Aspirational Music Education

“I often tell young ladies, that no excellence in music is to be acquired, without constant practice,” says Lady Catherine de Bourg, in Pride and Prejudice. Anyone who has learned to play an instrument knows that, for once, she is correct, but that practice is not enough. In early 19th-century families of social standing, learning music meant not just playing “by ear”, but also learning to play from printed sheet music.

Ann offers to teach Marianto playThe Gamut and Time-Table in Verse offers a minimal introduction to the notes of the bass and treble clefs, and to the duration of different types of notes, the two most basic skills in reading music. This information is necessary, but far from sufficient. Anyone who learned “Every Good Boy Does Fine” in their first music lesson knows that you soon stop repeating the phrase as you look at the score. How much more so if you had learned, “Then the second space A, is here to be seen,/ The third line is B.–C, the third space between.”

In spite of its rudimentary information, The Gamut was a very successful book. It was first printed in the early 1820s by Dean & Munday and sold throughout the decade under their name and also with A.K. Newman named as the publisher. Much of the attraction of the work must have been the appeal to gentility; the booksellers were peddling not just music education, but also social aspiration. Well-educated upper-class children, and especially girls, played and sang, providing music for impromptu and informal dancing, and as entertainment in private households. The Gamut conveys the expectation of fitting into a society of well-bred individuals not just through its ostensible topic, but also through a series of class markers that would have been understood by the contemporary reader.

The Gamut is illustrated extensively with wood engravings – in spite of their name, a type of relief prints that can be set in the press at the same time as the type and printed simultaneously. The music as well was printed in relief, rather than from engraved copper plates; each note and its lines are a single piece of type and they are lined up to create a (slightly wobbly) staff. The illustrations have been colored by hand. These features hint at the prospective audience: the book is meant to be attractive, but not expensive. At one shilling it was well within the reach of a family of moderate means, including those of respectable merchants and tradesmen who were doing well. It might also have been bought by a more elevated clientele, to which group the lesser aligned itself by purchase.

Bass clef intoduced

The illustrator stakes the book’s claim to participation in canonical musical culture in the frontispiece, with the names of Haydn, Mozart, Handel, Purcell, and the immensely popular Rossini, on the book cover in the foreground. The group of players – possibly a family – arrange themselves casually as if they were playing for their own amusement. They present an ideal picture of the pleasures of music for accomplished amateurs, although the large organ and harp both belong only in very affluent establishments.

Frontispiece with musicians; title pageMost of the instruments depicted were available in the homes of the merely well to do. There is a grand piano (or an out of fashion harpsichord), a small organ, a mandolin, two harps, and a succession of square pianofortes through the book. The appearance of the word “SMART” on the pianoforte on page 30 establishes a terminus post quem for the undated book. Henry Smart was a successful violinist, composer, and orchestra and oratorio leader who opened a piano factory in 1821 and his name evokes the fashionable music scene of London.

Pianoforte with SMART on plaqueThe sisters are well-dressed and graceful – laudable examples of female accomplishment and behavior. Although the interiors are reduced to their essentials and set within curtains as if they were stage sets, the simplified paneled walls, patterned rugs, fashionable furniture, paintings of land- and seascapes, and a glimpse of a garden through the window convey comfort and prosperity.

The book’s final claim to gentility – identifying the author as C. Finch – is subtle and almost certainly fraudulent. There is no more complete contemporary attribution on record, but from the mid-century it was understood to refer to Lady Charlotte Finch (1725-1813), daughter of one earl and daughter-in-law of another, who served as royal governess to the fifteen children of King George III and Queen Charlotte. Although Finch retired in 1793, she was for three decades the most famous, and most noble, educator in England, and an early adopter of progressive educational theories and techniques. There is no reason to think she wrote the substandard verse which first appeared a decade after her death, and the publisher carefully did not say it was her work, but one suspects the implication was an additional attraction to purchase.

The audience for The Gamut was respectable and financially comfortable, but the book conveyed a whispered promise of something better – a nicer house, more fashionable company, an accomplished family. I doubt anyone ever learned to play by reading and memorizing the book, but it must surely have provided an inducement to persist through the tedium of scales and dozens of repetitions of country dance tunes or the latest quadrilles.


Finch, Charlotte. The Gamut and Time-Table in Verse: For the Instruction of Children. London: A.K. Newman and Co., 1823.

Our copy of The Gamut can be read on the Internet Archive.

With the continuing closure of the Library, we are blogging regularly about books from the exhibition, The Girl’s Own Book. The exhibition’s run has been extended through the 2020-2021 academic year; information about when it will open and related programming will be available when we are able to give it. Please follow us on Facebook or subscribe here for notices of new blog posts.

The Three Bears

Silverlocks outside cottage; Silverlocks eating porridgeOne of the books  Ellery Yale Wood collected was this glorious Three Bears, illustrated by Walter Crane in 1873. (Click on any image for a larger view.) It differs in a number of ways from the story of Goldilocks we all grew up with – and those differences are clues to the complex nineteenth-century history of this story.

Text in verseThe images Crane begins with are exactly what we expect – but the poem contains a surprise: the little girl is called Silverlocks. In the first printed version of the story (which seems to be a folk tale that was not recorded until after it took a literary form), the intruder is not even a child. England’s Poet Laureate, Robert Southey, published “The Story of the Three Bears” in 1837. His intruder, who enters an unoccupied house, eats the occupants’ food, breaks their furniture, and tucks herself into their beds, is an “impudent, bad old Woman,” a vagrant who he says should be “taken up by the constable and sent to the House of Correction.”

By the time Cundall’s Treasury of Pleasure Books for Young Children appeared thirteen years later, the child trespasser was firmly in place in popular culture. He says the story is better known with “Silver-Hair” and he substitutes her into Southey’s text. Thereafter a series of blonde girls, including Silver Locks, Golden-Hair, and eventually Goldilocks, imposed on the bears in an increasing number of illustrated books for children.

Silverlocks sits in the smallest chairYou probably remember that Goldilocks first tastes the porridge the bears have left on the table. She finds the first bowl too hot, the second bowl too cold, and the third bowl “just right.” Similarly the chairs are too wide, too narrow, and “just right,” and the beds too hard, too soft, and “just right.” This pattern is nearly universal in both modern and older tellings of the story. In fact, the expression “Goldilocks principle” has come to be used for situations where a point in the middle of a spectrum is most desirable. For example, astronomers have the earth orbiting the sun in a so-called “Goldilocks zone” – a distance from a star in which a planet’s temperature is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist.Text in verseBut Crane’s Silverlocks finds two of the soups “too hot and biting,” two of the chairs uncomfortable in ambiguously different but not necessarily opposite ways, and two of the beds too hard. The reason for this is unclear. It is true that the story has been put into verse (by an unknown poet), but other versions in verse preserve the “two extremes and a compromise” pattern.

The bears return home and find the porridge and chairs meddled withIn this book it is only when the rightful inhabitants of the house return that we learn that they are “bears, not persons.” In most re-tellings, the story starts with the bears and there is no surprise.

The bears rush upstairsOf course Crane has been revealing this all along in his exuberant depiction of an Aesthetic Movement interior. The bears’ coat of arms in the stained glass window and painted chair, the decorated cabinet, the table linens, the labeled blue and white bowls, and the newel post sculpture that references the heraldic ragged staff and bear of the Earls of Warwick, all point to the owners’ nature.

Text in verseIn another way, though, Crane is firmly in line with modern practice. Southey’s bears were a Great, Huge Bear; a Middle-sized Bear; and a Little, Small, Wee Bear and all of them were male. By the early 1850s they were often depicted as a large male, medium-sized female, and small cub, even when Southey’s text was used. By the 1860s they were Father, Mother, and Cub, as they are in Crane’s version.

The Cub finds Silverlocks sleeping; Silverlocks jumps out the windowThe frightening confrontation between the householders and the intruder was also in flux as the story settled into its modern form. Where Southey’s bears stand and watch the old woman jump out the window as soon as she wakens, for the next 60 or 70 years, the ursine responses are less certain.

Text in verseCrane’s Mother and Father Bear dispute whether to eat Silverlocks for dinner or supper, and they are not alone among their contemporaries. In the 1893 Rays of Sunshine, for example, the bears intend to eat the intruder until they see she is a child, and become ashamed of their bloodthirstiness. The general trend is away from violence, but it is not a straight path, and in this book, Silverlocks’ Nurse very reasonably tells her that she has had a lucky escape.

Crane, Walter, and Edmund Evans. The Three Bears. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1873.

Enjoy Crane’s Three Bears on the Internet Archive. The College’s copy of Southey’s work is not digitized, but you can read his original story there as well.

With the continuing closure of the Library, we are blogging regularly about books from the exhibition, The Girl’s Own Book. Please follow us on Facebook or subscribe here for notices of new blog posts.

A New Game of Questions and Commands

Title page of The FrogIn April 1819, Mrs. Wake inscribed her gift to young John Challis – a copy of The Gaping Wide-Mouthed Waddling Frog: A New Game of Questions & Commands. John carefully wrote his name in pencil on the first illustrated page. These are facts. We have to imagine, though, what happened when John gathered friends and family to play the “new game.”

Directions for play and first verseFollowing the instructions in the book, they chose a Treasurer, perhaps John’s sister Lettice (who wrote her own name in the book sometime later). She took a thimble from her reticule, handed it to the child to her right and said, “Take this.”

The little neighbor asked, “What’s this?”

And Lettice replied, “A gaping wide-mouth, waddling Frog.” Each player, in turn, passed the thimble to their right, and the same dialog was exchanged between each pair.

When the thimble got back to Lettice, she handed it to her neighbor again, but her response to “What’s this?” was now “Two fat farmers stuck in a bog, and a gaping wide-mouth, waddling Frog.” And the game proceeded round and round, adding a line or two with each repetition.

Verses for six fine footmen and seven old maidsEvery time a player made a mistake, they had to hand over some trifling item – a forfeit – to the Treasurer. When the memory part of the game finished, the forfeits began. A Crier was chosen, and blindfolded. Lettice picked one of the objects, a handkerchief or a ring perhaps, and asked the crier to name a punishment for the owner. The assigned tasks were supposed to provoke enjoyment for all; the person had to sing a song or hop around the room or recite a tongue twister in order to retrieve their possession.

Verses for ten jackdaws and eleven tabbiesThere was a fashion in the eighteen teens for children’s books presenting cumulative rhymes as competitive games. Edward Wallis offered not just The Frog but also The Pretty, Young, Playful, Innocent Lamb and The House that Jack Built between 1815 and 1818. At the same time, John Marshall supplied The Hopping, Prating, Chatt’ring Magpie; The Pretty, Playful, Tortoise-Shell Cat; The Frisking, Barking, Lady’s Lap-Dog; and The Noble, Prancing, Cantering Horse. All are subtitled A New Game of Questions and Commands.

This raises two questions: where did these poems suddenly come from, and why are they called a new game of questions and commands?

Verse from The Universal Shuttlecock

The other version of The Frog, from The Universal Shuttlecock, 1790

A poem calledThe Gaping Wide-Mouthed Waddling Frog” first appeared in The Top Book of All, for Little Masters and Misses in 1760, then in 1790 in The Universal Shuttlecock, and around 1800 in Mirth Without Mischief. Surprisingly, the poem Wallis printed differs from the earlier texts. Both versions begin with the familiar frog, but then the texts diverge. Of course, Wallis (or whoever wrote the poem for him) knew the original verses, but chose not to use them. Likewise, all the other poems were original works created by Wallis or Marshall to offer variety for the market they had created. Only “The House that Jack Built” (first printed in 1755 as a poem, although not a game) contains a traditional text.

Questions_and_commands;_or,_the_mistaken_road_to_He-r-f-rd;_a_Sunday_evenings_amusement_by_James_Gillray

“Questions & Commands” by James Gillray, 1788

That leaves the issue of “Questions and Commands.” In 1711, in an issue of The Spectator, Joseph Addison included the game among a list of innocent amusements for a winter night. And in The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), the family plays blind man’s buff, hot cockles, hunt the slipper, and questions and commands at a Michaelmas Eve party. It turns out to be an 18th-century parlor game, played by adults as well as youngsters: A “commander” asks each player a question. If they refuse to respond, or if the answer does not satisfy the other players, the commander names a punishment. It is easy to see how, like the redemption of forfeits in our book, this game could lead to hilarity, but also to humiliation and ill will. A cartoon by James Gillray, from 1788, depicts a range of responses to a saucy forfeit requiring a gentleman to stick his head under a lady’s dress, perhaps to kiss her foot.

Miss Goodchild, and her friends, drawing forfeits at the the new and entertaining Game of THE FROGThe forfeits are the essential feature, then, on which the subtitle New Game of Questions and Commands is based. We cannot tell if it was Wallis or Marshall who thought of linking back to an old-fashioned game that was not really very appropriate for their young customers, but it must have been a successful branding decision, since they both retained it in repeated printings of their books.

Characters from The Frog on ZoomWhat about an even newer game of questions and commands? In this time of making one’s own fun and remote socializing, I’ve been considering playing The Frog on Zoom. Can modern players learn the poem by hearing it repeated? Do I have to be able to recite it perfectly to lead the game? How many of my friends would google the poem, find our scanned book on the Internet Archive, and cheat? What are the forfeits like in a digital age – do you still command someone to sing, or should they cue up a karaoke video? (The host of a Zoom meeting can mute an attendee, so it couldn’t be too bad.) Do they have to share the eighth picture from their camera roll or pictures folder? Must they say three times a tongue twister the host sends them by chat?

If you play the game, please report back!

Marianne Hansen, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts

The Gaping Wide-Mouthed Waddling Frog. A New Game of Questions & Commands. London: Printed for E. Wallis, and J. Wallis, 1817.

Read our copy on the Internet Archive.

With the continuing closure of the Library, we are blogging regularly about books from the exhibition, The Girl’s Own Book. Please follow us on Facebook or subscribe here for notices of new blog posts.

Naughtiness and – Disproportionate? – Punishment

Until the end of the eighteenth century, moral literature for the young focused primarily on religious instruction. But changing ideas about childhood resulted in new parenting styles, with increasing emphasis on empathy, reason, and psychological reward and punishment. Books for children began to speak openly of earthly as well as heavenly rewards for good behavior – happiness, parental love, social approbation, and gifts and treats. Naughtiness, similarly, resulted not only in eternal damnation but also in rebuke, deprivation, social isolation, corporal punishment, injury, and even death. Although many of these books also contained religious instruction, morality and behavior drove much of the narrative, rather than piety and belief. title page of "The Daisy, or, Cautionary Stories in Verse"The most successful book of this sort was The Daisy, or, Cautionary Stories in Verse: Adapted to the Ideas of Children from Four to Eight Years Old, attributed to Elizabeth Turner. First published by John Harris in 1807, it was reprinted in England and America throughout the nineteenth century. Half the poems are about good children who are obedient, kind to their pets and their siblings, speak courteously, study hard at school, and are benefactors of the poor. But the more interesting narratives are driven by conflict, and the most memorable characters are ill-behaved. The Daisy is famous for bad things happening to barely naughty people – burned, poisoned, drowned. It is the epitome of the alarmist books that were parodied first by Hoffman’s Struwwelpeter, and later by Gorey in the Gashlycrumb Tinies. To the 21st-century reader it seems absurd to have threatened such dire outcomes of typical childish misbehavior, especially for such a young audience.

verse and image for "The new Dolls"

Click on this or any picture for a larger view. Use the Back button to return to the blog.

Some of the infractions and punishments do seem reasonable, even to modern feelings. Sisters Jenny and Polly fight over whose new doll is bigger – and their mother takes the dolls away from them.

Social pressure is another familiar motive for moral improvement. Miss Peggy is reformed from throwing tantrums by the humiliation of having a gentleman come into the house to learn what all the screaming is about. verse and image for "Miss Peggy"We are not, of course, always sympathetic to 19th-century sensibilities. In “Falsehood Corrected” Jacky ties a brick to the cat and drowns it. But he is punished for lying about it – and not for having murdered the family pet. verse and image for "Falsehood corrected"Strangest to us are the childish infractions which result in serious injury or death. Miss Sophia neglects her schoolwork and climbs a gate she knows she shouldn’t – and is injured in falling from a gate “as high as any door.” verse and image for "Miss Sophia"Meanwhile, Peter warmed a fireplace poker to red heat, and waved it around until he burned himself – but he would not have been injured if he had obeyed his mother. Disobedience is the greatest, and underlying, offense in most of these stories. Besides recording actions that are inconsiderate, bad-tempered, or foolhardy, the poems stress that the children are doing what they had expressly been told not to do. Even “modern” 19th-century parents, who sympathized, and empathized, and relied upon discussion and reason in correcting their children, felt that those children should obey them immediately and without question. verse and image for "Dangerous Sport"As the the result of disobedience, three children in The Daisy are injured – Peter (burned), Sophia (bruised), and Frances, who spins until she is dizzy and hurts herself when she falls. Three die. The fatalities are Tom and Jane, who eat poisonous berries they should have left alone, and Helen, who looks into a well every chance she gets until the day she slips and falls in. verse and image for "The giddy Girl"Helen also used to run across the street, disregarding the danger of carriages. And this gives us a hint that there might actually have been something reasonable about the urgency that drove Elizabeth Turner and contemporary writers to condemn so harshly what seems like simple disobedience and childish foolishness.

Account of accidental deaths In the first week of April. 1844

General Register Office; Royal College of Physicians of London. A Table of Mortality for the Metropolis, Shewing the Number of Deaths from All Causes Registered in the Week ending Saturday, 6th April. London: Hartnell, 1844. Scan from the Internet Archive.

The General Register Office for England and Wales, in 1844, began publishing reports for deaths in London in a format that permits one to track causes of mortality for children. I took a quick sample – the first week of each month from that year. Of the 5350 persons between the ages of 0 and 15 who died in those twelve weeks, 102 suffered “Violent deaths” – something other than disease or an inherent medical condition killed them. 40 of those deaths resulted from the children’s clothes catching fire (and 2 more were scalded). Thirteen of the young people drowned. Eleven were run over by carriages. Five fell to their deaths. Nearly 70% of these real children died of one of the causes through which the imaginary children in The Daisy endanger themselves.

I finished my short statistical foray with new sympathy for the “dreadful results” genre of moral literature for the young. It still sounds shrill to me. But I have more specific, evidence-based, ideas now about the perils of living in a time when people cooked with fire, drove horses at high speed through crowded streets, and maintained uncovered wells. The behaviors punished in the poems were demonstrably dangerous. One can hardly blame loving parents from trying what they might to keep their children from harm.

– Marianne Hansen, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts

Turner, Elizabeth, and John Harris. The Daisy, or, Cautionary Stories in Verse: Adapted to the Ideas of Children from Four to Eight Years Old. London: J. Harris, 1807. We have not yet digitized our copy of The Daisy, but you can get an idea of the book from the 1817 edition at the University of California.

Explore the Table of Mortality for the Metropolis for yourself on the Internet Archive

With the continuing closure of the Library, we are blogging regularly about books from the exhibition, The Girl’s Own Book. Please subscribe or check back here, or follow us on Facebook for notices of new blog posts.

The Tragical Death of A Apple-Pye:

“A is for Apple. B is for Ball,” we say these days. But for two hundred years, English children learning the alphabet grappled instead with apple pie, greed, and interpersonal conflict.apple pie surrounded by the letters of the alphabet Hebrew, Greek and Latin sources provide ancient abecedarian poetry and texts, where the first letter of each line – or verse or stanza – starts with a letter in alphabetical order. Psalm 119 (“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. ” KJV) is abecedarian in Hebrew. St. Augustine’s Psalmus contra partem Donati sets the stanzas in alphabetical order, in Latin. Even Chaucer wrote a carmen secundum ordinem litterarum alphabeti, in English, in honor of the Virgin Mary.

No one knows when the first ABC poem meant for the youngest readers was created, but Apple Pie was current in England in the 17th century. John Eachard, satirist and doctor of divinity, published a humorous criticism of sermons in the Church in 1671. While abusing preachers who stretch their sermons by elaborating on each letter in a word (REPENT – Readily Earnestly, Presently, Effectually…) he says, “And also why not A Apple-pasty, B bak’d it, C cut it, D divided it, E eat it, F fought for it, G got it, &c. ?” The poem next appears in print in 1743, when it was included in The Child’s New Play-thing, a spelling book that began with several alphabets and ABC poems. It was printed frequently after that in the frenzy of the new market for children’s books.Title page of The Tragical Death

Many of those “books” were the tiny publications called chapbooks – a single sheet of paper printed on both sides, and folded to make a little sixteen-page pamphlet smaller than the palm of your hand. Our Apple Pye is one of these, roughly 3 1/2 inches tall and 2 1/4 inches wide. It was published around 1800 (it is undated) and the fragile miniature might not have survived, except that it was bound with 14 other chapbooks early on, probably in the eighteen teens.Child asking for pie. First ABC poem a-G

The book includes two alphabet poems, and it begins with a woodcut and a bit of doggerel where a canny child demands a large slice of pie, to save the trouble of asking for a second. The poem proper (The Tragical Death of A Apple-Pye, Who Was Cut in Pieces and Eat by Twenty Five Gentlemen) then begins, and each letter takes some action towards A, the apple pie itself.First ABC poem H-AThere is the usual trouble with choosing appropriate words at the end of the alphabet, and  X, Y, and Z have to collaborate with Ampersand. The “Twenty-five gentlemen” realize there may not be enough to go around, so they agree to stand in order around the pie and take turns.Discussion after first ABC poem. The pie surroudned by lettersBut they do not then all use their nicest manners to ensure a fair distribution of the meal. The second alphabet poem, A Curious Discourse that Passed Between the Twenty-five Letters at Dinner-Time, starts with A, like the little girl in the opening verse, asking for “a good, large slice.”Second ABC poem A-GEvery letter has its preferences, although most of them just want a lot of pie.Second ABC poem T-&. Publisher's advertisement.Predictably, by the time it is Y’s turn, he eats the last piece, and Z and Ampersand have to lick the dish. John Evans, the printer/publisher, then inserted an advertisement for his other books for “little readers,” complete with his shop address.Old lady who made the pie. Grace before mealsEvans still had three small pages to fill, so he added a woodcut of the imaginary old woman who made the pie in the poem, and stated she would supply a similar treat to good children. But since good people always pray before meals, he included a grace for the children to learn – to demonstrate that they deserved a pie. On the final page, he printed a postprandial grace and the Lord’s Prayer.Final page with grace after meals and the Lord's PrayerOur copy of The Tragical Death is part of the Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Books for Young Readers. It has been digitized and is available for your perusal on the Internet Archive.

The Tragical Death of a Apple-Pye, Who Was Cut in Pieces and Eat by Twenty Five Gentlemen: With Whom All Little People Ought to Be Very Well Acquainted. London: Printed by John Evans, 42, Long-lane, West-smithfield, c.1800.

With the continuing closure of the Library, we are blogging regularly about books from the exhibition, The Girl’s Own Book. Please subscribe or check back here, or follow us on Facebook for notices of new blogs.

Transformations of Images and Texts – The Orphan Girl

Dean & Co. was an early and prolific publisher of toy and movable books for children: pop-ups, pantomime books, “peepshow” or tunnel books. Their first line of novelty books was the series Dame Wonder’s Transformations, books with a hole cut in each page through which the face of the main character appears, surrounded by the events of the story.Cover fo the book: Dame Wonder's Transformations. The Orphan Girl. The Orphan Girl, published between 1843 and 1845, is a charming example of this technology.

Face of the orphan girl showing through the hole through all five pages

The orphan girl’s face showing through all the pages of the book.

The story is told in the first person by the “orphan girl”, who appears to be in her mid-to late teens at the beginning of the book. She is left alone, although in possession of a cottage, and she calls upon God to keep her from sin and to supply her needs. The orphan girl kneels in prayer at a table, hands restin on a large book. Tree branches without leaves are seen through the window.As a result of her earnest piety, her garden provides abundant bouquets which she sells to the wealthy. The orphan girl sells a bunch of flowers to a well-dressed lady. A fashionable coach appears in the background.In addition, her domestic fowl and sheep increase prodigiously, bees swarm to her home, and her fruit trees and vines bear heavily. The orphan girl stands otudoor, surrounded by a variety of domestic birds. A yong boy and girl stand nearby. Sheep are on the hill in the background.She occasionally teaches a neighbor’s child to read, apparently as a leisure activity. The orphan girl sits sewing wiht a youn g girl next to her holding an open bookSuddenly, her brother returns from India, having made a fortune, and provides the means for the two of them to live comfortably in the cottage. The brother, dressed in naval uniform embraces his sister at the cottage. A ship in full sail appears in the background.In the last scene, supplied abundantly herself, she gives bread and drink to an impoverished neighbor.The orphan girl gives food to a neighbor woman with two childre. The brother sits nearby under a trellis.The narrative is related to the most famous children’s book of the eighteenth century, Little Goody Two-Shoes, although in The Orphan Girl, the account is condensed to an extreme. The original, first published in 1765, tells the story of a sister and brother whose parent die when the children are small. They are separated, and the story follows the sister who lives at first in extreme poverty in the country, gradually gaining the respect and trust of her fellow villagers. By the time she is in her early teens she supports herself by going house to house daily, teaching younger children to read. When the schoolmistress retires, she is chosen to replace her. Her competence and kindness induce a local gentleman first to employ, then to woo her. Their wedding is enlivened by the return of her now wealthy brother, and she lives afterward as a model of prudence, piety, and effective charity. The Libraries do not, unfortunately, have an early copy of the book, but you can read it on the Internet Archive.

Of course, if you reduce a story from 100 plus pages to a bare six images you must simplify the narrative. Goody Two-Shoes appeared in dozens of later, shorter versions, many of which suggest that the reader was expected already to know the story. But the differences in these two accounts give us an opportunity to reflect on the lessons conveyed by books to their young readers. The “orphan girl” is devout and trusts God, and she is rewarded for her faith and piety by prosperity, without any effort beyond prayer. Although Goody Two-Shoes also conveyed numerous religious messages, it featured a protagonist who made her way in the world though dogged hard work, good nature, and intelligence. Both are historically acceptable role models – but what a difference in the influences the two might have on a young female reader.

Detail showing the orphan girl teaching a little girl.The Orphan Girl. London: Dean & Co., 35 Threadneedle Street, 1843-1845

The History of Little Fanny – Make Your Own Paper Dolls

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This gallery contains 19 photos.

The History of Little Fanny, Exemplified in a Series of Figures was offered in 1810 by the publisher S. and J. Fuller at their magnificent Temple of Fancy, a London emporium of artists’ supplies, instruction books on drawing and painting, … Continue reading

On Gardens Speak by Tania El Khoury

Student Intern Tanjuma Haque

Tanjuma Haque (BMC 2021)

REFLECTION by Tanjuma Haque (BMC 2021)

Even though I had already seen the set-up of Gardens Speak before and knew what was going to happen, the moment I stepped in through the doors, everything felt completely alien. The lights were dim on the two pews where the ten of us went and sat as the guide handed us one card each person.

As I entered the space where the garden with the graves was made, honestly, I was scared for a moment or two. Since we all had to take off our shoes before we entered the space, the soil was cold under my bare feet as I searched for the person’s grave whose headstone’s picture was on my card.

The humming noise clarified into words as I dug the soil near the headstone with my hands. I put my head next to the pillow with their name, in front of the headstone, and lied and listened quietly. I heard Mustafa’s narrative of how everything was before and after he died, spoken by a man in the first person.

I had taken a Middle Eastern Politics class last semester and I had seen movies from the Middle East that showcased the different uprisings and killings and I knew about the conflicts, but those were nothing compared to when I heard, what seemed to me, Mustafa’s voice, speaking about how he died with many others when a missile struck a peaceful rally and that his girlfriend came and saw him in pieces and that he wanted to say that he loves her, but he no longer could.

I am not a very emotional person and I did not cry then, but when I was writing the letter to Mustafa, I thought that he probably could see me write the letter or something. Later, I went to Tell Me What I Can Do and that is when I almost cried when I saw so many letters full of hope and prayers and support for all the martyrs.

Gardens Speak, possibly the best live artwork I have seen, was a phenomenal experience. From my perspective, it is an extraordinary piece of art, it has the ability to bring people from different parts of the world, with different beliefs, religions, and races, together because nothing motivates love more than the sense of unfair loss. When we, the audience, write letters to the martyr, we all get bound by the same affection.

 

On Assisting with Gardens Speak & Camp Pause during ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury

Photo of Intern Author, Rachel Adler

Rachel Adler (BMC 2021)

REFLECTION by Rachel Adler (Class of 2021), Sept 24, 2018

This past week of training and working on Camp Pause and Gardens Speak has been both exciting and slightly overwhelming in the best way. I started off training for Gardens Speak, but had not realized how jarring it would be to see a piece- especially one I’ve been so thrilled to experience in real life- behind the scenes. Seeing how many people and elements go into the piece makes it more authentic and meaningful in a unique way. I have yet to experience Gardens Speak as an actual showing, but I am eager to see how it differentiates from merely training around it- the different lighting, smells, and feelings that I know I will experience because I was told just how it all happens.

The Camp Pause Training was significantly shorter and more tech-based, but it was also nice because it was the training where I got to see Tania El-Khoury again. It’s interesting to hear how objects in the piece, such as the colorful little chairs, are put there with a specific purpose, for more than just for sitting. The chairs and their coordinating cords were specifically made those colors, and invoke feelings of childhood. The type of chairs are children’s chairs in Palestine and Lebanon. All of which I wouldn’t have known and didn’t know until Tania explained it in training, which I thought was a lovely bonus. Art is always purposeful in what it does, says, and expresses. I felt similarly with the Gardens Speak training and learning that the dirt is sprayed with an earthy essential oil, and flowers are thrown onto the audience while they rest on the graves. These little aspects of the overall piece shape it and make it special.

I have worked both the Camp Pause and Gardens Speak pieces at this point and feel a sort of peculiar feeling watching audiences going into an exhibit and walking out. I feel that particularly with the Gardens Speak piece, there is an intimate, unspoken element of trust required from the artist and the audience. Trust that the audience will respect the piece, trust that they will not make it about themselves, and I feel that this trust is not necessarily always kept up on the audience’s part. Hearing audience members leave the Camp Pause piece, saying things like, “That made me so sad,” and “What a depressing video,” feels selfish and lacks the maturity to realize that as a viewer, you only experience something that is someone else’s entire life for 10 minutes, something which you don’t have to live with once you leave the exhibit space. I suppose that is the side effect of interactive pieces, because self-centered people will turn an interactive piece and make into how they feel about their own lives, their own political climates, when that’s not what these pieces are about. But the beauty of the pieces are their interactivity and the ability to turn an issue that feels remote- like the Syrian war or the Israel-Palestine conflict- and make it feel next door to a viewer, and personal. Humans empathize with other people when they feel like individuals rather than masses, and that’s why pieces like Camp Pause and Gardens are so important.

On Meeting Tania El Khoury…

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REFLECTION by Maya Stucky (Class of 2020)

I applied to intern with artist Tania El Khoury for both personal and academic reasons. As the daughter of a Lebanese immigrant, I feel deep-rooted connections to the country and what occurs within its borders. I make a conscious effort to be aware of its triumphs and of its downfalls, and the presence of refugees in Lebanon has, in my experience, caused controversy. Thus, my involvement in El Khoury’s work is my own personal way of combatting that controversy and being part of the exploration of Middle Eastern politics.

The first thing I noticed about El Khoury is that everyone in a room with her seems to be drawn to her – not only as an artist but also as a person. She has this fascinating energy to her that makes you want to learn more about her or just listen to her speak. She exudes authenticity and warmth. Originally, I could not tell if I felt this energy simply because I feel an innate connection to all Lebanese women because of my own Lebanese heritage, but as I observed the rest of the room and spoke to other interns, it seemed to me that everyone else was just as intrigued. Her presence is not stately and intense, as she truly is very humble and kind, but she radiates strength and knowledge in a way that has you hanging on to every word she says. Conversely, just as El Khoury’s interns attempt to get to know her better, she is doing the same with us. She cares deeply for her work, her subjects, and her audience and wants to ensure those who are representing her and guiding her audience can do so in the appropriate way.

In terms of discussing her work, El Khoury is incredibly particular and precise about every detail about her pieces and the acquisition of her material. Where she falls short, especially in terms of accessibility, she recognizes and seems to be making a conscious effort to create a sensorium that attempts to include all audiences. Accessibility at Bryn Mawr is something that is constantly being brought up, and I think El Khoury was impressed by the students’ advocacy for the utmost amount of inclusion possible. Although she is incredibly particular in her work, I believe she appreciates that her works lose effect the less accessible they become.

I truly am so excited to work with El Khoury in the fall. I know that she has much to teach us about her work, her inspiration, and all the various factors that go into the production of live art. Through her work I hope to grow and witness the growth of her audience through such cathartic and important stories.