Jemima Blackburn travelled widely, using her sketchbook as we would use a camera today. Her personality and intelligence drew friends and admirers including Trollope, Oscar Wilde and Lord Kelvin. Her cousin was scientist James Clerk Maxwell. In 1980, artist Rob Fairley was mending the roof of a large country house on Scotland's west coast. The owners urged him to look at their great grandmother's sketchbooks, and with some reluctance he eventually agreed. Locked away were dozens of leather-bound volumes filled with paintings of remarkable quality. One find led to another, with Jemima's memoirs, as vivid as her paintings, the final jewel in the crown. In her lifetime she was known as a book illustrator and acknowledged by her peers as one of the leading bird painters of the day. Her diaries are of no less interest. She rubbed shoulders with the Duke of Wellington, went on tour with the Prince of Wales and visited Iceland with Trollope - a visit immortalized in "How the Mastiffs Went to Iceland".
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The renewed interest in all things Victorian--social, psychological, artistic, and historical--makes this skillful replication, in words and pictures, of keenly observed life in 19th-century Scotland a most welcome publication. Not the retiring, swooning Victorian lady, Blackburn was an active and serious artist, and she was recognized as such by her contemporaries. Coupled with lively immediacy of her memoirs, her elegant ornithological illustrations, drawings, and watercolors of home life and travels capture the rhythm and spirit of an earlier age: an age of intense curiosity and a passion for information. Fairley, an artist himself, was responsible for the rediscovery of this singular lady, and his introduction serves to set the scene in which the characters come alive.
- Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum Lib., New York
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Canongate Books Ltd, 1988. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110862411866
Book Description Canongate Books Ltd, 1988. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0862411866