Yes, Emma by Jane Austen was illustrated. I'm certain that you are blown away by the news. Just how do I know this deep dark secret?
One morning I was chatting by email with renowned author M.M. Bennetts complaining because she has the unfair advantage of living in the midst of English history while I am here, between five and six thousand miles from London, myself. I could not get maps.google.com to give me the exact mileage on that and had to get out my tape measure.
I also live a few centuries from my eras of chief interest, and that fact is continually rubbed in by modern architecture around me. The bridge over the river leading out of town was, however, built for horses and a carriage of which I am made acutely aware after every university ball game. Claim to fame: Craig Robinson, brother of First Lady Michelle Obama, is the basketball coach in my cozy and beautiful, modern little city.
While you can see an old wagon-train wagon some miles from here, and rusted pitchers that were once brought out west within it, there is no centuries-old castle, no museum protecting centuries-old parchments, no crumbling public records to research medieval England or Scotland or Wales. Well, of course, I have my computer.
After hitting Send on my complaint to M.M., the doorbell rang. Ugh. I almost did not answer it. I am, after all, an author and therefore do not get dressed- though I am grateful not to be strapped into a corset when I do.
Begrudgingly I put down the laptop and went to the door to send someone away. "I need your signature," declared the mailman. Hmmm. I signed a modern little gadget and accepted a box. Scotland? Who do I know in Scotland? Well, thanks to Twitter and FB I do know a few marvelous writers but not anyone who has my address.
I did feel better, though, since a package from Scotland had to be a good thing. It was shaped like a large book, but too light-weight. I shook it, of course, and something lightly clunked around (I'll never do that again) because it would take me at least a minute to get a knife and cut open the wrapper.
Inside the box was another box- a beautiful dusty-blue box with a silver metallic background for the words "A Day to Remember". Huh? Why do packages take so long to open? Does time slow down and hold you back? I opened the blue box and, to be sure, "it" was wrapped in tissue.
I lifted it in slow motion; I think it took forty-five minutes. I unfolded the tissue off the rather flat light-weight thing slowly, and at last there it was. Now my mind went into rapid-fire status: Oh yes! Some-weeks-ago-someone-emailed-me-via-the-blog-and-wanted-to-send-me-historical-newspapers! My jaw dropped. I fell into history!
Inside the tissue were three old papers. I mean old. The newest was from December 11,1896: The Daily Graphic, Enlarged to TWENTY PAGES. One Penny. But I needed new spectacles to read the miniscule print. That took a few weeks, and I still had to use a magnifying glass.The print is really small.
|Hugh Thomson; Austenonly.com|
|Mrs. Elton appears at church|
Well, that is the incredible news. 116 years ago. Almost. Wow. The news article comes complete with an illustration labeled "Two Umbrellas for Us." By the famous Mr. Thomson. (See more about him HERE.)
This newspaper is smooth, though yellowing. No problem. It is smooth because it is made of new-fangled paper made from wood. The other two papers are both from 1819, thus made of the more common and textured rag paper. The London Times. Price, 7d. Stamped, even. The front and back are want ads, birth, marriage and death announcements and the price of stocks. (I say, buy!) Inside there are lovely articles. Not a picture to be found.
I will share more earth-shaking news with you from these great newspapers soon, abandoning my series on the Monarchy for a little longer. But let me tell you where you, too, can obtain such fascinating bits of history. They are sold HERE at Historic Newspapers packaged beautifully as gifts for special occasions, and they come from all over the world. Imagine the amazing things you can read about first-hand, hot off the press. A history teaching resource pack is also available.
Many thanks to Thomas Walker of Historical Newspapers for the gift newspapers, some almost two hundred years old, I received.
Debra Brown is the author of The Companion of Lady Holmeshire- now undergoing revision and available again by August 1, 2012.