Sunday, 29 December 2013

Landed Gentry and Scottish Musical Dilettantes

I've just encountered a fascinating, useful and authoritative blog about the Landed Families of Britain and Ireland. It's by Nicholas Kingsley, who is (to quote his Twitter profile), 'Head of Archives Sector Development @UkNatArchives. Historian of the country house, peerage and gentry; FSA; and a member of the National Trust Arts Panel'.  He tweets as @NicholasKingsle

Now, you know my fascination with old eighteenth century Scottish dilettanti!  Kingsley's blog is clearly a resource I shall be returning to.

While I'm here, I don't know if I mentioned two recent papers I've had published about some of 'my' eighteenth century Scots, so I'll post the links now:-

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Happiness is a Hunch Proved Right

You know, it doesn't take much to make a scholar librarian happy!  Remember Pirates Daniel Wright and John Walsh?  The book which never WAS published by Wright, but was compiled by Walsh from two of his own existing publications?

Before I had worked out what the 'mystery volume' in Dundee's Wighton Collection actually was, I divided the two sets of irregularly interleaved pages into what I thought were two volumes.  One was, I thought, more Scottish in flavour than the other one.

I identified the two source volumes, and felt rather proud of myself.  This week, I received the scans of both source volumes from the British Library.  Now I'm even happier: I've just discovered the title of the second volume - the one I thought was more Scottish - has a little, tiny subtitle:-

'Consisting of Irish, Welsh and Scotch Tunes'

Monday, 16 December 2013

Our Ancient National Airs, Book Reviews

Reviews have started appearing.  Three in eight days, as a matter of fact!  I'm quite pleased with the comments, and delighted that all three find me readable!  With an early background in freelance short story writing (it helped finance my first maternity leave, AND a decent second-hand car at the end of it), I am gratified that I've managed to transfer that readability to more academic purposes!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

From Edinburgh to London, Ghostly Musical Muses

My focus has shifted, temporarily.  I've been looking at a couple of collections of national songs from the late 18th century - the Thompson family's Caledonian Muse and Hibernian Muse.  (Try as I might, I haven't yet found a Cambrian Muse, but next time I'm in London, there are sources I need to check, just to be sure!)

The Thompson family were at the sign of the Violin and Hautboy, 75 Saint Paul's Church Yard, in London.

Meanwhile,  Joseph Johnson, a politically radical literary publisher - he also published Non-Conformist church literature, and encouraged women writers, too - was just three doors along at no.72 Saint Paul's Church Yard.  I've discovered an unexpected connection between the two.  I'll be writing more about this in due course, so I am going to be irritatingly secretive for the next wee while!

To my joy and delight, Hilary Chaplin, a historian and music-lover who tweets @hilaryssteps, has been tweeting pictures of old London, and generously found me a wonderful etching of St Paul's Church Yard just a couple of decades after the events I'm interested in.  I love to be able to imagine "my" musical and publishing ghosts in their natural environment, so I'm delighted to share this picture.  Hilary tells me that in the foreground, people are looking out of Bowles and Carver's Print shop.  They were at 69 St Paul's Church Yard - incredible, just literally a couple of doors away from "my" people. Oh, WOW!  

Thanks for your help, Hilary!