Throwback Thursday– A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol is one of my absolute favorite books. I think everyone needs to read it. This weekend, I watched the film “The Man Who Invented Christmas” about Charles Dickens as he wrote A Christmas Carol.

As a writer, I loved its portrayal of him dealing with the interruptions of life as he wrote with a looming deadline. As an independent publisher, I could identify with his stress of paying to publish it by himself. Yes, even the great Charles Dickens couldn’t convince his publishers that a book was sellable. They had no doubt that it was a good book, just that there wasn’t a market for it. And, make no mistake, over 150 years later, publishers are still in the business of selling books. If you’re ever rejected by a publisher it probably does not mean your book is bad as much as they don’t have a ready market for it. 

For Dickens, the lack of a market was a real thing. He wanted to write a Christmas book but it was an unfashionable holiday. He wanted to add ghosts to it but the Ghost of Christmas Present was jolly and happy. The perception at the time was of spooky or even evil ghosts. In the film,  the illustrator flat out says he can’t draw what he can’t understand. 

Another thing from the film I loved was showing how the characters showed themselves to the author. 

And golly, I could relate to Dickens problems with getting the characters to do what he wanted!

I especially loved how he carried the characters around with him and now and then they would remind him that he hadn’t finished the book. Some of them were downright hostile to him. They brought up all his fears and insecurities. They dredged up his past. Of course, Dickens eventually conquers his demons and his characters. He completes the book, just in time, and the beloved classic we know is born. 

However, this post isn’t about the film or Dickens. It’s about the history of A Christmas Carol. The book was published in 1843. It is a novella, which should bust any myth which says only a novel can be satisfying, critically acclaimed, or poignant. Dickens wrote the piece in six weeks. He had to pay for the publishing. Even though it has a publisher’s name on it, he essentially self-published.

The book released on December 19 and the first run of six thousand copies sold out on Christmas Eve. It was reprinted two more times before the new year. In 1844 it was printed eleven more times. It was priced at 5 shillings, which Wikipedia says would be 23 pounds in 2018 money. It was not a cheap read! Since its publication, the book has never been out of print and has been translated into several languages. It is Dickens’ most popular work in the United States and sold over two million copies in the first hundred years since its publication. I did not find a more recent computation but I would guess it would be close to three million copies sold by now. 

Despite its success and the genius of the work, Dickens made only 230 pounds on the book and not the one thousand he expected from the first edition. This was due to the high publishing costs. He had very specific ideas about the illustrations, the pages the book was printed on, and the binding. In his life, Dickens was left disappointed with the book and never considered it a favorite. 

The film about the process is aptly titled, because the book did change the public’s feelings about Christmas. Through Mr. Scrooge’s memories, we see how the holiday had been celebrated in his youth, seemingly forty or fifty years previously. If you aren’t good at math, that would in the early 1800ss, or about a decade before Jane Austen was publishing her works. Consider how little of an event Christmas is in her books compared the post-Dickens era. By Dickens’ day, very few celebrated it with traveling to family the way we see the Gardiners and the John Dashwoods do. Scrooge is mean and miserly and Christmas barely occurs to him at all, but Dickens wanted the readers to see themselves in the old man. He was showing that there was a bit of Scrooge in most people. The readers responded in kind. Throughout the Victorian era (Victoria inherited the crown in 1837), Christmas grew as a popular holiday and many of the traditions we celebrate today began during her reign.

I’ve always loved A Christmas Carol. However, since seeing the film, The Man Who Invented Christmas, and learning about the book’s publication history, I appreciate it all the more. Did you know any of these facts about A Christmas Carol?

Throwback Thursday–Smallpox Vaccine

My house is currently a petrie dish with three out of the four of us ill with strep throat. I’m essentially a waking Lysol machine right now. It seemed fitting to do this month’s Throwback Thursday on the advent of the smallpox vaccine which predates antibiotics by nearly two hundred years.

I have been interested in the history of the smallpox vaccine for a few years. In 2016, I began an original Regency Romance in which the heroine’s sisters were smallpox victims. When Clara Lumley has to leave her vacation early to help tend to her sick sisters, it creates an obstacle and a massive miscommunication between her and the love of her life. The story is set several years after the illness and is a second chance for the hero and heroine.

Clara maintained her happy disposition, however. Taking an interest in medicine and the science of preventive disease, she counseled her step-father on the importance of smallpox variolation but he desired to wait until the children were older as many still became sick with a weaker version. Disaster struck the family when Clara was seventeen and on a holiday from the family. Dottie and Esther became ill with the pox. Seven year old Dottie’s rash remained flat, unlike the normal course of the disease, and her fever was very high and raged for days. When at last it broke, her senses remained addled.

The illness caused Clara to cut her holiday short. She would never regret coming home to assist Dottie and Esther, she only hated how faithless her one suitor proved. Refusing to understand her reasons for departure, he broke their engagement and then left the country for duties in India.

Smallpox is caused by a virus and was, finally, globally eradicated in 1980. Its origins are unknown but the earliest evidence uncovered is from 3rd century BC Egyptian mummies. It’s highly infectious and occurred in outbreaks. In 18th century Europe, about 400,000 people died from smallpox each year, including five reigning monarchs.

SmallpoxvictimIllinois1912The first signs of the infection are fever and vomiting. Then, mouth sores and a rash follow. Soon the rash turns to fluid-filled bumps with a tell-tale dent in the middle. If you survived the infection, you would often be left with scars and nearly one-third of survivors lost

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu by Charles Jervas c. 1716

their eyesight.

Before the vaccine was discovered, some societies practiced variolation. It was also called inoculation.  Variolation came to England after Lady Mary Wortley Montagu returned from Turkey where her husband was ambassador. It was common practice there as a way to prevent smallpox. She had her five year old son inoculated. Upon returning to England in 1721, she also did so to her daughter. Intrigued, the Royal Family inoculated prisoners at Newgate and the following year Augusta, Princess of Wales, inoculated her children. From there it spread among the population.

Variolation uses pustules from an active infection. This differs from most contemporary vaccines which are dead viruses. Africa and China each had their own traditions. The form that became common in England is a variation on the technique Lady Mary witnessed in Turkey. It involved a shallow scratch made on the arm of a healthy person and pustules from mild cases. Less credible physicians encouraged extreme bloodletting and cut deeply.

After inoculation, a person would contract a mild case of smallpox. However, the survival rate was astronomically higher than untreated cases. A standard smallpox epidemic took between 20-35% of its victims. Variolated persons had only a 0.5-2% mortality rate. Still, people were growing sick with smallpox.

Early studies by James Jurin, Daniel Bernoulli, and John Fewster encouraged physician Edward Jenner to consider the immunity cowpox offered against smallpox. We know now that cowpox is closely related to the virus which causes smallpox. However, its host of choice is not human. We can grow sick from it but it is seldom fatal. What observers in the 18th century knew was that the pustules looked similar. There also may have been a general observance that those who had been infected with cowpox did not acquire smallpox. However, this was before any ideas of germ study and Newtonian science was still in its infancy.

Jenner went about conducting a few studies on the relationship. What he saw encouraged him to conduct trials on humans. He purposefully infected them with cowpox. The most famous case was James Phipps, the eight year old son of his gardener. In 1796, James was inoculated with cowpox and suffered from a mild fever and a few local lesions at the site of the inoculations (one on each arm). He did not have a full blown cowpox infection, just as those who were inoculated from a smallpox lesion seldom acquired a bad infection. A few months later, Jenner inoculated James with smallpox and the boy had no reaction. He was completely immune to the virus. James was later challenged with smallpox and again produced no reaction.

Jenner’s greatest contribution to the science behind the smallpox vaccine is not just that he injected a few people with cowpox. It’s that he recorded and tracked his data. He intentionally challenged the patients with smallpox material rather than merely noting they never acquired the infection naturally in the course of their life. Additionally, he demonstrated that the cowpox pus could create an inoculation from person to person instead of the source needing to be an animal.

He continued his studies and published a paper which was initially rejected by the Royal Society. Undeterred, Jenner conducted more studies and revised his paper. He even inoculated his 11 month old son with cowpox. Slowly, Jenner’s method, which he began to call vaccination, was accepted in the medical community. The Royal College of Physicians confirmed the efficacy of his practice in 1807.

“The Cow Pock.” 1802 caricature by James Gillray of Jenner’s vaccine. People feared it would make them sprout calf-like appendages.

While the vaccination was slow to catch on with official physician recommendation, it was very popular among the general public. Even Napoleon had his troops vaccinated, awarded Jenner with a medal, and released two English prisoners at Jenner’s request. Edward Jenner became so well-known for his vaccine that he could not return to regular medical practice and had to petition Parliament for support in 1802 and again in 1807.

In 1840, the United Kingdom outlawed variolation with smallpox and provided the cowpox vaccines free of charge to the public. In 1853, it became compulsory to vaccinate infants in England. In the US, vaccination requirements were managed by each state. The result was a hodge-podge situation. I believe the first time I ever heard of the disease beyond learning of Jenner’s vaccination was while reading All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. His character Sadie Burk has smallpox scars. During World War I, many US soldiers had never been vaccinated. Dr. Louis T Wright, an African American and Harvard graduate, introduced vaccination for soldiers.

Obviously, through the years, the method of vaccination evolved. Arm to arm vaccinations carried risks of erysipelas, tetanus, septicaemia, tuberculosis, and, especially, syphilis. Various scientists discovered new ways to keep bacterial growth off the sample as well as improved delivery systems. A worldwide endeavor to eradicate smallpox began in 1967 and was realized in 1979. Ending an ancient disease which has claimed the lives of billions and plagued our ancestors year after year is nothing short of a medical marvel.




Throwback Thursday–Somerset v. Stewart

throwback thursday

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Throwback Thursday post. I’m going to try to do them once a month. My post on Monday has somewhat set the tone for my posts this week. I looked at the opening of Mansfield Park this Monday, so it was only right that the Wordless Wednesday post is of Lord Mansfield and the Throwback Thursday post be about his landmark case, Somerset v. Stewart.

The short story is that James Somerset was an enslaved person in the American Colonies and purchased in Boston by a Charles Stewart, a British customs officer. Somerset was brought to England in 1769. In 1771, Somerset escaped and was eventually captured. He was then imprisoned by Stewart and destined for the slave auction in Jamaica. During his time in England, he was baptized in the Anglican faith, and his three godparents petitioned on his behalf that his imprisonment was illegal.

While Somerset’s side gathered evidence, the case drew the notice of famed abolitionists. They argued that no common law nor positive law (meaning a legislated statute) enacted slavery on English soil. The opponents argued that property ownership was the basis for English law and freeing all slaves in England would be dangerous.

After a month of consideration, John Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, rendered this verdict:

The only question then is, Is the cause returned sufficient for the remanding him? If not, he must be discharged.

The cause returned is, the slave absented himself, and departed from his master’s service, and refused to return and serve him during his stay in England; whereupon, by his master’s orders, he was put on board the ship by force, and there detained in secure custody, to be carried out of the kingdom and sold. So high an act of dominion must derive its authority, if any such it has, from the law of the kingdom where executed. A foreigner cannot be imprisoned here on the authority of any law existing in his own country: the power of a master over his servant is different in all countries, more or less limited or extensive; the exercise of it, therefore, must always be regulated by the laws of the place where exercised.

The state of slavery is of such a nature, that it is incapable of now being introduced by Courts of Justice upon mere reasoning or inferences from any principles, natural or political; it must take its rise from positive law; the origin of it can in no country or age be traced back to any other source: immemorial usage preserves the memory of positive law long after all traces of the occasion; reason, authority, and time of its introduction are lost; and in a case so odious as the condition of slaves must be taken strictly, the power claimed by this return was never in use here; no master ever was allowed here to take a slave by force to be sold abroad because he had deserted from his service, or for any other reason whatever; we cannot say the cause set forth by this return is allowed or approved of by the laws of this kingdom, therefore the black must be discharged.

The Somerset v. Stewart case was ruled on June 22, 1772. In 1785, Lord Mansfield ruled that a slave who had been brought to England was not entitled to poor relief upon the death of her master because she had never been hired. Despite the groundbreaking work of the Somerset case, Mansfield later made it clear that he did not intend to rule that slavery was illegal on English soil, only that no one but the government could forcefully compel a person to leave and that in that case, slave status was nullified. In the case of poor relief, such laws were legislated and had clear legal parameters to operate in.

Unfortunately, the Somerset case meant little in the grand scheme of the international slave trade. It was but a stepping stone. However, if a legislated law was required to establish slavery, it could also be revoked. This meant that Parliament could, theoretically, have the right to abolish the slave trade and even the practice of slavery entirely. Such legislation would not infringe upon a British citizen’s right to property.

Eventually, the slave trade was outlawed in the Empire in 1807. Slavery would not be abolished in the United Kingdom and its Empire until 1833 and take the tireless work of many, many more.

Throwback Thursday- Bill Richmond

If you haven’t read them already, Sufficient Encouragement and Renewed Hope feature a colored man in Regency England. He is Colonel Fitzwilliam’s servant, the descendant of a slave…and in love with Caroline Bingley–or who she had been ten years ago.

The lack of cultural diversity represented in Regency Romances and Jane Austen Fan Fiction came up in discussion between me and friends in several different conversations for a few months before I began working on Sufficient Encouragement in earnest. Eventually, what I thought was going to be a small role grew larger. At the close of Sufficient Encouragement, I decided I wasn’t done telling his story and Jacob Truman is one of the reasons why the When Love Blooms series exists. Renewed Hope follows the story of Sufficient Encouragement more through his (and several others) eyes and future stories will continue to move the story forward.

All this to say, Bill Richmond was a bit of historical inspiration for my character.

Bill Richmond was born the son of a slave in Staten Island, New York in 1763. When he was 14, he was taken back to England by Lord Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland (third creation). The year  before, he had been one of the hangmen at the execution of American Patriot Nathan Hale. Sometime after arriving in England, Richmond was sent to school in Yorkshire and apprenticed to a cabinet maker.

A self-taught pugilist from his American days, his prowess in the ring only grew and boxing soon became his career. By 1805 he was known as “The Black Terror” and went up against rising star, Tom Cribb. Although 18 years older and 20 pounds lighter, he put up an impressive fight. Cribb won the match after 90 minutes. Two years later when Cribb defeated Jem Belcher in only 35 minutes and became the world champion.

Richmond was also the trainer of Tom Molineaux, another freed slave turned boxer. Although he fought infrequently until age 55, Richmond bought the Horse and Dolphin pub in Leicester Square in London. There, he also ran a boxing academy. He died in London in 1829 at age 66.



Edward Gardiner of Hertfordshire…and his family

Pishiobury Hall Coloured lithograph from Neale's, Views of Seats 1821found on Wikipedia.
Pishiobury Hall Coloured lithograph from Neale’s, Views of Seats 1821found on Wikipedia.

This week’s Throwback is a bit like a treasure hunt. Which is basically my favorite kind of research. Blame it on watching Indiana Jones and National Treasure too many times. I wish I could be that cool. Oh, and even Tomb Raider- because girls can be awesome historian/adventurers and kick butt too (and actually better butt than those two boys).

I needed to find a new image for Wordless

Rose Gardiner (1757-1835), daughter and heiress of Edward Gardiner (d.1779) of Pishiobury, Hertfordshire, and wife of Jeremiah III Milles (1751-1797). Portrait c. 1780/83 by George Romney. Wikimedia Commons
Rose Gardiner (1757-1835), daughter and heiress of Edward Gardiner (d.1779) of Pishiobury, Hertfordshire, and wife of Jeremiah III Milles (1751-1797). Portrait c. 1780/83 by George Romney. Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday and decided it should not be a pre-Raphaelite work because I am a bit too obsessed with them. The first name that popped in my mind was George Romney- a late Georgian era artist. While looking at his gallery on Wikimedia I saw the image for Rose Gardiner Milles. The caption said, “daughter of Edward Gardiner of Hertfordshire and heiress of Pishiobury Park.” As a crazy Janeite, I had to research this Edward Gardiner!

Edward Gardiner died in 1779 and Rose’s husband, Jeremiah III Milles, rebuilt Pishiobury from 1782-1784. It was the “second great estate of Medieval Hertfordshire” and the Wikipedia page has something about what looks like a complicated lease arrangement that I honestly don’t understand very much of. Rose and Jeremiah’s only son died as an infant, so the estate went to their only daughter, also named Rose, who married Rowland Aston in 1810. That’s essentially all that I easily had access too about these Gardiners of Hertfordshire. So, then I looked up the Milles family.

Matching portraits of Jeremiah III Milles (1751-1797) and his wife Rose Gardiner (1757-1835), heiress of Pishiobury, Hertfordshire, painted by George Romney c. 1780/83. Wikipedia
Matching portraits of Jeremiah III Milles (1751-1797) and his wife Rose Gardiner (1757-1835), heiress of Pishiobury, Hertfordshire, painted by George Romney c. 1780/83. Wikipedia

Jeremiah III was a sheriff of Hertfordshire and from a long line of ministers. His great grandfather, Isaac Milles, was considered the model parish priest of his day. Isaac was the youngest son of an undistinguished country squire in Suffolk, but the family did have a coat of arms. Isaac ultimately served at Highclere, Hampshire, which is the home featured in Downton Abbey.

Having met an end of the Milles family, I considered the Alston family, and there I stuck gold.

Rowland Aston was the second son of Thomas Alston of Odell Castle in Bedfordshire. Thomas was the nephew and heir of Sir Rowland Alston, 6th Baronet. Sir Rowland died in 1791, and the title became extinct. He had been a Colonel and was the son of the 4th baronet, also named Rowland, he married but died without issue.

Naturally, I was curious about the 5th baronet. Sir Thomas Alston was recorded to have had bouts of insanity and even was committed to an asylum at times. He married Catherine Davis-Bovie in 1750, but they separated by mutual agreement in 1752. This is what his Wikipedia article says:

Confined for a while to a madhouse, he was nevertheless re-elected to Parliament unopposed in 1754. Horace Walpole reported a sorry appearance in the House of Commons in November 1755: “Poor Alston was mad, and spoke ten times to order.”

On 2 Jan 1759 he succeeded his father as 5th Baronet. He did not stand for Parliament in 1761. Alston died 18 July 1774, leaving his property to his housekeeper Margaret Lee, through whom it eventually made its way to his illegitimate son Thomas. He was buried at Odell.

New manor house built in 1962. All that remains of the castle is the retaining wall.
New manor house built in 1962. All that remains of the castle is the retaining wall.

I found it excessively strange that his property went to his housekeeper and later illegitimate son and hoped might have more information. There it records him having a son with Margaret Lee named Thomas Alston born some time before 1774. I still found it interesting that he was legally able to leave his estate to his lover and not his wife and found a curious line about his will.

He died intestate, and his estate was administered on 14 February 1776. His will (dated 6 September 1766) was proven (by probate) on 21 November 1776.

An estate left in intestate means there was no will in place, usually. Yet his gave a date for a will eight years before his death. I assume it was made upon the birth of his son with Margaret Lee. I also assumed his wife, and possibly other family, contested the will, and that’s why it took so long to be proven.

Looking up Catherine Davis-Bovie, I saw that she had two illegitimate sons by a horse trader. John Wasse Alston was born in 1763 and bore the Wasse surname until Sir Thomas died. Then his name was legally changed to Alston, and he was styled as Baronet! There’s more! Catherine’s younger son, Charles, born in 1769, took up the style in 1807 when his brother John died. Nevermind that the title legally went on to Sir Thomas’s brother and then became extinct as he died childless in 1791. Charles Wasse used the title until his death in 1853, and there ended the mischief as his only son died in 1834.

Well, I wish I knew more about Sir Thomas and Catherine. I will have to attempt to find more information! His wife’s eldest son was only eleven years old when he died, so any claims to the title would have been because of her. However, the younger son was definitely an adult when he made the same claims. It seems there is no reason to think they could be legitimate issue of Sir Thomas, so the fact that they both tried to claim the title is quite interesting! I wonder at these reports of his insanity.

What a strange juxtaposition for Edward Gardiner’s granddaughter. Her mother’s family were gentry, her father’s were outstanding clergy and her husband’s had a few skeletons in the closet: madness, separations, infidelities, illegitimacy, grabs for power, titles and money. Austen didn’t favor the Gothic, but I think somewhere in here she may be interested in the romance between Rose Milles and the heir to the House of Alston. They seem so imbalanced! And all this from wondering if Jane Austen had ever heard of Edward Gardiner of Pishiobury Park, Hertfordshire!

Throwback Thursday- Lady Elizabeth Hamilton Stanley

Countess of Derby, by George Romney c. 1776-78.
Countess of Derby, by George Romney c. 1776-78.
I’m editing A Sense of Obligation (and posting a newer version on Beyond Austen, Austen Authors, and The Peculiar Ramblings Library) and while working on it I recalled the research I put into Darcy’s London House. They don’t spend much time at Pemberley before the story ends, so I really wanted Darcy House to mean something instead. There weren’t any London outings for Darcy to show his love and devotion to Elizabeth, etc.

At some point in my youth, I wanted to be an architect and/or a home designer. Naturally, I wanted to see actual floor plans of houses on Grosvenor Square and other fashionable districts. One of my favorites was of Derby House, renovated by Robert Adam- famous Georgian architect- at the direction of the 12th Earl Lord Stanley. I didn’t do any research on the Earl while I wrote my story, but I recalled there being only one room listed as a bedchamber, and I thought that was rather interesting for the era! Upon further, recent research it seems there was a twin bed made for his lordship’s dressing room (which reminds me of the arrangements for Downton Abbey). The other week I decided to look him up, and I expected to read about a happily married couple. Instead, I found one of Society’s scandals!

Born in 1753, Elizabeth Hamilton was the eldest daughter of the 6th Duke of Hamilton. When she came out, she was considered quite the catch, but it was Edward Smith-Stanley, heir to the Earl of Derby, who won her hand. After a publicized and fervent courtship in which Derby hosted a ball in Lady Elizabeth’s honor twice, they married in 1774. They settled in his recently remodeled town house, and her husband inherited the earldom in 1776. A son was born in 1775 and daughters in 1776 and 1778. Lady Derby became a leader in Society, on the scales of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

The first two floor plans here are the renovated layout of No. 26 (formerly 23) Grosvenor Square, known as Derby House. The changes were commissioned by the future 12th earl when he came of age and inherited the family London house, but before he inherited the earldom.
The first two floor plans here are the renovated layout of No. 26 (formerly 23) Grosvenor Square, known as Derby House. The changes were commissioned by the future 12th earl when he came of age and inherited the family London house, but before he inherited the earldom.
In early 1778, however, rumors arose that she was having an affair with the 3rd Duke of Dorset, John Sackville. The situation escalated so by August of that year she was openly living apart from her husband. At first it was expected that they would divorce, and she would marry Dorset. Her standing in Society was not immediately destroyed as she might soon be a duchess. A year later her husband announced he would never divorce her, and Lady Derby’s reputation was obliterated. Her husband kept custody of the children, as was the standard of the time. Historians believe blocking access to her children contributed to her poor health, and she became chronically ill. She lived abroad until 1783 when she returned to London as her husband was openly in a relationship with actress Elizabeth Farren- reportedly unconsummated. Around 1784, Lady Derby was finally accepted in London society again, including being seen in company with the Duchess of Devonshire (later to have her own scandalous affair and matrimonial tale). Still refusing to divorce his wife, Derby and Farren finally married in 1797, two months after Lady Derby died of tuberculosis.

Historians disagree over if Lady Derby’s loss of standing was because she left her husband or because the affair was not conducted more privately. While many ladies of the huate ton had affairs, to keep their social status, they were tolerated if conducted out of the public eye. Additionally, there were cases of elopements and divorce in which the lady was still accepted in Society. In Lady Derby’s situation, it seems she misplaced her trust not only in choosing a husband, but in selecting a lover who appears did not press the case of desiring to wed her. She quickly fell like a star from the heavens, illustrating how hypocritical and fickle high society could be.

Throwback Thursday- Angelica Kauffman

Angelica_Kauffmann_by_Angelica_KauffmannBorn Maria Anna Angelika Katharina Kauffmann in Switzerland in 1741 to Austrian parents, Angelica Kauffman is one of the first great female artists. Her father was a painter and soon began teaching his daughter. At the age of 13 she traveled to Milan with him, she was already painting bishops and minor nobles.




In the 1760s she again traveled through Italy. In 1764 in Rome she painted Johann Joachim Winckelmann, called the founder of modern archeology and was also an art historian. His influence helped the rise of neoclassicism. In a letter to a friend he mentioned her skill, easy ability with language, her beauty and even her gift of singing.

JJ Winckelmann by Angelica Kauffman 1764. Source: Wikimedia Commons
JJ Winckelmann by Angelica Kauffman 1764. Source: Wikimedia Commons

David Garrick by Angelica Kauffman, 1766. Source: Wikimedia Commons
David Garrick by Angelica Kauffman, 1766. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Kauffman met Lady Wentworth, wife to the Second Earl of Strafford, in Venice and upon suggestion journeyed to London. One of her first works in London was of David Garrick, a famous actor, playwright and theater manager of Drury Lane. She was well received in London and soon befriended Sir Joshua Reynolds, the famous British artist. Reynolds was the first president for the Royal Academy (founded in 1769) and Kauffman was one of two female founders out of a total of 40 artists.

She was also a member of the Bluestockings (such as writer Hester Chapone) and was featured in a painting by 1779 Richard Samuel of the group.

Portrait of the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo by Richard Samuel 1779. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Portrait of the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo by Richard Samuel 1779. Source: Wikimedia Commons

While Kauffman painted many genres, she primarily considered herself a history painter. Wikipedia says this about her on the topic:

History painting, as defined in academic art theory, was classified as the most elevated category. Its subject matter was the representation of human actions based on themes from history, mythology, literature, and scripture. This required extensive learning in biblical and Classical literature, knowledge of art theory and a practical training that included the study of anatomy from the male nude. Most women were denied access to such training, especially the opportunity to draw from nude models; yet Kauffman managed to cross the gender boundary to acquire the necessary skill to build a reputation as a successful history painter who was admired by colleagues and eagerly sought by patrons.

She ultimately left Britain for the Continent where history painting was more established and better received. Kauffman’s popularity also declined for a period, possibly due to a poorly matched marriage, she did produce works in her later life, especially after her second marriage to a Venetian artist. She returned to Rome and befriended, among others, John von Goethe, and her popularity returned. In her final years she produced very little and she died in Rome in 1807, much loved and being given an honored funeral.

Maria and Ferdinand in The Tempest by Angelica Kauffman, 1782. My favorite and possible inspiration cover for "Never Until This Day."
Maria and Ferdinand in The Tempest by Angelica Kauffman, 1782. My favorite and possible inspiration cover for “Never Until This Day.” Source: Wikimedia Commons