Marriage of Materials

November 2, 2012 at 8:12 pm (books, diaries, history, news) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen will realize how “collecting” together diaries and letters and other ephemera, with items spread over the world, can be frustrating, rewarding, and time-consuming.

So to read that a discovery – in 2007, after nearly 80 years (since the 1930s) – occurred involving the diaries of Mary Boykin Chesnut was just a thrill. I HAVE THIS BOOK:

I LOVE diaries, nice and thick; like this one.

An album, begun in 1861, was mentioned – but it was something Woodward’s book wasn’t able to reproduce. Mary collected photographs during and even after the war; adding to her collection. Mary then worked at her writing….

After Mary’s death, like so many items relating to the Smiths and Goslings, items probably were “gifted” to different people. A niece, who died in 1931, was possibly the last family member to have the three albums. What happened to the albums is the tale you will hear if you listen to this podcast from October 2011:

How did word get out about Mary’s albums? They were on auction in Texas, and listed on eBay! Family members purchased the albums, promising to gift them to the USC’s Caroliniana Library. After a long separation, photo albums and diaries were to be reunited. A true “Marriage of Materials”.

The albums and Diary from Dixie have been published as the 2-volume Mary Chestnut’s Illustrated Diaries, by Martha M. Daniels and Barbara E. McCarthy.

Listen to the podcast for a wonderful “forensic” discussion of mid-19th century photography. Think about the phrase “We’ve never seen a picture of ….” for that was how I felt until seeing some of the drawings in Scenes from Life at Suttons. Ah, how I cried when I first flipped through that book, seeing Mamma for the first time, seeing Mary and Charles, finding dear Augusta Wilder’s picture. “The excitement…” indeed!

“Women had such a quiet role”

– Marty Daniels, quoting Mary Boykin Chesnut

 

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Emma’s “Aunt” is not “Aunt Emma”

January 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm (diaries, entertainment, history, london's landscape, smiths of stratford) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Reading through posts at AustenOnly (check out those concerning livery, and also Lord Nelson!), I spotted a tweet about the Document of the Month, featured on the Hampshire Record Office’s website: Augusta Smith’s poem, To My Aunt on New Year’s Day — written by young Augusta in 1825. It’s one of my favorite pieces! Why? Because it speaks about her having a red Pocketbook; ie, a journal! just like those my young Emma recorded her thoughts and life in. Oh, what has happened to Aunt’s diaries?!?!

I must confess, however, to some head-scratching over the accompanying informational text…

As noted in the text’s beginning, my Emma (Augusta’s sister) was born in 1801; she did marry James Edward Austen; and she did keep diaries, most of them extant at the Hampshire Record Office.

But the poem’s nothing to do with young Emma; it’s not her pockets that bulge, nor her red pocketbook that lays among all the Mary-Poppins-items of that vast pocket! Young Emma was no “aunt” in 1825!

{NB: the first nephew was little Charles, born in 1827; Mary and Charles Joshua’s son}

Yes, there was an “Aunt Emma” — this person was the youngest sister of the four Smith sisters of Erle Stoke Park, the daughters of Joshua and Sarah Smith; namely, Maria (the Marchioness of Northampton); Eliza (Mrs William Chute of The Vyne); Augusta (Mrs Charles Smith of Suttons); and … Emma.

But “Aunt Emma” and “Aunt” are not the same person!

So to whom belonged “these ponderous pockets” that “would jumble my hips almost out of their sockets”??

The “most perfect” Aunt, who resided at Stratford (note the place/date at the bottom of the page), was Miss Judith Smith — only surviving sister of the Smith siblings’ father, Charles Smith. Judith and Charles were children of Charles Smith and Judith Lefevre. Poor Aunt! Even in Scenes from Life at Suttons, 1825 & 1827 she is misidentified; there, as Lady Northampton.

Thanks to Charlotte Frost, I’ve seen a drawing, done by Fanny Smith, of Stratford (Stratford Le Bow) — a “suburb” of London, and soon to be the site of the hustle-bustle of the 2012 Summer Olympics. This was once home to Aunt, and a great stop-off whenever the Smiths of Suttons travelled to and from London.

Now that you know a little about “Aunt” – take a moment to read this delicious poem, by the sparkling eldest Smith sibling, Augusta. I’m going to check my transcription against HRO’s!

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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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