I’m a Single Lady!

May 23, 2015 at 6:40 pm (chutes of the vyne, diaries, history, jane austen, jasna, news, people, research) (, , , , )

In the post a few days ago: the latest edition of JASNA News – alas without my article on James Edward Austen and Tring. (Humphhh….)

Lots about the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Louisville, on “Living in Jane Austen’s World”. (official website) VERY thrilling to hear the topic Amanda Vickery is expected to speak on: “No Happy Ending? At Home with Miss Bates in Georgian England”. The gist of the talk is “female-only households in Austen’s world, particularly those of declining status [like dear Miss Bates] and modest means.”

My research has several “female-only households” – from the top tier, with Lady Frances Compton (Lady Northampton’s sister-in-law) through to “Aunt,” Charles Smith’s (“Papa”) only living sister.

Then there was Mamma’s bachelorette sister: Emma Smith of Glenville — my Emma’s “Aunt Emma”.

Aunt Emma is at the heart of my upcoming talk for JASNA-Vermont — and if you’re in the neighborhood on Sunday, June 7th please come join us!

The Mystery of Emma Austen’s Aunt Emma
an interactive presentation

Sunday, 7 June 2015
1:00 PM

Champlain College
“Morgan Room”, Aiken Hall
(83 Summit Street)
Burlington, Vermont

PowerPoint slides will illustrate with images of the people & places you’ll never see on this blog – and YOU will help (re)solve the “mystery” surrounding Emma Smith. Is it a “scandal” or “much ado about nothing”? Evidence suggests class-economic-religious tensions, or a past well-hidden for two hundred years. Help us decide! Like Austen’s Sanditon or Dickens’ Mystery of Edwin Drood, this mini-mystery relies on its audience to provide a sense of closure.

Letters provide our only clues! (This one written by Aunt Emma.)

BTW: Prior knowledge of JANE AUSTEN or her NOVELS are not necessary for taking part – the slides will help introduce Emma Austen and the family. Aunt Emma lived 1774-1858, her later life spent in Hampshire; we’ll cover the years (approximately) 1812 to 1843.

FREE and open to the public
parking on the street – and light refreshments

Want to come extra “prepared”? Email me (smithandgosling at gmail dot com) for a full Smith & Gosling family tree which you can then bring with you!

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Letters of Caroline Norton

May 16, 2015 at 12:39 pm (books, history, people, research) (, , )

Yesterday I *treated* myself: drove three hours to reach a used bookstore I simply LOVE: Old Number Six Book Depot, in Henniker, New Hampshire. Alas, I was cashing out my finds at 5.20 pm — twenty minutes AFTER they should have closed (if not for me). How I wish the gent had shouted up the stairs… I don’t wear a watch, and (truthfully) didn’t realize that they closed so early.

BUT: one book I bought, which I want to talk about today, is a slim (182 pages) volume from 1974 entitled The Letters of Caroline Norton to Lord Melbourne – the letters dating from the 1830s into the early 1840s. So right in the time period of my Smiths & Goslings.

WHO can resist a series of letters, from the right era, when they begin:

“I am very dull — how are you?”

caroline norton2

Caroline, née Sheridan (yes, related to that Sheridan; a grand-daughter), has a ready wit which comes across in her letters. I am impressed that one letter is reproduced in toto as a set of four photographs nested within the transcript. Something to keep in mind for my own future publications. Though, at first, I thought the entire book was facsimile!

Was quite intrigued to read a letter about a young girl – now 13 – brought into the Melbourne household as a child by Caroline Lamb, Melbourne’s late wife. Caroline Norton spends some little time telling him WHY he must continue the girl’s education, and WHY sending her out as a governess – IF she MUST make her own way in the world (Melbourne evidently tired of providing for his former wife’s plaything). The child has become used to and was promised the life of a “lady” – and life as a seamstress or such like would NOT allow her that privilege. My mind, at that point, was all attention, thinking of all the poor (monetarily speaking) young ladies who entered the Smith household as governess from the 1810s through the later 1830s.

A sad note: the man who first worked with these letters, circa 1954 — Clarke Olney — died before more than a short article about them came into print. Nearly twenty years later, having come across Olney’s files and notes, did a second author, James Hoge, complete the task.

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Letter Writing – two Fab Blogs!

May 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm (entertainment, history) (, )

Eliza-Chute-letters

Can one — in 2015 — send letters to 1814?!? A couple of Bloggers are telling their tales – Lady Smatter, at Her Reputation for Accomplishment; and Sabine at Kleidung um 1800. Letter-reading was a very “social” event; the Smiths & Goslings exchanged letters, read them aloud, copied out news, anything to keep everyone in the picture. So please join these ladies in hearing more about the Art of Letter Writing.

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Wedding Day of the Dauphin

April 26, 2015 at 11:36 am (entertainment, europe, history) (, , , )

Am getting some good feedback about the Thames Panorama post! It is an exquisite “find” isn’t it?!?

While working on looking for a FRENCH Marriage in 1821, I came across another site, quite “glossy”, which I also invite Two Teens readers to dip into:

versailles centuries

Searching for “wedding” and “versailles”, as you can see, brought up the Wedding of the Dauphin Louis and Marie-Antoinette. Bit more regal a wedding than the plebeian one _I_ was searching about. Always of interest, though, because of my love of Austria – homeland (should I say Heimat) of Maria Antonia, daughter of Maria Theresia, the Empress under whom Mozart lived (though she was “not a fan” of his…).

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Family of Benjamin Sharpe

April 23, 2015 at 10:01 pm (goslings and sharpe, history, news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , )

There are some AMAZING items in auctions. Some past ones have unearthed miniatures, letters, even a copy of Drummond Smith’s Sicily diary. Some auction houses are helpful; others are totally dismissive. Which is a great pity. Still, the images are free! And although the original image from the auction house was rather poor, I found an alternative site – and wanted to give everyone the opportunity of seeing what I found just last night.

The original auction took place in early 2013. These are silhouettes of the SHARPE family, which included William Gosling’s banking partner, Benjamin Sharpe — taken circa 1819! He was the “Sharpe” in the banking firm of Goslings & Sharpe.

sharpe family

Here’s the description:

  • “A collection of ten silhouettes relating to the Sharpe family of London bankers and comprising: Mrs Isabella Beetham [artist] – Oval portrait of a young woman wearing a lace bonnet, verso with Mrs Beetham’s trade label….and faintly inscribed Mrs Sharpe.”
  • “another of a young boy or girl with long hair”
  • “Attributed to Mrs Bull [artist] – Oval portrait of Mrs Sharpe wearing an elaborate hat, verso inscribed and dated 1788″
  • “two oval portraits of gentlemen, one inscribed to verso J.R. Sharpe”
  • “A group of four portraits of the children of Benjamin and Ann Sharpe, each with white highlights to their blue coloured clothing, each verso dated March 1823 and with respective script, Benjamin Sharpe aged 10 Years 4 Months born 16 November 1812, Elizabeth Isabella Sharpe aged 8 Years 3 Months born 9 December 1814, William Francis Sharpe aged 6 Years 7 Months born 31st August 1816 and John Charles Sharpe aged 4 Years 8 Months born 14 July 1818″
  • “Portrait of Benjamin Sharpe, inscribed to verso Gosling and Sharp (sic), B. Sharpe 1819
  • “an oval pencil miniature of Ann Sharpe, wife of Benjamin Sharpe”

sharpe family_backsides

IMAGINE: people Mary and her family actually knew!! So fascinating a find!

Estimate was £1000 to £1500; results only go back as far as September 2013, so I do not know for what price they actually sold.

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Hester Wheeler, The Vyne and “Sense & Sensibility”

April 4, 2015 at 5:43 pm (chutes of the vyne, diaries, history, jane austen, people, portraits and paintings) (, , )

As promised, I’ve posted an *all new* and rather lengthy article on Hester Wheeler. By the end, you will not only be familiar with Hester’s history, you’ll also SEE her face! For a portrait has been located!

Digging deeper into the background of someone tangential to the Smiths has proved rewarding and also a bit frustrating! I’ve come to the conclusion that my two Carolines — Caroline Austen (Edward’s younger sister) and Caroline Wiggett Workman (the Chutes’ adopted niece, at The Vyne) — were “challenged” when recollecting. Until further evidence comes forth, some points about Hester Wheeler will simply remain “cloudy”.

vine_dundee

The above abode is The Vine – not in Hampshire, but in Dundee Scotland. And yet it does have a relationship to The Vyne near Basingstoke. This home, certainly built to “honor” the Hampshire estate, once belonged to George Duncan, MP. If you read the article, you will see why he and his “Georgian” home is important to the later history of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

I DO WISH that the Jane Austen Society Reports article by Anne Hardy was still available online. If anyone can pinpoint its later history (it showed up online because it hadn’t made the print edition), let me know. This snippet from “Women Writers Through The Ages” forum will have to give a flavor of the original, which I used as a jumping-off-point for my article, “Uncovering the Face of Hester Wheeler“.

For another (quick) look at the Duncan monument, see the video discussed in the post about the Dundee Howff. It begins at the minute mark 25.38.

[I, of course, disagree about WHY Hester is not buried under the name DUNCAN!!]

I invite anyone with further information — on Hester; the Marshalls; Eliza Chute’s diaries, Edward Austen’s interactions with George Duncan &c — to contact me (see About the Author for my email address). I’d dearly love to solve some of the “mysteries” the two Carolines have created.

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Highbury Imagined (map for “Emma”)

March 29, 2015 at 7:27 pm (books, history, jane austen, jasna) (, , )

Penny Gay’s “A Hypothetical Map of Highbury” has hit the JASNA website (although destined for Persuasions On-line late in 2015). Emma has been on my mind after reading a letter – written at the time of Edward Austen’s engagement to Emma Smith (and they were reading Emma about this time too!) by his great aunt Mrs. Leigh Perrot. She quite liked Mr. Knightley (who doesn’t) and Jane Fairfax, but I’m afraid she was not a fan of Emma Woodhouse – and had grown QUITE tired of Miss Bates. As to Frank Churchill: she would not have married him, had she been Jane Fairfax!

map-highbury

My paper for the 2015 JASNA AGM (‘Who could be more prepared than she was?’  True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in Early 19th Century England) looks into Mrs Weston’s pregnancy and delivery by talking about the confinements of Lady Compton (c1790) and Emma Austen (c1830). So to illustrate what a FABULOUS map Penny Gay has come up with I supply at peep at RANDALLS, the Weston home. CLICK on the map for the story and the “full picture”. And then pull your copy of Emma off the shelf…

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Memento Mori

March 27, 2015 at 10:53 pm (history) (, , )

Although a bit of a morbid subject to contemplate, this hour-plus video tour of the cemetery known as The Dundee Howff, is quite fascinating.

howff

For instance, I can’t say I ever realized an Hour Glass on its side indicated a person who hadn’t lived “a full life” (ie, 70 years). It’s a pity those monuments that are on the ground are hard to see, as the explanations make you wish to view them closely. Iain Flett and Innes Duffus are the two archivists showing us around.

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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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