Diary of Mary Hardy, 1773-1809

mary hardy
Publisher / date: Burnham Press, 2013
pages: xxiv + 581
genre: diary

I’ve waited many months, since first seeing notice of this series of diaries covering the years 1773-1809 (there are four diary volumes; a fifth volume of entries not included in the foursome has also been published). Mary Hardy was an “average” Georgian-era woman, living in Norfolk, and writing about her daily life. The books were just released at the end of April, 2013. I took the chance and ordered the set of four from Amazon.uk (Amazon in the US thinks the books “out of print” — which is typically the case when books are released in the US or Canada…).

Editor Margaret Bird has researched the diaries for 25 years, and the level of her accomplishment comes out in these beautiful books. Each of the four is a hefty 500-plus pages, but the books are easy to handle — and lovely to read. Notes line the outer side of each page, making reference that much easier. They are copiously illustrated – with contemporary drawings, maps, portraits, and current photographs.

Two websites have been set up for the series:

the other volumes are,

  • 1781-1793: Beer Supply, Water Power and a Death (vol. 2)
  • 1793-1797: Farms, Maltings and Brewery (vol. 3)
  • 1797-1809: Shipwreck and Meeting House (vol. 4)
  • The Remaining Diary of Mary Hardy: entries 1781-1809 (168 pages)

hardy diariesI’ve posted a short (little over a minute) preview where you get to see volume one of The Diary of Mary Hardy on YouTube.

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My other YouTube videos are based on my research into the lives of Emma Austen Leigh (aka Emma Smith, 1801-1876) and Lady Smith (aka Mary Gosling, 1800-1842). I hope to add to my “readings” of letters and diary entries, so do check out my Smith & Gosling YouTube channel. Although Mary Hardy does not mention the family (although brief mention IS made of the de Greys of Norfolk, the family of Mary Gosling’s stepmother, Charlotte de Grey), Charles Smith (of Suttons) gained his fortune mainly through a distillery business, so reading about the Hardy brewery business is of great interest.

Upcoming on my channel will be other video-peeks at books you’ll see here on Regency Reads.

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UPDATE: See TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN for my “conversation” with Mary Hardy’s editor, Margaret Bird.


Life in the English Country House

Publisher / date: Yale University Press, 1978
pages: 344
genre: architectural and cultural study

The subtitle of the book, “A Social and Architectural History” precisely outlines the intent of author Mark Girouard. I also have his Life in a French Country House and Town and Country. Girouard is an author worth seeking out.

This particular book gives the history of the country house in England from mediaeval times through the early World War II period. I, of course, have been reading his chapter most relevant to the Smith&Gosling research: “The Arrival of Informality, 1770-1830.” Girouard’s vivid writing and succinct commentary on the rise of the garden-related house, with its French Windows and its relationship to the landscape really puts into perspective the purpose behind such a gentry estate as Roehampton Grove (Grove House now a Grade II listed building, part of Roehampton University). I had seen the plans for William Gosling’s Conservatory, but Girouard made a case for the layout and character of the house that I had never contemplated before. And, in writing about the character of the gentry, the improvement of the roads and ability of travel, as well as the idea of country house parties, my thoughts on the world portrayed by Austen’s novels and Emma and Mary’s diaries and letters just fit everything together, perfectly.

Girouard’s books are always well illustrated, nicely placed so there’s not a lot of flipping back and forth between text and accompanying illustration. Many color plates. He is cognizant not only of the gentry, but also the servants who made such estates tick. Reading a short paragraph about the advent of bell pulls made sense of all that comes later, with the elaborate system of which room was calling for attention (and therefore which servant might be summoned). To read that as the gentry “sank groundwards” – in order to commune with nature – the servants sank further below ground, before splitting off into a “servants’ wing” now made perfect sense of how to classify country houses that I have toured.

Highly recommended, for country house lovers and armchair travellers, as well as social and architectural historians.

*NEW* peek inside this book on YouTube!

Creevey and Croker

Sorry to duplicate some of what you will today find on my main blog, Two Teens in the Time of Austen, but today’s post really does BELONG here too:

I was letting my fingers do the walking through my downstairs bookcase – and plucked an old paperback “selection” of Thomas Creevey’s papers. Gosh! I remember when I first bought this: I hankered after the THREE books it was based on. Guess what? you can pretty much find them online now… Ah, it had taken at least some dusty stacks grabbing (if not storage…) to find the Maxwell edition. A lot of work to find them back then.

So here I’m posting links, including those of a “rival” John Wilson Croker.

Thomas Creevey (left) left letters – and if he DID leave diaries, they’ve not been traced and may have been “swallowed up” by those not wanting his thoughts and opinions to leak out.

My paperback is a reprint edition edited by John Gore, called Thomas Creevey’s Papers, 1793-1838.

I was reading Gore’s introduction last evening. Gore’s 1944 compilation had been preceded by Sir Herbert Maxwell’s 1904 2-volume set. Gore had worked not to duplicate items. Gore writes of Maxwell’s work “taking Edwardian London by storm”. We should all be so lucky…

  • The Creevey Papers, edited by Sir Herbert Maxwell: vol I, vol II – this is via Internet Archive, but is a Google book. It looks like both volumes are in one. Another link; here’s a two-volume set: vol I; vol II. I like the “set” because vol II has a portrait of MRS Creevey (right) – and you know I’d rather read about the ladies.
  • Creevey’s Life and Times, edited by John Gore seems not online — yet?!

In reading the introduction, I was reminded of John Wilson Croker (below)- his works cover nearly the same period.

I can’t say much about either man – never read Croker and it’s been years since I’ve dipped into Creevey. I based a character in two short-stories on his sister. Should look into getting those stories published…