Browse Books @ Toadstool Bookshops

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

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

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

Sample a few that caught my eye:

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

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

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

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

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In my mailbox from University Presses, part 2

February 19, 2021 at 8:44 pm (books, entertainment, history) (, , , )

Two days ago, I “published” the first three in a list of five new books, recently received in the mail. Today I continue with two more *finds*, all (curiously!) from University Presses.

A View from Abroad:
The Story of John and Abigail Adams in Europe”

Jeanne E. Abrams
New York University Press, 2021
(vi + 288 pages)

Many moons ago (2010), when composing my JASNA lecture “Austen/Adams: Journeys with Jane and Abigail,” I read the Letters of Abigail Adams in an old copy from the UVM library. What I had wanted to focus on were those letters written during her travels abroad – the sailing ship; the carriage travel in England; the lengthy period in France. I have never forgotten her fleet way with words. “No Bean, and No Queen” was her succinct phrase to deal with daughter, Nabby’s hunt for the elusive “bean,” part of a French traditional celebration, which Mrs. Adams wrote about in a letter to Lucy Cranch, 5 Jan 1785:

“I will relate to you a custom of this country. You must know that the religion of this country requires abundance of feasting and fasting, and each person has his particular saint, as well as each calling and occupation. To-morrow is to be celebrated, le jour des rois. The day before this feast it is customary to make a large paste pie, into which one bean is put. Each person at table cuts his slice, and the one who is so lucky as to obtain the bean, is dubbed king or queen. Accordingly, to-day, when I went in to dinner, I found one upon our table. Your cousin Abby began by taking the first slice; but alas! poor girl, no bean, and no queen. In the next place, your cousin John seconded her by taking a larger cut, and . . . bisected his paste with mathematical circumspection; but to him it pertained not. By this time, I was ready for my part; but first I declared that I had no cravings for royalty. I accordingly separated my piece with much firmness, nowise disappointed that it fell not to me. Your uncle, who was all this time picking his chicken bone, saw us divert ourselves without saying any thing; but presently he seized the remaining half, and to crumbs went the poor paste, cut here and slash there; when, behold the bean! “And thus,” said he, “are kingdoms obtained;” but the servant, who stood by and saw the havoc, declared solemnly that he could not retain the title, as the laws decreed it to chance, and not to force.”

I always *cheer* the servant’s coup de grâce! (and the scenario made me loathe gauche John Adams…)

David McCullough, author of the hefty biography JOHN ADAMS, once indicated that he could have written a whole book just on Abigail’s time abroad. Now Jeanne Abrams has published on this very topic, though included the trips John Adams accomplished on his own too. This is a newly-released book – and just arrived in my mailbox three days ago (Feb 2021). Abrams is also the author of First Ladies of the Republic: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and the Creation of an Iconic American Role.

Dear Catharine, Dear Taylor:
The Civil War Letters of a Union Soldier and His Wife

edited by Richard L. Kiper
letters transcribed by Donna B. Vaughn
University Press of Kansas, 2002
(xii + 448 pages)

I found this book searching . . . for something else.

I had a book (upstairs) that was a Civil War correspondence between husband and wife. Those words were what I searched for. You can see other “finds” by reading this post at Isadore Albee’s Civil War Diaries website. Bad weather has kept this book longer in the mail – last seen in Nashua, New Hampshire! so I expect that it’s closed in and will deliver soon.

Taylor Peirce was 40-years-old when he enlisted. The letters are described by the publisher, specifically Catharine Peirce’s half of the correspondence, as “a rich trove of letters from the homefront.” THAT was all I needed to see in order to hunt down a copy of the book. The book describes both halves of the correspondence, but, again, it’s Catharine’s plight that intrigues: “Catharine, for her part, reported on family and relatives, the demands of being a single mother with three young children, business affairs, household concerns, weather and crops, events in Des Moines, and national politics, filling gaps in our knowledge of Northern life during the war. Most of all, her letters convey her frustration and aching loneliness in Taylor’s absence, as well as her fears for his life, even as other women were becoming widowed by the war.”

Bad (snow) weather delayed its delivery by several days once the mail hit southern New Hampshire. It finally arrived yesterday. On first perusal – a slight disappointment that of 178 letters, only 51 are by Catharine Peirce. Footnotes attached to early letters by Taylor indicate “letter not found” whenever the husband thanked the wife for a letter. Ah, such a loss! I can imagine that some catastrophe happened, and Taylor’s carefully preserved stash of early letters went missing or got destroyed. A horrible loss to him no doubt. Taylor’s first letter is dated 20 August 1862; Catharine’s first surviving letter is dated January 1863.

*

The Websters: Letters of an American Army Family
in Peace & in War, 1836-1853

edited by Van R. Baker
The Kent State University Press, 2000
(xiv + 327 pages)

As a ‘bonus’ – the book I was trying to find through the online search — instead of going upstairs to pluck this book off the shelf — which resulted in finding Dear Catharine. I had remembered this as a book that included husband & wife letters AND had a Vermont connection. Indeed Lucien Bonaparte Webster had been born in Hartland, Vermont. His future wife, Frances Smith, was perhaps born in her grandfather’s Litchfield, Connecticut home. It fits this series of books because – surprisingly – it’s another University Press publication.

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In my mailbox from University Presses

February 16, 2021 at 2:03 pm (books, entertainment, history) (, , , )

Ever find that a depressed mood gets lightened by the arrival of *new books*??

I do.

Between several projects, including the Isadore Albee Civil War era diaries (a brand new project), and old interests, a NUMBER of books have been coming to the door. Interestingly, these last have one thing in common: they’re all published by UNIVERSITY presses! So I will toss out their existence in one blog post. Three are brand new; two are in the “used books” category.

In order of receipt (yes, all have been mail ordered), here is what I’m thrilled about lately =>

Josie Underwood’s Civil War Diary

edited by Nancy Disher Baird
University Press of Kentucky, 2009
(xviii + 262 pages)

This is my current read. I’ve been REALLY impressed with the narrative. Josie Underwood is a young woman (with oh-so-many-proposals during the opening months of the war) in Kentucky. Her father, despite a dislike of President Lincoln’s politics, is a firm Union-man. So is his wife (southern born, but with convictions as firm as her husband’s, in memory of the men who fought hard for the unification of the United States in the past). Josie is hard-pressed to keep her Union sentiments quiet-ish while seeing childhood friends, relations, and potential lovers sign-up for the Confederacy. (Kentucky was taking a neutral stance.) I’ve blogged a little bit more in my Georgian Gems, Regency Reads, Victorian Voices blog. Highly recommended for its freshness – in writing, in subject matter – and the tale it tells.

I believe the press is poised to come out with a reissue (paperback, I presume), but this book is worth tracking down its original hardcover version (unless the reprint is updated). It’s a keeper.

A Georgetown Life: The Reminiscences of
Britannia Wellington Peter Kennon
of Tudor Place

edited by Grant S. Quertermous
Georgetown University Press, 2020
(xi + 250 pages)

I think A Georgetown Life turned up in a search. I might have been looking specifically for new books. (I look for women’s history, biography, diaries, letters; though usually in Great Britain.) It wasn’t that long ago, but I don’t remember how I spotted it! Once I did, though, I knew I had to have it.

In the Fall of 2019, JASNA (the Jane Austen Society of North America) had its Annual General Meeting (or AGM) in delightful Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. I brought my father and aunt with me (we drove down). I gave a paper on Cassandra and Jane Austen (in a very stuffed-to-the-rafters small room; apologies to those who couldn’t fit in, or hear due to the constantly opening/closing door). We had temperatures in the 90s for at least two days… My father and aunt were happy just to hang out at the hotel; I saw the sites of Williamsburg on my own. BUT: I got both of them to join me in two “house tours” — Mount Vernon, the estate of George and Martha Washington (which I had wanted to visit ever since seeing a sign to it when driving from the 2009 AGM in Philadelphia!) and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s remarkable mountain-top estate. I wish, back then, I had known about Tudor Place!

Britannia Wellington Peter – along with sisters Columbia and America – descended from Martha Parke Custis, Martha Washington’s grand-daughter. You will therefore see the interest! All dovetails back to Mount Vernon and Washington D.C. It was Thomas and Martha (Parke Custis) Peter who acquired Tudor Place.

Britannia Kennon’s memories are vivid, astounding, and astonishing. She saw so much. I will let the editor, Grant Quertermous, speak about what you will find inside the book, for there are several quite decent youtube videos on the project and publication, including from the (US) National Archives (55.55 minutes long; recorded 4 Dec 2020) and Georgetown University Press’s presentation (44.50 minutes; recorded 5 Oct 2020).

This book is packed with illustrations. The introductory essay, along with the illustrations, give a real sense of “who” everyone is. Highly recommended, too.

She Being Dead Yet Speaketh:
The Franklin Family Papers

edited by Vera S. Camden
University of Chicago Press, 2020
(349 pages)

Part of the series “The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe,” She being dead yet speaketh presents the writings of Mary Franklin and her grand-daughter Hannah Burton. This was a birthday gift from two dear friends in England. It being quite new to me, I have only “dipped into it”. But my friends know me well – authentic women’s voices are always a draw. Mary Franklin’s writings are 17th century; Hannah Burton’s words date to 1782. Both women used the same notebook to record their thoughts! The Franklins were Dissenters – so the women’s writings offer a unique look at the period. As the wife of a Presbyterian Minister, Robert Franklin, who was one of two thousand dissenting ministers “ejected from their pulpits,” Mary Franklin was well-positioned to mark the religious persecutions of her time. Hannah Burton’s journal describes life as “an impoverished widow, barely surviving the economic revolutions of 18th Century London.” The table of contents is illustrative of… the book’s contents!

With this post getting long, I’m going to divide it into two parts. Look for “In My Mailbox from University Presses, Part 2“.

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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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Sheila Hancock presents…

August 20, 2020 at 3:32 pm (entertainment, history, news, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

30 August 2020 – technical difficulties (thanks, WordPress) in displaying “ginormous” images and the rest of the blog crowding in on the posts. SICK of the block editor – so a project I will come back to. But it impacts the last few block posts. Used to display JUST FINE.

Two exceptionally interesting “documentaries” (from circa 2011 and 2013) hosted by Sheila Hancock are what I bring to your attention today. Youtube comments are super-positive about her style, delivery, and information. I heartily concur!

The first I found and watched is, The Brilliant Bronte Sisters.

Brilliant Bronte

It was a tough day with _NO_ TV reception (all our channels here in northern Vermont are powered by the same antenna atop Mount Mansfield). I went youtube hunting – but I wasn’t sure WHAT I wanted to watch, other than something interesting. This program on the Brontë Sisters ultimately fit the bill. I especially loved the items we, the audience, were shown – drawings and paintings done by the sisters; portraits of the sisters; interviews with scholars like Juliet Barker (I have her Brontës biography and volume of family letters).

The other program is Sheila Hancock Brushes Up: The Art of Watercolours.

Art of Watercolours

Her father was a watercolourist – and her enthusiasm translates well to her audience. In my research, which you (dear reader) glimpse on this blog, Two Teens in the Time of Austen — there are so many artists! I, on the other hand, have never dabbled (paint-by-numbers, maybe counts). So seeing and hearing about these pieces (and, of course, their artists) was exceptionally informative.

I join others in saying I wish there were more documentaries from Sheila Hancock. Very well done!

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Austen Leigh’s Memoir in Woolfs’ Library

February 25, 2020 at 8:56 am (books, entertainment, jane austen, people) (, , )

Given the chapter on Virginia Woolf in the book Square Haunting [see previous post], it was a *thrill* to find this “Short Title Catalog” of books in the Library of Leonard and Virginia Woolf.

Square Haunting

The thrill comes from seeing so many Jane Austen-related titles, including a 1926 “review copy” of Chapman’s edition of James Edward Austen Leigh‘s A Memoir of Jane Austen.

The Austen titles become quite the revelation. The list has several copies of Pride and Prejudice; also some tantalizing early 20th-century publications, like “Five Letters from Jane Austen to her Niece Fanny Knight” (1924); “Two Chapters of Persuasion … with a Facsimile” (1926) [one of the two copies on handmade paper]; “Volume the First” (1933); and even “Lady Susan” (1925).

Of course, the whole list of the Woolfs’ library is what gives a great deal of food for thought. Someone’s “library” drops so many clues about the interests of that person.

 

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New ‘Jane Austen’ books coming

May 31, 2019 at 10:41 am (entertainment, history, jane austen, news) (, , )

I am looking forward to seeing Helen Amy’s dual biography of Cassandra and Jane Austen, The Austen Girls (Amberley; release in June in the UK; November in US), and from time to time I actively search for ‘Austen’ in forthcoming books – to see what else I can look forward to in the further future.

TODAY I hit upon some VERY interesting forthcoming books!

This “searching” can be a bit of a crap shoot – too many Austen reprints; Austen novels reworked; Austen mysteries; Austen fantasies. My “Jane Austen” is the Chapman third edition, a nice leather-bound set [SEE them here] obtained at an eBay auction. For sentimental reasons, I’ve kept my first omnibus edition (which probably does have mistakes in the text). Most “knock offs” are just not my cup of tea. I really am interested in rigorous literary or biography texts.

The first I found is a short wait. Rory Muir, whose MONUMENTAL two-volume LIFE OF WELLINGTON is a newer purchase. Wellington turns up in my research, but I am not one to read in-depth about ‘war.’ After I found Muir’s exceptionally useful online “Commentary” for the books, I took vol. 1 out of the local university library (they did not purchase vol. 2), then bought both volumes. The commentaries are comprised of information which did NOT make the books, and are about as voluminous as the volumes themselves! Sorted by chapter (also searchable; AND downloadable in full), they are a _must_ for Wellington fans.

So it was with a bit of surprise, and true pleasure too, that his latest book turned up in my ‘Austen’ search, due to the subtitle: Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune: How Younger Sons Made Their Way in Jane Austen’s England (Yale; release in the UK in August; in US in September).

Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune

A quick blurb says of the plot: “A portrait of Jane Austen’s England told through the career paths of younger sons – men of good family but small fortune.” My own research encompasses “eldest sons,” “younger sons,” even “ONLY sons” (I’m especially thinking of James Edward Austen, Emma’s husband).

Even more “hmmm…” is the intriguing idea of a biography of Anne Lefroy. Jane Austen’s Inspiration: Beloved Friend Anne Lefroy by Judith Stove (Pen & Sword History) is due in September (US release date; UK – revised release date: end July).

Anne Lefroy

As it happens, I have recently been reading Helen Lefroy‘s excellent, edited volume The Letters of Mrs. Lefroy: Jane Austen’s Beloved Friend, and I’ve especially enjoyed the earliest letters that are rather diary-like in their recording of her day. (Read my review of Helen Lefroy’s book on JASNA’s website.)

I recently read a fascinating article by Janine Barchas; her latest book – due in October (Johns Hopkins University Press) – is The Lost Books of Jane  Austen.

Lost Books of Jane Austen

A unique field of study, the article serves as a preview of how research can turn a researcher into playing detective. Read the article yourself and you’ll be bitten by the bug.

I will also comment here (briefly) about the grave disservice done to the reading public by certain academic publishers when they price texts out of the range of most people’s wallets. [NB: none of the above are more costly than the average hardcover.] I mean, unless I _adore_ a book – there isn’t one I’d spend over $100 to read, no matter the subject matter – and there are a couple books that “if not for cost” would be of interest (if lucky: library; if not: used book market; if out of luck totally: no book). PLUS: I do remember an interesting subject ill-served by a horribly executed text (dry-dry-dry; and one of the campus’ professors, who taught the subject area, agreed with me…), that eighteen years ago was $$$$. Prices have only skyrocketed – and you can’t tell me that the authors get much in return (but that is a whole other blog post). “Print-on-demand,” in this scenario, IS a very worthwhile scheme; I applaud them. (Yet if Lulu can print a book on demand that retails for $40…)

During past similar searches, I found The Real Persuasion (Peter James Bowman) [I love his The Fortune Hunter: A German Prince in Regency England] and Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister (Sheila Johnson Kindred) [now out in paperback].

I will also mention, though it’s a resource I take too little advantage of, the New Releases page on Regency Explorer (the site set-up must have changed slightly; now: one post, newest monthly releases at the top).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jane Austen @ LA Review of Books

May 7, 2019 at 3:29 pm (books, history, jane austen, jasna, news) (, , )

Another _very interesting_ piece of writing by Janine Barchas (author, Matters of Fact in Jane Austen [2013]; and The Lost Books of Jane Austen [Oct 2019]), who looks at “Marie Kondo’s Contributions to the Reception History of Jane Austen” in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

As an avid purchaser of used books, I certainly have my share of those identified with former owner names. And there are those with inscriptions. You know the type of inscription I mean, “With love, from Grandma, Christmas 1922,” is one image used in the article, attached to a fine looking, highly colorful, embossed cover for Sense and Sensibility.

books_north country

Now, such information is being culled for the “reception history” of Jane Austen’s novels.

This section of Janine’s article REALLY fired my imagination:

“In recent years, … hard-lived survivors of old reprints have surfaced among the flotsam and jetsam of eBay offerings, charity shops, and second-hand bookstores. While these unwanted 19th-century books apparently failed to spark joy for some, for me they have opened new avenues of research into Austen’s early readers.

This is because some ownership signatures and gift inscriptions left behind in these copies can be traced. Resources such as Google and Ancestry.com have lowered the costs of provenance research so that bare names and dates can be more easily wrapped in biographical context. As a result, mundane copies can supplement the highbrow evidence by which scholars have traditionally tracked reception —”

Having so few books that I would actually resell, I had to laugh and then “oooh” over the true realization that, “The decluttering craze is democratizing reception history.” (I hate to add, the deaths of householders must also contribute to the resale of items: when relatives and friends just don’t know what to do with it all; and certainly they feel no sentiment towards what Grandma gave at Xmas in 1922…)”

Using census data, some of the ghost-readers can be fleshed out – including geographic information and sometimes even knowledge of their employment.  As one who _never_ claims her books half so fully as those mentioned in the article, the heartwarming (and even heartbreaking) tales culled from these books are AMAZING. I’m really looking forward, then, to Janine Barchas’ Plenary presentation at the JASNA – Jane Austen Society of North America – Annual General Meeting (AGM), being held this October (2019) at Colonial Williamsburg. Janine will speak on such “refound” volumes, concentrating on Northanger Abbey – the focus of the AGM, which celebrates the novel’s 200th anniversary of publication. Not attending the JASNA AGM? Look for the publication that month of The Lost Books of Jane Austen. “The Lost Books of Jane Austen is a unique history of these rare and forgotten Austen volumes.”

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Portraits: Jane Austen & Gilbert White

February 23, 2019 at 4:49 pm (history, jane austen, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , )

An old (May 2017) article on Smithsonian.com by Brigit Katz assesses the “Six Portraits” that were on display during the 200th anniversary year (1817-2017) commemorating Jane Austen’s death. It asks the question, Was Austen demure, sardonic or glamorous? (based on no one portrait looking like any other in the group) while acknowledging that actually the “Six Portraits Deepen the Mystery of Jane Austen.”

NPG 3630; Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen

Without going into the good / bad points of individual portraits,* I will outline the portraits that were displayed:

(*I briefly commented on “the wedding ring” image ten years ago; it continues in heavy usage. I did touch on several portraits, though, in 2013)

  • The pencil and watercolor sketch of Jane by her sister Cassandra Austen (circa 1810) [National Portrait Gallery]
  • the hollow cut silhouette by an unknown artist from circa 1810- 15 [National Portrait Gallery], “L’aimable Jane
  • watercolor of Austen in blue dress, bonnet [rear view], also by Cassandra Austen, circa 1804
  • the 1869 James Andrews watercolor portrait [had been up for auction in 2013] and the frontispiece of her nephew’s biography, A Memoir of Jane Austen, published in 1870, based on the Andrews watercolor
  • portrait said to represent Jane Austen, in album belonging to James Stanier Clarke, librarian to the Prince Regent
  • the ‘Byrne’ portrait

No clue as to why the ‘Byrne’ but not the ‘Rice’ portrait.

The lack of portraits – though not the lack of ‘contenders’ – depicting Jane Austen echoes the story of Gilbert White of Selborne, another late-18th century Hampshire resident.

A riveting 1987 article by J.E. Chatfield actually “summarises verbal descriptions of the Selborne naturalist, the Reverend Gilbert White (1720-1793) by his contemporaries and discusses the background to each of the illustrations which have been suggested as possible likenesses of White.” After citing a group of portraits comes the notice (similar to what Jane Austen enthusiasts might typically read): “The only proven authentic likenesses of Gilbert White are two small pen and ink sketches drawn inside his copy of Alexander Pope’s translation of Homer’s Iliad now in the British Library.”

It was the growing fame of his book The Natural History of Selborne that (naturally) made “further information on [White’s] life and personality” of interest to its readers.

Under Descriptions of White: “There are relatively few recollections of him from members of his own family, in spite of the vast numbers of nephews and nieces which Gilbert White refers to in his journals.” Also mentioned, that at the time of centenary editions of the National History of Selborne (originally published in 1789) “there was no suggestion or knowledge of any portraits or sketch of White.”

Sound familiar?

It was after the sale of The Wakes (White’s home) in 1844 to Prof. Bell, “who was working on his edition of The Natural History & Antiquities of Selborne,” that a White nephew passed on recollections. The “Reverend Francis White who remembered his uncle Gilbert well, although he was only twelve years of age when White died…., provided the information on White’s physical appearance – only 5 feet 3 inches in stature, of a spare form and remarkably upright carriage.”

Nineteenth-century editions of Selborne have included “Recollections of White by older villagers.” If only such a census had been made shortly after Austen’s lifetime! It was this kind of off-hand recollection that James Edward Austen Leigh (Jane Austen’s nephew and my diarist Emma’s husband) that Edward hoped to collate from those nieces and nephews still alive. His sources, however, proved a bit problematic. And some were quite uncooperative.

An interesting comment, from circa 1880, that could so easily be applied to Jane Austen: “‘White was thought very little of till he was dead and gone, and then he was thought a great deal of.'”

I invite you to read the Chatsfield article, look at the Austen portraits as well as Gilbert White’s, and reflect on the highly valid points made.

 

 

 

 

 

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Many meanings of Womanhood (Jane Austen)

December 9, 2018 at 9:44 am (books, jasna) (, )

A new book, released at the beginning of December (2018) is Jane Austen’s Women: An Introduction, by Kathleen Anderson.

Anderson_Jane Austens Women

Over the years, as a member of JASNA, I’ve had the pleasure of sitting and listening to Kathleen’s incisive talks and reading her publications. A production of SUNY Press, there’s a format for everyone: hardcover, paperback, ebook. You can get a taste of it content from the following:

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