Lady Northampton’s Aviary

October 26, 2015 at 2:17 pm (entertainment, jasna) (, , )

While staying at Louisville’s Galt House hotel, and traipsing DAILY back and forth from the JASNA AGM to our hotel room, I never realized the overpass, described by the hotel as their “conservatory”, was “Modeled after the Crystal Palace in London”.

Galt House

Their aviary of “exotic and colorful songbirds”, within the conservatory, however, fascinated me! You can just glimpse it in this “empty room” shot from the hotel’s website:

Galt House_interior

And even a dolt like me sees the Crystal Palace likeness, when I’m no longer rushing through it. Thank goodness I can say I breakfasted one day (Friday, the first day of the conference) under its arches.

As a child I had one pet: a dog. He spoiled me for ever contemplating a “replacement”. Other relatives had pets, among them a few dogs and the odd cat. I’m sure I had a goldfish at some point. But they never seem to last long, do they… Can’t say I recall any aquariums of vast size; or any caged birds. Maybe they were there, though.

In short, _I_ have often scoffed when reading about the Smiths & Goslings and Aviaries. Seemed like a “wealthy” kind of thing to have…, a fruitless “nothing”…, a “bauble” added to a room.

NOW I HAVE SEEN THE ERROR OF MY THINKING!

The hotel was busy-busy-busy. There was our conference – with over 800 Jane Austen enthusiasts. There was the Ironman Louisville Triathalon. And at least two other “groups” with conference space taken up in BOTH “towers” of the hotel. How wonderful it would be to sit, at leisure, and watch the little birds….

I remember one that swooped down, plucked up straw from the floor of the aviary, and brought it back up to the “basket”-like nest. I watched, amazed, as the straw piece was twisted and turned by the rapid movements of the little beak.

Only now do I wish I had “video”. But I post these photographs in order to share a little of my enthusiasm.

galt house birds1

galt house birds2

galt house birds3

galt house birds4

And from the letters, although I put my finger only on one comment by Lady Northampton about her aviary, I give you these snapshots of Smiths & Birds:

1804, Sarah Smith to Eliza Chute:

thank her [Mrs Bramston] for the kind offer of sending me a Canary Bird or two for the Aviary, Fanny [Lady Frances Compton] I am sure will be so good as to bring them with her

 

1807, Mamma to Augusta:

If the weather is as bad with you, as it is here, you cannot walk out much, & poor Grandmamma will be quite a prisoner; but you can always get to the Aviary, & there see a chearful scene.

 

1812, Maria Lady Northampton to her daughter:

my little birds are cheering me with their soft notes & appear pleased to see me

 

1825, Mamma to Maria:

my condolences on Valentine’s abominable behaviour [a Canary bird is written underneath]; the only excuse for such unnatural voraciousness is that she has been living constantly in the world w:h is a great trial to many people’s principles, you must not expect her to lay any more eggs this year.

and, a few months later:

Valentine is building another Nest, which excites Maria’s anxiety

I’ve now made a memo: The next estate that I buy must CERTAINLY come complete with an AVIARY!

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Two Teens in Louisville

October 11, 2015 at 1:47 am (books, jane austen, jasna) (, , , )

Here I am at the JASNA – Jane Austen Society of North America – Annual General Meeting 2015. I’ve given my paper Saturday (the room seemed filled; but it is rather all a blur), and some participants had interest in my book that went on sale at the Boutique shop JANE AUSTEN BOOKS.

The bookshop does mail order! so click on the link to ask about obtaining YOUR copy of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN: RANDOM JOTTINGS, 2008-2015. This is a new expanded version of the Kindle book (sorry to say, I’ve no current plans to re-do the Kindle version). I may do PDFs of the updated book version (write to me, if that interests you).

km_book_2015

Copies arrived at my home a couple months ago (above), but have not been on sale prior to this AGM weekend. Here they are (unfocused, I’m afraid; not my camera!) on the table, amid all the other JANE AUSTEN goodies, at the Regency Boutique here at the Galt House hotel:

2015-10-10 16.08.28

I’ll have more to say a bit later. So enjoy this view of Louisville in the meantime (from our hotel room):

2015-10-09 17.54.33

Jane Austen Books will need time to get their inventory home – but I’d love to see readers support this research, and I hope the book would interest — given all the pertinent articles spelling out the family of Emma and Mary exist in one place. Thanks – no matter what – for reading and commenting on the blog. Support comes in many forms, and from many people. I’m always GRATEFUL when you “lend an ear”.

JA books

NB: Amanda Vickery was plenary speaker this year. Fascinating talk – and she signed TWO of my books, The Gentleman’s Daughter and Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England.

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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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