Author Archives: ladys-magazine

What the Lady’s Magazine Project Did Next

It’s been quite a while since our last blog post. Team Lady’s Magazine spent most of the summer working really hard trying to complete the data compilation and analysis for our index to meet our project deadline in September. I’m delighted to say that we did it! The Lady’s Magazine project index to the more than 15000 text items in the first series of the Lady’s Magazine is now live and free to view and download on our project website. Soon it will also be available in web format (and again in open access) on Adam Matthew Digital’s Eighteenth-Century Journals website.

 

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I am very proud of all that we achieved and incredibly grateful for hard work and collegiality of Koenraad and Jenny, who both have now gone on to bigger and better things. Koenraad left the UK just days after the project ended to take up a postdoctoral research fellowship at Ghent University (Belgium) and Jenny has taken up a Lectureship in Eighteenth-Century Studies and Romanticism at the University of Kent.

For all of us, the Lady’s Magazine project lives on. Koenraad’s work on the political content of the Lady’s Magazine feeds into his new research project on political fiction in the long nineteenth century. Jenny continues to work on the fascinating fiction in the magazine. As for me, well my work on the Lady’s Magazine is still very much unfinished business. Having completed the project, I am now moving on to the next phase of my research on the magazine, which is preparations for the book I am researching and soon (I hope) to be writing on the Lady’s Magazine in Romantic print culture. The Lady’s Magazine project isn’t dead. It’s just in phase 2.

And for me, phase 2 began beautifully. Last month I went to the University of York to give a talk about the Lady’s Magazine and run a workshop in the Borthwick Institute for Archives in the University Library organised by the Research School for Eighteenth Century and Romantics.

It was the best possible way to move forward. I went back. I was an undergraduate at York a few  more years ago than I like to admit and left – in a spectacular piece of bad timing on my part – the year the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies was founded. I never need much encouragement to return to York. But this time I had a more compelling reason than ever before: the University’s recent acquisition of the Heath Collection, which contains a number of fine volumes of the Lady’s Magazine.

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LM LV (1824): 179. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Cambridge University Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

As the University catalogue explains, the Heath Collection was the work of Sir John Heath, ambassador to Chile during the Falkland’s conflict, and descendent of the Heath family of engravers who, in turn, had close connections with the Robinsons who published the Lady’s Magazine. The Heaths produced some of the periodical’s finest illustrations. The Heath collection comprises an interrupted run of early nineteenth-century bound volumes of the magazine, all of which contain images by Charles Heath and some of them from Heath’s time as editor of the magazine (from May 1823).

Before arriving 30 minutes prior to the start of the workshop I hadn’t set eyes on the volumes in the Heath Collection, although I had read other copies of all of the volumes it comprises elsewhere. I had no idea of the condition of the run and didn’t have time to look at them in detail before the workshop started. Even just laying them out on book cushions with Sarah Griffin, Special Collections and York Minster Librarian, however, I could see the quality of the bindings and had high hopes. These were more than borne out. The volumes in the collection, some of which bear the striking book plate of royal dressmaker Hardy Amies, are some of the finest and most in tact, I have ever seen.

The workshop was fully booked out with seventeen undergraduate and postgraduate students in attendance. And we had the highest volume to person ratio of any workshop I have been involved in since the project began.

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As always, I learned so much from the students. Despite the fact that many started the workshop by saying they had never worked with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century periodicals and still fewer saying that they had worked with original copies rather than digital surrogates, the workshop participants proved highly skilled in reading the magazine to gain insights into its readership, appeal, contents, politics and influence. First impressions – or more accurately, the assumptions we bring subconsciously to the table before even opening copies of periodicals like the Lady’s Magazine – started to fragment in the face of the complexity of the miscellany format and happy to say that everyone found items pertinent to their research topics. Everyone in the room seemed to find material in the magazine that spoke directly to their research interests, and we had a spirited conversation about the pleasures and pitfalls of the digital revolution and the hazards of overlooking the material archive.

I also had an opportunity of giving a demonstration of our index and was delighted to hear students telling me how they could use it in their research and, in one case, how it was already being used.

If you’ve used the index, do let us know what you think about it. We’d love to know. Oh and if you ever find yourself in the North East, do head to the Borthwick. You will not be disappointed. I promise.

Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader, he burned them: Charlotte Bronte, Shipwreck and the Lady’s Magazine

Sadly, good news stories are rare these days. So when they come along, I tend to cling to them like precious cargo that can keep me afloat amidst the torrents of awfulness threatening to pull us all under in this unsettling and violent world.

BronteOne of the best news stories of the past ten days or so is surely the restoration of a book belonging to, and filled with annotations and sketches by, the Bronte family to their Haworth home. The purchase and repatriation of the salt-water stained copy of Robert Southey’s The Remains of Henry Kirke White was made possible by a £170,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, in addition to a further £30,000 raised by a V&A Purchase Grant Fund and Friends of the National Libraries. As the BBC news website noted, this particular copy of Southey’s work was especially remarkable because of the story surrounding it. A treasured artefact of a life prematurely cut short, the book was ‘one of a few possessions saved from a shipwreck shortly before Maria married Patrick Bronte in 1812’, and bore an inscription from Patrick that read: ‘the book of my dearest wife and it was saved from the waves. So then it will always be preserved’. Preserved though it was, the book was nonetheless sold after Patrick’s death in the early 1860s and spent nearly a century in the US before its recent and happy return to Haworth. [1] 

After initially reading this story on the BBC news website, I spent a good 40 minutes trawling through as many different versions of the same story as I could find. Each told more or less the same version of the same series of events in more or less the same language, as news outlets tend to do today just as they did in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. What I was fruitlessly looking for, I soon realised in my obsessive re-reading, was an answer to an unposed question: What else survived the shipwreck? [2]

Based on the news coverage, you would be forgiven for thinking that only Southey’s Remains of Henry Kirke White was saved from the briny deep in 1812. But this was not the case. Especially prized by Charlotte Bronte was a set of volumes that kept the young woman away from her lessons and hungering after a literary career of her own: a collection of the Lady’s Magazine, the full run of which periodical extended well beyond the date of the shipwreck (from 1770 to 1832).

We don’t know exactly how many copies of the magazine Charlotte and her siblings inherited in the years after their preservation from the shipwreck, although we have some sense of which volumes survived because of the detail with which she later recalled them. Our evidence comes in the form of a letter dated 10 December 1840 to Hartley Coleridge in which Charlotte expressed regret that

I did not exist forty of fifty years ago when the Lady’s magazine was flourishing like a green bay tree—In that case I make no doubt my aspirations after literary fame would have met with due encouragement— […] and I would have contested the palm with the Authors of Derwent Priory—of the Abbey and Ethelinda. You see Sir I have read the Lady’s Magazine and know something of its contents—though I am not quite certain of the correctness of the titles I have quoted … 

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LM XXVII (Jan 1797): 12-13. © Jennie Batchelor. Not to be reproduced without permission.

In fact, Bronte’s recall is accurate. Like her, I have spent many happy hours reading the anonymous gothic novel Derwent Priory (serialised 1796-97 and later attributed to Mrs A Kendall), George Moore’s Grasville Abbey (1793-97) and the unsigned ‘Athewold and Ethelinda’ (1797). The fact that Bronte remembered this fiction was remarkable because she did not have the copies before her. Although she vividly remembered the brine ‘discoloured’ pages of the magazine over which she pored ‘on holiday afternoons or by stealth when I should have been minding my lessons’, the volumes had long since left her possession by the time she wrote to Coleridge in 1840:

One black day my father burnt them because they contained foolish love-stories. With all my heart I wish I had been born in time to contribute to the Lady’s magazine. [3]

The sense of horror and betrayal of her father’s act was evidently very much alive to Bronte years after it had been committed and clearly ran as deep as her affection for a magazine and an associated writing culture – ‘when the Lady’s magazine was flourishing like a green bay tree’ – that she sorely lamented the loss of as an aspiring professional writer.

I refer to Bronte’s letter frequently when I talk to people about the Lady’s Magazine and I use it for lots of different reasons. For one thing, as an example of a near contemporary reader’s response to the magazine it is rare. The fact that this is an example of so well known a writer as Bronte only makes it more valuable, not least because it means that I don’t have to rely solely upon my own powers of persuasion to get people to take the magazine seriously. Don’t take my word for it that the Lady’s Magazine is interesting and was influential, here’s what Charlotte Bronte thought about it …

But of course what is most interesting about this story is the tale of survival and destruction around which it turns and the complex psychodrama it plays out. For every fact the letter seems to give us – that Bronte read the Lady’s Magazine, that she associated it with the successful promotion of women’s writing, for instance – at least one question is begged – did she really think that unpaid journalism was preferable to a life of professional authorship and did she share any of her father’s views of its foolishness, for example. Most insistently, however, the question that nags at the reader of the letter is this: How could Patrick Bronte destroy volumes that evidently meant so much to his daughter and which had been saved, along with the Southey, from the waves?

In many ways, I feel that the broader piece of research to which our current Leverhulme project is related – a book I am writing about the Lady’s Magazine‘s place in Romantic literature and culture – is an attempt to answer this question. The rage, which is at once unique to the Bronte family and yet also eerily emblematic of the fate of the Lady’s Magazine, one of the most successful women’s magazines of all times and yet all but silenced in literary history, would certainly take many more words to explain than I have in this blog post.

For now though, I am struck by something I had lost sight of until the news stories of the past week or so. The Bronte Parsonage Museum’s acquisition of Maria Bronte’s copy of what has been repeatedly described as the treasured and invaluable Remains of Henry Kirke White reminds me that what is most important and too often forgotten is that the Lady’s Magazine was valued enough to be saved. Not only that but it was valued enough by at least one of Maria Bronte’s daughters enough to be read, re-read and remembered. The story of the destruction of copies of The Lady’s Magazine by a man who likely never read it (it was far more cynical about love than foolish) should not mute the more triumphant and arguably more telling one about its survival against the odds. These volumes will never be returned to Haworth, but given the personal and, I would argue, textual legacies that the magazine undoubtedly bestowed Charlotte Bronte, they never really left there.

Notes

 

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-36844945 <accessed 28 July 2016>

[2] Prior to her marriage to Patrick Bronte, Maria sent for her possessions to be shipped from Penzance, but the vessel ran aground of the Devonshire coast en route.

[3] The Letters of Charlotte Bronte: Vol. 1, 1829-1847, ed Margaret Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), p. 240.

 

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent

Becoming Jane: The Case of a Lady’s Magazine Emigrant

Working on The Lady’s Magazine project this May and June has led me down all manner of bizarre eighteenth-century rabbit holes, and no two days are ever the same. I have, over the month, chased one of Mary Robinson’s stray Sylphids across numerous newspapers. I found myself reading about sheep rot in an agricultural magazine just yesterday. I encountered a very serious vicar (J. H. Prince) who, as well as reflections on suicide, also wrote odes on dead cats (there are a surprising number of these, from a surprising number of contributors, in the magazine). I caught a brief glimpse of Emma Hamilton, or someone posing as her, in the pages of 1800, waxing lyrical about reading Dimond’s petrarchal sonnets. I smiled as the same hopeless swain, writing hopeless lines of poetry, tried with his lays first to ensnare one Susan Yates, and then just two months later, a Sophia. I laughed at Dr Hawes’ recommended methods for restoring to life the apparently dead (‘what thou doest – do quickly’), and laughed even more as ‘Tommy Softchin’ bemoaned his lack of whiskers. Sometimes I got very carried away on Ancestry; I tracked down the son of one of the magazine’s long-term contributors, John Webb. Webb often wrote poetry about his sons, and this particular one, Conrade, had a ‘providential escape’ from death by cart in 1800.[1] This escape proved fortunate for him, obviously, but unfortunate for 18 year-old William Riddle, who, 33 years later, was sentenced to two month’s confinement for drunkenly stealing a ham from his master, a cheesemonger: Conrade Manger Webb. Reading the Old Bailey Records, I thought about the ‘playful Conrade’ that a charmed father wrote about, the suing cheesemonger of 1833, and the 77-year-old man who lived and died on Edgware Road, weaving together these three seemingly disparate images, these three traces of a real, lived life.

The paucity of biographical records from this period often sees lives squashed into stubborn, unyielding signifiers. The thrill of finding the right person is quickly overwritten by frustration as that person is reduced to a date of birth, marriage, death, or a street number. Sometimes the records give a bit more: a court appearance, a list of household residents, a photo of a document. But I found over the last few months, that the magazine contributions themselves could sometimes provide rich insights into the lives of the contributors. In other words, they can make the records speak to us.

My work on the project was on attribution and authorship. I donned my best detective hat and ploughed my way through the years, cross-referencing each entry to find out whether it was original; if not, where it came from; and in any case, who might have written it. Tracking down an unacknowledged appropriation has its own pleasures, particularly when the search is a long, piecemeal one, but the most rewarding (and the most potentially frustrating) work lies, I think, in attribution. The magazine is a wonderful, dense, and unruly site in which to perform recovery project archaeology. Although there are so many contributors who will probably never be traced (the Eleanor H**** who translated 6 plays from French and German between 1799 and 1805 proved just one source of frustration for me this month), some are just waiting to be discovered. Likewise, although many contributors had short-lived careers in the Lady’s Magazine, some went on to publish novels or poetry collections after. Others can tell us something about their particular historical moment, about their situated and personal experiences. As Jennie noted in a recent blogpost, recovering the lives of contributors ‘might not seem all that important beyond fleshing out a footnote in literary history. But for [each writer] we find, we are able to bring into slightly sharper focus what it might have meant to be an author in the period covered by the Lady’s Magazine.’[2] Indeed, the aim is to uncover a messy eighteenth-century that is sometimes overlooked in favour of clean, linear narratives. The magazine is the perfect forum for this sort of work: inclusive, democratic, dialogic. And it affords fascinating glimpses into lost lives, which speak to modern concerns as much as they did to the concerns of their many eighteenth- and nineteenth-century readers.

In the spirit of recovery, then, and as a way of making the figures and names ‘speak’, I want to share the story of one of the Lady’s Magazine’s contributors, which takes us all the way from Lincolnshire to Washington. This story resides in the poetry sections of the magazine for 1805, which play host, as they often did, to a transient poetic community. When I first opened up the index, I optimistically scanned the names, looking for partial ones that I might be able to flesh out. One jumped out right away: Jane C—k—g. I searched Ancestry a few times that day with variations, but with no definitive results, and quickly gave up and moved on with the more fruitful business of searching out appropriations. But Jane kept asking for attention. By the time I arrived in 1805, I’d given up on finding her, when one afternoon, I arrived at this acrostic:

 

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LM 31 (Aug 1800): 439. mage © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

 

And there she was. Jane Cocking, Holbeach Marsh. Right after an acrostic to her sister Anne Cocking. I had a lead, and Ancestry was forthcoming.

Jane was born in Lincolnshire on 14th June 1789 to William (1760-1820) and Ann (nee Worseley, 1750-1834) Cocking. Her sister, Ann(e) (spelling varies in the records), was four years older than her (b. 7th March 1785). They lived at Holbeach Marsh, a fenland area in the South Holland district of Lincolnshire, which is where Jane signed most of her poetry from.

Jane started her 7-month writing career in the Lady’s Magazine, just shy of 16 years old, with six contributions to April’s poetry section.[3] Two of these were acrostics; one for an unknown woman called Jane Herbbass(?), and the other for her sister’s fiancé, William Blanchard (‘May you e’er live in peace and ease, / Belov’d by her you wish to please’). She also contributed an elegy on the death of her friend, Mary Cooling, who had died in December 1804, aged 15 (‘how transient were her charms’), and she wrote a poem to a Miss. Harrison, (probably Nancy Harrison, b. 31 May, 1783). These four contributions are full of assertions of her subjects’ virtues, and hopes for their future happiness, mostly in terms of marriage, and the successful avoidance of ‘false-hearted swains’ and ‘fickle shepherds’. In one of the other poems, ‘Some verses on leaving H—–N’, Jane laments having to leave friends after a long stay spent reading and writing poetry. She writes, wistfully, ‘ah when I think how our time we were spending – / In composing of poetry, or reading a book – / We were ever obliging, and never offending, / And the smile of good nature appear’d in each look’. The final poem, ‘Verses on a pleasant walk near Lincoln’, bids farewell to the landscape she knows, although at this point, readers are unsure what this means or where she is going:

 

Farewell, lovely scene! I must go,

And leave thee, ah! leave thee behind!

But I this, as some solace, shall know

Thou wilt e’er have a place in my mind.

Ah! how peaceful I oft have sat down,

Enjoying thy beauties serene!

Undisturb’d by the noise of the town,

I’ve hail’d thee the charmingest scene.

But now I must bid thee adieu,

Tho’ ‘t will certainly give me much pain;

Much more, as I certainly know

I shall ne’er see thy beauties again.

These are clumsy and perhaps derivative poems, but they also tell us the story of a contributor that is wholly relatable to anyone who was once a teenage girl, who tried to imitate what she read, who had heartfelt hopes for her loved ones, or who had to move home as a child.

In ‘on leaving H—–N’, she writes, despite obviously being preoccupied with the upcoming move in her other poems:

 

My heart is a gay one, a stranger to sorrow: –

That word in my ear has a very harsh sound; –

Present time I employ, and ne’er think of tomorrow –

‘Tis a period, we’re told, ‘that’s no-where to be found.

In July, Jane heeds her own advice, and leaves off thinking about leaving, in order to respond to a poem written by James Murray Lacey. His ‘Lover’s List’[4] establishes him as the Lady’s Magazine’s very own, eighteenth-century version of Lou Bega (see the questionable 1990 hit single Mambo No. 5), cataloguing his adoration of Evelina, then Mary, then Selina, then Betsy, then Nancy, and so on: 32 named women and ‘fifty more’ that he cannot name. Jane’s witty response in July reworks the original poem from a female respective, listing a slightly more modest 10 lovers, and ending with a flirtatious address to the original author: ‘I never will desert this swain [Francis is the one she’s settled on], / I do him love so well; /No, no, I’ll never change again – / Except for J. M. L.[5]

The following month, James Murray Lacey raises young Jane a tongue-in-cheek declaration:

You wrote, – and now she charms no more;

Jane fills each love-devoted thought:

I only fancy’d love before,

But now I’m certain I am caught.

[…]

From Portsmouth lately when I came,

‘Where have you been?’ ask’d all I knew;

My answer ever was the same, –

‘To Holbeach Marsh,’ – a jaunt quite new!’[6]

His request that she ‘turn Francis off’ and write back to him sadly went answered.

Meanwhile, we find out where Jane is actually going from another contributor, Belinda, who, in June 1805 writes two poems: ‘Lines to Miss Jane C—k—g’ and ‘Lines to the Misses C—k—g, on their going to America.’[7] From Belinda’s other poetry, alongside poems written to her, I was able to establish that her real name was Mary, and she had a sister who was probably called Ann. The final stanza of ‘on their going to America’ is intriguing. Belinda writes: ‘‘Tis a prayer that proceeds from the heart, / Although by a stranger ‘tis penned: / With regret she will hear you depart; / Then what pangs ‘twill inflict on each friend!’ Whilst these lines suggest that was wasn’t known to Jane personally, Jane’s response suggests that they were actually close friends. This is perhaps then demonstrative of the ways in which, like modern internet forums, the Lady’s Magazine provided a space in which to make ‘virtual’ friends. More likely, I think, given that Belinda writes from Fleet, near where Jane lived, it demonstrates the writer’s dogged adherence to the pseudonymity of the poem. Whilst Mary knows Jane, Belinda does not.

Jane’s poetry dominated the section in April, and then in October, although the poems included in October’s issue were written between May and August. From Holbeach Marsh, she writes praising Belinda (Mary). She also writes a short poem on contentment; one on modesty, addressed to a Mr. W—ley; one entitled ‘The Forsaken Swain’; and an acrostic to Clement Coote, who had written acrostics to Jane and Anne in the magazine two months before.[8]

Coote, if he is the Clement Tubbs Coote that I tracked down, was christened in November 1784 in Cambridge, and so would have been close in age to Anne Cocking. In 1799, aged around 15, he was apprenticed to Charles Burnett, a grocer, in Fleet, Lincoln.

 

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Clement T. Coote is apprenticed to Charles Burnett, grocer. Aug 1799.

He signs his 1805 poems from Fleet, as Belinda does, suggesting that this is how he knew Anne and Jane (Fleet is about 8 miles from Holbeach). In 1807, Coote returned to Cambridge, apparently giving up poetry, to take up another apprenticeship.

 

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Clement Coote is apprenticed to William Cockett, draper. Dec 1807.

 

In 1809, he married Mary Cole, who I spent an inordinately long amount of time trying to prove was Belinda in the hopes of a nice tidy circle, but alas, no such luck. He went on to run a business as a draper, grocer and tallow-chaundler, but unfortunately went bankrupt in 1817.

 

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Clement Tubbs Coote goes bankrupt. Literary Panorama and National Register 6 (Aug 1817)

At some point shortly after this, the Coote family moved to America too, arriving in Philadelphia. Clement Coote died in Baltimore in 1849.[9]

But back to Jane. By August 22nd 1805, Jane was in London, where she penned a farewell poem to Clement Coote, wishing her ‘dear Mr C—’ health, wealth and contentment.[10] Did she see him when he arrived on American shores 12 years later? Jane also wrote a final goodbye poem to Belinda (Mary), and to ‘Albion’s happy isle’ before she ‘brave[d] th’Atlantic deep’.[11] In this latter poem, she writes touchingly of storing memories of the English countryside – singing blackbirds and linnets – anticipating that in her new home, ‘Remembrance then will force the tear to flow, / When in my fancy I behold each spot, / Each fav’rite spot, I formerly admir’d.’ But she goes on:

‘But what are these? mean trifles, when compar’d

With leaving friends, friends much esteem’d, behind:

Whene’er I think on that, it casts a damp –

A cheerless damp throughout my frame I feel.

‘Cheerless damp’ is the same phrase that Belinda uses in her 1806 poem ‘To a friend leaving the country.’[12] On September 12th 1805, Jane’s sister Anne married William Blanchard at St George in the East, in London. Then sometime over the next few weeks, Jane’s parents, Jane, and the newly married Anne and William all emigrated to America, where they settled in Washington, in the District of Columbia.

The Cockings emigrated at a time which saw a lull in the numbers of arrivals to America, mostly due to the Napoleonic wars.[13] Maldwyn Allen Jones suggests that the total number of immigrants from Europe to America 1783-1815 was about 250,000, but with only about 3,000 a year during the Napoleonic wars.[14] So what made them leave, enduring at best, an uncomfortable, and at worst, a deadly journey across the Atlantic? Belinda’s fears for her friend undergoing a dangerous journey are apparent in the lines:

Atlantic, be proud of thy charge!

Neptune, curb ev’ry boist’rous storm!

With honour thy duties discharge;

Let nought thy smooth bosom deform![15]

And indeed, shipwrecks were a real threat. A list of all the shipwrecks in 1806, which is in the hundreds, can be found here. Unless I can track down Jane writing in America, it is unlikely that we will ever know what her journey was like or why her family travelled 3,000 miles to start again in Washington. However, they arrived safely. Life went on.

On August 19th 1813, aged 24, Jane married an American called Charles Carroll Glover. They remained in Washington, appearing on the 1820 federal census with three children and – something that shocked me, and that might tell us a bit more about the Cockings’ economic status – two young female slaves. Suddenly the weaving of strands that I already thought I knew became harder; the coherent, imagined, and celebratory picture I’d created was fragmented. Jane’s sister Anne (now Blanchard) also remained in Washington, had a large family of six(?) children, and owned at least one slave in 1830. Around this time, the number of slaves in Washington had reached its peak, representing twelve percent of the city’s population.[16] Anne shows up in 1862 claiming compensation for two recently freed slaves, Rachel Jackson and William Henry Taylor.[17] You can view her petition here.

Jane was widowed in 1827, and outlived all of her children too: her daughter Adeline died at 9 months; and sons William at 21, and Richard at 29. Jane herself lived to the grand age of 87, dying on September 14th, 1876.

 

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Gravestones at Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia. From left to right: Charles and Jane Glover; Charles and Jane Glover’s children; Anne Cocking (Blanchard).

 

Back in 1805, Clement Coote wrote a poem for Jane, ‘on her Arrival in London, just before her Departure for America’, but this wasn’t published until April 1806.[18] In it, he hopes: ‘May you upon Columbia’s plain / Find some who love the tuneful train’, and wishes that she will continue to be inspired by other poets to write. Whether she did or not remains to be seen, and checking some American periodicals for Jane Cockings or Jane Glovers is on the to do list.

Tracing Jane C—k—g did several things for me. It demonstrated the way in which the Lady’s Magazine functioned as a forum for communication between momentary, geographically-located, networks of friends. It gave me an insight into the materials available for a teenage girl to express her joys and her anxieties, her love of the countryside she grew up in, and her fears about leaving it for America. It suggested, in linking a village in Lincolnshire to the changing legal status of slaves in mid nineteenth-century America, that the magazine’s webs and networks can be extended to cover a huge variety of geographical spaces and historical issues, of which migration and globalisation formed an integral part. This month has been a profoundly odd one, but also a profoundly human one, in which the connections between the past and the present have at once been fractured – sheep rot seems inescapably alien to me, writing in 21st century London – but also maintained. We continue, as people, to be fragmented across our daily lives, our writing, the records we leave, even the thoughts we have. Reading Jane – at once anxious, sorrowful, optimistic, virtuous, flirtatious; a child writing juvenilia and a slave owner; an intrepid teenage voyager and a widowed mother – was a palpable reminder of this.

Dr Kim Simpson

School of English

University of Kent

 

Notes

[1] LM 31 (Dec 1800): 672

[2] Jennie Batchelor, ‘Our ‘ingenious correspondent’: Finding Joanna Squire’, https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/ladys-magazine/2016/06/06/our-ingenious-correspondent-finding-joanna-squire/

[3] LM 36 (Apr 1805): 214-16

[4] LM 36 (Feb 1805): 103

[5] LM 36 (Jul 1805): 381

[6] LM 36 (Aug 1805): 437

[7] LM 36 (Jun 1805): 327

[8] LM 36 (Oct 1805): 549-51

[9] There is more information about Clement Coote, including a photograph of his portrait, here: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&amp;GRid=113760171&amp;ref=acom

[10] LM 36 (Oct 1805): 551

[11] LM 36 (Oct 1805): 550

[12] LM 37 (May 1806): 275

[13] John Powell, Encyclopedia of North American Immigration (New York: Facts on File Inc., 2005), 37

[14] Maldwyn Allen Jones, American Immigration, 2nd edn. (London: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 54

[15] ‘Lines to the Misses C––k––g, on their going to America’. LM 36 (Jun 1805): 327

[16] http://civilwardc.org/texts/petitions/about

[17] ‘In December 1861, Senator Wilson submitted a bill proposing the immediate and compulsory emancipation of the District of Columbia’s 3,300 slaves through a program of federal compensation. The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act, which President Lincoln signed on April 16, 1862, allotted an average of $300 per slave to all slaveowners who were loyal to the Union, for a total payment of $900,000. Under the Compensated Emancipation Act, all slaves in the District of Columbia were free immediately. Slaveowners had ninety days to submit a petition, which consisted of a preprinted form, requesting compensation for their slaves. The petitions, which were written by the slaveowners, identified each slave, provided a personal description, including the slave’s “age, size, complexion, health and qualifications,” and presented an estimated value of the slave for purposes of compensation. […] During the three-month process, 966 slaveowners filed petitions and testified before the commission.’ http://civilwardc.org/texts/petitions/about

[18] LM 37 (Apr 1806): 217

The Lady’s Magazine social media round-up

We’ve been very busy in the last few weeks. And as the Lady’s Magazine project races towards completion in September 2016, I have been feeling more than a pang of guilt about not being as present on our social media as I would like to be. In part, that’s because we have all been quite busy outside the world of the Twittersphere, with conferences, workshops and, also, other forms of writing beyond the blog.

We’ve been finding it hard to keep up with all the different things that we’ve been doing, and it occurred to me earlier this week that it likely means you have, too. So, just in case you have missed anything that may be of interest to you, we thought we would list some of this activity in one place to make it easier to find. So here’s just some of the things we’ve been up to.

New Statesman Hidden Histories podcast series

hidden_hist

A couple of months ago, I was invited by Dr Sophie Coulombeau (Cardiff University) and Dr Liz Edwards (University of Wales) to take part in 3 of a series of 6 podcasts on eighteenth-century women writers and and how both got written out of literary history for the New Statesman. The Lady’s Magazine features prominently in two of the six podcasts: episode 4, ‘Sociable Spaces’ is about the magazine and the debating societies it tracked and mirrored for some of its history; and my ‘Fight Club’ pitch in episode 5 for the best woman writer of the eighteenth century was heavily influenced by her work on the magazine. The series as a whole is simply excellent and I had a ball being involved. The podcasts are free to listen to and download here.

A Fate Worse than Death: Marital Cynicism in the Lady’s Magazine

When Catherine Curzon, aka the fabulous Madame Gilflurt asked me if I would like to write something about the magazine for her wonderful blog, I jumped at the chance. I offered Catherine a few possible topics but was delighted when she picked the one I was hoping she would because it is a bit of a favourite of mine: the rotten state of marriage as it is portrayed in the magazine. You can read the blog post, which is much more fun than it sounds, I promise, here.

The Quilter

Stitch Off tableThe Stitch Off continues apace, with new items arriving each week and comments from visitors pouring in to tell us how much they admire and are inspired by the wonderful exhibition of our followers’ work on display at Chawton House Library, as part of their ‘Emma at 200′ exhibition. I have said it before, but honestly, the Stitch Off is one of the most enjoyable projects I have ever been, and likely ever will be, involved in in my working life. So you can imagine how I felt when I was asked by the Editor of The Quilter if I would write something about how it all came about for their summer 2016 issue (number 147). I received my hard copy of the magazine last week, and it now takes pride of place on my coffee table at work. If you would like to read the article, you can find it here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the article, blog post or podcast!

 

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent

 

Our ‘ingenious correspondent’: Finding Joanna Squire

As we enter the last few months (gulp!) of our project, new discoveries are throwing themselves at us at a pretty alarming rate. A number of these insights relate to the identities and biographies of some of our authors. The emphasis here, as always, is on the some. We have noted this many times on this blog before, but it bears repeating: the vast majority of reader-contributors who provided original content for the magazine are, and will likely always remain, unknown to us, hidden as they are behind obscure pseudonyms or legal names so common that a week lost in Ancestry trying to find them will never be gotten back.

The figures we have been able to piece biographical details about generally present themselves to us with a little bit of extra detail extra to help us on our attribution way. Often, as in the case of John and Elizabeth Legg or John Webb, this detail takes the form of  a place of residence that, along with other clues, has taken us to the relevant archives. Some, like Elizabeth Yeames or C. D. Haynes, are betrayed by brief biographical nuggets offered up in the magazine itself or by easily overlooked asides in that most fabulous resource for the doggedly persistent academic, Notes and Queries.

Others are located by pure serendipity. One such happy accident occurred a few months ago when I was too tired to do ‘proper work’ but unable to sleep. I was messing about on Ancestry and thinking about those magazine contributors I most wanted to know about but didn’t.

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LM, 60 (Dec 1809): 549. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

The name of Joanna Squire, or Miss Joanna Squire, as the magazine demurely referred to her, kept resurfacing in my mind. Joanna Squire enjoyed (although as you’ll see, that might not be quite the right word) quite a stint in the Lady’s Magazine. Although her nearly 6 years of publishing with the magazine (between late 1809 and 1815) is not remarkable by the periodical’s standards, the column inches she occupied were significant. In addition to a sole piece of prose – a fragment on hope that appeared in the December 1809 issue – Squire produced a considerable number of poetic works in the first half of the 1810s. Indeed, many single monthly issues of the magazine from these years usually contains 4 or more of her poems.

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LM 61 (Oct 1810): 470-71.

It was not Squire’s productivity that most impressed me, however; it was her range and spirit. Squire’s poems include completions of ’bouts-rimés’ (poems prompted by rhyming end lines offered up by the magazine to inspire readers), charades and meditations on the fickleness of fortune (a favourite topic). She often wrote poems to and received poetic epistles from other magazine contributors (including Charlotte Caroline Richardson and James Murray Lacey). She was also a patriotic and political poet who wrote a series of works condemning Bonaparte’s public and private life.  Her ‘Address to Fortune’, an extempore poem on ‘reading that Bonaparte had deprived his repudiated Josephine of the title of Empress’ from the October 1810 issue, merits a blog post of its own.

Yet this is just one of many poems Squire submitted to the Lady’s Magazine for publication and she remained their ‘respected’ and ‘ingenious’ correspondent, as they were apt to call her, for a significant period of time. At least, that is, until she spectacularly fell out with the magazine’s editors.

In February 1815, the ‘Correspondents’ column of the magazine acknowledged receipt of ‘the very angry epistle of Miss Joanna Squire’ but refused to extend to her the expression of gratitude normally extended to contributors. The circumstances of Squire’s spat with the magazine are unclear, but the magazine’s perturbation is not:

It would be
 quite easy to refute all her remarks; but after the petulant language, which
 she has used, she deserves no explanation, and none shall she have.—We
 recommend to her perusal the speech of Mrs. Caveat, at page 73 of our
 present Number. (no page)

For the curious, Mrs Caveat –  a figure in a regular serial in the magazine in the 1810s – admonishes a companion for want of ‘good breeding’ and ‘petulant’ comments on page 73. I bet you could have guessed that.

From then on, Squire disappears from the Lady’s Magazine and although I had found other works by her in contemporary periodicals, I was drawing a blank in finding her or anything by her after 1815. What happened to her and her talent, I wondered? Had she died not long after the spat with the magazine?

I had looked for her in birth, marriages and deaths records before, but had never found a convincing lead. But that evening my tired and inaccurately typing fingers happened upon a one I hadn’t found before: a Joanna Squires christened on 10 November 1776 in Staines Middlesex. As with my previous efforts to locate Catherine Cuthbertson, I hoped that Squire(s) had lived long enough to see the 1841 census so I could find out more about her and I also hoped that she was considerate and sensible enough not to have married. My initial and disappointed searches drew a blank.

 

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Then, just as I was about to give up, I thought I would try a marriage search again using the information in my new lead: a Joanna born around 1776 in Middlesex. When I found a marriage record for September 1816 to a John Carey in the parish of St George the Martyr, Southwark, I instantly woke up. I knew the name Carey. I knew that a John Carey (could it be this one?), was a literary figure and I knew I had read excepts from his work and odd original pieces in the Lady’s Magazine. Before logging off from Ancestry I did a search for Joanna Carey in the 1841 and 1851 census returns hoping I might be on to something. I was. I found her: as Johanna Carey, a woman of independent means living in the same parish in which she married in 1841; and as Joanna Carey, now living with her servant Elizabeth Jones in Newington High Street, in 1851.

From then it was a few internet searches to assemble a lot of biographical information very quickly. Dr John Carey was easy to pin down. A Dublin born classical scholar, teacher and editor, Carey has his own ODNB page [1], although no mention is made in it of either of his two wives (Joanna was the second). What the ODNB lacked, the Gentleman’s Magazine for 1830 more than made up for. Reporting Carey’s death on 8 December 1829 (the ODNB has Carey’s death date as 1826) in a substantial obituary, the Gentleman’s Magazine gives a generous account of Carey’s career, in part because he was a ‘frequent contributor’ to it himself.

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Gentleman’s Magazine, new series, 29 (April 1830): 371.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the penultimate paragraph of the death notice, the obituarist notes that ‘Dr Carey was twice married; and, by his second wife (who, was the author of the novel, entitled “Lasting Impressions,” and of numerous pieces of fugitive poetry, many of which have been published in this Miscellany, is not unknown to the public), he has left a very promising boy, now in his eleventh year.’ John Squire Carey was born on the 29 August 1819 when his mother was in her early forties. He died in 1836 and his mother would outlive him for a further 15 years. When she died in November 1851, she left a will, witnessed by Elizabeth Jones, leaving her estate to her husband’s son from his previous marriage.

Uncovering the details of Joanna Squire’s life might not seem all that important beyond fleshing out a footnote in literary history. But for every Joanna Squire, C. D. Haynes, Radagunda Roberts or John Legg we find, we are able to bring into slightly sharper focus what it might have meant to be an author in the period covered by the Lady’s Magazine. And the answer is a messy one. Authors for the Lady’s Magazine didn’t, usually, write in single genres or modes and their careers often spanned decades, marriages, childbirths and deaths. Known Lady’s Magazine authors often did not just write for this title. They fall into and out of love with the magazine as often as twenty-first-century scholars working on it. But thank goodness for serendipity for keeping even the most tired and cynical of researchers energised and keen to find out more.

Notes

[1] W. Sutton, ‘Carey, John (1756–1826)’, rev. Philip Carter, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/4654, accessed 9 Feb 2016]

John Carey (1756–1826): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/465

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent

 

The free press: payment, professionalism and the Lady’s Magazine

Back in February of this year, Steve Hewlett’s interview of Stephen Hull, Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post UK, for the BBC’s Media Show created quite an online storm. It was hard to avoid the social media fallout, but in case you did, it revolved primarily around Mr Hull’s comments about the non-payment of the many bloggers who provide content for Huffington Post UK. Defending the media outlet’s position, Mr Hull controversially linked the refusal to pay non-staff writers in these terms: ‘If I was paying someone to write something because I want it to get advertising, that’s not a real authentic way of presenting copy. When somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real, we know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of’.

Mr Hull’s equation of unpaid, voluntary contributions with an authenticity that he implies would be tainted by payment and its associated obligations to a media outlet’s advertisers caused quite a stir. Why on earth should objectivity be the province of the unpaid, we wondered? What will the long-term consequences of this reliance on unpaid writers for media content be for the future of journalism? Is the new media strangling the old? Is there really, as Mr Hull implies, any writing that is truly disinterested (whether you get paid for it or not)? And what do we do with the inconvenient truth that bloggers and journalists alike need to eat and pay rent?

At best, Mr Hull’s comments have been seen by his critics as naive. At worst, they have been cast as utterly parasitic: a devaluing of authorial labour under the guise of praise. But then again, is it any wonder that media outlets will rely on free copy in an ever expanding and cut-throat marketplace? Why should journalism be any more immune to austerity than any other profession, industry or service? And it’s surely the case, isn’t it, that a number of the bloggers who write for Huffington Post UK and other outlets aren’t doing so because they are being ‘forced’? Many, surely, choose such unpaid work in the hopes of future, paid career opportunities. But other writers might not care (much) about this. The reach and influence of the Huffington Post UK is such that it presents a formidable platform from which to articulate views and realities that the world needs to hear about. Sometimes getting such messages out matters more to the people who want to convey those messages than getting paid. Although I wonder how many would turn down offer of payment for their research and time if it were offered….?

As we move from an age of authors to the age of bloggers and social media enthusiasts, the questions about the value of authorial labour posed by Mr Hull’s comments are only ever going to become more pressing. And I, for one, am not optimistic about where the story is going to end. But in saying as much, I realise that I am adopting a position that is laden with irony.

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LM XX (1789). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

I am sat here writing this blog for free, just as I have written a magazine article and at least two other guest blog posts this month for no payment. Am I bitter about this? Not in the least. I do these things because I value the fact that these media opportunities open up our research to wider audiences than an academic book with its hefty price tag could garner. I do it because I love what I do and because I want to share that enthusiasm, to get feedback on work in progress, and (hopefully) to get better at it as a consequence. I do it, as Mr Hull suggests the Huffington Post UK‘s bloggers do, because I want to. But I firmly believe that I am no more objective in my blog posts than I have been in the odd bits of paid writing I have done over the years. And of course, I can do this voluntary writing because I have a full-time job that pays the bills and enables me to write for free. I thought the days of authorship being the preserve of only those who had leisure and means to do it had ended in the eighteenth century…

And herein lies the second irony. What makes me uneasy about Mr Hull’s comments is something that I have frequently and openly celebrated about the Lady’s Magazine: its creation of a community of volunteer reader-contributors who provided the magazine’s original content apparently free of charge. As I have argued at length elsewhere, one of the key reasons why the Lady’s Magazine has been so long neglected by historians and literary scholars is that its reliance on enthusiastic amateurs like John Webb, Elizabeth Yeames, and the hundreds of A.Z.’s, Anons and Nobodies whose copy fills its pages, means that it has been seen as insufficiently professional to be taken seriously [1].

 

LM, XXXIV (May 1803): 253. © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM, XXXIV (May 1803): 253. © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Why should this be the case? Why should we assume that just because the likes of Elizabeth Yeames might not have been paid for her work for the magazine that she didn’t take that work seriously? After all, as I pointed out in this blog post, the fact that she published in the Lady’s Magazine meant that she had a reach and influence that stretched over decades and continents. In the 1810s, she would likely have been read in greater numbers and been much more readily identifiable to readers than the anonymous author of Sense and Sensibility (1811). What does it matter if she was not paid for that work? Authorial success and literary value can’t be reduced to pounds, shillings and pence, can they? What if being read mattered more to her than being paid?

It’s a complex web of a problem if ever there was one, and it is one that the Lady’s Magazine itself was increasingly aware of as it moved into the nineteenth century. For the first decades of the magazine’s history, there is little sense that the non-payment of authors was anything other than a selling point for the publication. Write for us and you too can be read by thousands, is the implicit promise the editors made to their readers. Indeed, the magazine went to great lengths to ensure that potential contributors felt that publication in it was a prize, even if that prize involved no remuneration whatsoever or the kind of career beyond its pages secured by the likes of Mary Russell Mitford.

The magazine’s monthly columns acknowledging items submitted for publication are full of lavish praise for the best and most highly valued contributions, such as those of Henrietta R-, whom the editors acknowledged with the ‘greatest esteem, as well as gratitude’ in the August 1774 issue (no page). Equally, the magazine was rarely backwards in coming forwards with criticisms of what it conceived to be poorly conceived, written or inappropriately focused content. The magazine named and shamed many whose work it would not deign to publish, such as poor Anna Maria, whose poetic effusion on the death of a beloved pet was greeted in the September 1817 correspondents column with one of the editors’ most scathing  rejections in its history: ‘We sincerely regret Anna Maria’s loss; but advise her when she raises the funeral pile to her Canary bird, to light it with her elegy‘ (no page). In the face of such public rejection, it is little wonder that ‘gaining a footing’ in the ‘inclosure’ of the magazine, in the form of being accepted for publication, felt like something worth attaining for many of the magazine’s authors, even if generated no income (LM 33 [May 1782]: 258).

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LM XLVIII (Sept 1817). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

But a good number of the magazine’s contributors could ill afford to be cavalier about whether they got paid or not for their writing. Many, we know, most certainly did not write from a position of financial disinterest.

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Mary Pilkington

Mary Pilkington, for instance, who undertook paid editorial work for Vernor and Hood’s Lady’s Magazine rival, The Lady’s Monthly Museum (1798-1828), also wrote various original articles and serials for the Robinson publication from 1809 onwards. As her polite but at times aggrieved correspondence with Vernor and Hood reveals, she absolutely relied on income from her journalism and other writing [2]. Between 1810 and 1825 an embarrassed Pilkington repeatedly called on the charity of the Royal Literary Fund for financially distressed authors with modest success, but insufficient to guarantee her long-term security [3]. Knowing what we do about Pilkington’s circumstances, it is quite clear that altruism can have played little part in this determinedly professional and financially straitened writer’s publication choices.

Such evidence about Lady’s Magazine contributors’ financial circumstances is hard to piece together. It relies first on us having an identifiable author to begin with and second on external evidence (journals, letters and, in the case of Pilkington, institutional archives) which is often very hard to track down or, in many cases, non-existent. In the absence of such documentation, authors’ dealings with and attitudes towards editors are hard to discern. Odd letters about contributors’ experience of publishing in the Lady’s Magazine exist but, at the moment, I can count the ones I have found and read so far on a couple of hands. Those parts of the relatively small archive around the magazine’s publishers, the various members of the Robinson family, that we have been able to consult so far offer little by way of illumination either. As Koenraad blogged here, the ledger of George Robinson’s copyright purchases has no information on material intended for publication in the magazine, a fact that seems to corroborate the longstanding  assumption that no authors were paid for contributions to the Lady’s Magazine.

For the most part, then, we are left to glean the financial circumstances and motives of authors from their heavily mediated presence within the magazine’s columns. This is a hazardous enterprise, but nonetheless, offers glimmers of insight into how authors conceived of their work. Exhibit A in the author’s defence is the editors’ repeated refusal to pay postage for author contributions.  For decades the editors implored readers that it could not ‘be deemed either humanity or generosity to involve us in such enormous expence’ as attended payment for unpaid postage (LM 33 [Oct 1782]: no page). And yet month after month contributors continued to send in articles in this manner, presumably hoping that the strength of their work would persuade the magazine to pay the postage costs even if no further remuneration was expected. But ultimately, without payment, without contracts, the magazine’s contributors had little bargaining power. In fact the only power they had over the magazine was to threaten to leave it if they felt its editors’ dealings with them were unfair. The frequent tailspins the magazine plunged into when successive instalments of popular fictions or essay series failed to arrive (post paid) are hardly surprising when authors were only under a moral, rather than financial, obligation to continue and complete them.

At the moment, however, I am amassing a body of evidence that strongly suggests that the magazine’s working relationship with its contributors was not static across its six decade long run. Indeed, from the 1810s, precisely at the point at which Pikington started writing from the periodical, there is evidence within the Lady’s Magazine that the tide of opinion was turning; that writers were expecting more from the magazine; and that the magazine itself recognised that its future was entirely dependent upon authors whom it could little afford to take from granted. Take, for instance, a notice published in the correspondents column of August 1811, in which the editor notes: ‘On the subject of “Payment,” in answer to A.B.’s inquiry, we have to observe, that, although the contributions to Magazines are usually gratuitous, we shall feel no objection to allow him a moderate remuneration for his productions, provided that we approve them’ (no page). That word ‘usually’ was surely a beacon a hope for many a writer looking not only to be published but hoping to be paid for their periodical essays.

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LM XXXIV (Oct 1783): p. 320. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Other hints surface in this decade that some of the Lady’s Magazine‘s contributors, at least, could expect payment for their efforts. The strange, but compelling serial, ‘The Author’s Portfolio’, which began publication in June 1814, is a wonderfully metafictional piece of writing about the hazards of life as a periodical author at the beginning of the new century. It is, in fact, one of several serial variations on this theme that appear in a very short space of time. The conceit of the ‘Author’s Portfolio’ is that its contents are the unpublished efforts of an unknown writer whose death is reported in its first instalment. The titular author takes lodgings in the house of a Mrs Stubbs, who takes the gentleman’s repeated assertions of the significant sums of money he carries around in his portfolio as a sign that he is a man of means, only to find out upon his death that he was insolvent and these papers were not banknotes, but manuscripts from which he hoped to secure future income. Succeeding where the author failed, on his death Mrs Stubbs takes the advice of a curate to send these unpublished papers to ‘”Messsrs Robinson, for publication in the “Lady’s Magazine”–not doubting that they would consent to pay a reasonable sum for the copyright’. The Robinsons acquiesce and the author’s funeral expenses are covered as consequence (LM 35 [June 1814]: 251).

The circumstances of the publication of ‘The Author’s Portfolio’ are likely an elaborate fiction. Nonetheless, it would seem odd to signal the magazine’s generosity in paying the copyright for works if this was something the magazine was not, at least on occasion, willing and able to do. This mention in the ‘Author’s Portfolio’, even with other evidence that I am piecing together from the magazine, is, sad to say, insufficient to suggest a sea change in attitudes to the payment of authors as the Lady’s Magazine moved into the nineteenth century. But coupled with what we know of the dire financial circumstances of some of its authors, it seems clear that at least some of the magazine’s non-staff writers were being paid in the 1810s, if not before.

More interesting still, perhaps, is the magazine’s increasing awareness in this decade that it had a moral and financial obligation to the men and women who provided its original content. In July 1814, for example, the magazine devoted its correspondents column to the plight of Elizabeth Yeames ‘to whose pen the Lady’s Magazine has, in time past, been indebted for various contributions’. At this time, Yeames who wrote for the magazine from the early 1800s through the 1810s (latterly under her married name of Mrs Robert Clabon) found herself ‘reduced to the painful necessity of soliciting a public subscription for her own relief, and that of her widowed mother and numerous family’, which included her widowed mother, her sister Catherine (another of the magazine’s contributors), a disabled brother and three other siblings. The magazine explained that Yeames’s father, Peter, master of ‘his Majesty’s packet, Earl of Leicester’ had, in 1803, the year she had first started writing for the magazine, fallen victim to ‘the tyrannous injustice of Bonaparte’ and been taken prisoner of war and died while being transported (no page.). The Robinson’s publishing house in Paternoster Row was one of three locations where subscriptions for Yeames were received.

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LM XLV (July 1814): p. 320. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission

Now of course, had writing proved a more viable means of support, perhaps Yeames, like Pilkington (and numerous other writers of this period) might not have had recourse to charity. And I have no concrete evidence that the magazine paid Yeames for any of her contributions to it, although I suspect they at least latterly did. But what I find interesting in this transitional decade in the magazine’s history (the 1810s) is the editors increasing readiness to acknowledge the injustice and untenability of not financially supporting its writers.

Recognising such obligations undoubtedly presented problems for The Lady’s Magazine. It saw itself as mass media; it sought to keep its purchase price low to reach as many readers as possible; and given that it had a seemingly endless supply of people willing to write for nothing why should it pay anyone at all? But the magazine had to move with the times. And as part of its constant efforts to position itself strongly within an increasingly professionalised periodical marketplace, it had to reassess the way that it valued the authorial labours of its contributors.

That nearly two hundred years after the Lady’s Magazine started to talk more openly with its readers about payment for copy and to reflect publicly on its pecuniary and moral obligations to its writers similar debates about the value of authorial labour have resurfaced so loudly should give us pause for thought. New media might have a lot to learn from the new media of old.

Notes

[1] Jennie Batchelor, ‘”Connections which are of service . . . in a more advanced age”: The Lady’s Magazine, Community, and Women’s Literary Histories’, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature  30 (2011): 245-267.

[2]  Some of Mary Pilkington’s letters to Vernor and Hood have been preserved in volume 3 of ‘Original Letters, Collected by William Upcott of the London Institution. Distinguished Women’, 4 vols. British Library. Add, Ms 78688.

[3] Archives of the Royal Literary Fund: 1790-1918, 145 reels (London: World Microfilms Publications, 1981-4), reel 7, case 256.

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding the Mysterious Miss Cuthbertson in the Lady’s Magazine

In the 1830s, in India, an anonymously published book entitled Santa Sebastiano was sold at auction. It had two eager bidders who did not want to give up the purchase. One was Emily Eden, poet, novelist, bibliophile and sister of Lord Auckland. The other was historian, politician and equally avid reader Thomas Babington Macaulay. The episode is described with predictable bemusement by Macaulay’s nephew Sir George Trevelyan in his Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay (1875-76), who notes that the auction winner, Macaulay, later annotated the last page of his copy of Santa Sebastiano (1806) with ‘an elaborate computation of the number of fainting-fits that occur’ in it. (Julia de Clifford alone faints 11 times, but who, except Macaulay, is counting?) [1]

While Trevelyan expressed admiration that Macaulay thought he could probably ‘rewrite “Sir Charles Grandison” from memory,’ his uncle’s passion for ‘silly, though readable’ books, like those of Mrs Meeke or Mrs Kitty Cuthbertson, who authored Santa Sebastiano, as well as The Romance of the Pyrenees (1803), The Forest of Montalbano (1810), Adelaide; or, the Countercharm (1813), and (although Trevelyan did not know this) Rosabella;  or, A Mother’s Marriage (1817), seemed inexplicable. Yet Trevelyan’s view is unrepresentative. Kitty or Catherine Cuthbertson was a widely read and highly popular Gothic novelist in the Radcliffean tradition. The Romance of the Pyrenees was translated into French and German (the anonymous French translation was widely presumed to be of a Radcliffe novel on the continent). American editions of her novels followed and extracts from them appeared in US periodicals well into the nineteenth century [2].

A perhaps still more telling indication of Cuthbertson’s enduring popular appeal can be found in a review of Lord Brabourne’s edition of Jane Austen’s letters that appeared in The Times on 6 February 1885. The review broadly welcomes Brabourne’s edition, but laments the lack of annotation, especially in correspondence in which Austen alludes to other writers. It was ‘absurd to assume’, the reviewer declared, ‘that one reader in a thousand knows any particulars about “Alphonsine” and the “Female Quixote”, and is aware that Madame de Genlis is the author of the former and Mrs. Charlotte Lennox of the latter’. The refrain is repeated a few lines later when the reviewer turns to a now well-known letter in which Austen expresses incredulity that Mrs. (i.e. Jane) West was so very prolific when so domestically encumbered. West, the reviewer proclaims, is ‘but a name to the reader of this work’. Brabourne should have recognised this fact and provided relevant editorial information that the reviewer is, instead, forced to disclose. West, he interestingly continues, was ‘a voluminous writer in the last century who resembled in many things the Mrs. Meeke and Mrs. Kitty Cuthbertson’ [3].

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LM, 35 (Feb 1804): 87. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

What does this tell us? Well, for thing it suggests that if West and her works were obscure in 1885, Cuthbertson and her Gothics evidently were not. This is despite the fact that Cuthbertson never signed her name to any of her novels. And there is considerable evidence that knowledge of her fiction, although increasingly clouded in a biographical fog, persisted for at least several decades afterwards the Times review. Cuthbertson’s novels generated sufficient interest, for example, to spark conversations in Notes and Queries the 1910s and 1920s (some prompted by speculations that her work was by Radcliffe or Clara Reeve). More recent scholarship on the Gothic by Rictor Norton and others has sought to establish Cuthbertson’s place as one of the key figures of the genre in the early nineteenth century, as she surely was [4].
It was a career that began in earnest in the pages of the Lady’s Magazine. (Some sources suggest that she wrote an earlier 1793 unpublished play staged on 25 February at Drury Lane entitled Anna but the attribution is not secure.) Her first novel, The Romance of the Pyrenees was serialised in the magazine from February 1804, having been recently published in volume form by Robinson (the magazine’s publisher) in 1803. However, just weeks after the title first went on sale, and after only a few copies of it had been sold, the bulk of the print run of the Romance was devastated by a warehouse fire at the establishment of the magazine’s then printer, Samuel Hamilton.

 

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LM, 35 (Feb 1804): 87. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Attempting to cut their losses on the damaged run, Robinson decided to serialise Cuthbertson’s novel along with their recently printed edition of Royall Tyler’s American 1797 The Algerine Captive in the Lady’s Magazine with occasional engravings. As a consequence, The Romance of the Pyrenees reached a new and possibly much wider readership than it would have done had it been published in volume form alone. It became the longest running serial magazine fiction in the long eighteenth century apart from a serialisation of Pamela [6]. In subsequent years, the magazine would publish extracts of other of her novels (Santa Sebastino in 1807; Adelaide in 1814), all of which Robinson published, and the snippets from which seemed to serve as puffs to promote wider circulation of her work.

Cuthbertson’s fiction, with its complex plots and naturalised supernatural endings (my favourite involves a parrot), extends over many volumes and merits a blog post in its own right. Since reading it, however, one of my major preoccupations has been trying to find out more about its author. Although Cuthbertson was evidently popular and, at some point in the nineteenth century, revealed to be the author of her anonymous novels, her biography remains a series of speculations and lacunae.

Biographical accounts suggest that Cuthbertson was born before 1780 and that she may have been Scottish or, as a likely army daughter, been born overseas. Some sources also make reference to a possible connection to a Captain Bennet Cuthbertson, who published an important work on military tactics. Armed with this scant information I was determined to find out more and with a little effort, and a few hours lost in the archives, I did.

The first and most signifiant clue I found was a Notes and Queries article by a relative of the Cuthbertsons, William Ball Wright, of Osbaldwick Vicarage, York, who posted in June 1911 a response to a query about the authorship of the Romance of the Pyrenees. The article notes that Kitty Cuthbertson was the author of the work and that Kitty’s father was a Captain Bennet Cuthbertson, of Northamptonshire, of the 5th Regiment, who retired to Dublin in 1772. The first two dots were, therefore, joined. A third came when I looked into Bennet Cuthbertson a little more. Cuthbertsons System for the Complete Interior Management and Oeconomy of Battalion of Infantry was published in 1768 in Dublin. Likely before the publication of this work, Cutherbertson married a Catherine Bell (daughter of a Dr Thomas Bell of Dublin). Ball Wright, a descendant of Catherine Bell’s sister, Elinor, goes on to explain that the couple had several children, including  Kitty (or Catherine), Olivia, Julia and Anne. (It is possible that they also had a son, Robert, although this is not mentioned in the article.) While Anne stayed in Ireland,  the other Cuthbertson sisters moved to London at some unknown point before 1803 to ‘wr[i]te romances’. [5]

The Dublin connection, then, is what has thwarted efforts to find Catherine Cuthbertson before now. The Irish records for this period are patchy to say the least. After many hours of searching, I can find no birth or baptism notice for Catherine in the extant Irish records. But I can now prove that she was born in Ireland.

Hoping that a life of penning Gothic fiction promoted good health, long-livedness and a disinclination to marry, I went in search of the Cuthbertson sisters in the 1841 and 1851 census returns. An Olivia Cuthbertson (born in Dublin) showed in the 1851 census as living, aged 85, in Ealing, Middlesex. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find a Catherine or Julia. But the Ealing connection seemed worth pursuing. What if this Olivia was Catherine’s sister? And what if the sisters had lived together or very near one another?

And then I found them.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 10.10.57

 

 

In the 1841 census, Catherine Cuthbertson, born in Ireland, was living with a Juliana Cuthbertson. Both are listed (perhaps improbably) as 70 years old at the time (although it is theoretically possible, if unlikely, that the sisters were twins). Their source of income was the Irish Civil List, details of which subsequently confirmed for me that the sisters, along with Olivia, were living off their deceased father’s pension. I then went in search of Catherine’s death notice (occurring some time between 1841 and 1851, since she was not in the later census) and soon found a burial record indicating that she was buried in Ealing on the 2 June 1842 aged a more likely 67, dating her birth to around 1775.

As attribution finds go (and we have had lots so far in the Lady’s Magazine project), this may not seem like headline news. Cuthbertson was a magazine contributor by accident not design. And although her work in the magazine and outside it was published anonymously, her authorship has long since been known and the attributions of her novels secured. Putting a (rough) birth and (more secure) death date on Cuthbertson’s life as I have been able to do might seem more like housekeeping than significant research.

But I can’t help but feel that this is signficant. The Dublin connection – the fact of which made Cuthbertson’s biography so remote to us for so long – is surely of particular interest. Cuthbertson deserves the place in the history of the Gothic she is beginning to secure, but she also, I think, warrants a place in the history of Irish (women’s) writing. I hope some of my colleagues in Irish Studies will pick up this gauntlet and run with it, because Cuthbertson, quite frankly, deserves our attention.

Like so many of the writers published in the Lady’s Magazine Cuthbertson’s work was influential. She was more than a Radcliffe imitator. Her work, as I hope to show in a later blog post, had formal and thematic influence and, as I have indicated, had extraordinary geographical as well as temporal reach. Her books sat alongside Austen’s in Queen Charlotte’s library, and as we have seen, it was taken for granted that readers in the 1880s would have heard of her, as they would have heard of Jane Austen, in contrast to the by then considered obscure Jane West, Charlotte Lennox and Madame de Genlis. Into the early twentieth century, people cared enough about her novels to enquire into her author’s life and work.

Cuthbertson, like so many Lady’s Magazine authors, is an important figure in literary history, not just because of what she wrote, how many people fainted in her novels’ pages, or because people like Macaulay read her. She is important because her persistent popularity and claim on readers’ imaginations makes clear that so many of the things we once thought we knew about literary history – about who was read and remembered – don’t always chime with reality.

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent

Notes

[1] Sir George Trevelyan, The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, 2 vols. (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1877), vol 1, pp. 129-130.

[2] A notice for an 1812 American edition of The Forest of Montalbano appeared in the National Intelligencer for 24 March 1812, for instance. The Arkansas Gazette published a long extract of Romance of the Pyrenees on March 17 1878.

[3] ‘Jane Austen’, The Times (6 Feb 1885): 3.

[4] See, for instance, Rictor Norton ‘Gothic Readings’ <accessed 14.4.16>.

[5] William Ball Wright, ‘Note’, Notes and Queries, 77 (17 June 1911): 475.

[6] Robert D. Mayo, The English Novel in the Magazines, 1740–1815 (London: Oxford University Press, 1962), pp. 232–33

Rabies and the Lady’s Magazine

It is a truth universally acknowledged – by epidemiologists, at least – that the ‘first case’ is never the first case. For example, the Duke of Richmond’s illness and death in 1819 is often said to be the first recorded case of rabies in Canada [1]. However, not only is the nature of the Duke’s illness contested, but three much more probable cases of human rabies have come to light: Charles Gigueres (dog bite, 1814), Jean Maheu (dog bite, 1816) and Madame Bruneau (cat bite, 1817) [2]. All of these reports predate the Duke of Richmond’s death.

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LM, 46 (April 1815): 194. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission

The scientific veterinary literature infers from data like these that rabies was present in Canada in pets and perhaps in wild life from at least the late eighteenth century, but the reference in the Lady’s Magazine (LM, 44 [April 1813]: 194) to the dogs running mad in Newfoundland is the first direct reference to rabies in animals in Canada of which I am aware.

The commentator reports that, ‘This is said to be the first case of hydrophobia among the canine race in that cold climate. The consequences are very serious, as dogs are the beasts of burden in that country’. It is tangentially interesting to note that the poet, Byron, owned a Newfoundland breed dog, which contracted rabies and died in 1808 at Newstead Abbey in England. The dog, ‘Boatswain’ was commemorated in a famous epitaph, the last lines of which are

BOATSWAIN, a DOG,
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803,
and died at Newstead Nov.r 18th, 1808.

Assuming that Boatswain was not a recent acquisition, he contracted rabies in Britain not Canada (the incubation period of canine rabies is usually less than 6 months; range, 10 days to about 1 year). Rabies was endemic in Britain around that time. Byron is said to have nursed Boatswain without any fear of contracting the disease himself. This may not be as fantastical as it sounds; canine rabies exists in two forms: furious and dumb. In dumb rabies the dog becomes docile and may be paralyzed. An almost contemporary (1815 case date) account of dumb rabies in a Newfoundland breed dog can be found in The Veterinarian [3]. Byron aside, by reporting the outbreak of rabies in Newfoundland in 1815, the Lady’s Magazine scored an important scientific first.

Rabies is caused by a bullet shaped Lyssavirus. Viral ecotypes emerge which become adapted to and persist in particular mammalian hosts. Nevertheless, the virus can spill over into other susceptible species. For example, canine rabies causes approximately 59,000 human deaths annually [4]. A stomach-churningly accurate description of human rabies can be found in an 1807 issue of the Lady’s Magazine (LM, 38 [March 1807]: 152–56). The average incubation period of rabies in humans is typically between one to three months (range 10 days to a year, rarely longer). Once symptoms appear, the disease in people is almost always fatal. Only 11 survivors of clinical rabies are known [5] and more than two thirds of these have lasting neurological damage.

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LM, 38 (Mar 1807): 152. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission

The author (Dr Motherby) of the article on ‘Hydrophobia’ extracted by the Lady’s Magazine recommended several prophylactic measures: these included immediate cautery of the bite wound, the application of a caustic substance to the wound or, preferably, excision (or amputation) of the wound site (LM, 38 [March 1807]: 156). Although Motherby offers no evidentiary basis for his recommendations they might well have worked. We must be careful here because not everyone bitten by an infectious animals contracts rabies (even in the absence of immediate action) and the risk of infection varies with the location of the bite, but well-regarded randomized controlled clinical trials from the 1960s demonstrated that immediate and thorough cleansing of the bite with soap (and some other substances) markedly reduces the risk of infection compared with controls [6], and thorough cleaning the wound is still the first of several steps in rabies prophylaxis. Dr Motherby goes on to state, that once symptoms appear, 2 grains (about 130 mg) of opium administered every 3 hours can relieve the symptoms but do ‘no more’. Other authors writing in the Lady’s Magazine were much more optimistic.

In 1816, Dr Vogelsang (of Goerlitz, in Saxony) claimed to have cured Ms Joanna Rosina of Hydrophobia by bloodletting (LM, 17 [Jan 1816]: 29). Ms Rozina ‘aged 19, had been bitten by a yard dog in the foot … Four days afterwards she found herself unwell’. Dr Vogelsang, ‘opened a vein’ and took, in all, about 38 ounces (over a litre) of blood. Ms Rozina, not surprisingly, ‘fainted away’ but subsequently was ‘quite recovered’. There are at two things that tell us this was not rabies: first, the patient recovered, and, second, the incubation period of 4 days was less than half the accepted minimum incubation period for rabies in humans (Ms Rozina was also bitten in the foot which tends to result in longer incubation periods for human rabies). According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 15 to 20% of dog bite wounds become infected and at least 40 different pathogens have isolated from dog bite wounds. If the cause of Ms Rozina’s illness was an infected bite wound (plausible, but by no means certain) there are plenty of pathogens other than the rabies virus that are better candidates.

Almost 25 years earlier than the article describing Dr Vogelsang’s apparent success, an anonymous contributor to the Lady’s Magazine (LM, 33 [June 1792]: 300) extolled the virtues of ‘Aurum palpabile’. He or she writes, ‘There are few political disorders in which it is not happily administered, as it generally performs a cure. The rabies patriotica (or patriotic fury) has often yielded to this remedy’. The contributor goes on to claim that it works even in very advanced cases of human rabies. Aurum potabile (sic) was a centuries old universal remedy: there is a laboured, jokey reference to it in Ben Johnson’s Volpone (‘Tis aurum palpabile, if it is not potabile’) and earlier mentions abound. For those interested in such things here is an eighteenth century recipe for drinkable gold (all metric measure are approximate).

Dissolve in a moderate heat half a dram (0.88 g) of fine gold, in two ounces (57 ml) of aqua regia (a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid), and add to the solution an ounce (28 ml) of the essential oil of rosemary (an infusion of rosemary in in olive oil), shake them together, and set them to rest; after which separate the oil by decantation, and add to it four ounces or five (156ml) of rectified spirit of wine (repeatedly distilled wine), digest them for a month and it will become purplish. [7]

An online search revealed that there are no randomized controlled clinical trials that demonstrate the efficacy (and more importantly, the safety) of this concoction for rabies.

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LM, 44 (Dec 1813: 586. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / BritishLibrary. Not to be reproduced without permission

Rabies was endemic in Britain throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries [8]. It was present in both dogs and cats. The Lady’s Magazine (LM, 14 [December 1813]: 586) reports that a servant girl in Camberwell died ‘in consequence of having been bitten by a cat, which she was chastising for some act of misconduct’. The servant died with symptoms ‘exactly similar to that perceptible in cases of the hydrophobia’.

The elimination of rabies from Britain began with various legislative acts in the second half of the nineteenth century that promoted and enforced the shooting and muzzling of stray dogs and instituted draconian quarantine laws. These laws were vigorously opposed by humane societies, but rabies disappeared (temporarily) from Britain in the first few years of the twentieth century. We do not know why. Such strategies have never worked as effectively anywhere else. It is speculated that the legislation succeeded in its aim because rabies in Britain never became endemic in foxes in Britain – fox densities were just too small to maintain the virus. It is certainly true that fox hunting in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries resulted in such a large turnover of indigenous populations that foxes had to be imported from France to bolster the ‘thinned’ populations [9]. It would be interesting to know if contributors to the Lady’s Magazine had anything to say about foxes.

Gary Smith

Professor of Population Biology and Epidemiology

University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

Notes

[1] H. Tabel, A. H. Corner, W. A. Webste, C. A. Casey, ‘History and epizootiology of rabies in Canada’, Canadian Veterinary Journal 15 (1974): 271-281

[2] J. D. Blaisdell, ‘Rabies and the Governor-General of Canada’, Veterinary History 7 (1992): 19-26.

[3] Mr Youatt, (1837) ‘Animal Pathology. Rabies in the dog – symptoms continued’, The Veterinarian 10 (1837): 446-47.

[4] K. Hampson, L. Coudeville, T. Lembo, M. Sambo, A. Kieffer, M. Attlan, et al. (2015) Estimating the Global Burden of Endemic Canine Rabies. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 9: 4 (2015) <e0003709. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003709>

[5] M. Netravathia, V. Udanib, R. S. Manic, V. Gadada et al. ‘Unique clinical and imaging findings in a first ever documented PCR positive rabies survival patient: A case report’, Journal of Clinical Virology 70 (2015): 83–88.

[6] D. J. Dean, G. M. Baer, and W. R. Thompson, ‘Studies on the Local Treatment of Rabies-infected Wounds’, Bulletin of the World Health Organization 28 (1963): 477–486.

[7] G. Motherby, A New Medical Dictionary (London: J. Johnson, 1775).

[8] P. Muir and A. Roome, ‘Indigenous rabies in the UK’, The Lancet 365 (2005): 2175

[9] A. N. May, The Fox-Hunting Controversy, 1781-2004: Class and Cruelty (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016).

 

 

Stitch Off to a Flying Start

After four months, hundreds of (wo)man hours, lots of friendly support and chat on social media and some innuendo-laden conversations about pricking, pouncing and Mr Darcy, the Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off display previewed yesterday. Today the ‘Emma at 200’ exhibition opens at Chawton House Library in the home that belonged to Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen (later Knight).

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 13.23.39‘Emma at 200: from English Village to Global Appeal’ is a major new international exhibition to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s brilliantly witty novel. It is the first major exhibition to be held at the Library since it opened in July 2003 and the result is frankly breathtaking. For the first time, a first edition of Austen’s novel is on display next to the first, rapidly published, French and American editions. Correspondence with Austen’s publisher John Murray is on display, alongside the work of many of Austen’s contemporaries. Early reactions to the novel are represented most spectacularly in the form of Charlotte Bronte’s wonderful (if not entirely complimentary) letter on reading Emma, which is on loan from the Huntington Library in California.

Never before have these items been gathered together in this way. Never again will they all find their way home to Chawton, to a house that Austen knew so well, in rooms in which she spent time. This is a one-off event. If you are within a hundred miles of Chawton in Hampshire, UK, any time between now and 25 September 2016 you have to see this exhibition (visitor information can be found here).

 

Emma at 200 preview day external shot

Chawton House Library © Jennie Batchelor

 

A preview event, for around 35 benefactors of Chawton House Library and the exhibition, took place yesterday, 19 March 2016, on the first day of spring. The crowds of daffodils gracing the lawns either side of the House’s driveway couldn’t quite distract people from how chilly and unspring-like the temperature was. But the atmosphere inside the House, at least, was warm and welcoming.

 

 

Joanna Trollope Emma at 200 unveiling

Joanna Trollope, Patron of Chawton House Library, opening the exhibition © Jennie Batchelor.

 

Now Chawton puts on a very nice cream tea, I must say, but while the crowds gathered in the kitchen to await the exhibition’s literal unveiling by author, Patron of Chawton House Library, and eloquent champion of historic women’s writing, Joanna Trollope, I snuck upstairs to the Oak Room to set up and pore over the Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off display.

 

 

For the duration of the exhibition, the Oak Room (always my favourite room in the house, since I began my own working life there back in 2002) has been given over to the theme of ‘female accomplishments’. At the centre of the room is a large table focusing on the Lady’s Magazine and the work of our Stitch Off participants.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off (where on earth have you been, people?) this is a non-competitive needlework project or international sewing bee for which we have made available 10, rare embroidery patterns published in the Lady’s Magazine (1770-1832) – a publication we are pretty sure Jane Austen read and we know Charlotte Bronte read – for people to recreate or reimagine as they wish.

 

Lucie whitmore

Lucie Whitmore’s 3 pieces for the Stitch Off. Lucie was one of the first people to join the Stitch Off. © Jennie Batchelor.

Our Stitch Off participants have been so generous in sharing work in progress on our Facebook and Twitter feeds over the past few months and I am keeping a log of all of their work in progress in possibly the most gorgeous desktop folder anyone could possibly have. However, not even months of picture filing could prepare me for the complete joy and delight of seeing and handling the actual items themselves.

 

 

Stitch Off table

The Oak Room. Chawton House Library. © Jennie Batchelor.

 

Staff at Chawton had laid the items and their associated captions out for me on a beautiful wooden table around some exhibition boards I had drafted copy for and an 1811 bound volume of the magazine from the Chawton House Library collection. Everything was wrapped in the original packaging it had arrived in to protect it. Yep: I had the best Christmas morning any 39-year-old has had on a spring afternoon ever. I gently unwrapped everything and started crazily taking and tweeting pictures of all these wonderful items.

 

 

 

Writing desk with show patterns

Writing desk display featuring left to right: shoe uppers by Alicia Kerfoot; shoes by Nicole Rudoplh; kissing ball by Maggie Gee; and gold work shoe upper by Mary Martin. © Jennie Batchelor.

Every single piece and object was at least 3 times more stunning in reality than in the photos I had seen. I soon realised how much pictures (fabulous though they are for record keeping) distort colours, the size and finish of stitches, the weave and sheen of fabrics, the lustre of beads and gold thread. Mostly of course, pictures also completely distort size. Some items were so much smaller and more delicate than I had imagined them to be. Others were much, much larger. The picture to the left will give some sense of scale.

 

 

Young:wright

Stitched pot plant by Corinne Young and pashmia by Rachel Wright. © Jennie Batchelor.

 

I had so much fun arranging the items on various pieces of furniture including: a writing desk adorned with some of the pieces inspired by the 1775 shoe patterns donated by Penny Gore (above); an occasional table on which stands Corinne Young’s stitched plant pot; and an antique armchair, which looks as if it was made solely for Rachel Wright’s pashmina to grace it. But at 3pm I realised I would actually miss the opening of the exhibition if I didn’t step to and run downstairs.

 

 

Gillian Dow opening exhibition

Gillian Dow © Jennie Batchelor.

The exhibition opened with a wonderfully passionate and eloquent speech by Dr Gillian Dow, Executive Director of Chawton House Library, who reminded us that Jane Austen’s most renownedly local novel (structured around those now proverbial ‘three or four families in a country village’) was, from the get-go, a global piece of fiction. It circulated as part of a thriving international print network in which it competed for and won its readers’ attention.

Gillian joked that she had hoped to open the exhibition by breaking a bottle of champagne over an exhibition case in the Great Hall. Much to everyone’s relief Joanna Trollope stepped in instead to do the honours by unveiling the case in a suitably ceremonial gesture. The exhibition goers then moved on to a recital of variations of Robin Adair (a piece of music that  will be recognised by readers of Emma) introduced brilliantly and wittily by Professor David Owen Norris.

After that, I dashed back up to the Oak Room ready to welcome exhibition goers to the Stitch Off display and to talk all things needlework and Lady’s Magazine with people once they had made their way through the several other exhibition rooms.

The response to the Stitch Off display was phenomenal. Just phenomenal. I spent a good hour talking to many people about individual items, about the magazine from which the patterns came and reminding people that they can still join in. The room was buzzing with excitement, with people reflecting on childhood experiences of needlework at school, of the embroidery their mothers or grandmothers did, of the desire to get their needles and hoops out of storage and have a go themselves.

 

Hack:Roskell

Top: Caroline Hack’s embroidered map. Below: Regency girls by Ruth Zanoni Roskell. © Jennie Batchelor.

Every single item in the display prompted comment and admiration. I mean it. Every. Single. One. The refrains of the room were: ‘stunning’, ‘gorgeous’, ‘beautiful’, ‘so creative’, ‘delicate’ and ‘astounding’. Exhibition goers loved the variety of items on display, from Rachel Whitechurch’s reticule (pictured below) to Maggie Gee’s exquisite kissing ball (pictured above). They loved that the items ranged from faithfully reproduced originals using eighteenth-century techniques, such as Nicole Rudolph’s shoes (pictured above and made from scratch in Colonial Williamsburg), to modern interpretations such as Ruth Zanoni Roskell’s Regency girls and Caroline Hack’s map of nineteenth-century Hampshire overlaid with a 1775 waistcoat pattern.

 

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Sue Jones motif (left); Angela Snape (right). © Jennie Batchelor.

 

People loved how one design could look so different in different recreations, such as Angela Snape’s and Sue Jones’s equally beautiful but quite different renderings of a motif from a 1796 gown pattern.

 

 

Pleydell, Buchan, Roberts

Hoop by Bethany Pleydell; handkerchief by Melissa Roberts; ‘Emma’ embroidery by Pamela Buchan. © Jennie Batchelor.

 

They couldn’t believe that some of our participants were novice stitchers, as Bethany Playdell is. Honestly, Bethany, I’m not sure I believe you either. You are way too good. Other eagle-eyed exhibition goers got very excited when they spotted patterns that weren’t part of our original collection, such as Pamela Buchan’s beautiful embroidery of a pattern from Ackermann’s Repository and Melissa Roberts’ indescribably delicate plain sewn pocket handkerchief (about which Melissa has blogged – see link below – and which was inspired by one of her own Lady’s Magazine patterns).

 

 

Megan's bowl

Fabric bowl and textile jewellery by Megan Brown. © Jennie Batchelor.

 

And then there was the great hand versus machine embroidery conversation. Several of our items are machine embroidered, and one item in particular occasioned a long conversation in which I tried to persuade someone that Megan Brown’s gorgeous fabric bowl was not made by fingers alone. I think I said this three times, but I couldn’t shake the person’s faith. The bowl was so beautiful, so fine, and so precise it just had to be hand embroidered! It is all of those things, but it is not hand embroidered. I promise.

 

 

After the exhibition, and after filling a camera and phone full of photos, I made my way home. I had barely seen any of the rest of the exhibition, but I will return and not least because there are new Stitch Off items arriving all the time.

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Gentleman’s cravat pattern by Jennie Batchelor. © Jennie Batchelor.

One of the tremendously exciting things about the Stitch Off display is that it is not static and anyone can join us any time between now and the exhibition’s close in September 2016 (see this blog post for details). So if this has sparked your interest, please consider taking part. My own effort – I resurrected embroidery skills unused for 20 years to make up the 1796 gentleman’s cravat pattern – is on display in part to show people that if I can do it, anyone can and should feel free to give it a go.

Rachel's reticule

Crocheted and embroidered reticule by Rachel Whitechurch. © Jennie Batchelor.

 

A day after the preview, I can honestly say that I have rarely been as proud of anything work-related I have ever been involved in. I have been and continue to be bowled over by everyone’s enthusiasm, support for each others’ work no matter what their approach or medium, whether novice or expert, untrained or trained. In a small way, I like to think that through the project we are replicating the community that the Lady’s Magazine was so successful in creating and which was surely such an important part of its enduring appeal.

 

 

Lucy Dimmock's shoe

Shoe upper by Lucy Dimmock. © Jennie Batchelor

To make that sense of community even more real, some of our lovely Stitch Off participants (like the Lady’s Magazine’s original reader-contributors) are authoring accounts of their own experiences to share with you all. Some of these have been posted on other blogs and there is a link to these posts at the bottom of this one. Please do read them. Other Stitch Off blog posts by our Stitch-Offers, as I affectionately think of you all, will be posted later this week on our blog in an entire week in which we are giving over this site to the Stitch Off. Please read, comment and share as many of the posts as you can.

 

 

Finally, I just want to say thank you for making the Stitch Off – the result of a Twitter conversation late one evening – a reality. Whether you have made or are making something for us or cheering on from the sidelines, we appreciate it. This has been an absolutely delight!

Stitch Off blog posts

Maggie Gee’s kissing ball was such a talking point yesterday. You can read the first of Maggie’s multi-part blog post about her experiences here.

The wonderful Alison Larkin was the very first person to pick up the Stitch Off gauntlet and what a job she did for the Captain Cook Memorial Museum where her stunning shawl embroidery is currently being exhibited. You can read about it all here.

Melissa Roberts has blogged about creating her lovely pocket handkerchief based on a 1776 pattern in her own collection is here over at Two Threads Back.

Rachel Wright, who has made the glorious pashmina, has written no less than 3 fantastic posts about her process over at VirtuoSew Adventures. Here is the most recent, but we recommend you read them all.

For information about visiting the ‘Emma at 200’ exhibition at Chawton House Library, please follow this link.

 

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent

 

Thinking Back through our Mothers: The Lady’s Magazine on International Women’s Day

Today, 8 March 2016, is International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all over the world. It is a time to look back at all our histories. A time to see where we were and to assess how far we have come. It is a time to remember (or in some cases to learn for the first time about) the work of women of the past.

It is also, of course, a time to take stock of where we are now. And it is a time to look forwards, to plan and to commit to the work that still needs to be done. It is a moment to pledge for parity –  this year’s International Women’s Day theme – to ensure that our literal and metaphorical daughters, sisters, nieces and cousins can realise their ambitions. It is reminder that we need to ‘respect and value difference’, to foster female leadership and to ‘develop more inclusive and flexible cultures’ that root out gender bias. [1]

Both as a working mother of two children (a girl and a boy) and as a teacher, I urgently feel the obligation to pledge for gender parity now for the sake of all our futures. As an eighteenth-centuryist, who spends much of her life vicariously (and very happily) living in the past, I believe passionately that looking backwards is one of the most powerful catalysts we have to propel us forwards.

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LM IV (Jan 1773). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

 

This isn’t just about assessing how far we’ve come. The very first thing that history, surely, teaches any of us is that there is no inexorable progress towards present-day, or even future, perfection. History is a game of gains and losses; of advancement and regression; of ‘uneven developments’, to borrow the words of Mary Poovey [2]. But taking the long view of that game, of its repercussions and the all-too real stakes for which the people involved have played, is more than instructive. History has the potential to let us see the present anew. It enables us to see through the fictions we have been told about how the world was, and to refract alternative possibilities for the future through the prism of the past.

 

 

 

It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I think that the Lady’s Magazine (1770-1832) offers one such generative contact point between women’s pasts, presents and futures.

Now, I’m not saying that the Lady’s Magazine is straightforwardly (or even complicatedly) a feminist publication, although I do have a habit of telling anyone who will listen that the magazine called for a ‘revolution in female manners’ a good 14 years before Mary Wollstonecraft much more famously did so in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) (LM 9 [Jan 1778]: iii).

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LM I (Apr 1771): 418. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Early feminist polemic certainly had its place in the Lady’s Magazine. The first of many times the periodical referred to womens ‘rights’ was in an essay ‘On the Strength and Bravery of the Female Sex’, signed Lucinda, which appeared in its fourth issue in January 1771 [LM I (Jan 1771): 261]. Extracts of Wollstonecraft’s work appeared in the periodical in the 1790s, alongside memoirs of and observations on the works and lives of the likes of Mary Astell, Madame Dacier, Emilie du Chatelet, and Damaris Masham. The political and cultural achievements of women from antiquity to its present and from all over the world were celebrated every month in the magazine in one-off biographies and biographical serials such as ‘Memoirs of Remarkable Ladies of Great Britain’ (1774-1776) and ‘The Lady’s Biography, Or the Lives of celebrated and illustrious Women, ancient and modern; adapted particularly to the Amusement and Instruction of the Fair Sex’ (1771-1772) .

The women remembered and celebrated in these columns excelled in classical learning, in literature, in the arts, on the stage, and in politics. They included notable women from Cleopatra and Empress Athenais, to Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, Nell Gwynn, Sarah Siddons, and bluestockings Elizabeth Rowe and Elizabeth Carter. The magazine was always international in focus. It acknowledged and helped further to entrench the influence of important French women writers including Madame de Genlis and Madeleine de Scudéry, while it brought to readers’ attention via translations of works such as Geronymo Feijoo’s  Defence of Women (1726) the lives and work of Greek, French, German and Italian women (serialised 1810-1811).

The magazine was frequently passionate in its advocacy of women’s right to education and argued that historical precedent urged its necessity and efficacy. To quote from Lucinda’s aforementioned 1771 article

Women formerly had the supreme command at Lacadaemon. These brave people were always virtuous, [… and] conceived so high an idea of the prudence and wisdom of women, who had shown amazing judgment and penetration in a a thousand important affairs relative to the public welfare, that at length nothing was determined without their advice. At Athens also, the school of wisdom, and seat of the arts, women were consulted in the most critical circumstances, and the preference was always given to their opinion. Nicaulin, the famous queen; Semiramis, empress of Assyria; Elizabeth, queen of England; and many others have rendered it doubtful, whether it is more advantageous for a state to be governed by a male or a female administration. (LM I [Jan 1771]: 261)

Benito Feijoo

Portrait of Feijoo y Montenegro by Juan Bernabé Palomino.

Culture’s insidious masquerading as nature, or to use Lucinda’s own words, ‘bad education’ and ‘the malice of man[‘s]’ corruption of the ‘intentions of nature’ in degrading women and denying them parity of opportunity, would be a recurrent refrain of the magazine for its next six decades. Women were equally as educable as men. The history of women teaches us, above all, to quote Elenir Irwin’s extraordinary translation of Feijoo’s Defence of Women that: ‘the excellencies of men cannot be denied to women’ on any rational grounds (LM 41 [Dec 1810]: 531).

Despite such claims, the magazine’s until recent reputation as a conduct book by another name and association with gender conservatism is not wholly unwarranted [3]. The Lady’s Magazine could be deeply condescending towards women, and misogyny finds its home in many articles that tried to police what women wore, could talk about or even read. The opening line of the sanctimonious 1788 serial ‘Letters from a Brother to a Sister at a Boarding School’ speaks for many of the magazine’s bluntest male contributors: ‘Do you know, Mary, that you are very ignorant?’ (LM 39 [Mar 1788]: 107).

Men, in fact, have a lot to say about women in the Lady’s Magazine. Indeed, two of the things that most surprise first-time readers of the periodical are how many men clearly subscribed to and enjoyed it, and how much of its contents seems to have been authored by male authors from schoolboys to married men and elderly bachelors. While many female contributors challenged men’s right to attempt to police their lives and behaviour, calls to ‘bar the male creatures’ from the magazine were never heeded. (LM 31 [Mar 1780]: 125).

But despite the presence of men in the magazine and despite the misogyny that pours out in a number of contributions by men and women in its pages (misogyny never was nor ever will be an exclusively male preserve), I would argue until my last breath that the Lady’s Magazine has an important place in the history of women’s writing and in women’s history more broadly.

To document all the reasons why would take much more space than I have here. It’s partly why I am writing a book about just this subject. But suffice it to say for now, that the magazine provided an important space and place for women’s writing (current and past, British and international) that had significant impact. Careers were launched in the magazine’s pages, from those of George Crabbe to Gothic novelists Catherine Cuthbertson, George Moore, Mrs A. Kendall. Later writers such as Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, who wished ‘[w]ith all my heart … I had been born in time to contribute to the Lady’s Magazine’, were undoubtedly influenced by it [4].

LM IX ( Jan 1779): 148. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Cambridge University Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM IX ( Jan 1779): 148. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Cambridge University Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Most of all, though, the magazine’s greatest achievement, as I have argued before, was its creation of a community of readers and reader-contributors in which women and what we might now call women’s issues took centre stage. They did so by never taking as read that any issue, topic or pursuit was inherently gendered. Mathematics, philosophy and astronomy were widely understood as male preserves at the time, but the magazine would argue forcefully for women’s right to access and practice these fields. It was, after all, not ‘astonishing’ that ‘a Newton should not have sprung up from our [the female] sex’, the pseudonymous Sukey Foresight argued, when ‘no lady […] ever experienced an education similar to Sir Isaac Newton’ (LM 31 [Apr 1780]: 181). By the same token, traditionally feminine subjects such as fashion, to which much page space in the magazine was dedicated, were widely discussed in and disseminated by the magazine, but their politics and place in women’s lives was always open to debate and always presented as only adorning those women equally committed to the ‘cultivation of their minds’ (LM 32 [Oct 1781]: 506).

Today, of course, communities for articulating and debating women’s issues have proliferated thanks, in large part, to the growth of the internet and social media. The conversation has expanded exponentially; its current reach would have been unimaginable to readers of the Lady’s Magazine whose own circulation seems to have been around (a still quite astonishing) 15000 copies a month at the height of its popularity. Just in our the online Twitter and Facebook communities focused around this research project, I regularly talk to hundreds of followers in the US, Tasmania, Russia, Japan and India. But as the conversation grows about gender parity there is also a danger that it could more splintered or more local in focus.

Today, the example of the Lady’s Magazine, no matter how conflicted its own gender politics is, reminds me that we need to hold on to the bigger picture. We need, I firmly believe, to keep an eye on the long view, on what women have gained and lost in recent decades and even over the course of centuries. We also need to look beyond national boundaries to advocate women’s access to education and their right to live lives of opportunity without prejudice and fear wherever they live in the world.

Notes

[1] http://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme. <Accessed 7 March 2016>

[2] Mary Poovey, Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Gender in Mid-Victorian England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).

[3] See, for instance, Kathryn Shevelow, Women and Print Culture: The Construction of Femininity in the Early Periodical (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 188-89.

[4] Letter to Hartley Coleridge, 10 December 1840, The Selected Letters of Charlotte Brontë: Vol. I, 1829-1847, ed. Margaret Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 240.

 

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent