Prinny’s Taylor now on Kindle

March 20, 2015 at 10:17 am (books, british royalty, fashion, history) (, , , , )

prinnys_taylorThe ever-vigilant Charlotte Frost (Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician) — who is working on an exciting new project herself! — passed on word of a book we both have been anticipating with great pleasure:

Prinny’s Taylor: The Life and Times of Louis Bazalgette (1750-1830)

Louis’ descendant Charles Bazalgette has worked for YEARS to piece together the life of the man who tailored some of the wardrobe worn by the Prince Regent – Charles even gives insight into the story behind the nickname Prinny (which I never knew, since, like Charles, it isn’t a term I often seek to employ).

There are even several chapters about 18th-century tailoring, which should be of especial interest to those who sew and create. The fascinating story, however, is the rise of Louis Bazalgette. I mean, how DID he become a preferred tailor to the Prince of Wales?? If he existed nowadays, he’d be displaying a Royal Warrant of Appointment at his premises!

To quote the book synopsis: Prinny’s Taylor “presents a new angle on Georgian and Regency life, as seen through the eyes of a little French tailor who by his own efforts became a very wealthy propertied merchant”.

A little-known aside: my Emma mentions Mr Bazalgette in a letter, as a neighbor to a friend she visited!

 

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Anna Atkins (Google Doodle)

March 17, 2015 at 8:30 pm (books, entertainment, history) (, , )

Often I stare at any given day’s “Google Doodle” with a thought for the cute design. YESTERDAY I found myself thoroughly entranced by learning about a woman who lived during the lifetime of my Two Teens!

Anna Atkins was born in 1799 — the same YEAR as Emma’s eldest sister Augusta Smith; she died in 1871, five years prior to Emma’s own death. Right there, given the overlapping time-frame, I was captivated.

atkins cyantope

But there are also ties to Tonbridge (Kent) and Fox Talbot (an important figure in the early days of photography). And her images are GORGEOUS!

  • Read Fox Talbot Letters online (for fun: search for COMPTON to find some ties to Two Teens [not ALL hits will be for Lord &/or Lady Compton])

I have to admit, that I am partly captivated by these Cyanotypes because of their “relationship” to the flower paintings done by the Four Sisters of Erle Stoke Park (ie, Emma Austen’s mother and three aunts).

rhs images

Search for “Meen” to see some Erle Stoke floral drawings!

 

Two Teens actually HAS an “early photograph component to it too: Charles Spencer Scrase Dickins, son of Lady Elizabeth Compton and Charles Scrase Dickins. Some of his photographs of Italy are reproduced in the book PICTURING PLACE: PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE GEOGRAPHICAL IMAGINATION. (<-Yes, this book gets the ordering of his name incorrect; and this one incorrectly IDs his uncle as a “duke” ->) His biography appears in the text Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860. (online preview)

Anna Atkins also provided engravings of shells to illustrate works. Of the Four Sisters of Erle Stoke Park, Lady Northampton (the eldest of the quarter) had an intense interest in shells, which included painting them with a similar attention to detail that one finds in the floral paintings!

I’m a bookworm, so will have to see what is available about Anna Atkins. Thrilling discovery! And a name I will now be on the lookout for in any of the later letters and diaries.  Did any of “my people” meet Anna Atkins??

 

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Vermont: Reclaim History thru Re-creation

March 13, 2015 at 11:00 pm (entertainment, fashion, history) (, , )

reap-sew

 click to enlarge

If you’re in Vermont, check out this Town BrainTap event in Twinfield, Vermont on 8 April 2015!

A Talk and Trunk Show” by Justin Squizzero, with Eliza West – The aim is to showcase Early American Apparel, 1770 to 1815. I’ve seen Eliza West’s beautiful “Jane Austen” creations, and can say that anyone able to attend will not be disappointed. A $10 donation is suggested; a non-profit, proceeds are donated.

Check out the BrainTap website – as well as the recent 7 Days’ article: Reaping what was Sewn.

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Allan Maclean, Jacobite General

March 7, 2015 at 12:39 pm (books, history) (, , )

In trying to give greater access to my launching series of “Online Articles”, I was searching for a paper I knew to be on Academia.edu, and in that search found a very interesting book: on the uncle of Margaret Maclean Clephane (ie, Lady Compton).

allan macleanAllen Maclean: Jacobite General, by Mary Beacock Fryer (1987; 1996) is at the very least available on Kindle, though probably copies of the original printing are out there.

Anyone reading even a few posts on Two Teens will know that women’s history is more up my alley. BUT: Maclean not only has a slim attachment to my Smith & Gosling research, he also served in the United States (more correctly, “the Colonies”) – and I see mentions of Lake Champlain (VERY near to me) in the text.

Anyone who has read the book, don’t be shy – drop by, say ‘hello,’ and give your thoughts on the book, the man, anything really.

The blurb for the book (on books.google) begins, “Born on the Isle of Mull to an impoverished laird of the clan Maclean, young Allan fought his first battle — for Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden”. Maclean fled to Holland, then served during the Seven Years War (AKA The French and Indian War) here, in North America, and again during the American Revolution. Allan Maclean was born in 1725 and died in March, 1797.

Early in the book (page 123), MARGARET’s letter discussing the history of this uncle is cited:

“The adventures contributed to a fund of stories that delighted his niece Marianne [the mother of Margaret, Anna Jane, and Wilmina Douglas-Maclean-Clephane], growing up at Torloisk, which she later passed on to her daughters. The eldest, Margaret Clephane, wrote to a friend, a Miss Stanhope:

his history would make a novel; he once passed through the American Camp in the disguise of a quack doctor, and sold a whole box of physic to the Yankees, and reached the British headquarters.

This ruse occurred when Allan slipped through the rebel army surrounding Boston…”

What a FASCINATING thing for Margaret to envision, given her close relationship with Walter Scott — his books were often the subject of Clephane-Compton correspondence.

 

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Announcing: Online Articles

March 6, 2015 at 11:46 am (books, entertainment, history, jane austen, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , )

As a writer – especially with as LARGE a project as Two Teens in the Time of Austen (<=click to see how the volumes break down) – articles have enabled me to hone little details into precise pictures-of-a-moment. Alas! readership depends on those who stumble upon the journals or magazines.

So I’ve decided to write “for myself”. These Online Articles will be much lengthier, more in-depth than blog posts, and cited (where appropriate) like journal articles. I hope you will enjoy them; and I invite comments on them.

I open the series with the original manuscript of artist Margaret Meen‘s “history” = Margaret Meen: A Life in Four Letters.

flowering of kew

Miss Meen (like Cassandra Austen, she later employed the “brevet rank” of Mrs) is a fascinating woman. At the time of writing the article, my BIG surprise was to discover how much of a fan she had in author Richard Mabey; and by extension, Martyn Rix who reviewed Mabey’s book The Flowering of Kew (1988). The explosion of information on the internet meant _I_ could supply a lot of the biographical information unavailable to them in the 1980s — all thanks to the existence of four letters written by Miss Meen, saved from a conflagration of Chute correspondence!

But I’ll leave you to read about her letters – and her life – on my Academia.edu page. Check the site often for further articles (I’m working on one relating to Sense and Sensibility) in the future.

* * *

March 7th: apologies for those viewing the page, who then could NOT then download the article without logging in to Academia.edu (although it does allow for log-ins via Facebook and Google).

Once articles are online a bit longer, they will search – but I want interested readers to have “access” now!

Here’s a current screen-shot [click pic to follow link] (the “info” button was toggled, which is why the upper portion shows the abstract &c):

meen article

“Margaret Meen: A Life in Four Letters”

I want people to see a “page” view, but also have the ability to download (and save, if you wish) the PDF. The link attached to the screen-shot enables the “preview” (the article runs four pages), but the “download” still asks for a log-in.

If I come across a better link, I’ll post it.

further info on Margaret Meen ILLUSTRATIONS:

I should also take the opportunity to add some links – there ARE images of Miss Meen’s wonderful Flower Paintings — combined with those from my Smith Sisters of Erle Stoke Park (as I’ve long mentioned on this blog). See Artwork Done By on this site; then click on the RHS pic. Or direct to the Royal Horticultural Society site, and either click on EMMA SMITH [who is “Aunt Emma” to my Emma Austen] or search for MEEN – which brings up all five artists.

You should “hit” on 48 images; and can either view them as larger thumbnails in a grid, or a row of images and descriptive text.

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Bath History Journal

February 8, 2015 at 6:53 pm (books, history) (, , , , , , )

I wanted to alert readers, since links can be somewhat “unhandy” to locate, of a FABULOUS online resource pertaining to a myriad of topics all pertaining to BATH, ENGLAND. Bath History is a journal, now up to volume 13, published in 2013 (not yet digitized).

Two useful links to the articles are,

  • Volume indexes, via the Bath History website – most of the articles are linked.
  • PDF articlesBath Spa University; the downside is the lack of article names. Either now where to look, or love a surprise. HELPFUL TIDBIT: vol. 10 has an index to vols 1 thru 10.

There are so many interesting articles, that here I will only name a few:

  • Anne Buchanan – Charles Dickens and the Guild of Literature and Art Ticket, 1851 [vol 11; not yet digitized)
  • Angus R. Buchanan – Brunel in Bath [vol. 10]
  • Stephen Marks – The Journals of Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys (1738-1817), A Half Century of Visits to Bath [vol. 9]
  • Jean Manco – Saxon Bath: The Legacy of Rome and the Saxon Rebirth [vol. 7]
  • Nicholas von Behr – The Cloth Industry of Twerton from the 1780s to the 1820s [vol. 6]

I will make special mention of three articles:

  • Deirdre Le Faye has a Jane Austen-related article, entitled ‘A Persecuted Relation': Mrs Lillingstone’s Funeral and Jane Austen’s Legacy.
  • another “Bath Widow” tale is brought to our attention by Hilary Arnold in Mrs Margaret Graves and her Letters from Bath, 1793-1807.
  • and a particular favorite diarist, Katherine Plymley – who shows up in the Ladies of Llangollen blog! – gets a nod from Ellen Wilson in A Shropshire Lady in Bath, 1794-1807. Plymley was a subject in Liz Pitman’s book Pigsties and Paradise: Lady Diarists and the Tour of Wales.

pigsties

While searching for the article links I stumbled upon THIS surprise: images of two Margaret Graves letters! Chosen a “Gem from the Archive” by Who Do You Think You Are? magazine in 2013. A little more ‘sleuthing’ and a few more really neat tidbits popped up too:

bath_avon

 

 

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One Woman’s Belongings, circa 1811

February 7, 2015 at 6:37 pm (history) (, , )

William in Hampshire sent this link to the National Archives blog, asking if this Mary Smith could be in any way connected to the Smiths of Suttons. As you might imagine: LOADS of Marys and LOTS of Smiths in the world!

But the story, about a poor woman in the lunatic asylum, is fascinating if only for the wealth of items she brought with her in a small wooden box. What I found MOST intriguing were the miniatures. Surely, they represented her family – several adults and even a baby. Of course today no one has a clue as to the identity of the sitters – nor does the repository have much information on this particular Mary Smith.

smith miniatures_1811click to read Mary’s full story

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Peopling the Georgian House

January 16, 2015 at 11:09 am (estates, history, places) (, , , , , )

georgian houseAlthough centered on teaching history to school children, I highly recommend looking over the materials at Peopling the Georgian House. A useful look inside a Bristol residence, picking apart the rooms in the townhouse, as well as its people. Surprising to me was information about the Pinney family:

  • domestic staff included two ‘slaves’ – Pero Jones (gentleman’s valet); and Fanny Coker (lady’s maid), who becomes manumitted.
  • poet Robert Southey was a visitor.
  • a Pinney connection to Horatio Nelson.
  • the residence used SPEAKING TUBES in order to communicate upstairs to downstairs! Find out why we use the phrase “to bend one’s ear”…
  • and FABULOUS to see the house (illustration left) broken down floor by floor – from attics to 2nd, 1st and ground floor, until down in the cellars, two levels below ground!

After READING about the house, how about a TOUR through it: The Georgian House Museum has a brief online presence – including “Life below Stairs”, and tells who used the “plunge pool” located in the basement. Alas, an actual walk through the property must wait until after April 3rd (closed for winter).

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The Mystery of Miss Macklin

December 18, 2014 at 2:17 pm (diaries, history, people) (, , , , )

On the heels of The Invisible Cast (a post about servants, in Jane Austen novels), I would like to toss out a conundrum for which I have no ‘answer’.

The “mystery” of Miss Macklin derives from several mentions of her, but mysterious and even contradictory information. I will mention here that Wiltshire Heritage Museum has a series of drawings they call the Macklin Album, so named because of an inscription. This album certainly has something to do with the Smiths — for a large portion was done at Stoke Park, Joshua Smith’s estate (he being papa to my Emma’s Mamma).

Austen_Emma

Emma Smith, early 1820s

The first time I EVER heard the name ‘Macklin’ was in an April 1824 letter. Augusta (Emma’s eldest sister) writing to Lady Elizabeth Compton (cousin) about their Aunt Emma (Mamma’s youngest sister):

“I do allow it is very material to her [Aunt Emma] that Macklin’s origin should remain concealed, but is it not far more probable that her old servants have handed the story on to her new ones as any story of the kind would be so much talked of in that class.”

My mind RACED, trying to think WHO Macklin could be? Woman? Man? Child? I mean, yes, I even had the WILD idea of out-of-wedlock child. It was the word ORIGIN in the sentence that really made my thoughts spin.

Of course, after reading a few days ago about the all-seeing-eyes of servants in Austen novels, my mind’s eye immediately called up the above quote. For nothing could be more true: both as to servant knowledge as well as servant gossip (though Augusta could have been more P.C. by NOT adding the phrase ‘in that class‘ but I cannot apologize for someone writing nearly 200 years ago).

Since that initial letter, I’ve been on the lookout for any mention of MACKLIN – and now have a few, including puzzling mentions that only make her sound a bit juicier!

A curiosity I will mention here: Amelia Macklin married in 1821 (to Mr Patrick Robert Wybault) – and yet please note the date on the above letter: April 1824. Note also the person is simply referred to as MACKLIN. Not Miss Macklin nor Mr Macklin; nor an indication of a first name.

I think the next time I spotted Macklin was in a diary, written by Mamma in 1821. Two notations. One, within the diary, on 8 September: “Macklin was married to Mr. Wybault.” In the back of the book, as Mamma is summing up her year, she writes: “My sister Emma went to France in February & did not return this year; her Friend Miss Macklin was married to Mr. Wybault.”

Two things stand out here: that Macklin could be described as Aunt Emma’s friend and that Mamma actually called her Miss Macklin in the end whereas she did not give her a title in the diary proper.

wm taylor-diary

This fall (2014), and an influx of letters; including some from the period surrounding Joshua Smith’s last illness and death (1819). And there she turns up again! And the plot THICKENS. One thing to keep in mind, at this point in time Aunt Emma had been residing with her father at Stoke Park (Wiltshire).

Eliza-Chute-letters10 February 1819; Mamma is writing from Stoke Park, having visited her ill father: “Macklin is civil to us all, & we are civil to her.” And a PS in the same letter: “I hope your Chilblains will soon be well; how are Eliza’s  Macklin is civil to us. & we are very civil to her to keep peace.”

What on earth has been going on??

The next letter dates to c23 February 1820, in the period of packing up Stoke Park for its eventual sale (Joshua died the prior year): “We have heard nothing of Macklin except that Coulthard [a servantsays she is not in the house… Zeus … [has] gone to town so perhaps M— is with her at any rate she is better out of the way.”

Remember, in just another year, Mamma will refer to her as her sister Emma’s friend.

Two days later (25 Feb 1820), her whereabouts are confirmed: “Macklin is gone to London“.

At the time I wondered if perhaps there could be two Macklins – one a servant and the other a daughter. Still, that discounts Mamma’s use of MACKLIN and MISS MACKLIN in the same journal.

In a letter from 17 June 1821, News is being passed once again to Lady Elizabeth Compton, this time by Emma’s sister Fanny: “We saw last night at Mrs Gosling’s the Davisons [Gosling relatives] who are just returned from Paris  they had seen Aunt Emma there…: they did not mention a word of Macklin to us, but the Goslings told us they had to them (probably not the least knowing who she was) and that they liked her very much, and said that she and Aunt Emma were so handsomely drest.”

Words packing a wallop: “did not mention Macklin to us…” “not in the least knowing who she was…”

By 1825 the couple are referred to by their married name, “Aunt Emma has taken a house on Pear tree green at Southampton & the Wybaults have also got one some where in the neighborhood“.

At the end of the same year (December, 1825), a most puzzling statement: “Aunt Emma gets every day more thoroughly at her ease & more confidence in the society that surrounds her, that is to say …. she has lived in a constant struggle of mind, doubtful of every body, because she knew they had reason to doubt of her, & really sensitive of many slights which were very naturally put upon her for the sake of her companions. …now I trust she is entering upon a new career & that disengaged from these inconvenient appendages she will regain her former ideas, & the consideration of the world, & as long as the Wybaults live the other side of the Southampton river with the prospect of going over to Ireland, I am satisfied because they have too much in their power to make a sudden & entire rupture desirable, & we know Macklin’s mauvaise langue of old.

I hate to say it, but the mystery only deepened with more information!

ONE mention is made of Mr Wybault; the date is 1842, nearly twenty years later. The youngest Smith sister, Maria, is writing. Combined with all the rest, it lends this tale a rather cryptic (and up-in-the-air) end: “Aunt Emma continue[s] here at present. … she hopes Mr Wybault has just accepted our offer for the sale of Rook Cliff – he appears to be quite miserable at his wife’s death.” Amelia Wybault died at Rookcliff (Hampshire) in 1842; no Smith purchase of this place ever happened. Maria married in 1844; and Mamma died still living at Mapledurham House in 1845.

Only one snippet, from 1829, bridges the gap. When I was told about the Macklin Album, the same person mentioned seeing a letter, from Rookcliff (so either Amelia herself or perhaps her husband), to W.W. Salmon in Devizes (near which was located Stoke Park, though no Smiths lived there by this time). “We have heard from our friend Miss Smith [ie, Aunt Emma] who had a long passage to France of 20 hours…“. My correspondent went on to say, “I’m afraid I couldn’t decipher the rest!” (Groan!!)

It’s a REAL long-shot, but if any Two Teens readers have ever come across Amelia Macklin, Patrick Robert Wybault, Rookcliff (or Rook Cliff), Hampshire – do let me know. Even a GUESS would be welcome. VERY curious about her, her relationship to the Smiths, and why family members other than Aunt Emma seemed to tip toe around her in 1819-1820.

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Lovers’ Vows in performance (a review)

November 26, 2014 at 1:32 pm (books, entertainment, history, news) (, , , , , )

It is RARE that one hears about performances of the “play within the novel” — used by Jane Austen in Mansfield Park — of Mrs Inchbald’s Lovers’ Vows – and I’ve a treat for Two Teens Readers: a member of its recent audience who was enthusiastic about writing a short review!

Contact information for the performing group – Artifice – is included in the links. Now: On with the Show…

* * *

Lovers’ Vows by Elizabeth Inchbald, 1798
Performed by Artifice at Groundlings Theatre, Portsea [Hampshire, England]
13 November 2014

This was a bustling, engaging production, the action spilling from stage to auditorium, and every door fair game for an exit or entrance.

Frederick, an impoverished junior officer, returns to his village after five years’ absence to obtain his birth certificate, without which he cannot obtain promotion. His mother, Agatha, who brought him up alone, tells him in great distress that he has no certificate because he is illegitimate. Her lover vowed to marry her, and at his request she promised not to name him as the father of their unborn child. He broke his vow to her, but she kept hers to him and was disowned by all who knew her. Frederick insists on knowing who his father is, and Agatha reveals that he is the present Baron Wildenhaim.

Frederick is bitter about Wildenhaim’s treatment of Agatha, who is now destitute through ill health, and by mischance the two men clash without knowing each other’s identity. Tragedy seems inevitable, but Frederick and Wildenhaim eventually avoid it by exercising forgiveness and good will, and they embrace as father and son.

There’s no escaping Jane Austen’s Northamptonshire Novel, which Artifice acknowledges through the hair and dress of Wildenhaim’s daughter, the only character who doesn’t wear uniform or occupational costume. But forget the Mansfield Park prism.

Lovers’ Vows is not a frothy romance. With a versifying butler to delay the plot and ratchet up the tension, Inchbald trumps Shakespeare’s tedious porter in Macbeth. And the denouement’s requirement that social distinctions give way to fairness was a dangerous proposition for 1798.

Artifice’s motto is ‘Classical plays in beautiful places’, and this production was perfect for Groundlings’ distinctive eighteenth-century venue – the Beneficial School, or the Old Benny as it is known locally. Where else would the barman come out from behind the bar to treat his patrons to a lively, pre-performance history of the theatre, ghosts and all? Artifice, come back soon.

Charlotte Frost
author, Sir William Knighton

Lovers' Vows [Artifice]

Amelia [Mairi-Clare Murphy] visiting Frederick in prison.

artifice

 

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