A silhouette of Mary Lady Smith

August 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm (entertainment, jasna, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , )

I hesitate to bring attention to this image, for it is my own “cutting” – and gosh I had such problems! But a quick look around two crafts stores and I’m convinced I have to either spend a good $20 on a small set of sheers, or half that on an Exacto-knife — but I’m on the fence about needing to cut on some surface…

Anyway: the drawing in Scenes from Life at Suttons, presummed to have been done by Augusta Smith (Augusta Wilder to give her married name), was of a type so convenient to be adapted as a silhouette that it is that image rather than Augusta’s sketch of her (very light, and oh-so-barely colored) that you will see presented here on this blog:

It really brings to home how much I loved the computer programs I had at my last place of employment — I could have Photoshopped this image to perfection. You’ll have to have patience (what an expensive program!) until I can get to a handy computer lab (the one I used to use has removed the scanner – which means a removal of Photoshop from the computer! a true loss: the lab was so quiet to use on a late Sunday morning…).

So Mary now joins Emma in being depicted on “their own blog”:

When I was researching at the Hampshire Record Office, there was one sketchbook of extremely FAINT outlines of people. They must have been outlines made in preparation of silhouttes. Alas! no identifyers were ever attached to these…, and how would they photograph? Nil, I would think.

Two years ago, at the JASNA AGM held in Philadelphia, my roommate had her silhouette cut by an artist who just observed and cut, but I know there were “machines” in use way back when; and Willoughby is depicted as getting his “shade taken” in Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility — so this is a subject I will return to! But later…

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It’s Arrived!

September 3, 2010 at 4:15 pm (books) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Today’s mail brought my long-awaited copy of David Selwyn‘s new book: Jane Austen and Children. Many thanks to JASNA News book review editor Sue Parrill for getting me this review copy.

Blog readers know that I thought Hazel JonesJane Austen and Marriage simply smashing. This combined information culled from Austen’s novels, her letters, letters & diaries & autobiographies from the period — including from the diaries and letters of my dear Eliza Chute of The Vyne. So I’m hoping for equally-stimulating reading from the well-known Selwyn.

The publisher is the same: Continuum. The layout of the books are similar: a timeline-chronology. In this instance Selwyn takes readers from the confinement of the mother, through infancy, childhood and into maturity. I’m hoping for a great ride!

Since the review is destined for JASNA News, I’ll only give some rough ideas on this blog about my thoughts (non-JASNA members will have to wait for the review to appear online: see www.jasna.org) — but reading the first pages and having Sense and Sensibility in mind, let me make a few comments that certainly will never find their way into a book review.

Blog readers will know my passion for anything “first-hand”, be it published letters, biography, autobiography — especially by women, British women, 18th and 19th century British women. One book I came across (which, being old and long out of print and very expensive now) was the oh-so-wonderful A Lady of Fashion: Barbara Johnson’s Style Album. This album, which resides at the V&A, was published in full color back in 1987, edited by Natalie Rothstein. My original post on that book may be found here.

So how have I gotten from “children” to “fashion”??? Rothstein’s introduction to the life of Barbara Johnson introduced me to another book of interest: Opening the Nursery Door: Reading, Writing and Childhood, 1600-1900 (1997), by Morag Styles and Mary Hilton. That book discusses the mother of Barbara Johnson — and her thoughts on childhood education. These authors even comment on how education for the Johnson children could be considered in the light of a reading of Austen’s Emma. David Selwyn opens his book’s introduction with comments on books, toys and education for children. My mind immediately flew to Jane Johnson.

When Selwyn writes of children being viewed as “natural innocents,” how hard — having just finished Sense & Sensibility — not to wonder: Is that a good description of Marianne? at her young age, was she still a “natural innocent” until her rude awakening via Willoughby?

Certainly Eliza and Willoughby’s child — which Austen never reveals the sex of: boy or girl? — must be one that Selwyn would classify among those thought of as (according to the dust jacket) “children in the way”.

And, after S&S with its pointed play (and display!) between Proud Mothers Mrs John Dashwood and Lady Middleton, who could ever accuse Selwyn of wrong-mindedness when he writes of children being for Austen “a source of comedy”.

A great gift, a new book, to have for a holiday weekend. I know what I will be ‘laboring’ over.

BTW: To read my review of Jones, Jane Austen and Marriage click here.

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Willoughby & Marianne: What Opera?

August 25, 2010 at 8:46 am (books, people) (, , , , , , , , )

Coming in to work today, the radio announced the birthday of Leonard Bernstein, born in Lawrence, Mass in 1918. Who knew he was born in New England; not me (but then he was “big” when I was a kid, so put it down to that).

Anyway, tangled up with morning thoughts of work, reading (Sense and Sensibility, of course!), and Lennie — came a thought that I toyed with a few days ago, but now put out in the blog-o-sphere:

Near the end of Sense and Sensibility, when Willoughby has irrevocably left, and Marianne has survived her illness, she goes up to her pianoforte and fingers a piano reduction operatic score. So my question, and I’d love it if operaphiles and Janeites alike might give their thoughts:

What OPERA would Willoughby and Marianne have been likely to play through?

A comic opera? An English opera? A tragedy? Something old, like Handel; something totally new and playing in London the last season or two?

The entire quote (Chapman, 342):

“After dinner she would try her piano-forte. She went to it; but the music on which her eyes first rested was an opera, procured for her by Willoughby, containing some of their favourite duets, and bearing on its outward leaf her own name in his hand writing.”

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