ABOUT THE AUTHOR
“My interest is in uncovering more material relating to Emma Smith and Mary Gosling (aka: Emma Austen Leigh and Lady Smith). Diaries and letters have shown up in university archives, public record offices, and private collections, in the US, the UK, and Canada.
A concise description of the eventual outcome of this research project can be found at Smith&Gosling: my project. These fascinating people lived in extraordinary times! You’ll agree with me after reading more of this blog’s information on these families.
Please contact me, Kelly M. McDonald, at smithandgosling [at] gmail [dot] com if you have any information to share about: the Goslings of Roehampton Grove, the Goslings of Hassobury (Essex), their family banking firm (Goslings and Sharpe) on Fleet Street, London; or about the Smiths of Suttons (Essex), and their extended family. The ring of aunts/uncles/grandparents include: the Comptons of Castle Ashby, the Chutes of The Vyne, the Smiths of Erle Stoke Park, the Scrase Dickins family of Coolhurst; the Greggs and Davisons. Then there are spouses of all the children: Seymours, Currie, Christie and Wilder, Le Marchant and Sullivan. And the estates and houses did not run themselves, so the servants are as numerous. No item or detail is too small.
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- “Edward Austen’s Emma Reads Emma,” in Persuasions (The Jane Austen Journal), vol. 29 (2007), pp. 234-239. The diaries of Emma Smith note some key moments in her courtship with James Edward Austen, including their jointly reading his Aunt Jane’s novel Emma in the days surrounding their engagement. Had Emma Smith any of the qualities of Austen’s heroine Emma Woodhouse?
- “Before She Became Fanny Seymour, Parson’s Wife,” Local Past, Journal of the Alcester and District Historical Society (Warwickshire, England), June 2008 (vol. 4, No. 1), pp. 3-5. Based on the lecture “Becoming Fanny Seymour,” this article traces the girlhood of Fanny Smith (younger sister of Emma Austen Leigh) prior to her marriage with the Rev. Richard Seymour.
READ this article here: localpast_fanny1-june08.
- “‘Fanny I am thankful to say continues going on very well’,” Local Past, Journal of the Alcester and District Historical Society, December 2008 (vol. 4, No. 2), pp. 4-6. The first year of marriage brings Fanny Seymour joy and tragedy, and during it all she is bolstered by her beloved sister, Emma Austen.
- “Derbyshires Corresponding: Elizabeth Bennet and the Austen Tour of 1833,” Persuasions, vol. 30 (2008), pp. 149-158. The starting point is Jane Austen’s own narration of Elizabeth Bennet’s fateful journey into Derbyshire with Aunt and Uncle Gardiner in summer 1812; using diaries and letters, Emma Austen’s tour of the same county twenty-one years later points up the tourist possibilities and problems which Pride & Prejudice’s narrator claimed were ‘too well known’ to need mention.
JASNA has made this article available online.
- “Pemberley’s Welcome, Or, An Historical Conjecture Upon Elizabeth Darcy’s Wedding Journey,”Persuasions On-Line, Winter 2009. This issue appeared on Jane Austen’s Birthday – December 16th, which also marked the 181st wedding anniversary of Emma and Edward Austen Leigh. Examine what parallels the marriage of Emma’s cousin Lord Compton and his Scottish bride in 1815 may have upon the Wedding Journey of Mr & Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy. Illustrated.
- “A Golden Time” – Emma Smith meets the Knyvett family of musicians, Jane Austen’s Regency World, vol. 44; March/April 2010, pp. 40-43. A short, biographical look at the four Knyvetts: father Charles Knyvett Senior, sons Charles and William, and William’s second wife Deborah Travis. Emma Smith met them all! Diary excerpts penned by young Emma highlight the article. Illustrated by a beautiful chalk portrait of Emma, thought to have been done by Mrs Margaret Carpenter. [newly available (pdf) via link at Academia.edu]
- “Correspondence Culture” – Jane Austen’s Regency World, vol. 51; May/June 2011, pp. 42-47. Nothing is more personal than a hand-written letter. Imagine life without your email, Blackberry, or iphone by following some Jane Austen letters through the post!
- “Portrait of a Lady: Maria Lady Culme Seymour (1814-1887), The Chronicle, Berkhamsted Local History and Museum Society; 2012, pp. 58-59. A brief portrait of the second wife — Emma’s youngest sister — of Sir John Hobart Culme Seymour, Rector of Berkhamsted, Rector of Northchurch, Prebendary of Lincoln, Canon of Gloucester, and Chaplain-in-Ordinary to Queen Victoria.
- “A Mother’s Advice to Her Daughter,” The Chronicle, Berkhamsted Local History and Museum Society; 2013, pp. 43-46. Would your mother be this candid, if she kept a journal about your youth? Mamma Smith evidently wrote about all her children as they grew up – her joys – her disappointments. The original Maria’s “baby” journal makes for fascinating reading.
- “A ‘Reputation for Accomplishment': Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse as Artistic Performers,” in Natasha Duquette and Elisabeth Lenckos (eds.), Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety, and Harmony (Lehigh University Press); (ebook) November 2013 (hard cover) December 2013. Read the opening paragraph.
- *on KINDLE* Two Teens in the Time of Austen: Random Jottings, 2008-2013. Lightly-edited and highly-rearranged blog posts. Provides an “introduction” to the Smith & Gosling family — and this research project. BONUS (for a limited time): Unseen portraits of Emma & Mary, along with a preview of the book’s first chapter.
- “The Diaries of Tring Park,” The Chronicle, Berkhamsted Local History and Museum Society; 2014, pp. 51-54. What might diaries & letters reveal about a house and its long-ago inhabitants? This short article tells tales of the Smiths during their years (1828-1834) at Tring Park (now Tring Park School for the Performing Arts) in Hertfordshire, England.
- “Flowering in Four Letters,” Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine; July/August 2014, pp. 39-44. Can truly call this article the truest biography (though short) of the botanical artist MARGARET MEEN (c1752-1832). Her watercolors are primarily collected at Kew and the Lindley Library, Royal Horticultural Society. Purchase the illustrated article among the ‘back issues’ at JARW for £3.50 (cover price).
OnLine Articles (exclusive to Academia.edu):
- “Margaret Meen: A Life in Four Letters,” the original manuscript of the JA’s Regency World article.
- NEW! “Uncovering the Face of Hester Wheeler,” DID Hester and her mother plant a seed in Jane Austen’s mind when creating the touching history of Colonel Brandon’s ‘two Elizas’ in Sense and Sensibility?
Related JASNA News articles (willing to email PDF copies to interested parties; contact me):
- “This Delightful Habit of Journalizing,” Spring 2010 (vol. 26, no. 1). Little did I know, when I wrote this, that I would be offered Augusta Smith’s 1798 diary — hitherto unknown to exist — in May 2010.
- “Lost and Found: A Diary from the Circle of Austen Neighbors,” Summer 2010 (vol. 26, no.2). Announces to the JASNA community the “discovery” of a 1798 diary, penned by young Augusta Smith (Mrs Charles Smith), now in the possession of the Woodfords of Illinois. Sorry: No mentions of Jane Austen!
- “Love and Marriage: A Diary from the Circle of Austen Neighbors,” Fall 2010 (vol. 26, no.3). Part II in the series. Augusta’s diary is so much more than just facts of her life; learn how Austen’s Pride and Prejudice helps to explain a contemporaneous diary.
- “Home and Abroad: A Diary from the Circle of Austen Neighbors,” Spring 2011 (vol. 27, no.1). Part III (last) in the series. Focuses on Ireland (home of Tom Lefroy) and France (home to cousin Eliza de Feuillade) in 1798.
- “Last Night’s Diversion & Nice Little Ball,” in JASNA News, Summer 2011 (vol. 27, no.2). Emma Smith’s early diaries reveal the secrets of a “London Season, circa 1816″. Hear the article presented via YouTube!
- with Alan Godfrey. The Seymours of Kinwarton (a fundraiser for the church of St. Mary, Kinwarton, Warwickshire, England). A look at the early life of Fanny Seymour née Smith, from young girl to new wife; Mr Godfrey concentrates on Rev. Richard Seymour, Vicar of Kinwarton and Great Alne (Warwickshire). St. Mary’s was Richard’s primary parish, which he served until the 1870s. Lady Smith’s two daughters raised funds for new service books the Christmas of 1847; and brother-in-law Arthur Currie gifted a chancel window. Several family inscriptions can be found within the church. Fanny and Richard are buried in Kinwarton.
- Chasing Jane Austen: Women’s Writing & Female Culture in the Long Eighteenth Century. The “London Season” (important to Sense and Sensibilty); the Royal Family (think: Emma‘s dedication to the Prince of Wales); the “Lady of the Manor (what’s Pride and Prejudice without Lady Catherine de Bourgh?!); and that ever present topic of conversation: the English Weather. All such topics are cover, in spades, in the diaries and letters of the extended Smith & Gosling family.
- Emma: A Teen in the Time of Jane Austen, 1815-1817. A peek at Emma Smith’s life during the last three years Jane Austen lived. Based on Emma’s diaries and family letters. Emma married Jane’s nephew (and eventual ‘biographer’) James Edward Austen on 16 December 1828.
- The Center of Her Universe: Neighborliness and the World of Emma Woodhouse. Poor Emma Woodhouse? She may be ‘handsome, clever, and rich,’ but she has just lost her friend Miss Taylor to marriage, stays home every evening with her father, and entertains only Miss Smith, Mr Elton and Mr Knightley. What the teen years of Emma and Mary reveal about the atypical life of Austen’s enchanting matchmaker.
- Mirror Images: Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy and Mr Collins.
- “Becoming Fanny Seymour,” Great Alne, Warwickshire, England, 13 July 2007. Young Fanny was brought home to an appreciative audience who heard of the privileged life and tragic family history of the girl who, in October 1834, became Fanny Seymour. (Redditch Advertiser announcement.)
- “Georgiana Darcy and the ‘Naïve Art’ of Young Ladies,” 30 January 2009/14 August 2009/11 September 2009; 8 January 2010. Part of four Jane Austen weekends at the Governor’s House in Hyde Park (Hyde Park, Vermont). A look into the lives of ladies like Georgiana Darcy (Pride & Prejudice), as expressed through their artwork.
See the website: www.onehundredmain.com. The Winter/Spring 2009-2010 issue of Stowe Magazine features an article on these Austen weekends. The (uncited!) author is Nancy Crowe.
- “Austen/Adams: Journeys with Jane and Abigail,” 6 June 2010. JASNA-Vermont (Burlington) meeting. An event for the Vermont JASNA chapter’s Box Hill picnic. The talk centered on journeys taken by Jane Austen and Abigail Adams, and featured some surprising audience participation! [Post event note:] We got rained on, and the “picnic” took place inside, but a large audience learned first-hand about the Correspondence Culture of the period and even got to see an 18th century diary and 19th century letter.
- “A House Divided? How the ‘Sister Arts’ Define the Dashwood Sisters,” JASNA AGM, Fort Worth, October 2011. This paper laid out how fundamental the skills of drawing and music were to women like Elinor and Marianne Dashwood — not to mention Cassandra and Jane Austen. Enjoyed by about forty Sense and Sensibility fans in Texas!
- COMING: ” ‘Who could be more prepared than she was?’ True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in Early 19th Century England,” JASNA AGM, Louisville, October 2015. Within a conference focusing on JANE AUSTEN’s WORLD, what could be more compelling than a look at expectant mothers in Austen’s own extended “family,” including Mrs Weston (Emma) and my own Emma, Mrs James Edward Austen.
- “Sisters of the Heart: Three Female Friendship Pairs,” proposed paper for JASNA AGM, Philadelphia, October 2009. Examines the relationships of Jane Austen & Martha Lloyd / Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas / Mary Gosling & Emma Smith – in other words: the author and her close friend; Austen’s Pride and Prejudice girlfriends; Mary and Emma represent two contemporary readers of Austen’s novels. (not accepted)
- “Mirror Images: Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy and Mr Collins,” proposed paper for New Directions in Austen Studies, Chawton, July 2009. Is it any wonder that Elizabeth Bennet preferred Fitzwilliam Darcy over the Revd. Mr William Collins?? Not when Jane Austen sets them up as polar opposites… This paper will look at the novel’s two characters, who have more in common than movies and TV will ever portray. (not accepted)
- “Coming Out: Augusta Smith and Catherine Morland, at Court and in Bath,” proposed paper for JASNA AGM, Portland (Ore.), October 2010. A young Lady’s Court presentation was the norm for a certain sector of society in Austen’s England. Emma Smith wrote about this special day when her elder sister, Augusta, was presented in February 1817. Catherine Morland (heroine of the 2010 AGM focus novel, Northanger Abbey) had her own ‘presentation’ when she entered Bath society. (not accepted)
Funding Applications (those awarded are bolded):
- The Timpson Research Grant; Clifford A. Timpson of Milton, Vermont (2007); awarded $250.
- National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Summer Stipend, 2007.
- Jane Austen Society of North America, International Visitor Program (IVP), 2007.
- National Coalition of Independent Scholars, Eisenstein Prize for Best published article by an NCIS member; 2009.
- National Coalition of Independent Scholars, Yosef Wosk Grant; 2009, unfunded; also 2010.
- National Coalition of Independent Scholars, Travel Grant (for the 2011 JASNA AGM); awarded $200.
- Leon Levy Biography Fellowship, Leon Levy Center for Biography, CUNY, 2013-2014.
- Jane Austen Society of North America, International Visitor Program (IVP), 2013.
JASNA Related book reviews (links open online reviews):
- “Madame Lefroy In Her Own Words,” review of The Letters of Mrs Lefroy: Jane Austen’s Beloved Friend, edited by Gavin Turner and Helen Lefroy. JASNA News, Summer, 2008.
- “Those Marrying Men,” reviews of Lydia Bennet’s Story, Jane Odiwe; and The Matters at Mansfield, Carrie Bebris. JASNA News, Spring, 2009.
- “Keeping Up Appearances,” review of John Styles, The Dress of the People: Everyday Fashion in Eighteenth Century England. JASNA News, Summer 2009.
- “Crafty Jane Austen,” review of Jennifer Forest, Jane Austen’s Sewing Box. JASNA News, Spring 2010.
- “Quite in a Fuss about the Child,” review of David Selwyn, Jane Austen and Children. JASNA News, Spring 2011.
- “Music, Virtue and Virtuosity,” review of Gillen D’Arcy Wood, Romanticism and Music Culture in Britain, 1770-1840. JASNA News, Summer 2012.
- “Some Words of Jane Austen,” review of Lawrence W. Mazzano, Jane Austen: Two Centuries of Criticism. JASNA News, Spring 2013.
- COMING: “Going Places,” review of Hazel Jones’s Jane Austen and Travel.
JASNA Related interviews:
- Deb Barnum and Kelly McDonald, Regional co-Coordinators of the Vermont region, talking with VPR listeners and Vermont Edition host Jane Lindholm, Vermont Public Radio (3 July 2008). Listen online. (The Austen segment opens the broadcast; approx: 30 minutes.)
- In December 2007 I spoke with journalist Steven Pappas. The resultant article on our JASNA chapter appeared in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and the Rutland Herald in January 2008 – just in time for MASTERPIECE THEATRE’s Austen marathon. An earlier article on the start-up of the chapter, by Amy Lilly, appeared in Seven Days.
JASNA-Vermont online book reviews:
- Lydia Bennet’s Story (Jane Odiwe) [NB: evidently removed from the site ]
- The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Syrie James) rating: two leaky inkwells
- Cassandra & Jane (Jill Pitkeathley) rating: three full inkwells
- Chronology of Jane Austen and Her Family (Deirdre Le Faye) [part of our ESSENTIAL AUSTEN series]
- Two Guys Read Jane Austen (Steve Chandler & Terrence N. Hill) rating: three full inkwells
- Jane Austen Fashion (Penelope Byrde) [part of our ESSENTIAL AUSTEN series]
- Life in the Country (Austen-Leigh et al) rating: four full inkwells
- Jane Austen’s Letters AND Austen Papers [part of our ESSENTIAL AUSTEN series]
- The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet (Colleen McCullough) rating: one and a half empty inkwells
- Jane Austen & Marriage (Hazel Jones) [an excerpt of this review appears on the publisher’s website!] rating: four full inkwells
Smith & Gosling book discussions & book reviews:
- Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon (Andrea di Robilant) [more to come on this book, I hope!]
- Ellen Tollet of Betley Hall: Journals and Letters from 1835 (ed. Mavis E. Smith); link is to the short write-up on Regency Reads, but Two Teens has a short post about the book as well – buy this book.
- Jane Austen & Marriage (Hazel Jones) [short preview]
- The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After (Elizabeth Kantor)
- The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things (Paula Byrne). See also a condensed review at Amazon.com
- **coming soon** Walks through Regency London (Louise Allen)
- Matters of Fact in Jane Austen (Janine Barchas); in the meantime, check out this fabulous discussion at The Page 99 Test. See also a condensed review at Amazon.com
- **coming soon** The Beau Monde (Hannah Greig)
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- For “wanted” Smith&Gosling items, see Can You Help? and also Missing Portraits.
- “Austen Lectures” can be reviewed here.
- Need help with your project? see Editorial Services offered.
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online research diary, Winchester, England May-July 2007 — at Memoirture*
*this site has been taken down, and I’m not sure I’ll repost the diaries
Part I: My Austen Summer; Depart Vermont (May 16)-May 18 [all: inactive links]
Part II: My Austen Summer: May 19-May 22
- Part III: My Austen Summer: May 23-May 27
- Part IV: My Austen Summer: May 28-June1
- [more installments to come]
Yes, I keep diaries… And in 2007 I lived two months in Kingsworthy, Hampshire, England so that I could do research at the Hampshire Record Office. Did a LOT of book-looking, a TON of typing, and “poured the foundation” for all the research that has taken place since. Now that it’s 2013, I’ve begun to type these diaries. Got lots of research to do, including typing 19th century diaries, so please be patient. They are offered with limited explanation; some editorial excisions.
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Kelly M. McDonald is a graduate (B.A.) of The University of Vermont (Burlington, VT), where she was inducted a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honor Society. A background in art history, European history, biography, and a love of England prepared the way for working with the materials that comprises this Smith & Gosling project. Researching the diaries of Mary Gosling led to her joining the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA); she is a founding member of the Vermont Chapter of the society, and served two years as Regional co-Coordinator for JASNA-Vermont (2008-09). She has lectured in the U.S., as well as in England; and has published in several Jane Austen-related magazines and journals. From 2008 through 2012, Kelly was a member of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars (NCIS, formed in 1989 to facilitate the work of independent scholars). She recently (January 2013) joined BIO, Biographers International Organization.
June, 2014: BIG shout-out to recent hosts and friends: Charlotte and John (true guardian angels); Dean, for rides to & fro H’row; Mike for waiting and for showing me around the Tring neighborhood; Jess for sharing treasures and your very warm & encouraging family; Kate, a good companion; Kildare, who provided a congenial evening, and a peek at the new book; Philip for making me feel welcome, and for bridging that wide 8-mile gap (twice!); Mark and Emma: thanks for EVERYthing!; Charlie – thanks for arranging our bigger/better get-together (and yes, you do resemble CSD!); Mark and Tina – a more pleasant afternoon could not have been envisioned: treasures-shared, good food-eaten, great company-enjoyed; Calista and Francis: you know how I value your friendship; Mervyn for all you gave to three visitors – you shouldn’t have! (hope the wine went down well); Gwyneth: one informative visit that sent me on the trail of more; Rowland, Peggy and Chris: GREAT to see you seven years later.
This project brought me to Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Virginia; May 2006), Duke University (Durham, NC; November, 2006), as well as to the English county of Hampshire for a two-month research stay (mid-May to mid-July, 2007) in the Austen city of Winchester.
Old Dominion University (ODU) was the site were my ‘hunch’ that Mary Gosling and Lady Smith were one and the same person was confirmed! They have a splendid microfilm collection (one of the few to have part V, Essex for the series Women’s Language & Experience), and I was lucky to find an exceptionally helpful student staff-member working the room the day of my visit. I never got his name.
Duke University owns the earliest known diary belonging to Mary Gosling. My father drove me from Vermont to Durham and patiently waited, for days on end, while I transcribed it. The staff of the Special Collections, including Elizabeth Dunn (treated separately, below), could not have been kinder. And having the original Mary Gosling diary (one section alone seen in a xerox copy) to hold in my hands was simply an exquisite sensation.
The Hampshire Record Office houses a splendid collection of Austen Leigh papers; heartfelt thanks to all the HRO staff in the reading room for their assistance. It was a pleasure working six days a week among them. As I go through notes from that period, expect a few belated thank yous to pop up here; for I did encounter a few favorite staff members. One who deserves particular mention is David Rymill, who, in 2014, helped secure copies of elusive Eliza Chute letters, and spent a memorable lunch-break with me in HRO’s staff “caff”. His help, interest, and advice were very acceptable.
While in England, the Record Offices of Essex (Chelmsford) and Warwickshire (Warwick), where the Smith and Seymour families resided, were also visited, so their staff members deserve some share of thanks, although my visits were necessarily much too short. ERO holds a special place, for they microfilmed the diaries of Sir Charles Smith, baronet prior to my trip. Such helpful assistance isn’t always so easily obtained.
Thank yous are due to the following staff members at the Warwickshire Record Office, for their help with the Reverend Richard Seymour’s diaries: Mark Booth, Robert Eyre, Robert Pitt, Clare Murdoch.
Kristen Hindes, St. Michael’s College Library Interlibrary Loan department, and Svetlana Elnitsky, Department of Modern Languages, St. Michael’s College, helped obtain interlibrary loan items.
I gratefully acknowledge the kindness of Chris (landlady in Kingsworthy); and neighbors Rowland and Peggy – who drove me out to Chawton Cottage, which – life-long Hampshire natives – they had never before visited. I also recognize Mrs Johnstone of Kingsworthy, a docent at The Vyne, for her engrossing story about Colin Firth (a local lad) and the American fan she met on the train, and for her interest in hearing a little about the life of Eliza Chute.
Deep thanks go to Dr. Jeremy Catto (Oxford University) for his collection of letters, and to Rob Petre (archivist, Oriel College, Oxford) who digitally photographed them. Alan Godfrey, in his early enthusiasm for sharing his collection of letters and for putting together the opportunity for a talk on Fanny Seymour, can never be thanked enough. And a similar sentiment for Elizabeth Dunn, at Duke University; she responded to my query about Mary Gosling’s diary – without her positive encouragement, this project never would have gotten started. Deep thanks are also due to Mark Woodford, Networked Robotics Corporation, Illinois. Mark shares his late-father’s love of young Mrs Smith, having read her 1798 diary (which Mark now owns and kindly lent for transcription); his enthusiasm for learning about Augusta’s life is very catching.
A new letter, written by Augusta Smith Wilder, transcribed from the original by Angela of Alberta, Canada, has added valuable insight to the year 1824; I am grateful to Angela for sharing her ‘treasure.’ It was also a great thrill to be contacted by Jacky in Maidstone, Kent, England; her collection of Journals and Letters has unearthed some precious bits of gold. Such pieces of this puzzle prove that even one letter and sometimes just one sentence can shed light — or open a new mystery.
Very special thanks must go to Mervyn of Exeter; his manuscripts have added additional pathos and information to my knowledge of the Smiths & Goslings. He was very kind to contact me and offer to share his piece of history.
Mark and Emma, in Oxfordshire, have also kindly contacted me with family information, this time about the Goslings; their enthusiasm is highly infectious.
Words cannot express the debt owed to Kildare, especially for his helpful images from Ireland. Kildare had initially contacted me about Susannah Smith, and has been a welcome and steady correspondent; he also helped me contact Philip at Castle Ashby, who provided the hitherto missing pages of The History of the Comptons of Compton Wynyates.
Three Essex contacts are Toby, who has kindly shared some family images; Antony, whose interest in one letter has brought him a few new letters (my gratitude for his willingness to query other postal history collectors, even if nothing has come of that query); and Anne, who shared information on Suttons and passed along a welcome description of Mamma Smith found in a neighbor’s 1803 diary. Author Martyn Downer very kindly gifted me with a book once in the library of “Mrs Gosling.” He then put me in touch with Toby who in turn put me in touch with Anne.
Charles Scrase Dickins has given insight into the spelling of that family’s name, and his exclamation of “wow” when he saw the 1820s drawing of CSD brought a smile to my face.
I am grateful to Mike in Regina, who shared a recent eBay purchase; and Dave in Ottawa, who contacted me about a gossipy letter written in French by ‘Auguste’. Also, especially to Michael in Aberystwyth, who let me see – after five years – six letters written by various Smiths held at the Essex Record Office. He also took time from his own research to photograph letters from Margaret, Lady Compton at the John Rylands Library (U of Manchester). A great debt is owed.
Heartfelt thanks to Caroline Benson, Photographic Assistant, Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), University of Reading, for her assistance in obtaining photographs of three Seymour siblings: Sir Michael, Sir John and the Rev. Richard Seymour. The same thanks, even more heartfelt, must be extended to Jennifer Sherwood, of the Berkhamsted Local History and Museum Society. Jenny has shared her writing and her photographic finds with me; as well, we have journeyed together in trying to identify sitters who posed a 150+ years ago. No very easy task.
I owe public thank yous to several people who went out of their way to help: Michele at the library in Lewes, Sussex, England; Jenine Culligan, Senior Curator, Huntington Museum of Art, Virginia, who shared vital information about their picture called The Sisters by Sir William Beechey; John Hagood, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, who sent copies of relevant pages of an ancient Sotheby’s sale; Michael Kaspar, Amherst College Library, who took time to look up a reference and respond to an out-of-the-blue email query. Dr John Chandler, Hobnob Press, who kindly “donated” a 1993 issue of “The Hatcher Review,” with its cover story on artist Mrs Carpenter. Freydis Welland, an Austen-Leigh descendent, has been very kind in offering to share her family treasures; she and her sister Damaris Brix seem to enjoy hearing about new finds regarding these early Austen Leighs. Hope Greenberg, The University of Vermont, has willingly answered questions about dress, and she responds with insightful reasons behind dating photos and portraits based on the sitter’s clothing; her knowledge has been invaluable in many ways.
Two who have helped by alerting me to the existence of some highly useful images (in addition to Jenny Sherwood); Robin Jenkins, who shared knowledge of the Macklin Album kept in a Wiltshire archive; and Sandra Carpenter, The Morgan Library and Museum, for information on the Compton siblings’ gift to Lord Northampton (part of the Gordon N. Ray bequest to the library).
Special thanks for a volunteer: Cathy Kawalek (of ArtsResearchNYC) heeded the plea for someone to visit the New York City Public Library on my behalf; Cathy was unstinting in giving her time, and her expertise in digital photography meant that within hours I was reading the document she had formerly held in her hands. As she observed: “information hidden in the ‘stacks’ … brought to someone who revels in it.” Cathy has also helped procure a couple JASNA publications, and in that was aided by JASNA member Kerri Spennicchia.
Ann in Ireland deserves a round of applause for answering another internet “plea” for someone to visit the National Library of Ireland; her findings, regarding Lord Ossory, were extremely illuminating. To meet with someone willing to give time from their own researches to help a stranger is a phenomenon of the internet.
Fabulous photographs of the Macdougall portraits, and insight into their Scottish home, have been gracefully given by Marian in Edinburgh. I cannot express how wonderful it is to see the two sisters who played such an important role in the lives of several Smith of Suttons sisters: that of governess.
Pat, now of Oregon, was a fabulous find; so utterly helpful in getting images of two diaries. She will be missed by me, but I wish her well in her retirement.
A treasured memory is sharing lunch with David Rymill, Hampshire Record Office; thanks, David, for your help in securing a look at those troublesome Vyne letters. And thanks, too, to Rupert Willoughby for advice.
Special memories also of someone who held out kindness, friendship, her home, and her book: Helen Lefroy, with whom I sat many hours in her Winchester garden, sipping tea, talking of Jane Austen. Helen also brought me to a fundraiser luncheon, whose guest-speaker was Michael Wheeler — he gave a delightful talk on opening paragraphs in Jane Austen’s novels (which had the crowd rolling with laughter), and who has ties to the Gosling’s home, Roehampton Grove (now part of the University of Roehampton). That day would not have been open to me without Helen’s thoughtfulness.
Tardy, yet genuine, thanks to all the editors who have helped further this project: Susan Allen Ford (Persuasions / Persuasions On-Line: The Jane Austen Journal); Cyril Johnson (Local Past: Journal of the Alcester and District Local History Society); Tim Bullamore (Jane Austen’s Regency World); Tony Statham (The Chronicle; Berkhamsted Local History and Museum Society). Also, Sheryl Craig and production designer Kathleen Burke (JASNA News), who helped spread the word about Augusta Smith’s 1798 diary. Dissemination and enthusiasm are two difficult achievements in ongoing research, and everyone deserves a round of applause for their interest and encouragement.
I am grateful also to my four reviewers for the Leon Levy Fellowship application: Susan Allen Ford, Mary Ellen Bertolini, Charlotte Frost, Mark Woodford. We gave the fellowship competition a shot.
This blog introduced Mike in London and his digital reproductions of the Surrey photo album, which was as thrilling to see as one could have hoped! Pity Mary never lived into the photographic age… Mike has also shared his collection of Gosling / Gregg genealogy. He is an indefatigable traveller and photographer, and has become ‘my eyes’ at places like St. Mary’s (Sutton’s parish church, where among others Mary is buried) and Preston Deanery. He’s also quick with “extras” – whether from Barclay’s Archives or Ancestry.com — I’m lucky to have him on my ‘team’! Mike Hutchinson, at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, has shared his research, writings, photos, and even helped obtained an obscure article via interlibrary loan. I await his publication on the history of Tring Park. Kate from Norfolk deserves special mention; she not only has interesting tidbits she willingly shares, she has also read drafts of articles and written excellent and helpful responses. Her long-distance friendship is greatly appreciated.
The hand of friendship was also extended by Calista and Francis; we met on a Jane Austen weekend here in Vermont and their continued support and enthusiasm for this entire enterprise means a great deal.
Thanks are extended to John for his “Nanna’s Grandchildren” list, and Eliza for sharing her wonderful family ephemera (I look forward to her book based on that Crimean War diary). Gwyneth is a contact from whom I heard about The Vyne and certain Smith descendents. Craig in Australia, whose ancestors were neighbors to the Smiths of Suttons, has given some sage advice on locating “lost” letters through the likes of eBay and, eagle-eyed, he located my Augusta Smith (Senior & Junior) 1824 letter! Craig also unselfishly provides access to useful databases such as The Times, JSTOR, and The Illustrated London News. He continues a source of assistance and information. Jim, a founder of the Nelson Society, is a contact who shares an interest in the Alexander Davisons.
Author Charlotte Frost has shared her research into the Knighton and Hawker families, as well she forwarded research notes and genealogies, and even located my photo of the Rev. Richard Seymour of Kinwarton. Charlotte took on much work when she travelled to Oxford University (Bodleian Library) to photograph “Fanny’s Sketch Books,” becoming my eyes 3000 miles away, and also took time from her own research at the Parliamentary Archives (London) to photograph a letter by Augusta Wilder. Her latest has enabled me to study letters and an unusual sketchbook, thanks to her photographic skills – and her desire to help. Rare is it to meet with someone so willing to help, travel, photograph, and just be a sounding-board for discoveries and hopes. I would miss her e-pal friendship.
Very belated thanks to Clifford A. Timpson; his unstinting belief in this project near its research inception resulted in my first research grant. His own delving into the history of his family shows just how strongly many people care about the past; his generosity shows that sometimes people also care about the present and future, not to mention ‘the living’. I am grateful!
To obtain copies of the above journal articles, contact the author; Persuasions is also available for purchase through JASNA.org.