Faint Faces Found

June 13, 2021 at 8:36 am (diaries, estates, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , )

I’ve been searching for several things lately, and usually come across something completely different in that kind of situation. Friday night proved to be no different.

I’ve been reading through old letters, first from 1840 (to go with a diary I’ve transcribed); then those from 1836 – a momentous, tragic year for the Smiths & Goslings, because of the deaths (by drowning) of Augusta and Henry Wilder, in a boat accident. I have recently come across two *new* letters, written in the aftermath of this family tragedy.

1840 was another year of loss – with the death of sister Charlotte Currie. And it was in the hope of (always a hope!)  finding more letters from Charlotte that I began reading letters to Charlotte, written predominantly by eldest sister Augusta Wilder.

It was while looking for any “hit” with Charlotte and Arthur Currie, that I searched for one of several addresses at which Arthur lived – and found that his old home, High Elms (Watford), is currently up for sale! It’s a MASSIVE 14-bedroom (7 bath) Grade II listed house:

Arthur settled here long after Charlotte’s death, bringing their children and his second wife, Dora (née Seymour; the widowed Mrs. Chester). The interiors are stunning (if “empty” looking in these photos). Take a peek now (before the listing disappears) – although the price is liable to keep it on the market for a bit of time – asking £7.5 million (it does come with 10 acres of land).

[Be advised: Arthur Currie of High Elms is far different from General Sir Arthur Currie.]

When High Elms was still called “Garston Manor” (from the 1890s until 2010), it was featured in a 2011 episode of Country House Rescue, the series hosted by Ruth Watson. I must see if I can find that particular episode…

Friday, I had also been trying to locate the diary (sounds like there is only one, but one never knows!) of Jane Eliza Currie – the wife of Captain Mark John Currie, Royal Navy, Arthur’s cousin. The one diary – though (great pity!) I’ve not been able to locate images of its written contents – covers the couple’s voyage in 1829 and stay (through 1832) in Australia — in quite a new settlement at the time, which is why she as well as he comes up in searches. I’ve had a brief look through Smith & Gosling letters and early diaries for Miss Wood (I don’t know if she went by ‘Jane’ or ‘Eliza’ – I find people referring to her by each of those; but what did she call herself??) and/or the Mark Curries Junior. Not successful there. Being out of England until their return in the 1830s, means there’s no hope (or very little) that Arthur and Charlotte would be mentioned by Jane Eliza – but one never knows. It is a new avenue to take a look down. What I have found is located at the Mitchell Library, NSW. And Currie just is not an easy name to search for — so much overtaken by a certain “General Sir”.

I have also been trying to remember who I had found – among the grandchildren? (not sure now) – whose death had been looked into via a coroner’s inquest. An accidental overdose. I remember a woman… Laudanum or Morphine… but the WHO escapes me, as does the date (19th century still? Early 20th century?). I thought maybe one in the Capel Cure family – and that was how I located my *FIND*!

Of Mary Gosling’s three children – Sir Charles Cunliffe Smith; Mary Charlotte Smith; Augusta Elizabeth Smith – two married children of Capel Cure and Frederica Cheney. The Cure siblings make for heartbreaking reading in retrospect – five of the eleven children died before the age of 21. The main seat of the Cures, Blake Hall, is very familiar from the letters and diaries of the Smiths and Goslings. Of course Mary (Lady Smith) never lived to see these marriages of her children – she died in 1842 and the first marriage, Sir Charles Smith to Agnes Cure, occurred in February 1855. The next to marry, in 1857, were younger sister Augusta Smith and the Rev. Lawrence George Capel Cure.

[Elder sister Mary married in 1861, Major Gaspard Le Marchant Tupper, Royal Artillery.]

Since much literature that mentions the Capel Cure children does not mention all of them, I will list them here. You can find them in the 2nd volume of The Visitation of England and Wales (same place the Smiths of Suttons turns up):

  • Robert
  • Henry (died aged 7)
  • Frederica (died aged 10)
  • Alfred [the photographer]
  • (Rev.) Edward
  • Rosamund
  • (Rev.) Lawrence [married Augusta Smith]
  • Emmeline (died aged 19)
  • Agnes [married Sir Charles Smith]
  • Charles (died aged 8)
  • Frederick (died aged 14)

I have known of the photography work done – early in the “life” of photography – by Alfred Capel Cure. I have come across images of trees or estates – but Friday I spotted a LOT of PEOPLE. And when one album, digitized by UCLA, popped up a photograph of a portrait of “Sir C. Smith” by Ercole (whom I knew to have drawn Lawrence Cure), I slowed to savor each of the gentry portraits in Alfred’s album.

WITH SUCCESS!

A couple of photographs of Charles — whom I often still refer to, as his mother Mary did, as “Little Charles”. Mary, of course, was differentiating husband from son; I, on the other hand, know the son through the mother – and he was a child and teen in Mary’s lifetime. (Charles was born in 1827.) At least one album photograph ID’s him. Also ID’ed in a photograph is “Lady Smith and Miss Cure” – Alfred’s sisters, Agnes and Rosamund. Agnes and/or Rosumond (the only surviving girls) feature in a couple of group portraits, one of which surely includes Lawrence – it so resembles his Ercole portrait.

There are pictures of the exteriors of Suttons, Blake Hall, Badgers (a Cheney estate, which came into Alfred Capel Cure’s possession). So many familiar names. So many unknown faces.

Among the familiar names a faint and faded face identified as Lady Marian Alford. Lady Marianne Compton, as she originally was, was the eldest daughter of Spencer 2nd Marquess of Northampton (Emma’s cousin) and Margaret Clephane. There are a LOT of images – painted and photographed – of Lady Marian (Viscountess Alford) out there.

Alas, no one identified as Mr. and Mrs. Leigh or their children … – which might have unearthed some new images of Emma and James Edward Austen.

But, among the faint and faded, came a duo identified as “the Misses Smith” and dated “Badger, 9 Nov:r 1854“. And I knew I had found something “Completely New”.

I usually have a “feeling” about a *FIND* – including excitement and sureness of the “who” or “what”. I don’t know WHY, but I have almost no feelings on this portrait. Except of loving the sweet faces I see.

Maybe it’s because, named “the Misses Smith” – I’m not sure who is who.

think the elder sister is standing; the younger sister is seated. The standing sister is smiling, broadly. A ring and what looks to be a charm bracelet dangle are on her visible right hand. Her left hand rests on the chair in which her sister is seated. This seated sister has a quieter look, as if not quite “ready” for the camera. And yet, there is an attractive wistfulness that becomes haunting the more one looks.

When they posed at Badger, Mary Charlotte Smith was soon, at the end of November 1854, to celebrate her 26th birthday. Augusta Elizabeth Smith was a few months past her summer celebration of turning 24-years-old. That it IS them is not in doubt – the diary of their uncle, the Rev. Richard Seymour, notes welcoming them to Kinwarton just after their stay at Badger.

The sepia coloring of the album’s print continues strong, fading only along the lines of the gowns and around their hands. It is a remarkable souvenir of their day, (or stay), at Badger during the time of their brother’s engagement.

 

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“With Love”, National Archives Exhibit (online)

January 20, 2021 at 10:46 am (entertainment, history, news, postal history) (, , , )

Received in my email last week the Newsletter of The National Archives (Kew, England). They have a wonderful *new* ONLINE exhibition centered on their collection of LETTERS!

With Love – Letters of Love, Loss and Longing” covers the famous (Queen Elizabeth I; Anne Lister), as well as the personal and poignant (World War I, for instance).

You can EXPLORE on your own the various topics; or TOUR – the latter can be accomplished with a short Youtube introduction. I watched this presentation last week, and remember one thought that I wanted to add to the presenter’s thoughts, as regards Anne Lister and Ann Walker:

When Anne Lister left her estate to Ann Walker – which Ann would forfeit IF she married, the main meaning stressed, because of lover Mariana Belcombe’s marriage to Charles Lawton, would have been calling upon Ann Walker not to marry a man (the only definition of marriage, as recognized by church and state, at the time of Lister’s will). A significant difference to the speaker’s “should she [Ann Walker] ever marry again“.

I will also point out, again in speaking of Anne Lister and Ann Walker in the youtube presentation — friend had a different connotation in the 19th century. Think of the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams, “My dearest friend.” Certainly, Anne Lister could not have called Ann Walker her “wife” in her will, but there was a “closeness” of relationship inherent in the word friend which we (in the 21st century) have lost.

The nuance of language…

This online exhibition will open doors to new letter-writers, and for all of us to put on our thinking caps and contemplate further how such short tidbits coalesce into a greater, historical whole.

The exhibition, in TNA’s own words:

In our latest exhibition, love letters offer glimpses into private worlds – from a queen’s treasonous love letter, to the generous wish of a naval hero and the forlorn poetry of a prime minister. Expect secret stories of heartbreak, passion and disappointment as you explore 500 years of letters in this intimate exhibition.”

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Lady Northampton’s Album

January 2, 2021 at 3:53 pm (entertainment, history, news, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

At Christie’s in December 2020, this album compiled by Emma’s “Aunt Northampton” – featuring her own watercolors, but also those of others – including her teacher and friend, Miss Margaret Meen, and her sister Emma Smith.

Miss Meen‘s work is shown in these two specimens. Click on the picture to see all 10 illustrations. I hope the album went to a good home, and will stay in “one piece”, rather than broken up into 69 “for sale” Botanicals.

I have seen some of Lady Northampton‘s work in the flesh; they are stunning.

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TODAY: 9 Lessons & Carols, King’s College

December 24, 2020 at 9:22 am (entertainment, news) (, )

You will find MANY radio stations in the U.S. carrying the annual Nine Lessons and Carols, from King’s College, Cambridge. This year, the covid year, was especially challenging to choirs. How to rehearse, how to perform? Parts of the United Kingdom are under strict “Tier 4” stay-at-home measures; and other areas are expected to move to that status imminently. This year’s concert, pre-recorded a few weeks ago just in case, will fill in for the “Live” broadcast from King’s College Chapel.

You can read about the challenges the Choir faced in 2020 at the New York Times; and listen at WQXR (among others) at 10 AM today (less than one hour).

The Programme is available online via YourClassical.org (44 pages, PDF).

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“Live” online Performances

December 20, 2020 at 11:19 am (entertainment, news) (, , , , )

Thanks to friends, I have been enjoying weekly concerts – from “across the pond” – played by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Even online RADIO is a boon to me, living in an area where classical music usually is given a single representative.

So, today I will share a few of my *finds* for entertainment.

On the radio – my “go to” has long been KDFC – in San Francisco. You can listen to their live-stream, their Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, and sometimes local opera and music concerts. Three-hours behind the East Coast’s time zone.

Lately, I’ve also been dipping into WQXR – in New York City. There were days (long, loooonnnngg ago), when, on a “good” summer’s night, I could tune in the broadcast on a radio! Now it comes in as if I lived in the metropolitan area. East Coast time zone.

Both radio stations are currently fund-raising via their websites. Both radio stations are “all music – all the time”.

On the theatrical side of “performance” comes a new subscription series by the U.K.’s National Theatre. This past summer, they offered weekly free (and/or for donation) performances of taped-live theater. You can now expect monthly additions, and subscribe for a year or a month or even just one play. Information at National Theatre at Home. Current offers include “12 Months for the cost of 10 Months” – a whole year of “live” performances!

Or, you can join my friends in listening to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra – their Winter/Spring 2021 digital season begins on January 6, 2021. Subscribers get access to each concert for 30 days beyond the initial broadcast. One can also obtain “tickets” on a per concert basis — a mere £6. Even paying dollar prices, that’s a bargain of just over US$8. “Live” can be a bit tough, as a 7.30 PM UK concert means 2.30 PM (five hours difference) in the eastern U.S. Thank goodness for the “live/on demand” re-runs.

To go with the Met Opera image (used in a prior, summer, blog post), I’ll include here that the Met still offers a daily-changing Nightly Met Opera stream. They currently have this past week, next week, and even the week following (weeks 40-42) so you can play out what you simply cannot MISS OUT ON SEEING. There are operas during the current schedule from 1982 through 2018, so taken from their entire archive of live theater performances.

I’m excited to see something NEW: Met Stars in Concert — online concerts, for instance Bryn Terfel from Brecon Cathedral [on NOW] or Anna Netrebko in concert in February. $20 for each performance, which remains “on demand” for 14-days.

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Jane Austen Books online

December 18, 2020 at 11:55 am (books, entertainment, news, research, World of Two Teens) (, , , )

I was searching yesterday for Hazel Jones’ latest book, The Other Knight Boys – about the younger sons (ie, rather than the heir, all the “spares”) of Edward Austen Knight, Jane Austen’s brother.

It was while on the site for Jane Austen Books, that I searched for my own book — they had purchased copies from me at the Louisville JASNA AGM (I gave a paper that year, in 2015). I had always put up information that potential purchasers needed to contact Jane Austen Books — Now I can announce:

Two Teens in the Time of Austen: Random Jottings, 2008-2015 is available for ONLINE ordering ($18; paperback).

Jane Austen Books is located in Novelty, Ohio, USA.

The Kindle version, Two Teens in the Time of Austen: Random Jottings, 2008-2013, is still available via Amazon ($3.50).

The Kindle version has a few less “blog posts,” but has some additional items not featured in the book; the book covers two years of further investigation into the Smiths and Goslings.

(Apologies in advance for typos introduced into those late additions.)

Both formats present information on the family of Emma Austen Leigh, which I am researching, and which is based nearly entirely on archival research of primary materials — thus all the posts on LETTERS and DIARIES.

Additional thoughts:

From the blog page “Two Teens on Kindle” — and (dimly mirrored) on the back cover of the book:

When Elizabeth Bennet captured the attention of Pemberley’s wealthy owner Mr. Darcy, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice so captured the attention of her sixteen-year-old nephew, James Edward Austen, that he concluded a poem of congratulations addressed to his aunt with,

And though Mr. Collins so grateful for all
Will Lady de Bourgh his dear patroness call,
‘Tis to your ingenuity really he owed
His living, his wife, and his humble abode.

The wife chosen by this son of a country clergyman experienced a youth far more stellar than his own, one befitting the wealth a landed-gentleman and Member of Parliament could provide. Emma Smith (1801-1876) and her friend and eventual sister-in-law Mary Gosling (1800-1842), through their personal writings – diaries and letters – have left a legacy of their lives dating from Regency London to early-Victorian England. Two Teens in the Time of Austen reconstructs this extended family’s biography, as well as recounts the chronicles of a Britain at war and on the brink of great change (social, political, industrial, financial).

England rejoiced in the summer of 1814, for the Napoleonic Wars were presumed to be at an end. This was a momentous year for the Smiths of Suttons and the Goslings of Roehampton Grove. Mary Gosling visited Oxford just as these national celebrations ended. Emma Smith’s father had died early in the year, leaving Mrs. Smith a 42-year-old widow: Augusta Smith gave birth to the youngest of her nine children days after her husband’s death. Emma began keeping diaries on 1 January 1815. The girls are, at this date, fourteen and thirteen years old. Mary’s stepmother hosted dazzling London parties; and Emma’s great-aunt hobnobbed with members of the Royal Family. The privileged daughters of gentlemen, their teen years are a mixture of schoolrooms, visits, travels to relatives, stays in London during the “Season”, and trips to Wales, Ireland, and the Continent — in fact, the Goslings visit the site of the Battle of Waterloo and Mary has left her impressions of the war-torn region. Here is a tale worthy of Jane Austen’s pen, as beaux dance and ladies choose their (life) partners. But happiness comes at a price for many.

Two Teens in the Time of Austen: Random Jottings introduces the people Jane Austen met – like the Chutes of the Vyne, as well as the niece she never lived to welcome into the family: Emma Austen Leigh, whose husband would later publish Recollections of the Early Days of the Vyne Hunt (1865) and A Memoir of Jane Austen (1870; revised, 1871).

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Jane Austen’s Birthday publication

December 16, 2020 at 1:03 pm (books, jane austen, jasna, news) (, , )

Persuasions On-line, the journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America, publishes their latest issue on the date of Jane Austen’s birth: December 16th. Today!

So, if you wish to find some “food for thought” as you Toast Miss Austen for her works, check out Volume 41 – free and available to all – Persuasions On-line.

Having attended – virtually and remotely – this year’s AGM on the Austen Juvenilia, participants were able to “attend” for 30-days beyond the actual “live AGM” weekend and listen to MORE breakout sessions than just one per session. We could also go back and re-listen to special interest sessions and plenary talks.

Many of my favorites are now “in print”, including:

  • Alden O’Brien, “What Did the Austen Children Wear and Why? New Trends in British Children’s Clothing, 1760-1800”
  • Mackenzie Sholtz and Kristen Miller Zohn, “‘A Staymaker of Edinburgh’: Corsetry in the Age of Austen”
  • Gillian Dooley, “Juvenile Songs and Lessons: Music Culture in Jane Austen’s Teenage Years”

A section called STAYING AT HOME WITH JANE AUSTEN: READING AND WRITING DURING A PANDEMIC, will help provide entertainment and thoughtful solutions for times of “isolation” and/or lockdown.

The “Miscellany” always includes non-AGM topics and are on point enough this year to include one “Karen” article! (If you’ve seen the U.S. news, you’ll know what a “Karen” represents during this time of “plague”; otherwise, I have to hand you over to google), Sarah Makowski‘s article is entitled, “‘Do You Know Who I Am?’ Lady Catherine de Bough, Jane Austen’s Proto-Karen.”

Two “In Memoriam” articles, both written by Persuasions / Persuasions On-line editor Susan Allen Ford, honor those who were fundamental in forwarding a love for Jane Austen and her work, and life-long devotion to uncovering the trail of Austenian research: Lorraine Hanaway, a JASNA founder; and Deirdre Le Faye, whose name graces so many publications.

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Isadore Albee’s Civil War Diaries

November 26, 2020 at 7:55 am (books, diaries, history, news, research) (, , , , , )

Whether Isadore Albee gets her own blog or not, I want to talk about her – and will do so here.

A very recent purchase, the Civil War diaries of Isadore Albee (her father spelled his name Allbee), is EXACTLY the project I have long sought. Past purchases have tended to forward my main research, into the Smith and Gosling family — presented online as “Two Teens in the Time of Austen” because Emma Smith married James Edward Austen (later Austen Leigh) AND Mary married Emma’s eldest brother Sir Charles Joshua Smith, baronet.

Isadore – I tend to think of her as ‘Dora‘ (which may or may NOT be what she called herself; I’m still hoping to find that out) – was a “known object” when I purchased the diaries. The seller’s ad had boasted a plethora of characterful excerpts, which caught my eye and fired my imagination. Dora wrote of her everyday life during a period, 1862 through 1871, important to American history, a period of change and national turmoil. That “era” called to me, as it does to many.

Dora is a female diarist. Typically, men‘s war diaries have been preserved for posterity, so Dora’s are a welcome breath of fresh air. Dora is young – she records her 21st birthday in May, 1862. It’s recorded as a day of “no preasants” (sic) and given over to the first effects of “scarlettina.” Dora’s typical “luck”….

The BIG inducement, compounding “female diarist” and “Civil War era” into a trifecta: Dora lived in Springfield, VERMONT. My home state!

I’d *LOVE* to direct you to a new blog. But I may simply delete what I began on WordPress. I liked the blogging platform, as it was; I despise what it is now.

I haven’t yet made up my mind if Dora will somewhat “share” space with my Two Teens or not. It’s a departure in so many ways, AND YET somewhat related – in terms of being a research project.

Isadore Albee's 1870 & 1862 diaries

After fourteen years of researching English diaries and letters, finding related biographies and related artwork, visiting estates now turned into schools or cut into condominiums, there are “challenges” in working on a set of diaries from Vermont. The Smiths & Goslings were important people, wealthy people; they owned estates; they lived in London during “the season.” Traces of their faded tracks pop up in newspapers. The popular literature of their day, monthly items like Gentleman’s Magazine and the Annual Review, are go-to places for a wealth of information on their (wide) circle of English landed gentry.

For Dora‘s diaries, I’m down to a small local newspaper (not digitized) and the U.S. Census. Dora’s friends and presumed neighbors are sometimes only mentioned by first name; it’s my assumption that they are young ladies, like herself.

Mary and Emma, on the other hand, always cite people in a VERY formal manner. Young friends (and even relatives) always are designated by first and last name. Only their own immediate family members rated a first-name-only. Finding information on the many, many servants of their world has been tougher; they, too, could be first name OR last name only.

To confuse the average reader, though, those next-door neighbors were interrelated even before Mary’s marriage to Charles in 1826.

Emma, for instance, differentiates between her sister Charlotte and Mary’s sister Charlotte Gosling. Family also had two Carolines (Caroline Mary Craven Austen and Caroline Wiggett [later Caroline Workman]). In later years, there were not only Mrs. (Augusta) Smith and her eldest daughter, Augusta; but Mary had a daughter named Augusta. Emma had a daughter named Augusta. Fanny had a daughter named Augusta….

You get my drift…. A LOT of duplicate names. Even marriages brought in new but similarly-named family members. Emma’s sister Fanny changed her name from Smith to Seymour a few months before their new sister-in-law, Frances, changed her name from Seymour to Smith. To confuse things, Frances seemed to have been called ‘Pam,’ at least in her girlhood, by her family; though the Smiths always referred to her as Frances. Whereas Fanny was never known as Frances, except in a very youthful letter. Fanny’s husband, the Rev. Richard Seymour, referred to his cousin (and eventual sister-in-law) as “Dora K.” because he also had a sister Dora. Cousin Dora Knighton was the daughter of Sir William Knighton – an important personage known to the Prince of Wales / Prince Regent / King George IV. Lady Knighton’s first name was Dorothea, thus the sprouting of other ‘Doras’. Though, of course, not for my ‘Dora’ Albee.

I’ve already begun a family tree for Dora: her only brother died when a toddler, and she talks most about her elder sister, Jane, and younger sister, Sophia. I have yet to figure out if “Bessie” in 1862 is “Lizzie” in 1870, and whether both refer to her sister Elizabeth. The family tree includes eldest sister Gratia (who married in 1850 and moved to Iowa a decade or more ago) and one who married only in 1860, Ellen.

But I’m used to sorting out people. In “Two Teens,” there are THREE Emma Smiths! Besides my diarist, Emma Smith (Emma Austen), there is: “Aunt Emma” (who never married), Mrs. Smith’s youngest sister, and great aunt Emma Smith (later Lady Dunsany), a sister to grandfather Joshua Smith. Lady Dunsany married late in life, and, from what I’ve found, was as loquacious as Miss Bates (in the Jane Austen novel, Emma).

My prime interest in the Civil War diaries is Isadore Albee, herself.

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Where have all the Bloggers gone?

November 25, 2020 at 9:55 am (diaries, entertainment, history, news, research, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

This blog post will be a departure.

I have a new project, and one that I had *wanted* to talk about, get input on, and just share. My frustration, though, comes from trying to create a new “blog”.

I created all three of my blogs QUITE some time ago. They are:

  • Two Teens in the Time of Austen – my main research, which looks at the family of Emma Smith and Mary Gosling. The two women were born in 1801 and 1800; Emma married the nephew of writer Jane Austen in December 1828. This is all-consuming, covering from the 1790s through the 1840s (and beyond). They are the subject of my book for Kindle, “Random Jottings,” which is based on blog posts that discuss the extended Smith & Gosling family and other aspects of research.
  • Georgian Gems, Regency Reads, Victorian Voices – gives me a place to discuss PRIMARY materials, be it published (books) or online. This pretty much covers my major interests of 18th and 19th century letters and diaries from England. I do diverge every once in a while – to the U.S. (where I live) and Canada (near neighbor). The time period can also migrate into the 20th century. And I am a BIG fan of the travel narrative – so other countries do sometimes appear.
  • The Ladies of Llangollen – is based upon a former website, begun after a 2005 trip to Llangollen, and a visit (of course!) to Play Newydd, home to Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler – known as the Ladies of Llangollen. It was in finding an 1824 diary by Mary Gosling, in which she recorded meeting the ladies, that I discovered the first tidbit belonging to my Two Teens in the Time of Austen project!

My favorite “WordPress theme” remains that used for THIS blog. A sliver of an area for text, bits off to one side that allows readers to visit other pages and gather more information. Overall, the blog serves as a place to focus readers’ attention on the project; as a consequence, it mentions my publications (see About the Author). In the past, the blog bought to my attention several *IMPORTANT* items of research — mainly letters, but also at least one diary. I keep hoping for MORE, along these same lines. Am I being “disappointed” because there’s just no more material to unearth? Or, is it that blogs and bloggers are tired things from the past?

Mine is not an image-heavy subject. Images, generally, are items found on the internet that have become part of my research. Of course, in the days of DIGGING for more information, discoveries led to things that I wanted to crow to someone about – and I took to blogging. But research also makes one hug “finds” close to the chest…

Mary Gosling’s initial diary led me to search for more information about Ponsonby and Butler. And when DIARIES and LETTERS make up 98 percent of my material, it’s easy to also talk about books and websites that have been unearthed, thus the third blog sprang into existence.

As the “Smiths & Goslings” became more reading, deciphering, thinking and less discovery, it wasn’t always EASY to find something I wanted to talk about. Add to that changes to WordPress that have begun to drive me crazy – well: the whole together accounts for lots of silence.

But in trying to launch a new site for a new project, I’ve really thought: Why Bother? “Blogging” seems not supported here at Wordpress any more. My choice of a “theme,” for instance, has stopped me in my tracks. I thought I’d have FUN trying to decide! In the past themes were dazzling, like the blaze of color and swirls used for the “Ladies of Llangollen,” or the sustained quiet of maroon and black background for the “Regency Reads” site.

The day before yesterday I only saw WHITE backgrounds; strips of BLOCK photographs followed by BLOCK text; and what I picked came with a HOMEPAGE and a BLOG.

There once was a time – when the Ladies of Llangollen site was being re-created, because it had originally BEEN a website – when I would have welcomed a “homepage” kind of site. I’m not re-building it a THIRD time…

The new site, the one I would like to create…, where I could drop tidbits as I discovered them, calls out for intimacy. Instead, (DARE I say it?), EVERYthing is full-screen, so f’ing WHITE, and BLOCK-LIKE. _I_ have done better, in the past (ie, before WordPress) with NO “templates,” in creating websites with more style than these static “scroll down” sites. Maybe WP keeps the good stuff for paying customers – but after this “Gutenberg” upgrade, frankly, I give up ever wishing to pay.  I had thought of converting THIS site (mainly to get rid of the *gross* ads that show up; if you’ve seen them, you know which I mean). I don’t CARE anymore.

So, my question is: Where do all the BLOGGERS go?

My research does not fit in with TikTok or Instagram (it’s not visual). I quickly lost interest in (though I have several boards on) Pinterest. Never been a great fan of the Facebook craze, but to satisfy WP, I did open a site for “Two Teens in the Time of Austen: Random Jottings.” I want to “SPEAK”, not post pictures never mind share details of my life. (THAT is no one’s business.)

The idea of “tweeting” about my latest project is possible, but (as you can see by this LONG blog post), what I _LIKED_ is what I once _HAD_.

Why does a platform decide to “new and improve” into something that offers users less than it used to do? Would it have troubled WordPress so much to ask: Do you want a website? Do you want to blog? And tailored things to each specific group. Someone selling product is not going to want the same thing as I do for a research project. Someone who wants to share with the wider world their photographs or drawings is not going to need the same construct, for instance, as I have built for this “Two Teens” project.

My question now is: Will some new text-loving platform arrive to take WordPress’s place?

(If you can answer that, please: Post a Comment.)

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Life & Times of Georgiana Jane Henderson

October 9, 2020 at 12:58 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, history, news) (, , , )

You know that I *LOVE* to hear about new books, but to hear of one from a writer with whom I’ve been in correspondence has to be extra special.

Susan Bennett‘s new book is A Thankless Child: The Life and Times of Georgiana Jane Henderson (1771-1850). Her prior publication, ‘I awleis admired your talent’: The artistic life of Georgiana Jane Henderson (née Keate) (1771-1850) (MA dissertation, published in Germany) also presents aspects in the life and times of Georgiana Keate Henderson.

Bennett A Thankless Child

I first learned about Georgiana five years ago; her diaries mention some Goslings!

In an early email, Susan mentioned a print, based on work by George Keate (Georgiana’s father), of HALL’S LIBRARY, Margate ( click to see it at The British Museum). Mrs. Gosling did have a book by Keate in her library (her book plate being attached). And the names attached to an entry in Georgiana Henderson’s diary all point to Mrs. Gosling (née Elizabeth Houghton), my diarist Mary’s paternal grandmother: “Mrs. Gosling with Mr. and Mrs. Gregg brought Miss Norford from Langley about one o’clock – they left us again at three“. The entry dated: 15 September 1803.

Mrs. Gregg would be Mrs. Gosling’s daughter, the former Maria Gosling, accompanied by her husband, Henry Gregg. Miss (Annabella) Norford shows up twice in Gosling letters, and does seem typically in company with this Mrs. Gosling. Langley was the Gosling’s old family estate. (William Gosling, Mary’s father, much preferred his own estate – Roehampton Grove – to this estate of his parents.)

There is a slim possibility that “Mrs. Gosling’s” is Maria Gregg’s sister-in-law, Eliza (mother of my diarist Mary Gosling), who would live only another three months….

You can imagine how *thrilled* I was to hear of these tidbits!

I’m only now thinking: Miss Norford, friend of Georgiana, must have been visiting the Goslings (at Langley) [that a given] and was perhaps being brought to Georgiana’s home for a stay (so that only Mrs. Gosling & the Greggs departed). A lady did not travel alone, and from what I’ve read of coaching inns and coaching yards during the Georgian period, _I_ would be happy to have company (male or female) for any “change horses” stops.

Of course, it is possible that ALL traveled back to Langley. To know the whereabouts of Annabella Norford may be answered by Susan’s book!

Susan was hoping that the Goslings had perhaps mentioned Mrs. Henderson – but I’ve so far uncovered little “Gosling” archives (especially in comparison to the Smiths). Revisiting old emails makes me wish I could find more, and earlier, items.

Susan was lucky enough to find references to Georgiana Henderson in the superb online diary of Fanny Chapman.

In an early invitation to correspond, Susan Bennett included this vivid description of her research subject:

Georgiana was the only daughter of George Keate, an amateur artist and poet, who was known to most of the artistic and literary circles of the day.  He (and therefore Georgiana) could count David Garrick, Angelica Kauffman, John Russell, Charles James Fox and Robert Adam among their close circle of friends.   Georgiana married John Henderson (also an amateur artist) who was an early patron of J M W Turner and Thomas Girtin.

The diaries I work with are similar to those Susan used as a source: Visits and Visitors. I can’t wait to read her biography of Georgiana Jane Henderson. Buy it thru several sources: Amazon, Amazon.uk [=sites offer a preview of the book], or Lulu.

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