Saturday, 14 July 2018

Miss Frances Lambert biography in progress

In the last blog post it was noted that reviewing knitting books from the nineteenth century was in progress. The review resulted in a successful application to study a part-time MA in History at the University of Reading to investigate the wider issues of gender, class, and socio-economics of knitting book publishing. Since starting the course, the research has widened to include all knitting books published prior to World War 1. Reading has, within the Special Collections hosted at the Museum for English Rural Life (MERL), several copies of texts from this period. Reading also has strong research experience with gender history, book publishing history, corpus linguistics, and printed ephemera, including recent collaboration with the John Johnson collection at the Bodleian.

Having analysed Esther Potter's bibliography and Richard Rutt's 'A History of Hand Knitting', I was frustrated with the lack of biographical information sufficient to obtain a clear view of the class and socio-economic status of the author Miss Frances Lambert, who was one of the earliest successful authors of knitting, crochet and needlework books. A thorough biographical research project was initiated, which is 80% complete. Sufficient evidence has been collated to confirm when Miss Frances Lambert was born, when she married John Bell Sedgwick (a bedell at The Royal College of Physicians), and the addresses lived at between the marriage, and her death in her 80's. Corrections were submitted to the British Library Catalogue, as some entries had incorrectly been attributed to Miss A Lambert. A full biography is in progress, with anticipation of submission to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which currently lacks biographies of female writers in the nineteenth century.

I have catalogued five archive boxes held in the John Johnson collection at the Bodleian in Oxford. The John Johnson collection absorbed the contents of the Constance Meade collection that is referenced by Potter. The fancy work boxes had yet to be catalogued. The contents have now been logged and photographed, and will be submitted for consideration to be absorbed into the existing online catalogue, to aid future researchers.

The 'In The Loop 2018' conference is taking place at the Winchester School of Art this week. The conference programme is available on the 'In The Loop' website.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

So pleased to learn you have found out more about Frances Lambert's life. I tried a while ago, but the resources available in FindMyPast weren't sufficient. I look forward to hearing the full story when it's available - Barbara