It’s the first day of my two-week research visit to the Lewis Walpole Library, and I’ve just finished looking through the anonymous volume Rarities from Strawberry Hill, made sometime around the 1890s. The volume (essentially a scrapbook) once brought together letters from Walpole’s voluminous correspondence, printed portraits, clippings, playbills, bookplates (including the above example, Anne Damer’s, based on a design by her close friend Agnes Berry) a lock of hair, and even two miniature portraits, who are conspicuous in their absence from the volume, leaving two holes where they were once fitted (pictured below). Along with a number of other objects from the book – including various letters and the aforementioned lock of hair – the miniatures have been removed and preserved elsewhere: in the case of miniatures, these are now on display at Strawberry Hill itself, where they now tell a different narrative in a different setting.
This dialogue of absence and presence, and how these states intersect with how we construct the history of the eighteenth century, reminded me of an earlier post I made here, regarding Strawberry Hill itself. When visiting the house last Summer, I bemoaned the absence of any kind of narrative regarding Walpole’s queerness, despite the prevalence of this within scholarship on Walpole and his friendships. I hope that the chapter I’m researching here (on Anne Damer’s inheritance of Strawberry Hill and queer heirlooming) at the Lewis Walpole Library can meaningfully contribute to these conversations, revealing some of those things that are sorely absent from the scholarship on Walpole.
I’m thrilled to have been awarded a Harry Ransom Center Short Term Research Fellowship in the Humanities to conduct research on my postdoctoral research project on collage before modernism. The Harry Ransom Center has a wealth of collections relevant to the project, including the infamous (but rather unstudied) Durenstein! Blood Book, created by John Bingley Garland in 1854 and given to his daughter shortly after. The ‘Blood Book’ is just one object I’ll be looking at during my month-long research fellowship at the Center, which I’ll be taking in 2018.
I’m thrilled to have been awarded a Huntington Library Short Term Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year. The award will allow me to conduct research for my postdoctoral project Collage before Modernism. The broader project will provide an unprecedented history of ‘assemblage’ produced in Britain, North America, and British India between 1700 and 1900. Employing an inclusive definition of the term, the project will examine a variety of material and literary forms of assemblage, including paper collage, shellwork, scrapbooking, and photocollage, and will explore how their production reflected the intimacies, interests, and identities of their makers.
The Fellowship will facilitate research for several aspects of the broader project, including an examination of a number of scrapbooks, commonplace books (both manuscript and published), and albums in the Library’s collections. I’ll also be looking at the correspondence of Robert Southey, Charles Lamb, and Elizabeth Montagu, and a number of grangerized books.
Thanks to a 2016 Research Travel Grant from the Design History Society, I was able to conduct crucial primary research for the completion of my monograph, which is provisionally titled Home Ties: Materiality, Sociability and Emotion in British Domestic Space, 1750-1840. It is the first study to focus on the complex relationship between emotion, identity, and the material culture of the home during this period, exploring how the decoration of domestic space allowed contemporaries to express themselves, to show affection to their loved ones, and to construct the homes in which they lived.
Specifically, a Design History Society Research Travel Grant enabled me to conduct research for three of the book’s chapters, which examine descriptions of interior design in the travel writing of Caroline Lybbe Powys, reputation management and the interiors of John Wilkes’s retirement cottage on the Isle of Wight, and Anne Seymour Damer’s inheritance of Horace Walpole’s Gothic revival home, Strawberry Hill, in turn. At the British Library, I consulted the papers, journals, and correspondence of Caroline Lybbe Powys, Anne Seymour Damer, and John Wilkes, whilst at the Royal College of Surgeons, and the Wellcome Library, I viewed the correspondence of Mary Berry, a close friend of Damer and Walpole. I discovered many exciting finds in archives, including a number of previously unknown portraits, as well as a recipe for shellwork cement shared between friends, highlighting the collaborative nature of such craft practices. I also read many letters describing key elements of the interiors of Walpole and Damer’s homes, which I will continue to think about during my forthcoming research trip to Yale’s Lewis Walpole Library, where I’ll also be investigating the relationship between the two figures.
The Grant also allowed me to visit Strawberry Hill itself, which has been the subject of a sensitive restoration and was reopened to the public in 2010. Being able to walk through the spaces so lovingly described by its owners and viewers was immensely important and highly evocative, particularly for a project concerned with issues of emotion and experience. The visit also revealed that despite the importance of Damer and Walpole’s relationship, the narratives of queer inheritance and ownership that are at the heart of my book chapter are entirely absent from Strawberry Hill’s current public presentation.
I’m excited to utilise this archival research in my forthcoming monograph, and would like to thank the Design History Society, the British Library, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Wellcome Library for making this research possible.
N.B. A version of this post will also appear on the Design History Society blog.
I’m excited to announce that I’ve been awarded a Research Funding Award from the British Association for Victorian Studies for research on my project ‘A Literary Inheritance: Family Histories and Textual Afterlives in the Commonplace Books of Ellen Warter’. The project takes as its starting point two commonplace books made by Ellen Warter, the granddaughter of the Romantic poet Robert Southey, around 1885, now housed in the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh, and will situate these in relation to the domestic literary and material practices of her family, as well as the later nineteenth-century practice of compiling Brontëana. The BAVS Research Funding Award will allow me to conduct crucial primary research for this project in the collections of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, where I’ll examine their significant collection of Brontëana.
I’m thrilled to have received a Design History Society Research Travel & Conference Grant for my project, From House to Home: Gender, Identity & Emotion in British Domestic Space, 1750-1830. The project develops research from my PhD thesis for publication as a monograph, and explores the complex relationship between the production and consumption of domestic space and issues of identity, affection, gender, and sexuality.
Specifically, the Research Travel and Conference Grant will facilitate the completion of crucial primary research for this project, to be conducted at a number of repositories including the British Library, where I will consult the papers, journals, and correspondence of Caroline Lybbe Powys, Anne Seymour Damer, Mary Berry, and John Wilkes; as well as the Royal College of Surgeons, and the Wellcome Library, where I’ll view further correspondence from Mary Berry.
Stay tuned for more posts on my monograph project as it develops.
Gertrude Menough, Clematis Lodge Collage Album, c. 1895. Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.
I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been awarded a Short-Term Research Fellowship from the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, which I’ll be taking in August 2017. The award will facilitate research for my postdoctoral research project, which is provisionally titled, Crafting the Self: Assemblage & Identity, 1770-1900. As I’ve noted previously, the project will provide a history of ‘assemblage’ produced in Britain, North America, and British India between 1770 and 1900, highlighting its pervasiveness across an array of artistic, literary, and cultural practices, and its enactment in disparate geographic locations. The project will accordingly examine a broad variety of assemblages made by men, women, and children across the Atlantic world and Britain’s colonies in order to understand the universality of assemblage during this period.
Primarily, the Winterthur Short-Term Research Fellowship will facilitate research on the Winterthur’s collection of ‘collage albums’. Also known as ‘scrapbook houses’, collage albums comprise imagined interior spaces arranged from carefully clipped images of interior furnishings. My research will examine the collage albums in relation to women’s self-fashioning in the mid-late nineteenth century, arguing that their production both expressed and reflected women’s creative and domestic identities during this period.
As the project develops, I’ll post more information about my motivations, methodologies, and the specifics of what I’ll be examining in each of my six case studies. For now, however, I’m concentrating on revising my doctoral thesis for publication, a process that I’m also keen to write about on the blog. Stay tuned for posts on going from PhD to published, and if there are specifics of this journey that you’d like me to discuss, get in touch with me via my twitter handle, @Freya_Gowrley.