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Charlotte Augusta Sneyd.
Illustrations of the Auxillary [sic] Verbs To Be and To Have; Being a
Prospectus of an English Grammar on an Entirely New System by C.A.S.
No place: no date, circa 1845. Small folio, contemporary dark green cloth. 14 original
pen-and-ink illustrations, each approximately 4 x 5.5 inches, with accompanying text.
Bookplates of C.A. Sneyd and the Reniers. $3000.
Delightful comic manuscript by English translator, writer, and artist Charlotte
Augusta Sneyd (1800-1882), featuring fourteen original pen-and-ink drawings.
Born into a prominent Staffordshire family, Charlotte Sneyd was named for her
royal godmother, Queen Charlotte. She received an excellent education, studying
drawing, music, and languages, and pursuing various creative projects throughout
her long life. She is best remembered for her 1847 annotated translation of a
sixteenth-century Italian manuscript,
ARelation, or Rather a True Account, of the
Island of England
, a work cited repeatedly by RalphWaldo Emerson in his lectures
on the English character. Sneyd was also “a proficient watercolourist, particularly
skilled at catching a likeness,” who produced paintings and drawings for the
amusement of her private circle.
The manuscript offers a satiric view of gender roles in Victorian England in the
form of “a prospectus of English grammar,” illustrating the tenses of the verbs
“to be” and “to have” with scenes of social aspiration and disaster. The seven
drawings that accompany “to be” follow an unmarried middle-aged woman’s
thoughts as she contemplates who she was, is, and will be, faced with the choice
between an uninspiring marriage of convenience or the fate of an “old maid,”
depicted in hell.
The seven drawings that accompany “to have” follow a ruined middle-aged man
as he contemplates his lost fortune and his bleak future, framed as a choice
between an expedient marriage (again) and the gallows. Interestingly, while both
protagonists imagine a companionate marriage as the ideal fate—“I would have
been,” “I would have had”—only the man’s vision includes children. Sneyd herself
never married. A fine primary source for historians of English manners, as well as
English grammar.
1,2-3,4-5,6-7,8-9,10-11,12-13 16-17,18-19,20-21,22-23,24-25,26-27,28-29,30-31,32-33,34-35,...38
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