Manuscript, Print, Patronage and Place: Reconstructing the Jerningham Album at Costessey Hall

Location
Arts building room 104
Dates
Wednesday 17 January 2018 (17:00-19:00)
costessey-gravure

Speaker:  Dr Samantha Matthews (University of Bristol)

'Albo-mania' was Poet Laureate Robert Southey's wry description of the 1820s' enthusiasm for albums: blank manuscript books for which fashionable women solicited poems and other literary and graphic texts from relatives, friends and social contacts. As part of work recovering the phenomenon's unwritten late eighteenth-century origins, this paper reconstructs an influential but now lost album through its reception history. The Jerningham family initiated the album at their Norfolk country house, Costessey Hall, in 1785: a defining moment in public awareness of this coterie practice. Contributors ranged from the family's children and neighbours, to professional writers including Arthur Murphy and Amelia Opie. Drawing on the rich Jerningham family letters in the Cadbury Research Library, and on contemporary newspapers and other print sources, the paper demonstrates how a unique manuscript book kept behind closed doors became a record of public and political events (including the French Revolution) as well as domestic and local affairs, and helped to popularise the album fashion.

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