Mrs Hurst Dancing

Publisher / date: Victor Gollancz / 1981
Pages: foreword; introduction; 70 full-color plates; postscript {about 160 pgs}
genre: Art

After introducing Sophie du Pont, how can I not introduce readers to the delightful Mrs Hurst Dancing & Other Scenes from Regency Life, 1812-1823; watercolors by Diana Sperling; text by Gordon Mingay.

Reading about Diana Sperling’s family and life will leave you wanting to know more; her works of art will leave you wanting to fetch your pencils and watercolors. The text covers enough to explain and expand on the drawings. You learn about Diana’s family, her life at Dynes Hall (Essex), the trouble with donkeys, horses, and spiders!

I first learned of this book on a trip to Riversdale. The period of Rosalie Calvert’s letters overlap with these drawings.

Diana’s watercolors were one set among three discussed in my talk entitled “Georgiana Darcy and the ‘Naive Art’ of Young Ladies”. As one Amazon reviewer of this book mentions, “contemporary artists are a remarkable source of … information.”

Diana’s circle of family and friends led lives similar to the Smiths&Goslings, Dynes Hall being a neighboring estate to Suttons (though I’ve yet to find the families visited each other); lovers of Jane Austen’s novels will adore this visual glimpse of  day-to-day life in a period covered by her novels.

My “Leap Day” 2012 Present. Enjoy!

Mistress of Riversdale

Publisher / date: The John Hopkins University Press, 1991
pages: 423
Hardcover & paperback editions
genre: letters

Before readers think I recommend only British diaries and letters, this book proves that’s not the case! Edited by Margaret Law Callcott, Mistress of Riversdale: The Plantation Letters of Rosalie Stier Calvert, 1795-1821 has so much to offer. Our protagonist, Rosalie Stiers Calvert, grew up in Belgium, and emigrated during the Napoleonic Wars. You can visit one of the houses she lived in at Annapolis, although the house keep the Stier history rather silent: the William Paca House. (Info on the House and the Paca Gardens.)

The Stiers moved to Annapolis from Philadelphia; after marriage Rosalie remained in the States while her family returned to Europe. The letters are between those families members and make for fascinating reading! Whether Rosalie writes of politics, homelife, buying land or making investments, her letters will open you eyes about this period. Callcott gives a fine introduction to the family.

Granted there are British roots here: Rosalie married George Calvert, a natural son of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore. And the letters cover the period of the War of 1812.

It was here I first learned of the wonderful book entitled Mrs Hurst Dancing… more on that book later!