Author André-Marc Aymé has once again rendered the Society an invaluable service by identifying the European Magazine review of a melodrama titled “Gordon the Gypsey”, staged at London’s English Opera House on 6 August 1822. The review attributes the story of Gordon the Gypsey to James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, and fails to mention Vardill’s version of the tale, which appeared in the European Magazine two years earlier as “Annals of Public Justice 1: The High Court of Justiciary, and a Gypsy Chief”. Vardill’s tale and the accompanying footnotes were subsequently included verbatim in several compilations of Hogg’s works. A brief account of this misattribution, with contemporary reviews of the melodrama, are now available on the Society’s website.
The Society is indebted to author André-Marc Aymé for his list of European Magazine tales that were reproduced three or more times in other publications, often with false or incorrect attributions.
Author André-Marc Aymé has kindly drawn the Society’s attention to an early uncredited publication of Anna Jane Vardill’s Legends of Lampidosa in the United States.
- The Legends of Lampidosa: Or the Seven Heroines. New York: W. H. Graham, 1844.
The stories had previously appeared in magazines such as:
- The Atheneum, or, Spirit of the English Magazines. Boston, 1817
- Robinson’s Magazine; A Repository of Original Papers; And Selections from the English Magazines. Baltimore: 1819.
- Cabinet: A Collection of Romantic Tales; Embracing the Spirit of the English Magazines. New York: 1836.
M. Aymé has also identified references to AJV’s stories in a letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and a novel by John Neal.
In a letter to Evert A. Duyckinck dated 1st July 1845, Hawthorne writes:
A good many years ago, turning over a series of volumes called the “Athenaeum”—a selection from the English Magazines, published at Boston—I met with a series of stories called the Legends of Lampidosa. They struck me as very remarkable productions, quite a species by themselves. I do not know that they ever made any impression on the public; nor am I altogether sure that they would impress me, now, with any of the admiration which I felt then. But I wish you would look them over, and see whether they might no be profitably republished as a number of the Library of Choice Reading. It is twelve years, or more, since I saw them; and they were then of old date—published at least a dozen years before. If I recollect rightly, they were credited to the European Magazine.
In the second volume of Randolph, A Novel by the Author of Logan and Seventy-six (Baltimore, 1823. p. 58) “Edward Molton” in a letter to “George Stafford” comments:
Byron still perseveres; and so do several of your moderns, particularly Moore and Barry Cornwell; and all of ours, who, like Mr. Percival, are addicted, grossly, to Byron. By the way, you have a she poet among you, with a more brilliant plumage, and a finer song, by far, than any female that I ever heard of—and far superior to most of your males. She is the author of Legends of Lampidosa—and is called Mrs. Lehman, I believe.
Transcription of the Vardill materials held by the Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections of Washington State University is now complete and they can be accessed in the Other Works section of the Society’s website.
The WSU stories form a significant part of Vardill’s Law-Book series. This unfinished and unpublished three-part series (A Little Girl’s Law-Book, A Young Lady’s Law-Book, and An Old Lawyer’s Legends) consists of a sequence of inter-connected stories about assumed identities and false inheritance claims, initially written for Vardill’s daughter Agnes, but ultimately intended for the general reader (See L’Envoi)
The Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC) of the Washington State University Libraries contain a portfolio of important Vardill materials, including a letter from Lord Moira authorizing the dedication of her first book to Princess Charlotte, and a volume of unpublished stories collected for her daughter Agnes.
These materials are contained in Cage 1541 of MASC.
With the kind assistance of the MASC Manuscripts Librarian, the Society has acquired scans of the unpublished Vardill stories and obtained permission to place transcriptions on the Society’s website.
The work of transcribing and digitizing the stories will take several weeks, and notification of completion will be posted to the Journal.
Anna Jane Vardill was an enthusiastic contributor to the Attic Chest literary circle hosted by Eleanor Anne Porden. Her submissions to the circle are preserved by the Derbyshire Record Office (DRO) as part of the Gell Collection.
With the help and cooperation of the DRO, the Society has transcribed the entire Attic Chest collection and placed it online. The collection is available at attic.vardill.org and links to Vardill’s contributions can be found at attic.vardill.org/authors/vardill.
A reference section has been added for materials related to the Attic Chest. The following items are currently available: