Richardson reads Pamela

October 17, 2008 at 10:56 pm (people) (, , , , )

Author Samuel Richardson has a Smith-and-Gosling connection: his ward was none other than Elizabeth Midwinter, who married (Sir) Francis Gosling – the brother of Robert Gosling, Mary’s paternal grandfather. She is shown in Francis Hayman’s family portrait as the woman in blue, on the right. According to the Bulletin of the New York Public Library (1897) “Richardson was a trustee for Miss Midwinter’s marriage settlement, and both he and Mrs Richardson left Lady Gosling mourning rings in their wills”. Robert Gosling, father of Francis and Robert Gosling, was a bookseller. A publishing firm within the family was Rivington: John Rivington married Elizabeth Miller Gosling, a sister of Sir Francis. (And in this book you can find an enchanting pencil portrait of a young William Gosling!)

Like Jane Austen who read her novels aloud to family, Richardson – according to several biographies – did the same when he was writing Pamela; and Miss Midwinter was there at the fireside, listening! Abstracts of English Studies (1963) had this to say: “[I]t is now quite obvious that the first audience of Pamela consisted of Mrs. Richardson and Miss Elizabeth Midwinter (later to become Lady Gosling).”

In Bastards and Foundlings (2005), Lisa Zunshine writes, “…the younger Grandisons could meet the same fate as did the nieces and nephews of Lord Mansfield or, indeed, the author’s own friend Elizabeth Midwinter, whose father managed to disinherit her altogether, leaving the family property to the illegitimate son he had with his servant.” Obviously, there is MUCH to be told about the life of poor young Miss Midwinter…

This painting was purchased by the Tate Gallery two years ago, and there is an article on the transaction and the work.

Ohhhhh, to have a description of her, or comments about her! Although I’ve searched through the online books of his correspondence, I find nothing about Francis, Elizabeth or her father – a friend of Richardson, which is why she became the author’s ward. Alas, the search is still on. . .

But for those with an interest in Richardson, I include here those volumes of his correspondence that I was able to track down on vol I; vol II; vol III; vol IV; vol V; vol VI.

And should you want to sit back with a cuppa and enjoy Pamela: or Virtue Rewarded in a series of familiar letters from a Beautiful Young Damsel to her Parents, here is an online version from 1845. If you have the eyesight for reading it, there is also a 1786 edition (in four volumes): vol I; vol II; vol III; vol IV. An 1832 edition of The Life of Thomas Gent, Printer, of York may have references to the mother (in particular) of Elizabeth, but I have to take a closer look at the book, and also investigate her parents more fully (Elizabeth’s father was Edward Midwinter, bookseller). This next book gives Midwinter-White-Gosling as well as Maryland and Pennsylvania connections!

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