson had her hands on the “duplicate” books of Edouart; it seems that when he cut a silhouette, he kept a duplicate, and ID’ed it in his sitters’ books! I was *THRILLED* to find the New York Historical Society’s “finding guide” for the Emily Jackson Photograph Collection of Édouart’s American Silhouette Portraits… until I mentally-backed-up and re-read the title: AMERICAN silhouette portraits. Oh, dear… So what has happened to her collection of Edouart’s ENGLISH Silhouette Portraits?

Why, you might ask, do I care?

While I am still combing through the list at the back of the book (I’m up to “N”), look at what I’ve uncovered:

Silhouettes by Auguste Edouart (arranged by date):

Rev. Henry Wilder, Purley Hall, Reading (London, 21 Mar 1829)

Mrs Austen, 6, Portland Place (London, 3 Apr 1829)
Rev. J.E Austen, 6, Portland Place (London, 3 Apr 1829)

Sir Charles Smith, 6, Portland Place (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Lady Smith (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Baby Miss Smith (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Miss Smith, Portland Place (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Langham Christie, Esq. No. 2, Cumberland St, Portman Sq (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Chas. Dickins, Esq. (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Lady Eliz. Dickins (London, 4 Apr 1829)

Chas. Cunliffe Smith (London, 9 Apr 1829)
Drummond Smith, Esq. (London, 9 Apr 1829)

Spencer Smith, Esq. (London, 10 Apr 1829)
Miss Gosling, 6, Portland Place (London, 10 Apr 1829) [sic: 5, Portland Place]

Chas. Wm. Christie, Esq., No. 2 Cumberland St, Portman Sq (London, 20 May 1829)

Rev. Sir John Seymour, Bart., St Peter’s Cathedral (2 ports.) (Gloucester, 1 Nov 1836)
Lady John Seymour (Gloucester, 1 Nov 1836)
Master Michael Seymour (Gloucester, 1 Nov 1836)

Henry Wilder, soon to be wed to Augusta Smith (“Miss Smith” of Portland place who sits on the 4th; they married on April 8, 1829), leads the pack, visiting Edouart in March. Mrs Austen and the Rev. J.E. Austen (id’ed incorrectly by Jackson, or else a printer’s error, as I.E. Austen), then appeared — and Emma actually notes this visit!

Just look how many visited Edouart on the following day: Charles and Mary, their baby Mimi — little Charles (“Chas. Cunliffe”) visits a few days later with his uncle Drummond; Augusta, Langham Christie, and the Dickins, another newly-married couple (February, 1829).

Charles, of all people, mentions this visit; Mary is silent about it, commenting only on the health of “baby” (Mimi) — and the acceptance of her sister Elizabeth Gosling of Langham Christie’s proposal of marriage! Yes, Langham visited Edouart on the very day he proposed! That may be why she then visits Edouart – in company with Spencer Smith, six days later.

Then, pulling up the rear, is Langham’s brother, Charles Christie.

A big gap of time, and a little activity that I simply must mention, in 1836: the family of the Rev. Sir John Seymour, bart: husband, wife and young son.

  • But WHERE are these silhouettes — I’d even settle for (if such ever existed) Emily Jackson’s photographic supplements! So a brief plea here; anyone with ANY knowledge of a stash of Edouart silhouettes, please let me know. Keeping fingers crossed that I can track these images down.

What might these Edouart Silhouettes look like? _I_ presumed the typical “head”-shot…. I’ve found a few online examples:

Edouart produced silhouettes as simple as this full figure:

edouart_boy

And yet note the elaborate background of these two solitary figures:

 edouart_garden  edouart_library

and silhouette groupings, such as this one:

edouart_couple

Or, this well-populated room:

edouart_family

WHAT might the Smiths & Goslings and their intendeds and new husbands
have picked for their silhouettes???

I’m dying to know!

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The Macdougall sisters’ Edinburgh-area home

June 5, 2013 at 9:00 pm (estates, history, news) (, , , , , , , , )

In an earlier post, “A Tale of Two Macdougalls,” I wondered where the sisters Susan and Helen Macdougall — two women who served in the capacity of governess in the Smith household, in the early 1820s — might have lived. I had VERY LITTLE information to go on!

Marian has ID’ed the home of Alexander Macdougall and family as Eskhill House, Inveresk, Edinburgh. No. 15 Inveresk Village, is for sale at Savills.

EDS120169_22_gal

The 12-page brochure calls Eskhill House “exceptional,” and has the following to say about the property and its 6226 sq. ft house:

“Inveresk ia charming village, situated 7 miles East of Edinburgh city centre… Historically a home for Edinburgh’s prosperous professional classes this is a picturesque village with impressive period architecture.

…Eskhill House is an exceptional house which dates from 1710 and which has been extended, improved and sympathetically modernised over the years…. Of particular note are the principal reception rooms with their fine ornamental plasterwork and magnificent mantelpieces.”

EDS120169_06_gal

Interlude:

British Listed Buildings has a little to say about Alexander Macdougall, claiming he purchased the estate for £500. Today’s asking price? £1,850,000.

Pity it wasn’t ME who won the “mega millions” lottery!

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Sir William Knighton now appearing on Weebly

June 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm (books, british royalty, history) (, , , , , )

Frost_Knighton

Author Charlotte Frost recently announced that her book on Sir William Knighton, entitled Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician, now has its own website! Read reviews, buy the book. I wait with great anticipation for her “outtakes” section. Sir William being Uncle to my slew of Seymour siblings: Richard Seymour, Sir John Culme Seymour, Frances Seymour, Dora Seymour.

You can read about Charlotte Frost on this two-part interview (links below) conducted with her not long after she informed TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN that her Knighton biography existed. It was then, and continues to be, thrilling to hear about all aspects of this author’s historical investigations.

You, too, can be immersed in the world of Prinny / George, The Prince of Wales / George IV that Charlotte Frost has been uncovering.

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