Lots of Anne Lister news

September 22, 2022 at 8:14 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, history, news) (, , , , )

Periodically looking for new books being published — especially with search terms women, biography, England — I recently found Jill Liddington’s As Good as a Marriage: The Anne Lister Diaries, 1836-38. Publication date is scheduled for May 2023 (Manchester University Press).

As Good as a Marriage joins the prior Liddington volumes:

  • Nature’s Domain: Anne Lister and the Landscape of Desire – which presents Lister’s 1832 journal entries
  • Female Fortune: The Anne Lister Diaries, 1833-36: Land, Gender, and Authority – which fits between the earlier book and the next volume of diaries

Of course Liddington’s publications build upon the Lister diaries published by Helena Whitbread:

  • I Know My Own Heart (aka: The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, volume 1) – featuring journal entries from 1816 to 1824
  • No Priest But Love (aka The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, volume 2) – the follow-up features Lister’s journals from Paris in 1824

All Lister fans are patiently awaiting Whitbread’s biography of Anne Lister.

At the very least, the paths of Mary Gosling & family and Anne Lister crossed via visits to the Ladies of Llangollen. Both visited Plas Newydd, the home of Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler.

The next piece of news concerns the upcoming ANNA LISTER RESEARCH SUMMIT.

This is a three-day extravaganza features topics like “Shew us the archives”; an update on the Transcription Project; studies of Anne Lister’s Reading Habits; “The Lister Moves”; and “Mining Laughs”. Check out the ENTIRE schedule of offerings on the SUMMIT website – where you can also REGISTER for this FREE conference, which runs October 14-16, 2022 (with videos uploaded to YouTube for those sessions that you miss). They meet over ZOOM and are time-zone friendly.

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“First the Music”

September 13, 2022 at 3:04 pm (books, entertainment, history, jane austen, news) (, , )

In Italian, “Prima la musica, et poi le parole” means “First the music and then the words.” Its underlying meaning shouts the primacy of the composer over the librettist. The one-act opera by Antonio Salieri premiered on 7 February 1786, at Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, a commission from Emperor Josef II. Premiered the same evening and venue was  Mozart’s comedy in one act, Der Schauspieldirecktor (The Impresario).

It was from this evening’s rivalry – for, long ago (LP’s anyone??) I had purchased a recording of one of Mozart’s better-known operas, and the music from “The Impresario” took up the room on the last side of the set – that I took the title for a chapter in a forthcoming book on “Women and Music,” with a focus on Emma Austen’s eldest sister, Augusta Smith. Born in London in February 1799 – so just thirteen years after that night of music in Schönbrunn’s Orangery – Augusta Smith, to me, seems the epitome of The Accomplished Woman, especially when I focus on her musical skills. But: there were so MANY accomplished women in the Smiths’ circle of family and acquaintance. You meet MANY of the young ladies in the chapter, which is entitled, Prima la musica: Gentry Daughters at Play – Town, Country, and Continent, 1815-1825.

Emma Smith
(1820s silhouette)

see also the Carpenter (attributed) portrait at HRO.
See Smith of Suttons, pedigree 2.

Thanks in no small part to covid, the trail this chapter and the work of other contributors to the book, has been lengthy and circuitous. Yet, the publishers who first showed interest back in 2019 has just this past week given the green light to our project! Bucknell University Press will publish Woman and Music in the Age of Austen. I suspect the book will hit stores in time for Christmas 2023.

Watchers of this blog will notice a slight, and very recent, title change – from “Women and Music in Georgian Britain” to “Women and Music in the Age of Austen.The prior title will bring up several notices, especially by contributors (including me, through Two Teens in the Time of Austen).

In a next post about the forthcoming book, I’ll include a table of contents & contributors. to whet your appetite for more on Women and music in the age of Jane Austen, which “age” runs, of course, from the late 18th century into the 19th century – but Austen herself reached back into the past, before her birth, and her influence continues into our own decades of the 21st century.

The book runs to over 400 pages in manuscript. The hopes of the editors are to make the volume “affordable”.

Stay tuned!!

 

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Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth & Tring Park

June 4, 2022 at 11:54 am (entertainment, estates, history, news, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , )

Some exciting news –

A little while ago I found David Shakespeare‘s work on the “Pregnancy Portrait” of Queen Elizabeth I. David has come across a photograph of Tring Park (Hertfordshire) during the Rothschild years — and his sharp eyes spotted, hanging on the Hallway wall, the very portrait I had found in a Smith Sister’s drawing, which quite obviously “copied” this well-known work:

Below is the sketch, enlarged to show only the “Portrait,” in pride of place between two Drawing Room windows — the image’s focal point as well as the room’s focal point, despite the loss of the fourth wall behind the viewer. This interior sketch surely dates to the late 1820s, during the Smiths’ early occupancy of Tring Park, their Uncle Drummond’s [Sir Drummond Smith] former country house, by that time sold out of the family – and yet rented again by his relations:

In my first blog post (written nearly ten years ago) I called this image “Mystery Lady and Deer” and I was seeking further information and had hoped for identification (see post “Have you seen this Lady?“). A few months later, I found the “Elizabeth I” image. As I wrote at the time, it was a “MAJOR Oh-My-Gosh!” moment (see “Mystery Portrait ID’ed“).

From time to time, I’m impelled to revisit old thoughts, old blog posts. I don’t recall what I was looking for — undoubtedly something to do with TRING — when I came across this discussion from David Shakespeare, on the very portrait in question!

It was the PDF that I came across first. Impressive scholarship! A member of the De Vere Society, David’s hour-long presentation on “The Pregnancy Portrait of Elizabeth I” (2018) is a must watch. I’ll include here a link to David Shakespeare’s entire YouTube channel.

As you might imagine, when I emailed the full sketch (the original is among the Austen Leigh papers at the Hampshire Record Office), David was intrigued enough to visit Winchester with great speed. What intrigued me was the ability to really see, thanks to his detailed photographs, what I have never seen in person. Heightened to darken the faint pencil lines of the original, for the first time, all viewers get a glimpse into Tring Park and the material lives of the Smith Family.

An ASIDE:

Tring was the first marital home for Emma and Edward Austen [the Rev. & Mrs. James Edward Austen Leigh], and the birthplace of their first children.

I have come across three sketch books by Fanny Smith (Bodleian Library, Oxford); one by next youngest sister, Charlotte Smith (Tring Local History Museum); and work of youngest sister Maria Louisa Smith. So there are “contenders” for the artist(s) of the two sketches of Tring Interiors at HRO (Hampshire Record Office). HRO presumes the artist to be either eldest sister Augusta Smith or next eldest Emma Smith. Without in-person study, and other artists’ work as comparison, I make no guesses.

Another ASIDE:

A related sketch book, of ten drawings, sold on eBay in November 2020 – the known contents of which (five drawings) closely mirror the Fanny-Charlotte sketches. Presumably, the sisters were sketching the same places together. Needless to say, I would love to know more about the current whereabouts of this eBay item, as would Tring Local History Museum.

I invite you to view David’s newest video “Update on the Pregnancy Portraits” (there’s a PDF as well) – where he not only tells about Tring’s missing portrait, but also offers fascinating insight, observations, and theories on the “original” portrait. And, yes, the plural word “portraits” is meant literally. For David would DEARLY LOVE to find the painting that used to hang at Tring, last seen during the Rothschild ownership.

Thrilling for me is David’s up-close-and-personal dissection of the Tring Drawing Room!! Including fascinating new information on the pianoforte seen on the left edge of the sketch. He will walk you around the room, before informing you about the “painting” seen in the drawing and the portraits – found and yet-to-be-discovered.

Join us!

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“Quite as much of THAT going on in the country as in town”

April 2, 2022 at 3:10 pm (books, entertainment, history) (, , , )

Ah, dear Mrs. Bennet!
(Pride and Prejudice)

Long ago I purchased two novels by Anne Thackeray Ritchie: The Story of Elizabeth and Old Kensington – reprinted as part of the “Her Write His Name” series by THEOMMES. The life and work of ANY female writer, never mind one relating to Victorian England and carrying the well-known THACKERAY name, was/is of interest.

Anne Thackeray Ritchie comes up every once in a blue moon, even in connection with the Austen Leighs of this blog, Two Teens in the Time of Austen. As she did TODAY, when I was double-checking access to the Eton College (Manuscripts) Archives. Soon-to-close is a special exhibition at Eton, in the Tower Gallery: “A Victorian Legacy: Anne Thackeray Ritchie’s life and writings.”

Running from 14 October 2021 until 14 April 2022, (by appointment), “This exhibition, based on an extensive archive of over 1000 letters, family albums and other personal papers in Eton College Library is the first dedicated to her in her own right.”

Eton, it turns out, has Anne Thackeray Ritchie’s copy of JANE AUSTEN: HER LIFE AND LETTERS, A FAMILY RECORD (1913), by William Austen Leigh and his nephew Richard Arthur Austen Leigh. Dating to a few years later (1919) is a letter from RAAL to the Hester Ritchie, said to be “Regarding Anne Thackeray Ritchie and an article about her work.” But what REALLY caught my eye was notice of a publication by Anne Thackeray Ritchie, of A Book of Sibyls: Mrs Barbauld, Miss Edgeworth, Mrs Opie, Miss Austen.

Of course I scrambled to find an online copy:

A Book of Sibyls: Mrs Barbauld, Miss Edgeworth, Mrs Opie, Miss Austen

The chapter on Jane Austen begins on page 197, and opens with a page-length quote of dialogue from Pride and Prejudice, which includes Mrs. Bennet’s “complete victory” over the dreaded Mr. Darcy with the observation that “titles” this post.

The book itself opens with this delightful mise-en-scene:

Not long ago, a party of friends were sitting at luncheon in a suburb of London, when one of them happened to make some reference to Maple Grove and Selina, and to ask in what county of England Maple Grove was situated. Everybody immediately had a theory. Only one of the company (a French gentleman, not well acquainted with English) did not recognise the allusion. A lady sitting by the master of the house (she will, I hope, forgive me for quoting her words, for no one else has a better right to speak them) said, ‘What a curious sign it is of Jane Austen’s increasing popularity! Here are five out of six people sitting round a table, nearly a hundred years after her death, who all recognise at once a chance allusion to an obscure character in one of her books.‘”

Alas what county each opined for Maple Grove is not mentioned.

It is easy to speculate if the “Lady” seated beside the “master of the house” wasn’t an Austen Leigh by marriage….

I leave it to you to discover this publication for yourself, and veer off to books on the Thackeray family:

Anne Thackeray Ritchie’s Wikipedia entry mentions the 2-volume set of “biography” by John Aplin; and also his five-volume edition of their “Correspondence and Journals” The latter is tremendously pricey; I may look into the former, especially as, being two volumes, one can buy one and then the other. There are also the biographies focused on the daughter by Winifred Gérin (1981), which one critic thanks for making “rediscovery” of the writer possible. And Anny: The Life of Anny Thackerary Ritchie, by Henrietta Garnett (2004; 2006). For a review of this last, by biographer Hermoine Lee (Virginia Woolf), read The Guardian. I especially appreciate Lee’s closing thoughts on “how obscure, unrecorded lives can speak to us.”

 

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By Any Other Name

June 19, 2021 at 1:10 pm (diaries, entertainment, history, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , )

You might ask, given that I research people with the name of “Smith” – and Christen names like Charles and Mary, what name could possibly give me trouble….

Try: Jane Seymour.

Emma’s sister Fanny Smith was the first to marry a Seymour – the Rev. Richard Seymour the new incumbent to the living of Kinwarton (Warwickshire). They married on 30 October 1834.

The following year, September 1835, brother Spencer Smith married Richard’s sister Frances Seymour.

By 1845, not only had youngest sister Maria Smith married (his 2nd wife) the Rev. Sir John Hobart Culme-Seymour, but the Smith’s widowered brother-in-law Arthur Currie had married the widowed Dora (Seymour) Chester.

It was Maria who gave birth (in January 1851) to the JANE SEYMOUR I thought I was chasing. I had unearthed about a dozen photographs of a little girl and young woman – identified in a couple of albums, plus many more loose cartes-de-visite, which (I thought…) pointed to a certain “future” for the young lady portrayed.

I was wrong!

It’s tough, looking at my photographs of photographs – often done under inauspicious conditions of overhead lighting and cradled bound books – some out of focus; others the best that can be taken of the faded nothingness that now remains. Tough, too, to put together some faces that may be the same person – or some sibling – or someone totally different, just seen from an unusual angle that now has you comparing the straight or down-turned mouth, the curved or shell-like ear, the beak-sharp or the bulbous nose.

Such a one was the picture, only ID’ed on the rear with a date – “1877” – of a mother (presume) and frilly-frocked infant (christening?). The adult sitter looked like Jane Seymour – but cousin Jane never married, had had no children. The nose, here, looked sharper; the hair exhibited an mere half-inch of “fringe” (bangs they cannot be called), when in all other pictures there was only a center part and all hair pulled downwards and back. The face looked thinner, more sculpted, but then the face was bent downward, gazing at the child. The one thing all the adult photos had in comment was a clipped-short “side burn” above the ears – very similar to my own (because the bow of glasses sits right over this area).

Mother-and-Babe remained a “mystery” – for later ‘detection’.

Signature Maria L. Seymour

It was while looking through diaries – predominantly those written by Richard Seymour – for further information on the relationship of Mary Smith and Gaspard Le Marchant Tupper, that I came across mention of Richard’s niece, Jane Seymour.

Mary and Gaspard had married in 1861 – but the engagement was so fraught with angst and doubt, that I had to find out more. What I found out was that they initially had become engaged in 1858. I haven’t found out if they stayed engaged the whole time, or if it was on-off-on again. Although other diaries exist, some I don’t have access to, and Richard’s I have to take painstaking reads through microfilmed handwriting. Letters of the period can be hit or miss – and more have tantalizing hints than full-length histories.

But back to Jane Seymour.

This Jane was not the first “Jane” in the family. Of course – OF COURSE! – there were several, over many generations. Maria’s daughter was a “CULME-SEYMOUR” – the “Culme” coming from Sir John’s first wife. For a while, I thought only Sir John’s “Culme” children used the “Culme” name. Maria’s mail always seemed addressed to “Lady Seymour” (see a letter I’m desperately seeking – and from 1861!). BUT: If I looked closely, Maria and her daughters inserted “C” as part of their signature. But who else could the girl called Jenny Seymour and the young woman identified as Jane Seymour or Miss Seymour have been?

Remember I said that Richard mentioned JANE SEYMOUR in his diary…

In 1858’s diary.

The section that caught my eye mentioned Richard’s “Australian niece Jane Seymour”. She arrived in mid-December, having left Sidney, Australia on September 1st. – Dora (née Seymour) and Arthur Currie picked her up at Gravesend! The very Curries who inhabited High Elms, the estate *now* (June 2021) up for sale.

High Elms, estate of the Arthur Curries.

High Elms, estate of the Arthur Curries.

“Australian Jane” was the only child of Richard’s youngest brother, William (Willy) Seymour, who had emigrated, married an Australian girl in 1849, and died in 1857. I had presumed that she had stay Down-Under.

Nope…

Jane had a convoluted history. Her mother had remarried – at some unknown point – in 1858. This poor mother, born Sarah Avory and now Mrs. Pleydell-Bouverie, died in February 1859. Jane’s step-father died two years later, in February 1861.

But none of that mattered: little Jane Seymour had already sailed for England, arriving hardly two months before her mother’s death – which she could never have known about for another six or eight months.

What I do not know is the WHY Jane Seymour sailed from Sidney that September 1st of 1858!

Had the patriarchal arm reached across the globe, and over her father’s grave, to pluck the little girl from the bosom of her Australian family? Had the mother, stricken by some fatal illness (? – it’s a guess) already, made plans for her soon-to-be-orphaned child, plans that did not involve that child’s step-father? Or, had the Pleydell-Bouveries sought out this change for a child they no longer cared to care for?

Such a mystery remains to be solved, awaiting more information, other diaries, more letters.

One mystery that has been SOLVED involves the BIRTH DATE of Aussie Jane. I have found her baptismal information, which gives her date of birth. Given an 1849 marriage, I had presumed the birth of a first child in 1850. Jane Seymour, however, was born in MAY 1852 – which makes our little passenger a mere SIX YEARS OLD when she sailed from Sidney Harbor to Gravesend – and into the arms and the seemingly eternal care of an aunt she had never set eyes upon before: Dora Currie.

Dora’s step-children, Arthur’s children with his first wife, Charlotte Smith, were growing up – the youngest, Drummond Arthur Currie, had been born in 1840 and would attain his majority in a couple of years. Dora had married – after a long-fought-for marriage to the Rev. William H. Clinton Chester (her family disapproved of his slender means). They had married in August 1837, but by April 1841 Dora was burying her husband. They had had no children. Little Orphan Aussie Jane might have provided an opportunity too good for Dora to pass up. A small child to call her own.

The Curries are a branch of the family with very little archival resources. Charlotte had not lived to old age, but she had daughters – and the Smiths, as a group, seem a family that held very tightly on to items like letters and diaries, portraits and memories. So what happened to the items that Charlotte produced or received, and could figure to have been given over to any or all of her daughters – akin to the family letters amassed by Emma Austen, Fanny Seymour, and Maria Lady Seymour.

As you might guess, anyone with further information, please do contact me!

Richard’s 1859 diary speaks to his meeting the child. He was enchanted with his Australian niece, Jane Seymour.

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Fanny Palmer Austen aboard HMS Namur

June 2, 2021 at 12:02 pm (books, entertainment, history, jane austen) (, , , , )

Author Sheila Johnson Kindred announces a fascinating new exhibit at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, Kent (England): HIDDEN HEROINES: The Untold Stories of Women of the Dockyard. The exhibit runs 29 May 2021 through 31 October 2021.

With covid concerns, Hidden Heroines will also have an online component. Listen to curator Alexandra Curson’s remarks on the importance of uncovering remarkable ladies who lived in the past. (Embedded in the main website page, or via Youtube.)

“Naval history, in general, tends to focus a lot on the male roles, and the women get sort of sidelined – but, the female roles were just as important, if not more important in some respects.”

— Leanne Clark, Master Ropemaker

Areas of study include, Woman at the Dockyard; Women in the Home; Women at Sea; Women in War; Women in Military Service; Post War Women; Women of Today. You will also find “asides” which highlight Louisa Good (1842-1924); Elizabeth Proby (1777-1811); Lady Poore (1859-1941); Fanny Palmer Austen (1789-1814); and Hannah Snell (1723-1792), known as James Gray, who spent more than four years in the marines. The others I will leave YOU to discover.

You will readily recognize Fanny Austen (upper right), if know the cover image of Sheila Johnson Kindred’s book, Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister: The Life and Letters of Fanny Palmer Austen. Sheila’s book came out in 2017 (McGill-Queen’s UP), and is now available also in paperback and eBook. See a sample on books.google.

Join Sheila Johnson Kindred, on 23 June 2021, for a “Zoom” event at 7 PM BST (British Summer Time is five hours ahead of US’s EDT), when she discusses, “Fanny Palmer Austen: Challenges and Achievements in Making a Family Home onboard the HMS Namur ” (reserve space for this free event – donations accepted! – through the main Chatham website).

In the meanwhile, you can read writings on the Austens – links included through Sheila’s website.

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Are you a fan of FANS?

May 23, 2021 at 9:26 am (entertainment, europe, fashion, history, london's landscape) (, , )

If you are a fan, a collector, or a costumer looking for that last accessory, check out the ONLINE offerings of The Fan Museum in Greenwich, England. For those in England, the plan is to reopen (hopefully) near the end of July 2021.

Can you GUESS why I adore the above fan??

It’s the eye cut-outs! Can’t you just see some coquette batting her eyelashes at some dashing young man, hidden behind her fan?? (I feel like I’ve been reading romances…, which I haven’t.) Click the picture to enlarge the photo.

The Fan Museum has partnered with Google Arts & Culture for a presentation space allowing many online exhibitions. One of the interesting things here is the grouping by material. Do you wish to see only Paper fans? Those made with Pearl, Bone or Nacre ribs? Do you wish to reproduce (or do you have your eye on a fan to buy?) and want to see what was “in fashion” in the 18th versus the 19th century? There are exhibitions for all of those. Even samples from “today”!

The Do-it-Yourself person will find (once they reopen, of course) that FAN-MAKING Workshops are offered with great regularity: the first Saturday afternoon of the month. Bring material (wrapping paper, for instance); sticks are supplied; as is coffee/tea and biscuits (how very British). Current price (May 2021): £40 (plus booking fee).

See the Museum’s own “online exhibitions.”

The Fan Museum’s SHOP is open 24/7 for those shopping online. Find Fans; Books; Jewelry; Stationery; Gifts.

Read the Regency Explorer” blog post on SPY FANS, which introduced me to the Fan Museum.

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Browse Books @ Toadstool Bookshops

May 2, 2021 at 6:14 pm (books, entertainment) (, , )

I am in *LOVE* with the website (how is I’ve never found it before) for Toadstool Bookshops — three shops, in Keene, Nashua, and Peterborough, New Hampshire. For readers outside of New England – there is the online cart. They also offer eBooks from Kobo and downloadable audio books from Libro.

I am in the midst of perusing the “shelf” for History/ Europe/ Great Britain/ Georgian Era (1714-1837). I rather like my “history” on the scholarly side – and Toadstool is introducing me to several titles that are due out in the next few months, and a couple that are new but “out”.

Sample a few that caught my eye:

  • Maggie Kilbey, Music-making in the Hertfordshire Parish, 1760-1870 “Maggie Kilbey explores attempts to improve parochial music-making over the following century and the factors that played a part in their success or failure. Using Hertfordshire as a basis, original research by this respected author and historian uses a wide range of documentary evidence to reveal a complicated picture of influence and interaction between the gentry, clergymen, and their parishioners.” [256 pp]
  • Julienne Gehrer (intro), Martha Lloyd’s Household Book: The Original Manuscript from Jane Austen’s Kitchen. “Martha Lloyd’s Household Book is a remarkable artifact, a manuscript cookbook featuring recipes and remedies handwritten over thirty years. Austen fans will spot the many connections between Martha’s book and Jane Austen’s writing, including dishes such as white soup from Pride and Prejudice.” [312 pp; August 2021].
  • Jeremy Smilg, The Jews of England and The Revolutionary Era: 1789-1815. “Drawing on a rich range of sources, the book examines the extent of anti-Jewish sentiment in England. It breaks new ground by using government archives to demonstrate that these negative representations only had a very limited impact on the implementation of the Alien Act of 1793. This book understands the fears of the communal elite but also argues that the controversial views of some Jewish dissidents were more widely held than previously considered.” [260 pp; June 2021]
  • Susan Sloman, Gainsborough in London. “Thomas Gainsborough’s (1727–88) London years, from 1774 to 1788, were the pinnacle and conclusion of his career. They coincided with the establishment of the Royal Academy, of which Gainsborough was a founding member, and the city’s ascendance as a center for the arts. This is a meticulously researched and readable account of how Gainsborough designed his home and studio and maintained a growing schedule of influential patrons, making a place for himself in the art world of late-18th-century London. New material about Gainsborough’s technique is based on examinations of his pictures and firsthand accounts by studio visitors.” [412 pp]
  • Pat Rogers, The Poet and the Publishers: The Case of Alexander Pope, Esq., of Twickenham versus Edmund Curll, Bookseller in Grub Street. “The quarrel between the poet Alexander Pope and the publisher Edmund Curll has long been a notorious episode in the history of the book, when two remarkable figures with a gift for comedy and an immoderate dislike of each other clashed publicly and without restraint. However, it has never, until now, been chronicled in full. Ripe with the sights and smells of Hanoverian London,The Poet and Publisher details their vitriolic exchanges, drawing on previously unearthed pamphlets, newspaper articles, and advertisements, court and government records, and personal letters.” [448 pp; June 2021]
  • Michael D. Hattem, Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution. “Between the 1760s and 1800s, Americans stopped thinking of the British past as their own history and created a new historical tradition that would form the foundation for what subsequent generations would think of as “American history.” This change was a crucial part of the cultural transformation at the heart of the Revolution by which colonists went from thinking of themselves as British subjects to thinking of themselves as American citizens.” [320 pp]

At Toadstool Books you will find books you NEVER KNEW you wanted!

NB: In truth, I came across the ‘categories’ when I landed on Jeremy Smilg’s book; you might have to do the same – categories broaden out, but I can’t figure out how to “browse books” to start you off…  This is the best I can do:

Check out the lower LEFT corner (on a computer; not sure about other internet devices) for the “tree” of categories. This might be the BEST to change categories:

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Carte de Visite Photographers, UK, 1840-1940

April 26, 2021 at 7:43 pm (entertainment, fashion, history, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

Several years ago, I came across a GOOD STASH of Carte de Visite portraits belonging to the Smith and Gosling family (most dating, as you might guess, to the 1860s and 1870s). There were albums, put together by the daughters of Spencer Smith of BrooklandsDora Spencer-Smith and her sister Isabella Spencer-Smith. Alas! the same “old” sittings I’d l-o-n-g seen of Emma and Edward Austen Leigh. But several of the Smith siblings (and even some Gosling grandchildren) were new to me. Thank goodness that Dora and Isabella, along with painting borders on many pages, thought to identify the sitters! Sitters included all the Austen Leigh siblings; many “in-laws” (or to-be “in-laws” of Seymours and Culme-Seymours. The *thrill* for me was to see so many photographs of the Spencer-Smiths, children of Spencer and Frances (neé Seymour).

Frances was the sister of two of Spencer’s brothers-in-law! The Rev. Richard Seymour (husband to Fanny Smith) and the Rev. Sir John Hobart Culme-Seymour (husband to Maria Louisa Smith).

I saw, for the FIRST TIME, images of Spencer and his sister Sarah Eliza (Lady Le Marchant, wife of Sir Denis Le Marchant). The time period was, sadly, too late to have images of my diarist Mary Lady Smith (neé Gosling) or the Smith sisters Charlotte (Mrs. Arthur Currie) and Augusta (Mrs. Henry Watson Wilder). Augusta had died in 1836 (along with Henry); Charlotte in 1840; Mary in 1842. Mamma (Mrs. Charles Smith; the original ‘Augusta’ – and there are lots in this family named AUGUSTA, after her), too, died before the general age of Carte de Visite photography.

Fanny Seymour – Emma’s middle sister – however I had seen already, in an 1850s “outdoor” photograph. There was a dispute as to the sitters in the picture. The archive thought it Sir John, Lady Seymour [Maria], and family. BUT: the children fit FANNY’s family more than her sister’s. An older daughter, two younger daughters, an unknown man (probably a son). I posed the probability that this photograph showed the Seymours of Kinwarton. And the albums vindicated that supposition!

It was the albums that ID’ed Fanny in a couple of lovely informal portraits, as well as a more standard, badly faded, Carte de Visite. The albums that showed the two youngest throughout their childhood and growing into young womanhood. The albums that allowed a name to be put upon the unknown man (yes, a son). Indisputable proof that the 1850s photograph showed the SEYMOURS of Kinwarton, rather the CULME-SEYMOURS of Gloucester and Northchurch.

Less successful, as far as identification went, was the pile of individual Cartes de Visite. Some had the same “view” as pasted into an album (or two). They were easy. I was pretty sure I had spotted a wonderful head and shoulders view of MARIA (Lady Seymour), mainly because there was a “companion” of Sir John – and he was recognizable from other photographs. The rear of both had the same PHOTOGRAPHER’s STUDIO. This convinced me that Maria was indeed the Lady Louisa Seymour held, in two studio views, at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The photographer in that case: Camille Silvy. (Though it still puzzles me that he would put on her picture “Lady Louisa Seymour”; see my past blog post about the ins and outs of titles and first name.)

So wonderful to SEE Maria, rather than an artist’s interpretation:

Maria Smith

Her portrait miniature (above), by Sir William Charles Ross, was sold at auction some years ago; its background is so over-painted that the painting of it is generally more noticeable (to me) than the figure. If only they had left it alone (a large picture hat must have been painted out). John’s companion, painted about the same time, I have not seen (or found). Family letters discuss Maria’s portrait at length, including her SITTING to Ross – and Mamma thought the portrait “very like”. The ultimate compliment!

[The opposite, of course, was that the viewer thought a portrait, “NOT very like”.]

The *bonus* with the single Cartes de Visite, was the ability to see the REAR of each photo! Few identifications of sitter (Boo!). The photographer’s studio and other such identifying information – such *riches* – were present, and something I always have wanted to collate and put into a blog post.

NOW I may not have to do as much “digging”…

It was while searching for something completely different that I came across a website with a LENGTHY photographer LIST – a list of those men and women working as Photographers of Great Britain and Ireland,1840-1940.

There’s a “date your old photographs wizard” (I haven’t yet tried it), but REALLY enjoyed the summary of how the PHYSICAL photo – and yes counting clothes, hair, and props, but looking at the photo artwork and mount in particular. Biographies of photographers (a growing source of information); even some examples of a given photographer’s work. I do not know why (it could be my browser), but I cannot get the LONG list to highlight a searched-for name. Do scroll down, if the same happens to you. (For instance, I searched for SILVY – and he IS there in their list.)

A great resource to add to my “UK Archives Online” page, to which I have been adding many online sources beyond the traditional county “archives” catalogue.

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A History of the Harp

March 25, 2021 at 3:42 pm (entertainment, jasna, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

While writing my chapter for the edited book Women and Music in Georgian Britain (soon to be under review), I found this FASCINATING video by Simon Chadwick, “The Erard Grecian pedal harp, and the history of the harp in Scotland. Talk at Hospitalfield House

Simon Chadwick’s YouTube channel gives listeners the opportunity to HEAR several harps. Tune in!

In “The Erard Grecian Pedal Harp” lecture, Chadwick mentions Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane (after 1815, Lady Compton; from 1827 until her untimely early death, Lady Northampton). With her marriage, Margaret became my diarist Emma Austen’s cousin. Also touched upon is Elizabeth Grant (the “Highland Lady”); and the daughters of Sir Walter Scott. For the last, because Chadwick’s talk slightly pre-dates some *breaking* information from Abbotsford, see “A Tale of Two Harps” on the Abbotsford website (from 2016).

Because Chadwick’s is a filmed talk, the amount of information given out is outstanding; and viewers get to see and hear so much. The portrait of Margaret Compton, which he shows on the screen, you’ll find on my PORTRAITS page. To read more about Margaret herself, and her harp “recital” at Castle Ashby in 1815, see my article “Pemberley’s Welcome: or, An Historical Conjecture upon Elizabeth Darcy’s Wedding Journey,” published in JASNA Peruasions On-Line.

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