Visiting the “Emma at 200” Exhibition at Chawton House Library ~ Guest Post by Tony Grant

Gentle Readers: Today I welcome Tony Grant as he writes about his visit this week to the “EMMA 200” exhibit at Chawton House Library, he being my feet on the ground so to speak as I am woefully not able to be there myself. Hope those of you who are able to go will do so – and send me pictures and your thoughts when you do!

[Update: please read Tony Grant’s post about walking around Chawton at the “Jane Austen’s World” Blog]

Emma at 200 - CHL PR

EMMA 200: English Village to Global Appeal

(Chawton House Library 21st March – 25th September 2016)

On Wednesday 20th April I drove from Wimbledon to Chawton in Hampshire over the Hogs Back with views stretching across Surrey into the distance. It was a bright sunny day and seeing the Surrey countryside green and pleasant and shining in the bright sunshine under blue skies was appropriate for my adventure. I was driving to Chawton House Library to visit the “Emma 200 exhibition.” Emma is Jane Austen’s Surrey novel and this year is the 200th anniversary of its publication and it is entirely set within that county.

Emma-tp-wpEmma was published by John Murray II of Albemarle Street on the 23rd December 1815, although its title page reads 1816. This exhibition has items from Chawton House’s own collection and from the Knight family collection, as well as other items on loan. The exhibition covers the reception of Emma through the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty first centuries; it also considers the country setting of the novel and the places that were possible influences. It covers the global appeal of Emma. It has a large section about John Murray II and nineteenth century publishing practices through letters and comments made by Jane herself and fellow authoresses also published by Murray. It highlights authors mentioned in the novel and nineteenth century ideas about female accomplishments such as music, embroidery and painting. It shows the connection with Shakespeare and has a section about the reception of the novel. In particular, there is a letter written by Charlotte Bronte to her own publisher, W.S. Williams, discussing her thoughts about Emma and Jane Austen as a writer.

I arrived at the electronically operated gates early. The house opens at 1.30pm Monday to Friday. I was there promptly at 1.10pm. I decided to have a look around and inside of St Nicholas Church nearby, which is Chawton’s parish church and where Jane Austen and her family worshipped. The church we see today is not the church Jane knew. There was a fire sometime after Jane’s death and it had to be rebuilt, though some of the structure from the church that Jane knew remains. I read the memorials to the Austens and Knights within and then went round to the back of the church through an arbor of dark and gloomy ancient yew trees to see the side-by-side graves of Austen’s sister, Cassandra Elizabeth Austen, and mother, Cassandra Austen.

Two Cassandras

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The Great House

Chawton House Library

It was such a nice day and I still had about ten minutes left so I sat on a stone bollard near the entrance gate and watched a gentleman sitting on a motor mower mowing the grass verges along the drive. As I sat there I noticed a smartly dressed lady leaving the front entrance of the great house with a dog on a lead. She approached the gate and opened it, placing a notice board on a stand giving the times and prices of entry. I asked jokingly if this meant I can go in. I pointed out it was still ten minutes to half past. She laughed and said by the time I walked up the driveway I should arrive at the door on time. “Just knock and they will let you in,” she told me. I knocked on the door with five minutes to and it was immediately opened by a smiling lady who ushered me in. The house is staffed by volunteers except in the kitchens where the official housekeeper keeps her domain but more about that nice lady later. I found everybody so enthusiastic and full of smiles and really, extremely welcoming. I paid my entrance fee and one lady took me into the great hall on the left of the entrance and showed me a map of the house with the route marked by numbered rooms. It is a self-guided tour so I was given the map to hold as I went round. There are volunteers in every room who you can talk to and ask information of.

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The exhibition began in the great hall. A glass case displays some first editions dated 1816. There was an edition in French as well as one published by Mathew Carey a publisher in Philadelphia. Somehow Carey had read Sir Walter Scott’s review of Emma and obviously liked it. He sold his version at a much cheaper price than John Murray’s London version. He produced a card backed version printed on cheap paper for $2. Murray’s London version, which was a much better quality, was twice the price. Very few American first editions have survived as a consequence of the poorer quality and the copy in this exhibition shows signs of much yellowing of the paper and black mold spots. It looks an inferior book to both the French and English versions. I felt honoured to able to lean over the glass case and read the opening few lines of the Murray edition.

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence:…”

There were no such things as copyright laws in those days and both the French and American versions, probably unknown to Jane Austen, brought her no income. Later in the nineteenth century Dickens went over to America and tried to do something about copyright laws in America but to no avail and to his great consternation. The fact that copies of Emma were being published abroad within the first year of its initial publication in England tells us something about publishing and the book trade at the time. Money could be made from books.

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John Murray - NPG (Wikipedia)

John Murray – NPG (Wikipedia)

John Murray II was the head of the foremost publishing company in Britain. He was a hard headed business man and if he could get an advantage, especially, it seems over the authors he published he would. I think Jane Austen had the measure of him. Her brother Henry who had dealt with publishers for Jane initially became ill and Jane took over negotiations with Murray herself. She was very direct and firm in her dealings. She said of Murray, “He is a Rogue, but a civil one.” In corresponding with Murray over the publication of Emma, for instance, on 3rd of November 1815, a month before the publication of Emma, she writes,

“…I am at the same time desirous of coming to some decision on the affair in question, I must request the favour of you to call on me here, on any day after the present that may suit you best, at any hour in the evening, or any in the morning except from eleven to one. – A short conversation may perhaps do more than much writing.”

It sounds as though Murray has been given his marching orders and she isn’t going to have any truck with being messed about. She is firm but polite with the “Rogue.” She knows the power of a face to face encounter. Some of her contemporaries were perhaps not quite so strong with Murray but learned a lesson.

Domestic Cookery, 1813 ed (Wikipedia)

Domestic Cookery, 1813 ed (Wikipedia)

One of the exhibits on display, putting Jane Austen’s publishing experiences with Murray in context, is a book called Domestic Cookery, published by Murray in 1806. It was very popular and made a lot of sales and presumably a lot of money for Murray. It was written by Maria Rundell. Rundell had been paid £150 by Murray. She regarded Murray as a friend but she was not aware at first that her book had become such a bestseller. When she found out she felt that Murray was not upholding the copyright agreement he had with her. Eventually Murray paid her £2100 but kept the right to continue publishing the book himself. Jane Austen’s comments about him being “a rogue but a civil one” come to mind. Murray was obviously a very astute business man and could make money from trouble.

Another exhibit displays copies of books written by the French authoress, Germaine de Stael. She wrote books about Rousseau, Revolutionary Politics and Marie Antoinette’s trial. She was virtually banned by Napoleon Bonaparte. He had her book, De L’Allemagne pulped. Murray saw a chance. He took her on. In 1813 he used three printers to publish the French original and English translations simultaneously. He relied on anti-French feelings to make Stael’s books best sellers.

Madame_de_Staël (Wikipedia)

Madame_de_Staël (Wikipedia)

Jane Austen had her critics who made both good and not so good comments about her work. She took notice of what people said about her books and noted down these various opinions. Sir Walter Scott, her illustrious contemporary, who was also published by John Murray, wrote of Emma,

“We bestow no mean compliment on the author of Emma, when we say that keeping close to common incidents, and to such characters that occupy the ordinary walks of life, she has produced sketches of such spirit and originality that we never miss the excitation which depends upon a narrative of uncommon events, arising from the consideration of minds, manners and sentiments greatly above our own.”

Sir Walter Scott (Wikipedia)

Sir Walter Scott (Wikipedia)

It appears that Murray regularly sent copies of newly published books to other writers he published for their comments. This can be seen as eliciting positive comments from people who wanted to keep in with Murray. Jane Austen mentions in her letters to Murray how thankful she is for the copy of Waterloo he sent her to read and actually asks him if he has any more she can have a look at. This suggests she knows how to play the publishing game. She is as astute as Murray himself it seems. In one way Scott’s positive comments could be read as keeping in with Murray. If Murray and his publishing house does well and sells lots of books it can only benefit himself after all, but there is more to Scott’s review. I think he has recognized what is original in her writing. She is a realist. Her style is about everyday common occurrences and everyday people and she makes them heroic. People reading Jane Austen can see themselves and people they know in her writing. It is said that reading a novel is good emotional and psychological therapy, and Austen hit a powerful vein.

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Charlotte Bronte (Wikipedia)

The highlight of the whole exhibition for me, even more so than seeing and reading a first edition, is the actual letter Charlotte Bronte wrote to her publisher, W.S. Williams, on April 12, 1850, in which she writes a lengthy paragraph about her thoughts on Jane Austen and Emma. I found it easy to read Bronte’s  small, thin, precise handwriting that flows clearly across the page.

I have likewise read one of Miss Austen’s works—Emma—read it with interest and with just the degree of admiration which Miss Austen herself would have thought sensible and suitable.  Anything like warmth or enthusiasm—anything energetic, poignant, heart-felt is utterly out of place in commending these works: all such demonstration the authoress would have met with a well-bred sneer, would have calmly scorned as outré and extravagant.  She does her business of delineating the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously well.  There is a Chinese fidelity, a miniature delicacy in the painting.  She ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing profound.  The passions are perfectly unknown to her; she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy sisterhood…”

Bronte continues:

“What sees keenly, speaks aptly, moves flexibly, it suits her to study; but what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of life and the sentient target of death—this Miss Austen ignores. “

And she goes on. Charlotte Bronte is actually agreeing with Scott’s comments when he describes her writing as

“……close to common incidents, and to such characters that occupy the ordinary walks of life”

The difference is that Scott makes his view a positive while Bronte makes her view a negative. I agree with what she says. Austen writes about the ordinary. Bronte on the other hand and her sisters wrote about,

 “what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of life and the sentient target of death”

Charlotte Bronte is actually describing the differences between their two styles. I have read articles published on some blogs where the writer tries to pit Charlotte Bronte against Jane Austen. Who do you like the best? Who do you think is the better writer? And so on. These are a childish approach to comparing two great writers. Two geniuses. Their styles are different. Every one of us reads different types of books for different reasons at different times to fit, very often , our different moods. We can read a poem by Wordsworth one day and on other days a romantic comedy, a ghost story, a swashbuckling adventure, a horror story or maybe a present day thriller. We can enjoy each genre for what it is and what it brings to us. Austen and Bronte are not enemies, they are not one better than the other. They are different and we can enjoy both. I can imagine how Bronte could be critical. She had a harder life than Jane Austen. Her novels and those of her sisters, were full of passion and deep feelings and filled with great moral uncertainties testing the moral status quo to the limit. Their ideas made their lives worth living and helped them live their short lives with feeling. Jane Austen had a much easier existence. I can see how Charlotte Bronte might not understand Austen’s standpoint. She probably could not bear to live the way Austen’s characters are portrayed. However, we can love them both.

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The exhibition demonstrates many of the influences Jane Austen might have used in her writing of Emma. There is the suggestion, for instance, that the fictional places Highbury and Hartfield in Emma are modelled on Chawton and the local town Alton. These are in Hampshire but the novel is set in Surrey. Others I know would not agree. Some say Leatherhead in Surrey, which is near Box Hill, a major location in the book. Others suggest Highbury is a generic English village, and I think this more likely.

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In Emma Jane Fairfax plays a tune called “Robin Adair” on the newly arrived pianoforte. There is on display a copy of “Binder’s volume of printed keyboard and harp music, 1780-1815,” annotated and autographed by Jane’s sister Cassandra. It includes the music to “Robin Adair.” [Ed. You can read this online here: https://archive.org/details/austen1677439-2001 ]

There is a bound set of The Ladies Magazine (1770-1832) which provides sewing patterns for young ladies. It is the sort of magazine that Jane Austen had access too. In Emma, sewing and painting are pastimes for young ladies.

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A final display cabinet shows the influences that Emma has had on culture over the centuries. There are various spin-off novels, including the latest modern version of Emma written by Alexander McCall Smith. There are play scripts written by various playwrights turning Emma into a stage version. These include plays by Gordon Glennan and Marion MacKaye. There are a number of radio adaptations. One read by Prunella Scales, another by Jeremy Northam. There are the film versions and the films influenced by Emma such as Clueless set in modern times. Spin-off novels are represented by a copy of the latest Stephanie Barron mystery The Waterloo Map. [Ed. Note that this latest Barron mystery has Jane visiting Carlton House where she meets with the Prince Regent’s Librarian – this all really took place on 13 November 1815; he “suggests” that she dedicate her newest book, Emma, to the Prince Regent – Barron has her also coming upon a dead body in the Library…]

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The exhibition is definitely worth seeing and just as much is the opportunity to walk around Chawton House where Jane Austen herself and her family lived and breathed. I also took the opportunity to take a walk in the gardens. I came across a snake lying across my path as I walked up to the walled gardens. I must tell you that in all my life I only recall seeing two other snakes in Britain in the wild. This was a grass snake and was totally harmless. The adder is the only poisonous snake in Britain and they are very shy creatures. I think I saw one once in the New Forest.

Harmless grass snake on the path

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“Portrait of a Lady” at CHL

The people who volunteer at Chawton are wonderful. They want to talk to you and tell you things. I had a very amusing moment with an elderly gentleman volunteer at the top of the great staircase. He was sitting on the landing. When I approached he showed me an information leaflet and we discussed its contents. One thing it mentioned was the original William Morris wallpaper. I looked around and couldn’t see any. “Well, then where’s the wallpaper?” I joked. He laughed and said “come with me.” We walked half way down the staircase and then turned and got on our hands and knees. There indeed, almost hidden behind the balustrade, was a patch of darkened William Morris print. He also kindly showed me the large 1714 map of London displayed on the folding panels of a screen.

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We found Henrietta Street and other places associated with Jane Austen when she visited London. Then I went into the old kitchen which is used as a shop and cafe and met a lovely lady who told me she was the housekeeper. I had a delicious chocolate cake and a cup of coffee. All together I had a wonderful visit to the “Emma 200 exhibition.”

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Further reading:

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[All photographs c2016 Tony Grant unless otherwise indicated]

c2016 Jane Austen in Vermont

Book Giveaway Winner! ~ Linda Slothouber’s Jane Austen, Edward Knight, and Chawton

BookCover-Slothouber…and the winner is Nancy who wrote:

Quite fascinating. I am particularly interested in your comment that Edward had more land and less money than many thought then and today. I know there are those who revile Edward today for not doing more for his mother and sisters instead of praising him for what he did do. . I’d love to have a copy of that book as much for what it says about general conditions and Edward’s in particular. –  I have the impression that Mr. Knightley also had more land than cash on hand and that his brother John received an allowance or something from their estate.

Nancy, please contact me as soon as possible with your contact details, and Linda will get the book sent off to you right away.

Thanks all for your terrific comments, and to Linda for her generosity for the guest post and responding to all your questions. Those of you who didn’t win, I encourage you to do it the old-fashioned way and buy the book – it is worth every penny and more of the $11.95!

And apologies for delay in announcing the giveaway – the Holiday caught me up short!

c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

Chawton House Library News ~ Sandy Lerner Honored with the OBE!

Very Exciting news just in! Sandy Lerner, the force behind the turning Chawton House, home to Jane Austen’s brother Edward Knight, into the Chawton House Library, has been awarded an Honorary OBE – “honorary” being the term for the OBE presented to a non-UK national [read here about the OBE, Order of the British Empire]. Here is the info on the event and celebration that took place yesterday at Chawton House!

Sandy Lerner copyright Pal Hansen from 2013

CHL Founder Awarded Honorary OBE
for Services to UK Culture

Award recognises importance of our unique Library of women’s writing

Today at Chawton House Library a very special event took place: our founder and Chairman, Dr Sandy Lerner, was awarded an Honorary OBE.

As a foreign national, the award of an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen recognises the significance of Dr Lerner’s cultural contribution to the UK in restoring the house an estate and establishing the Library. Although such awards are usually recognised at the British Embassy in the recipient’s country of residence, when Dr Lerner was first advised of the award over a year ago, she requested permission to delay announcing the honour and wait to be presented with the award at Chawton House Library itself.

Hampshire’s Lord-Lieutenant, Mr Nigel Atkinson Esq, presented the award to Dr Lerner in the Dining Room where Jane Austen would have dined with her brother, Edward. Dr Lerner, like many avid readers, loves the work of Jane Austen.

Read the rest here at the CHL website: http://www.chawtonhouse.org/?p=60082

And here are two pictures from yesterday’s celebration:

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Hampshire’s Lord-Lieutenant, Mr Nigel Atkinson Esq, with Sandy Lerner

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CHL Board of Trustees Members Richard Knight (descended from Edward Austen Knight), Gilly Drummond, and Len Bosack with Sandy Lerner and Nigel Atkinson

[Images courtesy of Chawton House Library, with thanks.]

We were very fortunate at JASNA-Vermont to have had Sandy visit us for our December tea in 2012 – she spoke about her book Second Impressions, a sequel of sorts to Pride and Prejudice. Here she is signing her book for our member Thierry Guerlain:

Sandy Lerner and Thierry Guerlain

All our members here in Vermont send our hearty congratulations to Sandy! – a very much deserved award for all her efforts on behalf of Jane Austen and the many other women writers too long neglected. They all have a “home of their own” at last.

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You can learn more about supporting the Chawton House Library by visiting their “Get Involved” page. You can:

c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

Guest Post & Book Giveaway! ~ “Edward Austen Knight as Landlord” ~ with Linda Slothouber on her Jane Austen, Edward Knight & Chawton

BookCover-SlothouberGentle Readers: Today I welcome Linda Slothouber, author of Jane Austen, Edward Knight, & Chawton: Commerce & Community (Woodpigeon Publishing, 2015), the result of her research at Chawton House Library in 2013. As the recipient of a grant through JASNA’s International Visitor Program, Linda’s project was to research the management of the Chawton estate in Hampshire during Edward Knight’s [nee Austen] ownership and this recently published book presents her findings. It is a most interesting and informative read, giving insights into the life and character of Jane Austen’s brother, thereby showing us how knowledgeable Jane Austen was in creating her own Heroes as landlords [think Mr. Knightley and Mr. Darcy! Henry Crawford, not so much…] – she had a fine model in her very own brother! I cannot improve upon what Deirdre Le Faye has written, that this book is “an essential addition to the Austenian bookshelf.”

I asked Linda how she chose this topic, what prompted her to apply for the JASNA grant, and here is her response: “Having written about other businesses in Jane Austen’s time, such as Wedgwood and Richard Arkwright’s cotton-spinning empire, I was very interested in how the business of estate management worked, both in the real world and in Jane Austen’s fiction.  I made some preliminary inquiries and found out from Chawton House Library about the Knight Archive and other potential resources.  My original intention, when I applied to JASNA’s International Visitor Program, was to write a much shorter book, but each question I answered spawned two more, and I discovered some stories and information I just couldn’t bear to leave out.” She tells us more about it all in her post below.

Linda has generously offered us a copy of her book for a giveaway, so please leave any comments and questions for her after this post in order to be entered into the random drawing [details below].

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Edward Knight, Landlord
by Linda Slothouber

The number of books, websites, magazines, and television programs that aim to explain the world in which Jane Austen lived must number well into the hundreds.   Many of them give a broad view of historical events and cultural conditions, compressing decades of time and significant regional diversities into a notional Georgian/Regency England.

In researching my book, Jane Austen, Edward Knight, & Chawton: Commerce and Community, I wanted to complement the more general histories by looking closely at specific people in a specific place.  My goal was to answer my own questions about the structure and economy of the English estate by looking at the experience of the estate-owner who would have been most familiar to Jane Austen:  her brother, Edward.  Adopted by rich relations, Edward inherited Godmersham Park in Kent; property in Chawton, Steventon, and elsewhere in Hampshire; and property in three other counties, changing his surname to Knight as a condition of the inheritance.  (Ronald Dunning gives more background on the Knight family here.)

Presentation of Edward Austen to Thomas and Catherine Knight – wikipedia

Presentation of Edward Austen to Thomas and Catherine Knight – wikipedia

I knew that the landed gentry made their money from renting and using their inherited lands, but how exactly did that happen?  How involved were landowners in estate management?  Jane Austen’s brother was an excellent case study.  I also wanted to explore how Chawton actually functioned as a community and get a better look at the people who lived in the cottages and farmhouses.  Who were the people that Jane Austen would have encountered during her years in Chawton?  When Chawton Great House was vacant or in the hands of tenants, what effect did that have on the estate and the village?

A View of Chawton @1740 by Mellichamp. Chawton House Library (BBC – Your Paintings)

My research into these questions was possible because of the availability of the Knight Archive, a treasure trove of several centuries’ worth of papers.  In 1961, 1986, and at various points in the 1990s, the Knight family gathered up record books, official documents, and random bits of paper from Chawton House and turned them over to the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester.  The HRO’s archivists created an index, but, because many entries refer to bundles of documents, the index can’t comprehensively describe everything in the archive.  The experience of going through one bundle after another, carefully unfolding 200-year-old papers to discover what each one contained, is something I will never forget!  Among the fascinating odds and ends I came across were the bills for Elizabeth Austen’s funeral and for the care of Jane and Edward’s brother George in his last weeks, the seating plan for the church in Chawton, and the list of poor old ladies to whom flannel petticoats were given after Edward Knight’s death.

Most of the documents in the Knight Archive concern the management of the Chawton estate and other Knight holdings.  While there are significant gaps, what has survived provides important insight into the Knights’ estate operations in Hampshire over a long period of time.  I read estate papers written by Elizabeth Knight and her steward in the early 1700s, and then turned to an estate wages book from the early 1900s, when Montagu Knight was the squire; some of the activities done on the estate remained remarkably constant, and some of the same surnames appeared on the lists of workers in both centuries.  As the focus of my research fell exactly between these two points, the range of documents provided an invaluable context for understanding Edward Knight’s period of ownership.

Excerpt from Edward Knight’s 1807 bank ledger, showing several deposits of estate income made by his steward, Bridger Seward, and forwarded through Henry Austen’s bank in Alton. (Courtesy of Barclays Group Archives)

The period between 1808 and 1819, encompassing the years when Jane Austen lived in Chawton, is, by chance, particularly well documented.  An estate accounts book has survived and is supported by bundles of vouchers documenting specific purchases and jobs done on the estate.  To pursue some questions, such as how much money Edward Knight earned from all his property in a typical year, I had to do some detective work, comparing the data found in the Knight Archive with that from other sources, including the Godmersham Heritage Centre, Barclays Group Archives (which holds Knight’s banking ledgers), and previously published sources such as Deirdre Le Faye’s Chronology of Jane Austen and Her Family.

So what did I learn?  It turns out Edward Knight had more land, and less money, than has commonly been believed.  I estimate that his contemporaries would have spoken of him as having “7,000 or 8,000 pounds a year,” not the £15,000 his near-contemporary Mary Russell Mitford stated (admittedly based on hearsay) as his income.  Knight had to contend with a lawsuit that threatened his ownership of his Hampshire property – that much is well-known – but his wealth was also affected by changes in the national economy that affected land values and farming income, presenting problems that plagued him throughout the 1820s and seem to have had an effect on his health, as well.

Edward Austen Knight - CHL

Edward Austen Knight – CHL

Knight felt deeply his responsibilities to his family, to the community, and to his own posterity – his son and the future heirs of the Knight estates.  Throughout his life, he provided financial assistance to many members of his family, though his female relations received far less direct financial support than his brothers did, or received assistance in ways that were not recorded in bank ledgers.  As for the community, Knight’s support for education, health care, and housing for the poor made Chawton more stable and less miserable than many other villages at the time.  It may be tempting to criticize some of his actions and omissions from our 21st-century vantage point, but L.P. Hartley’s maxim holds true:  “The past is another country:  they do things differently there.”

Learning about Edward Knight’s history and experience in estate management is valuable in its own right, but adding to the body of knowledge about Jane Austen is always a goal.  By discovering more about the people she knew during her eight years in Chawton and comparing the facts of their lives with what she wrote about them, we may come a tiny step closer to understanding her views and feelings.

One individual she knew well is William Triggs, Edward Knight’s gamekeeper at Chawton.  Triggs was by far the most well-paid of the Chawton estate servants; his salary of £52 was nearly half that of the estate steward.  His primary responsibility was to protect game on the estate for Edward Knight’s sons and guests to shoot when they came to stay. Since this didn’t happen often, some of his time was spent overseeing hay-making and other projects on the land, paying workers, and selling hay and potatoes on behalf of the estate (all tasks a bailiff might have done, but Knight didn’t employ one at Chawton at the time).  He was trusted with the money required to carry out these tasks and he earned a commission on sales.  He had guns and dogs and a horse that was purchased with estate funds, as was his hat, which cost a guinea (four times the cost of a common laborer’s hat).  Gamekeepers at the time were often resented by villagers for their high-handed ways and for siding with landowners, and this may have been the case with Triggs.  I found only one record in Knight’s estate accounts of poachers being conveyed to jail, but I did find a mention of a charge of assault brought against Triggs, which was settled by the estate paying the large sum of 9 pounds to the victim.

Jane Austen mentioned Triggs several times in her letters.  She found in him a worthy subject of long-running jokes shared with several members of her family.   She ended one letter, written from Godmersham Park to Cassandra back in Chawton, “With love to you all, including Triggs.”  In another letter, she wrote of seeing Triggs scurry down the lane, laden with birdcages and luggage, to meet the coach—not the kindest observation surely, but it seems to me she took some delight in seeing Triggs lose his swagger and struggle with lowly tasks.  In 1817, an interesting meeting took place:  “Tell William [Edward Knight’s son] that Triggs is as beautiful & condescending as ever, & was so good as to dine with us today,” wrote Jane.  We must imagine Triggs, the servant who perhaps acted above his station, sitting down to dine with the Austen women, who were related to the squire at the Great House but living in much humbler circumstances.  How did Jane Austen feel about being condescended to by her brother’s employee?  She tried to make conversation with him, but was it the sort of conversation Mr. Bennet had with Mr. Collins at dinner?  Did she speak aloud, teasingly, what she later wrote in her letter, that Triggs must have looked “very handsome” in his green coat at a recent funeral procession?  By discovering more about the dinner guest at the cottage table, it becomes easier to at least formulate such questions, even if the answers remain elusive.

A final word:  Even a scrap of paper of no obvious significance, which might easily have gone in the fire 200 years CEA-3-JAHouseMuseumago, has its magic today:  the words, the spelling, the quality of signatures (or X’s marked down by the unlettered), and the amount of paper allocated to a particular purpose all tell us something.  If such ephemera is worth saving and studying, then how much more essential is it to preserve a unique document that is central to Jane Austen’s life story?  Right now, Jane Austen’s House Museum is engaged in a campaign to collect £10,000 to purchase the letter that Cassandra Austen wrote to her niece Fanny immediately after Jane Austen’s death.  To secure the letter, this sum must be collected within less than three months.  Please read about the letter and consider contributing to the fundraising campaign.   [ The letter is CEA / 3, dated July 29, 1817 – Le Faye, 4th ed., p. 363 – you can read the text here]

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About the Author:  A 20-year career in management and technology consulting, degrees in English and Administration, and a stint as JASNA’s International Visitor to Chawton in 2013 created the foundation for Linda to write her 2015 book, Jane Austen, Edward Knight, & Chawton: Commerce & Community.  The book is available from Amazon, Woodpigeon Publishing, and Jane Austen Books in the U.S., and is available in the shop at Chawton House Library.  Linda blogs about new findings and supplemental research at chawtoncommerceandcommunity.blogspot.com. [Please note that Linda will be donating all profits from U.S. sales to the JASNA 2016 AGM.  For those of you attending JASNA-Vermont’s 7 June 2015 meeting, I will have copies for sale.]

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Book Giveaway:

BookCover-Slothouber

Thanks you so much Linda for your guest post on Edward Knight! Readers, please leave a comment or question for Linda in order to be entered into a random drawing to win a copy of Jane Austen, Edward Knight, & Chawton: Commerce and Community. Deadline is next Friday May 22, 2015 at 11:59 pm. Winner will be announced on May 23. Limited to domestic mailings, sorry to say, but don’t let that keep you from commenting!

Chawton House Library today - cTony Grant

Chawton House Library today – cTony Grant

[Tony Grant and I visited CHL last May on a very rainy day –
his picture was better than mine so I use it here with thanks!]

c2105 Jane Austen in Vermont

Chawton House Library ~ Becoming a Subscriber, Just Like Jane Austen

When Jane Austen sold the copyright of her Pride and Prejudice outright to her publisher Thomas Egerton, she, we now know, made the biggest mistake of her life. But hindsight is a dangerous beast, and easy for us to lament this 200 years later. We could also regale Cassandra for selling all the remaining copyrights to Richard Bentley in 1832 for a meager £210 pounds (Bentley also paid the Egerton estate £40 for the P&P copyright). She must have thought it a good bargain at the time – how was she to know that her sister’s novels would continue to be read through the generations, thus granting heirs much in royalty checks.

We don’t really know why Jane Austen chose to sell the Pride & Prejudice copyright rather than publish on commission, the way she published her other works; in all likelihood she didn’t want to take the financial risk. But she really had four options to publish at the beginning of the 19-th century, as did other authors of this time:

Rowlandson-syntaxbookseller-bloomsbury-11-7-13

Thomas Rowlandson’s “Dr. Syntax & Bookseller” from William Combe’s
The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque (1812)

  1. Profit-sharing: the publisher paid for printing and advertising costs; these expenses were repaid as books sold and any profit above those production costs was shared with the author; any loss was absorbed by the publisher. This was a popular way of publishing for unknown authors. Jan Fergus notes that if Austen had used this method for the four novels published in her lifetime, she would have made more money than she did. (Fergus, p. 16)
  2. Commission: the author was responsible for all publication expenses – paper, printing, advertising – the publisher distributed the books and took a 10% commission on all copies sold. The author took all the risk here, as if not enough copies sold to cover the costs, the author would be responsible. Austen published all her books this way, excepting her Pride and Prejudice… and from her letters we know that her brother Henry Austen was her financial backer. This seems to have been the most popular way to publish in the early 19-th century, especially for women writers. And it is interesting to note that this form of publishing is in vogue again! – just see all the number of self-published works that appear on Amazon!, this “vanity” publishing no longer less respected than publishing in the traditional way.
  3. Sale of Copyright: the author sells the copyright outright to the publisher and is no longer involved. Here the publisher takes all the risk, especially for an unknown author, but also has control over any future editions and can benefit if the book sells well. In the case of P&P, sold to Egerton for £110, Austen would have done better to have published by commission – it went into three editions, though she had no further input in making changes to the text.
  4.  Subscription: the author would solicit subscribers, who would pay in advance for the promised work and have the privilege of seeing their name in print in the list of subscribers in the work itself. This option usually only worked for well-known and successful authors, or for a work that people might want to see their name identified with. We can look at the concept of modern-day “crowd-funding” as an example of how this works.

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It is this last option of publishing that holds our interest today. Jane Austen published anonymously, “By a Lady” (on Sense and Sensibility), or “By the Author of ‘Sense and Sensibility’” (on P&P) (see note below) – she was an unknown authoress and would have had difficulty finding enough willing and wealthy donors to publish by subscription. But Frances Burney, a very successful author at the time, did publish her Camilla (1796) by subscription, the only work she did this way – and this first edition is notable because among the list of 1,058 subscribers (Dow, p. 38) is the name of “Miss J. Austen, Steventon,” only one of two times that Austen’s name appeared in print during her lifetime. She likely paid a guinea for the privilege (Dow, p. 40), and just look at the list on this one page of the illustrious fellow-subscribers!

Camilla-tp-Ransom

[title page of Frances Burney’s Camilla, from Harry Ransom Center]

Camilla-subscribers

I have thought for a number of years that this was the only place to find Austen’s name, but Gillian Dow in her article on “Jane, the Subscriber” notes that there is another such title: the non-fiction work Two Sermons by the Rev. T. Jefferson, published in 1808, and where her name is listed as “Miss Jane Austen” and her brother and sister-in-law as “Mr and Mrs Edward Austen of Godmersham.” A look at her letters finds Austen’s references to this Thomas Jefferson (1760-1829) of Tonbridge:

I have read Mr. Jefferson’s case to Edward, and he desires to have his name set down for a guinea and his wife’s for another, but does not wish for more than one copy of the work. [Letter 52. Le Faye, Letters, 4th ed. (2011), p. 132-3.]  

And later:

I have now some money to spare, & I wish to have my name put down as a subscriber to Mr. Jefferson’s works. My last Letter was closed before it occurred to me how possible, how right, & how gratifying such a measure would be.” [Letter 54, p. 138]

Thus, we see Jane Austen’s name in print again – one wonders if others might yet surface!

Becoming a Subscriber at Chawton House Library 

Chawton House Library

Chawton House Library

The point of all this is to tell you about a program at Chawton House Library, where you too can become a subscriber! An age-old way of publishing, where you can see your name in print, acquire a copy of a reprint edition of an interesting old title, and support the Chawton House Library in the bargain. Slightly more than a guinea is required of you, but not too much more (a minimum of $50)… You can read about the program and how to donate at the Chawton House Library website here: http://www.chawtonhouse.org/?page_id=58839

KnightFamilyCkBk-CHL“Further to the success of our most recent subscriber publication, The Knight Family Cookbook, which thrilled Subscribers and has proven to be one of the most purchased books in our shop, we are now seeking to progress our latest publication- The Duties of a Lady’s Maid; with directions for conduct, and numerous receipts for the toilette (1825).  This facsimile edition, with a new introduction by Mary Ann O’Farrell, will be a fascinating book certain to entertain those who would welcome guidance on how to behave as maid to Lady Catherine De Bourgh – or indeed those who wish to emulate Downton Abbey’s Miss O’Brien. Originally published in 1825, it is a rather rare conduct book offering a unique insight into the lives and duties of servants, as well as the trends and tastes of the Georgian age.  Readers can learn how religion should direct a maid in her work, which character traits are essential, and how to keep family secrets.  Amusing practical instructions, such as how to dress your lady using padding and bandages to improve her figure and tips on the most advantageous way to display the forehead, are also to be enjoyed.” 

[From the CHL website]

Let’s take a peek into this book that you can own in a facsimile edition – no author is noted as you can see:
The Duties of a Lady’s Maid; with directions for conduct, and numerous receipts for the toilette (1825). 

ladysmaid-tp-hathi

title page

ladysmaid-frontispiece-hathi

Frontispiece

Now, I must tell you that you can find this book on Google Books, or at the Hathi Trust  – but where is the fun in that? You need this book on your shelf, not only because it is a rare book (it only seems to have been published in this one edition of 1825), but also because you will find the most indispensable information in order to continue on with your life as you know it – after all, we most of us have become our own Ladys’ Maids, haven’t we? – if for any reason you don’t find this all completely relevant (the chapters on cleaning your wardrobe definitely remain so!), then at least it will be a daily reminder of exactly how far we have come. Take a look at the Contents:

CONTENTS
_______________

1. DUTIES OF BEHAVIOUR.

-Religion 6
-Honesty and Probity 19
-Diligence and Economy 26
-Attention 39
-Familiarity with Superiors 43
-Good Temper and Civility 50
-Confidence in Keeping Family Secrets 57
-Vanity and Dress 70
-Amusements 84
-Vulgar and Correct Speaking 98
-Change of Place 123
-Courtship 128

2.  DUTIES OF KNOWLEDGE AND ART. 

-Taste in the Colours of Dress 135
-Carnation 145
-Florid 146
-Fair 147
-Pale 148
-Sallow 149
-Brunette 150
-Artificial Flowers 159
-Taste in the Forms of Dress 162
-Stays and Corsets 175
-Padding, Bandaging, &c, to Improve the Figure 184
-Display of the Forehead 192
-Taste in Head Dresses 199
-Taste in Dressing the Hair 220
-Practical Directions for Hair Dressing, with Receipts. 233
-Cosmetics, &c. with. Receipts 256
-Paints, with Receipts for Rouge, Pearl White, &c 289
-Use and Abuse of Soap 306
-Dress-making and Fancy Needle-work 315
-Care of the Wardrobe, and the Method of Taking out Stains 321
-Method of Cleaning Silks and Chintz, and of Clear Starching, and Getting-up Lace and Fine Linen 324

******************

Some excerpts to entice you:

1. In case you perhaps don’t speak the King’s English – here are some pointers on correcting your shortcomings:

VULGARITIES PECULIAR TO ENGLAND.

The first vulgarity which I shall point out to you as prevalent among the lower orders in England, from Cumberland to Cornwall, is the practice of ending every thing they say with a question. For instance, instead of saying “the bonnet looks very smart,” an English girl will add the question, “an’t it?” or “don’t it?” If this practice of ending what is said by a question, were only employed occasionally, and when it appears necessary, it might be proper enough; but when it is repeated every time a person speaks, as you may observe is the case among the ill-educated all over England, it becomes extremely vulgar. You may thus hear a person say, “I went very quick, did’nt I?” for “I always do, don’t I?” or “Susan worked that very well, didn’t she? she is a good girl, an’t she? and I am very kind to her, an’t  I?” You must carefully avoid this vulgar practice of ending what you say with a question, if you are desirous of speaking correctly….

Still more vulgar than either of these is a certain use of the words there and here, along with that and this, as when it is said “that there house,” instead of “that house,” or “this here book,” instead of “this book.” You may, however, without impropriety say “this book here,” or “that house there’s” but never, “this here” nor “that there.” …

One of the very common vulgarities prevalent in England is a peculiarly awkward way of bringing in the name of a person at the end of a sentence, with the words “is” or “was” before it. I cannot describe this more intelligibly, except by an example; for instance, you may hear an ill educated girl say “she was very kind to me, was Mrs. Howard,” instead of correctly saying “Mrs. Howard was very kind to me.” Again, “he is a very worthy man, is Mr. Howard” instead of “Mr. Howard is a very worthy man.” I say that such expressions are not only vulgar but uncouth and awkward, and more like the blunders of a foreigner than a person speaking in her mother tongue; yet nothing is more common than this awkward vulgarity, which I expect you, will never commit after it has been now pointed out to you….

The manner in which certain words are pronounced is also a very evident mark of vulgarity. One of the most remarkable instances of this kind in England is the sounding of an r at the close of words ending in a or o, as when you say “idear” for “idea,” or “fellor” for “fellow,” or “windor” for “window,” or “yellor” for “yellow.” This is extremely difficult to be corrected when once it has become a habit; and so regularly does it follow in every word of similar ending, that you may hear persons say “Genevar” for “Geneva,” as commonly as children say “mammar” and “papar.”

[etc, etc… the Author then goes on to cover the various “Vulgarities in Scotland”…]

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2. Mrs. Clay might find a solution to her unsightly freckles with these solutions, Sir Walter would be pleased to know:

Brock-Persuasion-Mollands

CE Brock – Sir Walter Elliot (Mollands)

Freckles.—The sun produces red spots, which are known by the name of freckles. These have no apparent elevation but to the touch it may be perceived that they give a slight degree of roughness to the epidermis. These spots come upon the skin in those parts which are habitually exposed to the air. To prevent freckles, or sunburn, it is necessary to avoid walking abroad uncovered; a veil alone, or a straw hat, is sufficient for most women. There are however others whose more delicate skins require a more powerful preservative. The following is recommended by an intelligent physician:—

Take one pound of bullock’s gall, one drachma of rock alum, half an ounce of sugar candy, two drachms of borax, and one drachm of camphor. Mix them together, stir the whole for a quarter of an hour, and then let it stand. Repeat this three or four times a day, for a fortnight, that is to say, till the gall appears as clear as water. Then strain it through blotting paper, and put it away for use. Apply it when obliged to go abroad in the sunshine or into the country, taking care to wash your face at night with common water, those who have not taken the precautions mentioned above must resort to the means which art has discovered for removing these spots. The following process is recommended as one of the most efficacious for clearing a sunburnt complexion, and imparting the most beautiful tint to the skin ;—at night on going to bed, crush some strawberries upon the face, leaving them there all night and they will become, dry. Next morning wash with chervil water, and the skin will appear fresh, fair, and brilliant.

[Etc, etc – there are several other rather drastic directions…]

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3.  I must say that the seven pages on “Display of the Forehead” is worth the price of admission alone! But this on making a French dressing for your hair is a must-learn:

Parisian Pomatum.—Put into a proper vessel two pounds and a half of prepared hog’s lard with two pounds of picked lavender flowers, orange flowers, jasmine, buds of sweet briar, or any other sweet scented flower, or a mixture according to your choice, and knead the whole with the hands into a paste as uniform as possible. Put this mixture into a pewter, tin, or stone pot, and cork it tight. Place the vessel in a vapour bath, and let it stand in it six hours, at the expiration of which time strain the mixture through a coarse linen cloth by means of a press. Now throw away the flowers which you have used as being useless, pour the melted lard back into the same pot, and add four pounds of fresh lavender flowers. Stir the lard and flowers together while the lard is in a liquid state, in order to mix them thoroughly, and repeat the first process. Continue to repeat this till you have used about ten pounds of flowers. [my emphasis] 

After having separated the pomatum from the refuse of the flowers, set it in a cool place to congeal, pour off the reddish brown liquor, or juice extracted from the flowers, wash the pomatum in several waters, stirring it about with a wooden spatula to separate any remaining watery particles, till the last water remains perfectly colourless. Then melt the pomatum in a vapour bath, and let it stand in it about one hour, in a vessel well corked, then leave it in the vessel to congeal. Repeat this last operation till the watery particles are entirely extracted, when the wax must be added, and the pomatum melted for the last time in a vapour bath in a vessel closely corked, and suffered to congeal as before. When properly prepared it may be filled into pots, and tie the mouths of them over with wet bladder to prevent the air from penetrating. This pomatum will be very fragrant, and form an excellent preparation for improving the gloss and luxuriance of the hair.

[I’m exhausted just thinking about it…] – You might end up looking like this, flowers and all:

FlowerGarden-bibliodyssey

[Source: ‘The Flower Garden’ – hand-coloured etched engraving published by M Darly in 1777.
See Bibliodyssey for additional such outrageous hair-dos]

***************

So that gives you a very small inkling of what lies in store in this fascinating little book. You will find insights into the daily life and work of the many rarely seen but obviously-there-lurking-about servants in all of Austen’s novels – what was it like to be the lady’s maid to Lady Catherine or her daughter Anne – dreadful thought! Was it easier being maid to Mrs. Jennings with her overwhelming busyness, or Mrs. Bennet, despite her poor fluttering nerves? We watch Downton Abbey as much for the sometimes more interesting “below-stairs” life than anything that transpires upstairs – and indeed not much changed in servant’s lives from 1825 to the early 1900s.  Certainly Anna would have been familiar with this book or something like it.

Think about adding this to your book cover - fordyce sermonscollection of conduct books [everyone should have a collection of conduct books, starting of course with Fordyce’s Sermons, Mr. Collins’ pride and joy in Pride and Prejudice, now published with an introduction by Susan Allen Ford and also available from the Chawton House Library: you can order it here through Jane Austen Books].

Hope I have convinced you of the need to become a subscriber to Duties of a Lady’s Maid – go to http://www.chawtonhouse.org/?page_id=58839 – click on the appropriate link for UK or US contributions. Or think what a great gift this would be for your favorite friend in need of a conduct book of her (or his) own!

The Library will be preparing for publication soon, as the list of subscribers is growing – don’t miss out in seeing your name, or a best friend’s, in print, just like Jane Austen….

Further reading:

-“Seen But Not Heard: Servants in Jane Austen’s England” by Judith Terry in JASNA’s Persuasions (vol. 10, 1988): http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/printed/number10/terry.htm

-See these posts at Austenonly, where Julie talks about this book:

-this post at ‘History of the 18th and 19th Centuries’ blog on “Lady’s Maid and Her Duties”: http://18thcand19thc.blogspot.com/2014/09/ladys-maid-and-her-duties-in-georgian.html

Notes:

1. Dow, Gillian. “Jane, the Subscriber.” Jane Austen’s Regency World 68 (Mar-Apr 2014), 38-43.

2. Fergus, Jan. The Professional Woman Writer.” Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Ed. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster. Cambridge UP, 1997. See this chapter in both editions of the Cambridge Companion, as well as her Jane Austen: A Literary Life. Macmillan, 1991.

3. The title pages of each of Austen’s works read as follows: 

  • Sense and Sensibility: “By a Lady”
  • Pride and Prejudice: “By the Author of ‘Sense and Sensibility’
  • Mansfield Park: “By the Author of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’
  • Emma: “By the Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ &c, &c.”
  • Northanger Abbey and Persuasion: “By the Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ‘Mansfield Park,’ &c.”
c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

Hot off the Presses! ~ Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine, Issue 74

Be on the lookout in your mailbox! – the March/April 2015 (issue 74) of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine is published this week and is being mailed to subscribers. In it you can read about:

cover-74

  • The Iron Duke: A major exhibition marks the Duke of Wellington’s triumph at the Battle of Waterloo
  • A Book’s Life: One of the rare books at Chawton House Library reveals all
  • Anyone for Pyms? Barbara Pym, the novelist who was known as the “Jane Austen of the 20th century”
  • Georgian Illnesses: Examining some of the ailments suffered by Jane Austen’s characters
  • From Daylesford to Delaford: Is there a connection between Warren Hastings and Sense & Sensibility?

*Plus News, Letters, Book Reviews and information from Jane Austen Societies in the US, UK and Australia

*To subscribe now click here – and make sure that you are among the first to read all the news from Jane Austen’s Regency World!

[Text and image courtesy of JARW].

c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

Preserving Jane Austen and Her Literary Sisters ~ Book Conservation at the Chawton House Library

battered-books-2-CHL

Chawton House Library – books in need

When I was in Library School, one of my favorite classes was a study of book conservation and visit to the NEDCC (the Northeast Document Conservation Center) – this I thought was the place where the things I most loved were given the care they sorely needed. Sadly, I didn’t go into that field [hindsight is a dreadful thing!] – I was more into reading and making sure the right book got into the right person’s hands, believing that our system of free libraries was the grandest example of a free world. I remember as a 15 year-old page in our hometown library, roaming the shelves and discovering the Brownings, and rather than doing my job of re-shelving (I confess this now many years later), I was secretly discovering Poetry, finding Love and Words in the pages of these old books. I’ve never lost that love of an old book – the smell, the touch, the beauty of bindings and paper, the scribbled notes or bookplates or inscriptions of previous owners – not to mention the story being told. That I ended up a used bookseller was likely destiny at work – my favorite set of books in my home was an 1890 Encyclopedia Britannica! (I was not the most current student in history class!)

We now live in a world where the physical book is being rejected for the joy of carrying around 1500 titles on a small tablet that we can also use for all manner of interruptive connections to the real world. This escape into a book can be initiated wherever you are, whenever you want, without the inconvenience of lugging around poundage – I readily admit to loving my kindle! – But it is not the same, no matter how many people argue the point. I don’t remember the books I read this way – I don’t retain where such and such was on a particular page, I miss that smell, that touch, that communion with a physical object that has a history that somehow brings me closer to the author or a binder or papermaker or some previous owner or owners.

DentSet-dcb

[1898 Dent edition of Jane Austen’s novels – trivia: what is missing??]

I think, I have to believe that the book is not Dead, that an appreciation for the book as an object of beauty and worth may even be stronger than ever, fear of it all disappearing making it all the more valuable to us. And this then brings us to Book Conservation. Because if we don’t take care we shall be losing our very own heritage. I have had any number of books come across my desk that are in appalling states, either too well loved through the years, or just left to disintegrate in some old attic or basement – it is one of the saddest things to encounter really – a book of special significance that is rendered nearly worthless by its poor condition. Enter the conservationist! – Magic can happen! I have been fortunate in finding the most brilliant of these magicians, who has salvaged many a book for me and my customers … And though the value of a repaired work can be affected by such tampering, it is the return to its former state that is the end result, to preserve, protect and savor for the future… The digitizing efforts of so many of our libraries is a glorious thing – making so much accessible to all – I marvel at what is only a keystroke away – but preserving the original must and should be part of this plan.

Chawton House Library

Chawton House Library

And this brings us to Chawton House Library and their appeal for their book conservation program – they need our help!

The history of the Chawton House Library [CHL] is a well-known story, at least among most of my readers here, who perhaps have come to know of CHL because Jane Austen brought us there. Read its history if you don’t know it, and you will come away with unending gratitude to Sandy Lerner for making it all possible. If you have read Dale Spender’s classic Mothers of the Novel: 100 Good Women Writers before Jane Austen (Pandora 1986), and other various titles on the subject, you know that the entire literary tradition of women writers has been essentially silenced – if you are over 50, how many women writers did you read in college? How many did you even know about? The foundation and purpose of CHL has been to correct that horrible omission in our collective history, to give these women writers a home of their own, and to make sure none of them are ever again consigned to the neglected heap of second-class literature.

The CHL website offers a wealth of information on many of these women writers:

[for example: Aphra Behn’s The Rover; or, the Banish’d Cavaliers (1729), and Penelope Aubin’s The Inhuman Stepmother, or the History of Miss Harriot Montague (1770)]

Aphra Behn (1640-1689) - wikipedia

Aphra Behn (1640-1689) – wikipedia

Charlotte Lennox (c.1730-1804)

Charlotte Lennox (c.1730-1804)

  • The quarterly publication The Female Spectator is mailed to those who become Friends of the Library. Some of the past issues are available online from 1995 – 2010 here: http://www.chawtonhouse.org/?page_id=55522

Female Spectator-frontis-wp

 Frontispiece, vol. 1 The Female Spectator, by Eliza Haywood (1744-46) – the title CHL now uses for its quarterly newsletter [image: wikipedia]
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Chawton House Library

More books in need at Chawton House Library

But the books themselves, the majority really, are in need of repair. Keith Arscott, the Development Director of CHL, in the kick-off for this fund-raising effort, writes:

Thanks to our first and biggest single donation to date – over $3,000 from the George Cadbury Quaker Foundation – we have been able to organise our first conservation skills training day for 10 of our library volunteers to be run by a professional conservator. The donation also covers the first purchase of materials to enable our first volunteers to make a start. And for those of you that don’t know, we also had two generous donations at the reception – one from a red rose and the other from a yellow! [the reception for CHL members at the JASNA AGM in Montreal – we were all given roses!] But it is only a start – the Book Condition Survey that we were able to commission after a number of successful funding initiatives concluded that the cost of such a conservation programme would be easily a very large six figure sum  – if all the conservation work was undertaken by professional conservators in studio conditions. However, the tremendous interest that our appeal has had with volunteers and their willingness to give their time to help with much of the work – means we have an appeal target in mind of something in the $90,000 range.

And so this is where your help is needed. Gillian Dow, the Executive Director, writes on the website that small amounts of money can make a very big difference to our programme” and outlines how any donation can contribute to protecting this unique collection:

  • £1 / $1.70 can buy document repair tape
  • £6 / $10 can buy unbleached cotton archival ribbon
  • £10 / $17 can buy an archival box to protect a fragile book
  • £100 / $162 can pay for a full set of conservation equipment including unbleached cotton archival ribbon, document repair tape and archival boxes
  • £300 / $486 can pay for a volunteer training day, giving a whole team the necessary skills to carry out vital conservation work
  • £500 / $809 can restore a complete volume

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Conservation tools at the NEDCC

Conservation tools at the NEDCC

__________ 

*You can visit the CHL website to watch a film on the program:  http://www.chawtonhouse.org/?page_id=58943

*You can also find on the CHL blog this post by Giorgia Genco, “A Career in Book Conservation” where she writes about assisting in the training of volunteers in this new program: http://www.chawtonhouse.org/?library_blog=a-career-in-book-conservation

*And here, some great PR from the BBC: last November, they visited CHL and produced a video on the appeal, where Frankenstein and Sense & Sensibility are featured among other titles: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-29949168

*For those of you near Chawton, there is an evening lecture on February 12, 2015 at 6:30 pm on “Conserving a Unique Literary Heritage at Chawton House Library” with library conservator Caroline Bendix – it is free, but donations graciously accepted! – and you must register [but alas! the event is fully booked!]: http://www.chawtonhouse.org/?lectures_talks=conserving-a-unique-literary-heritage-at-chawton-house-library

A tattered 'Sense & Sensibility' at CHL

A tattered ‘Sense & Sensibility’ at CHL

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How to donate? For those of you living in the States, you can donate online directly to the North American Friends of Chawton House Library (NAFCHL) [NAFCHL is a U.S. 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization and all donations are deductible for purposes of U.S. income taxes]. NAFCHL will acknowledge U.S. donations as being specifically allocated to our Book Conservation Appeal. See the link on the right sidebar on this page: http://www.chawtonhouse.org/?page_id=58943 . [Everyone else can donate by visiting the same page and choosing the “Virgin Money Giving” link.]

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Mary Brunton (1778-1818) – Jane Austen writes about Brunton in her letters [image: wikipedia]

You will find if you spend a bit of time on the CHL website just how many of these women writers have been resurrected from their centuries-long oblivion. They are being studied more than ever as our female literary tradition finds its rightful place in the history of literature. The Chawton House Library has been and continues to be instrumental in finding and keeping these materials – the books, manuscripts, diaries, letters, and artifacts – and we need to preserve it all as best we can so that the Book as we now know it will be there for future generations of readers and scholars.  Any donation will be greatly appreciated…hope you can help!

Sources and further reading:

JA-letter-MorganJane Austen letter – the Morgan

c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont