Eliza Lynn Linton —the first salaried female journalist

Eliza Lynn Linton letter 001Found—a letter dated February 22nd 1889 from the journalist and novelist Eliza Lynn Linton (1822 – 98). Before she arrived on the scene in the 1840s women who wrote for magazines and newspapers were freelancers. E.L.L., as she became known, was the first salaried female journalist in Britain, and perhaps the world—and one of the best paid, at one time receiving an annual salary which today would be the equivalent of over £50,000.

Lynn came from a conventional middle class background in Crosthwaite, Cumberland. Her father was a parson and her grandfather Bishop of Carlisle. Attractive and gregarious, she might have married into one of the professions, but instead educated herself in the ancient and modern languages and literature ( her father was too ‘ indolent ‘ to do so himself, she later wrote) and in her early twenties left her comfortable home for London, determined to make a name as a novelist. Her first two novels failed to impress, but undaunted in 1848 she turned to journalism, joining the staff of the highly respected Morning Chronicle. She continued to write short stories and novels and eventually found a degree of success. However, her reputation in literary circles was founded less on her novels and more on her popular journalism, which appeared in All The Year Round, the Monthly Review and the Saturday Review. In perhaps another gesture of defiance she married the woodcut artist, writer and Chartist W. J. Linton , and moved into his ramshackle Lake District house named Brantwood, later to become the home of John Ruskin. The marriage failed and Linton returned to London, where her home became a sort of literary salon. Continue reading

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A Ship’s Library – Kinfauns Castle

Kinfauns Castle (Ship's Nostalgia site)

Found - a list of the entire inventory of a ship's library - Donald Currie & Co's Royal Mail Steamer "Kinfauns Castle"(South African Service). An interesting list, possibly intended to be comprehensive. There is a curious amount of William Black, then at his height, a sort of Victorian Dan Brown (so popular that in America his works were bootlegged.) Likewise there are 3 works of Norman Macleod, editor of the immensely successful Good Words and now so forgotten than he is not even known for being forgotten - although Sutherland covers him well in The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction. He is  part of a slight Scottish bias to these books (the list was printed by David Bryce & Son, Glasgow.) There is little for children, not many thrillers and not a lot of humour, although Twain and Brett Harte both make the list. Conspicuous by their absence are Trollope, Gibbon, Poe, Milton, Fielding, Wilkie Collins, Swinburne and R.L. Stevenson. Children had to make do with Froggy's Little Brother and possibly German Popular Stories. There is very little religion and no Holy Bible, possibly shipping magnate Donald Currie thought there was enough of that on land or that most people would have a bible if they needed one. The Kinfauns Castle started sailing in 1879 and this is probably from early in its life (it seems to have still been afloat in the late 1920s.) The list was pasted into book 10 Carlyle's Heroes and Hero Worship, attractively bound in full green leather lettered gilt at the spine with the words 'Castle Packets' at the foot -possible all the  library was bound thus..

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Life and death in a Georgian workhouse ( A real life Mr. Bumble)

Here is a letter picked up years ago in London among a box of ephemera. It is undated, though the watermark is 1821. It is addressed to ‘Mr or Mrs Peacock’:

Mrs Kennion is quite surprised that Mr Peacock should have sent this poor boy to work. He was certainly very ill & ought to be in bed & have medical advice immediately. Mrs K will call at the workhouse about 1 o’clock & hopes that Mr Peacock will have sent for the Parish doctor before that time,that she may hear what he thinks of the child. Mrs K has sent him to Dr Sympson & Mr Richardson, but they are both from home.
Friday.

A bit of Googling revealed that the action took place in Harrogate, then just beginning on its journey to becoming the most select watering place in the north of England.  In June 1822 Henry  Peacock, formerly the master of Aldborough and Boroughbridge workhouse,  arrived, with his wife Elizabeth, as the master of Harrogate’s workhouse in Starbeck. Evidently aiming to make an impression with the employers by saving money, the couple soon managed to reduce the average cost of keeping a pauper by establishing what was basically a vegetarian diet. This regimen could have contributed to the poor health of the boy in question. It would probably not have included many, if any, fresh vegetables, and may, like that of the hero of Oliver Twist, which was set in the 1820s, have consisted mainly of gruel.

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