"The Occupations of a Retired Life" (1868) by Isabella Fyvie Mayo

I am happy to announce:
Celebration Edition #424:
"The Occupations of a Retired Life"
By Isabella Fyvie Mayo, 1843-1914,
pseud. "Edward Garrett".
New York: George Routledge and Sons, 1868.

Celebration Edition #425:
"The Secret Drawer"
By Isabella Fyvie Mayo, 1843-1914,
pseud. "Edward Garrett".
London, New York: Sunday School Union, T. Nelson and Sons, 1872.

Isabella Fyvie Mayo was a Scottish poet, novelist, suffragist, and reformer. Much of her work was published under the masculine pseudonym of Edward Garrett. Her father died when she was eight, leaving the family in debt. At age sixteen, Isabella Fyvie began doing secretarial work and business writing to help pay off the debt. At age 24, she was approached by the "Sunday Magazine" to do a series of articles on "the sick, the lonely, and the outcaste." She began writing what became her first published novel, "Occupations of a Retired Life". It appeared in the "Sunday Magazine" before being printed in book form in 1868.

"Occupations of a Retired Life" follows an older gentleman, recently retired from "the city", and his sister as they move to the countryside to live. There they become involved with the local parish and its members, contributing both good advice and good works to the support of their fellows. The main character of the story, "Edward Garrett", has had a successful career in the city and is financially well off. He has a deep ethic of service and is compassionate. His sister, Ruth Garrett, has also spent her life working, learning the non-traditional job of a transcriber, clerk, and business writer from her father, and continuing his business after his death. Feisty Ruth has achieved common sense and independence, but not wealth. Throughout the book, the siblings argue about how each of them can most effectively contribute to their new community, and the author makes it clear that both can make important contributions. It is a tribute to the author's skill that one is not always sure which of her characters she would agree with, in any given argument! The story involves elements of both romance and mystery and is well-crafted and enjoyable.

In contrast, "The Secret Drawer" (1872) is lighter, intended more for a young adult audience. It features young women who are trying to make their own way in England, and is set against a background of Giuseppe Maria Garibaldi and the Second Italian War of Independence.

At age 27, in 1870, Isabella Fyvie married John Ryall Mayo, a London lawyer who died in 1877, leaving her a widow with one son. She completed and published nine novels as "Edward Garrett" before appearing under her own name at age 39.

The mystery of Easter Island : the story of an expedition.

I am happy to announce:
Celebration Edition #423:
The mystery of Easter Island : the story of an expedition.
By Mrs. Scoresby Routledge, 1866-1935.
London: Printed for the author by Hazell, Watson and Viney : Sold by Sifton, Praed & Co., [1920].

For anyone who has felt the fascination of Easter Island, or the fascination of travel accounts, I recommend Katherine Routledge's The mystery of Easter Island. It feels a bit like a cross between Nevil Shute and an Amelia Peabody Emerson novel, with Katherine Routledge and her husband building a ship to explore ancient sites and eventually reporting on their work to the Royal Geographical Society.

In fact it is a serious account including both scientific and personal details of traveling to and studying the culture of Easter Island. In 1910 the Routledges organized an expedition to Easter Island, commissioning a state-of-the-art 90-foot (27 m) long wooden schooner which they named Mana. They left Southampton Water on February 28th, 1913, and sighted Easter Island on March 29th, 1914, 13 months later. During the voyage Katherine took on the duties of Steward to the ship, managing its provisioning and supervising whatever cooking staff they were able to obtain (or train). Her help in sailing the ship under difficult conditions, however, was less appreciated:

"It has been made painfully clear to me that my presence on deck when things are bad is an added anxiety; this is humiliating, and will not, I trust, apply to the next generation of females."

Routledge had a number of hair-raising experiences during her stay on Easter Island. At one point there was an uprising among the native inhabitants against the company representative who raised cattle on the island. In October 1914, her expedition learned that World War I was underway, after a dozen German warship took harbour in Cook's Bay. Those on the ships kept to themselves, but eventually word leaked out, via a German tobacco planter, that there was a great European war. On a later occasion, a German ship, the Eitel Friedrich left a crew of prisoners from a British warship on shore at Easter Island. Routledge's husband was away with the Mana for significant periods of time while Katherine remained on the Island.

"My thoughts, while I sat there with eyes glued to the horizon, went back to academic discussions... on the right in war-time to capture private property at sea, and how little it had then occurred to me that the matter would ever become so vitally personal."

Nonetheless, Katherine Routledge managed to record an already-disappearing legends and oral history of the culture of Easter Island and to extensively map and photograph its statues.

"We were always accompanied by native guides in order to learn local names and traditions, and it was soon found necessary to make a point of these being old men; owing to the concentration of the remains of the population in one district, all names elsewhere, except those of the most important places, are speedily being forgotten."

"In Easter Island the past is the present, it is impossible to escape from it; the inhabitants of to-day are less real than the men who have gone; the shadows of the departed builders still possess the land."

The book is lavishly illustrated with photographs of the island and its people.

An essay on combustion, with a view to a new art of dying and painting...

I am happy to announce:
Celebration Edition #421:

"An essay on combustion, with a view to a new art of dying and painting : wherein the phlogistic and antiphlogistic hypotheses are proved erroneous."
By Mrs. Elizabeth Fulhame.
Philadelphia: Printed and sold by James Humphreys, Corner of Second and Walnut-streets, 1810.

The first edition of Fulhame's "Essay on combustion" was published in London in 1794. Her book was translated and published in German in 1798, and a second English edition was published in Philadelphia in 1810.

Infuriatingly, we know almost nothing about Elizabeth Fulhame. What little we do know we either read or deduce from her book. She was married, possibly to Dr. Thomas Fulhame, who taught at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Her husband shared at least some interest in science, since it was "Doctor Fulhame and some friends" to whom she turned when she had "the idea of making cloths of gold, silver, and other metals by chymical processes." She was determined, for when her idea "was deemed improbable", she went ahead anyway. She was organized, for she mapped out an extensive plan of research that lasted over many years. She was painstaking, for she carried out complex variations of experiments, some requiring moments, others hours or months. She was sufficiently well-off to be able to purchase precious metals and silks for use in her work. She was intrepid, for she handled dangerous materials including phosphorus, mercury, and volatile gases and liquids.

We can also conclude, from reading her book, that Elizabeth Fulhame was both well-read and highly intelligent. Although she was not successful in her primary goal of commercializing a process for creating metallic cloth, she drew conclusions from her research that were relevant to one of the great scientific debates of her time: phlogiston theory. Proposed originally by Johann Joachim Becher [Beccher] and Georg Ernst Stahl, this theory of combustion was under debate by scientific leaders such as Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and Joseph Priestley. Although Mrs. Fulhame greatly admired Lavoisier's work, she could not agree with either the Phlogistians or the Antiphlogistians: her experimental results, and her scientific logic, demonstrated that both views were flawed.

"Finding, the experiments could not be explained on any theory hitherto advanced, I was led to form an opinion different from that of M. Lavoisier, and other great names.

"I first imagined, that water promoted these reductions by minutely dividing the particles of the metallic salt, and by condensing the gas, and bringing its hydrogen, and the metallic oxide, within the sphere of attraction; the hydrogen either uniting to the metallic earth and reducing it, as the Phlogistians suppose, or uniting with, and separating the oxygen of the metal, and thus restoring it to the metallic form, as the Antiphlogistians maintain.

"But it is evident from the experiments related, that water does not promote these reductions solely, by minutely dividing the particles of the metallic salt; for were this the case, ether and alcohol should promote the reduction of the metallic salts, which they dissolve, since they divide their particles as minutely as water can."

Her work was sufficiently impressive to result in her honorary membership in the Philadelphia Chemical Society; further, it was stated: "Mrs. Fulham has now laid such bold claims to chemistry that we can no longer deny the sex the privilege of participating in this science also." She and her supporters were quite aware that such a view was not commonly held:

"I cannot doubt the justice of the opinions deduced by Mrs. Fulhame from her numerous and well conducted experiments: and although it may be grating to many, to suppose a female capable of successfully opposing the opinions of some of our fathers in science; yet reflection will serve to satisfy the mind devoted to truth, that she has certainly thrown a stumbling block of no small magnitude, in the way of sentiments we have been taught to consider as sacred."

Fulhame herself notes:

"But censure is perhaps inevitable, for some are so ignorant, that they grow sullen and silent, and are chilled with horror at the sight of any thing that bears the semblance of learning, in whatever shape it may appear; and should the spectre appear in the shape of woman, the pangs which they suffer are truly dismal.

"But happen what may, I hope I shall never experience such desertion of mind, as not to hold the helm with becoming fortitude against the storm raised by ignorance, petulant arrogance, and privileged dulness."

Let us then celebrate chemist Elizabeth Fulhame. Her theoretical work on catalysis was a major step in the history of chemistry and her work on silver chemistry is considered a landmark in the early history of photography. Even if you don't read through all her experiments, do read the introduction and preface!

May her work inspire others, as she herself hoped: "Although the surge of deliberate malice be unavoidable, its force is often spent in froth and bubbles; for this little bark of mine has weathered out full many a storm, and stemmed the boisterous tide; and though the cargo be not rich, the dangers which may hereafter be pourtrayed on votive tablet, may serve as a beacon to future mariners."

(no subject)

I am happy to announce
Celebration Edition #420:

The High-Caste Hindu Woman.
Introduction by Rachel Littler Bodley, 1831-1888.
Philadelphia: Jas. B. Rodgers Printing Co., 1887.

For all those who have worked for the education of women, and for human rights throughout the world.
These are not new challenges; we must renew our committment to them in each generation.

Gloriana; or, the Revolution of 1900

For everyone past and present who insists that they should have a voice in their government.
For a long list of rebels including millions of women, people of color, and LGBTQIA people.
Because 127 years is both a very short, and a very long time.
Because sometimes we need a rollicking adventure about a cross-dressing feminist overthrowing the patriarchy ...

; or, the Revolution of 1900.

London: Henry and Company, 6, Bouverie Street, E.C., 1890.

Read and enjoy!

Romantic Canada

I am happy to announce Celebration Edition #418:
“Romantic Canada”
By Victoria Hayward, 1876-1956.
With photographs by Edith S. Watson, 1861-1943.
Toronto: The Macmillan Company of Canada, Ltd., 1922.

I was inspired to republish “Romantic Canada” because of the wonderful photography of Edith S. Watson, an American photographer who spent nearly 35 years  photographing the  isolated areas of Canada that she travelled through.  During much of that time, she lived and travelled with  journalist Victoria "Queenie" Hayward, whom she met while  wintering in Bermuda.  With her camera, Watson documented the lives of people in Newfoundland and Labrador (not yet an official part of Canada), the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.  The two women visited and often stayed with First Nations people in Quebec and Ontario; Mennonites, Doukhobors, and other "New Canadians" in Manitoba.

One of the first things that struck me, in reading this book, was how our interpretation of the word "romance" has changed.  "Romance" is overwhelmingly used nowadays to indicate "ardent emotional attachment or involvement" (Wordnik.com).   In Victoria Hayward and Edith S. Watson's in "Romantic Canada" the meaning is much closer to  "a mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful".  It is that mysterious appeal that beckons the traveller into wayside glens and little cottages snugly tucked away.  Romance does not lead one to as assignation, but rather to sit with an old artisan and hear stories of the “early days”.

“Romantic Canada” is an illustrated travelogue of Watson and Hayward’s journeys across Canada. Although dated, Hayward’s text is still a valuable record that captures details of how people lived  between the end of the 1800s and the start of the 1920s.  Watson’s black and white photographs continue to be strong and evocative.  In both their work, written and photographed, there is an awareness of the activities of a world of women -- women with carts and baskets and drying-racks for fish, with clam-rakes and looms and dyeing pots; knitting, spinning, and weaving. Some women have learned complicated skills while they were children, part of long-inherited family tradition.   Clearly women as well as men are involved in daily, heavy, ongoing, fatiguing labor: labor that is essential to the success of their communities.  By recognizing and including women, Hayward and Watson made visible aspects of daily life that were all too often ignored and forgotten in historical accounts and analysis.

“The women of Saint Pierre wash their clothes in the streams, of which there are several running down the hills at the back of the town. They dam up the water with stones so as to form little pools, and kneel in wooden boxes on the edge of these to wash. They slap the linen with a flat piece of wood to make it very clean and white, and when all is done, they carry it in a wet bundle on their backs up the hill, to spread it to dry on the great rocks at the foot of the Crucifix.”

“In some of the French shore homes both the plaited and hooked rug give way to the Catalon. Having duly examined and admired those on the floor, Madame takes the visitor up into the garret to see the ponderous loom that holds another in the making. Scattered about are her wools, spun and dyed and perhaps previously sheared by herself. “

The extent to the which Hayward and Watson entrusted themselves to the kindness of strangers is striking.  The two women relied on passing villagers, carts, postmen, and sailors for a variety of transport, and on all sorts of chance-met folk for hospitality and lodging.  Hayward writes:

"The third, and ideal way to make the acquaintance of Cape Breton, is to hire an old horse and drive yourself, making leisurely trips in all directions, lingering wherever Fancy dictates, and putting up each night in any village, town or farmhouse which promises a comfortable night's lodging."

“The man or woman who takes to the open road and puts up where he can when dusk comes down over land and sea, is the voyager likely to have the best adventures and to make the most discoveries. He discovers, primarily, that many tongues are heard in these little sea-coast homes – English, Gaelic, Breton and Acadian-French, and should he go far north enough, some "Huskie". … Even so, the traveller coming to any of these sea-side doors in the evening light will never have to beg a place to lay his head. Hospitality is part of the unwritten code of these parts. An additional mouth to feed brings about absolutely no confusion. It matters not which language the housewife speaks. You may not be able to employ her Gaelic or she your English, but her heart is kind and friendly and the sea has taught her to be cosmopolitan. Her door is ajar to visitors; a small matter like languages will never close it.”

Only when they reach the Pacific coast does one suspect that the travellers are no longer quite so comfortable, the doors no longer quite so open.   Differences in culture are described as “romantic” and “charming” on the east coast.  On the west coast, they are “mysterious and bizarre”,  “full of those powerful undercurrents that thrive on the edge of the wilderness”.  Sadly, the houses of the Japanese fisher folk of Steveston are described from the outside, not the inside.   The author reports that it requires courage to step across the threshold of the Indians of Alert Bay, and one suspects that it is not only the odor of smoking fish that causes her to say so. The contrast between self and other is powerfully and painfully displayed when the author extols the drawing rooms of the Indian agent and the missionary’s wife, where she drank tea in a “real home” presenting a “high standard” for the “red men with totem pedigrees”.  One wishes that the writer could have travelled farther, beyond prejudice and condescension, and met Japanese and Alert Bay Indians with the same respect and consideration she accorded Doukhobor settlers, who were also common targets of prejudice at that time.  But, like us all, she is of her time and caught within her time.

In spite of these drawbacks, we can applaud the intrepid hearts of these two women, Victoria Hayward and Edith S. Watson, as they set out to explore by-ways and distant corners of Canada at the beginning of the 20th century.  We can appreciate their efforts to record the cultures they met through descriptions and photographs.  Their book still merits time and attention.  I hope you will enjoy it.

Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women: Autobiographical Sketches

I am happy to announce:
Celebration Edition #417:

Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women: Autobiographical Sketches
By Elizabeth Blackwell, 1821-1910.
London and New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1895.

Elizabeth Blackwell (3 February 1821 – 31 May 1910), born in Britain, was  the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, and the first woman to be listed in the UK Medical Register.   Elizabeth's father, Samuel Blackwell, held liberal attitudes towards religion, supported the anti-slavery movement, and believed strongly that  both boys and girls should receive a practical education with the opportunity to develop their personal talents.  Sadly, Samuel Blackwell died unexpectedly on 7 August 1838, leaving his large family in poor financial circumstances.

Elizabeth and her sisters turned to teaching to support themselves.  Over time, Elizabeth developed a conviction that she should become a medical doctor, overcoming her stated "natural repugnance to the medical line of life" and determined to succeed even though  "the general sentiment of the physicians is strongly opposed to a woman's intruding herself into the profession."  That she succeeded in achieving her goal is truly astounding -- and her autobiography is a fascinating account of her experiences, and gives a strong sense of her personality and motivations.

"I felt that I was severing the usual ties of life, and preparing to act against my strongest natural inclinations. But a force stronger than myself then and afterwards seemed to lead me on; a purpose was before me which I must inevitably seek to accomplish. "

In October 1847, Blackwell was accepted as a medical student by Hobart College, then called Geneva Medical College, in upstate New York.  She also gained clinical experience at the Blockley Almshouse in Philadelphia. It was not an easy experience, but Blackwell triumphed, in part through her unyieldingly polite and professional behavior.   Her graduating thesis at Geneva Medical College dealt with typhus and noted the importance of physical health for  moral  and social well-being – an idea that she would develop in her later reform work.  On January 23, 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to achieve a medical degree in the United States. The graduation ceremonies revealed the extent to which she had won respect: Dr. Charles Lee, the dean, stood up and bowed to her as he  conferred her degree, and the local press reported favourably on the event.

Nonetheless, in April 1849, Blackwell left the United States of America for Europe.  She enrolled at La Maternité in Paris as a student midwife, since they would not agree to admit her as a physician.  She gained tremendous experience in female diseases during her stay.  Unfortunately, she also contracted a horrific infection while treating a case of ophthalmia neonatorum, eventually losing the sight in her left eye, and with it all hope of becoming a surgeon.  She also trained at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London in 1850.

Blackwell chose to return to America to establish her own medical practice.  With support in part from the Society of Friends (Quakers) she formed an independent dispensary in New York in 1953.  The institution she established eventually became The New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children and is now the Lower Manhattan Hospital.

"The difficulties and trials encountered at this early period were severe. Ill-natured gossip, as well as insolent anonymous letters, came to me. Although I have never met with any serious difficulties in attending to my practice at all hours of the night, yet unpleasant annoyances from unprincipled men were not infrequent.  …  I am glad I, and not another, have to bear this pioneer work. I understand now why this life has never been lived before. It is hard, with no support but a high purpose, to live against every species of social opposition. . . ."

In 1869 she finished her early pioneer work in America and returned to England.  There she was active in  a variety of social reform movements, co-founded the National Health Society, and campaigned against the Contagious Diseases Acts as a semi-legalization of prostitution.  Her essay, ''Counsel to Parents on the Moral Education of their Children'' (1878) discussed prostitution and marriage, and argued that women as well as men experienced sexual feelings and were equally responsible for their control.  Her autobiography, "Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women" appeared in 1895.  Elizabeth died  on 31 May 1910,  at her home in Hastings, Sussex, and her ashes were buried in the graveyard of St Munn's Parish Church, Kilmun, Scotland.

Her autobiography is well worth reading, and I hope you will enjoy it.
Best wishes,
Mary Mark Ockerbloom
Editor, A Celebration of Women Writers

"Celebrated women travellers of the nineteenth century", "Across Patagonia", "Delightful Dalmatia"

"Celebrated women travellers of the nineteenth century."
By William Henry Davenport Adams, 1828-1891.
London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., Lim., 1882; 9th edition, 1906.

"Across Patagonia"
By Lady Florence Dixie, 1855-1905.
London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1880.

"Delightful Dalmatia"
By Alice Lee Moqué 1863-1919.
New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1914.

With summer coming to the Northern Hemisphere, many people are planning summer travels.  For the last three months I've been republishing a trail of women travellers. April featured "Celebrated women travellers of the nineteenth century" (c1882).  While reading that, I was reminded of Lady Florence Dixie's "Across Patagonia" (1880), and released it in May.  For June,  Alice Lee Moqué describes "Delightful Dalmatia"  not long before the first world war swept over the area.  I hope you will enjoy these books, and whatever summer travels you are undertaking!

Most of the "Celebrated women travellers" were physically intrepid and incurably curious, but the editor, William Adams, also applauds women whose "titles to distinction" included "a vigorous writer and a liberal thinker". He quotes Dora D'Istria, who says: "It has always seemed to me,… that women, in travelling, might complete the task of the most scientific travellers; for, as a fact, woman carries certain special aptitudes into literature. She perceives more quickly than man everything connected with national life and the manners of the people. A wide field, much too neglected, lies open, therefore, to her observation. But, in order that she may fitly explore it, she needs, what she too often fails to possess, a knowledge of languages and of history, as well as the capability of conforming herself to the different habitudes of nations, and the faculty of enduring great fatigues. "

Considering why women travel, Adams writes:  "Fettered as women are in highly civilized countries by restraints, obligations, and responsibilities, which are too often arbitrary and artificial, their impatience of them is not difficult to be understood; and it is natural enough that when the opportunity offers, they should hail even a temporary emancipation."  Madame de Hell, traveling with her husband from 1838 to 1848, voices a similar sentiment:  "What happiness it is to escape from the prosaic details of every-day life, from social obligations, from the dull routine of habit, to take one's flight towards the almost unknown shores of the Caspian!"

Escaping mental restrictions could, however, be at least as difficult as escaping physical restrictions. Dora D'Istria was determined to adopt men's clothing to climb mountains.  She describes the difficulty she faced: "I breakfasted in haste, and assumed my masculine dress, to which I found it difficult to grow accustomed. I was conscious of my awkwardness, and it embarrassed all my movements. I summoned Pierre, and asked him if I could by any means be conveyed as far as the valley. He sent, to my great satisfaction, for a sedan-chair. Meanwhile, I exercised myself by walking up and down my room, for I feared the guides would despair of me if they saw me stumble at every step. I was profoundly humiliated, and only weighty reasons prevented me from resuming my woman's dress."  Thankfully, once away from the village, she was able to overcome her discomfort and mount the heights without difficulty.

Lady Florence Dixie is an iconic explorer-traveller, who met challenges with energy and enthusiasm.  "Palled for the moment with civilisation and its surroundings", she gathered up her husband (Sir Alexander Beaumont Churchill Dixie, 11th Baronet), her older brother (John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry), her twin brother (Lord James Douglas), and a friend (Mr. J. Beerbohm), and escaped to Patagonia,  "precisely because it was an outlandish place and so far away." Their party of ten people, nine dogs, fifty horses, and three mules set off to explore the "mysterious recesses" of "the barren plains of the Pampas" and the surrounding mountains.  Everyone in the party had to work, Florence included.  They gathered and carried with them the wood for their cooking fires, and depended on hunting guanaco (a deer-like mammal), ostrich, and birds for their food.  Of one ostrich-chase, Florence writes: "Unconscious of anything but the exciting chase before me, I am suddenly disagreeably reminded that there _is_ such a thing as caution, and necessity to look where you are going to, for, putting his foot in an unusually deep tuca-tuca hole, my little horse comes with a crash upon his head, and turns completely over on his back, burying me beneath him in a hopeless muddle."  Luckily game was abundant for much of the trip (although they ran out near the end) and  Florence was undetered by any number of perils including Fire!  Earthquakes!  Stumbling horses!  Crashed carriages!  Lost horses and Lack of food!

Fifty years later,  Alice Lee Moqué is clearly a tourist and not an explorer.  Alice, born around 1861, married her second husband John Oliver Moque on June 27, 1894. (Her first husband, inventor Walter Comonfort Snelling, had died a year previously.)   While she refers to her explorations of Dalmatia as "a wedding tour," she also explains that it is her ninth, since they take one "every year". Their main concerns are those of tourists: finding food means locating a decent restaurant and making oneself understood when ordering.  Alice worries whether that "Dear Box", the bane of her trip, will arrive with its mementos intact.  She complains that her feet hurt. And sadly, as a tourist, Alice can not truly  escape the fetters of civilization.  Ongoing sections of her account are devoted to the question of whether she behaves appropriately.  Is it possible that she is "a little too lively" and hasn't "a particle of discretion"?

Nonetheless, Alice Lee Moqué was "a vigorous writer and a liberal thinker" in real life. Though she disclaims "expert" knowledge in her account, she is clearly well-read in history and familiar with classical languages and technical terms in architecture and art.  She was a newspaperwoman, a suffragist, a progressive on sexual education for children, and during World War I, worked with the Women's Volunteer Aid of the Motor Corps!  She writes in outrage at the condition of Dalmatian women: "I'm so glad I wasn't born a Dalmatian – or I feel sure I would be a bomb-throwing, acid-pouring, Croatian suffragette!"  Thankfully, she is also a painstaking observer whose descriptions are packed with solid detail. That she is describing Dalmatia just before the first World War adds extra interest to her account. Signs read: "The taking of photographs of the shore where there are fortifications is strictly prohibited!" She tries to take some anyway.

Enjoy your travels! 

Pleasant Days in Spain

At a 2015 Art+Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thon, I was intrigued to find that sculptor Nancy Cox-McCormack had written a book about her travels in Spain.  Given my fascination for women travelers, I was delighted when I found a copy of her book.  In coordination with this year's Art+Feminism event, I am releasing it online.  I am delighted to announce:

"Pleasant Days in Spain."
By Nancy Cox-McCormack, 1885-1967.
New York: J. H. Sears & Company, Inc., 1927.  Copyright not renewed.

Cox-McCormack travelled to Spain in part because she was inspired by political events.  She hoped to get permission to sculpt Spanish dictator  Primo de Rivera.  She must have had considerable nerve!  "The General had been informed concerning my desire to model his portrait bust and was said to have characteristically exclaimed, 'Mon Dieu, isn't modeling Mussolini enough for one woman?' Thereupon promising that he would pose for me if he could find the time."  Not only did Cox-McCormack model de Rivera as well as Mussolini, she was the first person to do so, in December 1925.

On the way, she enjoyed visiting a number of Spanish cities.  Some of the most interesting parts of the book occur when she talks about sculpture and architecture.  She writes, on seeing the stalls of the Toledo Cathedral, "To have produced so many fruits of the chisel and mallet the soul of these sculptors must have been well supplied with the essences of talent and ambition, encouraged by competition, and sustained by a great faith in themselves and the subjects of their compositions."

In contrast, "[The new Cathedral of The Holy Family] is a terrible half finished mass of bad sculptures that creep and crawl, strangling the feeling for architectural proportions and so expressive of the devil and all his evils that it will be a long year before I can remove Don Gandi's fantasy from my special chamber of horrors! I asked the driver what this unfinished towering mass might be and he immediately won me by shrugging his shoulders and replying, "Oh, Madame, that is a mad-house for the owls and bats" – that being a perfect picture of the utility for which it now stands.'"

One wishes Cox-McCormack spent more time describing her meetings with people like General de Rivera and sculptor Maestro Benliure in Madrid.  She was able to view a  Court Procession for the mass of the Epiphany, and see the King and Queen, due to an invitation from  the mother of His Excellency the Ambassador from Great Britain. She reflects, "If they have any qualms about the insecurity of crowns, they have had practice enough (beginning with the bomb thrown at their wedding coach) not to appear concerned. One can have nothing but admiration for any head that carries a crown in these "democratic" days of mighty dictatorships."

Her experience of Spanish culture was generally difficult.  "The minute I stepped off the train in Burgos I began to feel the handicaps of being an unaccompanied woman. …. I don't like the humor of a society that constantly reminds one of one's sex."   She found it hard to endure the constant presence and solicitations of beggars in the streets. The widespread acceptance of violent "entertainments" appalled her. Glimpsing the survivor of a cockfight:  "What pranced from the gutter to acclaim public approval … was a perfectly shameless remnant of the cockfight plucked of all lustrous plumage of natural illustriousness, but solemnly bearing the wounds of Victory. I had never seen a fighting cock after the match. I never wish to see one again either before or after the fray."   She brusquely refused to attend bull-fights.

The contents of this book were originally addressed to the author's friends in Europe and America. Unfortunately, this leads to some unevenness in tone and style, and to various comments which we, not being the intended audience, are unlikely to understand.  One could wish that her account had received serious editing: she has an unfortunate tendency to long rambling sentences and mixed metaphors.  Nonetheless, I hope you will enjoy her account of "Pleasant Days in Spain."

Pemberley Shades: A Novel

I am happy to announce:
Celebration Edition #412:
"Pemberley Shades: A Novel"
By D. A. (Dorothy Alice) Bonavia-Hunt, 1880-1970.
New York: E. P. Dutton & Company, Inc., 1949.
Concurrent publication in New York and London; Copyright not renewed.

Many of us return repeatedly to Jane Austen, are abashed by her brilliance, and wish that she had written more.

In recent years, there have been a wide range of mashups based on Austen's works, some better, some worse. One of the earliest was "Pemberley Shades" by Dorothy Bonavia-Hunt.  Her title was taken from a quotation of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, chastising Elizabeth Bennett on her possible marriage to Darcy:    “Heaven and earth — of what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?”  "Pemberley Shades" was published in 1949, in London, England by Allan Wingate, and in New York by E.P. Dutton.

Happily, in "Pemberley Shades",  Dorothy Alice Bonavia-Hunt generally gets it right. She does a credible job of a daunting task, that of building upon Austen's beloved "Pride and Prejudice".   Many of Austen's memorable characters reappear, and their personalities generally are in accord with Austen's originals.  Elizabeth's mother does not appear -- perhaps Bonavia-Hunt did not feel she could quite carry her off -- but her father steps in briefly, as do Jane and Bingley, and various others.

The two characters who are most different, understandably, are Fitzwilliam Darcy and his wife Elizabeth -- they have, after all, been married for several years, and that has changed them both.  If they are not, perhaps, just who they were when we last saw them, they are plausibly people whom those people might have become.  Nor have they stopped growing; in Pemberley Shades, their relationship continues to develop.  New characters bring their own challenges, for both the characters and the reader -- but I would rather let you read the book  yourself than have you cry "Spoilers!"

The author, Dorothy Alice Bonavia-Hunt was born in London in 1880 to Anglican clergyman  Rev. Henry George Bonavia-Hunt and Madeline Bonavia-Hunt. Her father founded the Trinity College of Music in 1872 in London; her mother was a published author.  She had three siblings, never married, and lived with her younger brother Noel Aubrey, also a minister and musician. She died in 1970. (Source:  http://austenprose.com/2008/09/17/pemberley-shades-the-legend-of-the-lost-sequel/ )

I am confident you will
Read and Enjoy,
Mary Mark Ockerbloom