Fun with Astrology

February 4, 2014 at 9:34 pm (entertainment, fashion) (, , , , , , , , )

A few weeks ago Charlotte Frost and I were discussing make-up –> Regency era, tutorials, reenactors, &c &c. Last week I watched — and greatly enjoyed — this video by Rochelle & Olivia:

marie antoinette

So it was with a bit of a “hoot n’holler” that I read last week’s horoscope for my star-sign, Aquarius (at 7 Days, a local (Vermont) weekly):

Extravagant wigs became fashionable for a while in 18th-century England. They could soar as high as four feet above a woman’s head. Collections of fruit might be arrayed in the mass of hair, along with small replicas of gardens, taxidermically stuffed birds and model ships. I would love to see you wear something like that in the coming week.”

Charlotte had a couple more links; promise to look them up and post them later!

duchess plaza toro

My favorite “Lady who let a ship go to her head”:
the Duchess of Plaza Toro
1983 Stratford (Ontario)
The Gondoliers: Douglas Chamberlain

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Mansfield Park – Marspeachgirl reviews

September 26, 2013 at 7:39 am (books, entertainment, jane austen) (, , , , )

Having finished Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park this past weekend (VERY enjoyable!), I wanted to sample an adaptation or two – so of course went to YouTube. Found there the 1983 BBC series, which I’ve never seen (only watched episode 1, so far). Looking a bit more, Marspeachgirl’s video review turned up. Recommended, for offering perspective on the novel, and three DVD-available offerings.

mp-review

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Emma’s “London Season,” 1816

September 12, 2013 at 1:24 am (diaries, entertainment, history, london's landscape, research) (, , , , , , , , )

sisters

Among the fascinating insights in Emma’s diary, are the “delights” of a London Season. I picked out some of the festivities mentioned in the Season during 1816 to write about — and to records as a YouTube video. It’s also a video I’ve uploaded to my Amazon page. The text originally published in JASNA News.

Some Highlights:

  • Soirees & Concerts
  • attending Drury Lane (and Jane Austen writing about Kean)
  • painting with Margaret Meen (tutor to Queen Charlotte and the princesses)
  • the Antient Music concert series
  • teas & parties
  • Grand Party at No. 5 Portland Place [inactive link; site taken down]
  • wedding of Princess Charlotte of Wales to Prince Leopold
  • Cosi fan tutte, with Madame Fodor

grand party

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My Austen Summer, 2007

May 17, 2013 at 9:29 am (a day in the life, diaries, history, jane austen, news, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Last year, about this time, I promised to share with readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen my own research diaries, kept during a stay in Winchester, England, in order to visit the Hampshire Record Office. Now, thanks to Memoirture, where I can post these private thoughts in a slightly less “public” medium of a social network, I hope to get this “project in process” online. [UPDATE (April 2015): Memoirture has been taken down; I’m not sure I’ll repost the diaries anywhere.]

mary_emma_entry

By May 2007, I had interlibrary-loaned the microfilmed diaries of Lady Smith (image above, 1829); visited Duke University to transcribe Mary Gosling’s pre-marriage diaries; ordered the microfilming of Sir Charles Joshua Smith’s late diaries (1826-30). Now it was a chance, I hoped, to learn more about Mary’s life among the Smith family. I had slowly built-up the two families: parents and siblings for both Mary and Charles, and even placed Emma Smith within the circle of Jane Austen. I was writing, and hoping to have published, a story of my two girls.

I had left my job, and pitched headlong onto a plane and into the spare room of a stranger whom I had never met. I would live with Chris for two months. During those two months I met people like Rowland and Peggy — lifelong Hampshire natives; and visited Chawton Cottage with them. I was befriended by Helen Lefroy, and been taken by her to a wonderful luncheon with an entertaining guest speaker, speaking on… who else but JANE AUSTEN! I was given the opportunity to speak to a group in Kinwarton about my dear Fanny Seymour. And I typed and transcribed my fingers to the bone. Letters, cross-written letters! Diaries, the daily life of my Emma and all her siblings.

1833 letter-2

I had a favorite spot, sitting every day – Monday through Saturday – by the window. You’ll undoubtedly read some gripes about those around me, but at present the diary is rather prosaic: flying from my home in Vermont to London Heathrow; getting from Heathrow to Winchester. Meeting Chris and seeing “my home” for the first time. Reading – “in the flesh” – my first letters and diaries from Mary and Emma. The diaries were so TINY. At one point I realized I had all the generations: a Letter written by Lady Cunliffe (Mary’s maternal grandmother), Eliza Gosling (Mary’s mother), Mary Smith (my diarist), and Mimi Smith (elder daughter of Mary and Charles).

UPDATE 5/19/13: Part 2 of “My Austen Summer, 2007” is now online – an account at Memoirture is FREE; you must be logged in to enlarge photos, click on links, and make comments.  At present, all parts will be viewable by the public; future plans will limit parts TWO and beyond to “contacts”.

UPDATE 5/25/13: Part 3 of “My Austen Summer, 2007” is now online.

UPDATE 8/19/13: Part 4 of “My Austen Summer, 2007” is now online. My father’s birthday; laughter, reading Mamma Smith’s letters; British weather: rain…

morning dresses

Hear part of a letter, written in January 1797, on YouTube

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Gouveneur Morris meets Lady Cunliffe & Daughters

May 7, 2013 at 8:35 am (books, diaries, history, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

Thank you, Charlotte Frost (meet the author yourself, Dear Reader, on Twitter), for reminding me about a meeting that took place in 1790 in which Gouverneur Morris (famous to Americans) noted in his diary a meeting with my Lady Cundliffe (as he calls her) and her daughters, Mary (Mrs Drummond Smith) and Eliza (later: Mrs William Gosling).

morrisI typically put such comments into my “letters” files now; but this was a comment found so early on in the research (it began 7 years ago) that I remembered it having happened — but NOT what the man had written about them (that’s why I BUY books: to have them on the shelf to take down when I want them). In searching out the online book links for Charlotte Frost, I re-read the entry.

WOW!

“To-day [April 23d (1790)] I dine with my brother, General Morris. The company are a Lady Cundliffe, with her daughters, Mrs. Drummond Smith and Miss Cundliffe; the Marquis of Huntly, Lord Eglinton, General Murry, Mr. Drummond Smith (who, they tell me, is one of the richest commoners in England), and Colonel Morrison of the Guards. After dinner there is a great deal of company collected in the drawing-room, to some of whom I am presented; the Ladies Hays, who are very handsome, Lady Tancred and her sister, and Miss Byron are here, Mr. and Mrs. Montresor. I am particularly presented to Colonel Morrison, who is the quartermaster-general of this kingdom, and whose daughter also is here. She has a fine, expressive countenance, and is, they tell me, of such a romantic turn of mind as to have refused many good offers of marriage because she did not like the men. I have some little conversation with Mrs. Smith after dinner. She appears to have good dispositions for making a friendly connection, as far as one may venture to judge by the glance of the eye. Visit Mrs. Cosway, and find here Lady Townsend, with her daughter-in-law and daughter. The conversation here (as, indeed, everywhere else) turns on the man (or rather monster) who for several days past has amused himself with cutting and wounding women in the streets. One unhappy victim of his inhuman rage is dead. Go from hence to Drury Lane Theatre. The pieces we went to see were not acted, but instead, ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘The Spoiled Child.’ This last is said to have been written by Mrs. Jordan. She plays excellently in it, and so, indeed she does in the principle piece.  Two tickets have been given me for the trial of Warren Hastings….” [pp 317-18]

Morris, from just this passage, seems to have had an eye for the ladies, don’t you think?

* * *

My two Cunliffe girls have short histories. Mary, who married Drummond Smith (brother to Joshua Smith – father of Maria, Eliza, Augusta, and Emma Smith – the girls of Erle Stoke Park, Wiltshire), was a new-ish bride. She had married in July 1786. Without a definitive birth date she was born circa 1762; her husband, born in July 1740, was about twenty-two years her senior! At this point in time, I have no real idea how the families met, why Mary Cunliffe and Drummond Smith married. I do know that Mary’s sister, Eliza Cunliffe, became a great friend to all the Smiths at Erle Stoke, though perhaps especially to second daughter Eliza (the future Mrs William Chute, of The Vyne).

It breaks my heart to think of Eliza Gosling, who married banker William soon after friend Eliza married her William (September 1793). She either was or came to be in fragile health. Eliza Chute worried about her having more children, writing that FIVE were enough in her nursery. The fifth Gosling child was my Mary Gosling (born February 1800) – obviously named for her Aunt and Grandmother.

But: Did Mary remember either her mother or her Aunt Mary? In December 1803, Eliza Gosling died. And by the end of February 1804 so had her sister! So it is with awe that I re-read Morris’ comments. This prior Mary Smith was destined never to become LADY SMITH; Drummond received his baronetcy months after her death. (Mary Gosling’s future husband would inherit the title from his great-uncle in 1816.) Simply WONDERFUL to hear that this Mary Smith seemed to have “good dispositions for making a friendly connection”.

morris2

NB: I am quite intrigued by his comment about the ‘monster’ on the loose.
I must find out more.

*

Hmmm… whatever happened to ‘choosy’ Miss Morrison?

*

Prior post on Lady Cunliffe

*

Hear a letter from Augusta Smith to Eliza Gosling, 1797
(YouTube)

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NEW: Two Teens on YouTube!

May 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm (diaries, entertainment, history, jane austen, news, research) (, , )

Just added a Third video
to my YouTube channel!

smith-gosling_silhouette1

Please watch — comment — subscribe.

As Amazon always says, MORE ON THE WAY!

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LondonLiveStreet: Portland Place

December 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm (history, london's landscape, people, places, travel) (, , , , , )

A couple of nights ago I was trolling YouTube for anything interesting. Putting in “Portland Place” london, I happened upon this video of a drive up the street, from Langham Place — and the lovely All Souls Church — to the Park Crescent area near Regents Park. Frankly, how dare they call Portland Place – that dignified boulevard – the A4201!!

Alas for progress…

Mike at Tring had already snapped a few pics for me of Nos 28 and 30 Portland Place, London – so I knew what I was looking for. A set of townhouses, on the right. I watched and watched this short video, despairing that the camera’s focus on the left side of the street would swing towards the right too late. When: THERE THEY WERE!

portland place

No. 28 – the old “No 5 Portland Place”, home of William Gosling and family – is more readily seen: the portico juts out towards the sidewalk, and is beneath that pediment and those pilasters. No. 30 – the old “No 6 Portland Place”, home of Augusta Smith and her children – is the next doorway. At present, painted blue, the doorway of No 5 / 28, with the entrance blocked in, has surely been changed – the walls can’t be original, even if the columns are. I can see Mary and Elizabeth sheltering by the door, waiting for their carriage to pull up – can’t you? And is that Emma and Augusta at the first-floor window of No 6 / 30, waving??

I invite you to take the ride: we board at Langham Place and get off near Regents Park (click here or on the photo)

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Supersizers Go Regency

October 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm (entertainment, history, jane austen) (, , , , , , )

From their Country Estate, Giles Coren and Sue Perkins will teach us about life and living during the Regency.

Giles is a self-confessed “dandy”; Sue is his unattached sister.

The FOOD is the focus of the show.

One of the “receipt books” used: the Experienced English House-Keeper

A view of one of the rooms in this lovely Country Manor House.

And another view of another room.

Giles is channeling his inner Prince. (Note the pink hair curlers!)

The twosome visit the Georgian City of Bath.

And the pump rooms.

Yummy…

Back home, Sue is enjoying her latest acquisition: a piano forte piece composed by Herr Beethoven.

But she sure pines for a beau…

Giles, in London, gets into much trouble while hoping to find a husband for his sister.

Sue gets a day out…

and tonight an intimate dinner party; tomorrow a dance!

Although I’m a fan of the first two episodes I had seen — a Victorian era episode, and a Restoration era episode — I was a bit disappointed in their Regency Romp. A little too much channeling of Austen sequels? They’d have been less ‘campy’ if they’d read my Smith&Gosling diaries and letters!

Still, if you tune in you get to see how Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding fared – what White Soup looked like (not very white…) – and how tasty Syllabub could be after all the meat and cheese.

Supersizers Go… aired over three years (2007-2009) and features many different eras of cookery and costumes.

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Six Degrees of Separation

December 17, 2010 at 1:33 pm (news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I was thinking last night: Emma Smith has a Beethoven connection! How so? you might ask… Through his pianoforte!

I uncovered this little tidbit when researching the Knyvett family — Charles Knyvett Sr., and his sons Charles and William — for an article in Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine.

Let’s start at the beginning: How I even came to know the name Knyvett.

Emma Smith’s diaries, especially in her teen years, are replete with concerts, operas, soirées, music masters and home-concertizing. She mentions all three Knyvett men as well as William Knyvett’s second wife, the singer Deborah Travis.

♦ see pictures of the Knyvetts at the New York Public Library ♦

For the article, I pulled out Emma-quotes specific to each family member, and gave each a little biographical study. “Space” considerations meant that, in the end, a lot of information ended up on the “cutting room floor”. Including a lengthy section about Beethoven and his piano. The conundrum that still exists concerns the fact that there were two Charles Knyvetts. Even a well-respected publication like Grove’s Dictionary interchanged the two men, father for son’s accomplishments and son for father’s accomplishments. Without a LOT of digging, it may be that we can never get certain attributions correct.

It does seem that the convention of the time (if we speak of when all three men were active, musically, then the 1790s-1810s) was to refer to the men as KNYVETT (Charles Sr.), C. KNYVETT (Charles Jr.), and W. KNYVETT (William).

In 1817, the famed London pianoforte manufacturer, THOMAS BROADWOOD, “sent” Beethoven a gift:

♦ read about Beethoven’s piano at Bonn’s Beethoven-Haus

The story says that Broadwood invited five known musicians/composers to be part of the gift; they signed a presentation label within the piano. The gentlemen are given as: Friedrich Kalbrenner, Ferdinand Ries, Johann Baptist Cramer, Jacques-Godefroi Ferrari and Charles Knyvett. But which Charles Knyvett? is my question.

The Broadwood returned to England in 1992, for restoration. Yet, it didn’t come from Bonn — but from BUDAPEST, having once belonged to Franz Liszt!

♦ Watch on YouTube the Pianoforte’s Restoration ♦

Part 1 (of 5) offers information on Broadwood’s idea of the gift, Beethoven’s receipt of the piano in Vienna, and why it ended up in the Hungarian National Museum. The actual discussion of the instrument is FASCINATING! Really puts in perspective the types of pianos Mozart and Beethoven used (late 18th century; Viennese), as well as why this Broadwood is such a special instrument.

Tonight, I’ll give my “guess” as to which Charles Knyvett was the “helper” in this gift exchange. Read the rest of this entry »

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Huff’s Vermeer & Austen

September 29, 2010 at 10:14 pm (news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

This past Sunday, our JASNA chapter hosted current JASNA President Marsha Huff. She gave her noted talk comparing Johannes Vermeer’s artwork and Jane Austen’s artistry.

Two intriguing thoughts which were brought up during the talk include the observation that Mansfield Park (which Marsha thought had still to find its definitive screen representation) is a dialogue between events as seen by FANNY PRICE and events seen by EDMUND BERTRAM. Hmmmm…, I can’t say I ever noticed that! So must put MP on my list of to-be-read-soon books.

BTW, I did recently watch on YouTube the Rozema Mansfield Park. Wonderful to see Jonny Lee Miller, such a strong actor in both of his essays upon the Austen stage. Interesting to utilize Austen’s juvenilia; but a bit uncomfortable with the overtones assigned to Miss Crawford. And the actress who played Young Fanny — Hannah Taylor-Gordon — just made me think how wonderful she might be cast as my Emma — but more on my dream-casting of a film in some later post.

You can read about Rozema, Mansfield Park, and Fanny Price at JASNA.org.

One Vermeer picture that grabbed my attention concerns a LETTER-READING Lady, how appropriate! As Marsha spoke about the work, discussing how Vermeer had made changes to it (discernible thanks to x-ray technology) and compared it to the “cancelled chapters” of Persuasion, one began to see how all artists  work until it pleases themselves. Sometimes we are our hardest critics!

Thank you, Marsha, for coming to Vermont and sharing your thoughts on Austen, Vermeer, art and writing. Marsha even had a few complimentary thoughts on my Mary & Emma research. Always nice to be noticed.

Vermeer spent his life in Delft; the closest I ever travelled to that was Brugge, 123 miles to the south and in Belgium rather than The Netherlands. My mother and I were there in May, and even that early in the year the light was phenomenal! How well I recall wanting to tour the city with its lights on, but I had to wait until 11 p.m. — and even that late in the evening the sky was only dusky.

Bea-u-ti-ful!

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