My Austen Summer, 2007

May 17, 2013 at 9:29 am (a day in the life, diaries, history, jane austen, news, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Last year, about this time, I promised to share with readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen my own research diaries, kept during a stay in Winchester, England, in order to visit the Hampshire Record Office. Now, thanks to Memoirture, where I can post these private thoughts in a slightly less “public” medium of a social network, I hope to get this “project in process” online. [UPDATE (April 2015): Memoirture has been taken down; I’m not sure I’ll repost the diaries anywhere.]

mary_emma_entry

By May 2007, I had interlibrary-loaned the microfilmed diaries of Lady Smith (image above, 1829); visited Duke University to transcribe Mary Gosling’s pre-marriage diaries; ordered the microfilming of Sir Charles Joshua Smith’s late diaries (1826-30). Now it was a chance, I hoped, to learn more about Mary’s life among the Smith family. I had slowly built-up the two families: parents and siblings for both Mary and Charles, and even placed Emma Smith within the circle of Jane Austen. I was writing, and hoping to have published, a story of my two girls.

I had left my job, and pitched headlong onto a plane and into the spare room of a stranger whom I had never met. I would live with Chris for two months. During those two months I met people like Rowland and Peggy — lifelong Hampshire natives; and visited Chawton Cottage with them. I was befriended by Helen Lefroy, and been taken by her to a wonderful luncheon with an entertaining guest speaker, speaking on… who else but JANE AUSTEN! I was given the opportunity to speak to a group in Kinwarton about my dear Fanny Seymour. And I typed and transcribed my fingers to the bone. Letters, cross-written letters! Diaries, the daily life of my Emma and all her siblings.

1833 letter-2

I had a favorite spot, sitting every day – Monday through Saturday – by the window. You’ll undoubtedly read some gripes about those around me, but at present the diary is rather prosaic: flying from my home in Vermont to London Heathrow; getting from Heathrow to Winchester. Meeting Chris and seeing “my home” for the first time. Reading – “in the flesh” – my first letters and diaries from Mary and Emma. The diaries were so TINY. At one point I realized I had all the generations: a Letter written by Lady Cunliffe (Mary’s maternal grandmother), Eliza Gosling (Mary’s mother), Mary Smith (my diarist), and Mimi Smith (elder daughter of Mary and Charles).

UPDATE 5/19/13: Part 2 of “My Austen Summer, 2007” is now online – an account at Memoirture is FREE; you must be logged in to enlarge photos, click on links, and make comments.  At present, all parts will be viewable by the public; future plans will limit parts TWO and beyond to “contacts”.

UPDATE 5/25/13: Part 3 of “My Austen Summer, 2007” is now online.

UPDATE 8/19/13: Part 4 of “My Austen Summer, 2007” is now online. My father’s birthday; laughter, reading Mamma Smith’s letters; British weather: rain…

morning dresses

Hear part of a letter, written in January 1797, on YouTube

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One Man Band: Life of an Independent Scholar

June 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm (a day in the life, books, history, introduction, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Curious about what a project like this Smith & Gosling research entails?

Although I worked (as staff) in academia for nineteen years, being an “independent scholar” (ie, without academic affiliation) means you don’t have the “interaction” of colleagues. That I really miss — and that’s why I’m so grateful for the readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen! If I can’t bend your ears, you at least allow me to bend your eyes. And it’s a two-way street – I value your comments and “likes” and dialogue.

So here’s my summary of Life as an Independent Scholar:

  • the location of diaries, letters, sketch books, portraits and miniatures, ephemera
  • a transcription of handwritten items
  • identification of people, places, and also the political, social, economic history of the era (approximately 1760-1845)
  • “getting the word out” through blog spots, journal, magazine and local history articles
  • finding obscure sources, including private collectors, for single items that once belonged to the Smiths, Goslings and friends/family
  • tracking down book citations
  • tracking down oblique references to family members in printed or manuscript sources
  • obtaining copies (xerox, digital photographs, microfilm) of relevant source material (thereby owing great debts to many blog readers)
  • corresponding with lots of libraries, record offices, and other depositories
  • TONS of internet searching
  • accepting the help of anyone who offers (see “obtaining copies”)
  • asking for help, when the distance is too great to make a personal visit (ditto)
  • spending precious hours/days/weeks at wonderful libraries and archives
  • typing-transcribing-writing-rewriting-proofing-searching-questioning-rewriting-proofing

No research assistants – No typists – No funding = A One-Man Band!

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