ONCE AGAIN WEDNESDAY: THE DEATH OF MISS CHOLMONDELEY

The town of Leatherhead, two miles south of Ashsted, was an ancient market town in Surrey, the market having long been discontinued by the early nineteenth century. The town still held a fair on Lady’s Day, three weeks before Michaelmas, during the Regency period, “but otherwise the town possessed no trade or privilege than what its being a great thoroughfare produces.” The only “remarkables” were the fourteenth-century church and the bridge, which was a very neat structure over the River Mole, built of brick and consisting of fourteen arches.

At this quite and idyllic a spot, however, there occurred a Regency tragedy in 1806 – a coaching accident involving the Princess of Wales. Dr. Hughson described the incident thusly in his Description of London:

“A most dreadful accident occurred in this town in the year 1806. Her royal highness the Princess of Wales, on the afternoon of October 2, was on her way in a barouche, attended by Lady Sheffield and Miss Harriet Mary Cholmondeley, to pay a visit to Mrs. Lock, at Norbury Park (right), and was driven by the princess’s own servants as far as Sutton. At this place post-horses were put to the carriage, driven by the post-boys belonging to the Cock Inn; her highnesses horses remained at Sutton till she returned. On her arrival at Leatherhead, the carriage, which was drawn by four horses, whilst turning around an acute angle of the road, was overturned. It appears that the drivers, through extreme caution, had taken too great a sweep in turning the corner, which brought the barouche on a rising ground, by which it was overset; but before its fall it swung about a great tree.

“The dreadful consequence was, that Miss Cholmondeley was killed on the spot; providentially the princess received no other injury, except a cut on her nose, and a bruise on her arm. Lady Sheffield did not receive the slightest hurt, besides that which overwhelmed the royal party, by the shocking accident. Her royal highness returned to Blackheath the next day.”

The Annual Register expands on the incident:

It is with great concern we have to state the following melancholy accident. Her royal highness the Princess of Wales was this afternoon on her way to the seat of Mr. Locke, at Norbury Park, near Leatherhead, Surrey, in a barouche, attended by Lady Sheffield and Miss Harriet Mary Cholmondeley, and was driven by her royal highness’s own servants. They took post horses, and were driven by the post-boys belonging to the Cock Inn. Her royal highnesses horses and servants were left to refresh in order to take her home that evening. Her royal highness proceeded to Leatherhead, when on turning a sharp corner to get into the road which leads to Norbury Park, the carriage was overturned, opposite to a large tree, against which Miss Cholmondeley was thrown with such violence, as to be killed on the spot. She was sitting on the front seat of the barouche alone. Her royal highness and Lady Sheffield occupied the back seat, and were thrown out together. They went into the Swan Inn, at Leatherhead. Sir Lucas Pepys, who lives in that neighbourhood, and had not left Leatherhead (where he had been to visit a patient) more than a quarter of an hour, was immediately followed, and brought back; and a servant was sent to Mr. Locke’s, with an account of the accident. Mrs. L. arrived in her carriage with all expedition, and conducted the princess to Norbury Park, where Sir Lucas Pepys attended her royal highness and, as no surgeon was at hand, bled her himself. On the following day the princess returned to Blackheath. Her royal highness received no other injury than a slight cut on her nose, and a bruise on one of her arms. Lady Sheffield (wife of Lord Sheffield, who was with her, did not receive the slightest injury. — An inquest was held on the 4th, before C. Jemmet, esq. coroner for Surrey, on the body of Miss Cholmondeley, at the Swan Inn, Leatherhead. It appeared, by the evidence of a Mr. Jarrat at Leatherhead, and of an hostler belonging to the inn, that the princess’s carriage, drawn by four horses, with two postillions, while turning round a very acute angle of the road, was overturned. The drivers, through extreme caution, had taken too great a sweep in turning) the corner, which brought the carriage on the rising ground, and occasioned its being upset. The carriage swung round a great tree before it fell. When the surgeon saw the Princess of Wales, she most benevolently desired him to go up stairs, as there was a lady who stood more in need of his assistance. The surgeon (Mr. Lawden, of Great Bookham) then went to Miss Cholmondeley, and found her totally deprived of life. There was a violent contusion on her left temple; and her death appeared to have been occasioned by the rupture of a blood vessel. The jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death. Miss Cholmondeley was born in 1753, and was the daughter of the late lion, and Rev. Robert Cholmondeluy, rector of Hartingford-Bury, and St. Andrews, Hertford, who was son of the third earl of Cholmondeley, and uncle to the present earl. Her mother is living, and resides in Jermyn-street. On the 8th, at 12 o’clock, the remains of this unfortunate lady were interred in Leatherhead church, close to the spot where lady Thompson, wife of sir John Thompson, some years since lord mayor of London, is buried. The body was, on the evening of the sixth, removed from the Swan Inn to an undertaker’s near the church-yard, and was followed to the grave by her brother, George Cholmondcley, esq. one of the Commissioners of excise; the hon. Augustus Phipps ; William Locke, esq ; S. Gray, esq. and several other gentlemen. The fatal spot where this amiable lady met her sudden death is still visited by crowds.

It may be noted that the Locke’s were also close friends of famed diarist and novelist Frances Burney, Mme  d’Arblay who mentions the family often in her journal, as seen by the entries here for 1784. At this period the health of Mrs. Phillips (Fanny’s sister Susan) failed so much that, after some deliberation, she and Captain Phillips decided on removing to Boulogne for change of air. The anxiety evidenced in the letter below was due to Burney’s waiting to here of her sister’s safe arrival in France.

Friday, Oct. 8th.—I set off with my dear father for Chesington, where we passed five days very comfortably; my father was all good humour, all himself,— such as you and I mean by that word. The next day we had the blessing of your D
over letter, and on Thursday, Oct. 14, I arrived at dear Norbury Park at about seven o’clock, after a pleasant ride in the dark. Mr. Lock most kindly and cordially welcomed me; he came out upon the steps to receive me, and his beloved Fredy waited for me in the vestibule. Oh, with what tenderness did she take me to her bosom! I felt melted with her kindness, but I could not express a joy like hers, for my heart was very full—full of my dearest Susan, whose image seemed before me upon the spot where we had so lately been together. They told me that Madame de la Fite, her daughter, and Mr. Hinde, were in the house; but as I am now, I hope, come for a long time, I did not vex at hearing this. Their first inquiries were if I had not heard from Boulogne.

Saturday.—I fully expected a letter, but none came; but Sunday I depended upon one. The post, however, did not arrive before we went to church. Madame de la Fite, seeing my sorrowful looks, good naturedly asked Mrs. Lock what could be set about to divert a little la pauvre Mademoiselle Burney ? and proposed reading a drama of Madame de Genlis. I approved it much, preferring it greatly to conversation; and, accordingly, she and her daughter, each taking characters to themselves, read “La Rosiere de Salency.” It is a very interesting and touchingly simple little drama. . . . Next morning I went up stairs as usual, to treat myself with a solo of impatience for the post, and at about twelve o’clock I heard Mrs. Locke stepping along the passage. I was sure of good news, for I knew, if there was bad, poor Mr. Locke would have brought it. She came in, with three letters in her hand, and three thousand dimples in her cheeks and chin! Oh, my dear Susy, what a sight to me was your hand! I hardly cared for the letter; I hardly desired to open it; the direction alone almost satisfied me sufficiently. How did Mrs. Locke embrace me! I half kissed her to death. Then came dear Mr. Locke, his eyes brighter than ever— “Well, how does she do?”

This question forced me to open my letter; all was just as I could wish, except that I regretted the having written the day before such a lamentation. I was so congratulated! I shook hands with Mr. Locke; the two dear little girls came jumping to wish me joy; and Mrs. Locke ordered a fiddler, that they might have a dance in the evening, which had been promised them from the time of Mademoiselle de la Fite’s arrival, but postponed from day to day, by general desire, on account of my uneasiness.

The Charlotte Gunning Portrait at Chawton House by Guest Blogger Hester Davenport

The Portrait of Charlotte Gunning (1759-94)
copyright Chawton House Library

On 15 May 1784 it was the turn of Charlotte Margaret Gunning, Maid of Honour to Queen Charlotte, to have use of the Royal Coach. Her friend Mary Hamilton called at St James’s Palace, and went with Charlotte to ‘Romney’s, the Painter’s’ where Miss Gunning was ‘to sit for her picture’. That half-length portrait now hangs in Chawton House Great Hall.
Mary Hamilton had also been employed in the royal household, to help with the education of the young princesses; she found her duties arduous, thankfully withdrawing from court after five years. Perhaps the two young women talked over the difficulties of royal service, which included their reputations as ‘learned ladies’. Both had had ‘masculine’ educations in the classical languages: according to Fanny Burney Miss Gunning was derogatively nicknamed ‘Lady Charlotte Hebrew’ for her learning.
Charlotte was the daughter of Sir Robert Gunning (1731-1816), a diplomat who was so successful in conducting the King’s business with the Empress of Russia that in 1773 he was made  Knight of the Bath. His daughter’s appointment as Maid of Honour to Queen Charlotte in 1779 was no doubt a further sign of royal favour. He had two other children, his son George who would inherit the baronetcy, and another daughter Barbara. His wife had died when Charlotte was eleven-years-old, but in the 1780s he ordered portraits of himself and his three children from the society portraitist, George Romney (1734-1802).
The painting of the 25-year-old Charlotte is interesting in its apparent contradictions. The colours are muted, with the head veiled in white and the black dress severely plain, yet it is very low-cut, and the sitter looks out self-assured and even challenging. A warm glow in the sky behind suggests there is feeling and passion beneath that cool exterior. Charlotte’s hair is dressed high on her head and fashionably powdered. A hat might have been expected, but scarves, called ‘fascinators’, sometimes replaced large hats, especially for evening wear.
There were six Maids of Honour, paid £300 a year, with duties that must have been stultifyingly dull, standing in attendance at the Queen’s ‘Drawing rooms’ and other court functions (though periods of duty were rotated). Charlotte kept her position for nearly twelve years before managing to escape. It was not easy to withdraw from royal service, as both Mary Hamilton and Fanny Burney discovered, and reaching her thirtieth birthday in 1789 Charlotte must have feared a dreary life of spinsterhood. But on 6 January 1790 she achieved an honourable discharge when she married a widower, Colonel the Honourable Stephen Digby, the Queen’s Vice Chamberlain. Another of Charlotte’s friends, Mary Noel, wrote in a letter of her surprise that Sir Robert gave his consent ‘as it must be a very bad match for her if he has four children’, though she also recorded Charlotte saying that she ‘can’t live without his friendship and could not keep that without marrying him’.
For Fanny Burney the news of the forthcoming wedding was a shock: she believed that Digby had been paying her marked attention for two years and that she should have received the proposal. Her sense of betrayal was huge and she gave vent to her feelings in page after page of her journal. She never blamed Charlotte but no doubt got sly pleasure from noting the King shaking his head over ‘Poor Digby’ (because his bride was a learned lady) or recording the strange details of the wedding: that it was performed by Dr Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury, in the Drawing-room of Sir Robert’s house in Northampton, with the guests sitting round on sofas and ladies’ workboxes not cleared away. The new Mrs Digby paid a visit to Miss Burney, ‘quite brilliant in smiles and spirits’ and Fanny did her the justice of saying that she believed that Miss Gunning had ‘long cherished a passionate regard’ for Colonel Digby.
Two children, Henry Robert and Isabella Margaret, were born in quick succession, but the marriage was not to be long-lasting. In June 1794 Charlotte Digby died (possibly in childbirth – the brief obituary notice in the Genteman’s Magazine gives no cause of death). She was buried in the vault of Thames Ditton church where Digby’s first wife lay: he would join his two ‘dear wives’ there in 1800.
Charlotte Gunning wrote no books, has found no place in history. But there could surely be no more suitable place for her portrait than Chawton Women’s Library, in the society of so many other ‘learned ladies’.
Permission to reprint this article, which first ran in The Female Spectator, was kindly granted by that publication and Chawton House Library.   

Fanny Burney and the Emperor of all Maladies

Author and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee’s debut book charts the history of cancer treatment over the centuries. Amazon said that the book is  ” . . . .  a sweeping epic of obsession, brilliant researchers, dramatic new treatments, euphoric success and tragic failure, and the relentless battle by scientists and patients alike against an equally relentless, wily, and elusive enemy. From the first chemotherapy developed from textile dyes to the possibilities emerging from our understanding of cancer cells, Mukherjee shapes a massive amount of history into a coherent story with a roller-coaster trajectory: the discovery of a new treatment–surgery, radiation, chemotherapy–followed by the notion that if a little is good, more must be better, ending in disfiguring radical mastectomy and multidrug chemo so toxic the treatment ended up being almost worse than the disease.”

It is impossible to consider the history of the treatment of cancer without recalling Fanny Burney’s harrowing account of the mastectomy she underwent during the Regency period. It is compelling, horrifying and immediate in its very personal nature. We reprint it for you here . . .

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ACCOUNT OF MASTECTOMY BY FANNY BURNEY

Fanny Burney (Madame d’Arblay) first felt pain in her breast in August of 1810. Cancer was diagnosed, and Baron Larrey, Napoleon’s surgeon, agreed to operate. To spare her suspense, she was given little notice. The “M. d’A.” mentioned is her husband and Alexander her son.

*** WARNING: The following mastectomy account may prove disturbing.

30 September 1811: I dressed, aided, as usual for many months, by my maid, my right arm being condemned to total inaction. A letter was delivered to me to acquaint me that at 10 o’clock M. Larry would be with me, properly accompanied, and to exhort me to rely as much upon his sensibility and his prudence, as upon his dexterity and his experience; he charged me to secure the absence of M. d’A: and told me that the young Physician who would deliver me his announcement would prepare for the operation, in which he must lend his aid: and; also that it had been the decision of the consultation to allow me but two hours notice.

Dr. Aumont, the Messenger and terrible Herald, was in waiting; M. d’A stood by my bedside; I affected to be long reading the Note, to gain time for forming some plan, and such was my terror of involving M. d’A in the unavailing wretchedness of witnessing what I must go through, that it conquered every act as if I were directing some third person. The detail would be too Wordy, as James says, but the wholesale is – I called Alex to my Bedside, and sent him to inform M. Barbier Neuville, chef du division du Bureau de M. d’A, that the moment was come, and I entreated him to write a summons upon urgent business for M. d’A and to detain him till all should be over. Speechless and appalled, off went Alex, and, as I have since heard, was forced to sit down and sob in executing his commission. I then, by the maid, sent word to the young Dr. Aumont that I could not be ready till one o’clock: and I finished my breakfast, and- not with much appetite, you will believe! forced down a crust of bread, and hurried off, under various pretenses, M. d’A. He was scarcely gone, when M Du Bois arrived: I renewed my request for one o’clock: the rest came; all were fain to consent to the delay, for I had an apartment to prepare for my banished Mate. This arrangement, and those for myself, occupied me completely. Two engaged nurses were out of the way – I had a bed, Curtains and heaven knows what to prepare – but business was good for my nerves. I was obliged to quit my room to have it put in order: – Dr. Aumount would not leave the house; he remained in the Sallon, folding linen! – He had demanded 4 or 5 old and fine left off under garments – I glided to our Book Cabinet; sundry necessary works and orders filled up my time entirely till One O’clock, When all was ready – but Dr. Moreau then arrived, with news that M. Dubois could not attend till three. Dr. Aumont went away – and the Coast was clear.

This, indeed, was a dreadful interval. I had no longer anything to do – I had only to think – TWO HOURS thus spent seemed never-ending. I would fain have written to my dearest Father – to you, my Esther – to Charlotte James – Charles – Amelia Lock – but my arm prohibited me: I strolled to the Sallon – I saw it fitted with preparations, and I recoiled – But I soon returned; to what effect disguise from myself what I must so soon know? – yet the sight of the immense quantity of bandages, compresses, spunges, Lint – made me a little sick: – I walked backwards and forwards till I quieted all emotion, and became, by degrees, nearly stupid – torpid, without sentiment or consciousness; – and thus I remained till the Clock struck three. I rang for my Maid and Nurses, – but before I could speak to them, my room, without previous message, was entered by 7 Men in black, Dr. Larry, M. Dubois, Dr. Moreau, Dr. Aumont, Dr. Ribe, and a pupil of Dr. Larry, and another of M. Dubois. I was now awakened from my stupor – and by a sort of indignation – Why so many? and without leave? – But I could not utter a syllable. M. Dubois acted as Commander in Chief. Dr. Larry kept out of sight; M. Dubois ordered a Bed stead into the middle of the room. Astonished, I turned to Dr. Larry, who had promised that an Arm Chair would suffice; but he hung his head, and would not look at me. Two old mattrasses M. Dubois then demanded, and an old Sheet. I now began to tremble violently, more with distaste and horror of the preparations even than of the pain. These arranged to his liking, he desired me to mount the Bed stead. I stood suspended, for a moment, whether I should not abruptly escape – I looked at the door, the windows – I felt desperate – but it was only for a moment, my reason then took the command, and my fears and feelings struggled vainly against it. I called to my maid – she was crying, and the two Nurses stood, transfixed, at the door. Let these women all go! cried M. Dubois. This order recovered me my Voice – No, I cried, let them stay! The maid and one of the nurses ran off – I charged the other to approach, and she obeyed. My distress was apparent for M. Dubois himself now softened, and spoke soothingly. Can You, I cried, feel for an operation that, to You, must seem so trivial? Trivial, he repeated – taking up a piece of paper, which he tore, unconsciously, into a million of pieces – he stammered, and could not go on. No one else attempted to speak, but I was softened myself, when I saw even M. Dubois grow agitated, while Dr. Larry kept always aloof, yet a glance showed me he was pale as ashes. I knew not, positively, then, the immediate danger, but every thing convinced me danger was hovering about me, and that this experiment could alone save me from its jaws.

I mounted, therefore, unbidden, the Bead stead – and M. Dubois placed me upon the mattress, and spread a cambric handkerchief upon my face. It was transparent, however, and I saw the Bed surrounded by the 7 Men and my Nurse. I refused to be held; but when, Bright through the cambric, I saw the glitter of polished Steel – I closed my Eyes. A silence the most profound ensued. Again throug
h the cambric, I saw the hand of M. Dubois held up, while his forefinger first described a straight line from top to bottom of the breast, secondly a Cross, and thirdly a Circle; intimating that the WHOLE was to be taken off. Excited by this idea, I started up, threw off my veil, and I held my hand under it, and explained the nature of my sufferings, which all sprang from one point, though they darted into every part. I was heard attentively, but in utter silence, and M. Dubois then replaced me as before, and, as before, spread my veil over my face.

My dearest Esther, – and all my dears to whom she communicates this doleful ditty, will rejoice to hear that this resolution once taken, was firmly adhered to, in defiance of a terror that surpasses all description, and the most torturing pain. Yet – when the dreadful steel was plunged into the breast I needed no injunctions not to restrain my cries. I began a scream that lasted unintermittingly during the whole time of the incision – and I almost marvel that it rings not in my Ears still! so excruciating the agony. When the wound was made, and the instrument was withdrawn, the pain seemed undiminished, for the air that suddenly rushed into those delicate parts felt like a mass of minute but sharp and forked poniards. When I felt the instrument cutting against the grain, while the flesh resisted in a manner so forcible as to oppose and tire the hand of the operator, who was forced to change from the right to the left – then, indeed, I thought I must have expired. I attempted no more to open my Eyes, – they felt as if hermettically shut, and so firmly closed, that the Eyelids seemed indented into the Cheeks. The instrument this second time withdrawn, I concluded the operation over – Oh no! presently the terrible cutting was renewed – and worse than ever, to separate the bottom, the foundation of this dreadful gland from the parts to which it adhered – Again all description would be baffled – yet again all was not over, – Dr. Larry rested but his own hand, and – Oh Heaven! – I then felt the Knife rackling against the breast bone – scraping it! – This performed, while I yet remained in utterly speechless torture, I heard the Voice of Mr. Larry, – (all others guarded a dead silence) in a tone nearly tragic, desire everyone present to pronounce if anything more remained to be done; The general voice was Yes, – but the finger of Mr. Dubois – which I literally felt elevated over the wound, though I saw nothing, and though he touched nothing, pointed to some further requisition – and again began the scraping!

My dearest Esther, not for days, not for Weeks, but for Months I could not speak of this terrible business without nearly again going through it! I was sick, disordered by a single question – even now, 9 months after it is over, I have a headache going on with the account! To conclude, the evil was so profound, the case so delicate, and the precautions necessary for preventing a return so numerous, that the operation, including the treatment and the dressing, lasted 20 minutes! a time, for sufferings so acute, that was hardly supportable – However, I bore it with all the courage I could exert, and never moved, nor stopt them, nor resisted, nor spoke. Twice I believe I fainted; at least, I have two total chasms in my memory of this transaction, that impede my tying together what passed. When all was done, and they lifted me up that I might be put to bed, my strength was so totally annihilated, that I was obliged to be carried, and could not even sustain my hands and arms, which hung as if I had been lifeless: while my face, as the Nurse has told me, was utterly colourless. This removal made me open my Eyes – and I then saw my good Dr. Larry, pale nearly as myself, his face streaked with blood, and its expression depicting grief, apprehension, and almost horror.

* * * * * *

Fanny was born 1752, the daughter of a physician. She lead a unique life and, thankfully, documented her experiences at court and amongst the highest society in her diaries. Passages from these are cited in many works on the Georgian and Regency periods, as they contain much minute detail not found elsewhere. In 1786, Fanny was appointed Second Keeper of the Wardrobe to Her Majesty Queen Charlotte. Her father, upon being introduced to the Prince Regent, spent time discussing music with him. In addition to her social duties, Fanny was a novelist, whose works, including “Cecilia” and “Evelina” were favorites of Jane Austen’s. The operation related above, whilst horrific, was obviously a success, as Fanny lived until 1840.

Suggestions for further reading:
Burney, Fanny, Diary and Letters (18c), ed. C. Barrett, 1905
——-The Early Journals and Letters, vol. 1, Univ of Toronto Press 1989 ISBN# 0-7735-0538-5
Chaplin, Arnold, Medicine in England During the Reign of George III, AMS Press ISBN 0-404-13244-8
Loudon, Irvine, Medical Care and the General Practitioner 1750- 1850, Oxford 1986

The Burney Society in Portland, Oregon


Victoria here, just back from the meetings of The Burney Society and the Jane Austen Society in Portland, OR.  We went out a day early in order to take in the Columbia River Gorge.  Sadly, it was raining, but not very hard. In fact, it reminded me of most English rain, not quite a mist but not a downpour either.  At right is Multnomah Falls, most spectacular of the many waterfalls along the gorge.
                                                                                                                                                .
Fanny Burney (1752-1840) was the daughter of a celebrated musician and composer Dr. Charles Burney.  Her half sister, Sarah Harriet Burney, was also a successful author of seven novels.  Fanny Burney grew up in a household that often hosted brilliant circle of artistic and literary leaders. She kept a famous journal throughout most of her life and wrote four novels, many plays and other works.
Our friend Hester Davenport, (see our posts about visiting her in Windsor last June) is a leading member of the UK’s Burney society and the author of Faithful Handmaid, which relates the story of Burney’s position as a Keeper of the Robes for Queen Charlotte from 1786 to 1791.  The position, while prestigious, gave Burney little time to pursue her writing career. We reported on our days with Hester Davenport on July 16 and 18, 2010 posts.

At left is my picture of a plaque on the castle wall in Windsor commemorating the lives of Mrs. Delaney (see our posts of  9/30 and 10/6/10) and Fanny Burney and their roles in the royal court.
The Burney Society was proud to dedicate a window in Westminster Abbey to Frances Burney a few years ago.  Our president for sixteen years has been Paula Stepankowsky (see photo below), whose leadership has been outstanding. This year the society has grown large enough to separate the UK and North American branches. Click here for more information on the McGill University  Burney Center.
For information on the North American Burney Society and the upcoming meetings of the group, click here.   Fanny Burney’s first novel might be her most famous, the coming of age story of Evelina, a delightful tale with incredibly detailed accounts of late 18th century life in Britain. My favorite is Camilla, perhaps because I read it first and loved every page. All this is a long way of introducing the conference in Portland. The subject was “Burney and the Gothic.”  Many speakers adressed aspects of this fascinating subject in Burney’s novels, finding many gothic references where I had entirely missed them! But viewed in the context of the popular genre of gothic novels in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, of course all of these arguments made obvious sense (not to mention sensibility!).
Our intrepid leader, Paula LaBeck Stepankowsky, president of The Burney society for 16 years, has been a true inspiration to all of those who love Burney, from reader/writers like me, to fond fans, to academic specialists in 18th century fiction. Paula is leaving her office and everyone was both disappointed that she will no longer be our active leader, but happy that she completed so many years of service and is moving on to a new role, which she promised would definitely include her love of Frances Burney.

                                                                         In 

Portland Public Library
addition to her role in guiding the Burney Society, Paula has amassed a stellar collection of first editions and memorabilia of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many displayed at a special exhibition at Portland’s beautiful public library, a short walk from the conference hotel.




Works of Mary Robinson, 1st edition

Letters of Frances Burney,  Madame D’Arbly
First editions of Emma and Mansfield Park beside a shawl,
of linen, according to family tradition, embroidered by Jane Austen



Emma, a first edition, in the collection of Paula LaBeck Stepankowsky

Above, copies of three of Paula’s fascinating collection of Regency-era prints and charicatures by James Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson.

What a marvelous two days. Soon, I will tell you about the following days at the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting: Jane Austen and the Abbey: Maystery, Mayhem, and Muslin in Portland.  Stay tuned.





Author Hester Davenport to Speak at Burney Society Conference

Hester Davenport, author of The Prince’s Mistress: A Life of Perdita, Mary Robinson and Faithful  Handmaid: Fanny Burney at the Court of King George III, (Sutton Publishing) will be speaking at a conference entitled “Women under Napoleon 1802–12” that has been jointly organised by  The Burney Society and the Université-Paris Diderot, to celebrate the life of Frances Burney in Paris, and to promote Anglo-French relations and the study of women’s writing on revolution and empire. The conference will take place 10–11 June 2010 at the Institut Charles V, rue Charles V, Paris.
Hester’s talk English Women and the Revolution, will include dramatised readings by Hester and Karin Fernald. Other seminars include Napoleon through British and French Caricatures (1799–1815), Germaine de Staël’s 1812 Dilemma by Flora Fraser,  Pauline Bonaparte: Procuress for her Brother the Emperor Napoleon?, Florence Filippi on French actresses and Napoleon and Madame d’Arblay’s ’French Notebooks’ by Peter Sabor of McGill University.
For more details, a list of hotels and to make a reservation, contact David Tregear (Burney Society secretary): 36 Henty Gardens, Chichester PO19 3DL Email: tregear.david@virgin.net