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Topos, Taxonomy and Travel in Nineteenth-Century Women’s Scrapbooks

  • Clare Pettitt
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)

Abstract

In the remarkable Sir Harry Page Collection of nearly 300 albums and commonplace books at the Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections, there is an elaborate scrapbook created by E. and T. Wilson between 1800 and 1830. The Wilson album is skilfully painted with trompe-l’oeil watercolours which make each page seem like a confusion of papers and objects piled upon one another, pinned and tied together with ribbons, partially concealing each other. On one page, a nautical map is painted on a scroll and titled ‘Rules for Sailing into Felicity Harbour’. The map charts in detail the ‘Bay of False Delicacy’, the ‘Lake of Contempt’, ‘Hesitation Point’ and ‘Consummation Straits’ which have to be navigated to enter the ‘Harbour of Marriage’, although the waters are still treacherous here with the ‘Rocks of Jealousy’ and the ‘Whirlpool of Adultery’ (see Figure 2.1).1 A verse is added: ‘Fair Virtue must your Pilot be / Your Compass Prudence, Peace your Sea / Your Anchor Hope, your Stowage Love, / (To your true course still constant prove) / Your Ballast Sense; and Reason pure / Must ever be your Cynosure’. In the corner of the same page of the album is a tiny watercolour sketch which is titled ‘Seacomb Ferry Boat’, a sailing skiff that ferried passengers between Birkenhead and Liverpool from 1817 onwards.

Keywords

Title Page Hesitation Point Textual Orderliness Print Culture Travel Writing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and references

  1. 2.
    James A. Secord, ‘Scrapbook Science: Composite Caricatures in Late Georgian England’, Figuring It Out: Science, Gender and Visual Culture, ed. Ann B. Shteir and Bernard V. Lightman (Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2006), pp. 164–91 (p. 186).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Recent work on scrapbooks includes: Sharon Marcus, ‘Theatrical Scrapbooks’, Theatre Survey, 54.2 (2013), 283–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  4. Susan Tucker, Katherine Ott and Patricia P. Buckler, eds, The Scrapbook in American Life (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006). Much of this work is focused on American scrapbooks, although Patrizia di Bello has written on English albums:Google Scholar
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  6. 10.
    Louisa Henrietta Sheridan, ‘The Adventures of an Album’, The Comic Offering; or Ladies’ Melange of Literary Mirth (London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1831), pp. 251–85 (p. 259), referenced by Secord.Google Scholar
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    Thomas Carlyle, Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches, 4 vols (London: Chapman and Hall, 1897), I, p. 2. See Ferris, ‘Antiquarian Authorship’, p. 541.Google Scholar
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    See Griselda Pollock, ‘Modernity and the Spaces of Femininity’, Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism and Histories of Art (London: Routledge, 1988), pp. 50–90 (p. 63). My attention was first drawn to the relevance of Pollock’s work to this discussion by Patrizia di Bello in her Women’s Albums and Photography.Google Scholar
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    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, trans. Colin Smith (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962), p. 46.Google Scholar
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    Andrew Piper, Dreaming in Books: The Making of the Bibliographic Imagination in the Romantic Age (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2009), p. 127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 66.
    Wendy Wall’s work on women’s commonplace books suggests this; see Wendy Wall, The Imprint of Gender: Authorship and Publication in the English Renaissance (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), p. 107.Google Scholar
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© Clare Pettitt 2016

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  • Clare Pettitt

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