“Imperial Guide, Great Post Roads”

July 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm (books, carriages & transport, history, research, travel) (, , , , )

Friends and I are always on the lookout for books which give a feel for the countryside and travel in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century England.

HIGHLY recommended is the Imperial Guide with picturesque plans, of the Great Post Roads. This link is specifically for the 1802 edition.

renishaw1

Elizabeth Bennet might have travelled with a copy of the book…

renishaw4

…and slipped it into her reticule while at Pemberley.

 

I came across this while looking for further information on an area Emma Smith called Velvet Bottom – a name I was simply enchanted with. It turns out to have been a particularly verdant area near Aylesbury (you’ll find it mentioned on page 42). Evidently, though, its name was thought rather “rude”! And it does becomes known as Velvet Lawn, not half so fun a name. But guess what: Emma uses BOTH names in her diaries!

But back to the book: I am really delighted with the illustrations. Truly ‘picturesque’.

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Visit my NEW “Authors” Page

August 8, 2013 at 10:43 pm (books, introduction, jane austen, jasna, research) (, , , , , , , )

JAusten* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

News ! * NEWS !! * NEWS !!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I spent last evening “building” an “author’s page” on Amazon.com!

Photos are up, a couple of videos will be there by the time you read this. Having written articles for journals and magazines, I can, of course, only “claim” those items up for sale at Amazon. That currently includes:

  • the upcoming — projected publication, November 2013 — edited volume of Jane Austen and the Arts; my chapter entitled “A ‘Reputation for Accomplishment’: Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse as Artistic Performers”; you can see the Table of Contents (TOC) at Rowman. Am rather peeved that my name is slightly incorrect: it should read Kelly M. McDonald. Have to see what I can do about that. Unfortunately, it has rather proliferated already – even Amazon (which I have worked to CHANGE) had “misplaced” my middle initial.
  • the essay from Persuasions (No. 30; 2008), “Derbyshires Corresponding: Elizabeth Bennet and the Austen Tour of 1833,” I have actually blogged about before. In July 2009, in a post called JUST TOO INCREDIBLE, I mused as to WHY Amazon had a digital copy of this for sale! (There are other Persuasions articles that have suffered the same fate.) I don’t see a penny of their $9.95 download cost. But worst: the editorial board of Persuasions loved the article so much that they made it available — for FREEonline at JASNA.org! If I say so myself, this is a delightful essay: Using Emma’s diary and an 1833 letter, Elizabeth Bennet’s tour of Derbyshire — a turning point in her story — comes to life.

What will you see soon on this AUTHOR PAGE?

My Kindle book, Two Teens in the Time of Austen: Random Jottings, 2008-2013.

This is a newly-edited, and highly-rearranged, presentation of blog posts from the past six years. I think readers will find it a useful “introduction” to the major dramatis personae of my SMITH & GOSLING family.

I’ve created the cover, uploaded the content, and filled out most of the forms. I’ve let it cool, a bit; changed my mind about a few former choices; and need to REVIEW it all before it goes live.

I invite readers to SIGN UP for my “new releases” –>
you’ll see the link right at the top right of the page when you visit.

If this Kindle experience pleases me, I may release some shorter pieces, written but, having never found quite the right publishing venue, kept to one side. Being deep in the midst of research I really have only these small pieces to present, even though I’d love to put a book out there!

Life in the Country

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No Words Can Express…

January 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm (books, jane austen) (, , , , )

EdwardAusten-silhouetteAccording to his daughter, Mary Augusta Austen Leigh, it wasn’t until the end of 1814 that James Edward Austen was “admitted to the knowledge of a well-kept secret, this being that his Aunt Jane had lately published two books, though he had read these books with a keen enjoyment.”

The two books, of course, were Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813). The latter first saw the light of day TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO TODAY (28 January).

Many in the family traded poems, and Edward composed this one after finally being let in on the “secret” of Jane Austen’s authorship:

To Miss J. Austen

No words can express, my dear Aunt, my surprise
Or make you conceive how I opened my eyes,
Like a pig Butcher Pile has just struck with his knife,
When I heard for the very first time in my life
That I had the honour to have a relation
Whose works were dispersed throughout the whole of the nation.

….

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

Cheers! to the author who invented Elizabeth Bennet, Mr Darcy of Pemberley, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, my dear Charlotte Lucas, and of course the sisters Bennet and their relation the Reverend Mr Collins.

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Clue to Kutzebue

January 27, 2013 at 8:21 pm (books, entertainment, europe, jane austen, research, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Thanks to the “power” of the internet, a question five years in the making, has been answered! Danke, Sabine!

A letter written in 1833 regarding a trip into Derbyshire by Mamma, her three unmarried daughters (Fanny, Eliza, Maria), and the Austens – not only Edward and Emma but also Edward’s sister Caroline Austen, has been used as a source in my Persuasions article “Derbyshires Corresponding: Elizabeth Bennet and the Austen Tour of 1833” (the 2008 print article also appears online).

In the midst of discussing the beauties of Derbyshire, the letter writer draws on a memory – but I was never sure quite what memory had been stirred…

The original transcription read:

– Ashbourne is quite small, & the town all very close together: Eliza made me look out of the bedroom window of our nice little Inn when it grew dark, she was so struck with its likeness to one’s idea of the street scene at Crackwinkel – do you remember when Sabina & [Thuars; Sh???ars] hide themselves behind the dark lamp post? there was just such a one in the little narrow street there, & even Spurling’s window. —We got up at 6 the next morning to make a little sketch…

I have searched for this; my guess at the time was ‘sounds like a book?‘ But what do you search for? Look up Crackwinkel and Google asks if you mean “crack winkel”… Not a help!

And Sabina’s company, the loss of that second name meant I had only SABINA to search for. Not a help either.

But the place name, ending in Winkel, pointed to something in German. I’m still not sure whether Maria has written the character’s name as Sabina (an anglicized version of the correct German spelling, Sabine) or that Spurling isn’t what she writes. The letter came to me as a xerox, AND it’s cross written!

I emailed my Sabine (whose delightful blog is Kleidung um 1800), a picture of the paragraph, but she had already cracked this old nut.

I’m going to include the photo, and if you would like to see if you can decipher this section of the letter, click on the photo to enlarge. The answer to the puzzle will be given after the “MORE” link in this post.

1833 letter-2

The lines begin 2nd line from the top. You will see …windows are beautiful — Ashbourne is quite small… Keep reading. Read the rest of this entry »

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Friday evening: a Cuppa and a nice read

April 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm (news, people, places) (, , , , , , , , , )

Ah, it’s after work. De-lic-ious. Made a tea — some Baker Street Blend, obtained from Upton Tea Imports. Baker Street Blend is described as “a bit of Lapsang Souchong blended with Keemun and Darjeeling, yielding a mildly smoky tea. Perfect for an afternoon uplift!”

Had a visit at Kleidung um 1800 — Sabine has been doing some spring cleaning, so this is the last time you will be seeing her now-outdated background illustration. Check out her new “look” — and her newest Spencer. Elizabeth Bennet would be happy to find this garment in her closet!

Sabine also always has some interesting blogs which she follows and I just had to click and find out more about The Grand Tour Nineteen Teen has been presenting — they are up to Part 6 and are now “Climbing over Mountains.”

So, grab your Spencer, let me get a second cuppa – and let’s join a Grand Tour!

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News! News! News!

May 23, 2011 at 8:39 am (books, entertainment, people, places, portraits and paintings, research, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Two *new* portraits join my little gallery… They were found while looking for something totally different (isn’t that always the case?!).

My first was this delightful portrait of Wilmina Maclean Clephane:

I was looking to update information on my current writing project, about Fanny( Smith) Seymour, and wanted to double check information about Torloisk (on the Isle of Mull, Scotland). This was the home of the three Maclean Clephane sisters. Don’t remember them?? I can’t blame you — there are so many names and people to remember, aren’t there?

The Clephane sisters were wards of writer Walter Scott; Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane married Spencer, Lord Compton in 1815 — and Emma recorded the events of Margaret’s homecoming (see my article at the JASNA website equating this event to a proposed welcome for Elizabeth Bennet Darcy). Spencer and his sister Lady Elizabeth Compton were the only cousins the Smiths of Suttons had. Emma came to know the Clephane girls — the other two being Anna-Jane and Wilmina — fairly well, and even wrote of meeting Walter Scott himself!

**Read about the Clephanes’ connection to early music for the Gaelic Harp**

How wonderful to read Walter Scott’s (online) journal and see this; it’s September, 1827:

“September 6. — Went with Lady Compton to Glasgow, and had as pleasant a journey as the kindness, wit, and accomplishment of my companion could make it. Lady C. gives an admirable account of Rome, and the various strange characters she has met in foreign parts. I was much taken with some stories out of a romance… I am to get a sight of the book if it be possible. At Glasgow (Buck’s Head) we met Mrs. Maclean Clephane and her two daughters, and there was much joy. After the dinner the ladies sung, particularly Anna Jane, who has more taste and talent of every kind than half the people going with great reputations on their back.” Read more ….

Margaret was the eldest (born 1791), Wilmina the youngest (born 1803); they and Compton are extremely prevalent in the Scott correspondence. Such fun to read of Margaret, when a young bride newly brought home to Castle Ashby, entertaining her guests with Scottish Song and Music, such as Emma recorded witnessing. Margaret was a dab hand at art as well, which brings me back to Harriet Cheney.

The Cheney name is one VERY familiar from letters and diaries. And, besides, the Cheney family were related to the Carrs/Carr Ellisons and they end up in Mary Gosling’s extended family! Again: a small world.

Harriet Cheney, whose Italian sketchbooks went up for auction in 2005 at Christie’s, not only sketched places, but also those whom she came across. Wilmina was one; her sister Margaret and her family was another:

Here, Margaret is depicted with her daughter Marianne Compton (the future Lady Alford). Other images not “illustrated” at Christie’s includes other children and also Spencer Lord Compton! Such treasures.

**Read Karen E. McAulay‘s PhD thesis Our Ancient National Airs: Scottish Song Collecting, c1760-1888**

Look at all 110 lots (Wilmina is Lot 44; Margaret and Marianne are Lot 45) at Christie’s. There is even a specimen of the artistry of Wilmina herself at Lot 87.

I swear that Emma called Wilmina’s husband Baron de Normann (Christie’s cites de Norman). Was it Emma’s spelling, or how he spelled his name ?? Always tricky to tell during this time period, when spelling was somewhat fluid — even for names! Christie’s seems to have obtained the name from the signature on the art itself, but who knows…

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How does YOUR Garden grow?

November 27, 2010 at 11:56 am (books, estates, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

For quite some time now I’ve known of the existence of a letter from Humphry Repton to Charles Smith (the father) of Suttons. Yes, the “great” Repton had been consulted about the Smith Estate! The date of the letter is January 1808.

What was the Smith family like in 1808? Emma was just six years old, and would turn seven in September. Eliza (later Lady Le Marchant) was a mere babe in arms — born just 2 and 1/2 months ago. Augusta (Mamma) Smith’s letters written around this time are just a delight to read because, when written to the older children — Augusta, Emma — she talks so charmingly of the other children, her own parents, their Papa.

Anyway, yesterday I was looking up the online Austen ‘exhibit’ at the Morgan Library in NYC; and took a look at their online ‘exhibit’ for Humphry Repton. Now, Repton is a name known to me, but beyond the faint knowledge that he was hired at Suttons, I’ve not really (yet) delved into his side of the ‘business’. The Morgan changed all that!

Earlier this year they had two of Repton’s “Red Books” on display. These books are what cyber-viewers can now take a look at. I simply cannot imagine being wealthy enough to hire a man who produces such items in the hopes of gaining my business! But then I’m not from a “landed” family in 19th-century England. The above is taken from Repton’s Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, published in 1803 — you find Sutton’s mentioned on page 16. (The University of Florida has an online copy of this invaluable document.)

Hmmm…, Jane Austen has her Mr Rushworth, in vol. 1 of Mansfield Park discuss the improvements made to a “Mr Smith’s” property:

“‘I wish you could see Compton,’ said he, ‘it is the most complete thing! I never saw a place so altered in my life. I told Smith I did not know where I was. The approach now is one of the finest things in the country. You see the house in the most surprising manner. I declare when I got back to Sotherton yesterday, it looked like a prison — quite a dismal old prison.’

…’Your best friend upon such an occasion,’ said Miss Bertram, calmly, ‘would be Mr. Repton, I imagine.’

‘That is what I was thinking of. As he has done so well by Smith, I think I had better have him at once. His terms are five guineas a day…. Smith’s place is the admiration of all the country; and it was a mere nothing before Repton took it in hand.'”

[read Austen’s Repton mentions: Mansfield Park, 1814 edition; a ‘by the way’: Compton, the name Austen gives Smith’s estate is a familial name belonging to the Smiths of Suttons… Coincidence?? or had she been remembering conversations with Mrs Chute of The Vyne?]

These “Red Books” are amazing! The drawings, the overlays that foretold what the proposed ‘improvements’ would look like. The prose, which lay out his thoughts and evaluations of your property.

Well, take a look for yourself: Repton at the Morgan.

Oh! I want just such a book about SUTTONS!!!!

Searching for more of these little red books, I find that the “Red Book” made in 1791 for Claybury (then owned by the Hatch family) still exists. The Smiths often visited the Abdys, who inherited, at Claybury. What a treasure Repton has left behind, never mind what pride he must have taken in presenting his work in this manner.

Needless to say, if anyone’s attic or closet turns up a little “Red Book” about Suttons, Essex, Seat of Charles Smith, esq — come find me!!

further readings:
See Repton at Dagnam (another estate the Smiths often visited).
Read about Repton and these “Red Books”; listed are several well-known properties, including Stoneleigh Abbey.
Sheringham Park has its “Red Book” on display (National Trust). It was published in facsimile in 1976 by Basilisk Press.
Oulton Hall’s Red Book is mentioned here as being in the West Yorkshire Archive, as well as some published in Country Life (1987).
A 24-page PDF of Hampshire’s Historic Parks & Gardens.

In the end I could not help but include this tidbit from the Hatchlands’ Red Book, for it so makes me think of Pride & Prejudice:

“In the situation of a house, its aspect ought to be the first consideration, and not the views it may command: a good aspect is a perpetual source of comfort to the inhabitant; while a fine view is rather a transitory subject of admiration to the stranger.”

Though I will say, even an ‘inhabitant’ enjoys the transitory admiration of a view every once in a while, I just think of Darcy and Elizabeth: a stranger perhaps when she views the park from the windows, but soon to become mistress of all she surveys! Little things sometimes explain volumes about a small, short passage in Austen’s novels.

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