It’s a Small Jane Austen World

July 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm (a day in the life, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In Friday’s post (hurray!) was the 2nd Sarah Markham book — really the one I wanted most because of its subject, which you can glean from its title: A Testimony of Her Times: Based on Penelope Hind’s Diaries and Correspondence, 1787-1838.

A slight aside: Penelope Loveday Benwell Hind was born in 1759 and died in 1846; so the title dates are NOT her lifespan!

When I found mention of this book online – and quickly located a nice (used) copy at a fair price, I awaited its arrival impatiently because of the time period and, also, I’m a sucker for any account based on an English woman’s life. Will say this of the book: EXCELLENT! Locate a copy ASAP, it will NOT disappoint.

There were MANY connections to other diary/correspondence/biography I have collected over the years: there were mentions of the Countess of Ilchester (the Talbot family) mentioned in A Governess in the Age of Jane Austen: The Journals and Letters of Agnes Porter; the Byngs — see the Torrington Diaries — were relations of the Lovedays; the Berrys — ie, Mary Berry of the Walpole correspondence — comes in for frequent visits; Felbrigg Hall comes up once or twice (must admit to boredom so I never read more than the first book about the National Trust caretakers of the estate).  Then came this, on page 85; the Hinds are removing Pen’s sister Sarah to their home in Findon, Sussex:

“The first day’s journey was quite short as they spent the night at SPEEN HILL with a FRIEND, MRS CRAVEN, who had formerly lived at Chilton House…” There is then a footnote explaining about Mrs Craven — though with no mention of her Austen connection; that comes from JA’s Letters. Mrs Craven’s elder son was Fulwar Craven. (I’ll let you consult your own Letters to puzzle out the Fulwars-Cravens-Fowles-Austens.)

Of Mrs Craven, Le Faye writes: “1779 [married] Catherine Hughes, daughter of James Hughes of Letcombe, Berks., and had two sons and one daughter; lived at BARTON Court  and also at Chilton Foliat, Wilts” — which is where the Lovedays would have encountered her. Husband John Craven died in 1804; Mrs Craven in 1839.

Then this morning, MORE Austen connections. A great friend to Pen Hind’s first husband (William Benwell) was the Rev. James Ventris. He continued a friend and “since he had stayed with them [the Hinds] he had been presented to the living of Beeding, not far away, and lived at Beeding Priory. In May 1816 he married Jane Hinton, daughter of the former rector of CHAWTON, whom they liked very much.” Miss Hinton herself appears in JA’s Letters; and the family are in Le Faye’s Biographical Index. Mrs Ventris is the “Jane II” who lived 1771-1856. Her brother, John-Knight Hinton, joined the suit of James-Hinton Baverstock against Edward Austen Knight in 1814 “for possession of his Hampshire estates” (Edward settled in 1818, paying 15,000 pounds).

Mrs Ventris’ sister, Mary, had a daughter – Elizabeth Wells — who married the nephew of Pen Hind! Arthur and Elizabeth Loveday had a son, another Arthur (for Pen also had a brother Arthur). This family, who’s little history is coming up in Testimony, became related to the Lefroys when young Arthur married the youngest daughter of Anna Austen and Ben Lefroy! (Anna, of course, was elder sister to James Edward Austen Leigh and Caroline Mary Craven Austen.)

Have to wonder, with all the letters and diaries that could exist in the Loveday-Hind-Wells-Craven-Hinton etc circle, if there aren’t some uncovered mentions of the Austens… Jane included.

BTW: Happy 4th of July!

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The Amazing Mrs Markham

June 26, 2011 at 5:38 pm (books, news, people) (, , , )

I found online a listing of books several “Regency-era” writers recommended. Already own most of them, but was intrigued by a certain title penned by Sarah Markham.

Looking up the book, I was saddened to find that Mrs Markham had died in 2003 (aged 93). But in reading her obituary, I was AMAZED and THRILLED to see that she had published her first biography — John Loveday of Caversham, 1711-1789: The Life and Tours of an Eighteenth-Century Onlooker — when she was 75!

Not that I expect to need a couple more decades to publish my own work (though it wouldn’t hurt, I simply don’t have that kind of patience…), it’s the idea that she published this volume (over 600 pages) of family-related research without being in academia or even having “an education”. Rather gives someone like me a bit of “hope”, an especially good thing when some things seem hopeless.

Markham was lucky in another respect: her biography of both John Loveday and Penelope Hind (her next biography, published in 1990) were based on family papers. Of course it was the Hind book, entitlted A Testimony of her Times, that grabbed my attention in the first place; but I ended up ordering copies of BOTH. Can’t wait for them to arrive!

Read about Sarah Markham (Times) (Times)

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BTW, one of the twosome will come from England. I’m still waiting to SEE the arrival of the little book The Diary of a Betley Governess, 1812; what’s up with the mail between the UK and the US?? I really have a feeling my book is sitting somewhere in the likes of NYC just waiting for The Royal Mail’s inquiry — which they won’t do until 25 business days have elapsed… Still almost another WEEK to go before that will happen then. Does the government have nothing better to do? Too many people have told the same story lately.

UPDATE 6/29 – the mail kindly brought the first Markham book, John Loveday of Caversham. I had only the shortest peek at it last night (a Netflix film is due back quite soon and had to be watched!), but it seems worthy of the praise it received at the time of its publication. Added bonus: it was in better shape than I might have hoped. Double-added Bonus: it was a signed copy! Well, that last I knew when I purchased it, as the seller mentioned.

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