Breaking news of a terrific website:
If you’re like me, you might look at a portrait and wish you could “date” it; or, you might wish to know what costume looked like, say, in 1817. This database will help! A lot of “famous” faces, and you’ll soon begin to recognize certain “famous” artists, too. But what a wealth of well-arranged, early to navigate information & images!
There’s even a “History Timeline” which lays out a what-happened-when series of happenings, compositions or world events. For instance, if you see 1813’s mention of JANE AUSTEN’S PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and wish to see what portraits looked like from c1813, simply click on the link – et voilà!
Artwork represented comes from many nations and time periods; portraits are nicely ID’ed.
Many years ago I purchased a copy of Claire Tomalin’s biography of Nelly Ternan, The Invisible Woman. Finally, it’s been made into a film – and Rick Kisonak (one of two reviewers for 7 Days) wrote a glowing review of the Ralph Fiennes – Felicity Jones film.
(Readers of Two Teens will remember Jones’ star-turn in Northanger Abbey on PBS.)
“Jones does an uncanny job of conveying her
character’s evolution…. Fiennes has never been better.”
Here in Vermont, the film is playing at the Savoy in Montpelier, an hour’s drive from me. Wherever you are, catch it while (and where) you can; plan on buying the DVD too.
The Invisible Woman gained only one Oscar nod: for costume design. Kisonak had an opinion on this sad state of affairs: “That’s less a reflection on this smart and affecting film than on the Academy, of course, which — I’m not making this up — lavished Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and The Lone Ranger with an unbelievable three nominations between them. The rules allow for 10 Best Picture candidates, and, for some reason, only nine movies were recognized. This is the picture that should’ve been No. 10.” Let’s hope the British Film industry makes up for this paucity of recognition: BAFTA are you listening?? No… I guess NOT: their nominees are riddled with American films, and nearly echoes the American Oscar list.
Invisible women are invisible still…. “You was robbed.”
Facebook Fan Page: The Invisible Woman
Review: The Guardian
Wanna read the screenplay?
Reading through the first chapter of my book (those purchasing Two Teens in the Time of Austen: Random Jottings, 2008-2013 get a slightly-stale taste of that opening chapter) I was submerged into Mary’s world via her 1814 trip to Oxford when I read aloud the following:
“Two of Mr. Gosling’s four sons resided in college in 1814: William Ellis, the eldest of the seven Gosling children, only weeks beyond his twentieth birthday; and Robert, one year younger. William had entered Brasenose College on 10 July 1812, and seems to have taken no degree. Robert was fairly new to college, having matriculated on 27 January 1814. He stayed through 1822, leaving with a Master’s degree.”
January 27th?! I long have had Monday in mind as “Mozart’s birthday” (you can always tell when the anniversary of that day approaches: the local radio station plays a LOT of Mozart!). But reading my little history, I found myself whispering to myself: two hundred years ago to the day…
I have been lucky enough (thank you Mark & Emma!!) to see a portrait of all three Gosling boys – William, Robert and Bennett – painted some few years later. What a handsome trio! Though, in some ways, the most “pleasing” countenance can be said to belong to Robert. As a toddler he was compared to Falstaff for his roundness; as an old man in a long-exposed photograph he reminded this American of Abraham Lincoln: long, lean, and wearing a stove-pipe hat!
But two-hundred years ago TODAY, on 27 January 1814, Robert Gosling, a young man, had matriculated at Christ College, Oxford — and that summer his sister Mary wrote down the trip her family (“Mama, Papa, my Sister and myself”) took in order to visit the boys. That wasn’t the first diary of hers that I read, but ultimately it has so-far become the earliest of her writings that I have found.
- Did the “Great Hall” of Christ Church College really serve as inspiration for HOGWARTS HALL? Mary was there… and left her thoughts: “The Hall is one of the most magnificent in Oxford.” (and I remember that scene in the first film, vividly)
Mary Gosling (aka Lady Smith) and I are both born under the sign of Aquarius: Mary born February 2nd; me on February 4th. Although I have never had a horoscope cast, I am a keen reader of the generic tidbits that turn up in newspapers. These past several months there have been several that spoke to the writer in me. I cannot express how comforting these “predictions” feel. When no one “known” to me (as I call it, in my daily life) seems to care whether this project breathes life, or dies on the vine, I take courage from these Aquarian words of encouragement.
So imagine my opening the local paper 7 Days and finding this juicy morsel to chew upon this week:
“The Aquarian author Georges Simenon (13 Feb 1903 – 1989) wrote more than 200 novels under his own name and 300 more under pseudonyms. On average, he finished a new book every 11 days. Half a billion copies of his books are in print. I’m sorry to report that I don’t think you will ever be as prolific [me neither…] in your own chosen field as he was in his. However, your productivity could soar to a hefty fraction of Simenon-like levels in 2014 — if you’re willing to work your ass off. Your luxuriant fruitfulness won’t come as easily as his seemed to. But you should be overjoyed that you at least have the potential to be luxuriantly fruitful.”
I thought drafting a novel (still in first-draft mode, many years later) in a summer a feat of diligence. Eleven days? Yow! I’ve read Simenon (been a while though), and only in English of course. I do remember enjoying them; and, of course, got turned on to them via TV’s Maigret series (the French series also ran locally, from time to time).
Mary and I certainly ‘hoo-ray’ the idea of being ‘luxuriantly fruitful’ in getting ahead in our project. And here comes Emma, and even Mamma, to add their voices to the mix….
I’ve been finishing (not yet finished though) Book of Ages and was wonderfully surprised to see the fanaticism shown by Jared Sparks in hunting down, amassing, and even acquiring “original” Benjamin Franklin documents. I, too, have that fever! It rages, flames, and settles as embers, only to rage again as certain items come to light – a new batch of letters, an unknown portrait. It is exciting, but it takes T-I-M-E. Certainly more than eleven days.
Serendipitous Stitchery recently announced a year-long project:
Four costume historians will update monthly the news of fashions in 1811 from:
- Journal des Luxus und der Moden
- Journal des Dames et des Modes
- La Belle Assemblee
- Ackermanns Repository
JANUARY 1811 is up! Click on the picture for more information on the project, as well as to see and read about London / Paris / Weimar Fashions from January 1811.
Charlotte Frost, author of Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician (who was an uncle of Fanny’s husband, Richard Seymour), has mentioned a book that caught her eye:
Slavery and the British Country House is offered on the English Heritage website. Anyone with interest in “the English Country House” (Downton Abbey anyone?) will find something worth reading here. A lavishly-illustrated hardcover has been produced, but dip in to the *free* PDF of the text.
NB: I had to copy the full PDF address, go away from the site, and pop it in the address line. Try it, if you have problems downloading.
Lucky: When you’re an academic AND you discover letters of a well-established writer at the ‘click of a mouse’ you get MEGA-PRESS coverage! My Smiths & Goslings should be only so lucky…
(Those of you sharing your letters, diaries, & images with me, know who you are; thank you!)
But on to the BIG news
Professor Nora Crook‘s “re-discovery” during on online search uncovered – at the ESSEX RECORD OFFICE, the repository where some Smith & Gosling diaries and letters reside! – unpublished letters by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. A fabulous find! And proves my point that you sometimes uncover TERRIFIC *finds* while looking for something completely different.
According to The Guardian, “The letters date between 1831, nine years after the death of her poet husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, and 1849, when Mary Shelley was already unwell with the brain tumour that would kill her two years later, and show a woman who was skilled in charming favours from friends, bursting with pride in and concern for her teenage son – and not unconcerned with frivolities. A last-minute ticket to the coronation of William IV in 1831 necessitated a 3am visit from her hairdresser; she attended the event sporting a plumed headdress (‘The whole thing was wondrously splendid – Diamonds & cloth of gold grew common to the eye.’)”
Even the ‘seal’ (see Keith Crook’s photo) was previously unknown.
” ‘Pure serendipity,’ ” says Prof. Crook, ” ‘The [Horace] Smith connection has been known but this little bit of the jigsaw hasn’t been’ “.
The comments, especially of ARCHIVISTSN, should be included in your perusal of the article.
ERO features the letters as their January 2014 “YOUR FAVOURITE ERO DOCUMENT”: read their article.
The thirteen letters are to be published in an upcoming Keats-Shelley Journal.
I’ve been crafting some “mini-biographies” of the Smiths & Goslings lately; one gave a short history of Charlotte Gosling, Mary’s younger (half-) sister. One of the thrilling stories about her occurred early in her life: her Godmother was England’s Queen Charlotte! It is doubtful that her name derives from the Queen; Charlotte Gosling’s mother was another Charlotte, the former Charlotte de Grey. But the connection undoubtedly could not have hurt, and it is possible that Charlotte (de Grey) Gosling was named for the queen: her father, Thomas 2nd Lord Walsingham, was Groom of the Bedchamber during the 1770s (his daughter Charlotte born in 1774).
Charlotte Gosling’s niece, another Charlotte — Charlotte Christie — remembered that when baby Charlotte was christened, her godmother the Queen gave the elder Gosling girls each a brooch, with her likeness. What could have happened to such treasures?!? What might these brooches have looked like? Searching, I found one that _I_ wouldn’t have minded being gifted with, by my sister’s godmother.
Gosh! trying to verify a birthdate for Caroline Wiggett Workman, I came across this exquisite portrait of her mother, aged 16: Rachel Lyde