Bath History Journal

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

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

Two useful links to the articles are,

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

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

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

I will make special mention of three articles:

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

pigsties

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

bath_avon

 

 

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Jane Austen’s (family) Portraits

December 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm (books, jane austen, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , )

In a follow-up to the news of the Sotheby’s sale, I’ve pulled out the one source I have that discusses this very portrait’s “reason for being”: Deirdre Le Faye’s (2nd ed.) Jane Austen: A Family Record.

Near the end of the book, the genesis of James Edward Austen Leigh’s biography, A Memoir of Jane Austen, is treated. It is a rather disappointing story, from the view of the Memoir‘s author: his two sisters were most giving and generous. However, his eldest sister, the former Anna Austen [born 1793] now long the widowed Mrs Lefroy, declared how little she remembered! But then, after sitting down with her pen and paper and exercising her recollections, she did come up with a highly entertaining narrative. Hard to be harsh with Anna: how many of us will recall people from our past, sixty years later?

Edward’s younger sister Caroline Mary Craven Austen [born 1805] also supplied her memories for her brother to incorporate as he wished. Her piece was later published as My Aunt Jane Austen.

Other sources were, of course, attempted. According to Le Faye, “Rather surprisingly, it seems that even at this late date Anna [Lefroy] still did not know that Cassandra had kept Jane’s letters and distributed some of them to the younger nieces, for she wrote to her brother [James Edward Austen Leigh, born 1798]: ‘The occasional correspondence between the Sisters when apart from each other would as a matter of course be destroyed by the Survivor — I can fancy what the indignation of Aunt Cassa. would have been at the mere idea of its being read and commented upon by any of us….'”

Anna also wrote to her brother, “‘You must have it in your own power to write something; & Caroline, though her recollections cannot go as far back even as your’s, is, I know acquainted with some particulars… [they] were communicated to her by the best of then living Authorities, Aunt Cassandra — There may be other sources of information, if we could get at them — Letters may have been preserved’.”

“As far as letters held by other branches of the family were concerned James Edward’s approaches met with only limited success.” Le Faye then details that one of Frank Austen’s son’s “knew that no letter to Henry had been kept”, and that Frank’s daughter Fanny Sophia “had destroyed [Jane’s letters to Frank], following his death in 1865, without consulting anyone else beforehand.” Martha Lloyd Austen’s (Lady Austen) letters had come into Frank’s hands, and “it was one of these that he sent to the Quincy family in 1852 — but how many more of them may have been in his possession at that date is unknown.”

Fanny Sophia was willing to let Edward look at the few letters she had retained, “but only on the condition that he did not publish any”. He evidently did not, therefore, take her up on the offer.

Then there comes the tale of Lady Knatchbull, the former Fanny Knight. “She was now drifting into querulous senility and could not — perhaps would not — remember where she had put her letters from Jane.” These, which Edward did not live to see published, came out in 1884 in the so-called Brabourne edition (vol. 1) [other works by Brabourne, including vol. 2 of Jane Austen’s letters, at Internet Archive].

Certainly, Edward Austen had done the best any biographer can try to do, in amassing all the known “primary materials”.

So what of the portraits?!?

“After these disappointments, the help which James Edward received from Cassy Esten, Charles’s eldest daughter, must have been particularly welcome. She allowed him to use those of Jane’s letters which she had inherited in 1845, and it was she who proffered the two simple watercolour sketches by Cassandra…” These two being the “Sketch” (now at the National Portrait Gallery” and the “Bonnet Portrait”, the view of Austen, sitting out-of-doors, where her face is obscured by her bonnet. “Anna thought there was ‘a good deal of resemblance’ in the figure of the latter, but that the former was ‘so hideously unlike’.”

NPG 3630; Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen

Henry had admitted “in 1832 when Bentley wanted a likeness [of Jane Austen] for his new edition of the novels” that “no professional artist has ever painted Jane’s portrait at any time in her life”. {But did Henry know “all” about his sister?}

“James Edward commissioned a local artist, James Andrews of Maidenhead, to redraw the Cassandra-portrait, working under the superintendence of himself and his sisters. They considered his version good enough to appear in the Memoir, and a stipple vignette was steel-engraved from this watercolour to use as the frontispiece.”

austen-watercolor

“Those members of the family who had known Jane best were on the whole rather disappointed by the frontispiece. Casey Esten [born in 1808] wrote ‘I think the portrait is very much superior to any thing that could have been expected from the sketch it was taken from. — It is a very pleasing, sweet face, — tho’, I confess, to not thinking it much like the original; – but that the public will not be able to detect…’  Caroline was equally lukewarm: ‘The portrait is better than I expected — as considering its early date, and that it has lately passed through the hands of painter and engraver – I did not reckon upon finding any likeness — but there is a look which I recognise as hers — and though the general resemblance is not strong, yet as it represents a pleasant countenance it is so far a truth – & I am not dissatisfied with it.’

NPG D1007; Jane Austen after Cassandra Austen

Lizzy Rice [born 1800], now a stately matriarch, wrote from Kent to James Edward: ‘I remember her so well & loved her so much & her books always were and always will be my delight … how well the portrait has been lithographed I think it very like only the eyes are too large, not for beauty but for likeness, I suppose making them so was Aunt Cassandra’s tribute of affection…’.”

Caroline agreed with the comment about the portrait’s eyes: “‘they are larger than the truth: that is, rounder, & more open – I am very glad she sees a general likeness tho’—‘.”

Mrs Beckford, the former Charlotte Maria Middleton, a Chawton neighbor, “considered that: ‘Jane’s likeness is hardly what I remember  there is a look, & that is all…’.” Le Faye records no comments – and perhaps none exist, from Emma or Edward Austen Leigh, regarding the portraits.

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Le Faye’s JASA Article: “Not Jane Austen’s Portrait”

June 16, 2013 at 5:52 pm (books, history, jane austen, jasna, portraits and paintings) (, , , , )

A few weeks ago I received the last issue of Persuasions, the Jane Austen Journal. Only today did I catch up with some reading! But I’ve a quick favor to ask of readers.

austen by elizaDeirdre Le Faye has written an article which appears in the JASA (Jane Austen Society of Australia) publication Sensibilities. Entitled, “Black Ink and Three Telltale Words; or, Not Jane Austen’s Portrait,” it is a lengthy article (pp. 18-30) which obviously propounds Le Faye’s thoughts against the portrait. I’d love to read it! If somone could forward a digital copy of the article, I’d be grateful. Otherwise, I’ll have to inquiry whether JASA has a copy of the publication available and snail mail it here to the States.

Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen might remember that there once was a possibility (early on…) that Eliza Chute — yes, Emma’s Aunt Chute — could have wielded the graphite stick and paintbrush:

I admitted to being a bit surprised that Paula Byrne could cite an upcoming article in her book on Austen hastily released in January (2013). It’s this very article, by Deborah Kaplan (Persuasions: “‘There she is at last’: The Byrne Portrait Controversy”), which in turn cites Le Faye’s article. From the article title (and, frankly, my memory of Byrne’s use of the article), I expected an out-and-out endorsement by Kaplan of this picture.

The Persuasions’ article isn’t as black and white as all that. In fact, Kaplan’s discussion is less on the portrait and more a critique of the BBC special cited above, “Jane Austen: The Unseen Portrait?”. On the whole she makes some well-placed points about the TV program. Proponents for either pro or ante will find Kaplan’s thoughts of use.

{an aside: Kaplan is the author Jane Austen Among Women, which has its own lengthy discussion of Eliza Chute and her circle of acquaintance!}

I have long thought Byrne would have an uphill battle at any authentication of her portrait as portraying the Jane Austen. Why? The Eliza Chute Connection. If she had Eliza Chute as artist there was a chance that this portrait could have been done from life, could have been something few within the family remembered by the late 1860s, when Edward Austen was looking for a portrait of his late aunt to grace A Memoir of Jane Austen.

But the more I compared the “Austin” portrait with a known portrait done by Eliza Chute, the more I had to conclude that Eliza was not Byrne’s artist.

paula-maria

Anyone watching the BBC special that Christmas in 2011 would not have realized the portrait seen in the screen, sharing space with Byrne’s own face (above), WAS the reason Byrne contacted me a few months before the show aired.

Maria Lady Northampton

This is the portrait, on vellum, by Eliza Chute of her eldest sister Maria Lady Northampton. A similarity – in pose, for instance, is there for anyone to see. The execution, however (even though I have never seen EITHER portrait in the flesh), seems much more accomplished than that of the “Jane Austin”. As much as I had _hoped_ my Eliza had drawn her neighbor Jane Austin (and she did spell the family name this way), I think her a better artist, even if she might have become rusty by c1814.

If anyone can supply the Sensibilities article, please see email contact information under About the Author.

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Deirdre Le Faye Interview

January 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm (books, jane austen, people) (, , , , , , , )

Maria, whose Fly High! site is hosting the book giveaway SIR WILLIAM KNIGHTON (see post below), has a Jane Austen Book Club blog as well. Her Christmas Gift to readers: A short interview with Deirdre Le Faye!

The book giveaway then was the *new* 4th edition of Le Faye’s Jane Austen’s Letters; the book is gone, but the interview remains!

I had to chuckle over the “colds” comment –> read the interview to find out for yourself!

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The Missing, The Mysteries, The Marvels

December 31, 2011 at 10:45 am (history, jane austen, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

On this last day of 2011, I reflect upon how something “turning up” can cause a flurry of thoughts — and how some earlier “flurries” have affected this Smith & Gosling research.

At left is a “seal” of a letter written nearly two hundred years ago by Augusta Smith, on the cusp of her marriage to Henry Wilder. A vibrant girl, her life-story has been lost to the greater world, but she is a large part of what drew me to this family. And why I want their histories told.

The letter was written to her youngest sister Maria, and just happened to be found among a cache of letters by Jacky in Maidstone. This particular letter — quite sweet as it spoke, Eldest Sister to Youngest Sister, of their relationship at the moment it is about to change — was not the bombshell another letter, also written to Maria Smith, Jacky had for me! That letter was from Mrs Odell, whose son had accompanied Drummond Smith, the youngest Smith brother, on his fateful trip to Italy. Seems Young Odell was interested in Maria! Alas, did Maria reject him because she didn’t care for him, or… did she somewhat hold him responsible for her dear brother’s death???

You can find an earlier Drummond Smith blog post here: Drummond Erased?

So there is one mystery yet to be solved. Only more letters, or diaries, will shed light on that one.

Another mystery, surprisingly uncovered, came with the letter Angela from Alberta has transcribed: Lady Elizabeth Compton‘s love for a near constant companion: Charles Scrace Dickins! What Angela didn’t know, as she wove an Austenian story around the clues laid out in her letter, was that nearly five years later the pair marry! But: What brought them to the altar?? Again: some more puzzle pieces are required to flesh out the story.

Paula Byrne has now come across a small picture:

And speculates that it was perhaps drawn by Eliza Chute, of The Vyne, and portrays Jane Austen! Not sure which excites me more: the idea of Jane Austen portrayed, or that a drawing potentially done by dear Eliza has been discovered…

A possible Wiggett-Chute connection to this picture has brought me back to Miss Le Faye‘s excellent Biographical Index in her Jane Austen Letters. So many familiar names, in conjunction with the Chutes, the Smiths, even the earlier generation of Goslings. Was just this morning reading about Alethea Bigg of Manydown.

The more I think about the VAST correspondence circle Jane Austen — and Cassandra too, we mustn’t forget her — would have been a part of, the more I have to wonder what cache of letters might still exist, somewhere, all dusty and locked away. As with the letter Angela from Alberta saw, even ONE letter can make a difference. As can one drawing.

Eliza in England sent me a watercolor image of Mimi Smith — daughter of Mary and Charles; wife of Gaspard Le Marchant Tupper — if I remember correctly, Eliza saved the little book of drawings containing it from certain destruction! Now to find the photograph the drawing was based upon…

Mark Woodford’s father obtained the 1798 diary of Augusta Smith (Mamma), possibly at Auction. Who owned the diary that it got separated from everything else?? Who else — living in Chicago, like Mark; or anywhere around the world — might have purchased a letter or a diary and have no idea WHOSE property they own, for few ever put their names to their diaries, and some sign their letters with their last name, but how common a name is Smith.

I could say, who would NOT know the name Jane Austen — but I can offer this anecdote: A few years ago I was interviewed for a job at a local pharmaceutical college. Had, I think, five people in succession interviewing me. One man (yes, note the sex of the person) looked at me, quiet serious, and as he asked for more comments about my volunteer work with JASNA [Jane Austen Society of North America], asked: Who’s Jane Austen??

I didn’t get that job and now I see the same position is advertised again. I won’t be applying. Their loss! for they missed the boat in hiring a really terrific person.

My New Year’s Resolution is to work harder at this project, and get Smith&Gosling the attention it deserves. The first task is to do a little updating to some of the pages on the blog — so stay tuned! And I’ve not forgotten that I owe readers my Boswell connection story.

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The Austens, Nattes & Suttons

September 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm (entertainment, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Was looking through the wonderful source Jane Austen: A Family Record, by Deirdre Le Faye; wanted to see what she had to say about Jane the artist (ie, drawing or music, but especially music).

Page 50 had this tidbit, regarding the year 1784:

“This year he {papa, George Austen} also paid  £11.9s.0d to Claude Nattes – presumably the artist better known as John Claude Nattes (c.1765-1822) and later to become famous as a watercolourist — who had possibly been staying at the Rectory to give drawing lessons to the children. In later years Henry was reputed to be the artist of the family, and some of Cassandra’s sketches still survive, while of Jane it was said: ‘She had not only an excellent taste for drawing, but in her earlier days, evinced great power of hand in management of the pencil.’ ”

There are a couple Nattes-stories relating to the Smiths! Online you can find two drawings of his inscribed ‘Suttons’ — one called “The Pigeon House &c, at Suttons  Essex/Augst 1st 1811” (pen and brown and black ink over pencil; 12 1/2 inches x 9 inches); the other “Farm yard &c, from the interior of a Barn. Suttons” (also pen and brown and black ink over pencil; 9 inches x 12 3/4 inches).

Peppiatt Fine Art has two articles with the two Nattes works on view, and support text: PDF & website. The PDF provides a nice LARGE image of both works.

For Nattes other Smith connection — the delightful governess Miss Ramsay, I point blog readers to my earlier post on Elizabeth (Grant) Smith, the Highland Lady — who mentions Nattes and Miss Ramsay in her own memoirs!

The picture is from the early edition of The Memoirs of a Highland Lady, found online. The only *kvetch* I have against the Tod edition: No family tree (boy! is it “needed” to keep track of who’s who) and NO PICTURES!

Just spotted this blog post on the Memoir at I prefer reading: enjoy!

I must do a little digging into Nattes’ death date; Le Faye gives 1822; Peppiatt gives 1839.

Wiki Gallery has a fair number of his images online. 42 works at last count! Even one, I see, from Sydney Gardens in Bath — a scene that Jane Austen must have been QUITE familiar with.

Small world, huh?

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It’s a Small Jane Austen World

July 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm (a day in the life, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In Friday’s post (hurray!) was the 2nd Sarah Markham book — really the one I wanted most because of its subject, which you can glean from its title: A Testimony of Her Times: Based on Penelope Hind’s Diaries and Correspondence, 1787-1838.

A slight aside: Penelope Loveday Benwell Hind was born in 1759 and died in 1846; so the title dates are NOT her lifespan!

When I found mention of this book online – and quickly located a nice (used) copy at a fair price, I awaited its arrival impatiently because of the time period and, also, I’m a sucker for any account based on an English woman’s life. Will say this of the book: EXCELLENT! Locate a copy ASAP, it will NOT disappoint.

There were MANY connections to other diary/correspondence/biography I have collected over the years: there were mentions of the Countess of Ilchester (the Talbot family) mentioned in A Governess in the Age of Jane Austen: The Journals and Letters of Agnes Porter; the Byngs — see the Torrington Diaries — were relations of the Lovedays; the Berrys — ie, Mary Berry of the Walpole correspondence — comes in for frequent visits; Felbrigg Hall comes up once or twice (must admit to boredom so I never read more than the first book about the National Trust caretakers of the estate).  Then came this, on page 85; the Hinds are removing Pen’s sister Sarah to their home in Findon, Sussex:

“The first day’s journey was quite short as they spent the night at SPEEN HILL with a FRIEND, MRS CRAVEN, who had formerly lived at Chilton House…” There is then a footnote explaining about Mrs Craven — though with no mention of her Austen connection; that comes from JA’s Letters. Mrs Craven’s elder son was Fulwar Craven. (I’ll let you consult your own Letters to puzzle out the Fulwars-Cravens-Fowles-Austens.)

Of Mrs Craven, Le Faye writes: “1779 [married] Catherine Hughes, daughter of James Hughes of Letcombe, Berks., and had two sons and one daughter; lived at BARTON Court  and also at Chilton Foliat, Wilts” — which is where the Lovedays would have encountered her. Husband John Craven died in 1804; Mrs Craven in 1839.

Then this morning, MORE Austen connections. A great friend to Pen Hind’s first husband (William Benwell) was the Rev. James Ventris. He continued a friend and “since he had stayed with them [the Hinds] he had been presented to the living of Beeding, not far away, and lived at Beeding Priory. In May 1816 he married Jane Hinton, daughter of the former rector of CHAWTON, whom they liked very much.” Miss Hinton herself appears in JA’s Letters; and the family are in Le Faye’s Biographical Index. Mrs Ventris is the “Jane II” who lived 1771-1856. Her brother, John-Knight Hinton, joined the suit of James-Hinton Baverstock against Edward Austen Knight in 1814 “for possession of his Hampshire estates” (Edward settled in 1818, paying 15,000 pounds).

Mrs Ventris’ sister, Mary, had a daughter – Elizabeth Wells — who married the nephew of Pen Hind! Arthur and Elizabeth Loveday had a son, another Arthur (for Pen also had a brother Arthur). This family, who’s little history is coming up in Testimony, became related to the Lefroys when young Arthur married the youngest daughter of Anna Austen and Ben Lefroy! (Anna, of course, was elder sister to James Edward Austen Leigh and Caroline Mary Craven Austen.)

Have to wonder, with all the letters and diaries that could exist in the Loveday-Hind-Wells-Craven-Hinton etc circle, if there aren’t some uncovered mentions of the Austens… Jane included.

BTW: Happy 4th of July!

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No Le Faye at Fort Worth!

November 4, 2010 at 9:22 pm (jasna, people) (, , , )

A big disappointment is the recent news that Deirdre Le Faye, the renowned Austen scholar and author, is unable to travel to Texas for 2011’s AGM.

Especially after reading her monumental A Chronology of Jane Austen and Her Family, 1700-2000, in which so much research Le Faye unearthed is presented, I’ve longed to meet her. There aren’t too many people who someone with my ‘non-teaching’ background can say I want to be as well-respected as her; Ms. Le Faye certainly is one such scholar.

If anyone has news as to ‘why’, do let me know (I hope it’s not health problems).

For blog readers interested in the Austen family — and how Emma Smith fits into it — seek out copies of Le Faye’s book. Emma, Edward, even Mrs Smith and especially Mrs Chute of The Vyne make appearances!

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“White Soup Enough”?

March 22, 2010 at 9:31 pm (books, entertainment) (, , , , , , , , )

When writing about the Hyde Park Jane Austen Weekends, at the Governor’s House B&B – I queried the JASNA members reading JASNA News with the question: WHY was it that Mr Bingley could only have a ball once “Nicholls has made white soup enough”? We did receive some knowledge from our well-informed audience! But now I stumble upon this audio program at the BBC: Food writer Hattie Ellis prepares white soup, and Deirdre Le Faye tells why and what white soup was.

See the introductory article at the BBC; there is a link to the audio piece from October 2003 (opens on RealPlayer), and a white soup recipe! Bon appetit~

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