A writer reading

March 25, 2023 at 2:50 pm (books, diaries, history) (, , , , )

There are times when I wish I could simply sit and read a good book about the Smiths and Goslings! I, more than anyone, knows the tough situation of TOO MUCH INFORMATION (“TMI”). It’s terribly daunting to have archival manuscripts from approximately the 1780s to the 1880s to sift through. And, (of course), there’s the fervent desire to FIND EVEN MORE. But: to cozy up, with book and tea, absorbing information instead of interpreting information…. HEAVEN!

I love reading publications of letters, diaries, anything relating to women’s history, Britain, 18th or 19th century especially. This morning, earlier finding a sunny spot (now it’s rather back to overcast, which can make for very depressing days…), I was reading Jill Liddington‘s newest ANNE LISTER book, As Good as a Marriage: The Anne Lister Diaries 1836-38. The two ladies are rather “bumping along” at this point in the transcription. Maybe Ann Walker would have been happier had Anne Lister moved in with her. A PLACE (yes, something MORE than just a “room”) of one’s own is EXCEPTIONALLY important to some of us. Anne Lister would NEVER have done that, of course. But as I’ve recently had a relative living cheek-to-jowl with me, I can understand that Ann Walker’s “low spirits” – depression, in some form, certainly – could also stem from the fact that she and Anne have not “set up house”, but she (Ann) has moved into the Listers’ home. Nothing is “hers” – everything is “Lister” property, “Lister” layout, “Lister” servants. “Lister” business concerns. But “Walker” money, often — though Ann is magnanimous enough to rip up what seems to be an IOU sort of document.

_I_ wouldn’t have been happy. And (in truth), such situations (my own, and Ann’s in the far past) always make me think of a long-ago co-worker: He moved into his lady-love’s house. Another (male) co-worker commented: Nothing is “his”; it’s all her furniture, placed as she likes it – no ROOM for “his stuff”. It was a while later that they sold “hers” and purchased “theirs”.

Living “together” is tough!

No wonder Anne dreamed of travel, and maybe that is what Ann also dreamed about. Rather than sitting around the house or being confronted with and consumed by land business, Ann preferred seeing new places, meeting new people! I can’t help but wonder: Maybe Ann just wanted a bit of “company” so as not to be ALONE. She indicates, more than once, that her aunt (Ann Walker, senior), was the one not wishing to have Ann as a “companion” in her home – but Aunt Ann Walker then went through “companions”. There IS something to be said for the CHOICE to ask someone to stay; or ask them to depart.

Devastating to read Anne’s comment that the Shibden servants don’t like Ann. How I feel for Miss Walker! Rather an unwelcome “stranger” in what purports to be her “own” home. Wish there were more from her pen during these months of 1836. It cannot be discounted that in moments (or days) of “being low” Ann Walker was indicating her own need to be given a bit of SPACE.

I must admit, I often “root” for “The Other” over and again. Cassandra Austen, lost in the fame of her sister Jane Austen. Dorothy Wordsworth, seen by some as the lesser light of her brother William Wordsworth. I know there’s someone I’m forgetting… Ah, yes! Emily Dickinson‘s sister – Lavinia Dickinson; and I’ll even include their sister-in-law Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson. From the TV series, Gentleman Jack, I would also include Marian Lister. LOVE HER! (Especially the more she annoys her sister Anne. And swipes are even detectable in AL’s diary entries once Marian leaves Shibden.) Of course these women are typically pushed aside because of a lack of primary materials. (Though Dorothy Wordsworth is beloved BECAUSE of her journals and letters.)

For Ann Walker, thank goodness for websites like IN SEARCH OF ANN WALKER (“ISAW”). The link here will bring you to a Comparison of the DIARIES for Ann Walker and Anne Lister, covering the time between the 4 June 1834 and the 19 February 1835. “ISAW – is a collective of researchers, transcribers, administrators and writers whose mission is to tell the full and true story of the REAL Ann Walker.” Check out ISAW’s Ann Walker “booklet” – 37 pages in a PDF (2022).

Reading Liddington’s new book, I am of two minds about comments whereby Anne Lister is “correcting” or “adding” punctuation to Ann Walker’s letter to her sister [25 May 1836], which is noted in code, or otherwise reading Ann’s letter to her sister [1 June 1836]. Was Anne Lister intruding upon Ann Walker’s privacy in her own correspondence, or did Ann invite Anne, who then (maybe) added her sentiments to Elizabeth Sutherland. In my own research, there were people who considered their letters to be PRIVATE (even if an individual letter didn’t exactly “say much”). NOT to be shown to others, NOT to be read out at the breakfast table. Others might indicate a truly PRIVATE passage by writing such before continuing the letter. A hint to SKIP over this section, or pause to read it to oneself first. (Lest someone mentioned be listening!)

Mary Gosling (Lady Smith) is one of these strictly PRIVATE people. Her letters are rarely earth-shattering, although her youthful letters are more characterful. In later letters, where the “heir” of Suttons – her son Charles – is a topic of conversation more often than not [think about it: her four-year-old child inherited their home], Mary is constantly apologizing for things, second-guessing herself, and seeking the advice of (especially) Mamma.

Whereas the Six Smith Sisters cheerfully passed around their letters, written to one, sent on to the next – often with greetings attached from that “interim” recipient, and sent on to yet another sibling.

I don’t know enough about Ann Walker’s correspondence to place, in context, the diary entries whereby Anne knows the contents of Ann’s letters, but you can bet Ann is NOT reading Anne’s letters to the likes of Mariana Lawton!

And what does Ann think when Anne is scribbling away in those diaries? _I_ couldn’t write if someone nearby knew I was sitting down to scribble my thoughts. Nor could I stand knowing that someone in my household was scribbling about ME.

By the way, Leila Straub has contributed to ISAW a fascinating look at the handwriting of Ann Walker, and the resultant letters.

For me, Anne Lister (and Ann Walker) come alive in moments like this, noted 29 May 1836. Says Anne’s diary:

“Mr. Wilkinson … preached 28 min[utes] … I was asleep almost all the while…”

Not many would confess such! Needless to say, the 29th was a SUNDAY.

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Emily Shore in Manuscript

March 8, 2023 at 7:28 pm (books, diaries, history, news, people) (, , , , , , )

A reader recently alerted me to news of the 2022 New York Antiquarian Book Fair having shown TWO manuscript volumes of the Journal of young Emily Shore  Born in 1819, Emily died of consumption in 1839. The Shores were related to the Mackworth Praeds, which family included Susannah Smith, herself a diarist, and the politician and poet Winthrop Mackworth Praed. “Sue” Smith (as I call her) was the wife of Thomas Smith of New Norfolk Street, London and Bersted Lodge (in Sussex), and the great aunt of Emma Smith / Emma Austen Leigh (one of my Two Teens). The bookseller had, back in April 2022, called the re-emerged journals their “star item” at the Fair. INDEED!

Emily Shore’s journals were published by her sisters, twice, in the 19th century. The 1891 edition and 1898 edition differ, especially in the inclusion of family images (Emily was an accomplished artist). The newest edition came out in 1991, edited by Barbara Timm Gates.

Published to celebrate the centenary of its first publication, Timm Gates’ introduction speaks to her search for the ORIGINAL Handwritten Manuscripts. One of Emily’s sisters had actually willed the manuscripts to the British Museum. Says Timm Gates, “My jubilant friend writes, ‘Arabella Shore died 9 Jan. 1901 and left a will dated 5 Aug. 1899 with a codicil including these welcome words, “I bequeath the manuscripts and drawings of my sisters Emily and Louisa Shore to the Trustees of the British Museum to be preserved in the department of manuscripts”.'”

Alas! The British Museum had no record of the bequest. Dead End!

Of course, the loss of Emily’s materials is compounded, in my mind, by the loss of sister Louisa’s material as well.

Timm Gates had little choice but to republish the material as presented in the 19th century – but she also found, as her book went to press, that original volumes did EXIST. In the collection of the University of Delaware, (the link is their Finding Aid), are THREE manuscript Volumes. Out of twelve volumes, Delaware holds Nos. 7, 10, and 12: VII (6 Oct 1836-10 Apr 1837); X (14 Apr 1838-5 Jul 1838); and XII (16 Dec 1838-1 Jul 1839). Emily died six days later, on July 7th.

The University of Virginia, publisher of Timm Gates’ edition of the journals, now has updated their website offering to include free OPEN ACCESS to the Journal of Emily Shore. They also provide an up-dated transcription of two of the three Delaware volumes (Nos. 7 and 12); a “combined edition,” which incorporates the manuscripts of Nos. 7 & 12, as well as the “Centenary Edition” complete; some illustrations from the manuscripts are also included.

The most thrilling to see, as an owner of the 1991 book edition (thanks to a gift) are the new transcriptions. Which, now that two more volumes have appeared, begs the questions: Where have the “new found” volumes gone to? and Will Virginia be able to transcribe them (and the Delaware vol. 10)? The University of Delaware has a lengthy biographical offering for those who have not yet discovered Emily Shore.

Jarndyce Books, the UK bookseller at the NY Antiquarian Book Fair in April of 2022, had up-for-sale volume 1 (5 Jul 1831-31 Dec 1832) and volume 2 (1 Jan 1833-7 May 1833). “Entirely written in Shore’s distinctive small, neat, and easily readable hand, these volumes are a remarkable rediscovery more than thirty years after the only other known surviving volumes were sold. …. [H]er wit and intelligence – even in these early volumes – shines through each page.”

BUT the diary is not the sole item to have resurfaced. Part of a Shore novel came up for sale at Bonhams in 2004. Delaware has it in its collection! The manuscript, purchased in 2008, presents chapters 10 to 22 of Emily Shore’s novel “Devereux.”

Of course, one wonders why the University of Delaware didn’t purchase the two volumes (to join their three volumes) – was it the cost? Asking price at the book fair was advertised as $85,000.

So where, oh where, have Emily Shore’s Journals vols 1 & 2 gone?

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In pulling up LINKS for this article, I found a reader who has posted YouTube videos connected to the Journal of Emily Shore:

Happy International Women’s Day (March 8th) and welcome to Women’s History MONTH!

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Illustrating Mamma’s Diary, 1805 (part 3)

March 1, 2023 at 8:00 pm (diaries, estates, history, people, portraits and paintings, research, smiths of stratford) (, , , )

One of the most difficult parts of researching the family of Emma Austen is the fact that Emma’s parents were BOTH named “Smith”. Hard to winnow out relations and non-relations, with so common an English name as SMITH.

Mrs. Charles Smith – Augusta Smith, senior – “Mamma”. She has, from the beginning, been easy to track, because her father, Joshua Smith, was a Member of Parliament (for Devizes) and a landowner. The estate itself causes problems. Spelled Erle Stoke Park; Erlestoke Park; as well as Earl Stoke Park. Alas, the estate exists, and yet doesn’t. The fabric of the building sustained a fire. The estate is now known as HMP – His Majesty’s Prison – Earlstoke (Wiltshire).

Mr. Charles Smith of Suttons – “Papa”. He had one living sister. The Smith of Suttons children called her “Aunt”. This simple appellation has caused others to mistake her for one of several other aunts. But Aunt Northampton, Aunt Chute, Aunt Emma (all are Mamma’s sisters) are accounted for. It is JUDITH SMITH who is forever and always called, simply “Aunt“.

And it is Aunt, who, by 1805, had a quartet of three nieces and a nephew: Augusta (junior), Charles Joshua, Emma, and Fanny, all of whom visited the Smiths at Stratford, Essex. Judith’s mother was still alive, and the two lived together. Mamma sometimes denotes them as “Old Mrs. Smith” and “Miss Smith,” and they are usually noted together. Aunt remained a “Maiden Aunt” all her life. Judith was born in 1754 and was two years older than her brother, who was significantly older than his (second) wife. Augusta, senior had been born in 1772, and was 26 years old at the time of her 1798 marriage; Charles would turn 44 in September of that year. He welcomed his first child – Augusta, junior – in February 1799.

Mamma – who was super close to her own sisters, Maria (born 1767) [Lady Northampton]; Eliza (born 1769) [Mrs. Chute of The Vyne]; and Emma (born 1774) – took a while to cozy up to her sister-in-law.

But Judith had relatives of her own, more SMITHS, of course!

One family, mentioned in Augusta Smith’s 1805 diary, is the Smiths of Malling. Always denoted by the designation “of Malling,” their matriarch is a third portrait in artist John Downman’s albums, “First Sketches of Portraits of distinguished persons,” held at the British Museum. You can see them online, digitally presented. The “Study for Mrs. Smith of West Malling, Kent, 1805” can also be viewed on the BM website.

Mrs. Smith of Malling presents an interesting case of a young woman, eventually the sole heir of her parents, who seemingly married “for love”. Her full inheritance came through the death of her brother. The Monument Inscription in Meopham gives the unfortunate particulars:

Hither soon followed them
their son WILLIAM, the heir of their fortunes
and their virtues; a fair inheritance:
but alas of their mortality too.
which lot befel him at the early age of 28
April the 12th 1761
‘He died of the small pox
unhappily procured by

Known as “the heiress of Camer,” Katherine (or Catherine) MASTERS married William SMITH of Croydon. Through her came her father’s estate of Camer.

And with her came a slot in the family vault for her husband.

As Downman noted, Mrs. Smith of West Mallling was a widow with numerous children. Her husband died in 1764, aged only 44. He (and his family) are buried at Meopham (in Kent). I have found two sons and two daughters of the reported six children (three of each sex), “all in their infancy,” who remained at the time of their father’s death.

  • Rebecca: born 1750, she died in 1802. Mamma mentioned her death in her diary – it was Rebecca’s obituary that enabled me to find more information on the family as a whole. Her obituary says she died after a lengthy illness (which could indicate cancer);
  • Catherine: born 1752, she died in 1777;
  • George [of Camer]: born 1757; he died in 1831;
  • William [of Fairy Hall, Kent]: born 1759; he died in 1830.

William Smith (senior) was related to Charles Smith’s father – Charles Smith of Stratford (Essex), who wrote on the Corn Laws (he died in 1777). His widow, “Old” Mrs. Smith of Stratford, lived until 1808. From Augusta Smith’s diaries, including this one of 1805, “Aunt” (Judith Smith) often visited the Smiths of Malling, and she must have lost a good friend in “Miss Smith of Malling” (Rebecca), when she died.

A 1940 article by Edward Croft Murray from The British Museum Quarterly (vol. 14, no. 3; pp. 60-66) describes these Downmen albums – and gives their background history.  The albums, “not sketch-books in the strict sense of the word,” are where “the artist mounted his delicately drawn ‘First Studies’ … with their dates, the names of the sitters, and usually some comments on them, all in his [Downman’s] own handwriting.” Anyone looking at the BM images can see the truth of that statement, but it is mind-blowing to learn:

  • “These albums were originally arranged by Downman in four series, more or less in chronological sequence, each series containing four to eight volumes, and each volume between about twenty-five and thirty-five drawings“;
  • Series i is said to have been sold previously [before 1825-1827] and the original eight volumes belonging to it dispersed, some of them having been broken up and their contents scattered even further among various collections”;
  • “Vols 1 and 3 of this Series [Series i] however, are still intact, and were sold .. at Sotheby’s on 15 February 1922,  passing eventually to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, in 1938″.

The Fitzwilliam provides a physical description of an album in their collection as, “Red leather coverboards with gold tooling. Green end papers and boards. 61 sheets in total including 26 protection papers [these are usually “tissue-like], bound in. Pages are gold edged. Contained 30 drawings, each laid onto the recto of a folio sheet.”

Downman himself said the albums denoted his “pleasant Employment of many Years; and in this assemblage of Portraits, you will see how different Fashions change ….” He admitted that he had “no Idea of a Collection ’till I found insensibly the Accumulation.” Indeed! Can you imagine the ENTIRE collection as he and his daughter Isabella Chloe (later Mrs. Benjamin) knew it???

Ah, the “lost” portraits! I second the author’s wish for a publication of ALL extant drawings.

Further information, related to the Quarterly article:

By the way, the Sir Robert Cunliffe of Acton Hall, Wrexham, mentioned in the articles, was a relation to Mary Gosling – with Emma my “Two Teens in the Time of Austen” – through her maternal grandfather, Sir Ellis Cunliffe.

For the woman born Katherine Manners, Mrs Smith of West Malling: her heirs “founded” the familial line of “Smith Masters” and “Masters”. Downman painted in 1805, and Katherine Masters Smith died on 6 February 1814, aged 86 – meaning she had been born circa 1728. No wonder Mamma Smith thought of her as “Old Mrs. Smith of Malling.”

The family who outlived Katherine called her “their excellent mother.” Downman, a West Malling neighbor, must have agreed with that assessment. He wrote below her portrait that she “well managed” her family.

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Part 1 of the series Illustrating Mamma’s Diary, 1805

Part 2 of the series Illustrating Mamma’s Diary, 1805

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