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BARS Chawton House Travel Bursary Report

The recipient of the inaugural BARS Chawton House Travel Bursary reports back from her time conducting research in Hampshire…

BARS Chawton House Travel Bursary Report by Francesca Kavanagh

It is always a special circumstance when a household library remains relatively intact over the centuries and more impressive still when such a collection contains its own historical catalogues. Such is the case of the Knight Collection at Chawton House. Owned by the descendants of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight, the Knight Collection is housed and maintained by the exceptional staff and volunteers at Chawton House. Its two 1818 catalogues allow researchers to determine which books in the collection Jane Austen likely had access to and provide fascinating insight into the texts which a family in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century such as the Knights deemed fit and enticing enough to want to own. These two aspects of household libraries – the circulation among familial networks and the counterweight of an individual’s desire for personal ownership – are made evident in the act of inscribing a text. The inscriptions of Jane Austen’s nieces found in both the Knight Collection and the general collections are what drew me to Chawton House in August this year. With the generous support of the BARS Chawton House Travel Bursary, I spent two weeks working with these collections examining the material and affective significance of ownership and gift inscriptions penned by the women of the Austen and Knight families.

Figure 1: Chawton House.

My PhD thesis investigates the production of spaces of intimacy in the practices of letter-writing, annotation and commonplacing by women in the long-eighteenth century. In my time at Chawton House, evidence of ownership and gift inscriptions enabled me to extend my research on annotation by providing significant examples of the affective materiality of this practice. The positioning of inscriptions and the details they document, work to place the owner in a relationship not only with the gifter but also, in the case of the Knight Collection, with the larger library collection. The books belonging to Jane Austen’s niece, Marianne, provided an engaging and thought-provoking example.

There are a number of books signed by Marianne in the Knight Collection but a three-volume set of illustrated works by Walter Scott powerfully demonstrates the way in which gift inscriptions can signify and unify communities of female readers. Each volume is bound in green leather faded to maroon on the spine. The first, The Lady of the Lake, was published in 1838 and the two others, The Lay of the Last Minstrel and Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field, were published the following year. Each has gilded pages and gold crests which adorn their front and back covers. They comprise a set. And yet from the inscriptions we can see that they were gifted to Marianne not only on two separate occasions – 1 January 1845 as a new year’s present and almost two years later on 15 September 1846 for Marianne’s 45th birthday – but also by two different women. The first is a gift from Marianne’s ‘very affectionate Sister Louisa Knight’ [1]  and the second gift comprising The Lay of the Last Minstrel and Marmion is from ‘Aunt Louisa’.[2] These two Louisas not only share a name but in continuing the gifting of the same set of books have expressed their shared affection for Marianne and each other. Each inscription is in Marianne’s hand and the unifying power of her neat and formal positioning of her words works to further connect this set and the two Louisas so that these three works stand as a single, unified testament to the intimate and familial connection of these three women within the larger collection of the Knight’s family library.

Figure 2: Marianne’s inscriptions in her three volumes of Walter Scott gifted to her by her sister and aunt. Image courtesy of the Knight Family Collection on deposit at Chawton House.

Marianne’s small collection of Scott’s works is just one of many instances of captivating ownership and gift inscriptions in the collections at Chawton House and I must extend my sincere thanks to Darren Bevin for his help in locating many others and for answering my endless list of questions. My thanks also to the rest of the Chawton House staff and volunteers whose friendly, helpful manner and detailed maintenance of the library catalogue helped me to feel at home in the rabbit warren of house and archive.

The bursary, by enabling me to spend time in the presence of Marianne’s books and handwriting, as well as those of her cousins, ancestors and future generations of Knights, has provided me with a familiarity with their material significance which I could not otherwise have experienced, and which has been essential to the progress of my thesis.

[1] Inscription in Scott, Walter. Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott, Baronet. Illustrated ed. London: Charles Tilt, Fleet Street, 1838.

[2] Inscription in Scott, Walter. The Lay of the Last Minstrel by Sir Walter Scott Baronet. Illustrated Edition. London: Charles Tilt, 1839, and Scott, Walter. Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field by Sir Walter Scott Baronet. Illustrated ed. London: Charles Tilt, Fleet Street, 1839.

Call for Papers: BARS 2019 – Romantic Facts and Fantasies

BARS 2019: Romantic Facts and Fantasies

 

Proposals are invited for the 2019 conference of the British Association for Romantic Studies, to be hosted by the School of English, University of Nottingham, from 25-28th July. Our theme is ‘Romantic Facts and Fantasies’.

We look forward to welcoming you to the East Midlands, where the historic city of Nottingham is located among the heartlands of British Romanticism. Newstead Abbey was Byron’s ancestral home; Sherwood Forest was re-imagined as the meeting place of Richard I and Robin Hood in Scott’s Ivanhoe; and the Cromford Mills are a living monument to Richard Arkwright, whose inventive development of spinning mills and power looms was an integral strand of the Industrial Revolution. This conference will explore the potency of ‘fact’ and fantasy’ both in the Romantic period and during the afterlife of Romanticism. The aim is to develop a collective understanding of how Romantic ‘fact’ and ‘fantasy’ work together and against one another, and in so doing embody the spirit of an age whose inventions and innovations laid the foundations for modernity while simultaneously exulting the power of the imagination and its creations.

Keynote speakers for Romantic Facts and Fantasies are Laura Mandell (Texas A&M), Robert Poole (UCLAN), Sharon Ruston (Lancaster), Diego Saglia (Parma), and Jane Stabler (St Andrews).

We encourage proposals for open-call sessions and themed panels as well as individual proposals for 20-minute papers. Subjects covered might include (but are not limited to):

Bicentenaries 1819-2019: The Peterloo Massacre; the ‘Six Acts’, the Carlsbad Decrees; the birth of Queen Victoria; Stamford Raffles and the foundation of Singapore; Simon Bolivar’s victory at Boyacá; the Panic of 1819; the opening of the Burlington Arcade, London; the Cotton Mills Act; the death of James Watt;  Keats’s odes; Scott’s Ivanhoe, Bride of Lammermoor, and A Legend of Montrose; the final volume of Southey’s History of Brazil; Blake’s ‘Ghost of a Flea’ (1819/20).

Factual and fantastical encounters and dialogues: travel narratives; poetry of encounter; translations; colonial discourses; geologies, geographies and aesthetics of landscape; rivers, canals, bridges and roads in material, commercial and imaginative landscapes.

Facts and fantasies of collective and individual identity: Romantic provincialism (the Lunar Society, the Lake School); national identity and ideas of the state; religion; ethnography; Romantic life writing and autobiography; Romantic-period economics, consumerism, industry and agriculture; Romantic facts and fantasies of childhood; Romantic experiments in education; Rousseauism.

The scientific imaginary: Mary and Percy Shelley; Humphry Davy, poet and scientist; the development and legacies of Romantic science fiction; Erasmus Darwin, the Lunar Society and Joseph Wright of Derby; Malthus and Malthusianism.

Imagining the Romantic world: Keats’s ‘living year’; plagiarism and originality; the professional imagination in Keats, Davy, Blake, Caroline Herschel and William Herschel; pedagogic and didactic poetry, prose and drama; histories and history-writing, including the emergence of national histories; paintings, sculptures and music commemorating the events and ‘heroes’ of the Napoleonic wars, politics, industry and culture; architecture and Romantic fantasy (eg. Walter Scott’s Abbotsford, William Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey, and Joseph Gandy’s visualisations of the Bank of England and other buildings by John Soane); Romantic book illustration and developments in the technology of print.

Presentation formats

We welcome proposals for the following:

Individual 20 minute papers. Abstracts of no more than 250 words (excluding the title). Please include your name and institutional affiliation (if applicable).

Panels of either three 20 minute papers or four 15 minute papers. Please include an abstract of the panel theme, together with 250-word (excluding the title) proposals from each of the speakers, in a single document.

Open-call sessions. Proposals should include a 350-word (excluding the title) description of the potential session, outlining its importance and relevance to the conference theme. Accepted open-call sessions will be advertised on the BARS 2019 website from mid-November 2018.

Submissions

The deadline for proposals for open-call sessions is 1 November 2018.

The deadline for submissions of panels and individual papers is 17 December 2018.

Please email proposals to bars2019@nottingham.ac.uk.

For more information, please visit the BARS 2019 website.

The Scottish Romanticism Research Award 2018

The executive committees of the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) and the Universities Committee for Scottish Literature (UCSL) are delighted to announce the winner of the third annual Scottish Romanticism Research Award: Eva-Charlotta Mebius, a PhD Candidate in the English Department at University College London. During her research trip she will visit the the Dundee City Archives, in order to study Robert Mudie’s early writing in the Dundee Advertiser, the Fife Archives and the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness, to uncover more information about Mudie’s time there as a schoolmaster, and the National Records of Scotland.

BARS and UCSL have established the annual award for postgraduates and early career scholars to help fund expenses incurred through travel to Scottish libraries and archives, including universities other than the applicant’s own, up to a maximum of £300. A postgraduate may be a current or recent Master’s student (within two years of graduation) or a PhD candidate; a postdoctoral scholar is defined as someone who holds a PhD but does not hold a permanent academic post. If appropriate, UCSL will endeavour to assign the awardee an academic liaison at one of its partner universities in Scotland.

Recipients are asked to submit a short report to the BARS Executive Committee, for publication on its website, and to acknowledge BARS and UCSL in their doctoral thesis and/or any publication arising from the research trip. Please join us in congratulating Eva-Charlotta on her award. We look forward to welcoming her to Scotland.

– Dr Daniel Cook, University of Dundee

Read Eva’s Stephen Copley Research Report for BARS, ‘Unearthing Robert Mudie in the National Library of Scotland and Dundee University Archives’, here.

Stephen Copley Research Report: Lauren Christie on Gothic Literature

Lauren Christie (University of Dundee) has completed the following report on her time in Manchester this summer carrying out research on the Gothic and attending the Gothic festival and the International Gothic Association’s (IGA) biennial conference.

Research report: Gothic literature, children’s literature and the Gothic Manchester Festival/the IGA conference

The very nature and beauty of eighteenth-century Gothic is its fluidity. Originating with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) many established Gothic tropes are still present in aspects of contemporary culture: for example, fashion, architecture, and literature. We are witnessing new developments that reflect different audiences, such as Gothic gaming and post-apocalyptic fiction. Gothic remains such a prominent fibre of the twenty-first century through its inherent ability to adapt and modify for new generations. Due to the diverse scope and nature of my research (ranging from children’s to Gothic and horror literature) there are so many texts that are vital for me, from the eighteenth century to the present day. The Stephen Copley Research Award from BARS enabled me to visit the library and special collections archive at Manchester Metropolitan University in order to examine specialised texts spanning this vast time period. I combined this research trip with an offer to present at the International Gothic Association’s biennial conference. The organising committee for the IGA arranged additional events through the ‘Gothic Manchester Festival: Gothic Hybridities’ series. Exploring the hybridity of the genre from its origins to the present led me to consider and observe the popularity and diverse nature of this topic.

With assistance from Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes (Senior Lecturer) and Rachel Fell (subject librarian for English at MMU), I gained access to MMU’s departmental collection that exclusively focuses on Romantic and Gothic literary criticism of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Prominent texts included: Coats, McGillis and Jackson’s The Gothic in Children’s Literature: Haunting the Borders (2008), Crawford’s The Twilight of the Gothic? Vampire Fiction and the Rise of the Paranormal Romance (2014), Tropp’s Images of Fear: How Horror Stories Helped Shape Modern Culture (1990) and Townshend’s Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination (2014). I also encountered contemporary children’s literary criticism such as: Lenz’s Alternative Worlds in Fantasy Fiction (2001), Lewis’s Reading Contemporary Picturebooks (2001) and Coats’s Looking Glasses and Neverlands: Lacan, Desire, and Subjectivity in Children’s Literature (2004).

MMU houses a unique archival collection of children’s literature. This dates back to 1764, and consists of children’s annuals, fiction, picturebooks and pop-up books, to name but a few examples. Immersed in this collection, I came across an extraordinary Gothic children’s pop-up book entitled Thomson and Hartas’s Ghoul School (2001), and a bibliotherapeutic picturebook for young children: Michael Rosen’s Sad Book (2004). I also looked at several children’s Gothic texts that promote imagination such as Thompson’s How to Live Forever (1995) and Turner’s The Tree Witches (1983). There were also Gothic transitional books for education such as Waddell and Wright’s Little Dracula Goes to School (1987). One particular text that I found incredibly dark and poignant was a contemporary one: Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls (2003). This novel emphasises the power of the imagination and questions the figure of the monster (and whether we mean wolves or humans).

Alongside my research, I was honoured to be able to attend the Manchester Gothic Festival and present at the IGA conference. This year saw the society’s biggest ever conference, hosting over 300 experts from all over the world. I attended several vibrant panels such as: Gothic Houses and Gothic selves, Gothic Monsters in children’s and Young Adult (YA) fiction, Gothic Fairy Tales, Outsiders in YA Gothic, Haunted Scotland, and Reading the Gothic in Popular Children’s Fiction. I also attended wider festival events, including Scoring Fear: An Evening of Classical Music and Gothic Horror Film Scores (BBC Philharmonic and BBC Radio 3), and a reception at the Manchester Art Gallery. In addition, the IGA Postgraduate community had organised a round table event on Gothic-studies careers in academia. This was incredibly supportive as we were able to seek advice from several experts in the field.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the British Association for Romantic Studies for awarding me the Stephen Copley Research Award, without which this trip would not have been possible. I would also like to thank Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes and Rachel Fell for their help in organising my individual research trip to the library and archives, Dr Linnie Blake and the staff at the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, and the IGA organising committee for creating such a diverse and exciting conference and festival. The combination of all of the above events during my week in Manchester has helped further my research, thereby developing ideas for my thesis and publications.

The BARS Review, No. 51 (Spring 2018)

William Blake, from A Small Book of Designs: The First Book of Urizen (1794). ©Trustees of the British Museum. Used under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

The Editors, led by Mark Sandy, are pleased to announce the publication of the 51st number of The BARS Review, the ninth available in full online through our open-access system.  The list of contents below includes links to the html versions of the twenty-one articles, but all the reviews are also available as pdfs.  If you want to browse through the whole number at your leisure, a pdf compilation is available.

If you have comments on the new number, or on the Review in general, we’d be very grateful for any feedback that would allow us to improve the site or the content.  Mark Sandy would also be very happy to hear from people who would like to review for BARS.

Editor: Mark Sandy (Durham University)
General Editors: Ian Haywood (University of Roehampton), Susan Oliver (University of Essex) & Nicola J. Watson (Open University)
Technical Editor: Matthew Sangster (University of Glasgow)

Table of Contents

Reviews

Dafydd Moore, ed., The International Companion to James Macpherson and The Poems of Ossian
Gerard Lee McKeever
Timothy Michael, British Romanticism and the Critique of Political Reason
Elias Greig
Robert Mayer, Walter Scott and Fame: Authors and Readers in the Romantic Age
Caroline McCracken-Flesher
Saree Makdisi, Reading William Blake
Katherine Fender
Claire Trévien, Satire, Prints and Theatricality in the French Revolution
Ian Haywood
Richard Lansdown, ed., Byron’s Letters and Journals. A New Selection
Gioia Angeletti
Brycchan Carey, ed., The Interesting Narrative by Olaudah Equiano
John Bugg
Alan Rawes and Diego Saglia, eds., Byron and Italy
Maria Schoina
Lily Gurton-Wachter, Watchwords: Romanticism and the Poetics of Attention
Andrew Franta
E. J. Clery, Eighteen Hundred and Eleven: Poetry, Protest and Economic Crisis
Lisa Vargo
Beth Lau, ed., Jane Austen and Sciences of the Mind
Inger S. B. Brodey
E. J. Clery, Jane Austen, The Banker’s Sister
Claire Harman
Mark J. Bruhn, Wordsworth Before Coleridge: The Growth of the Poet’s Philosophical Mind, 1785-1797
Adam Potkay
Ewan James Jones, Coleridge and the Philosophy of Poetic Form and Michael Tomko, Beyond the Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Poetic Faith from Coleridge to Tolkien
Philip Aherne
Michael D. Hurley and Marcus Waithe (eds.), Thinking through Style: Non-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century
Andrew Hodgson

Spotlight: Romantic Heirs and Inheritors

Juliet Shields, Nation and Migration: The Making of British Atlantic Literature, 1765-1835
Clare Elliott
Anahid Nersessian, Utopia, Limited: Romanticism and Adjustment
Christopher Geary
Andrew Burkett, Romantic Mediations: Media Theory and British Romanticism
Ralf Haekel
Beatrice Turner, Romantic Childhood, Romantic Heirs: Reproduction and Retrospection, 1820-1850
Malini Roy
Tom Mole, What the Victorians Made of Romanticism: Material Artifacts, Cultural Practices, and Reception History
Richard Cronin
Andrew Radford, Mary Butts and British Neo-Romanticism: The Enchantment of Place
Sam Wiseman

Whole Number

The BARS Review, No. 51 (Autumn 2018) – review compilation
The BARS Review Editors

Stephen Copley Research Report: Hannah Moss at Chawton House Library

Hannah Moss (PhD Candidate, University of Sheffield) reports on her research at Chawton House Library. Her trip was funded by a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award.

Stephen Copley Research Report: Hannah Moss

Chawton House in Hampshire hardly needs an introduction as it is so frequently spoken of with such great fondness by everyone who has been lucky enough to spend some time working in the Library Reading Room. Just a few minutes’ walk down the leafy lane from the cottage where Jane Austen lived and worked between 1809-17 stands the ‘Great House’ inherited by her brother Edward after being adopted by the Knight family. Chawton House Library now makes an idyllic and inspiring setting for a collection of early women’s writing, and thanks to a Stephen Copley Award, I have been able to spend a productive week conducting research towards my thesis here.

My PhD thesis seeks to reappraise the representation of female artists in women’s writing of the period 1760-1820. With a wide-ranging artistic education considered a prerequisite for being accepted as an accomplished female, novels of the period tend to be populated by women who are adept at everything from painting portraits to playing the pianoforte. However, the ideal of the accomplished female can complicate the value of artistic attainment by eliding the aesthetic appeal of the artist with that of her art. When the arts are cultivated for show – primarily as a means of attracting male attention – the appearance of producing art becomes more important than what is actually produced. My aim is to look beyond the allure of accomplishment to explore how the arts can provide an avenue for independent self-expression whilst functioning within accepted boundaries of behaviour.

Chawton House Library

I began my week at Chawton House Library extending my research into what art forms are encouraged as a mark of virtue by looking into the conduct advice written for women. The collection held at Chawton House Library includes numerous conduct manuals, from Hannah Woolley’s compendious Gentlewoman’s Companion (1673), through to an ‘improved edition’ of Mrs Hemans’ Young Woman’s Companion (1840). Whilst some works, including Mrs Hemans’ Young Woman’s Companion, provide practical advice on perspective, shading, and the dangers of putting your paint brush in your mouth (‘King’s yellow’ is basically arsenic coloured with sulphur), other texts are more concerned with which arts constitute the proper use of a young lady’s time. There is distinct anxiety around spending too much time cultivating the arts and neglecting family or household duties, and Hannah Woolley warns that the hours of recreation should be kept in moderation. However, she does recommend painting, or limning, as a suitable pastime, noting: ‘Limning is an excellent qualification for a Gentlewoman to exercise and please her fancy therein’. Woolley then goes on to acknowledge that ‘There are many foreign Ladies that are excellent Artists herein; neither are there wanting Examples enough in his Majesty’s three Kingdoms of such Gentlewomen whose indefatigable industry in this laudable and ingenious Art may run parallel with such as make it their profession’.[1] So much has been written about the supposed lack of female artistic talent and the limitations imposed upon women artists in terms of training – therefore this quotation is significant as it recognises the skill possessed by women artists at home and abroad. However, one point to note is her use of the word ‘gentlewomen’. Status is of importance when it comes to what skills women are taught, and this message is reinforced in the novels and short tales delineating virtue and vice that I consulted whilst visiting the library.

In the novel The Reward of Virtue; or, the History of Miss Polly Graham (1769), Bounty Hall is a utopian vision of female education promoted by female philanthropy akin to that presented by Sarah Scott in Millenium Hall (1762). The ‘second rank education’ is designed for those in the middling rank with ‘no prospect of considerable fortunes’. Therefore, the focus is on teaching useful rather than ornamental accomplishments: ‘Even drawing was not taught, except where so extraordinary a genius appeared as might give room to believe it might prove a useful and profitable art’.[2] ‘The Story of Melinda’ in the didactic collection The Portrait of Life (1770) promotes a similar message, warning of the dangers of educating a woman beyond her station in life. Melinda’s accomplishments make the heroine a desirable companion for her rich friends even if she lacks their wealth, but she neglects her own family and is subsequently left with no money to her name. Her so-called friends then describe millinery as the only option she has left to support herself.

The second thread to the research I conducted whilst at Chawton House Library related to the British reception of Germaine de Staël’s Corinne, or Italy (1807). The talent of de Staël’s famed improvisatrice is stifled by English manners, but in Italy her genius is celebrated. Published just two years later, The Corinna of England, and a Heroine in the Shade: a Modern Romance (1809) constitutes one of the earliest responses to de Staël’s novel and provides valuable insight into how it was received. Attributed to E.M. Foster, this parody presents its artist heroine as no more than a deluded imitator of de Staël’s woman of genius.

Clarissa Moreton is the orphaned daughter of a wealthy industrialist, whose independent fortune and equally independent manners attract a circle of sycophantic musicians and artists to her salon. Refusing to be bound by convention, Clarissa’s unorthodox conduct risks the safety and reputation of her innocent young cousin, Mary Cuthbert. Upon reading de Staël’s work, Clarissa identifies with Corinne to the extent that she calls herself Corinna and decides to go out and address the people of Coventry in the manner of Corinne at the Capitol. There is bathos in the shift from Rome to a provincial English town, and rather than being heralded as a great speaker, Clarissa unwittingly incites a riot. Clarissa’s singularity does not mark her out as a woman of genius. In fact, her talents as a musician, poet and public speaker are decidedly lacking in comparison with de Staël’s heroine.

Foster does not present a model for the female artist to thrive in England. Display is presented as particularly unfeminine, leading the exemplary Clara Davenport to hide her talent. Even though she was ‘always engaged in some piece of useful or entertaining work of invention or fancy’ she ‘carefully concealed that she had pursuits of a higher nature from the eye of common enquiry, lest she should be thought to have strayed from the path prescribed to her sex’.[3] The challenge to female modesty posed by the display of talent will definitely be an idea that I will consider further as I continue to research the influence of de Staël’s Corinne on the representation of female artists in Romantic-era novels.

Hannah at Chawton

I would like to thank BARS for the generous bursary which enabled me to undertake research which is invaluable to the progress of my PhD. The staff at Chawton House are so helpful and supportive, and I would highly recommend a research visit here to anyone with an interest in early women’s writing. The Library Reading Room is a quiet haven where you have the time, space and materials at your disposal to make research breakthroughs, and I have left feeling inspired to push on with my project and pursue the various leads that I have identified.

[1] Hannah Woolley, Gentlewoman’s Companion, or, a Guide to the Female Sex, (London: A. Maxwell for Dorman Newman, 1673), p. 84.

[2] Anon, The Reward of Virtue; or, the History of Miss Polly Graham, (London: J. Roson and William Cooke, 1769), p.209-11.

[3] [E.M. Foster], The Corinna of England, and a Heroine in the Shade: a Modern Romance, (London: B.Crosby, 1809), p. 15.

Stephen Copley Research Report: Eva-Charlotta Mebius on Robert Mudie and John Abraham Heraud

Unearthing Robert Mudie in the National Library of Scotland and Dundee University Archives

by Eva-Charlotta Mebius

My research trip to Edinburgh and Dundee, generously funded by a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award, was truly a wonderful experience. My thesis, which explores the apocalyptic imagination in literature and art in the long nineteenth century, and literary and artistic networks in London, has led me to the work of several lesser-known writers. One such writer is the prolific and self-taught reformer, historian, novelist, poet, journalist, editor and naturalist Robert Mudie (1780-1842). Born in 1780 in Forfarshire, Scotland, he moved to London at the beginning of the 1820s to continue his career as a writer and journalist.[1] Thus, the goal of this research trip was to gather more information on Robert Mudie’s life and career before he arrived in London.

Robert Mudie was a copious writer, and it has been reported that his oeuvre amounted to over 90 volumes, although it should also be noted that he was no stranger to self-plagiarizing. Tracking down his writings has proved very tricky indeed, especially as he often published his work anonymously.  For example, he used at least one pseudonym, the wonderfully Smolett-esque name of Laurence Langshank.

One new addition to the list, however, thanks to this research trip, was Mudie’s short history of Dundee, Dundee Delineated (1822). It takes its place alongside his other monumental volumes, such as The Modern Athens (1824) on Edinburgh, and his truly extraordinary achievement in the four large volumes on London, Babylon the Great (1825) and A Second Judgement of Babylon the Great (1828), that appeared in several editions throughout the 1820s and 1830s. My forthcoming article in The Dickensian on Charles Dickens and Robert Mudie explores the significance of Robert Mudie’s writing on London, and its potential connection to the Dickensian London of Oliver Twist (1837-39).

My visit to Dundee was very important for my research on the elusive and extraordinary life of Robert Mudie, as well as the works themselves. It was especially exciting to visit the city that informed and inspired much of his early work as a reformer, poet, novelist, and journalist. Mudie spent almost a decade in the city, where he worked as a schoolmaster for many years at Dundee Academy. Moreover, it was in Dundee that his writing career truly began – his poem ‘The Maid of Griban’ was published in 1810 – and it was also here that he wrote his first and only satirical novel Glenfergus (1820), about the Bonclair family and the town of Glenfergus, which at the time was mistaken by some to have been written by Sir Walter Scott. Mudie’s characters were even said by one reviewer in The Scotsman to be in competition with Scott’s creations, and I would argue that the novel, along with much of Mudie’s writing, is still well worth reading.

Due to Mudie’s radical reformist politics and attacks on fellow members of the Town Council, who he accused of corruption in the Dundee Advertiser (edited by R. S. Rintoul, founder of The Spectator), a move to London proved necessary shortly after the publication of his novel. He arrived in London around 1821 where he, like Dickens, began working for the Morning Chronicle. Yet he did return to Scotland on occasion. For example, he was asked to report on George IV’s visit to Edinburgh, published as A Historical Account of His Majesty’s Visit to Scotland (1822).

Another exciting find made in the Dundee University Archives was the first portrait that I had ever seen of this prolific and gifted, but oddly elusive, writer. I have since learned that it is probably based on a famous satirical print ‘The Executive’ (1821), by the Dundee portraitist Henry Harwood (1803-1868), in which Mudie appears.

 

Fig. 1 The Executive, engraving after a painting by Henry Harwood, 1821 (Photo Credit: University of Dundee Fine Art Collections). Robert Mudie can be seen wearing a light-coloured top hat in the middle, sixth from left.

 

Furthermore, in the National Library of Scotland I was finally able to have a look at such gems as Mudie’s early work in his two unsuccessful journals The Independent (1816) and The Caledonian (1821), both of which started in Dundee. I also examined his later book The Complete Governess (1824), on the reform of the education of women, which reveals his strikingly progressive views on education in general, and the education of girls in particular.

During my trip, I was able to conduct some research on other obscure writers that are part of the literary networks that I explore in my thesis. I had the opportunity to peruse some letters written to, and by, the now mostly forgotten editor, writer of Hyper-Miltonic epopeia, distinguished theatre critic, and chastised dramatist John Abraham Heraud (1799-1887). Heraud was another prolific writer, but his two most famous poems were the hyper-Miltonic epics The Descent into Hell (1830), and the antediluvian The Judgement of the Flood (1834). Seemingly, he was one of the more colourful figures in the literary world of London, and by all accounts Heraud had an interesting social circle that included prominent figures such as Thomas Carlyle, Douglas Jerrold, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Charles Dickens. He was also a devout disciple of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he was mentored by Robert Southey, and he corresponded with William Wordsworth.[2]

Thus, I am happy to report that alongside my planned research on Mudie’s early writing, this trip was full of unexpected discoveries. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the staff of the National Library of Scotland, and the Dundee University Archives. They were all so kind, helpful, welcoming, and I cannot wait to return for more research on ‘Mudieism’ and other matters in the future. Finally, thank you again to BARS for making this research trip possible.

[1] There is some confusion as to what year Mudie was born. Most publications, such as the ODNB, use 1777. However, as I found out on this research trip, in The Mudies of Angus (1959) the authors argue that this is unlikely since he was not baptised until 1780. Arguably, more research is needed on the life of Mudie.

[2] For the curious, I highly recommend his daughter’s, the celebrated actress Edith Heraud, Memoirs of John A. Heraud (1898).

Stephen Copley Research Report: Emma Probett on Austen and Gaskell

A report from a research trip funded by a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award.

Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell – Conduct novels and the Novel of Manners at Chawton House Library

by Emma Probett

The BARS Stephen Copley Research Award afforded me the opportunity to visit Chawton House Library in Hampshire, which holds a large collection of women’s literature, predominantly from 1600-1830, including books belonging to the Knight family and borrowed by Jane Austen.

I was able to spend a fortnight in May 2018 studying conduct novels ranging from 1814, the year of Mansfield Park’s publication, to 1830, when Elizabeth Gaskell became a teenager. The research I undertook will inform the foundation of my PhD thesis in which I will track the tropes and transformation of the conduct novel, from conduct manuals such as Hannah More’s Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, to the established conduct novels of Frances Burney and Maria Edgeworth. I will consider the collective effect these novels had on women’s writing, and on public opinion regarding what it was appropriate for women to write about.

Though a number of critics have vied to align Austen with contemporaneous conservative and radical novelists alike, there is a distinct lack of research exploring her far-reaching effects on Victorian women novelists and the conduct novel canon. My thesis explores Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell as subversive novelists and analyses their codified references to morally dubious behaviour, and their process of experimenting with and undermining established conduct novel tropes. As part of this research I am surveying once-popular female novelists and ideologists of the conduct novel who, though now obscure and out of print, provide a rich insight into the building blocks of the genre. This cross section demonstrates not only the rules of the genre but the rules of conduct for women novelists.

Women novelists could be outspoken on social and political matters, prominent figureheads being Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays; however, when they were, their private lives were often intruded upon and harshly criticised by the general public. In order for women novelists to retain social standing, a degree of privacy, and the ability to write for an independent living, they needed the approbation of mainstream publishers, reviewers, and the general reader; any criticism regarding social and political issues required gentle satire, nuanced irony, and embedded references which required the reader to have a specialist knowledge of a saying, a limerick, or a product etc. to understand the inference.

In addition to the typical three volume novel sets which focus on conduct and manners, I was also able to review transitionary materials that strike a blend between the conduct manual (as an instruction book) and the conduct novel (as an entertaining parable). Considering how authors experimented with the novel form was not only deeply rewarding, but further emphasised the issues facing novelists in terms of communicating authentic virtue in their protagonists in a way that was not as indirect and distancing for readers as the epistolary novel, nor as direct and potentially inappropriate as passionate dialogue between a protagonist and their love interest. Borderline performative body language such as fainting fits, catatonic immobility, and unstable blushing to blanching is at the foreground of the conduct novel; the appearance of good health and ill health as an indicator of emotional health (often closely linked to moral health), is constantly publicly monitored, discussed, interpreted and policed.

I believe that this issue of dramatised bodily health – as an author’s assertion of a character’s virtue – was addressed by Austen in the development of the novel of manners, a subgenre of the conduct novel, which focuses on behaving and speaking virtuously rather than being innately and unaffectedly virtuous, effectively circumventing an author’s struggle to categorically prove that their character is truly virtuous. The research I undertook at Chawton House Library aided me in forming definitions and differentiations between the conduct novel and the novel of manners.

I am very grateful to BARS for giving me the opportunity to organise a prolonged visit to Chawton House Library, as without this funding I would not have been able to undertake such an extensive and indispensable research trip. Chawton House Library is currently housing an excellent exhibition, The art of freezing the blood’: Northanger Abbey, Frankenstein, & the Female Gothic, open until 7th December 2018.

Stephen Copley Research Report: Val Derbyshire on James Northcote

Val Derbyshire has completed this research report following a recent trip to archives in London. She was funded by a BARS Stephen Copley Award.

 

James Northcote: The Man Who Exists Only in Fragments

by Val Derbyshire (University of Sheffield)

 

This year, I was fortunate enough to win the Stephen Copley Research Award from BARS.  This generous award provided the funding to visit the Royal Academy of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, both of whom hold personal letters and papers belonging to the portrait painter James Northcote (1746-1831).  I’ve written about Northcote’s work before, and am particularly interested in how this often overlooked portrait painter sits at the centre of a number of celebrated figures from Romanticism.

 

The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, on the very sunny day on which I visited to look at Northcote’s personal papers and letters held here.

 

My PhD thesis explores Charlotte Smith’s connection with Northcote.  My research has shown that both Northcote and Smith utilise similar techniques in portraying their male heroes.  Northcote was a painter who portrayed far more men than women and both Smith and Northcote adapt the tropes traditionally associated with the aesthetic of the beautiful in the portrayal of their male ‘heroes’.  This undermines the conventional view that the sublime is a male trait, whilst the beautiful belongs to the feminine sphere.  By considering the male portraits of Northcote and Smith in tandem, it becomes possible to see how both artists engage with an abstract concept in order to reveal that it is a conceit which is utterly flawed.  This, in turn, leads to questions and uncertainties concerning masculine identity which Smith emphasises within her novels, just as Northcote similarly raises these concerns within his artworks. Over the past few months I have been visiting archival holdings to look at the personal correspondence of James Northcote.   These visits have thrown up some interesting findings, including the fact that he had a close relationship with William Godwin (close enough to leave him £100 in his will) and he also corresponded regularly with other literary figures like Elizabeth Inchbald.  Northcote’s notebook held by the Bodleian Library includes fifteen letters from Inchbald to Northcote and their mutual friends.  These letters include charming details such as how Northcote called for Inchbald one evening in order to take her to ‘Mrs Wedells rout.’  Unfortunately, as Northcote was not expected, Inchbald had already put on her nightgown and was ready for bed, but was then crippled by guilt at refusing to see Northcote, if only to ‘load [him] with reproaches.’[1]

It is known that Smith and Northcote were friends.  He was included within an invitation to take tea at Smith’s home which was addressed to William Godwin dated 27 February 1800: ‘Will you dine with me some day next week if I can assemble Mr & Mrs Fenwick, Mr Northcote, Mr Coleridge, & one or two friends – who would not spoil the party.’[2]  The party took place on 4th March 1800, when Godwin noted in his diary ‘tea C Smith’s w. Coleridge, Northcote, Fenwicks & Duncans.’[3]  By visiting these archival holdings of Northcote’s personal letters and papers, I hoped to find further evidence of his friendship with Smith (more letters perhaps?)  Unfortunately, however, there were no letters either from Smith to Northcote or vice versa.  What I did gain, nevertheless, was a fascinating insight into the man Mark Ledbury describes as ‘mostly a curiosity […] enmeshed with many others’ and hampered by the ‘widespread and persistent belief that Northcote was simply not an interesting enough painter to merit close critical scrutiny.’[4]  ‘It is unfair,’ as Ledbury argues, ‘to liken Northcote to the subject of his satirical fable ‘The Painter Who Pleased Nobody’ (see figure 2), but rather he was ‘the painter who pleased nobody enough.’[5]

 

James Northcote, ‘Illustration to accompany “The Painter Who Pleased Nobody”’ in James Northcote, Fables Original and Selected (London: John Murray, 1838), pp. 216-7.

 

My visits to the Royal Academy of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum helped me to construct a more rounded picture of Northcote.  The letters held by the Royal Academy are for the most part addressed to his beloved brother Samuel, and detail the period in time when Northcote left home, much against the advice of his parents.  Northcote headed to London to learn his craft, to seek his fortune as an artist, and ‘follow an amusement which is to me beyond every other upon Earth.’[6] Shortly after his arrival in London, Northcote would take up residence with the founder and first president of the Royal Academy of Art, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and spend his time perfecting his artistry in copying Reynolds’s own art collection and painting the drapery and hands in Reynolds’s masterpieces.  The letters progress through Northcote’s apprenticeship with Reynolds to the point when he leaves him in order to complete his training abroad by taking an Italian tour, providing details of this tour and the friendships he forms during this.  By the time Northcote left Reynolds, he writes ‘I know him thoroughly and all his faults, I am sure, and yet I allmost Worship him.’[7]  This ‘worship’ was to persist throughout Northcote’s long life.  In his will, held at the British Library in London, he desires that ‘my mortal remains […] shall be deposited […] as near as possibly may be to the remains of my late lamented Friend and Master Sir Joshua Reynolds.’[8]

 

Detail from James Northcote, Letter to Samuel Northcote dated 3rd January 1776, NOR/15, Royal Academy of Art.

 

The notebook of letters and personal papers held by the Victoria and Albert Museum were much more diverse in nature.  They included letters relating to Northcote’s business as a successful portrait painter, as well as personal epistles from William Godwin and William Cowper, and details of his friendship with fellow artist (and also friend to Charlotte Smith), John Raphael Smith (1751-1812).

All in all, despite not finding any letters between Smith and Northcote, the research trip was very successful.  It provided me with a clearer picture of the man who ‘exists in fragments,’ as Ledbury terms it, and whilst only a few items will contribute to my doctoral research, the trip has given me food for thought for future research projects.[9]   I would like to thank BARS for their generous award of the Stephen Copley Research prize which has made all this possible.

 

[1] James Northcote, The Letter book of James Northcote (Oxford: Bodleian Libraries, MS Eng Misc e143).

[2] Cited in Pamela Clemit and Charlotte Smith, ‘Charlotte Smith to William and Mary Jane Godwin: Five Holograph Letters’, Keats-Shelley Journal, 55 (2006), 29-40 (39).  ‘Mr & Mrs. Fenwick, refers to Eliza Fenwick (1766-1840), author of Secresy, or the Ruin of the Rock (1795), and her husband.’

[3] Cited in Pamela Clemit and Charlotte Smith, ‘Charlotte Smith to William and Mary Jane Godwin: Five Holograph Letters’, Keats-Shelley Journal, 55 (2006), 29-40 (39).  (Clemit notes that ‘the Duncans have not been further identified.’ (p. 39).

[4]Mark Ledbury, James Northcote, History Painting and the Fables (New Haven & London: Yale Center for British Art, 2014), pp. 1-2.

[5] Ledbury, James Northcote, History Painting and the Fables, pp. 1-2, emphasis in original.

[6] James Northcote, Letter to Samuel Northcote dated 25th June 1771, NOR/1, Royal Academy of Art.

[7] James Northcote, Letter to Samuel Northcote dated 3rd January 1776, NOR/15, Royal Academy of Art [Sic].

[8] James Northcote, ‘Last Will and Testament of James Northcote’ in The Papers of James Northcote, holding number 42524, British Library, London.

[9] Ledbury, James Northcote, History Painting and the Fables, p. 1.