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Archive for the 'Artists' Category

I have had for the first time the courage to say, “Monsieur, I am growing deaf” – Marie Bashkirtseff, Artist

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 16 November 2018

Maria Konstantinovna Bashkirtseva or Marie Bashkirtseff (1858-1884), was a Ukrainian Russian born artist and diarist.  She led a fascinating if brief life, and kept a regular diary from the age of twelve, where she put everything of herself, her hopes, fears, sorrows and joys.  Gladstone famously called it “a book without a parallell.”

The diaries were originally published by her family in an expurgated version in 1888, which was translated into English by the German born English poet, Mathilde Blind.  Marie describes her life, struggles to be accepted in art, and her illness, of which her hearing loss and deafness was a side effect.  More details of her life are to be found on the web (see links below) and her portrait paintings are very fine, well worth seeking out.  She attended the same Art School in Paris as the British Deaf art student George Annand Mackenzie did some years later, the Académie Julian.

Her experience of losing her hearing will, I believe, be recognized by many in a similar situation.  The follow entries date from 1880.  At first there is the mishearing –

Saturday, May 8th. — When people talk in a low voice I do not near. This morning when Tony asked me whether I had seen any of Pemgino’s work, I said “No,” without understanding.

And when I was told of it afterwards, I got out of it, but very badly, by saying that indeed I had not seen any of it, and that, on the whole, it was better to admit one’s ignorance. (p.406)

Then she has tinnitus, and has to endure the ignorant behaviour of others –

Thursday, May 13th. — I have such a singing in my ears that I am obliged to make great efforts in order that it may not be noticed.

Oh ! it is horrible. With S___ it is not so bad because I am sitting near him ; and besides, whenever I like, I can tell him that he bores me.  The G___s talk loud. At the studio they laugh and tell me that I have become deaf; I look pensive, and I laugh at myself: but it’s horrible. (p.407)

There are times when it improves –

Wednesday, July 21st. — I have commenced my treatment. You are fetched in a closed Sedan chair. A costume of white flannel — drawers and stockings in one — and a hood and cloak ! Then follow a bath, a douche, drinking the waters, and inhaling in succession. I accept everything. This is the last time that I mean to take care of myself, and I shouldn’t do it now but for the fear of becoming deaf. My deafness is much better — nearly gone. (p.416)

Then she is told how serious her condition is –

Friday, September 10th. — … Doctor Fauvel, who sounded me a week ago and found nothing the matter, has sounded me to-day and found that my bronchial tubes are attacked ; his look became . . .  grave, affected, and a little confused at not having foreseen the seriousness of the evil ; then followed some of the prescriptions for consumptive persons, cod-liver oil, painting with iodine, hot milk, flannel, &c. &c, and at last he advises going to see Dr. Sée or Dr. Potain, or else to bring them to his house for a consultation. You may imagine what my aunt’s face was like ! I am simply amused ! I have suspected something for a long time ; I have been coughing all the winter, and I cough and choke still.

Besides, the wonder would be if I had nothing the matter ; I should be satisfied to have something serious and be done with it

My aunt is dismayed, and I am triumphant Death does not frighten me; I should not dare to kill myself but I should like to be done with it . . . If you only knew ! . . . . I will not wear flannel nor stain myself with iodine; I am not anxious to get better. I shall have, without that, quite enough health and life for all I shall be able to do in it.

Friday, September 17th. — Yesterday I went again to the doctor to whom I went about my ears, and he admitted that he did not expect to see matters so serious, and that I should never hear so well as formerly. I felt as if struck dead. It is horrible! I am not deaf certainly, but I hear as one sees through a thin veil. For instance, I cannot hear the tick of my alarm-clock, and I may perhaps never hear it again without going close up to it. It is indeed a misfortune. Sometimes in conversation many things escape my hearing. . . . Well, let us thank heaven for not being blind or dumb as yet. (p.422-3)

This was two years before Robert Koch, the founder of modern microbiology, identified the causative agent of ‘consumption’ – Tuberculosis, as Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  It seems likely that the this was the cause of her deafness, but we cannot be sure.  In that year, 1882, she was confronted by the news that her hearing was gone and would not return –

Thursday, November 16th. — I have been to a great doctor — a hospital surgeon — incognito and quietly dressed, so that he might not deceive me.

Oh! he is not an amiable man. He has told me very simply I shall never be cured. But my condition may improve in a satisfactory manner, so that it will be a bearable deafness ; it is so already ; it will be more so according to all appearances. But if I do not rigorously follow the treatment he prescribes it will increase. He also directs me to a little doctor who will watch over me for two months, for he has not the time himself to see me twice a week as is necessary.

I have had for the first time the courage to say, “Monsieur, I am growing deaf.” Hitherto I have made use of, ” I do not hear well, my ears are stopped, &c.” This time I dared to say that dreadful thing, and the doctor answered me with the brutality of a surgeon.

I hope that the misfortunes announced by my dreams may be that But let us not busy ourselves in advance with the troubles which God holds in reserve for his humble servant. Just at present I am only half deaf.

However, he says that it will certainly get better. As long as I have my family to watch round me and to come to my assistance with the readiness of affection all goes well, yet …. but alone, in the midst of strangers !

And supposing I have a wicked or indelicate husband ! … If again it had been compensated by some great happiness with which I should have been crowned without deserving it ! But . . . why, then, is it said that God is good, that God is just ?

Why does God cause suffering? If it is He who has created the world, why has He created evil, suffering, and wickedness ?

So then I shall never be cured. It will be bearable ; but there will be a veil betwixt me and the rest of the world. The wind in the branches, the murmur of the water, the rain which falls on the windows . . . words uttered in a low tone … I shall hear nothing of all that ! With the K____ s I did not find myself at fault once ; nor at dinner either ; directly the conversation is just a little animated I have no reason to complain. But at the theatre I do not hear the actors completely ; and with models, in the deep silence, one does not speak loud . . . However . . . without doubt, it had been to a certain decree foreseen. I ought to have become accustomed to it during the last year … I am accustomed to it, but it is terrible all the same.

I am struck in what was the most necessary to me and the most precious. (p.565-6)

She died on October the 31st, 1884, and was buried in the Cimetiere de Passy in Paris, a few weeks before her twenty-sixth birthday.

It is certainly wrong to portray her by her illness alone.  She was a dynamic and interesting person, and the tragedy is she did not have the opportunity to show what she might have achieved.  I hope some of you will be interested to read her diaries and see her paintings.

Marie_Bashkirtseff1878Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff, Translated by Mathilde Blind, London 1890

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Marie-Bashkirtseff

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13916/13916-h/13916-h.htm

Marie Bashkirtseff. Part 2 her later life and diaries

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Bashkirtseff

Marie Bashkirtseff. Part 1 The portraitist and feminist

Gladstone, W. E. (1889). JOURNAL DE MARIE BASHKIRTSEFF. The Nineteenth Century: A Monthly Review, Mar.1877-Dec.1900, 26(152), 602-607. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/2630378?accountid=14511

Her paintings:

https://www.wikiart.org/en/marie-bashkirtseff/all-works#!#filterName:all-paintings-chronologically,resultType:masonry

https://www.ecosia.org/images?q=marie+bashkirtseff

The following looks interesting but I have not seen the article:

VALLERY-RADOT P 1955 Nov 26;63(79):1659-60. Une curieuse malade (1860-1884); Marie Bashkirtseff peinte par elle-même d’après son journal. [A strange patient (1860-1884); Marie Bashkirtseff who, according to her diary, she portrayed herself]. [Article in French]

 

“He owes his mental development to the manual method” – George Annand Mackenzie, the first Deaf man to get a degree in Britain

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 9 November 2018

George Annand Mackenzie, (1868-1951) was the first born deaf man to obtain a degree from a British university (B.A. in Theology, 1910, Master of Arts, Cambridge, 1911).*

Born to Scottish parents, his father was a chief reporter for the Liverpool Mercury (census, 1881).  He was not the first in his family who was deaf.  His elder brother, James Wilson Mackenzie (1865-95), was a talented artist, but he died young, and his obituary appeared in his father’s paper.  I wonder if their father wrote it –

THE LATE MR WILSON MACKENZIE.—Poignant regret is kindled in the hearts of his old masters, his old fellow-students, his nearer circle of friends, and the wider range which embraces those whose admiring appreciation is confined to true art, by the announcement of the death of Mr. J. Wilson Mackenzie, eldest eon of Mr. J. B. Mackenzie, of Liverpool, the sad event having occurred at West Kirby on Tuesday night. Early in his youth Wilson Mackenzie developed a remarkable aptitude in drawing and a fine sense of colour. He was placed under Mr. John Finnie, the principal of the School of Art, in Mount-street, and after a prolonged course of tuition in that nursery of painters, passed over to Paris, where he spent some time in the famous studio of Bougereau. While on the very threshold of his career, and later, he was an honoured exhibitor at the Royal Academy, and on many occasions works from his easel were hung in the Autumn Exhibitions in the Walker Gallery. In portraiture he ever minced the highest qualities of perception of charterer, and notable examples of his rare gifts in this direction are to be found inks presentments of the late Dr. E. M. Sheldon, Dr. J. Kona Smith, the late Police Magistrate of Birkenhead (Mr. J. Preston), and the into Dr. Costine. Some few years back signs of failure of the young painter’s health began to assert themselves, and in search of restoration he repaired to Davos Plata. For a time the change gave rise to hopes of recovery, but these, alas, faded away, and he returned home a. few months ago to die amongst those he loved so well. Wilson Mackenzie—it is agreeably easy to recall his eyes, quick with the brightness of genius, his graceful features, and his buoyant demeanour—was of a singularly sweet disposition, and all who know him, and knowing him therefore esteemed him, share with his parents. his sister, and his brothers the grief with which the calamity of his untimely demise has overshadowed their household. The funeral is to take place at. West Kirby Parish Church, at three o’clock to-morrow (Friday) afternoon. (Liverpool mercury, 1895, 1oth October)

In fact, the 1881 census says that George was ‘semi-deaf from birth,’ suggesting that at least when younger he had some hearing.  His mother sent him to live in Perthshire with an uncle who farmed , in the hope that the climate would help his hearing, but he seems to have run wild and was so shy on his return that he hid when he was re-introduced to his older brother (Silent World 1951, p.266).  We also read that he – and presumably his brothers – was taught initially by his mother “in finger spelling and signing – arts in which she was adept” which makes one wonder whether she learnt to help them or had learnt from some deaf relative.  Robert Armour (1837-1913), Missioner for the Deaf in Liverpool (born in Kilmarnock and deafened at 18 months by “some malady of the brain”) gave him some instruction in English composition, and he and his brothers walked five miles to the nearest church where services for the Deaf were held, so they met other members of the local Deaf community, like George Healey.

At thirteen after irregular attendances at a junior school, he went to a large hearing school, where the classes were too big and the teachers overworked. Being the only deaf pupil there he received scant attention. His school-mates with the thoughtless cruelty of the young made fun of him, standing around the door when class was dismissed and waving their hands and fingers in mimicry of his only means of expression. He took all this, he says, in good part, refusing to be drawn into any manifestation of anger or weakness and his good natured smiles soon made the game lose its savour and turned most of his tormentors into staunch and understanding friends. (Silent World p.266-7)

He was pretty much left to work out lessons for himself, gazing at pages of fractions and decimals until he understood, and he was successful enough to win school prizes (ibid).  His mother encouraged him to use his voice, but in The Teacher of the Deaf (1910, p.150) we read “He owes his mental development to the manual method.”

Leaving school, he became an artist like his brothers, winning prizes, and painting portraits of Sir Edward R. Russell , Dr. Robert Jones, and the Rev. T.W.M. Laud, among others.  He worked as an art master at a Liverpool school, and a potterty designer in Derby, before becoming a missioner to the deaf in 1901.  He then worked in Ely, Oxford and Cambridgeshire, before going to Cardiff from 1921 until his retirement in 1931.

He had tried to enter Liverpool University, with no success, and was also declined at Oxford when he was missioner there.  In 1907 the Cambridge University academics were however more enlightened than their Oxford colleagues, and he was accepted as a student.  He was excused lectures and spent the days reading for six to eight hours.  He graduated in 1910, causing a minor splash in newspapers of the time.

George married a Deaf lady from Cambridgeshire, Emily Lucy Kett (a good Norfolk name!) (1873-1954), and they had the one child, Alan.  He became involved in the deaf community, not really surprisingly, and went into the church.  The Rev. Alan F. Mackenzie (1911-1997) worked for the R.A.D.D. and was at one time on the council of the N.I.D.

The younger brother, Charles Douglas Mackenzie (1875-1953), was also Deaf.  He too became an artist, and seems to have made a living out of it.  He remained living with their mother after his father died.  Unfortunately I have not had time to research him properly.

*There is always the slim possibility that someone sneaked through before this, unrecorded.

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3849; Folio: 124; Page: 54; GSU roll: 841928

1881 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3419; Folio: 6; Page: 3

British Deaf Times, 1910, 7, 169-170

Grand Old Gentleman, Silent World vol.5 (9) 1951 p.266-8

The Messenger, 1910 vol.10 (6) p.80-82

Obituary. Teacher of the Deaf, 1951, 49, 154

ROE, W.R. Peeps into the deaf world. Bemrose, 1917. pp. 186-92.

Teacher of the Deaf, 1910, 8, 149-151. (photo)

Alan Pole Allsebrook, Deaf, art student, fruit farmer, Canadian (1880-1976)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 November 2018

Alan Pole Allsebrook was born in Wollaton, Nottinghamshire on the 26th of May, 1880.  His father was a farmer.  Alan lost his hearing aged six due to scarlet fever (Berg, 2017).  From Silent World we can say that he was educated “at Mr. Green’s Deaf School in Nottingham, afterwards going to Northampton, and thence studying art under Professor Sir H. von Herkomer, R.A., at Bushey, and at the Académie Julian.  By ‘Northampton’ we must suppose that is Spring Hill School, where the Re. Thomas Arnold had taught.  I would suppose H.N. Dixon was headmaster when Allsebrook was there. 

Nowell Berg tells us, I would suppose based on information from Alan’s daughter Naomi Miller, that he got a certificate in teaching at Nottingham School of Art, before going to Paris to study art, and then working on Liverpool Cathedral.  The Roe article tells us that he was a pupil of Sir Hubert von Herkomer, and that after his time in Paris he worked for a firm of ecclesiastical sculptors as a partner.   If we add those three sources together it makes sense, and we might suppose he was at art school from circa 1895 to 7 perhaps, then at Bushey, then in Paris.  In the 1901 census he was staying with his brother, Arthur, who was a barrister, in Inner Temple, where Alan was described as an art student.

He was certainly acquainted with the community of Deaf young men who formed the National Deaf Club, though I am not sure whether he was a member.  He must have know M.S. Fry as he was a regular contributor to The Silent World, the Fry-edited magazine that lasted from 1909 to 1910 before being absorbed into The British Deaf Times.  Allsebrook wrote a series of articles about his cycling holiday in France, and other articles such one entitled ‘Idling in Devon’ (The Silent World, 1910 p.85-7).

This article, A Deaf Art Student in Paris (Silent World, Vol 1 p.3-7), is written as Jules de Languedoc, but it is pretty clear to me that it is AllsebrookIt gives us a vivid picture of the life of a poor student.  From that we know it was ten years since he left, so he must have been there in about 1899.

In 1911 Allsebrook emigrated to British Columbia, “to try his luck in fruit farming” (Roe, p.220)

After sixteen weary days and nights of travelling, I landed at Nelson. It is a delightful little town of 8,50o inhabitants, and has some good shops and cosy houses, all built of wood. I was only there for two-and-a-half days, however, for the very first man I called upon, the morning after my arrival, took me on at his apple ranch at Kaslo, forty miles higher up the lake.

I was introduced to Carl Johansen, a Swede, who worked on the farm. We soon got to business, pruning and spraying six acres of apple trees. My first night’s sleep in my little ‘shack’ was somewhat restless, owing to the antics of a little squirrel who had got in and was squatting on the eaves over my head, regarding me curiously with his bright little eyes. Then I was rather cold ; and I might well be, for I found on getting up in the morning six inches of snow on the ground, the ice in my wash-basin one inch thick, and the contents of my kettle a solid block of ice.

There is one great discomfort here. The air is so dry that gloves are a sine qua non in working out-of-doors. Just imagine an English nurseryman in gloves! At first I set to work gaily, enough with bare hands, but in a few days every finger-tip and some of the joints cracked and oozed blood.

It is just a month since the door of my little ‘shack’ on the mountain side was pushed open one night as I was baking potatoes on the stove, when in walked my boss, and behind him showed my brother’s cheery, strong, brown face, just arrived from England. That was the end of my ‘hitching’—doing for your-self in a ‘shack ‘—for the time being, for within five days my brother had taken a rapid but thorough survey of all the likely lands round Nelson, and bought a lovely two-acre apple ranch, cleared and planted, at Balfour.

At his request I gave up my berth to go and spend the summer with him, helping him to knock his place into shape and get a house built. We saw on the plot many beautiful birds and magnificent butterflies, three to six inches across. By the way, we have not had any shooting yet, but the surveyor of Kaslo ran against two bears on the mountain side a week ago, but, not having his gun, he hurried away. Small blame to him, for these bears arc as big as a cart-horse. It is strange to see the people at church in unimaginable clothes and a dozen dogs sitting quietly by their owners.

Then, as to letters, they only come three times a week. Lord Aylmer has a ranch not very far from here. I intend that Kaslo shall be my future home, and have purchased a ranch on the lake front, which appears to me to be an ideal spot, surrounded as it is by beautiful scenery, and dotted all about the hills with rich, beautiful orchards of the finest fruit trees.

It is glorious! Soft, green leaves, bushes of roses of every size and hue, sweet-peas, pansies and violets, snapdragon and clematis, and creepers of all kinds. Below, the sparkling blue water ; and above, crag, forest, and peak of snow. Yes, you must look far round the world, and far east and west across this wonderful Canada, to find a fairer spot than Kaslo.

It certainly looks very beautiful!

Berg tells us that Alan and his youngest brother Eric were drafted in World War 1.  Alan returned to England in 1916, arriving at Liverpool on the 28th of May.  It is interesting if that is the case, as almost all Deaf people were excluded from serving when their deafness was discovered, however perhaps the Canadian forces (generally more meritocratic that the British Army) put him into some non-combat role – if he served with them?  I could not find any mention of him in online military records, but they are far from complete.

On a trip back to Britain, he met a friend of his sister Dorothy, Lucie Naomi Smith, and they got married and returned to Canada (Berg, 2017).

He lived to the age of 96, dying in Nelson, British Columbia, on the 17th of December, 1976.  We might say he had a long and fruitful life.

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2671; Folio: 145; Page: 4

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 264; Folio: 104; Page: 13

1916 – Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 623

1924 – Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 761

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/188709766/alan-pole-allsebrook

Berg, Nowell, Histories Historian: The Story of Naomi Miller. The Village Buzz, August 2017 Issue 201 http://wasalake.com/News/TVB-08-2017.pdf

Roe, W.R., Peeps into the Deaf World, 1917

A CODA – Child of Deaf Adults – Lon Chaney

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 20 April 2018

Many children of deaf people are hearing.  In deaf studies they are sometimes called CODAs – Children of Deaf Adults.  Being a CODA has its own set of issues and problems growing up, but it also has some advantages.  A CODA child will often be roped in to interpret between parents and officials, doctors, or the world in general, but it can also give them a foot in two cultures.  One example mentioned many times in these blog pages, is the Rev. Fred Gilby.  His parents were discover that he was not Deaf, and he learnt to sign when other children were beginning to speak (memoirs p.8).

Another such child, was the famous actor, Leonidas Frank “Lon” Chaney (1883-1930).  His mother, Emma, was Deaf, the daughter of Jonathan Kennedy, a farmer from Illinois, and from the birthplaces of his children you can see how their family typified the movement of settlers west onto the prairie; Ohio, then Kansas, then Emma married in Colorado where Lon was born.  Emma’s sister Matilda and brother Orange were also Deaf.  Jonathan Kennedy founded the Colorado Deaf School in 1874, no doubt because of his Deaf children.  We have some U.S.A. institution annual reports, but not those for Colorado unfortunately.

Chaney’s father, Frank, a barber, was also Deaf, and born in Ohio.  He met Emma at the Colorado school.  It seems that Chaney was a very private man, and there are many gaps in his early life, where comparatively little is known.

It may be that his facial expressiveness was part of a skill set he acquired when communicating with his parents, then used in his theatrical life.  He certainly put his abilities to great use in silent films, portraying, for example, the deaf Quasimodo, in the 1923 film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I have not had time to delve into his life, so I cannot say whether he was a true signer or not.  If you know, please comment with a source for any reference and I will update this.

Lon Chaney, the ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ (source of photo unknown)

If you know the song ‘Werewolves of London, you may recall he gets a mention –

“I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen

Doing the Werewolves of London.”

Though he was the Phantom of the Opera, and his son was the Wolf Man!

See www.ancestry.co.uk for his family tree

Soviet Education for the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 26 January 2018

Half a century ago the Mayor of Moscow called deaf mutes “living creatures who cannot properly be called human beings, but who only bear an outer resemblance to them.”

Five years later, in 1917, the workers and peasants assumed power in Russia.

The new social system accepted the deaf as useful citizens, and erased the brand that made them outcasts.

The Soviet Government not only recognised the legal rights of deaf mutes, but also provided all the conditions for those rights to be realised. (Pavel Sutyagin, Of those who cannot hear, 1962)

I cannot vouch for the source of Sutyagin’s quotation, but the official was likely to have been Alexander Adrianov, Governor-General of Moscow (1908–1915).  This booklet was produced in 1962, after a vistit to the U.S.S.R. by the World Federation for the Deaf.

After the revolution, all schools came under state control, and a Decree of 10th of December, 1919, ‘the Commisariat of Education was given responsibility for deaf mutes, blind and mentally retarded children.’  The Soviet Education Bulletin continues,

In 1926 and 1927 the Council for People’s Commisars laid down statues for establishments where deaf, dumb, blind and retarded children were educated and called for an improvement in this field, particularly in the training of such young people for socially useful work. Recognising the difficulty of this work, the Soviet Government instituted various incentives to induce teachers to qualify for it (higher saleries, pensions and so on).

Further decrees were issued in 1931 and 1936.  That of 1936 criticised the application of bourgeois “theories which were holding back the correct development of special schools.  This decree abandoned pedology and distributed most children classed as “difficult to educate” among ordinary schools.

In the post-war period special attention has been paid to children needing special education.  New types of vocational schools have been built for the further education of deaf-mutes. (p2)

I suppose ‘pedology’ is an error for pedagogy.  We have a collection of Russian language books, most of which are about to be catalogued by a colleague from the UCL SSEES Library.  I think they were donated by Russian visitors in the 1950s, and 1960s, while I expect some came from visits of groups to the U.S.S.R. by people like our former Librarian, Pierre Gorman.  Most seem to be oral in approach.

Below are some examples from beautifully illustrated books for teaching.  First, a 1965 book with a chapter on space and Yuri Gagarin, the classic soviet hero.

Next a reader for the second class, with gorgeous animal and bird pictures. Note the story of the crane and the fox.

Finally a book that looked to me to be from the 1950s, but is in fact from 1987, again with really good illustrations.

Lenin appears again, as do lots of nature pictures.

After writing this, we came across yet another publication, Overcoming the Silence Barrier by Ilya Gitlits, (1975).  It includes photos by the Deaf Russian photographer, Yuri Polkhovski.

Gitlits, Ilya, Overcoming the Silence Barrier, Novosti (1975).

Vartanyan, Eduard and Gitlits, Ilya (introduction by Sutyagin), Of those who cannot hear, 1962

SCR, Soviet Education Bulletin, 1955 vol 2 (1)

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/deaf-hear-russia-like-it-really-is-sign-language-moves-with-times-1427249.html

Helen Marion Burnside, “carried the radiance of her very soul in her face”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 6 October 2017

BurnsideThe chances are, that unless you are a collector of Victorian Christmas cards, you will never have heard of Helen Marion Burnside (1841-1923), yet in her day her words will have been widely read, for she wrote seasonal greeting verses;

In honour of the happy time
These girls and boys are brisk as bees,
From peep of day to vesper chime,
Preparing for festivities.

Born on September the 14th, 1841, in Bromley-by-Bow, Middlesex (London), probably at Manor field House, near the beautiful Bromley Hall, perhaps the oldest brick building in London, Helen lost her hearing aged 13 as a result of scarlet fever.  Note her birth was in 1841, as Mary Ann Helen – not 1844 as some sources say.  I think she cut a few years off her stated age as she got older.  She was baptized in St. Leonard’s Church in the 13th of October.

“During my girlhood days,” she once said to the writer, “my greatest desire was to become a musician, but at thirteen years of age a terrible calamity befell me. I became totally deaf as the result of an attack of scarlet fever, and never regained my hearing. Then it was I took to verse writing as another way of making music, for it was the desire to write words for music which, in the first instance, induced me to try the art of rhyming.”*

She was a talented artist, and had a picture exhibited at the Royal Academy when quite young; “before she was nineteen years of age the Royal Academy accepted one of her pictures of fruit and flowers, and, later, a couple of portraits in crayons” (The Strand).

She published many lyrics and poems, and it seems that over six thousand of her verses were put into Christmas cards over the years, as well as 150 of her songs being put to music.  This song, advertised in John Bull in 1871, was to music by Miss Maria Lindsay (Mrs M. Worthington Bliss);

It has seemed so long since morning tide,
And I have been left so lone,
Young smiling faces throng’d my side
When the early sunlight shone;
But they grew tired long ago, and I saw them sink to rest,
With folded hands and brows of snow, on the green earth’s mother breast.

Another lyric of hers, The Sprig of May, was put to music by Queen Victoria’s pianist, Jacques Blumenthal in 1883.

She worked as a designer for the Royal School of Art Needlework for nine years, “painting vellum bound books, having obtained a diploma in this branch of art from the World’s Columbian Exhibition.

Marion wrote many children’s books, and contributed many articles to The Girl’s Own Paper, including a story called “The Deaf Girl next door; or Marjory’s life work” which was in the March supplement in 1899, that I have not yet tracked down.  I wonder whether she knew Fred Gilby in person, for in a long article in The Girl’s Own Paper for 1897, she wrote an article about the Deaf, talking about The Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb, mentioning Ephphatha their magazine, and its editor, MacDonald Cuttell.  Writing to her audience of girls, she said, “What they require is to be encouraged to mix , on as equal terms as possible, with hearing persons, not to be set apart and left out in the cold, as if debarred by reason of their affliction from the interests, sympathies, amusements, and occupations of other girls.”

In 1878 she moved in to live with the novelist Rosa Nouchette Carey (1840–1909).  She was certainly staying with her a 3 Eton Road, near Chalk Farm, in 1871.  It seems probable that they were life long friends as Rosa was also born in Bromley-by-Bow in 1840.  Carey left her an annuity when she died.

W.R. Roe wrote of her, in Peeps into the Deaf World,

To her the pleasantest part of her work was that done for children.  On leaving the Royal School of Art and Needlework she was for some years engaged in editing for Messrs. Raphael Tuck and Co., and also wrote many stories and verses for children.
She said that the great regret of her life was that she did not become proficient in lip-reading.  She had become accustomed to the use of the manual alphabet on the part of her friends, and her life being a busy one, she had neither time nor opportunity to acquire an art which a few years back was regarded as of doubtful value compared to other branches of learning.
Marion Burnside carried the radiance of her very soul in her face; and she let the world have the benefit of it. (Roe, 1917, p.320)

Helen Marion Burnside died at Updown Hill House, in Windlesham, Surrey, on the 5th of December, 1923.

Exhibited at Royal Academy, 1863; Columbian Exposition (honourable mention), 1895; Society of Lady Artists, 1897; designer to Royal School of Art Needlework, 1880–89; editor to Messrs Raphael Tuck and Co., 1889–95

John Bull (London, England), Saturday, January 28, 1871; pg. 50; Issue 2,616

Burnside, Helen Marion, Help for Deaf Girls. The Girl’s Own Paper (London, England), Saturday, August 14, 1897; pg. 734; Issue 920.

*Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, Volume 4

The Girl’s Own Paper (London, England), Saturday, April 14, 1883; pg. 439; Issue 172

Roe, W.R., Peeps into the Deaf World, 1917 p.319-20

The Strand Magazine, Volume 1, Jan-June 1891 – picture from here

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/terri_klugh/christmas-of-the-past/

http://www.victorianweb.org/mt/dbscott/3.html#lindsay

http://www.ukwhoswho.com/view/article/oupww/whowaswho/U194195, accessed 6 Oct 2017

Census 1851 – Class: HO107; Piece: 1555; Folio: 472; Page: 4; GSU roll: 174787

Census 1861 – (as Mary Ann) Class: RG 9; Piece: 91; Folio: 51; Page: 8; GSU roll: 542572

Census 1871 – Class: RG10; Piece: 194; Folio: 4; Page: 1; GSU roll: 823312

Census 1881 – Class: RG11; Piece: 173; Folio: 65; Page: 22; GSU roll: 1341037

Census 1891 – Class: RG12; Piece: 452; Folio: 86; Page: 38; GSU roll: 6095562

Census 1901 – Class: RG13; Piece: 481; Folio: 170; Page: 17

Census 1911 – Class: RG14; Piece: 5146; Schedule Number: 30

 

Guild of St. John of Beverley stained glass windows from Ephphatha House, Ealing, 1928

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 30 June 2017

MemorialStained glass aIn our collection of artifacts, we have, bizarrely, three stained glass windows.  The windows were placed at 5 Grange Road, Ephphatha House, where Selwyn and Kate Oxley moved to when they got married in 1929.  Oxley’s mother bought the house on his behalf, originally as a home for the library of the Guild of St. John of Beverley.  The Guild deserves an entry of its own on the blog, for it was a repeating theme in Oxley’s life, & before his time it had its beginnings in the North of England with Ernest Abrahams and George Stephenson, among others.  When Oxley discovered it he seems to have taken it over, and as he wife mentions several times in her biography of him, Man with a Mission, he loved ceremonies and the associated ‘dressing up.’  Essentially it was a religious organisation, that particularly in the early years of the century, involved a sort of pilgrimage to Beverley, or at least annual services commemorating him and his ‘miracle’ healing a deaf man.

JesusI am not sure who the artist was, but Katherine Oxley says they were done by

a Hard of Hearing man, who had been in the employment of Messrs. Ward and Hughes of 67 Frith Street, Soho, above whose works the National Institute for the Deaf had at one time rented offices.
This firm had done work in All Saints’ Church, Petersham, Surrey, under the Vicariate of the late Rev. W.H. Oxley, and this was the last bit of work done by them as a firm, as soon after they suspended business.  The panels themselves are a work of art, depicting Our Lord healing the Deaf Man, and are flanked on each side by scenes portraying the miracles of St. John of Beverley and Francis of Sales.  The colours blended with a simple but strikingly effective beauty, especially when the rays of the sun caught them.

St JThey were unveiled in situ on the staircase by the Guild Warden, the Rev. W. Raper, ‘in his robes of office, carried the business through with a grave dignity’ (K. Oxley, 1953).  I have chosen the two smaller ones to photograph, as the St. John one is rather larger & harder to get out.

They were not in place too long before the Oxleys moved out of London.  I suppose that they came to us from Kate Oxley.

Oxley, K. A Man withe a Mission, 1953, Hill and Ainsworth

Oxley, Selwyn, The Seventeenth Annual Report of general Honorary Work Done for the Deaf… Year ending 1929Sales faces

Heraldic Artist, Robert Ockleston (1845-1937) and his wife, Sarah Ann Brentnall (1849-1922) ‘she was related to the authoress “George Elliott”‘

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 June 2017

Ockleston robertRobert Ockleston (1846-1938) was born in Tabley Brook, Cheshire, in 1846.  His family could, we are told in his obituary (from which much of what follows is taken),  be traced back to the reign of John.  He had an uncle of the same name who was a successful doctor in Cheadle, giving out little white pills, which he even took himself when he had a nasty fall from his horse.  Robert was one of fourteen children, which seems a large family even for that age.  He lost his hearing after an attack of ‘brain fever’ when he was four years old, circa 1850.  He was admitted to the Manchester School for the Deaf and Dumb at Old Trafford, on August the 1st, 1853, as a paying pupil.  He left aged 16, in 1862 – as we see here below, he was one of the oldest pupils by that time.Manchester pupils 1862

He moved to London and became an apprentice heraldic artist in London, eventually setting up at Hatton Gardens with a Mr. Rogers.  Rogers predeceased him, and he carried on the business until he retired at 65, and he continued to work at home drawing up pedigrees and documents until his eyesight failed him aged seventy-eight.

He was Regular at St. Saviour’s church.  He had previously attended the services that were held by the Rev. Samuel Smith at the Regent Street Polytechnic.  At St. Saviour’s he met Sarah Ann Brentnall (1849-1922), a Deaf teacher of the deaf at a Stainer L.C.C. school, at Winchester Street, Pentonville, according to the Ephphtha articles (Ephphatha 1923, and Ephphatha 1938).  They were married by Sam Smith at St. Matthew’s, Oakley Square, on the 29th of July, 1776.  In 1882 they moved to Hornsey, then in 1905 went to Stroud Green.

Ockleston SarahSarah was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, on the 25th of March, 1849, and as the 1881 census says she was ‘deaf only’ as opposed to Robert being ‘deaf and dumb,’ we might suppose that she lost her hearing after she had acquired spoken language.  Indeed, this is confirmed by her obituary which tells us that she lost her hearing aged six after scarlet fever (Ephphatha, 1923 p. 701).  The 1871 census does not mention deafness after her name, but the 1881 does.  Her obituary tells us about her education;

She was not sent to school, but was taught at home, and the love of reading was particularly cultivated, reading aloud being especially encouraged so that she might not forget how to speak.
Her parents and sisters communicated with her by means of the finger alphabet, but she did not associate with other deaf people till she was about 17.  She was then living in Liverpool and heard for the first time of the Mission for the Deaf there.  This opened up to her a new world of friends. (ibid)

Sarah moved to London, becoming a teacher, and began attending St. Saviour’s.  It seems she also wrote poems that were published in A Magazine for the Deaf  the Sam Smith St. Saviour’s church publication (ibid).  As with other teachers of the deaf who were themselves deaf, Sarah lost her job in 1881 when the school became ‘Oral’ in its main form of education (Ephphatha 1923, p. 702).  ‘At language, whether spoken or written, she was extremely gifted, partly due, perhaps, to the fact that she was related to the authoress “George Elliott”‘ (ibid).  It would be interesting to know what her actual relationship with George Elliott was.

Sarah remained involved in the various mothers’ meetings as well as being Vice-President of the Ladies section of the National Deaf Club (ibid).

Robert worked closely with the church, becoming a ‘lay reader’ in 1911 after he had retired.  He was a churchwarden at the church of St. John of Beverley in North London until 1937, when he stood down at the advanced age of 91.  He died  in December 1937 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery.

UPDATED 26/6/2017: Thanks, as ever, to Norma McGilp of @DeafHeritageUK for the additional references to Sarah Ann, and for telling me where to find pictures of them.

If you are aware of any of his work surviving somewhere, please comment.

The Passing of Mr. Robert Ockleston, Ephphatha, No.116, p. 1991, Jan-Mar 1938

Sarah Ann Ockleston (née Brentnall), Ephphatha, No. 56, p. 701, Winter, 1923

Picture of Robert in Ephphatha, Christmas 1915, p. 411

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 7210; Schedule Number: 230

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 275; Folio: 67; Page: 11; GSU roll: 1341059

 

“He did possess that indefinable quality which for want of a better word we term genius” – Leslie Edwards O.B.E., Deaf Missioner and Teacher

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 December 2016

Leslie Edwards was born in Wanstead, Essex, on the 27th of December, 1885, fourth of a remarkable thirteen children.  His father, Samuel, from Hackney, was a stock jobber and later a stockbroker’s clerk, while his mother Harriet, was born in Bethnal Green.  Leslie lost his hearing through meningitis when he was seven years old, according to both the 1911 and 1901 censuses, though the Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) says nine.  He was fortunate that his family learnt to finger-spell which helped his education he said (ToD, p.194).  “It was this personal experience which led him throughout his life to advocate the use of finger-spelling, not to supplant oralism, but to provide those accurate patterns of words and sentences so essential to the acquirement of fluency in the use of language” (ibid, p.194-5).  He was educated at the Manchester Institution, according to W.R. Roe in Peeps into the deaf world, and London according to the Teacher of the Deaf obituary (by W.C. Roe I believe).  Perhaps both are true, though London does seem more likely.

In 1900 he went to art school to train as an advertising artist (ToD p.195).  On leaving art school in 1903, he worked as a lithographer, according to the 1911 census, yet another of the large number of Deaf people who learnt that trade.  He became a lay reader at the Royal Association for the Deaf and Dumb mission in West Ham.

In 1912 Edwards became an assistant teacher at the East Anglian School for the Deaf in Gorleston, Suffolk.  While there he met Marion Thorp, a Yorkshire born teacher of the deaf who had previously trained under William Nelson in Stretford, at the Manchester Institution (Deaf School).  Her father Robert was a Church of England clergyman.  They were married in 1916, and had two children, a son and daughter (ToD p.195).

Edwards speechWe have a 17 page typescript speech on welfare work that he gave in June 1950 to the Torquay Conference for Teachers of the Deaf, when his obituary says he ‘possessed the art of “putting it across,”‘ in his ‘harsh’ but ‘perfectly intelligible’ speech (ToD p.195).  For those interested in the development of oralism v. manualism it is worth reading at greater length.

The Sign Language is essential.  The word language is not necessarily confined to words, my dictionary gives several definitions one of which is “any manner of expression.”  In so far then as signing conveys ideas, gives information and increases knowledge, it is not incorrect to speak of Sign Language.
No responsible person wants to sign if it can be avoided.
[….]
If signing is to be disregarded and as far as possible suppressed as has been the case for so many years what satisfactory alternative is proposed.  Is it not time to face up to the fact that efforts to suppress this natural instinct have not been successful and are bound to fail. (Edwards 1950, p.5)

He develops this line of thinking, further on saying,

Many of you learnt French at school and I think it is reasonable to suggest you acquired about as much understanding of that foreign language as the born deaf do of their Mother Tongue.  How many of you enjoy sitting down to read a French novel? (Edwards, 1950, p.6)

Leslie EdwardsFrom 1915 until his death, he was the missioner at Leicester Mission.  Related to that was his work as a founder of the Joint Examination Board for Missioners to the Deaf in 1929, which gave a diploma to missioners and welfare workers.

He was the honorary secretary-treasurer for the British Deaf and Dumb Association from 1935 to his death, and received the O.B.E. for his work with the deaf, in 1949 (ToD p.195).

Academic qualifications, to quote his own words, he had none.  He needed none.  He did possess that indefinable quality which for want of a better word we term genius.  Nature ordained that he should be an artist and in deference to her command he sought, for a time, to utilize the gifts she had bestowed on him.  But in early manhood he found his true vocation and from then throughout his life the over-ruling factor was his unwavering determination to serve his fellow deaf. (McDougal)

He died on the 3rd of October, 1951.

Ayliffe, E., Obituary. Deaf News, 1951, 188, insert.

Census 1891 – Class: RG12; Piece: 1352; Folio: 68; Page: 38; GSU roll: 6096462

Census 1901 – Class: RG13; Piece: 1621; Folio: 90; Page: 13

Census 1911 Edwards – Class: RG14; Piece: 9703; Schedule Number: 69

Census 1911 Thorp – Class: RG14; Piece: 23656; Page: 1

EDWARDS, L, Adult Deaf Welfare Work. 1950, p.2.

McDOUGAL, K.P. Leslie Edwards: an appreciation. Silent World, 1951, 6, 174.

Memorial to the late Leslie Edwards: Loughborough Church for the Deaf beautified. British Deaf News, 1955, 1, 10-12.

Opening programme, 18 July 1961. Leicester and County Mission for the Deaf, 1961. pp. 11-12.

ROE, W,R, Peeps into the deaf world, Bemrose, 1917, p. 388.

SMITH, A. Leslie Edwards, OBE: his early days. Books and Topics, 1951, 17, 6-7.

The late Leslie Edwards, OBE. Teacher of the Deaf, 1951, 49, 194-95.

 

“Why do you sing so loud, aunty,” – Annie Webb-Peploe’s story, Deaf and Dumb

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 14 October 2016

Arthur“Why do you sing so loud, aunty,” said Jessie; “I like to hear you sing softly.”

“I want baby to listen to me,” replied her aunt hastily, and she continued her song even louder than before.

“Stupid little Arthur,” said Jessie.

“Poor little Arthur,” said Aunt Amy, with a heavy sigh.

(Deaf and Dumb)

Annie Molyneux, a prolific, if more or less forgotten Victorian author, was born on the 24th of February 1806 (not 1805 as so many bibliographical details say), daughter to John Molyneux (one of a remarkable fifteen children), and a descendant of Thomas Molyneux, who was born in Calais when it was still English.  Thomas settled in Ireland and the family entered politics, with some of his descendants and Annie’s ancestors becoming Irish MPs.  Annie married John Birch Webb, who became the vicar of Weobley in Herefordshire.  In 1866 he took the surname Peploe, so they became the Webb-Peploe’s.  Annie Webb-Peploe, or Webb in the earlier part of her life, is as I say, hardly known now, but if she is read or remembered, it is probably for the book Naomi: or, The last days of Jerusalem (1841), which is a particular genre of ‘conversion’ literature that Annie wrote a number of books on.  The main character is a Jewish woman who becomes a Christian.  It went through a considerable number of editions, including in the U.S.A., and was also translated to Danish in 1892, and German in 1900.  I did not spot any English edition quite that late, but Valman says that it continued to be published to the end of the century.  It might be interesting to draw parallels between her attitude to “the devoted and impenitent Jews” (Naomi, preface, p. v) and the Deaf people in her short story, Deaf and Dumb (uncertain date).  There is an interesting chapter in Valman’s 2009 book (see reference below), that discusses Naomi. Arthur at school

Deaf and Dumb* tells the story of a deaf boy called Arthur, and his sister Jessie who are orphaned as young children.  They live with their aunt who then sends the boy to be educated at the Exeter School.  The boy is at first educated ‘by signs’, then “when he became an intimate of the asylum it was considered time to cultivate his power of speech, which, strange as it may seem to some of our readers, is actually as perfect with those who are called deaf and dumb as with those who have spoken from infancy” (Chapter 2, page 3 – though the pages of the whole book are unnumbered).  She seems to have taken some trouble with the details of education at Exeter, but I am unclear as to what she means about ‘the art of speaking on the fingers – or dactylology’ (Chapter 2 p.6) – is she referring to sign language or fingerspelling?  The stress seems to be on becoming oral, learning to speak –

The author has heard a deaf and dumb lady read a newspaper quite intelligibly, and also converse with a mutual friend who was also deaf and dumb, and with whom she had been brought up at Braidwood’s establishment.  The tone of their voices was guttural and rather monotonous, but by no means difficult to understand.

Yes it is ‘preachy’ and in my view not terribly well written, but it is interesting.  I suspect the book dates from circa 1860-65 based on her name as it appears – Mrs Webb, and on the few details on her two fellow writers in the collection.  Our copy must I think be very rare indeed.

It is difficult to find out anything much about Annie Webb-Peploe, even though she wrote and published quite a lot over a long period.  She does not as yet appear in the ‘Orlando – Women’s Writing’ pages, unlike two of her three fellow writers who are published in the same volume, Frances Browne and Frances Mary Peard (the third being L.A. Hall).  Her three sons went into the army (Daniel), the navy (Augustus), and the church (Hanmer).  Hanmer was a member of the evangelical ‘Holiness Movement‘, and has an entry in the DNB (see below).  You can see more of her family details here.  She died in 1880.  It seems that she is ripe for some research by someone interested in Victorian literature.  I am sure there are Webb-Peploes around today who might have some family records that would add to the bare details, and a photograph perhaps.

I have saved the whole story as a pdf for those interested.  When opened, right click the file to put it the right way up.  Deaf and Dumb by Mrs Webb

Arthur and Jessie 1http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n84051745.html

The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture de Waard, Marco. Gender Forum 21 (2008) (Review)

Valman, Nadia, The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture, CUP 2009

Online Books by Mrs. Webb-Peploe

https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Search/Home?lookfor=%22Webb-Peploe,%20Mrs.%201805-1880.%22&type=author&inst=

My Life on the Prairies

I. T. Foster, ‘Peploe, Hanmer William Webb- (1837–1923)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/47130, accessed 3 Oct 2016] – see also here.