Friday, September 27, 2013

John Robert Parsons

19th century photographer, John Robert Parsons (1825-1909) He infamously shot those series of photos of Jane Morris in 1865.

thanks so much Kimberly 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ada Peerless

Kimberly has kindly pointed out that in this photograph from Kelmscott (1905), Ada Peerless is named as Jenny's companion, the only one we know of though I can't trace any details. She may also be in this picture as well

but is not named.

Jenny (along with May) had a very comfortable income averaging just over £700 / annum derived from her Fathers dividends and sales. She seems to have settled in the country and Sidney Cockerell implies she was heavily sedated in her last years with a corresponding mental decline and was worse if she visited Kelmscott where she wandered sadly looking for her Father (not her Mother note).

Jenny left her posessions including books fom her Father to May and they later went to the V&A. She died at Over Stowey in Somerset on 11 July 1935 at 74 (the same age Jane died) of diabetes (her Father's disease too). The Kelmscott village hall was partly funded by her.

Jane's 'education'

Although the details are not known, it seems clear that Jane was privately educated before her marriage. Her keen intelligence allowed her essentially to re-create herself. She read widely, became proficient in French and later Italian, and was an accomplished pianist. Her manners and speech became refined to such an extent that contemporaries referred to her manner as ‘regal’ or ‘queenly’. Jane Burden married William Morris on 26 April 1859 at St Michael's Church, Oxford.

Oxford DNB

from the diary of Edmund New

[willows by the river]

A fascinating glimpse of life at Kelmscott from the diary of Edmund New (an illustrator 1895)

Dary of a visit to Kelmscott Manor House. October 1895.
October 8th. Tuesday.

I left Waltham Cross and travelled to London, Oxford, and from
thence to Lechlade by rail. I reached Lechlade station at half past 5 in
the afternoon and found Mr Morris's man (Giles) there with- a
wagonette _in which we drove to Kelmscott, a distance of 3yt miles.
Lechlade is a quaint market town and is picturesque; in the churchyard
Shelley wrote one of his shorter poems. It was dark when we arrived
at the old manor house; to reach it we had to drive through the
village, at the end of which it stands, surrounded on three sides by a
beautiful old walled-in garden and on the fourth bordered by the
farmyard. I was welcomed by Mr and Miss Morris and was taken up
to the Tapestry room where we found Mrs Morris, tall, stately, and
beautiful and one needed not to be told that it was she whose face
Rossetti loved to reproduce. Tea was prepared for me in the dining
room below and Mr and Miss M. sat with me; we then adjourned to
the tapestry room where Mr and Mrs Morris continued their game of
draughts, their regular evening employment, and at intervals we conversed. We supped at half past seven. "Ve retired before eleven. My bedroom led out of the tapestry room through a secret door and its
dimensions were small. The only other door led through Mr Morris's
room, so that no one could leave the room except by passing through
his bedroom.

Wednesday. October 9

We breakfasted at half past 8 o'clock. Mrs M. being an invalid does
not come down until about half past 10. The morning was rainey
[sic] and cold, and much rain had fallen in the night; we therefore
decided not to drive to the Coxwell barn as we had intended, but that
I should draw inside the house and Mr M. should write an article on
it instead of on the barn. I therefore began a drawing in the Tapestry
room which looks out on the front garden and is in the wing added
about 1630; the rest of the house dating from 1570 or thereabouts. The
room was used by D. G. Rossetti as a studio. The rain ceased and Mr,
Miss M. and I had a walk in the fields which stretch level and low by
the river. We found three wild roses in flower. After one o'clock lunch
I continued my drawing in the Tapestry room and wrote letters after
tea and carried them to the post box in the church wall. The village
children were practising the chants and the church windows glowed
through the darkness making a pleasant harmony of sound and colour.
After dinner Mr M. and I sat and talked over his pipe and then joined
the ladies and had some whist before going to bed.

Thursday. Oct. 10.

The morning broke bright and clear and after breakfast we strolled
in the garden where many flowers still continue fresh and the apple
trees are bright with fruit. I soon set to work again while Mr Morris
was designing some cretonnes and Miss Morris knitted; Mrs M. joined
us during the morning and continued embroidering a book cover on
which she was engaged. Mr and Miss M. walked out in the fields and
before lunch I took a walk about the garden, looking at the house from
different points of view. I was at work indoors most of the afternoon
and began a sketch of the back of the house from the field by the
newly planted orchard. After tea I took my letters to post and walked
towards Langford. We had a talk on Socialism after dinner and a good
game of whist. Mr M. retired early as he had to leave first thing the
following morning, and I sat up a bit and looked at the moonlight
which lit up the front of the house in its mysterious way and poured
through the heavy mullioned windows.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Jane and Jenny Morris

There were times when Jenny (1904 for instance) when Jenny seemed better and showed her natural intelligence. But to live knowing she would inevitably have another attack, never marry, never fulfill her obvious potential.

There are long letters to her from her Father but seemingly none from her Mother. Jenny was said to be very upset at Jane's funeral though. After that time she seldom visited Kelmscott and May, living in various accommodations on the South Coast with carers. Her letters have never been collected though Kimberly posted on one she found recently. So many questions still.

Jenny Morris and epilepsy

on Victorian epilepsy

Saturday, September 21, 2013

More on the mysterious photos

Hi, well, it seems I have the identity of our May Morris look-alike. 
It's actually quite funny, as they couldn't be two different people. 
It's HRH Princess Victoria of Wales, daughter of Queen Alexander and 
Edward VII ! And I have to thank writer, Christina Croft for helping 
to confirm this.

My interest in all this started when I saw some of these photo's and
wondered who had taken them. This has led me to look at Miss Lobb's
life, from her Cornish background, to her time at Kelmscott. I learned
quickly that many of these photographs and scrap books that we have at
the Library belonged to May, and some of the earlier ones, possibly to
Jane. I know from all the loose items associated with them that they
were in Kelmscott, and would have been amounst the items left to MFVL (Miss Lobb)
by May. Now I find they were in possession of what is undoubtebly an
album of Royal snapshots. I am almost certain that many of the photo's
were taken by Alexandra herself on one of the many trips taken to her
homeland, Denmark, for family get-togethers. She is certainly in a
couple of shots with her sister Marie Feodrovna, wife of Tsar
Alexander III among many other easily identifiable faces. These were
occasions exclusive, no one but a member of one of the Royal families
could have taken these particular photographs.

So that leaves us with the small problem of how Royal property ended
up at Kelmscott!

Hoping you are well,

Simon Evans
Museum of Wales

Staff of the Kelmscott Press

William, May and her future husband Sparling
though her marriage was broken by Bernard Shaw, May and Sparling liived together for 4 years and Fiona reports a rumour their was a still born child. Poor May unlucky in so many ways.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

More pictures from the Album

Two more images from the album.
I can now publish, with permission, more details from Simon Evans at the Museum of Wales who sent them to me.

 this album is one of 17 photo albums/scrap books and two sketch books
bequeathed to the Library by Miss Lobb. Most of them consist of mass
produced prints bought on trips to various parts of europe, mostly
Italy, around Bordighera where Jane and sometimes May spent many
holidays. There are some from Egypt and some of English churches. A
lot of architectural and archaeological images, and a lot of medieaval
designs etc. One volume has many rough copies (all original pressings)
of Burne-Jones engravings which are of interest in themselves. There
are several watercolors which I am fairly certain are painted by May
on camping. I know that she and Miss Lobb spent time in Wales, in
North Pembrokeshire in 1920 and I have positively tied one of the
watercolors to a specific location there. Much of the evidence has
come from loose items that were with the volumes. There are envelopes
addressed to May, cards, postcards, engravings, and there is even, on
the back of one print, the name and address of William Morris,
Kelmscott House in Kensington, possibly in his handwriting. I think
these volumes had been in the Morris household for some time.

There still seems no consensus if this is May, but if not her, who ?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

May Morris ?

This was recently discovered in an album of May Morris photographs. Is it her or her friends. Tell me what you think ? on the comments.