A New Addition to our Family

March 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm (books, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , )

It’s always wonderful when I come across a new “illustration” of a family member — this one I grabbed from Wikipedia’s entry on Sir Michael Seymour — he is the Rev. Richard Seymour’s brother. Sir Michael followed in his father’s footsteps; both were navy men (and, I hate to tell you, both named Michael!).

Sir Michael Seymour, the father, died in 1834 — an important year for Richard (he and Fanny married in October of that year).

As you can see here, Sir Michael Seymour, the son, lived a longer life (born in 1802, he died in 1887).

I have a cruder picture of a young Richard Seymour — it is a photo of a drawing, which is why the quality is not high (but I’ve never come across the original painting); do you think they look alike, these brothers?

Sir Michael was the husband of Dora K. (Dora Knighton, but Richard always referred to her as Dora K. in his diaries because the Seymours likewise had a SISTER named Dora!). Dora K., of course, was the daughter of Sir William Knighton — the subject of Charlotte Frost’s new biography.

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I Want to Read…

March 11, 2011 at 8:16 pm (books, introduction, news, people, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

…DIARIES and LETTERS!

It occurred to me that blog readers might be interested in a bit of “hmmm… what’s she raising money for??” explanation. (see the Austen Book Raffle posts).

I’m more than happy to bend a few “eyes” (and ears) about my research project! (As friends and family know, to their detriment…)

To start at the very beginning: I visited Northern Wales — Llangollen to be exact — and was just ENCHANTED with the story of the Ladies of Llangollen, Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler. I began collecting “first-hand” information, and posted it on my website. Surprisingly, there was abundant material! Though much found was of the second-hand, mythic variety, there were some great finds.

One “find” was a Duke University diary. Once belonging to MARY GOSLING, the diary turned out to contain several trips – to the English coast, to the battlefields of Waterloo, and a certain trip to Ireland that took the Gosling family through Northern Wales. And — wait for it! — they visited with the Ladies! Were shown around Plas Newydd (the home of the Ladies of Llangollen; now a museum), in fact!

But who were these GOSLINGS??

(And, by the way, Mary hadn’t much to about the Ladies, other than what was already known about them – ie, how they dressed and how they never travelled far from home.)

With the internet, I struck gold. Found a series of diaries written by Lady Smith, the 2nd daughter of William Gosling of Roehampton Grove, a banker. Now, in Mary Gosling’s diary, there was a man who brought his family to see Bank of Ireland currency MADE. Who, other than a banker, would have the ability to go that? And Mary had them departing from “Roehampton”!

But, without seeing these later diaries of Lady Smith’s, it was mere supposition that Mary Gosling = Lady Smith.

The main reason these Lady Smith diaries were listed online was that they were included in part of an exceptional large microfilm collection. Essex County was in PART FIVE, which I learned was a far cry from Part One — the only series owned by the closest “big” educational facility within easy driving: Dartmouth College (New Hampshire). Oh, the drive home that day was a disappointment.

Again: thankfully the internet — and online college & university catalogues — helped me track down a handful of places with the full series (or at least through series five). A trip to Colonial Williamsburg brought me within easy distance of one of those few: Old Dominion University. I’ve never seen such a lovely library! And once I found the rolls of film with Lady Smith’s diaries, I was well rewarded: There was the SAME handwriting, the same reference to “My Sister” (Mary never calls Elizabeth Gosling anything other than “my Sister”.)

I had found my girl!

Or, should I say girls — for that day I spotted my first reference to young Emma:

If I had KNOWN that in looking up some Jane Austen books I’d have found ALL of Charles Joshua Smith’s siblings, I would have saved myself TONS of digging… Alas, it’s almost a “happier” circumstance to piece the family together: 9 Smith siblings in all!

“Mr Austen, Mr Knight, and Mrs Leigh Perrot” in the diary entry above (Emma and Edward’s first child’s christening!) were the giveaways about the Jane Austen connection.

And thanks to that connection I got to see TONS of diaries and letters and memorabilia (for instance, a lock of young Drummond Smith’s hair!) at the Hampshire Record Office, when I lived in England for two months in 2007 in order to transcribe as much material as possible. For most of the time, I worked six days a week at the archive (thanks to their generous hours) and on the seventh — well, I began well: reading and reviewing the work of previous days, but it was summer and, yes, some Sundays I spent in the park near Winchester’s town hall.

I had already inter-library loaned those rolls of microfilm with Lady Smith’s diaries; purchased a roll of film with all of the existing diaries written by Charles Joshua Smith (Mary Gosling’s husband; Emma Smith’s eldest brother), which the Essex Record Office houses. Now I had a growing collection of letters and diaries by the likes of Emma, her mother Augusta Smith, her sisters Augusta, Fanny and Maria; a diary series belonging to Fanny’s eventual husband, the Rev. Richard Seymour was briefly worked on at the Warwickshire Record Office (their hours were much shorter than HRO’s…).

In short, I’ve seen much, typed a LOT, and still there is more material for me to “visit” — if not in person (expensive) then via film.

And that’s where the Book Raffle comes in. Edward Austen (later Austen Leigh) made some delightful silhouettes, and his descendent, Freydis Welland, put them together into a book, originally published by private press: A Life in the Country. The pictures are accompanied by Jane Austen quotes. The book was then published “commercially” by the British Library.

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A Richard Seymour Sighting!

February 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm (news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In “conversation” over email with Charlotte Frost (see the post on her new biography of Sir William Knighton), it turned up that Ms. Frost had seen a photograph of the Rev. Richard Seymour — husband of my dear Fanny Smith — among a group of family photos!

Now, the Warwickshire Record Office has the not-very-good photo of a portrait of a young Richard (see portraits page), but can you imagine: seeing, “in the flesh”, a photo of someone you only know through his words and deeds? Quite THRILLING!!!

Richard has a nice “following” in Warwickshire, thanks to the talks given by Alan Godfrey. Alan had kindly invited me to offer a talk on Fanny Smith when I was in England in 2007. Seems a lifetime ago. We had a great turnout that Friday evening — thanks in no small part to Alan’s organization skills. I was able to have in hand a drawing of dear Fanny, probably done by her eldest sister Augusta, but maybe done by her sister Emma. This was done when Fanny was in her 20s and reminds me of the work of Mrs Carpenter — very likely, as that artist was commissioned for a number of pieces in the Smith family, which means the girls had the opportunity to watch her work, as well as study her methods.

By the way, Richard is described by Ms. Frost as “a man in his 60s, seated at a desk”. How wonderful if the same holding turns up a picture of … Fanny!

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Rev. Richard Seymour: 16 Feb 1832

January 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm (books, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Reading through letters and diaries for the early 1830s (I know, I know; I should be working about 15 years earlier than this!! I will get back to the 1810s…), I came across some exceptionally interesting news about Tring Church (St. Peter and St. Paul) and an 1832 connection with the four unmarried Smith sisters. This news I save for later, however…

But in looking through other diaries for the same year, I was searching through Richard Seymour’s published extracts (found in The Nineteenth Century Country Parson (1954), ed. by Hart and Carpenter), and just have to share two particular entries.

Richard, born in 1806, was therefore in his mid-20s in 1832; his diary shares many thoughts on the privileges his family enjoyed, contrasted to his desire to live a Christian life of duty and sacrifice. Was he idealistic, or simply young? His self-examinations can make for exhilarating reads, as in these entries (especially the second) from February 1832:

February 11: Drove Frances and Lizzy [his sisters] out to Codlington [sic: Cadlington]. Mrs. Morgan’s children’s dance. My conscience not at ease. Doubtful therefore whether I should have been there. I feel a great and I hope proper fear of being thought not to live up to what I preach. Shall avoid such things in future. May God mercifully guide me in my participation of those things which are perhaps lawful but not expedient.

February 16: While in the workhouse [his curate’s duty took him there] this evening the thought struck me, how different this scene from that of last night! [he had attended a ball at his father’s house in Portsmouth] There the handsome, well furnished and well lighted room. Here a cheerless, comfortless space with one small candle to throw its light on my book. There Youth and Beauty and affluence and careless hearts. Here the maimed, the blind, the halt, the aged, the sick, the deprived of reason, all, too, poor and destitute but for the aid of others. There the sound of music and revelry, mixed with the happy laughs. Here, the crying infant or the moan of the more aged. Most different indeed! His blessing upon my ministry, that these may become poor in spirit, as they are poor in this world’s goods, and that their heavenly and eternal prospects may grow brighter and clearer as their earthly hopes wax more dim and dismal.

Richard’s diaries are those which exist only on microfilm; I’ve blogged about them a couple times as they are among the great “missing” items; he married Emma’s sister Fanny in 1834. His sister Frances married Fanny’s brother Spencer the following spring; and eldest brother John (the Rev. Sir John Culme-Seymour, bart) later (in 1844) married the baby of the Smith of Suttons family, Maria. He and Fanny would live in the “remote” north — Warwickshire; Kinwarton to be specific.

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Sir William Knighton

January 7, 2011 at 9:11 pm (books, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last night, reading through some 1830 letters, I spotted a couple that Emma tells us she and Cholmeley (her eldest child) visited in March 1830: Mr & Mrs Arbuthnot.

Arbuthnot made me think of The Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot, edited by Francis Bamford and the Duke of Wellington (1950) — the 1820-1832 diary of Harriet Fane Arbuthnot, close friend of the Duke of Wellington. Alas, different people….

And yet… Harriet and Charles Arbuthnot, moving in the circles they did, know the very person recently under discussion with author Charlotte Frost: her forthcoming book focussing on Sir William Knighton, the father of Richard Seymour’s sister-in-law Dora K. (The man was also Richard’s uncle: Lady Knighton and Lady Seymour were sisters, daughters of Capt. James Hawker.)

Anyway, looking through the index I had to see what Harriet Arbuthnot had to say about Sir William, whose moving quote about seeing his beloved Dora married (read post) really indicates to present-day readers just how much love such a man held for a daughter.

Mrs Arbuthnot is writing in September of 1822:

“The Duke sent me the King’s letters & his to the King. … The friend to whom the King alludes is Sir Wm Knighton, whose origin was being a physician’s shop boy at Plymouth; from that he became physician at Plymouth, afterwards travelled with Ld Wellesley to take care of his mistress, then became an accoucheur in London & now ends by being the King’s Privy Purse & his most confidential friend, to whom he tells everything, political & private. He is a great rogue & a blackguard, with great softness & plausibility of manner. I ought not to abuse him just now for I have been unwell & he has prescribed for me (very condescending in the Privy Purse) & has done me great good.”

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Where are these items?

November 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm (people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

One of the glories — and frustrations — of this project is the amount of material that has been saved, found, and ultimately consulted. But what about items that once existed, may exist still, and may be hidden away in a cellar, closet or attic??

Fortunate for me, the first diary I found — that belonging to Mary Gosling (aka Lady Smith) and now ‘living’ at Duke University — young Mary had emblazoned her name at the front of the note book! More typically, NO ONE puts their name in a diary (Charles did once  put ‘C. Smith Suttons’ in a pocket book journal!); though they often write out names, either in full or with first initial last name, on letters.

So what do I KNOW to be missing?? What precious relics of the Smiths & Goslings might be out there, but unidentified because there are few searchable names? They are mentioned in oh-so-many-sources:

Regarding Drummond Smith (Emma’s brother):

  • Tour (Italy) Journal of Drummond Smith; mentioned in his sister Emma’s (January) 1833 diary.
  • The beginning of anotherDrummond Smith travel narrative was copied into Jeremy Catto’s Letterbook: a journal of the tour Drummond took with Mary and Charles Smith, Fall 1829.
  • Manuscript book outlining Drummond’s life, from babyhood to young man; mentioned by Mary Augusta Austen Leigh, in the biography of her father James Edward Austen Leigh [see post on a similar book for Maria Smith / Lady Culme Seymour]

Regarding Emma Smith / Emma Austen Leigh:

  • Tour Journal of Emma Smith, begun and either abridged or abandoned (see letter 1822).

Regarding Augusta Smith / Augusta Wilder:

  • “Foreign Journal” of Augusta Smith (aka Augusta Wilder); presumably covers the same tour (1822-23) as Emma’s begun/abandoned journal (see Mrs Smith’s letter dated December 1826).

Regarding Charles Joshua Smith:

  • Sir Charles Joshua Smith, letters from abroad during his Continental Tour, 1820-21 (surely retained in the family; originally addressed to Emma Smith).

Regarding the Gosling family:

  • William-Ellis Gosling, “MS Volume of his reflections and notes”; mentioned by Charlotte Brookes (c1919) as being in her possession – Christie of Glyndebourne (privately-printed book).
  • Elizabeth (Gosling) Christie’s “Honeymoon Diary” (c1829); mentioned by Charlotte Brookes (c1919; see above) as being in the possession of Mrs F.L. Wilder (presume the widow of Francis Langham Wilder, the former Beatrice Hibbert, who died in 1955).

Regarding the Compton / Northampton / Dickins family:

  • Letters and/or Travel Journal of Lady Elizabeth Compton (later, the wife of Charles Scrase Dickins or Dickens); mentioned in a letter from Augusta Smith (Wilder), 1824 (as the recipient), while the Comptons were in Italy: “I received, last week, your journal written after the ascent of Vesuvius and I thank you very much…”. Augusta also mentions wanting to see Lady Elizabeth’s drawings from this trip.

Regarding the Seymour family:

  • “Journals, Letterbooks &c” of Sir Michael Seymour, cited as sources for the DNB biography (1897 edition) of Sir Michael Seymour, son of Sir Michael and brother of the Revd. Richard Seymour.
  • Diaries of the Rev. Richard Seymour; extracts published by A. Tindal Hart (see, for instance, The Curate’s Lot and The Nineteenth Century Country Parson) in the 1950s. The Warwickshire Record Office has microfilm of these diaries, but they are unable to copy the film without permission of the present owner; whereabouts of the actual diaries or their owner is currently unknown.

Books:

  • Scenes from Life at Suttons, 1825 & 1827. This was published by Spottiswoode in 1926. The authors are Eliza and Drummond Smith; artwork by Augusta Smith. UPDATE: June 2011 — FOUND on eBay!

If you know the whereabouts of any of these items, if they sound familiar to you, please contact me.

* * *

Here’s a list of those items that have been located! Grateful thanks to those who have helped, allowed me access to, or contacted me about their items:

DIARY

  • Augusta Smith née Smith (Mrs Charles Smith of Suttons), 1798 diary; property of Mark Woodford (Chicago, IL)

TRAVEL JOURNALS

  • Emma Smith, 1792 and 1794; property of Jacky (Maidstone, Kent, England)

“BABY BOOK”

  • Maria Smith, from infancy to age 17, written by her mother Augusta Smith; property of Jacky (Maidstone, Kent, England); see the post about the existence of a similar book for brother Drummond Smith

LETTERS

  • Kinwarton letters; property of Alan Godfrey (Alcester, Warks, England)
  • Drummond’s Letterbook; property of Dr. Jeremy Catto (Oxford University)
  • Augusta Smith (Augusta Wilder), 1824 Letter; property of Angela (Alberta, Canada)
  • various letters, to and from Maria (Smith) Culme-Seymour; property of Jacky (Maidstone, Kent, England)

BOOK

  • Charlotte Brookes, Christie of Glyndebourne (privately printed, 1919). This book is referenced in the biography ‘John Christie of Glyndebourne’ by Wilfred Blunt (1968). FOUND! at the Lewes Library in Sussex.

* * *

See also the “portraits” page, for there are pieces of artwork I’m actively searching for — especially portraits of the Goslings (known to have been painted by Sir William Beechey).

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An Island Alone?

October 20, 2010 at 9:45 am (a day in the life, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Ever feel like your out there on your own? As another winter begins to descend, and early (early!) mornings come thanks to local airport noise (long, looonnnnggg story there; boring to everyone but me), the thoughts crowd around in the dark that few would wish to contemplate: the jobs that got away; the life I used to have when days were “better”; getting older; having older parents.

My saving grace: the Smiths and Goslings. They aren’t my “family”, but they have become “my family”. I long to find out their movements, to piece together all their individual puzzles, to fit their lives, dreams and thoughts into some pattern that points up their times as well as their lives.

Jacky from Maidstone has recently given much food for thought in the shape of an astonishing letter to Maria, the youngest Smith of Suttons daughter. The correspondent is the mother of a young man who has simply never found anyone — other than Maria — that he could love and wish to marry.

What makes this of great interest?

Henry Wilder wrote similar sentiments to Mrs Smith regarding Augusta. It was a letter, when I first deciphered it, as I sat beside the windows at the Hampshire Record Office (Winchester, England), that tore at my heart. It was obvious that Henry had had a relationship with Augusta; that something or someone had intervened (I suspect some Wilder parental interference, but have not discovered anything concrete as yet); and here he was, a couple years later, talking about his inability to forget Augusta. He’s now wondering if Mrs Smith will find out if Augusta still has feelings for him.

Now there are several mildly “star-crossed” lovers in these extended families. The most extreme “disapproval” I have yet come across involves Richard Seymour’s sister Dora. Richard’s diaries (on microfilm at the Warwickshire Record Office) is quite plain in the disapproval of Dora’s family after she engaged herself to the Rev. Mr. Chester. Richard – a docile man in such matters – was pressured to put pressure on Dora to break off the engagement. The end was achieved; yet not in the long-run. Dora did ultimately marry the Rev. Mr. Chester.

[an aside: if I could track down the current whereabouts and the owner of Richard Seymour’s diaries, then I could get a COPY of the microfilm from WRO…]

So, back to Maria. The date of this letter is 1835. Mrs Catherine Odell, the writer, had obviously NOT been in touch with the family for some time. She mailed her letter to Tring Park; the Smiths had moved from Tring to Mapledurham House in October 1834 (the first “event” held there: the wedding of Fanny Smith to the Rev. Richard Seymour of Kinwarton). Also, Mrs Odell addressed her letter to “Miss Maria Smith”. That alone would have gained Maria’s ire! In one letter she quite obviously had chastised a sibling for not giving her her due: as the “eldest” single Smith sister she was now entitled to be addressed as “Miss Smith”.

In this period, the eldest son or daughter or Mr Lastname, Miss Lastname. Other, younger, siblings had their first name appended, thus, as we find in Jane Austen: Mr Ferrars but Mr Robert Ferrars; Miss Dashwood, Miss Marianne Dashwood; Miss Bennet, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Miss Lydia Bennet, Miss Kitty Bennet, Miss Mary Bennet.

If we take the Bennets (since there are so many of them!), with the marriages of Lydia, followed by those of Jane and Elizabeth, than the elder of the two left single would assume the title “Miss Bennet”.

That was what happened with Maria Smith: In October 1834, elder sister Fanny married Richard. And Eliza Smith, the next unmarried Smith sister, married in January 1835. So with that event, little Maria finally became Miss Smith — the three events (move, and two marriages) unknown to Mrs Odell in Ireland.

But what makes the letter so extraordinary is that Mr Edward Odell’s pleading is done by his mother! She writes that he could never marry anyone but Maria (to the sadness of his family, she is quick to point out); that Edward will come into his elder brother’s estate (though ‘why’ that would be so, I don’t yet know); that Edward already had an income of £600 (an amount perhaps exceeded by money given to Maria to live, for all I know; certainly, in a letter to Augusta, Mrs Smith intimated that she NEED NOT MARRY, as she had income enough to live, and live comfortably, I’m sure).

One personal favorite: Mrs Odell says that her son would willingly live anywhere; and that Mrs Smith could live with them should she need to be taken care of. Mamma Smith?! in need of care?! from a son-in-law’s household? She is the most “matriarchal” matriarch I have ever come across!

The story behind Mr Odell, which may or may not have impacted the “welcome”: A Mr Odell (I suspect Edward rather than his unnamed elder brother due to a Harrow connection), longtime friend of Drummond, enticed Drummond to visit Italy much against Mrs Smith’s inclination. There are many mentions of interviews, letters, letters from Mr Odell even — in which Mrs Smith digs to find out about Drummond’s illness and death.

So, in the end, the big question is: Would Mr Edward Odell have stood a chance with Maria? was there family pressure to dissolve any relationship? Was Maria herself uninterested? Only time will tell; or else I may never know the answer to those questions!

But you see, you few who read these musings, what occupies my mind — so happily occupies my mind!

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Light Housekeeping

September 12, 2010 at 11:17 am (research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Do take a moment to check out a few new *pages*. I’ve created one page about various “missing” parts of this research, as well as acknowledged those that have come to light in private hands (special thank you to people who have contacted me; and to Alan, who continues to send scans as he finds new letters).

Readers will find all the page links under CAN YOU HELP (see PAGES, to the right), but the most important is the one entitled Where are these items?

*

NB: I worked on these pages while listening to the LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS, on Vermont Public Radio. Oh, to be in London again…

The Smiths & Goslings would have been EXACTLY the type to subscribe to such concerts year after year after year (lucky people, no?). One thought: the London Season in their day would NOT have been the hot summer months, but the winter months of January/February through spring (depending on when Easter fell); the plays, parties and operas continued for the Smiths & Goslings into the month of June.

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A Seymour Sighting

August 26, 2009 at 7:55 pm (books) (, , , )

Actually, there are TWO mentions of Richard Seymour — in online books. One – The Rambler in Worcestershire – has noted Richard in his clergyman capacity at Kinwarton; the other – Art and Nature Under an Italian Sky – lists not only Richard but Fanny Seymour as subscribers.

seymour_book

Other names on the pages with connections to those in this blog:

Sir William Knighton, bart.
Dowager Lady Knighton
Miss Hawker
Mrs G. Wilder
Rev. Sir J. H. C. Seymour, bart. [Maria’s husband]
Mrs Arthur Currie [Dora, Arthur’s second wife]
Mrs Spencer Smith

Given the number of Seymour relations, one must ask: who was the author, M.J.M.D.??? The book was published by Constable in Edinburgh, in 1852. The site, archive.org, names the author Margaret Juliana Maria Dunbar.

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For Better, For Worse

August 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm (books) (, , , , , , , , , )

Dear Miss Heber2Since January, when I came across advance information on Hazel Jones’ forthcoming book Jane Austen & Marriage, I’ve awaited its July release. For a fuller ‘review’ of it, please see Jane Austen In Vermont’s blog. Here, I merely want to point up the amount of information Jones has plucked from letters in the SMITH family! Not only does Eliza Chute (née Smith) and her mother Sarah come into the discussion of courting and matrimony, so does Eliza’s sister Maria (who marries the heir to the Earl of Northampton; her husband later becomes the first Marquess). James Austen — Jane’s eldest brother and father of James-Edward Austen (Emma’s husband) — is here also, with both of his wives. And source materials bring old friends like Miss Heber (pictured at left) and new friends like Dorothea Herbert (a book I am currently reading, with much enjoyment).

ja_and_marriage_coverJones’ chapter on “The Power of Refusal” (chapter 2) put a smile on my face: here she mentions that some suitors proposed in person — while others wrote letters or used an intermediary. Why the smile? The Rev. Richard Seymour, totally unsure of his reception (according to his own diaries), sent his elder brother John (another man of the cloth) to sound out Mrs Smith – who then sounded out daughter Fanny; it was good news from both. And wasn’t Richard happy!

The map of “Jane Austen’s Hampshire” (in B&W in the book, but reproduced in color on the back cover of the dust jacket) shows just how close The Vyne was situated to such Austen locales as Manydown House, Deane, Steventon, Chawton and Basingstoke’s Assembly Rooms.

This is a highly recommended read for anyone interested in Austen or her novels; the use of primary materials written by acquaintances, relations and autobiographers will appeal to historians researching early nineteenth-century mores in middle class England. Anyone interested in my research will enjoy the peeks into the lives of the few Smith-Gosling relatives.

Also worth a look – the author’s website, which includes information on the Austen courses she offers.

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