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28 Sep 2017: Arrivals and Departures

Research in the John Murray Archive and Special Collections at the National Library of Scotland has resulted in a departure from the database and some new arrivals. Gone is the entry for the Journal of a Short Excursion among the Swiss Landscapes, attributed to Anne Blund and supposedly published by Murray in 1803 (see OCLC 79964602).

This attribution was already shaky on the basis of a curious article appearing in the November 1816 issue of the Gentleman’s Magazine in which the author (signed ‘L.S.’) purports to be giving a draft preface to an unfinished series of articles published in that journal from July to December of 1815 under the title ‘General Outline of the Swiss Landscape’, all of which are generally attributed to Rowley Lascelles. In a note to the 1816 ‘preface’, Lascelles indicates that the ur-text behind this latest incarnation was none other than the Journal of a Short Excursion.

The National Library of Scotland copy of the Dublin edition of this rare volume puts to rest some of the myths accruing around it. First, the name ‘Ann Blund [or Blunt]’ appears to be an owner’s signature added to the title page rather than a claim for authorship. And second, the narrator in the text itself makes no bones about his sex: ‘As I had not shaved for a week, my jaws, as red as a fox, has that needy, and perhaps starved look that a man generally has who lives by his wits.’

While an elaborate imposition is not outside the realm of possibility, the weight of evidence is decidedly against Ann Blund having an authorial role nor is the anonymous author likely to be female. (Note: G. R. de Beer argues convincingly that the author of Journal was Rowley Lascelles himself and that the text derives from Sketch of a Descriptive Journey through Switzerland [1796], often misattributed to Georgiana Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire. See his 'Rowley Lascelles', Notes and Queries 193.5 [6 Mar. 1948]: 97-99.)

New arrivals to the database are Louisa Margaret Thomson Drummond-Hay (1792-1869) and her husband Edward William Auriol Drummond-Hay (1785-1845), the translator and editor, respectively, for another wife and husband team, Frederika Freygang and Wilhelm von Freygang, authors of the jointly published travel narrative, Letters from the Caucuses and Georgia.

While the preface to the translation had self-identified the translator as female, her identity had not been established until now. A series of letters from E.W.A. Drummond-Hay to John Murray between 1822 and 1828 reveals many of the editorial considerations in the production of the volumes and gestures briefly at Louisa Drummond-Hay’s authorship of the translator’s preface. Why neither owned up to their role in the production of the translation in later years remains a mystery.

Follow these links to read biographies for these authors, newly available on the database: Louisa Margaret Thomson Drummond-Hay (1792-1869); Edward William Auriol Drummond-Hay (1785-1845)