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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Amelia Rauser’s The Age of Undress

March 3, 2020 at 9:12 am (books, entertainment, fashion, jane austen, Uncategorized) (, , , )

In yesterday’s mail, a new book that will hit stores on St. Patrick’s Day, 17 March 2020: The Age of Undress: Art, Fashion, and the Classical Ideal in the 1790s, by Amelia Rauser (Yale University Press).

Age of Undress216 pages; 180 color illustrations

We’ve all seen the sheer muslin gowns – marveled over the audacity of such ‘nakedness’ – and laughed at the “cartoons” Gillray, Cruickshank, or Dent produced that ridiculed the latest fashion extreme. Rauser brings together portraits and sculpture, cartoons and fashion plates to pose questions and reveal answers about the relationship between Neoclassicism, Hellenistic ideals of the sculpted female form, and fashion trends that quickly surged (and subsided) in such fashion-forward places as Naples, Paris, and London, in the 1790s.

Very welcome is the concentration on a small timeline, an in-depth exploration of clothing seen (and probably worn) by the mothers and maternal aunts of my diarists, Mary Gosling and Emma Smith (also known by their married names: Lady Smith and Emma Austen Leigh), my Two Teens in the Time of Austen. This “parent generation,” the four Erle Stoke Sisters and their friends, were single women and young marrieds in the very time period Rauser discusses.

A full review in the near future.

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Two new biographies

January 22, 2020 at 4:18 pm (books, entertainment, jane austen, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I am always thrilled to find biographies that concentrate on women. These two (one from mid-2019 and one just released – in Britain – January 2020) center on four sisters, in one case, and, in the other case, five women writers between the wars who lived in Mecklenburgh Square (Bloomsbury, London).

Noble Savages

Sarah Watling’s Noble Savages: The Olivier Sisters – Four Lives in Seven Fragments grabbed my attention from page one: The opening introduction describes a 1962 meeting between Noel Oliver (the youngest sister) and an intent Rupert Brooke biographer, Christopher Hassell. What did Hassell hanker after? Noel Olivier’s letters from Brooke, which, in nearly fifty years, she had not offered up to ANY writer on Brooke.

They were private, and kept until after Noel Olivier’s death; subsequent publication (in 1991) was by a grand-daughter.

I can see BOTH sides…

Noel’s property was Noel’s property; why should she have to yield it up to anyone, especially knowing it would be impossible to refuse publication once the letters got into Hassell’s hands.

And yet, to a researcher, to _know_ that something MORE exists, and to have no access to even a glimpse of it, is an exquisite torment.

It was a situation even James Edward Austen Leigh went through, when letters his aunt Cassandra Austen had saved (written to her by her sister Jane Austen – and given to a niece), could no longer be located. And no one else was offering up their Jane Austen memorabilia, beyond his own two sisters (Anna Lefroy and Caroline Austen). Edward’s Memoir of Jane Austen was published without accessing at least two batches of letters (one of which ceased to exist about this time); he died before his cousin’s son published Jane Austen’s Letters.

Square Haunting

Francesca Wade’s biography Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London between the Wars features one of my all-time favorite authors: Dorothy L. Sayers. The five women sharing Mecklenburgh Square as an address (not necessarily at the same time) include poet H.D.; Jane Harrison; Eileen Power; and Virginia Woolf. The book opens with the 1940 bombing of the area. As someone who works with diaries, it was an absolute *thrill* to read that Woolf dug out her diaries (evidently uninjured) from the rubble of her apartment.

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Bonhams: Jane Austen’s Letter 88

October 27, 2019 at 11:14 am (jane austen, news, Uncategorized) (, , , )

This is a further update to two posts:

Although I watched the auction online and was witnessing the climb and climb in price, the “at the hammer” price did NOT INCLUDE the premium paid to Bonhams. Now comes “news” (ie, not news at all) that the auction of Letter 88 of Jane Austen from the Dodge Collection “sold for a new record”: $200,075.

It is any wonder no one cared to forewarn entities like the Jane Austen House Museum, as Kathryn Sutherland advocated, in order to come to terms prior to a public auction?

NPG 3630; Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen

From The Guardian article (7 Oct 2019):

“Sutherland said that ‘because of specific domestic details within it, it would have by far the greatest resonance inside the collection held by Jane Austen’s House Museum in the cottage where Austen lived and wrote’.

Earlier this year, the museum launched a crowdfunding campaign to help it raise the £35,000 it needed to buy a snippet of a letter written by Austen in 1814. …

Sutherland said it was particularly sad that publicly funded organisations like Jane Austen’s House Museum were unable to compete with international commercial buyers, ‘because so few Austen letters are retained for public benefit in British institutions’.

Considering that Britain has in the past disallowed artifacts to leave its shores, should the Dodge Austen letter be allowed to leave the U.S.? One entity that I thought should have partaken in the Battle for Letter 88 was The Morgan Library & Museum – the owner of a substantial collection of Austen letters. How about “retained for the public benefit in American institutions”?

JA to Cass 16 Sept 1813_Bonhams4

Deborah Yaffe commented on this idea of a “home country” for Austen letters, this one in particular, in her blog post “Going, going…”

That its cost beat the auction estimate – $80,000 to $100,000 – was a no brainer even as it was affixed to the catalogue. Austen is “hot property,” a growing phenomenon ever since Darcy’s wet shirt…

Even ratty Victorian paperbacks – I’m in the midst of reading Janine Barchas’ book The Lost Books of Jane Austen (purchased after the Williamsburg AGM after her “highlight” plenary presentation “The Lost Copies Northanger Abbey” – sell for much more than the proverbial “song” when they’ve got JANE AUSTEN attached to them.

Let’s face it, Austen is priced out of the reach of most institutions. Without knowing the depth of coffers (or generous donors) some like The British Library or Oxford University or, yes, the Morgan, have recourse to, it is guesswork only.

What I want to know is, Who Bought Jane Austen?

Maybe it was singer, TV host Kelly Clarkson! The letter sold for less than the ring AND it’s already in the U.S.

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The Local Historian

October 21, 2018 at 10:56 am (books, history, Uncategorized) (, )

From time to time, I come across access to journals. The Local Historian is the publication of the British Association for Local History. It publishes in January, April, July and October (so a new issue due). (Feb2020: the link has been fixed; click on cover photo to access their back issues.)

Local Historian

Issues cost £5, when published within the last three years. Older issues are available FREE of charge on their website. More can be read about each journal article when looking up the individual issue; for instance, Joyce V. Ireland’s “Quasi-Careers for ladies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: Schools in Chester and Warrington” in the above issue.

The journal also features REVIEWS – which surprised me with a review of Miss Weeton: Governess and Traveller, edited by Alan Roby. I have the 1970s reprint of Miss Weeton’s Journal of a Governess. Roby’s book is described as “a new edition,” and includes information about Nelly Weeton’s later life. I bought the new edition when in the UK over Christmas 2018/New Year’s 2019.

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Second Choice: Canceled Chapter, Persuasion (Jane Austen)

October 6, 2018 at 9:21 am (books, jane austen, jasna, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Having spent last weekend (Thursday thru Monday) at Kansas City, Mo, for the 200th celebration of Persuasion, of course the conversation turned from the wonderful chapter Jane Austen wrote to the chapter she canceled. I have the multi-volume set of Chapman’s third edition of the Novels and Works of Jane Austen – and knew he had included the canceled chapter in the volume dealing with Persuasion. A friend was interested in reading it.

all austen

Indeed, Chapman’s source is James Edward Austen Leigh‘s MEMOIR of Jane Austen (2nd edition).

At the AGM (Annual General Meeting) of JASNA I got to read a letter to James Edward Austen (as he was in 1828, the date of the letter), congratulating him on his engagement to Emma Smith (my diarist) [and therefore one of the Two Teens in the Time of Austen]. But that is news for another post.

Clicking on the link above – or the picture of the books – will take you to Internet Archive (Archive.org), where you can find many of Chapman’s Austen volumes. I will include links on the Authentic Austen page. To me, Chapman’s volumes are just the right size, fitting comfortably in the hand and I prefer them over the large Cambridge edition of everything.

* * *

Some second thoughts myself: should you wish to read CHAPTER 9 before reading the canceled Chapter 10. The link is to volume IV of the 1818 first edition (ie, volume 2 of Persuasion). Links to ALL the first and early editions are on the Authentic Jane Austen page (above). Also included are Jane Austen Letters & the Morgan Library’s online exhibition that was formed around their holdings of Austen letters.

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I Spy: Lady M

October 4, 2018 at 8:39 pm (books, Uncategorized) (, , )

Always I am intrigued by a new book, and when this one popped onto my screen I was very interested:

Lady M

It’s not a book I’ve ordered yet, but the subject – Viscountess Melbourne (thus, the Lady M. of the title!), and the time period covered (1751 to 1818) are too tempting to stay away long. Must admit, I’m always hopeful (and usually disappointed) that I will find it locally and get to have it NOW rather than waiting for the mail.

And what a fetching cover portrait!

The subject is Elizabeth Milbanke (she was aunt to Byron’s wife Annabella Milbanke), later Lady Melbourne; watchers of the TV series Victoria will recall the young Queen Victoria calling Elizabeth’s son “Lord M.”

Read some REVIEWS:

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Search for Jane Austen: Kansas City AGM

October 3, 2018 at 4:54 pm (jane austen, jasna, Uncategorized) (, , )

Returned Monday evening from the 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), held this year in Kansas City, Missouri. It was a very FILLED five days. This year’s core topic was the novel Persuasion – celebrating its 200th anniversary.

Some highlights:

  • Readings by actress AMANDA ROOT, from her production-era journal and from the novel Persuasion;
  • Kristen Miller Zohn, speaking on “‘A State of Alteration’: Stylistic Contrasts in the Musgroves’ Parlor,” which addressed costume as well as furnishings;
  • Sheryl Craig giving an inspiring lecture on “The Persuasion of Pounds”;
  • and, in a rare “virtual” presence (on the phone and over the speaker system), Gordon Laco informing a rapt audience about the Royal Navy, films, and his own naval history.

I shared lunches with colleagues and dinners with friends I hadn’t seen in a year (ie, the last AGM). It felt good to get back on track after a sabbatical from any research these last two months.

slate_austen

If any of the more than 900 (a record-breaking number attending a JASNA AGM!) members and companions come across this blog post – and you have a photo of self and “Jane Austen”, who was a life-sized cutout posted outside the banquet and ball room Saturday night, please let me know. A friend with intense interest in the “Rice Portrait” was told about it, but too late to see it for herself. The portrait purports to be an early (circa 1789) portrait of young Jane Austen. She “posed,” parasol and all, and had many who visited with her – so I know that Jane exists in many a selfie.

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Experiencing Technical Difficulties…

June 27, 2009 at 9:19 am (Uncategorized)

In trying to upload a book jacket, and having a blank box appear instead it dawned on me that WordPress is experiencing one of those *rare* glitches – when all the image files become BLANK!

So I will save my post for later, but will comment here that I trust the illustrations (few that I use) will resume shortly…

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Disappearing Pictures…

December 18, 2008 at 9:16 pm (Uncategorized)

I notice that suddenly all my photographs have disappeared – or are disappearing. This seems to be a WordPress problem, but be patient. Just hope I don’t end up having to download everything; some images I would have to search for all over again. YIKES! Damn upgrades…

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