Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Painter's Companion

With my novel, the erotic part of it concerns me - not that it's there or that the language is explicit - it's that people expect the novel to be either 'romantic' (I hate that word) or erotic (not fond of that word either) but for a whole sense of narrative to develop it has to be part of the landscape. My concern is that it's presence jars.

I think it flows. Maybe I have been a little too restrained. I just don't know and the editor I was working with is beyond questioning on the subject now as I can't afford the funds to pay for her continued and invaluable input.

I'm going to have to read the book, yet again, and, as fond as I am of it, that is difficult. Editing is such hard emotional drudgery.

And there are other books piling up in my head - the sequel, Shakespearian like verse homoerotic performance material, poetry, and a large book on Karma and its mechanics.

Oh, and there is yet another biography, this time of the famous french immortal mystic and traveller Mdme. Adèle Dorothée Sainguery (born in the 1770's in Saint-Bouxères, France) of whom no-one has ever heard. Quite an amazing woman.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Octavia Hamilton, again

In my ever obsessive need to find Frances Eliza Scrivenor, aka 'Octavia Hamilton' (1935-1913) - wicked soprano, or was it contralto (moon in Taurus, must have a had a good voice) I regularly search for her daughter, Beatrice Connaught Davis, the last of her children by Thomas Holme Davis (1827-). Beatrice (1879-1869) had married first to Walter Slater whose descendants lost track of her, because, she had moved country and remarried to Henry John Pinnock (1867-1942). She died in Hove in the 1969, but the tree of the Pinnocks has been put up on ancestry's Mundia, by the mononym of alannahfencker, possibly the NSW based Australian artist Alannah Fencker. I wonder if she knows about Octavia, and more importantly, did Beatrice leave her mother's photographs or stories with the family?

Alannah Fencker! Where are you? Where is Octavia?

I have not yet given up hope. Octavia certainly deserves a short story if nothing else, and on that, I have already started.

I will get your one day Octavia, I already know there is an un-labelled picture of you in the State Library of Victoria. Can't say how I know but I need verification.

Just because...

Tea and Sparrows

The Sparrows were a Tea family, part of the regency and Victorian shopping landscape. The enterprise was started by three brothers; Robert, Frederick and Henry. A consanguineous branch also started in tea and turned into small coffee merchants.

Robert Sparrow was born in about 1782 and was the "R" in "F & R. Sparrow" and retired or died fairly early on as he disappears early on in the tea dynasty story, as did his brother Henry (1794-1820) who did die at age twenty at the shop premises in Ludgate Hill. The man engine seems to have been Frederick (1778-?) who sired several children, one of whom was a Frederick II, another tea merchant, and a grandson, Frederick Hartley Sparrow, also in Tea, taking the house of Sparrow all the way to the end of the Victorian age.

The three brothers had another brother, Francis, of whom I know little, but his daughter Beatrice married Thomas Phythian (born 1804), a Welsh based wine merchant who started Phythian's, another well known Grand Store in London. Francis also had a son Owen, whose own son, another Owen II tried the wine and tea business but died early and hadn't done as well, but Owen II's children, Thomas, George, Henry and even a Fanny Sparrow, all went into small businesses in Wine, Tea, and Henry was particularly well known for Sparrows Continental coffee.

How this family came to start in the business or raise the capital is not known but they came from a Cheshire family, sired from a family of Sparrows in whom the name Ambrose occurs several times over the course of the Jacobean period through to the Restoration. I am assuming this is an indication of some achievement that left a long legacy.  The three big Sparrow brothers had an Uncle Thomas who was the lawyer for the Wedgewood Company.

Ludgate Hill was the epicenter of the Tea Warehouse 'franchise' for the Sparrow brothers, being at 6 and 8 Ludgate Hill, separated by George Smith, Haberdasher at 8 Ludgate Hill. Soon after this George Smith, haberdasher disappears but at No. 10 there was Everington and Graham's Indian Shawl Warehouse for which he became a buyer, often going to the continent for business and buying trips. In 1846 George opens his own Shawl Warehouse at 32 Ludgate Hill, just across the road from No's 8, 9 and 10. But George's success was short lived and he ended up back in the victualler business, ending his days as a grocer.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Octavia, the lost bottle...and Alice Zavistowski

Octavia Hamilton's daughter Beatrice Connaught Davis married a Mr. Pinnock and a local Australian woman has noted this on ancestry. She has an account on flickr and I have contacted her. Nothing my come of it but I am nothing if not hope.

A photo of Alice Zavistowski in her married incarnation as Mrs. Marshall Webb has appeared on the net, sans her grand and wild locks but with that restrained and curtly respectable short 1880s haircut and looking a million miles from burlesque. The album holder notes nothing of the Shailers or of the mysterious Aunt Marie Ludlam who came over as part of the ballet company. Lord knows where they ended up - Emmeline's family split into three tragedies with one branch finally hauling it to California where I loose track. Robert Anton Shailer entered the War but no more is known.

The webmaster has been most helpful.

A report on the Smythean task

So, here is my assessment of the situation regarding Smythe's early life, and my best guesstimation;

Eliza Bridge from Hoxton did indeed marry an Edward Smith, a likely bookseller of Paternoster Row or commercial traveller (jobs changed very quickly in that wage bracket) and that this Edward was in fact the son of the victualler George Smith, turned shawl seller of the famous Indiana Shawl Warehouse, which lasted for a while then George once again went back to la vie de vitaille. It was during this period that his son Edward was very likely a traveller, as George had been. Then in my scenario, Edward ups and dies, splits his tome asunder, rips the binding and is a signature in the book of life no longer. Then his widow takes a lover, a man from the Sparrow family, who fosters the rest of the brood, Robert, Elizabeth, George and Frederic. Edward her first son being very likely the actual 'Smith'.

The Sparrows were intimately connected with Ludgate Hill, through two of shoot premises, belonging to Frederick, Robert and Henry Sparrow. In addition there was a wine connection with the sister of these gentleman who had married a welsh wine merchant Thomas Phythian which gave rise to more dynastical tea tentacles as well as a department store. There is a Henry Sparrow who dies early to fit the bill of progenitor zero and and Owen Sparrow, suspect of character but described as commercial traveller.

Two other relations, Henry and George went into coffee and made a laudable eponymic tilt of the shop shingle.

So there its is, Robert Smith, emigrant to Australia to escape the soot and mire of London came to Australia and became Robert Sparrow Smythe, a dedication to he real father and his patrinominal father - and his first family he visited when he arrived in 1855 was his brother, his eldest brother (step-brother  perhaps) Edward, a man who had tired working and owning a vineyard in Clare, south Australia, starting a school there and eventually marrying three times, the last to his first cousin Jane Bridge, who if I have my imaginings right, was his half-first cousin.

Its even more complicated than this but I don't want to compete with the shuttle jockeys at Gaquelin in levels of complexity and dazzling speed.

At the moment there is a faint lead, the great, great grandson of Elizabeth Smith (married Edward Steele) name David Anthony Steele, currently my age and director of the family trust that deals in the leasing of the magnificent family Hall in Suffollk. I have sent a letter and emails to all those whose help can be mustered. Let us see.

If nothing else, I have all they need to know on the Steeles if they have it not already.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Smythe, stalled

I have recently found out that Smythe's father may not have been a Smith at all. Family rumor has it that his father was from a famous Tea Merchant family. Another branch of the family claims that Smythe's father Edward was a books seller on Paternoster Row and that the grandfather was in wine - in Ludgate Hill near St Pauls. There was indeed such a man, George Smith, right between F. and R. Sparrow's Tea Houses. George Smith sold his wine business and went into Shawl's "Graham and Smith's India Shawl" Warehouse to be specific.

So where does that leave me with Mr. Robert Sparrow Smythe, theatre man? Did his select the name Sparrow to honor his father? He must have. How am I ever going to find out what went on. Did Edward Smith marry Eliza? Family lore says they were not married. Perhaps, Smythe's oldest brother, Edward Smith, the man who died in South Australia was the actual Smith and the rest were, 'Sparrows." By the way, I am now THE MAN to go to for anything to do with the Sparrow Tea Family.

This first part of Smythe's biography is so lean and so lacking real foundations it bothers me.

Oh, and New Zealand have now instituted gay marriage. Australia, hang you head in shame.

Fanny and Stella

I have just finished reading 'Fanny and Stella' by Neil McKenna, who writes like a storyteller, presents facts like a coroner and gives the reader a compassionate account of two gay gents who liked frocking up and getting out and and about at a time when it was really dangerous. A great read. I can't recommend it highly enough. As an exercise alone in how to translate history into fluent narrative without letting go of what once were real people with real emotions, it is alone worth the read. Not once does he, as so many do, leave the reader unsatisfied.

I accidentally found out about it when a local photo dealer showed me two photos of a man in drag; we had arguments about if it be an ugly woman or an effeminate man. As an illustrator I was able to dat the dress, google and search. Found it. Identified the photos, bought the book and am very happy.

As a thank you to Mr McKenna, I have tinted the largest image of them I could find on the web. This is my forte - colour, fashion and tinting. I chose colours that were in vogue and matched the style they were wearing. This was was the era of fadé, but toward the end of the decade colours became brighter as dyes became better. Here it is...