Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Oxford University, Emily Hobhouse and the Boer War, schooldays and family links ... Part 1


Oxford City Centre - City of Dreaming Spires
I had a reason to visit Oxford University that bastion of education – where town meets gown – and where I finally got to peer inside the brain of a University.  I was at school in Oxford for nine years and we sallied forth occasionally down the hill – perhaps for Evensong at the Cathedral, or to the ballet or a theatre ... in those days there was not much other  interaction.


Some years later! the school joins in so many activities and educational opportunities that are on offer by a university town, from which the students can benefit before they go out into the world of further learning or earning a living – I’d quite like to go back to school now!  Our visit gave me flashbacks to those days.

Headington School, on hill above Oxford
Jenny, a cousin of my mother’s had come over from Vancouver Island, to give two talks at Oxford – to the Friends of the Swaziland Society, and to the Friends of the International Gender Studies.  Jenny’s great aunt, Emily Hobhouse (1860 – 1926) had been an advocate for improvement of the Boer war camps (mainly) for women and children.

Emily Hobhouse
Emily had campaigned in London and South Africa that these camps be improved and was the first civilian to visit them and report back.  I found the whole thing fascinating – but my brain was stretched to the limit – and I learnt to look at historical life in a new light. 

We just don’t think ... and find it so difficult to relate to times gone by – as our reference point seems to be the way we would do things ourselves: no wonder so many of us don’t understand or appreciate history!

Emily Hobhouse had looked after her parents until she was 35, when her father finally died.  They had lived in Cornwall and Emily had been endowed with a ‘big knowledge seeking brain’ (not a Pooh Bear brain: “I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me”) ... and faced many discouragements at home to foster her incredible intelligence and intellect.

Jenny inherited a trunk full of Emily’s papers which she painstakingly published into a book in 1994 – she self-published ... and I hope will have the book re-printed in due course.  My uncle commenting in a letter to me ... “Jenny is far too self-effacing when she describes herself as ‘the compiler’.  Without intruding her own personality and thoughts she has preserved so much that is meaningful about Emily, while providing some marvellous linking passages in her own beautifully written prose”.

This same uncle on the other side of the family, who was high up in Government and knew about these matters having worked in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – when he read Jenny’s book remarked that she had done an incredible job – describing the book ‘as several Christmas dinners in one – and beautifully done’.  Lovely description I think.

Bloemfontein circa 1900
It appears that many people have not appreciated the work that Emily did – where she went, how large her sphere of influence had become ... and how during her years with her parents ... she had had to master the art of organisation, knowing who would help her and why ...

... as well as helping her to expand her knowledge of history, politics and empire at home.  Her elderly aunts, on behalf of their brother, ‘decided’ that a woman did not need an education: Emily’s ability to find her way through the morass of administrative and bureaucratic society served her in great stead.

Jenny has been anxious to correct the ‘political and media portrayal’ of Emily, which had been distorted over the years in Britain and Europe, while the complete opposite was acknowledged in South Africa.

Emily became a thorn in the flesh of the British Government at a time when women were asserting their rights at home anyway ... I won’t go into much more detail except to let you know one or two of the things that stood out for me.

A used £1    1903 Orange
River Colony revenue stamp
The British declared war on the Boer republics in order to convert them into British colonies, which would eventually become part of the Union of South Africa.  This became known as the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899 – 1901).

The accepted practice for defeating a guerrilla campaign was to take away their supply mechanism ... ie their farmsteads, stock and importantly their women and children.  Unfortunately the policies of “scorched earth” and civilian internment in concentration camps were the order of the day: the camps were originally called "burgher" or "refugee" camps (burgher = farmer/citizen).

To my mind there are in extremely simple terms two types of concentration camps – those where the civilians were held theoretically for their own good, while a war was fought ... or later on when the term became barbaric as under Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini.

One of the internment camps
The military manual where the ‘rules and regulations’ were set out – did not take cognisance of the fact that South Africa is in the southern hemisphere ... so placement suggestions were always the wrong way round ... facing south, not north.

The conditions were terrible but life for anyone in war is not easy ... the supplies and rations had to be ordered two weeks in advance – how many people would be in camp at that time?  The distribution was via a single track railway with the military demands being first in line ...

Emily invested a great deal of time and energy lobbying, writing letters, detailing reports, visiting camps and travelling back and forth in South Africa, and to London and Europe – she worked tirelessly for the disadvantaged women and children in these camps.

She was loved by the people of South Africa and admired by those like Mahatma Gandhi who asked for her help.  She was a bit of a painter, a writer and an entertainer, and in spite of ill-health travelled easily between countries – even as World War One took its grip. 

National Women's Monument
Bloemfontein
The South Africans so admired her that they clubbed together to buy her a house in St Ives, the picturesque fishing village in Cornwall beloved of many artists.  After she died her ashes were buried at the foot of the 1913 memorial in Bloemfontein for the women and children, who died in the Anglo-Boer War for whom she had worked so hard.

Jenny when she wrote the book from Emily’s papers presented it ‘as being offered to the public in the interests of truth – Emily having been portrayed unfairly and unkindly in the intervening years.

Jenny continues to research Emily’s work during her lifetime, but particularly the period leading up to, and during the First World War – and has recently been across to Germany and Switzerland to further this research.

Dr Birgit Seibold has been collating and publishing Emily’s German and European correspondence, with its attendant papers – so there now is an even fuller picture.  These are published in German, but Birgit has translated a short (166 pages) book entitled “Emily Hobhouse and the Reports on the Concentration Camps during the Boer War 1899 – 1902: Two Different perspectives.”

The walled Botanic Garden on a
lovely October weekend
I had a glorious brain-filled weekend and really need this to spill over into a second lighter post .. so Part 2 to follow!

Dear Mr Postman – my mother is still enjoying her cards, letters, flowers and bulbs ... we are lucky to have such wonderful family and friends.  Today I gather ... she has looked at Perla’s 6oth birthday pictures and had my post read to her!  Wonderful she can still take an interest ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

52 comments:

jabblog said...

Very interesting, Hilary. We tend to judge historical events from a modern perspective, forgetting the 'norms' of the day, however abhorrent they may appear.
I wonder how we will be judged in a hundred years from now.

Clarissa Draper said...

What a woman! She deserved all the praise he got from the African people. I hope that your mother's cousin re-publishes the book because I would love to read it. I often think that history is soon forgotten and yet it shouldn't be or else it just repeats. Keep us informed as to when the book is republished.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Janice .. thank you - I really appreciate this relevant comment - you've definitely highlighted that we live in the present, as the present is - we have no idea into what setting our actions will be set.

So right - good points you've made - I too wonder how we'll be judged .. how do I get back to find out?! Cheers Hilary

Bob Scotney said...

A fascinating story that needs to be told and told again.
Make sure we all know when the book is republished.
I'm looking forward to part 2.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Clarissa - wonderful comment - and I know Jenny will be delighted to know that you'd be interested in reading it: I too hope she republishes.

I'd love to get Emily's 1902 book put up on Project Gutenberg ..

Thanks - really appreciate this .. cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob .. you too - I'm amazed at the response I'm getting - Jenny will be so pleased! I sincerely hope she will republish ...

I'd better get writing part 2 - that will be the brain stretching part!

Thanks for such a great comment - Hilary

Mike Goad said...

The Brunt of the War, and Where it Fell by Emily Hobhouse, 1902, is on Google books. It's free to read online or to download as a pdf, or, for that matter do anything you want to with since it's in the public domain. The link should take you to it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mike .. thanks for highlighting that for me .. I've taken a back seat since May .. as Emily isn't my direct family - but if I can help Jenny then I'd be delighted to.

I'm sure she will so interested to read - how much interest is being generated ..

Really grateful that you've highlighted this for any readers of the blog or people interested in Emily Hobhouse ..

Many thanks and I'll definitely look - Hilary

Stephen Tremp said...

As usual, a most interesting post today. Life is indeed brutal during times of war. I could not imaging being interened, especially having children. Must have been a deplorable place and anyone bringing a ray of hope is a true hero of history.

I look forwrd to Part II. Have a great week!

Old Kitty said...

What a fascinating family you have! WOW!! What a woman - good for her and good for Jenny for collating Emily's words and letters and writing and preserving them for all time!

Take care
x

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Wow Hilary what a wonderful interesting post, You certainly had a great family. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Yvonne.

Susan Scheid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Scheid said...

Emily Hobhouse is part of that great tradition, often undersung: Jane Addams, Florence Nightingale, oh so many. Your recounting of her earlier life, "Emily Hobhouse had looked after her parents until she was 35, when her father finally died," in particular, reminded me of a book I recently read by Sylvia Townsend Warner--Lolly Willowes. Do you know it? A great read and wonderful portrait of the confined status of a woman in those times.

Botanist said...

Well, you started off giving me a twinge of nostalgia...I went to university at Oxford, Hrrumppphh-ty years ago. Enough of that history lesson!

That is such an insightful point about the difficulty in relating to times gone by. That's why I enjoy things like modern historical dramas (like The Tudors) and Shakespearean plays acted in the flesh, because they help bring the people and their situation to life.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Stephen - it is so difficult to imagine those times and those conditions - especially considering how we live today.

@ Old Kitty - thank you - Jenny has been amazing in ensuring that Emily's name is not lost, while reminding us of her work and deeds .. which will give us a fuller picture of that period.

@ Yvonne - good to see you back from your break .. glad you enjoyed the post and that I can bring Emily to a few others' in the world.

Thanks so much Stephen, Old Kitty and Yvonne .. Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - you're right there - we don't fully appreciate the work that these women did - their new approach to look at life, conditions etc and apply their thoughts to their deeds.

I had not heard of Townsend-Warner and her novel Lolly Willowes .. I must make a note and get it out to read - thanks for telling me about her.

@ Ian - the Botanist .. I expect we were floating around Oxford in different walks of life at much the same time (I suspect I was earlier).

Your point about relating to times gone by or different countries - I heard the same expressed today by a Russian re his country today .. we just relate to our way of life.

It is wonderful to see plays about actual life of times gone by - to give them visual effects for our brains to dwell on. Gives us some flavour (perhaps?!) ...

PS I still can't comment on your blog via the embedded comment box.

Thanks Susan and Ian - really interesting comments. Cheers Hilary

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for sharing the inspiring story. I enjoy history; and enjoying mining gems like this one as well.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Everyone .. Mike's link to Google didn't work for me - but he's kindly located another way to view Emily's 1902 book for us here in the UK:

International availability of books is dependent upon local copyright laws. Unless absolutely certain that is not still under copyright, Google will not make it available. Apparently, that is the case with this book.

The good news is, I think and hope, is that I've located another location where you should be able to access it. It's ins several different formats at the Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org/details/bruntwarandwher00hobhgoog

I hope this works for you. Mike

Yes - it did .. thanks Mike - click on the left hand side, where it says read on line ...

Fantastic - thanks for letting me know and for coming back to me.

Interesting to find out about - cheers Hilary

Lydia Kang said...

I learned some history today, thank you!

And thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate it!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Slamdunk - glad you enjoyed the read .. it's good to be able to relate to some history - so often it gets lost in time.

@ Lydia - good to see you and am pleased you learned something by being here.

Thanks Slamdunk and Lydia - Hilary

Manzanita said...

I often wonder what ingredient of personality was added to Victorian women who entered into a man's world to fight with such unwavering ambition for what they believed in. Emily was indeed one of these women who left her needlepoint and chose her battle. You have a strong family tree and how admirable of Jenny to remind the world of her great-aunts struggle in South Africa.
Good thoughts go toward your Mother and all the family members who daily remember her.

Patricia said...

What a fabulous post Hilary and such interesting material - oh what we learn from history and how few people are interested...maybe genealogy is more the way to teach history. When my grandfather told me I was related to Sir Francis Drake and he was a scoundrel and pirate - I became more interested and then when my Father could help me relate it to present day - wow

You story telling is marvelous and I wish I had seen Oxford when on my tour, but was happy to see Cambridge because I had applied there for university but did not have enough funds to attend.
I did manage to get into Princeton and now would love a course or two at Yale and Stanford, where my Father taught.
Glad you mum is able to connect and partake of your good sharing words.
Thank you Hilary

KarenG said...

I ought to print and file your posts for quiet perusal when I have time to ponder them, instead of the usual rush rush that is me on the internet. You are a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge. Are you writing a book, Hilary? Because you should be.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Your point about how we superimpose our perspective upon history is well-taken. It's something every historical fiction writer needs to avoid.

Thanks for an interesting post.

amy@ Souldipper said...

More insight into the influences on our Ms. Hilary! I love learning about strong, independent, determined women. Emily not only stood up and roared at a time when women were supposed to be seen and not heard, but also endured the grueling travel it involved.

Thank you for writing this piece of history that would have escaped my attention without your diligence. Emily would be proud of you - putting forth her case for justice that will never spoil with age!

Now I have a clue about your visit to my province. Was it to visit Jenny?

And I must share that I visited the Botanic Garden two years ago - almost to the day. Does this explain my feeling of unease while there? Although I could appreciate the beauty, I could hardly wait to be finished with that area. I had no idea its history.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Manzanita - I'm sure there are very many forgotten women - but Emily had her passion to improve those camps (and thus women and children's lot) - and never wavered in her thoughts or actions. In World War One she turned her attention to the camps in Leipzig, Germany - helping and feeding the women and children.

I wonder if that ambition came from being restrained so much in their home - restricted in learning, or by their husbands similarly - - -

Certainly Jenny is and her mother was a strong lady in her own right - while Jenny's mother married into the Hobhouse family ... who had strong wills too.

@ Patricia - related to Sir Francis Drake ... a descendant of a pirate?! Well to the Spanish he was .. but in those days (1540 - 1596)to succeed you had to be a successful ruthless jack of all trade. I imagine your history lessons were very entertaining and your father brought life to light. It would be fun to hear more from you about your learning etc.

Wow - you got into Cambridge, that's such a pity you couldn't pursue it .. Perhaps another trip another day to Oxford .. dreaming of the spires.

Princeton too .. I think a course or two would be fascinating .. I've been slightly inspired by Steve Jobs dropping into various courses which then spurred him on to new heights. Fascinating ..

Thanks so much Manzanita and Patricia and for your comments re my Mama - she does come to at times and still seems to be able to enjoy the life we share with her.

Have good weekends .. Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Karen - gosh amazing thought - I'm very honoured. I'm teaching myself at the same time .. and I've certainly learnt a great deal in the process.

Writing a book - no .. but I have thoughts - so in some ways yes .. just finding the right way forward. Really appreciate the thumbs up for my blog posts though ..

@ Susan - I can understand writers would need to take this perspective into account ... it's everyone else!! We seem to live in our 'narrow thoughts' and can't think of others in life from their points of view - it's made me think and I try and remember to adapt ... especially when talking to the older generations. Glad you enjoyed the post ...

@ Amy - it's only recently that I've got to know a little more of Jenny's family - I knew my uncle would be very interested in Emily .. and he was - he too just loved learning (he was very intelligent).. and he was very pleased to read Jenny's book .. he was extremely impressed.

Thankfully they met and had one longish discussion about the Boer War and Emily's papers. I have his notes here ..

Jenny has been the one to ensure her family history has been recorded and to give Emily her due in the annals of history. It just amazes me how blogging friends around the world are happy to learn and read from my approach to history .. extended family or otherwise.

My mother was going to travel out with a friend, who pulled out at the last minute - so I went along instead - lucky me! My mother set the itinerary .. Calgary, Lake Louise, Jasper, on the Rocky Mountaineer train over night to Vancouver (one night only) then on the ferry to Nanaimo - then Jenny took us up to Tofino for a few days before we returned to stay with her near Duncan.

Which Botanic Garden, Amy? The one I show here is in Oxford ..

Thanks so much Karen, Susan and Amy .. really interesting thoughts - and so good to see you here .. Hilary

Theresa Milstein said...

What a beautiful university. Mine was all cement and brown brick. When I pass through Harvard, I think of how inspiring it must be to be a student there, knowing how many greats have walked the same greens and paths. It's beautiful too.

What a treasure Jenny came upon. Thanks for sharing.

Clarissa Draper said...

Hilary, let us know if we can help you put the book up on Gutenburg. I know they take volunteers and maybe we can help in some way.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Theresa .. Oxford University has been there since 1096 .. with beautiful buildings being added over the years.

I loved Harvard when I visited .. and would love to see it again and have a proper look round.

Fortunately the papers were left to Jenny - because she has done an outstanding job on behalf of Emily, her great aunt. So many thanks.

@ Clarissa - many thanks: I see from Mike Goad's (and my reply) two comments above - Emily's book of 1902 is available to be read on the net ..

I'll wait to see what Jenny decides to do re her own book .. she may ring me before she leaves for Canada on Saturday ...

Really appreciate the offer of help - for the time being we need to let Jenny decide her route .. it would certainly be an interesting project ..

Great to see you Theresa, and thanks so much Clarissa for your thoughtfulness - let's see! Cheers Hilary

Shirley Wells said...

What a fascinating post, Hilary, and what an interesting family you have. History seems to be forgotten very quickly and easily. We all need to be reminded now and again. I can't wait for Part 2 now.

Isn't Oxford the most wonderful city? One of the reasons I loved watching 'Morse' so much was for the views of the city.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Shirley - many thanks .. I do have a fascinating family .. and have tried to pick up a few tales of the past - but I'd left it too late .. by the time my interest clicked in. If I'd known .. but ----

I think there's so much history around if only we'd ask - even the simple pleasures .. the country pursuits: some of those diarists who noted all the details annually of what was happening to the trees, plants and flowers .. recorded for posterity.

Yes - Oxford is glorious .. just been reminisencing with a 94 year old 'aunt' about our times in Oxford - I'll add a note in about Morse in part 2.

Lovely to see you - Hilary

Scarlett Clay said...

Re-publishing the book sounds like an extrememly worthwhile enterprise. What an amazing person she was, I sit in sincere admiration for her already only knowing what you've just shared. And I couldn't agree more about the general inability of the populace to appreciate history, it's one of the primary reasons I educate my children at home. We can spend as much time as we like on a particular topic of interest and more importantly, I teach them history chronologically...not in the crazy, random order of the public schools that makes no sense and spends and inordinate amount of time on Texas history(?) which is really such a speck of sand on the timeline....well, don't get me started on this topic, I get riled up!
I love reading your posts and learning so many new things. I will add J. Hobbhouses's name to our list of notable figures to learn about when studying the Boer wars.

~Scarlett

Scarlett Clay said...

correction--we will add E. Hobbhouse to our list! Got the names mixed!

Empty Nest Insider said...

What a courageous woman who really fought on behalf of so many people! Those camps must have been unbearable. I love how the South Africans showed their appreciation. You do come from good stock Hilary, and it shows in everything you do. Glad your mum can take pride in your contribution to this incredible story. Julie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Scarlett - I hope Jenny re-publishes .. so the book is available on all the formats and can be bought as and when.

My appreciation of history etc has only come about since I started blogging because I keep finding new things that tie in over the time frame of life and knowledge.

My posts have scattergun links - but there's always connection .... and perhaps because we have 'sound bites' and headlines and now Twitter or text - people just think one item means one item .. with no thought as to where that historical, or geographical, etc aspect/correlation might have come from.

I've often wondered about this American (mainly) decision to school kids at home .. and one day I'd love to talk to you about it and find out more. I can see the logic - but I can also see the pitfalls ...

Texan history .. do they include the early Americans and pre-Columbians etc? Is it since 1500s onwards?

History is a vast subject .. but if we can make it interesting for our children .. can be such fun - good for you.

Thanks for adding Emily Hobhouse's name into your list of people to think about when looking at the Boer Wars.

Really appreciate your comment Scarlett ...

@ Julie - some of the camps were well run .. the same as we are today I guess - good bosses, bad bosses!

Though as you say not an easy way to live - but some commandants made their burghers lives as pleasant as possible.

Julie - the link is by marriage - but Jenny and her mother and therefore my grandfather have strong genes - I can see that via Jenny!, but not the Hobhouse ones.

I think my mother will be pleased when I get to read her these two posts (part 2 tomorrow)- she seems to be able to take things in still and relate ... maybe not communicating back, except by a smile or a nod - but that is very sufficient.

Thanks so much Scarlett and Julie - really appreciate your comments - Hilary

Short Poems said...

What a beautiful interesting post Hilary. You certainly had an amazing family.

Take care
Marinela

Jannie Funster said...

No need for a "lighter post" for me. This is WONDERFUL!! Tho yes, for YOUR brain...

You are better than being related to royalty. Emily and Jenny have actually done something to be proud of!

So many have self-published what they knew was in their hearts. And gone on to great recognition and achievement for it. Just do it, eh?!

Should love to stroll Oxford. So much history. And maybe good pastry and coffee in a campus cafe somewhere??

9 years "higher learnin' eh?!" Good stuff, Hilary! You added more smart to your already smart self!

I was not aware of the kind of camps where people went "for their own good." What hard times they must've faced.

Smiling at Emily's outfit -- did not look too comfortable. We are so lucky today.

xooxo

Blue Bunny said...

hilree!!!!

i loves yor post about yor rellatives who did sutch good things.

and guess wot!?? i think i going to be a pie-rit for hollweeen. i jist needs to find a sord, a eye patch, a parrit and a ship.

love to yoo!!!

oxoxoxo

Friko said...

Emily was a truly extraordinary woman. It's time her image was revised.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Marinela .. many thanks - Emily was an amazing woman wasn't she .. thank you - you too have a good weekend.

@ Jannie - these recorders of life - writing down all their thoughts and discussions .. then the fact that the Brits are so good at keeping things .. and our archives are researchable.

Jenny, I believe, will re-publish her book and perhaps another probably with Birgit's German publishers.

Oxford on that Autumn weekend was gorgeous .. and a stroll around with you - would be great .. with a relaxing coffee and pastry somewhere ...

No Jannie - school (real school) 9 - 18 ... not very bright the blog is allowing me to recoup (lost) learning.

Times were extraordinarily hard .. including the clothes they wore - but she might have been grateful then - in cold damp England.

@ Blue Bunny (aka Jannie) I see you're going to be a pirate for Halloween .. sounds fun - I'm sure Kelly or friends will have a sword, and eye-patch for you - the ship and parrot might be slightly more difficult!

It's really good to see so many people interested in hearing about the Boer War. Love to you tooooo, Hardwick and my mother will be pleased to hear from you.

@ Friko - yes .. it is time this courageous woman was given her due. I'll be updating the Wikipedia page in the next couple of weeks, which will reflect Jenny's updates.

Thanks Marinela, Jannie with Blue Bunny, and Friko - lovely to see you and your comments - enjoy your Halloween weekend ... Hilary

Marja said...

Thanks for this interesting post and to hear about this remarkable woman. How much time has changed and how much we thank that to people like her. Strange that I can perfectly read the script underneath the statue in Dutch which is of course very like Afrikaans. Arohanui (lots of love)marja

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Marja .. it's good you appreciate her courage - especially as being Dutch you'd have some knowledge of the Afrikaaner and their history ..

I'm hopeless at the language - but it does help with pronunciation when it comes to Dutch, Swiss or German words ..

I guess Arohanui - is Maori! Many thanks and big hugs back! Cheers Hilary

Madeleine said...

A post filled with stories of labours of love and dedication.
My brother went to Oxford Exceter College and we as a family lives there some years earlier though I was just a preschooler. Later my other brother lived in Oxford for some years with his wife. Love the glorious autumn colours at the end too.

Joylene said...

I'm late, but I'm so glad I finally made it. Emily & Jenny sound like fascinating women. I'd be proud to call them family. What an undertaking. Jenny is as much a contributor as Emily, I think. Without the her hard work the world might never have realized how awesome Emily was.

Thanks so much for this encouraging post, Hilary. makes me want to get out there and leave something valuable for my grandchildren.

Ann Best said...

What an amazing woman! Thanks for posting this so I could meet her. And I love the autumn Botanic Garden photo, and especially the Oxford City spires. In fact, all the photographs, as always, are superb.

And I am SO glad your mother can still enjoy cards, letters, flowers, bulbs...there is JUST so much in life we can enjoy. A lot of it is attitude. And we just have to LOOK. Here in your place is the best place to look!!

Have a wonderful weekend, Hilary. We are in SNOW, early snow in October to mess up Halloween and our trip up north that we can't take today after all to see my youngest daughter's decorations. This is her favorite holiday. So I must do what you do so well and look on the bright side. The white, white snow on green trees (the leaves hadn't even changed yet!) is gorgeous.

As ever...hope you're having a good day. :-)
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

Michelle Fayard said...

It has long been one of my fantasies to discover a forgotten bundle of written documents from a relative. I'm still waiting patiently while I research other people's lives and write about them instead. What a fascinating post, Hilary; I'm so glad to be an old follower.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Madeleine - thank you - Emily and Jenny have certainly given something to history and it's lovely to have it acknowledged here.

So you know Oxford a little - it's a wonderful city, let alone seat of learning. Aren't the Autumn colours glorious ..

@ Joylene - no worries .. that's one thing about blog posts - they don't usually disappear!

Well that point about Jenny contributing as much to Emily's past by ensuring her work is corrected and out there, is well made.

Well your grandchildren have an author in their midst: to record their stories and encourage their own - great start for the little ones! They'll have something to remember Granny by!

Thanks so much Madeleine and Joylene ... we haven't got snow in England yet .. but has Canada got snow as well as the States? Autumn and Winter are here .. yugh! Cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ann - Emily was just one of those Victorian ladies with enormous reserves of determination - Jenny continues with her research works .. and is pretty incredible as well.

Glad you enjoyed the photos .. and I know my mother still enjoying life as best she can is just wonderful to hear about or be with her when she comes to life and interacts.

I'd read - you were having snow in the States - but honestly how unfortunately just when you and Jen were geared up and looking forward to seeing the decorations - I hope some photos will be taken. Not the same I know ..

Those little things will mean so much to Jen - it's very 'unfair' the skies decided to give you a gentle powdering of snow ... I gather our leaves are staying on the trees longer too ... but SNOW - I really hope we don't have a harsh winter - but I suspect we will!!

I hope you can rearrange the weekend sometime soon - and that the snow disappears for a while - it does make life tricky ... I hope you can make a cheery weekend .. despite the weather ..

@ Michelle - wouldn't it be wonderful to have that forgotten bundle .. something we all dream about possibly - yes I agree.

Other people's lives are so interesting especially as we can delve quite far now-a-days - and I know you enjoy your work .. continuing with our passion is the thing - and recently you've highlighted a couple of important authors in Katie Gates, and Karen Walker on their subjects of Alzheimers and Abuse - books we all ought to read.

Ann - lovely to see you and I'll be emailing you shortly, as I haven't fully acknowledged the hassles you've been having ... and Michelle - lovely to see you reconnecting here - thanks so much ..have good weekends both of you (despite the snow - Ann!) - Hilary

Chase March said...

I always admire people that fight so hard to change things. We don't need to continue with the way things are.

Emily definitely was a hero. It's great that you and Jenny are helping share this story.

Cheers!

A Lady's Life said...

gosh - The Boer War. Wasn't this a time to remember and to be able to get access to things someone actually lived through, is fascinating to say the least. To be able to touch history this way through ones family, is unbelievable.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Chase .. thank you - I'm only doing a tiny part - still it's very interesting and I've found out loads of information just looking around through the Hobhouse records in Wikipedia - !

It would be great if the true story backed up by the records could be easily available for everyone - probably mainly research now. Though so much research is being done - and so enabled by the net .. with google books and Project Gutenberg, as well as the data bases than can be set up.

@ A Lady's Life - Jenny has done an amazing job - and I have this blog-route to bring Emily's work to a larger audience .. it is fascinating!

It would be amazing to search through even a small box of records - but Jenny has done an incredibly professional job here ..

... and as you say having those papers for posterity .. though I know St Antony's or Rhodes House would love to have at least copies of Emily's papers etc .. for their records.

Delighted to see you both - thanks Chase and A Lady's Life .. Hilary