Seeds of a Project: Diaries and Letters

March 5, 2018 at 4:42 pm (books, introduction, research, World of Two Teens) (, , , , )

Reading through Smith & Gosling: My Project, it dawned that this would be a good way to start talking about Two Teens in the Time of Austen, ten years later. There is so much on the blog, that it would take nearly that long for people to revisit old posts. The most salient ones do exist, in a lightly edited version, available through the Kindle Store at Amazon. (Your purchase helps fund this project!)

Over the past decade, I’ve pulled together the diaries of eight key players. Some constitute only a few years; others run nearly an entire lifetime. A few other diarists sweeten the pot. (And I’m always looking for more!)

diary.jpg

Letters! A goldmine of information. Aided by some found in books (Jane Austen, Walter Scott, for instance), I’ve pulled together over a thousand letters, spanning the decades of the 1780s through the 1880s. Most are manuscripts.

As I’ve said elsewhere, It’s very time consuming – unearthing what’s been buried for 200 years…. 

I’m not sure which is harder – finding relevant items, obtaining primary materials, or deciphering while doing the transcription. One letter sometimes poses a new problem, while solving only a piece of an old conundrum. Still looking for MORE!

My father said, a week or two ago, “When Time Machines come into being, you can go back, meet them, tell them you’ve been reading all about them, and ask them about their lives.” The one downside of that would be: At WHAT POINT in TIME would I go back? When they’re all young, and don’t know what’s about to befall them? Or, when they’re older and can look back and remember?

I’m not sure I could pick.

Eliza-Chute-letters

Writing biography and history, of course means reading. Biography and British history; gardens and estate histories; Regency fashion to late-Victorian fashion; diaries of servants; letters of Ladies of the Manor etc. etc. (You get the drift.)

Thus, the reason you see so many BOOKS and YouTube shows. Anything that stimulates the brain. There are days, though, that I really wish I could just sit down with a copy of my own book. In the meantime, I have to be satisfied with reading such as Sherborne St. John & The Vyne in the Time of Jane Austen, by Rupert Willoughby.

sherborne st john_willoughby

To help YOU “read all about them,” I can point to a few Blog pages that I hope help.

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2016: Jane Austen’s Emma

October 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm (books, jane austen, jasna) (, , , , , )

A couple of weeks ago, the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) held its annual conference (AGM); and the announcement would have been made about the latest addition to the upcoming AGM line up:

2013 – “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice … Timeless” = Minneapolis, MN

2014 – “Mansfield Park in Montreal: Contexts, Conventions, Controversies” = Montreal, Quebec

2015 – “Living in Jane Austen’s World” = Louisville, KY

Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen will know how “bullish” I am on studying the life of Cassandra Austen, and reading actual letters, and learning more about life in Regency England; so I really look forward to Louisville as a slice of something out of the ordinary. While Minneapolis and Montreal carry forward the 200th anniversary celebrations of the publication of Austen’s novels begun last year, in Fort Worth, with Sense and Sensibility.

So it was with GREAT interest that I looked up JASNA’s website listing of AGMs to see that Emma in 2016 will be held in our nation’s capital: Washington, DC!

Emma at 200: ‘No One But Herself’” builds on the idea of Austen writing that she was creating a heroine whom no one but herself would like. Fans know this is not true.

Can’t imagine a better place to celebrate Emma‘s “bicentennial”!

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Henry Austen, Banker

January 7, 2012 at 10:06 am (books, history, jane austen, jasna, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Henry Austen, seen in this portrait later in life, after he took holy orders, was once a banker.

In the late 1990s, Clive Caplan wrote two biographical articles for Persuasions on Henry:

          • “Jane Austen’s Soldier Brother: The Military Career of Captain Henry Thomas Austen of the Oxfordshire Regiment of Militia, 1793-1801,” Persuasions, 18 (1996): 122-43.
          • “Jane Austen’s Banker Brother: Henry Thomas Austen of Austen & Co., 1801-1816,” Persuasions, 20 (1999): 68-90.

I am especially interested in obtaining information from the later publication:

In the Fall, Iris Lutz, JASNA president, spoke to our JASNA Vermont group Iris was speaking about the estates and homes in Austen’s life. Surprisingly, COTTESBROOKE came up. This was the property of the Langham family. (the link will take you to the Two Teens blog post about that talk and Henry Austen.)

The Langhams’ property figure in my research because of Langham Christie, who married Margaret Elizabeth Gosling; he eventually inherited Glyndebourne (yes, that Christie family…).

Of course all these bankers must have “known” each other — but I’ve never yet come up with definitive evidence of Henry Austen interacting in any way with the Goslings (Goslings & Sharpe) or the Curries (Currie & Co). I once posed the question to Maggie Lane, but the Gosling name was totally unfamiliar to her.

I joined JASNA only a handful of years ago; online databases that include Persuasions go back to 2000 — so just after all those juicy articles about Henry Austen. It is the online versions that the large library I have access to, the Bailey-Howe at UVM (the University of Vermont), has in its “collection.”

What’s a girl to do?

  • If any reader out there — a member of JASNA or just near a big library — can put a finger on the 1999 article, can you peruse it for me, or get me a copy (I know: it IS a lot of pages). {contact information is found on “the author” page}

FEB2012 update: Many thanks to Cathy Kawalek (of ArtsResearchNYC) and Kerri S. for helping to track down “Jane Austen’s Soldier Brother”.

MAR2012 update: Thanks — yet again! — to Cathy Kawalek of Arts Research NYC for the second part of Clive Caplan’s wonderful study of Henry Austen.

Reading about Henry’s life-struggles makes me realize yet again that what the Austen literature desparately needs is an all-encompassing AUSTEN FAMILY biography. Alas: no mention of other banking firms, which had been one slim hope I had held. Can’t wait for the Louisville AGM in a few years… for its focus is Living in Jane Austen’s World. I’d love to see some biographical studies – Yeah!

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