Life Afloat: Jane Austen & the Royal Navy

February 4, 2019 at 9:55 am (history, people, places, travel) (, , , )

Just reviewed (by Laurie Kaplan) in JASNA News – the newsletter of the Jane Austen Society of North America: Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister: The Life and Letters of Fanny Palmer Austen.

Fanny Palmer Austen

This biography of Bermuda-born Francis FitzWilliams Palmer, Mrs. Charles Austen, relates her short, but adventurous, life (she died at the age of only 24); as well, it discusses Jane Austen’s “naval” novels (ie, Mansfield Park and Persuasion) and the second marriage of Charles Austen.

Six years after Fanny’s death, Charles married Fanny’s sister.

Author Sheila Johnson Kindred has uncovered letters and diaries that supplement the tale. It is harrowing to read Charles’ journal comments, as he continued to pine for his deceased first wife.

Now, Sheila has launched a new book website. Read about Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister on the site that will explore more about “Jane Austen’s Naval World”. Retailers for purchasing also listed.

A highly recommended biography.

I had a novel naval experience little more than a month ago: I visited the Victory, Admiral Nelson’s ship, at the Portsmouth Royal Navy Historic Dockyard. Reading Sheila’s book after that experience, has actually enhanced her discussions of life aboard ship for Fanny Palmer Austen.

HMS Victory

A tour – the next time you just happen to be in Portsmouth, England! – is highly recommended for anyone interested in the Royal Navy in the period of Jane Austen. For a taste, right now, see the “Things to See” section on the HMS Victory website. You can walk the Gun Deck, see “stunning views” from the Poop Deck, and (of course) see the Great Cabin and read the plaque pointing to the spot where Nelson fell in the Battle of Trafalgar. Two extra’s that enhanced the experience of “being there” are the Figureheads Exhibit (keep an eye open for Calliope, my favorite!), as well as related “Victory” exhibits downstairs. And climb the many stairs to see the fascinating history and presentation of the ripped and torn Victory Sail.


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FREE Jane Austen course (online)

April 10, 2018 at 9:00 am (jane austen, jasna, news) (, , )

A Facebook group I belong to, British History, Georgian Lives, had a link to a Jane Austen course, offered through the University of Southampton. Gillian Dow (a familiar name to JASNA members) and Kim Simpson are those guiding the course.

The course is set to start on April 23rd (though there IS a link that asks “Date to be Announced – Email me when I can join”). The course is called, Jane Austen: Myth, Reality, and Global Celebrity.

NPG 3630; Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen

The “Free” offers access to the course for four weeks (the length of the course plus fourteen days); a $49 (£32) upgrade offers unlimited access to materials – and a certificate at the end. Course duration is two weeks, three hours per week.

Click “Jane” to join!

(Or, just explore the course website….)

You can register via a Facebook log-in or a dedicated log-in. When I joined 922 were already in discussion about themselves! Offered through FutureLearn. A basic knowledge of Austen’s novels is suggested.

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Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister

July 17, 2017 at 11:05 pm (books, history, jane austen, jasna) (, , , , )

I just ordered a book I’ve waited several months for its publication (see what it is), and tonight I find another that “I can’t wait to read!”

Fanny Palmer Austen

We all will have to wait until OCTOBER – by which time it will be JASNA AGM time for those going to Huntington Beach, CA.

Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister: The Life and Letters of Fanny Palmer Austen, by Sheila Johnson Kindred is EXACTLY what I love to read – Fanny, the wife of Charles Austen (Jane’s youngest brother), was a “naval wife”. Letters exist which give voice to Fanny’s experiences in Bermuda, Nova Scotia, and (of course) England.

“Fanny’s articulate and informative letters – transcribed in full for the first time and situated in their meticulously researched historical context – disclose her quest for personal identity and autonomy, her maturation as a wife and mother, and the domestic, cultural, and social milieu she inhabited.”

“Enhanced by rarely seen illustrations, Fanny’s life story is a rich new source for Jane Austen scholars and fans of her fiction, as well as for those interested in biography, women’s letters, and history of the family.”

Hazel Jones (Jane Austen & Marriage) calls Fanny Palmer Austen an “unsung heroine” and she finds Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister “the first extensive study to focus on a man’s naval career from a woman’s perspective.”

To whet your appetite, sample some of Fanny’s letters in Deborah Kaplan’s book Jane Austen Among Women.

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Jane Austen’s England: Hicks Beach Diary

January 25, 2017 at 11:00 am (estates, history, news) (, , , )

Although I was too late to actually WATCH (online) this London auction (1 PM GMT, 25 January 2017), I quickly could see what this exquisite little diary SOLD FOR, and listen to the rapid sale of other manuscripts and books.

diaryThe sale was enticingly advertised as representing “Jane Austen’s England”:

Jane Austen’s England.- [Hicks Beach (Henrietta, wife of Sir Michael Hicks, later Hicks Beach, of Netheravon, Wiltshire and Williamstrip Park, Coln St. Aldwyn, Gloucestershire, 1760-1837)] [Diary & Account Book], printed in red with manuscript insertions, 88pp. excluding blanks, most entries in pencil, a few in ink, pencil sketches of furniture on a few pp., list of novels at beginning and provisions at end, 1f. loose, browned, inner hinges weak, original roan, rubbed, ink date “1789” on upper cover, lacks head of spine, 2 tears on spine, 12mo, 1789. ⁂ Includes numerous references to visits and dinners, including to the Chute family of The Vyne (a country house near Basingstoke), and their relatives, the Bramstones of Oakley Hall, Basingstoke, both families known to the Austen and Hicks Beach families. “Friday 6th February 1789 Mr W Chute came to Dinner…”; “Sunday 13 September 1789 went to the Vine to Dinner… Mr. T. Chute”. Also includes amounts lost and won at cards, payment for wages, items bought, money received from Mr. Hicks and paid to their son, Michael. Other names including, the Pettat family (Rev. C.R. Pettat became Rector of Ashe), Polhill, Musgrave etc. Jane Austen was 14 in 1789 when this diary was compiled. “The Beach and Wither families were well known, and frequently discussed by the Austens at Steventon. When Michael and Henrietta Maria Hicks Beach… lost one of their babies, in 1796, Jane Austen was well enough acquainted with their romantic story to confide to her sister Cassandra, ‘I am sorry for the Beaches’ loss of their little girl, especially as it is the one so like me’ (9 January 1796).” – Chris Viveash. Sydney Smith, Jane Austen, and Henry Tilney, Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, Vol. 24, 2002.

I suspect it was once owned by Chris Viveash. OH! how I wish I had gotten online in time to hear the auctioneer say, “Lots of interest in this lot”, (as he undoubtedly did!). The auctioneer goes through lots FAST, yet always the fair warning, which gives just enough time to put in a new bid, IF YOUR WALLET IS THICK ENOUGH.

The successful buyer must indeed have had deep pockets. The estimate was £400-600.

The selling price (which may NOT include the seller’s premium): £1,100!

(click to enlarge)

Few will have heard of the Hicks Beach family – but attach the name “Jane Austen” and it was guaranteed to sell. Did it go to an internet buyer? phone buyer? or “In the Room” — would LOVE to know where it will be heading to, after today.

Would be WONDERFUL to learn that the Hampshire Record Office (Winchester), which has some Hicks Beach materials, or The Vyne – which gets mentions in the diary – was a purchaser. Will we ever learn its fate??

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Lucky Miss Linwood

January 1, 2011 at 10:33 am (a day in the life, entertainment, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Perusing letters and diaries you find references to people otherwise long lost in the ‘mists of time’. Or so I would have thought — as you will see, below, two bloggers have discovered and discussed Miss Linwood!

But back to Eliza Chute and her sister Augusta Smith

It was actually a letter reference that came first: Eliza Chute of The Vyne writing to her dear friend Eliza Gosling (Mary’s mum!) in August of 1798. But as Mrs Chute is travelling and discussing with MEG (as Eliza Gosling always signed her letters) the artworks she’s seen, it is easy to lose sight of MISS LINWOOD in this letter.

Sister Augusta, in her 1798 diary, however puts the focus squarely on the divine Miss L.: On Tuesday, 1 May 1798, Augusta writes, “Mr. & Mrs. Shrimpton Mrs Lefevre, Mrs. S. Lefevre Mr. Ewer, Mr. Still [Stile?] & Mrs. Young to Dinner. Went to the Exhibition & to see Miss Linwood’s Pictures in Needle Work.”

Mrs Chute is more expansive, though, giving a clue as to what it was that Miss Linwood did. The Chutes had visited Burleigh, “taking a great round on purpose to see it. I must own, that it is well worth travelling forty or fifty miles to see; tho’ I had heard much of it, still it answered nay surpassed my expectations…”

The two Elizas could now turn to the subject of art collected at Burleigh: “You know the famous picture of this collection is Christ blessing the elements by Carlo Dolci, which Miss Linwood copied so well, but who can equal the beauties of the original?”

Mrs Chute then continued discussing the painting that was so vividly fresh in her mind as she sat with pen and paper ready to tell her dear friend all her thoughts. She ends, “I think I shall be very difficult to please for a long while…”

But what of Miss Linwood?, you say! Who was she? She did what?

She “copied” paintings, by reproducing them in needlework.

When looking for any information on her yesterday, waves of biography, news, even a diary mention came up — and these two blogs:

  • let Miss Vic at Jane Austen’s World — who is always so thorough — fill you in on the life of Mary Linwood.
  • and see Number One London for a close-up of that portrait of Napoleon, along with other details of Linwood’s life & work.

**Both websites show the V&A portrait of Mary Linwood (by Hoppner)**
**See it for yourself at the Victoria & Albert Museum website**

It was in trying to find ANY representations of her work — what might Eliza and Augusta have seen?? — that I came across her exhibition booklet (at Miss Linwood’s Gallery of Pictures in Worsted, the 1822 edition. Might such a fragile companion once have been purchased by the Smiths or Goslings?

But all was not sunshine and light in the life of Miss Linwood… An 1839 diary of Miss Harriette Story Paige gives this glimpse into the lady’s life:

“Friday, July 12. Went to see Miss Linwood’s surprising productions in needlework; they are most of them copies, from paintings of the old masters, and being in frames, the deception is perfect at a short distance. For one piece, a copy of a head of our Saviour from Carlo Dolce, we were told, Miss Linwood had been offered 20,000 guineas. Miss Linwood is now 82 years old, her eye-sight, within the last five years has failed, and of course these are her last productions. It is certainly a very interesting monument of taste, and industry; the ‘death of Abel’ she completed about five years ago, and it is difficult to believe, that the whole effect, is entirely produced by stitches….; this exhibition for many years, has been one of the ‘Lions’…”

And truly sad is to see the lady in court! See Reports of Cases Argued… (1827) (1839)

But to leave Miss Linwood on a happier note: If any readers come across her actual works, please do tell!

P.S. to all listening, as I am, to the Vienna New Year’s Day concert — Prosit Neu Jahr!

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November 25, 2010 at 11:23 am (people, places) (, , , , , , )

Ah, Thanksgiving has rolled around once again. How time flies…

Just a short post today, putting in a couple links that I found in the past week that I thought would be of interest to readers.

The first is another first-rate find of Vic’s at Jane Austen’s World: She ‘tours’ the fabulous miniature rooms of Mrs James Ward Thorne. Reviewing the “Adam” rooms is like looking through the windows at the two Portland Place residences of the Smiths and Goslings.

And speaking of the Portland Place residences, the wonderful blog Ornamental Passions, which discusses architectural details most people miss when walking around London, has some interesting information on Portland Place buildings — including an important post on No. 5 PP: that the current building at the “address” was built in 1911.

I admit to still not finding out the layout of the street in the early 19th century — although many sources have surfaced telling who lived where on the street!

Anyway, check out both these blogs; you will give thanks!

By the way, if you have a kazillion dollars, you can purchase a flat in No. 5 Portland Place, Marylebone, London.

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Interesting Posts

October 17, 2010 at 7:57 pm (entertainment) (, , , , , , , , , )

Jane Austen’s World — has this informative post on SHOES. Vic always comes up with such clever, in-depth posts! (I don’t know where she finds the time, or the energy…)

* * *

Had the “howl” of my morning with the following “bumper sticker” attributed to Lady Dalrymple

I can only please one person per day.
Today is not your day.
Tomorrow is not looking good either.

I know where I’d like to hang THAT one!

Look up others for Persuasion at; and under find those for Pride and Prejudice. My favorite there, Mr Darcy‘s withering “Talk only if you can improve the silence” (there are a few “live” people that could fit…) and Colonel Fitzwilliam‘s “If you’re rich, I’m single”.

* * *

Investigating the AustenAuthors site, I find that Jane Odiwe has a new book coming out in February 2011: Mr. Darcy’s Secret! Congratulations, Jane! And she also anticipates the publication, by Random House, of a short story inspired by Persuasion. You can find my review of Jane’s wonderful Lydia Bennet’s Story at JASNA. Jane’s own website is found here. Got to love her GREAT “wallpaper”, and it’s a fun site to peruse!

* * *

Looking for more Culme Seymour items and tidbits (thanks to Jacky!), I fell into this wonderful site: British Pathé, you remember the old newsreels! This one is the wedding of Elizabeth Culme Seymour to Cdr Saunders, 11 March 1933, at the Culme Seymour estate Rockingham. Elizabeth was the grand-daughter of Sir John Hobert Culme Seymour’s eldest son:

Sir John Hobert Seymour and Elizabeth Culme –> Sir Michael Culme-Seymour (3rd Bart.) and Mary Watson –> Sir Michael Culme-Seymour (4th Bart.) and Florence Nugent –> Elizabeth Culme-Seymour.

Sir John married the youngest Smith — my Maria — as his second wife.

See the current owners of Rockingham Castle. The Hawker family, into which several generations of Seymours married is well laid out under this link.

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