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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Joseph Wright of Derby
3 September 1734 – 29 August 1797

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Joseph Wright

Joseph Wright of Derby was born in Irongate, Derby. Deciding to become a painter, Wright went to London in 1751 and for two years studied under Thomas Hudson, the master of Joshua Reynolds. After painting portraits for a while at Derby, Wright again worked as an assistant to Hudson for fifteen months. In 1753 he returned to and settled in Derby and varied his work in portraiture by the production of the subjects with strong chiaroscuro under artificial light, with which his name is chiefly associated, and by landscape painting. Wright also spent a productive period in Liverpool, from 1768 to 1771, painting portraits. These included pictures of a number of prominent citizens and their families.

Wright married Ann (also known as Hannah) Swift, the daughter of a leadminer, on 28 July 1773

Wright and his wife had six children, three of whom died in infancy. Wright set off in 1773 with John Downman, a pregnant Ann Wright and Richard Hurleston for Italy. Their ship took shelter for three weeks in Nice before they completed their outward voyage in Livorno in Italy in February 1774. Downman returned to Britain in 1775. Although he spent a great deal of time in Naples, Wright never actually witnessed any eruption of Mount Vesuvius; however, it is possible that he witnessed smaller, less impressive eruptions, which may have inspired many of his subsequent paintings of the volcano. On his return from Italy he established himself at Bath as a portrait-painter, but meeting with little encouragement he returned to Derby in 1777, where he spent the rest of his life. He became increasingly asthmatic and nervous about the house, and for these complaints he was treated by his friend Erasmus Darwin. Ann Wright died on 17 August 1790. On 29 August 1797 Wright died at his new home at No. 28 Queen Street, Derby, where he had spent his final months with his two daughters.

Wright was a frequent contributor to the exhibitions of the Society of Artists, and to those of the Royal Academy, of which he was elected an associate in 1781 and a full member in 1784. He, however, declined the latter honour on account of a slight which he believed that he had received, and severed his official connection with the Academy, though he continued to contribute to the exhibitions from 1783 until 1794.

Wright is seen at his best in his candlelit subjects of which the Three Persons Viewing the Gladiator by Candlelight (1765), his A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery (1766), in the Derby Museum and Art Gallery, and An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768), in the National Gallery are excellent examples. His Old Man and Death (1774) is also a striking and individual production.

Joseph Wright of Derby also painted Dovedale by Moonlight, capturing the rural landscape of a narrow valley called Dovedale, 14 miles northeast of Wright’s home town of Derby, at night with a full moon. It hangs in the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. Its companion piece, Dovedale by Sunlight (circa 1784–1785) captures the colors of day. In another Moonlight Landscape, in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota Florida, equally dramatic, the moon is obscured by an arched bridge over water, but illuminates the scene, making the water sparkle in contrast to the dusky landscape. Another memorable image from his tour of the Lake District is Rydal Waterfall of 1795.

Cave at evening (above) is painted with the same dramatic chiaroscuro for which Joseph Wright is noted. The painting was executed during 1774, while he was staying in Italy. Notice the similarities to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s holding, Grotto by the Seaside in the Kingdom of Naples with Banditti, Sunset (1778).

Wright had close contact with the pioneering industrialists of the Midlands. Two of his most important patrons were Josiah Wedgwood, credited with the industrialization of the manufacture of pottery, and Richard Arkwright, regarded as the creator of the factory system in the cotton industry. One of Wright’s students, William Tate, was uncle to the eccentric gentleman tunneler Joseph Williamson and completed some of Wright’s works after his death. Wright also had connections with Erasmus Darwin and other members of the Lunar Society, which brought together leading industrialists, scientists, and philosophers. Although meetings were held in Birmingham, Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin, lived in Derby, and some of the paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby, which are themselves notable for their use of brilliant light on shade, are of, or were inspired by Lunar Society gatherings.

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768), shows people gathered round observing an early experiment into the nature of air and its ability to support life.

The Alchemist in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone (1771) depicts the discovery of the element phosphorus by German alchemist Hennig Brand in 1669. A flask in which a large quantity of urine has been boiled down is seen bursting into light as the phosphorus, which is abundant in urine, ignites spontaneously in air.

A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery shows an early mechanism for demonstrating the movement of the planets around the sun. The Scottish scientist James Ferguson (1710–1776) undertook a series of lectures in Derby in July 1762 based on his book Lectures on Select Subjects in Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Optics &c. (1760). To illustrate his lectures, Ferguson used various machines, models and instruments. Wright possibly attended these talks, especially as tickets were available from John Whitehurst, Wright’s close neighbour, a clockmaker and a scientist. Wright could also have drawn on Whitehurst’s practical knowledge to learn more about the orrery and its operation.

These factual paintings are considered to have metaphorical meaning too, the bursting into light of the phosphorus in front of a praying figure signifying the problematic transition from faith to scientific understanding and enlightenment, and the various expressions on the figures around the bird in the air pump indicating concern over the possible inhumanity of the coming age of science.

These paintings represent a high point in scientific enquiry which began undermining the power of religion in Western societies. Some ten years later, scientists would find themselves persecuted in the backlash to the French Revolution of 1789, itself the culmination of enlightenment thinking. Joseph Priestley, a member of the Lunar Society, left Britain in 1794 after his Birmingham laboratory was smashed and his house burned down by a mob objecting to his outspoken support for the French Revolution. In France, the chemist Antoine Lavoisier was executed by the guillotine at the height of the Terror. The politician and philosopher Edmund Burke, in his famous Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), tied natural philosophers, and specifically Priestley, to the French Revolution; he later wrote in his Letter to a Noble Lord (1796) that radicals who supported science in Britain “considered man in their experiments no more than they do mice in an air pump”.

In light of this comment, Wright’s painting of the bird in the air pump, completed over twenty years earlier, seems particularly prescient.

It was against this background that Charles Darwin, grandson of the Derby man and Lunar Society member, Erasmus Darwin, would add to the conflict between science and religious belief half a century later, with the publication of his book The Origin of Species in 1859.

Wright’s birthplace at 28 Irongate, Derby is commemorated with a representation of an orrery on the pavement nearby.

Joseph Wright was buried in the grounds of St Alkmund’s Church, Derby. The church was controversially demolished in 1968 to make way for a major new section of the inner ring road cutting through the town centre, and now lies beneath the road. Wright’s remains were removed to Nottingham Road Cemetery.

Trolling Down to Old Mah Wee

Not only do I write Regency and Romance, but I also have delved into Fantasy.

The Trolling series, (the first three are in print) is the story of a man, Humphrey. We meet him as he has left youth and become a man with a man’s responsibilities. We follow him in a series of stories that encompass the stages of life.

We see him when he starts his family, when he has older sons and the father son dynamic is tested. We see him when his children begin to marry and have children, and at the end of his life when those he has loved, and those who were his friends proceed him over the threshold into death.

All this while he serves a kingdom troubled by monsters. Troubles that he and his friends will learn to deal with and rectify. It is now available in a variety of formats.

For $2.99 you can get this 2nd book in the fantasy adventure series of Humphrey and Gwendolyn.

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When the neighboring kingdom of Mah Wee begins to experience the same problems that beset Torahn some years before, they urgently request the aid of the experts in containing a new Troll infestation. But eradicating Trolls is not as easy as exterminating a few rats or mice.

Trolls are bigger than men, they are stronger than men, and then are meaner than men. Humphrey Cutter and his band of mismatched warriors must once again rise to the occasion, but can they without the aid of expertise of Gwendolyn and her particular skills?   

Mah Wee, an ancient kingdom, with a monarch more steeped in the rights of being a king rather than the obligations and duties that a king should be. Here Humphrey and his crew finds that they have more than Trolls to overcome if they are to save Mah Wee from the same or nearly similar problems that they faced before in Torahn.

But, as Humphrey knows, nothing can truly be accomplished if the lovely Gwendolyn is not able to lend her aid as well.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Francis (Leveson-Gower) Egerton 1st Earl of Ellesmere
1 January 1800 – 18 February 1857

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Francis (Leveson-Gower) Egerton

Francis (Leveson-Gower) Egerton 1st Earl of Ellesmere was the second son of George Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland and his wife, Elizabeth Gordon suo jure 19th Countess of Sutherland. He was born at 21 Arlington Street, Piccadilly, London, on 1 January 1800, and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.

Egerton entered Parliament in 1822 as member for the pocket borough of Bletchingley in Surrey, a seat he held until 1826. He afterwards sat for Sutherland between 1826 and 1831, and for South Lancashire between 1835 and 1846. In politics he was a moderate Conservative of independent views, as was shown by his support for the proposal to establish a University of London, also by making and carrying a motion for the endowment of the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland, and by advocating free trade long before Sir Robert Peel yielded on the question. Appointed a Lord of the Treasury in 1827, he held the post of Chief Secretary for Ireland from 1828 till July 1830, when he became Secretary at War for a short time during the last Tory ministry.

In 1833 he assumed, by Royal Licence, the surname of Egerton, having succeeded on the death of his father to the estates which the latter inherited from the Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater. In 1846 he was raised to the peerage as Earl of Ellesmere, of Ellesmere in the County of Salop, with the subsidiary title Viscount Brackley, of Brackley in the County of Northampton.

Ellesmere was a member of the Canterbury Association from 27 March 1848. In 1849, the chief surveyor of the Canterbury Association, Joseph Thomas, named Lake Ellesmere in New Zealand after him.

Ellesmere’s claims to remembrance are founded chiefly on his services to literature and the fine arts. Before he was twenty he printed for private circulation a volume of poems, which he followed up after a short interval by the publication of a translation of Goethe’s Faust, one of the earliest that appeared in England, with some translations of German lyrics and a few original poems. In 1839 he visited the Mediterranean and the Holy Land. His impressions of travel were recorded in Mediterranean Sketches (1843) and in the notes to a poem entitled The Pilgrimage. He published several other works in prose and verse. His literary reputation secured for him the position of rector of the University of Aberdeen in 1841.

A singular exception to the artistic and literary character of Ellesmere’s writing efforts lay in the field of military theory. Ellesmere, as a protegé of the Duke of Wellington, became very interested in the historical writings of the Prussian military theorist General Carl von Clausewitz (1789-1831). He was involved in the discussion that ultimately compelled Wellington to write an essay in response to Clausewitz’s study of the Waterloo campaign of 1815. Ellesmere himself anonymously published a translation of Clausewitz’s The Campaign of 1812 in Russia (London: J. Murray, 1843), a subject in which Wellington was also deeply interested.

Lord Ellesmere was a munificent and yet discriminating patron of artists. To the collection of pictures which he inherited from his great-uncle, the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, he made numerous additions, and he built a gallery to which the public were allowed free access. Lord Ellesmere served as president of the Royal Geographical Society and as president of the Royal Asiatic Society (1849–1852), and he was a trustee of the National Gallery. He also initiated the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, by donating the Chandos portrait of Shakespeare.

On 18 June 1822, he married Harriet Catherine Greville, a great-great-granddaughter of the 5th Baron Brooke. They had eleven children, including:

  • George Egerton, 2nd Earl of Ellesmere (15 June 1823 – 19 September 1862);
  • Hon. Francis Egerton (15 September 1824 – 15 December 1895), who became an admiral, and was a Member of Parliament for two constituencies; he married in 1865 (Lady) Louisa Caroline née Cavendish, daughter of the 7th Duke of Devonshire (by marriage); they had issue;
  • Hon. Algernon Fulke Egerton (31 December 1825 – 14 July 1891), who was a Member of Parliament for three constituencies, and married in 1863 Hon. Alice Louisa Cavendish, a niece of the 7th Duke of Devonshire; they had issue;
  • Hon. Arthur Frederick Egerton (6 February 1829 – 25 February 1866), who became Lieutenant-Colonel, and married in 1858 Helen Smith, daughter of Martin Tucker Smith and his wife, Louisa Ridley; they had issue;
  • Lady Alice Harriot Frederica Egerton (10 October 1830 – 22 December 1928), who married George Byng, 3rd Earl of Strafford in 1854; they had no issue;
  • Lady Blanche Egerton (22 February 1832 – 20 March 1894), who married John Montagu, 7th Earl of Sandwich in 1865 as his second wife; they had no issue;
  • Hon. Granville Egerton (c. 1834-1851), who was killed at sea; unmarried, seemingly no issue.

The family lived at Hatchford Park, Cobham, Surrey, where Lady Ellesmere laid out the gardens. Her mother, Lady Charlotte Greville (née Cavendish-Bentinck) died at Hatchford Park on 28 July 1862, aged 86.

Francis died on 18 February 1857 at his London home, Bridgwater House, St. James’ Park; and was succeeded by his first son, George. On the extinction of the senior line of the Dukedom of Sutherland in 1963, his great-great-grandson, the fifth Earl, succeeded as 6th Duke of Sutherland.

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Jane Austen and Ghosts.

Not only do I write Regency and Romance, but this can take a humorous turn. Some years back, I am sure readers of this blog will be aware that some writers began to take great liberty with Jane Austen and her works. Pride and Prejudice being liberally rewritten with the inclusion of zombies.

Then other books appeared with sea monsters, and werewolves and vampires. President Lincoln has even made it to the big screen where he is intent on sending foul creatures to hell. It occurred to me, even before I read any of this literature, that Jane would probably not appreciate what had been done to her classic piece.

That the tales and her life have become visual spectacles that we enjoy she might not like either, but is perhaps resigned to. That zombies, ghosts and vampires are now used to follow her own plot lines would I think, have her turning over in her grave. Jane Austen and Ghosts is my take on that.

It is now available in a variety of formats. For a limited time it has been reduced to $2.99 for your eReaders and $8.99 for paperback you can get this Jane Austen adventure.

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In the world of moviemaking, nothing is as golden as rebooting a classic tale that has made fortunes every time before when it has been adapted for the silver screen.

Certainly any work by Jane Austen made into a movie will not only be bankable, but also considered a work of art. That is of course until the current wave of adaptations that unite her classic stories with all the elements of the afterlife is attempted to be created.

That these have found success in the marketplace amongst booklovers may not be quite understood by those who make movies. But that they are a success is understood and a reason to make them into movies.

All that being said, perhaps it would also be fair to say that the very proper Jane, were she present to have anything to say about it, would not be pleased. Of course she has been away from this Earth for nearly 200 hundred years.

But does that mean were she upset enough, she wouldn’t come back?

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Hyde Villiers
24 January 1801 – 3 December 1832

Thomas Hyde Villiers was the second son of George Villiers (1759–1827), who married, on 17 April 1798, Theresa, only daughter of John Parker, 1st Baron Boringdon. George William Frederick Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon was their eldest son, Charles Pelham Villiers their third son, and Henry Montagu Villiers their fifth son.

Thomas Villiers was educated at home; he was then sent with his eldest brother to St. John’s College, Cambridge. There he mixed with Charles Austin, Edward Strutt, John Romilly, Thomas Babington Macaulay, and others, most of them followers of Jeremy Bentham. In 1822 he graduated B.A., and in 1825 he proceeded M.A. On taking his degree in 1822 he entered the colonial office, where Sir Henry Taylor became early in 1824 his subordinate and then a close friend. The brothers lived during the earlier years of their lives with their parents in a part of Kent House in Knightsbridge, but from 1825 Thomas Hyde Villiers and Taylor shared a house in Suffolk Street.

Villiers joined in 1825 a debating club called “The Academics”, where several of his college friends and John Stuart Mill discussed political and economic topics. A speech of his, aon colonisation, attracted the attention of the chancellor of the exchequer. Not long afterwards Villiers gave up government service to embark on politics. His chief source of income at that point was from the agencies for Berbice and Newfoundland.

At the general election in June 1826 Villiers was returned to parliament for the borough of Hedon in Yorkshire, and sat for it until the dissolution in 1830. In 1830 and 1831 he sat respectively for Wootton Bassett (a family borough) and Bletchingley, and voted for the Reform Bill.

Villiers travelled in Ireland in 1828, and set out his views in long letters to Taylor. A letter written by him in February 1829 was shown to Richard Lalor Sheil, who then brought about the suppression of the Catholic Association. He suggested in 1831 the formation of the commission that laid the foundation of the new poor law, and assisted in its preliminary inquiries. On 18 May 1831 he became secretary to the board of control under Charles Grant. Later in the year (2 November 1831) Villiers and Taylor entered as students at Lincoln’s Inn. On 22 August 1831 he made a long speech in the House of Commons on the Methuen treaty with Portugal. The committees on Indian affairs were organised by Villiers, with the assistance of Lord Althorp. The renewal of the charter to the East India Company at this time preoccupied him.

At the time of his death Villiers was a candidate for the constituency of Penryn and Falmouth in Cornwall. After three months’ suffering from an abscess in the head, he died on 3 December 1832 at Carclew, the seat of Sir Charles Lemon, near Penryn, where he was staying. A monument was placed to his memory in Mylor church.

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We have a continuation of Pride and Prejudice with Ms Caroline Bingley and her fortune at stake:

Do we think that Mr Hurst married his Bingley Bride without incentive? It is highly probable that Caroline Bingley, even though she has a sharp, acerbic tongue, still is in possession of a fortune and an astute fortune hunter who deciphers this may soon be on the road to, if not a happy marriage, one with financial security.

Please respond or send an email if you are interested

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A Trolling We Will Go

Not only do I write Regency and Romance, but I also have delved into Fantasy.

The Trolling series, (the first three are in print) is the story of a man, Humphrey. We meet him as he has left youth and become a man with a man’s responsibilities. We follow him in a series of stories that encompass the stages of life.

We see him when he starts his family, when he has older sons and the father son dynamic is tested. We see him when his children begin to marry and have children, and at the end of his life when those he has loved, and those who were his friends proceed him over the threshold into death.

All this while he serves a kingdom troubled by monsters. Troubles that he and his friends will learn to deal with and rectify.

It is now available in a variety of formats. For $.99 you can get this fantasy adventure.

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The Valley Kingdom of Torahn had been at peace for fifty years since the Council of Twenty-One saw fit to dispense with their royal family.

The only Kingdom without a King on the west side of the continent. But late last year, something caused the Goblins in the Old Forest, Karasbahn to stir and act courageous.

Something that men can not remember seeing Goblins ever doing. What has gotten the Goblins in such a state?

Whatever it is, it can not be good news for Torahn. Or for Humphrey, a woodcutter for a small town, far from Karasbahn.

But part of the Kingdom’s militia, with no family or other exemptions. He is perfect to be sent to the Old Forest and find out what scares the Goblins that they have become fearless.

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If you have any commentary, thoughts, ideas about the book (especially if you buy it, read it and like it😉 then we would love to hear from you.

 

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Charles Cornwallis 1st Marquess Cornwallis
1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852

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Charles Cornwallis

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