Please see below for a statement from the William Blake Archive:
‘Two decades ago, the William Blake Archive set out to address, through the opportunities of digital media, the considerable challenges inherent in reproducing Blake’s work. A pioneer in digital humanities scholarship, the archive has brought together both streams of Blake’s work, for the first time making it easily available as he originally created it. A newly launched, transformative redesign of the archive makes this international public resource even more accessible to scholars and casual readers.
The archive now holds almost 7,000 images from 45 of the world’s leading research libraries and museums. It integrates editions, catalogs, databases, and scholarly tools into a single electronic archive.
It is a joint project of the University of Rochester and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with support from the Library of Congress.
The archive made history when, in 2003, it became the first electronic scholarly edition to receive the Prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition from the Modern Language Association, the major professional organization for the study and teaching of language and literature. And in 2005, the archive received the MLA’s Approved Edition seal—another digital edition first.
Here’s a link to our story, which we have presented in conjunction with National Poetry Month.’
BARS members may be interested in a new Massive Open Online Course on the Gothic that’s being run from the end of this month by Dale Townshend and Peter Lindfield – more details below.
Interested in the Gothic?
Want to learn about Gothic literature (including The Castle of Otranto and Frankenstein), the eighteenth century, Gothic Revival architecture, interiors and furniture, Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill?
Then register for our free six-week MOOC:
The Gothic Revival, 1700–1850: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Written and produced by Drs Dale Townshend and Peter Lindfield at the University of Stirling, Scotland.
We’re very happy to be able to publish a piece by Holly Wright of the West Sussex Record Office exploring their recently-catalogued archive of materials relating to Anna Eliza Bray, which promises to be a really great resource for Romanticists.
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Papers of Anna Eliza Bray (1790-1883)
The papers of 19th Century author Anna Eliza Bray have recently been catalogued at West Sussex Record Office and are now available for researchers to access. The catalogue can be viewed via our Search Online facility at http://www.westsussexpast.org.uk/searchonline/.
Frontispiece of Anna Eliza Bray’s book The White Hoods (Bray 3/2).
Anna Eliza Bray (formerly Stothard, neé Kempe) was born on 25th December 1790 in Newington, Surrey and died on 21st January 1883 in London. She was originally destined for a career in the theatre; however, this endeavour was cut short as she fell ill days before a much anticipated performance at Bath’s Theatre Royal in May 1815, and subsequently lost the opportunity to appear on the stage again. The archive contains letters from this period between her mother, her brother Alfred John Kempe (the antiquarian) and theatre directors from Bath and Cheltenham.
In February 1818, she married Charles Alfred Stothard (eldest son of the Royal Academy artist Thomas Stothard) and her first book was published in 1820 entitled Letters written during a tour through Normandy, Britanny and other parts of France in 1818. This publication would establish her as a writer and advance her into the literary circles of her day, acquainting her with such notable figures as Sir Walter Scott, Amelia Opie, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, John Murray and the most influential character in her career, the Poet Laureate Robert Southey. Her husband died shortly afterwards in a tragic accident on 28th May 1821, when he fell from a ladder in Bere Ferrers Church in Devon while drawing the stained glass window. In 1822, she married Reverend Edward Atkyns Bray and moved to Tavistock Vicarage in Devon; shortly thereafter her next book Memoirs of Charles Alfred Stothard was published in 1823. The West Country became a significant influence on her writing and it was during her life in Tavistock when most of her literary output was accomplished, including her most well-known work A Description of the part of Devonshire bordering on the Tamar and the Tavy, published by John Murray in 1836. This was a 3-volume descriptive account of the history, customs and folklore of West Devon, the idea for which was first suggested to Mrs Bray by Southey in 1831 and later published as a series of letters she had written to him on the subject. It proved very popular and was reprinted in 1879 in a two-volume edition. Other works included a well-received 10-volume set of historical novels, another travel book entitled Mountains and Lakes of Switzerland, biographies of Thomas Stothard and the composer George Frederick Handel and a children’s book entitled A Peep at the Pixies. After her husband’s death in 1857, she moved back to London and continued to write well into the 1870s, editing and publishing her late husband’s sermons and writing further books on French history and Devon folklore.
Letter to Anna Eliza Bray from Letitia Elizabeth Landon (Bray 1/1/7).
This archive will, no doubt, be of great interest to Romantic scholars as it contains over 100 letters from Caroline Southey, the second wife of Robert Southey, with whom Mrs Bray was first acquainted in 1840. This correspondence continued over a period of 14 years, which is even more remarkable when considering the fact that they never ended up meeting one another. Not only did Caroline Southey write frequently of her husband and his children, but some of the earlier letters also refer to other Romantic-era figures including William Wordsworth and members of the Coleridge family.
Letter to Anna Eliza Bray from Caroline Southey written after Robert Southey’s death (Bray 1/3/26).
There is also ‘Mrs Southey’s Narrative’, a biographical piece written by Caroline Southey in 1840 regarding her courtship and marriage to Robert Southey, copied by Mrs Bray’s niece from the original manuscript. Other correspondence includes letters from the poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Charles Cuthbert Southey and Edith May Warter (nee Southey), son and daughter respectively of Robert Southey and his first wife Edith Fricker. The most unusual and unique items in the collection are undoubtedly three locks of hair belonging to Robert and Caroline Southey, given to Mrs Bray in 1854.
The archive also contains a wealth of correspondence, travel journals, a scrapbook of drawings and watercolours, printed books and numerous draft manuscripts including the 3 volume manuscript of her autobiography, published posthumously in 1884. This work includes an account of the visit made by Robert Southey and his son Charles to Tavistock Vicarage in December 1836 as well as transcriptions of his letters to Mrs Bray. There is also a handwritten poetry book dating from the early 1820s which belonged to Mary Maria Colling, a maidservant and amateur poet from Tavistock. Mrs Bray bestowed her patronage upon Mary and privately published a selection of her poetry in 1831 entitled Fables and Other Pieces in Verse. This publication also included letters written by Mrs Bray to Robert Southey who assisted in gathering together many notable subscribers for the book, including John Murray and William Wordsworth.
Two of Anna Eliza Bray’s travel journals of Cornwall and North Devon (Bray 2/3 and Bray 2/11).
I will be presenting a talk on the Bray archive at West Sussex Record Office in Chichester entitled ‘A Peep at the Pixies’: exploring the life and literary archive of Anna Eliza Bray (1790-1883) on Tuesday 24th November 2015 at 7pm. Tickets cost £7.50 including refreshments, and a selection of documents from the archive will be out on display. If you would like to book a place, please contact our reception on 01243 753602.
Abusing my position as editor here briefly, I’d just like to point readers in the direction of a new digital project I’m working on which puts Richard Horwood’s ‘PLAN of the Cities of LONDON and WESTMINSTER the Borough of SOUTHWARK, and PARTS adjoining Shewing every HOUSE’ (1792-9) into conversation with a series of other Romantic-period works which seek to organise the city. The site features a detailed, zoomable version of the Plan (from images provided by the British Library) layered over modern digital maps of the city, allowing for comparisons and contrasts. It currently features annotated versions placing plates from the Microcosm of London (1808-10), plates and text from Modern London (1804) and text from Fores’s New Guide for Foreigners and the 1788 edition of Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies. The site is very much a work in progress at present – eventually, there’ll be a number of additional functions and several series of more literary annotations – but hopefully what’s there at present will already be of use for scholars working on the Romantic-period metropolis. If you have any thoughts on the site (or have any problems using it), I’d be very grateful for any ideas or feedback.
The archive contains over a million book illustrations from the British Library’s collections, taken from around 68,000 works of literature, history, geography and philosophy. The images span the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, covering a variety of reproductive techniques (including etching, wood engraving, lithography and photography).
Users can search across the whole range of illustrations and can view and curate online exhibitions, as well as creating and sharing their own collections of images from the archive.
The archive contains a wealth of images from the nineteenth century and plenty of illustrations of Romantic texts (and their authors!) so we encourage BARS members to take a look at the site.
BARS members might be interested in taking a look at the new website for the Thomas Chatterton Society, which includes news about the society’s activities and numerous resources relating to the Marvellous Boy. You may also want to check out Catherine Redford’s review.