Monday, 13 February 2012

Research: Original Letters and Images

While researching additional material about the 19th Century Regency period for Dangerous Deceit, I went straight to the lovely book I have, My Dear Cassandra, which contains most of the surviving letters from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra. The letters are all written between 1796 and Jane's death in 1817 and contain a wealth of information about their lives at that time. Another great advantage of the book is the wonderful illustrations and paintings depicting the fashion, transport, people and places. Apart from being an absolute joy to read, it provides first-hand experience of that period.


The other lovely book I was lucky enough to pick up in a second hand bookshop is Mrs Hurst Dancing & Other Scenes from Regency Life 1812-1823. This is an even more highly visual book, full of superb illustrations by a young girl, Diana Sperling, painting scenes of her everyday life between those two dates. The delightful watercolour prints tell a wonderful story of her friends and family and the simple pleasures they enjoyed in the country.


Nothing can beat the joy of reading about historical people in their own words and seeing their surroundings from original illustrations. I'm looking forward to discovering more original material when next in an antique shop or second hand bookshop!

Romy

6 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

Unfortunately, I have to rely mostly on really great BBC television for my research. I've scoured bookstores and library sales forever and they never have stuff like this. Maybe this summer when I go back home I'll be able to find something in the used bookstores up there.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Anne - BBC drama and documentaries are great resources too! My Dear Cassandra is a modern book containing the letters so you might find it more available. We probably can pick up a lot more of the old books on British history here in the UK.

Deborah (Debs) Carr said...

I love it when I discover a book that I'd never expected to find.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Me too, Debs! Lovely photo, by the way.

Linda Kage said...

I hadn't heard of those letter. How interesting. I just finished watching the movie Mansfield Park (I love watch Jane Austen movie but I'm not so good at reading the books!). I bet the idea of those letter Fannie wrote to her sister came from her real life of writing to Cassandra!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Linda - I'm sure it would! I love watching the Jane Austen films (although I love the books too).