Echoes from Jane Austen’s days

Detail of Harding B 41, showing the inscription by Mary Marshall
Detail of Harding B 41, showing the inscription by Mary Marshall

The latest treasure to emerge from the great Harding collection is a little home-made pamphlet of just a dozen leaves, containing 77 popular songs gleaned from cheap printed sources. From the inscription on the cover, it seems to have been made by a Mary Marshall in 180[5?]. Nick Allred, Balliol-Bodley Scholar 2013-14, talked about this item in a presentation this week, and we all examined the contents, which include engraved illustrated broadsides of the kind published by C. Sheppard in the 1790s; lyrics clipped out of chapbooks like The Ladies Evening Companion; and songs in manuscript, transcribed by Miss Marshall.

Nick examined and noted every item in the scrapbook and even managed to find out what Mary Marshall was reading, when she took scissors to page to make her own songbook; an astounding feat, considering the number of chapbook songsters published and the fact that library catalogues don’t list the titles of songs within these books. Nick had to examine as many as possible of this type of book, with titles such as Brave Lord Nelson’s Garland, to find lyrics and typography that matched the songs clipped out by Mary Marshall. Luckily there are a great number of these songsters in the Harding Collection, and two of these yielded editions of songs identical to those that Mary Marshall used.

In this video Nick Allred talks about how the scrapbook might tell us more about one user of books in the early 19th century.

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