Blogs, Books, & Pamphlets

August 19, 2015 at 12:05 pm (books, entertainment, europe, history, jane austen, news, people, research) (, , , , , , )

In yesterday’s mail the terrific-looking new book by Jenny Uglow (I have her humongous biography of Gaskell), “In These Times”: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815.

uglow

Nothing can be more up my alley! It’s about the Napoleonic era without being all about battles, and strategies, and War-War-War (to quote Scarlett O’Hara). I need information of the 1790s through 1810s, but I want to learn from it, not be BORED by it. (Yeah, war bores me. Though when I worked at a local college [uni-aged students for those of you in the UK], the POPULAR courses in history were Black Death and World War II. Still, I am what I am: more interested in social history and women’s history.)

I recognize a few names – for Uglow uses personal accounts to paint a full picture. There’s the Heber family (I adore the book Dear Miss Heber…); Lady Lyttleton (née Sarah Spencer); Jane Austen’s “sailor brothers”, Frank (Sir Francis Austen later in life) and Charles Austen; Betsey Fremantle (I’m still waiting from more from her current biographer, Elaine Chalus; though I have the complete set of three volumes published in the 1940s); Mary Hardy, the Norfolk diaristabout whom I have blogged before, at RegencyReads.

Can’t tell you much about the book, as I’m only in chapter 1 – but I’m enjoying it so far! Just the right amount of detail, and well-written. It opens with an idea VERY dear to my heart – for my own book (tentatively entitled The Brilliant Vortex, about my Two Teens during the Regency era, and all those London seasons, from 1814 to 1821.) discusses the same thing: the dissemination of news. Uglow, of course, looks at newspapers. I know, for instance, that Richard Seymour, in the 1830s, borrowed newspapers. So I already knew that some people had subscriptions, some people got papers passed on to them. And I LOVE Uglow’s descriptions of particular coffee houses:

“Visiting Glasgow in 1802, Dorothy Wordsworth found ‘the largest coffee room I ever saw’, in the piazza of the Exchange. ‘Perhaps there might be thirty gentlemen sitting on the circular bench of the window, reach reading a newspaper’ …. The linen-mill owner John Marshall also admired the room, brilliantly lit with candles, and rarely with fewer than a hundred people in it. ‘There are 1100 Subscribers to the Coffee Room at 28/- a year’.”

I remember back in the 1980s & 90s when VIDEO stores started out with yearly membership SUBSCRIPTIONS. Of course, the next store would open, offering LOWER rates – until ultimately the “membership” was free.

(And now every GROCERY store sports a RedBox!)

But I-M-A-G-I-N-E: 1100 subscribers at 28 shillings a year each! Sounds like it was a little goldmine! Marshall went on (and Uglow follows suit) with what the coffee house carried: “‘They take London & Edinburgh papers & journals, country papers & 9 copies of the Sun, Star & Courier & all the monthly publications.'”

Dissemination, of course, comes from MANY sources – including correspondence (my diarists’ chief avenue), and we all have heard of the dreaded PAMPHLET and the satirical CARTOON. No one reading about the French Revolution can get away from the ideas of salacious pamphlets against Queen Marie Antoinette; and no one reading about the Regency can escape the cartoons of Rowlandson (for just one example) skewering the Prince Regent.

I have a friend whose research has turned up a COUPLE different narratives. The conundrum: WHICH pamphlet is more truthful than the other?? That made me think of this conundrum from the writer’s point of view – and that made me think of James Boswell. For he put quite a lot into print (anonymous as well as with his name) during his lifetime. I’ve blogged a LOT about Boswell’s diaries and books about the Boswell Papers.

Then it HIT ME:

Pamphlets, in the 18th & 19th century, were to the likes of Boswell what BLOGS are to the likes of me TODAY! Those with a point-of-view, or even just “something to say”, stick it out there for anyone and everyone to see. Only, today, I don’t have to locate a printer and a bookseller – I just needed to stumble upon WordPress and have an internet connection!

boswellCan you IMAGINE: Boswell as Blogger?!?

(I sure can…)

My point to my friend was: Veracity wasn’t always on the minds of the pamphlet writer; so I find it wholly understandable that two versions of the same incident could exist. It’s like Twitter today: how many times do we hear about someone apologizing for BLASTING on social media, only to regret it later. Hard to do with a penny publication: not like you can go back and find everyone who bought your pamphlet – though a retraction, or even another pamphlet pointing out the errors (and thought to be by a DIFFERENT writer!) are not impossibilities to contemplate.

It’s that old adage back again: “Plus ςa change, plus c’est la même chose.” The more things change, the more they STAY THE SAME!

* * *

Since I’m talking BOOKS here, I’ll make brief mention: Readers interested in obtaining a FREE copy of Hazel Jones’s Jane Austen’s Journeys – please take a look at the giveway I’m running on RegencyReads. I’m taking names for a lengthy period: till the end of this month (August 2015). I had an extra copy, so it IS a book I’m keeping on my own shelves.

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UK Literary Tour

August 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm (books, jane austen, travel) (, , , , , , , )

Found this on Pinterest – and then hunted up a place to get it. Check out The Literary Gift Company – £12. Jane Austen seems to reside in Gloucestershire more than Hampshire. Oh, well; can you find her? Who on the “map” is your favorite writer? Who is missing?? It’s claimed there’s 188 writers here… Happy Hunting — and reading!

 

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More Jane Austen Portrait News

June 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm (jane austen, jasna, news, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , )

Kate in Norfolk sent the following link, about the Rice Portrait: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2156805/The-teenage-Jane-Austen-Fresh-evidence-divisive-portrait-13-year-old-girl-really-loved-author.html

TheDaily Mail’s story undoubtedly gives the family some encouragement about authenticity. Although, it also sheds light on the possible artist!

Read the article, then visit the “Rice Portrait” website. For more on Paula Byrne’s “Austin” portrait, see her website.

Art History News discusses “written” IDs on works, which rather echoes my own thoughts – especially after the Byrne portrait’s incongruous handwriting (see earlier posts on that portrait for a picture of the inscription Miss Jane Austin).

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You Remind Me of Somebody

June 12, 2011 at 11:50 am (books) (, , , , , , , )

Am reading a biography published five years ago and just purchased used for $5; to give the title would be to give away my little game.

Within the illustration section is a portrait of a quite handsome man; I’ve read of him before; seen the portrait before. But this author had this to say about him mid-way in this biography (of quite another person):

“His manners were perfectly polished and he had an air of distinction about him that some thought bordered on hautiness and others attributed to shyness. As one later acquaintance described him, he was ‘…one of those men who, once seen, leave an impression on the memory…’.” The author later tells us that “as his mother’s only son … he had been much cosseted and lavished with praise.”

While on “The Grand Tour”, he encounters a compatriot who was “Friendly, jovial, and unaffected”; the one is now described as displaying a “hauteur” while the new friend is said to have an “outgoing ebullience”.

Now I would be the FIRST to say that Jane Austen’s characters were not modelled on, nor meant to represent, any given person — yet an author can’t help but be influenced by people met or read about, seen or gossiped about. An author takes away some little something — a trait, a look, a quirk, a tale — and adds that to the pot to create something wholly original.

But don’t these lines rather describe Darcy and Bingley? A tantalizing thought — even if untrue! More later.

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