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J. F. Wakefield "18th century obsessive" (England)

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Enterprising Women and Shipping in the Nineteenth Century (0)
Enterprising Women and Shipping in the Nineteenth Century (0)
by Helen Doe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £60.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Insight into a Forgotten Area of Naval History, 28 Feb. 2010
I like to know the teeny-tiny details of social history...How exactly did people make a whipp't syllabub ? What exactly did having a putrid throat mean? How was it treated? The list is endless...But I confess that until I read Dr Helen Doe's fascinating book "Enterprising Women and Shipping in the Nineteenth Century", I had not really given a second thought to how the ships on which Jane Austen's naval heroes sailed to war- Captains Benwick, Wentworth and Harville ( not to mention Admiral Croft)- or how they were actually created. And not for one moment did I consider that among the shipyard owners would be some amazing women who were not only owning the yards but were hands-on running some of the ship yards that created the British naval fleet of the early 19th century, managing complex business scenarios, and importantly, ordering labouring and professional men.

Dr Doe's book is a tour de force. A very readable and detailed overview of the ship making process, the communities that surrounded the shipyards, the law relating to women- most of the female owner of ship yards inherited them from their husbands- details of the ancillary maritime trades and the working lives of the women who were involved in them.

The book does cover the whole of the 19th century, but the chapters on warship builders in the Napoleonic era, and the detailed studies of shipyard owners such as Mrs Frances Barnard of Deptford are engrossing.The story of Mrs Mary Ross of Rochester, Kent is, to me, a revelation. Frances Barnard inherited her shipyard form her husband in 1760,and it was one of the foremost yards on the Thames at Southwark. She eventually retired from the business in 1803. Mary Ross inherited her ship yard from her husband in 1808. Mary took control of the yard, showing amazing business acumen and skill. Dealing with the rather slippery Navy Board could be difficult: she managed it with aplomb.

This book will alter your perceptions of genteel women in our era. Once widowed they resolved not to live the life of a poor dependant widow, but with practical sense and intelligence ran shipyards- for profit. Rational creatures, indeed.

Admittedly, this is a very expensive book (perhaps a paperback or Kindle edition would remedy this?), but I have to say as someone who is not that keen on reading about matters maritime ( low be it spoken), I found it fascinating. The depth of detail is so just so satisfying to read. Dr Doe, a Fellow of the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies at the University of Exeter, leaves virtually no stone unturned in her attempt to convey to us that, in our era, the term "a woman in business" did not automatically mean that this woman was a milliner or a manuta maker.

Birds of Passage: Henrietta Clive's Travels in South India
Birds of Passage: Henrietta Clive's Travels in South India
by Nancy K. Shields
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Detail of Aristocratic Life in Early 19th Century India, 28 Feb. 2010
Birds of Passage records the journey to India made by Lady Henrietta Clive- seen on the cover of the book, as portrayed by Sir Joshua Reynolds- and her two daughters, Harry (Hernitetta) and Charly (Charlotte). She was married to Lord Edward Clive, son of Clive of India. Lord Edward was Governor of Madras. Accompanying them on their journey was the children's governess, Anna Tonelli, and her paintings of the places they encountered on the whole expedition illustrate this book.

The book consists of extracts from Lady Henrietta's diaries and letters written to her brother, Geroge Herbert, second Earl of Powis, a rather Byronic figure. Extracts from Charly's journals are also presented. They detail the journeys to and from the East Indies, stopping at the Cape of Good Hope en-route, and at St Helena on the return journey to England.

When in India Lady Henrietta and her children made a journey of over 1000 miles from Madras via Bangalore, Mysore, Coimatoor,Tranquebar and Ponidcherry, returning to Madras seven months later. Her aim was to see the recently conquered Seringapatam and the remains of Tipu Sultan's capital - the fall of which was part of the foruth Anglo-Mysore campaign.

The journals are chock full of interest for those of us who crave information on the the teeny-tiny details of life in the early 19th century: for example, the book recounts, in some great detail, life on board ship for elite women. We learn from the journals what was considered to be essential travelling equipment in India for an aristocratic party: harp and pianoforte of course; fourteen elephants; a hundred bullocks to carry provisions and, not forgetting a train of camels which were essential for the delivery of express messages.

The trials of family and domestic life are also related. Lady Henrietta's marriage was not entirely happy: Lord Edward Clive was not at all lively and was a poor intellectual match for his spirited wife. As Wellington noted-he was also part of their world in India, leading the British Army's campaign against Tipu Sultan- Lord Edward was :

"A mild moderate and remarkably reserved man having a bad delivery and apparently heavy understanding..."

We learn of Lady Hernitta's maid becoming pregnant as a result of a dalliance with an officer and discretion is the key: mother and prospective child are treated with utmost kindness, a way life for them both being provided by Henrietta, and discretion at home in England being insisted upon by Henrietta to save the poor girl's reputation. She thinks very ill of the officer involved indeed.

She was, of course, viewing India from the standpoint of 18th century British colonialists: this is not a treatise on the Indian way of life, but notes of the lives of privileged British in India. She was interested in the people, the flora and fauna, their religion and language but clearly on her terms. In no way did she "go native"

That being said, I adored this book, and was grateful for the glossary explaining the Indian words Lady Henrietta used often. If anything is lacking I would say it is some more explanatory footnotes...This book is a bargain. Buy it and revel in the fascinating details with which Lady Henrietta regales us: of the plants she collects and sees, the travails of travel by sea-leaks, mutinies, prize taking-all are recounted here; the strangeness of travel within India itself and the long vanished social life of the Colonial British at the Cape and in India.

The Complete Servant (Southover Historic Cookery & Housekeeping Series) (Southover Press Historic Cookery & Housekeeping)
The Complete Servant (Southover Historic Cookery & Housekeeping Series) (Southover Press Historic Cookery & Housekeeping)
by Samuel Adams
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on Servants in the Regency Era., 28 Feb. 2010
The most complete book on servants in the early 19th century, February 28, 2010

This is a reprint -sadly not a facsimile- of the 1825 text, written by two servants who, between them, had over 50 years experience in domestic service, Samuel and Sarah Adams. They had begun life as menial and lowly household servants but rose through the ranks to become butler and housekeeper respectively. It is this shared practical experience that makes the book so vital and informative.

It is crammed full of wonderful, yet elusive detail about the role of every possible household servant - indoors and outdoors-together with helpful calculations of the type of income then needed to support different sized households. They were inspired to write the book in order to proffer advice to the rising number of nouveau riches households, where there was no long standing tradition of apprenticeship for servants.

Each servants duties and wages are considered in fine detail, and the advice to female servants often has conduct book -like instruction on the standard of morals/lifestyle they were meant ideally to adopt. The role of the housekeeper boggles the mind with its complexity and responsibility. The role of the governess, as described by the Adams team, fills one with quiet dread.

The foreword by Pamela Horn, who is a leading social historian of English domestic life and author of the acclaimed book, Flunkeys and Scullions, sets the text not its proper social context, and is invaluable.

If you are only going to purchase one book on servants in this era then this is the one I would most highly recommend.

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain
Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain
by John Bonehill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £35.00

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Picturing Georgian Britain, 9 Jan. 2010
Paul Sandby was the English watercolourist supreme of the late 18th/ early 19th century. A recent exhibition of his works, held to celebrate the bicentenary of his death has been held at his birthplace, Nottingham, and this will soon transfer to the Royal Academy in London, where it will be on show from 13th March to the 13th June 2010.

The catalogue of the exhibition however has been made available as a hardback book, edited by John Bonehill and Stephen Daniels, the research for which was conducted with the help of generous aid and support from the Paul Mellon Centre for the studies of British Art and is full of marvellous images of late 18th/ early19th century England, many of which have great relevance to incidents/references in Jane Austen's novels , not least his depiction of ruined abbeys and ancient castles which would set Catherine Morland's heart a-beating, and views of army encampments fit enough to enrapture the hearts of Lydia, Kitty and even Mary Bennet.

The pictures of army encampments contained in this book are fascinating and date from the time of the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots in 1780 , when rioting, which began in St Georges Field on the south bank of the Thames wreaked havoc across the capital, and was so memorable that when nearly 20 years later Jane Austen was writing Northanger Abbey , the very mention of rioting in London was enough to strike horror into the tender heart of Eleanor Tilney.

The detail in the watercolors and aquatints is amazing and gives an accurate idea of what like was really like to live in London and the English countryside of Jane Austen's era .It is quite possible to lose oneself within them , imagining that many of her characters, Emma and Mr Knightley, for example, might saunter into the frame at any minute.

I can thoroughly recommend this book.

Silhouette: The Art of the Shadow
Silhouette: The Art of the Shadow
by Emma Rutherford
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous Silhouettes, 2 Jan. 2010
This book ,by Emma Rutherford is the most beautiful and sumptuous book on silhouettes I have ever seen.

Silhouettes in the 18th century were known in England as "shadows" or "shades" and in the early 19th century as "profiles'. Dorothy Wordsworth wrote to her friends in 1807, asking them to "send their profile" to her.

In France they gained the term "silhouette" by association with Etienne de Silhouette who was appointed France's Comptroller General( an equivalent post to our Chancellor of the Exchequer) during the year 1759 by Louis XIV. He levied land tax on France's nobles and reduced their pensions, and furthermore hurt their pockets by taxing all external signs of wealth. Opposition from the ancien regime,the nobility and the church-previously exempt from such audacious taxes -was loud. After only eight months in office he was forced to retire from his post to his château in the countryside.
There are two theories regarding the adoption of the term silhouette for this type of portraiture, and both reflect Monsieur Silhouette's unpopularity. The first comments upon the fact that taking a silhouette is a very quick process and as such it reflected Etienne de Silhouette's very short tenure in office. The second theory has it that as this type of portraiture was, in it's simplest state, the cheapest form of portraiture available at the time, it deserved to be named for him. Etienne 's hated penny-pinching methods of raising tax may therefore have associated his name for ever with this type of portraiture for, in France, the phrase a la silhouette came to mean to do anything " on the cheap".

It may interest you to know that the books explains that the "science" of physiognomy used silhouettes to determine a sitter's character. Physiognomy is of unknown origin,but it formed an integral part of ancient Greek medicine,and the revival of its popularity in the 18th century was attributable to the idea that the study and judgement of a person's outer appearance - particularly the face- would give insight into that person's character. Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801) used the term silhouette in continental editions of his very influential book, "Essays on Physionomy ; Designed to Promote the Knowledge and the Love of Mankind "(1775). In English versions the term was translated as "shades". This was a sensationally successful book both in Europe, England and the United States. By the middle of the nineteenth century over 150 edition had been published. As Emma Rutherford writes:

"It is easy to imagine that,at the height of the book's popularity to turn sideways for others observation was to ask for analysis of one's personality. Later in the 1830s Charles Darwin found that the captain of the Beagle had done just that:

"Afterwards on becoming very intimate with Fitz-Roy I heard that I had run a very narrow risk of being rejected on account of the shape of my nose! He was an ardent disciple of Lavater and was convinced that he could judge of a man's character by the outline of his features and he doubted whether any one with my nose could possess sufficient energy and determination for the voyage."

The book is sumptuously illustrated with the many, many different types of silhouettes, a term that was eventually popularised in an unsuspecting England, by the French artist Augustin Edouart in the 1820s, and describes in great detail the many different methods of taking a "profile". There were those made by cutting paper,those painted on paper, and on the reverse side of glass, or on ivory.

This book is marvellously readable, and is sumptuously illustrated. It will enchant anyone interested in silhouettes, and clearly explains the very many different types which were made. The explanation of the development of this form of portraiture in this book is admirably and carefully done. The wonderfully reproduced silhouettes also give us the chance to examine in exquisite detail tiny aspects of domestic life in the late 18th and early 19th century as recorded in them.

I have lost myself in the fabulous detail of this absorbing book and I can highly recommend it for fans of domestic portraiture of the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 15, 2010 2:27 PM BST

The British Housewife: Cookery Books, Cooking and Society in 18th Century Britain
The British Housewife: Cookery Books, Cooking and Society in 18th Century Britain
by Gilly Lehmann
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent over view of food in the 18th century, 9 Dec. 2009
This book has been in print for some time but I thought I would recommend it to you here , now I have the opportunity so to do , and because I find it is one of the best books written on food in the long eighteenth century.

It is published by Prospect Books and Tom Jaine who runs the company should be knighted for services to food history. His catalogue of wonderful books make for rewarding and fine reading: most of them in his present an past catalogue are to be found on my book shelves, and I can highly recommend them to anyone keen to learn about the practical details of cookery performed in a long gone era.

Gilly Lehamn's book is an extract from her doctoral dissertation. Despite its academic nature it is a very readable book, and is not dry as dust. Like most of my favourite historians she refers to Jane Austen as a source( though not as frequently as Amanda Vickery!) and that can't be a bad thing. I do tend to favour a writers who appreciate Jane Austen's accuracy I recording life in the late 18th can early 19th century.

This book will teach you all you really need to know about the food styles of the 18th century( the rage for French food versus plain English fare),how it was eaten and how recipes etc were disseminated throughout the 18th century.

Though she concentrates on the cookery books of the era, she also give us fabulous information(which is hard to find in books or on the net) on the authors of these books and their readership, detailing the types of person- from grand mistress to servants -who was intended to be the reader of the books. She takes pains to tell us about the Tavern Cooks , like John Farley, Collinwood and Wollams celebrity chefs whose popular books were "ghost written" by a hack journalist: nothing really changes does it?This book also provides , in one volume, delicious detail about the way meals were eaten,manners, customs, mealtimes, the ever changing time for diner throughout the century and what that said about your status, etc., etc. This helps explain Jane Austens despairing remark when writing to her sister Cassandra who was staying with Edward Knight at Godmersham in Kent, who was of course as Ms Lehman notes "the rich member of the family":

"We dine now at half after three & have done diner I suppose before you begin-We drink tea at half after six.-I am afraid you will despise us."

The illustrations are few but what few there are, are interesting, as in the reproduction of the frontispiece to Hannah Glasse's1775 edition of The Art of Cookery.
When Tom Jaine announced the publication of this book, he predicted that "This is a biggy". I can only agree

Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England
Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England
by Amanda Vickery
Edition: Hardcover

74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, readable history, 1 Dec. 2009
I am a great fan of Amanda Vickery's books. And I think that they should be required reading for anyone interested in the social history of the Georgian era.

Her previous work, "The Gentleman's Daughter" was a wonderfully detailed exploration of the intimate lives of women in the 18th century and helped many of us to a greater understanding of Jane Austen's female character's lives, setting them in a recognisable historical context .Her new book "Behind Closed Doors : at home in Georgian England" once again takes the domestic realm as it subject but details it on a much wider scale.

She does not concentrate on one class of people but considers, in minute detail, the intimate lives of landladies and lodgers, tradesmen and women, professionals and aristocrats living in both London and in the provinces.

Its scale is breathtaking and the detail, delicious. And what I really adore is that she admits the historical truth of Jane Austen's writings by including copious quotes from the six novels to illustrate her points. Indeed, she devotes almost half a chapter of the book to consider the way in which the subject of the home is treated by Austen's heroines and heroes, even going so far as to paraphrase the famous opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Georgian house with a drawing room,French windows and lawns must be in want of a mistress..."

It was an irresistible and understandable opportunity ....I daresay had I been given the chance to play with that famous line, I would not have let it pass either...

While reading Professor Vickery's descriptions of the lives and experiences of real individuals the Jane Austen devotee will find many parallels with the situations in which her characters find themselves.

The book is beautifully produced , printed on fine glossy paper and illustrated in black and white and colour with very appropriate and carefully chosen illustrations.

I confess I have devoured this book and read it quickly almost at one sittting.I am going to revisit it over the next few weeks savouring its detail. I highly recommend this book to you: anyone who is keen on Jane Austen's works will enjoy delving into the minutiae of real people's lives - especially as many of the lives have telling details which echo in Austen's works.

Is it too much to hope that this book will soon appear in a Kindle edition?

Mrs Delany's Menus, Medicines and Manners
Mrs Delany's Menus, Medicines and Manners
by Katherine Cahill
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mrs Delaney, 3 Sept. 2007
is well known for her flower collages, but this book makes it abundantly clear that there is so much more to learn about the life of this fascinating woman whose life spanned nearly the whole of the 18th century.

Katherine Cahill wirtes beautifully, and with affection, about her subject.

Anyone interested in the lifestyle of 18th century women will benefit from reading this book, which is amazing value considering the wealth of information it contains.

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