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Hon. Venetia Marjorie Mabel Baring, 1890-1937 – “Deafness and Happiness”

H Dominic W Stiles22 December 2017

Venetia Marjorie Mabel Baring was a daughter of Francis Denzil Edward Baring, 5th Baron Ashburton.  In 1930 she wrote a booklet Deafness and Happiness, our copy being the 1935 reprint.  It was published by A.R. Mowbray, who produced religious and devotional books.  It is on vey good quality paper.  According to the short introduction by “A.F. Bishop of London” who seems to be Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram, she was “afflicted in the heyday of her youth with almost total deafness” (p.iii).  Her photographic portrait is in the National Portrai Gallery collection, and a drawing of her is in the Royal Collection.

She was born in London in 1890.  She wrote her book with the encouragement of Winnington-Ingram.  Below is a page from the book which gives a flavour of its religious polemic.  It is certainly of interest to anyone who is fascinated by attitudes to deafness and how they have or have not changed over the years.

In 1936, Arthur Story wrote a letter to the BMJ about deafness.  Venetia Baring wrote a respose, echoing his words and developing her own ideas about deafness:

The helplessness of medical science where deafness is concerned is incontestable, and, as it is not of itself a menace to life, research into causes has suffered on financial grounds in comparison with other diseases. The complete lack of official understanding of deafness was painfully illustrated in the great war, when it was necessary for a few public-spirited individuals like the late Sir Frederick Milner to fight for the rights of deafened ex-Service men.  There are certainly signs that the medical profession is becoming increasingly alive to the fact that the monster is hydra-headed and that there are few mental and physical disorders to which it does not prove an open door unless intelligently handled.

From the last line of this letter we learn that she was “not born deaf, had acute hearing up to 19, and used no “aids” to nearly 30″ (ibid).

She died aged only 47 on the 15th of July, 1937, having suffered from serious illness before then.  Indeed, she added a chapter to the second edition of her book on ‘The Power and Use of Pain.’  “Science is working for the abolition of suffering; but it will never succeed, because, while sin exists, pain is inevitable and can even be a vital factor in the development of human personality.” (p.37)   She was clearly someone who had experienced pain and tried to work her own way through it.

It would be interesting to find out more about her.

Peerage.com

Baring, Venetia, The Deaf and the Blind Br Med J 1936; 1 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.3934.1134 (Published 30 May 1936)

Earnest Elmo Calkins, Deaf Pioneer of Modern Advertising

H Dominic W Stiles24 November 2017

Calkins signatureCHEarnest Elmo Calkins (1868-1964) was a pioneer of modern advertising.  Born in

In Design Observer, Steven Heller says of him, that he is “recognized as the founder of “styling the goods,” otherwise known as “consumer engineering” or even better known as “forced obsolescence”—he is considered in the pantheon of twentieth century Modernists.”

Calkins wrote a volume of memoirs, “Louder Please,” in 1924, & then in 1946 produced an extended version, “and hearing not-“; Annals of an Adman.  Writing in the third person, here as ‘the Boy,’ he describes here his loss of hearing in a chapter that appears in both volumes, ‘The ears begin to close’ :

nothing stands out with any sharpness, either teachers or lessons.  A sort of mist seems to veil the next three or four years.

The reason for the mist was that the Boy was growing deafer.  School seemed more futile the less he heard of it.  The world-old conflict between heredity and environment was henceforth to be influenced by a new element whose effect could not be foreseen.  Deafness introduced complications that required new adjustments, like deuces wild in a poker game.  The cause, it seems, was measles experienced at the age of six, at length bearing its evil fruit, but the predisposition was probably a part of his inheritance.  He was at least ten years old before his condition was realized, even by himself.  His fits of abstraction and oblivion were laid to inattention by the higher powers, both at home and abroad. (and hearing not, p.p.67-8)

He went on eventiually to college, and got good marks in mathematics, but otherwise, “For four years he sat in various classrooms, hearing almost nothing, content or at least resigned to make out a passable performance” (p.100).  He got into advertising aged 23, when he won a competition for an advertisement for a Bissell carpet sweeper.  Later on his advertising company was behind ‘Lucky Jim’ of the breakfast cereal Force, and he introduced modern art into American advertising in the 1920s.

CalkinsIn the chapter, ‘Social life of a deaf man,’ Calkins describes how so many famous people he met he was “unable to use, other than to satisfy my curiosity as to how they looked.”   He relied on his wife in many of these situations (p.180).  He says that “Deafness was the ever present influence.  It made or marred my attempts to earn a living, it selected my friends for me, and determined what I was to enjoy of social life, what my amusements were to be.” (p.181)

“A partially deaf man is like Aesop’s bat, neither animal nor bird, but having the disabilities of both, belonging neither to the hearing world  nor that of the totally deaf.” (p.188)

“Lip reading is like handwriting in that it is sometimes as clear as print and again as illegible as Horace Greeley‘s famous chirography.” (p.189)  He had lessons in lip reading with Edward B. Nitchie, who was deaf and whose books we have.

We have the two volumes of memoir mentioned above.  One is signed by Calkins, dedicated to Madeleine de Soyres.  They are well worth investigating, and he seems to me an engaging writer.

Calkins, Earnest Elmo, “Louder Please,” 1924

Calkins, Earnest Elmo, “and hearing not-“; Annals of an Adman.  New York, 1946

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

H Dominic W Stiles6 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

 

First Deaf Person on TV in Britain – “Topsy,” or Eileen Guy, from Central Asia (ca.1914-1998)

H Dominic W Stiles29 September 2017

Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer (00A)In the early part of the 20th century, three bold and independent women made a name for themselves as the ‘Trio’ of missionaries in the far east of China, in Gansu.  They were Mildred Cable (1878-1952), and the two sisters, Evangeline French (1869-1960) and Francesca French (1871-1960).  They travelled widely in the deserts and moutains of that region, attempting to convert local people.  One day they heard a ‘tap, tap tap’ at the door, and it was a young child of six or seven nicknamed ‘Gwa Gwa,’ that is ‘little lonely’ (Cable & French p. 9-14).  The girl was deaf, the daughter of a Tibetan mother and a Mongol chief.  She had been fostered, then the foster mother sold her when she discovered she was deaf.  She was then sent out to beg (ibid p.19-22).  The Trio bought her freedom, and changed her name to Ai Lien, meaning ‘Love Bond.’  The three missionary ladies called her Topsy for some reason.  After some difficulties with one of the warlords in the area, they eventually escaped to Urumchi, then Chuguchak.  Topsy mapTo get through Russia, they had to give Ai Lien a British name and passport, so they anglicized it to Eileen with the surname Guy as one of the three, the ‘Blue Lady’ as she is called in the book, had the Chinese surname Gai.  Eventually they had permission to cross Russia, and they arrived back in England, where they divided their time between living in Dorset and Watford.  Once in England she started to get an oral education (p.123-4)

The French sisters died within a short time of each other in 1960, leaving Eileen a comfortable inheritance.

According to one of our old library index cards from Selwyn and Kate Oxley, Topsy was the first Deaf person to be on television in Britain, with the Trio, at Alexandra Palace.  That would have been before the war.  It may be that the BBC archives could confirm that.

I have not discovered whether Eileen/Topsy had any contact with the Deaf community in Britain – I did not see an obituary in the British Deaf News.  She died in 1998 in Penge.  If anyone knew her, please do comment below.topsy 1

“Former Slave Girl Benefits In Wills.” Times [London, England] 27 Sept. 1960: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 29 Sept. 2017

Cable, M., and French, Fr., The Story of Topsy, (1937, reprinted 1957)

http://hucandgabetbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/women-of-gobi-journeys-on-silk-road.html

“Their fingers’ ends with nimble skill, The want of vocal converse fill” William Henry Simpson, Deaf Poet (1817-65)

H Dominic W Stiles25 August 2017

SimpWilliam Henry Simpson was born on Liquor Pond Street, Holborn, on the 11th of November, 1817.  His father Isaac was a hosier, his mother’s name was Cordelia Walker.*  Liquor Pond Street is now a part of Clerkenwell Road, only about ten minutes walk from our library.  We do not know lots of details about William’s life, but we can put together something from various records, such as the Old Kent Road school register* and census returns.  Simpson is significant in British Deaf history as the author of a beautifully produced book of poetry.  He was well educated and eloquent, getting very good academic marks at school, but in the words of Edward M. Gallaudet (1884), “Some of Simpson’s verses are little more than “machine poetry,” while others show skill in rhythmical writing as well as feeling.”

From Simpson’s introduction to the blue gold-leaf embossed volume, Day-Dreams of the Deaf; with an Introductory Preface on the Condition of the Deaf and Dumb (1858), dedicated by the way to Lord Ebury, we can fill out a few more details of his life.  He lost his hearing as a boy – “more than thirty years a stranger to the human voice” which suggests he was about ten when he became deaf (1858, p.vi).  Before that he was an avid reader of poetry.  He had a brother, who lost a son at a young age, and William wrote a poem about him, On the Death of an Infant Nephew – 

“whose infant frolics oft the hours beguil’d

with merry laughter, and with antics wild”… (p.126)

He had two sisters, Eliza and Louisa –

“Five fleeting years have pass’d away,

Since first I sang thy natal day” – To my Sister Louisa, on her Twelfth Birthday, p.131;

“Wishing all happiness, and length of days,

As up the rugged hill of life you climb”… Sonnets to my Sister Eliza, on a similar occasion, p.134.

It is probably unfair to quote short lines out of context, but Gallaudet’s criticism seems reasonable.   Gallaudet says this song, Old Time is a Good Old Man, is one of of “his most pleasing efforts” – see images below.

Old time 2Old time 2Another poem by Simpson, Recollections of Hearing, (p.55-6), has a line worth quoting –

And though I miss their cheerful voice

Striving their thoughts to tell;

Yet I can still with them rejoice

And speak to them as well;

Their fingers’ ends with nimble skill,

The want of vocal converse fill.

We also found a letter by Simpson to the Church of England Magazine (1843, Vol. 43 p. 32), and as you see he was then living at the Asylum, where he had a position as a teacher.  The school records tell us that he died aged 48 in 1865, and “had for some years been in delicate health.”*

*Many thanks, as ever, to Norma McGilp @DeafHeritageUK for extra information about Simpson.

Simpson, William Henry, Day-Dreams of the Deaf; with an Introductory Preface on the Condition of the Deaf and Dumb (1858), London & Manchester

Gallaudet, E.M., The poetry of the deaf, American Annals of the Deaf, 1884, Vol.29, (3) p.200-223

“That he was a strong advocate of the oral method goes without saying” – Thomas Arnold 1816-97

H Dominic W Stiles9 June 2017

Arnold picThomas Arnold,  (1816-1897) was a  Teacher of the deaf and Nonconformist minister.  He was a pioneer in Britain of the oral education of deaf pupils.  His family originated in Cheshire but were granted land in West Cavan, Ireland, for supporting King William III.  Arnold’s Great Grandmother became a Moravian Protestant, joining one of their settlements.  His mother was also part of a Moravian community at Gracehill, Ballymena.  You can read details of his family in Arnold’s Reminiscences.  I do not propose to give a detailed account of Arnold’s career here.  There is plenty of amaterial about and by Arnold, and it deserves fuller attention than I can give it here.

He was a studious boy and was taken into the class of the local rector, Rev. George Kirkpatrick, who was prepared to pay for his university education.  Arnold’s father however wanted him to stay working with him as a carpenter and cabinet maker, which he did, until his brother took over that role.  Thomas became master of the Moravian school at Gracehill.  In his memoir he tells how Kirkpatrick was a subscriber to the Claremont Institution, and had sent boys to that school.  A boy who was leaving , James Beatty, who had been manually taught (that is with sign language), was taken on as an apprentice by Thomas’s brother, and Thomas says his interest in deaf education was then roused (Reminiscences, p.22).

I speedily learned the finger alphabet and his mimic gestures.  He resorted to few arbitrary or artificial signs in conversation, and his vocabulary was very limited, so that he often found himself at a loss to express his thoughts.

I wonder whether James Beatty had come to learning sign language when he was older, so was perhaps less adept at it?  It seems to me that this first contact’ with a Deaf person may have shaped Arnold’s attitude to deaf education – it would make an interesting article to examine Arnold’s educational writing and to follow his intellectual journey.

Arnold eventually moved to Manchester joining the Manchester City Mission that worked among the factory workers, but he felt that he was better fitted to other work and he obtained a position as an assistant teacher inder Charles Baker at Doncaster (ibid p.30).  Unfortunately for Arnold, his turning towards nonconformism meant that he was then turned down for several positions as headmaster.  He left Doncaster, trained at a Congregational college in Rotherham, and around that time married a Quaker lady, Miss Simpson, in Chorlton in 1848 (Farrar, 1897, p.299).   They moved to New South Wales for fifteen months, but he returned due to a “spinal affection, developed by a too stimulating climate” (ibid).  Arriving in England via the Holy Land, they settled at Doddridge Chapel, Northamptonshire.  It was there that he began teaching with an oral method, his most famous pupil being Abraham Farrar.

Below is a letter of his, stuck into the front of the Reminiscences with stamp gutters, in the copy owned by Richard Elliott of the Margate School, to whom it is dedicated.  It reads,

The Remeniscences [sic] can be added to the History but I had a number of copies for private circulation printed separately.
27 Park Rd Northampton
Sep 20th 1895

Dear Friend and brother in the service of God, let me add a more personal and less formal word or two in addition to what is intended for the whole c[ure? or cause?].
Looknig [sic] closely through the whole of this affair I see with great pleasure that you have been the chief actor from first to last and it confirms my admiration my affection for you as a devout servant of God in our special work.  Now we can travel on in peace till the end of the day and the rest of heaven are in prospect.  I am already
p.2
at work on some problems which I know will shed fresh light on the physiology of speech.  So I hope to conclude my service with words that will not do till they have reached the last of the deaf.  For this otium cum dignitate I am deeply indebted to you.
May God bless you Mr. Elliott and every member of your family!
Please send the proofs of what I said at the conference, I want to put my meaning clearly.  I should also like to have a proof of my paper, if printed to go through carefully.
Yours affectionately
T. Arnold

In his obituary, Farrar says of Arnold,

That he was a strong advocate of the oral method goes without saying, but he did not go so far as some, for he recognised that the natural signs used by the deaf cannot be wholly dispensed with at the initial stage.  The manual method he did not condemn as such, but held it to be inferior to the oral in educational efficiency.  On the other hand, the combined method had no more uncompromising opponent.  That many of the views embodied in his works should not command universal assent is only to be expected, but it is unquestionable that both by his example and writings and his freedom from sordid motives, Mr. arnold has done much to raise the standard of teaching, and in consequence to elevate the deaf as a class. (Farrar, 1897, p.303)

He died on the 21st of January, 1897.
Arnold letter 1Arnold letter 2Brief biography. British Deaf-Mute and Deaf Chronicle, 1895, 4, 107. (photo)

Obituary. American Annals of the Deaf, 1897, 42, 124-25; 42(2), frontispiece. (photo)

Obituary. British Deaf Monthly, 1897, 6, 84-87. (photo)

FARRAR, A.  Obituary. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1897, 4, 294-304, 342-46.

FARRAR, A. Thomas Arnold: a biographical sketch. Teacher of the Deaf, 1939, 195-200. (portrait)

Biography. Teacher of the Deaf, 1941, 39, 79-80.

DEACON, M. The church on Castle Hill: the history of the Castle Hill United Reformed Church, Northampton. Park Lane Publishing, 1995. pp. 40-44. (photo)

STEWART, I. The centenary of the death of Thomas Arnold. Deaf History Journal, 1997, 1(1), 30-35.

INCE JONES, F., Thomas Arnold, The Teacher of the Deaf 1941 p.79-80

“I took to going off for long tramps by myself over the fields and the beech-clad hills” – Frieda Le Pla, deaf-blind author

H Dominic W Stiles5 May 2017

le plaFrieda Le Pla, (or more correctly Winifred Jessie Le Pla) was born on November the 14th, 1892 in London (see Cripps, 1987, for most of what follows).  Her Dublin born father, Matthew, was of Huguenot descent.  He was a congregationalist minister.  Her mother, who was his second wife, was born in Exeter of Scottish descent.  When she was nearly nine the family moved from Amhurst Rd, Dalston, to Eynsford in Kent, and not long after they went to live in Ealing.  In spring 1904 the family moved to Theale in Berkshire.  There was, Cripps tells us, no suitable local school, so Winifred – Frieda – and her sisters Lillie and Rose were taught by her father in the mornings then were free to wander the local countryside for the remainder of the day.  Her father was it seems rather forward thinking in his theology, and his support for controversial preachers meant that he lost his position, so the family moved again to Beckenham near Gainsborough for six months, then after only six months, they moved on to Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

In her book about her experiences, Glimpses into a hidden world,  which is not fully autobiographical but also discusses deaf-blindness more generally and also has contributions by others, Frieda said,

My first period of blindness came when I was about four years old, due to inflammation of the eyes; but it lasted only a few months, and I have no recollection of it myself.  Neither did its effects – a greatly reduced amount of sight in the left eye, and short-sightedness in the right – obtrude themselves on my notice during my childhood, which in the main was a happy one […].  It was not until I was almost twenty-one that inflammation attacked the eyes for the second time, and that the first signs of deafness appeared.
By this time I already had several pupils both for school subjects and music – I had started teaching music when I was sixteen: I was also a teacher in the Sunday-school, and was in the choir of the Beaconsfield Congregational Church, of which my father was Minister, and my mother the organist.  I had also started to learn the organ, with my mother as teacher: and I was in the thick of enthusiastic activities for such movements as the Women’s Suffrage, the campaign against vivisection and other forms of cruelty to animals, and so on.  This was in the autumn of 1913. (Glimpses into a hidden world, p.3)

By 1916 Frieda had to give up teaching, and by 1922 her blindness became ‘total’, although she was able to

see good print and also, of course, go about alone; so I took to going off for long tramps by myself over the fields and the beech-clad hills, with a note-book and a pencil in my pocket in order to jot down ideas for stories, and any notes about the wild folk and plants observed during these expeditions.  The fluctuating character of my hearing made me nervous about meeting humans  lest I should not be able to hear what they said if they spoke to me – another reason for preferring the more unfrequented woods and fields rather than the regions inhabited by humans.

Frieda set about learning Braille, and so was able to work as a writer.  Her big problem was correcting manuscripts, and she tells us that even having had manuscripts checked, some errors still crept in.

After her mother died in 1933, she was fortunate that a friend of hers, Dorothy Wells, a young teacher, became her companion in 1934.  Dorothy had entered an Anglican convent but was not happy there, and seems to have welcomed the chance to help Frieda.  She was to be her support and friend for the next forty-five years (Cripps, p.6).

La PlaFrieda died in March, 1978, after a short illness.  Dorothy survived her, dying on the 15th of June, 1980.  If you read through old copies on the British Deaf Times you will come across a number of her articles, particularly in the 1940s.

Cripps, Vera E., Frieda and Dorothy, a Story of Courage and Devotion (1987)

Abrahams, Pat, Light out of Darkness, Hearing 1971, 26 137-9

Deaf-blind authoress. British Deaf Times, 1932, Nov-Dec, p.127

Le Pla, Frieda, Glimpses into a hidden world, 1949.

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 216; Folio: 53; Page: 33

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 7811; Schedule Number: 152

Portraying a Deaf female character – “Not in the Calendar” by Margaret Kennedy

H Dominic W Stiles24 March 2017

Margaret Kennedy (1896-1967) is today best remembered for her 1924 novel, The Constant Nymph.  Her daughter,  Julia Birley, was a novelist, as is her granddaughter, Serena Mackesy.  You can read more about her on Wikipedia and in the Dictionary of National Biography.

In 1964 she published what was to be her final novel, Not in the Calendar.  It seems to be the only one of her novels not to have been reprinted, but it is nevertheless of interest as it centres around the relationship between a Deaf girl call Winsome, later re-named as Wyn, who is the daughter of a kennel man, and one of the daughters of her her father’s wealthy employers, Carrie Knevett.  As far as I could see (without doing major research) Margaret Kennedy did not have any particular connection with deaf people, but if you know otherwise please comment.  In a note at the beginning of the book, she tells us that

I could not have ventured to write this book without the advice and criticism of Miss Edith Whetnall and of Dr Pierre Gorman, Librarian to the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.  I wish to thank them for their great kindness and for the trouble which they took to help me.

5493900361_bcd4cd4256_zImage Smithsonian Institution @ Flickr Commons

Deborah Kent says,

Not in the Calendar is one of those utterly remarkable novels that, for some unaccountable reason, are overlooked and forgotten by critics and the reading public alike.  Published in 1964, just before the women’s movement gained momentum, it is in its quiet way a rallying cry for feminism.  Among the women in Kennedy’s gallery of minor characters are childish, pampered Lallie; Ida the maid, with dreams of rising to a higher station in life; and Daphne, with her unsettling habit of slipping long confessional letters beneath the doors of houseguests. All of them are drawn with affection and understanding, and none relies upon men in her quest for fulfillment. (Kent, p.103)
[…]
In the novels and plays I have examined, Wyn Harper is one of the few disabled women whose life combines professional achievements and the satisfaction of deep and enduring friendship. Furthermore, she is almost alone in her resolution of the conflict between self-acceptance and assimilation into the world of non-disabled people-a conflict few writers even acknowledge. (ibid p.105)

In his 1987 article, Douglas Biklen says,

Kennedy’s Not in the Calendar (1964) reveals the constant negotiations over identity required of people with disabilities and of their allies.  Can Win achieve the status of artist, with her deafness relegated to being a single quality and not an all-defining characteristic?  Can Carrie educate deaf children without being a lady bountiful?  Which social definition of disability will social policy adopt: pity, charity and dependence or independence and self determination?  Or, […] in the modern professionalized service oriented society, is the dominant social policy choice between medicalized dependence and self determination? (Biklen, p.531)

I cannot say this is the sort of novel that would excite me, but it may well be of interest to anyone studying Deaf people in literature, and is perhaps worthy of further examination.

Biklen, Douglas , The culture of policy disability images and their analogues in public policy.  Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 15, Issue 3, March 1987 p. 515–35 DOI: 10.1111/j.1541-0072.1987.tb00727.x

Biklen, D., Schooling Without Labels. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992. https://muse.jhu.edu/book/9514

Heshusius, Lous, The Arts, Science, and the Study of Exceptionality.  Exceptional Children, Vol. 55, No. I, p. 60-65 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/001440298805500107

Kent, Deborah, In Search of a Heroine: Images of Women with Disabilities in Fiction and Drama.  In Fine, M. A. A.. Women with Disabilities. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989. 

McQuilland, Louis J., The creator of “The Constant Nymph.”  The Bookman, (Oct 1925): p. 4-6

Powell, Violet, ‘Kennedy, Margaret [married name Margaret Davies, Lady Davies] (1896–1967)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/34281, accessed 24 March 2017]

Richardson, Joanna, The Constant Novelist A Study of Margaret Kennedy (1896-1967) Violet Powell (Book Review).  The Spectator, London 251.8086 (Jul 2, 1983): 25

On Good Reads

“They become unconsciously genuine stupefying explainers” – French Oralist Jean-Jacques Valade-Gabel

H Dominic W Stiles3 March 2017

Valade-GabelJean-Jacques Valade-Gabel (1801-79) was a leading proponent of oral education for the deaf who was active in the middle of the nineteenth century.  I first came across him through the book of moral tales he wrote, translated into English by Charles Baker of the Yorkshire Institution.  His son Andre followed him into teaching the deaf.  He taught at the Paris Institution before moving to Bordeaux (American Annals of the Deaf, 1860).  Harlan Lane says that he was “fired from Bordeaux for mysterious reasons” (Lane, p.436, note 110).  What did he do that was so disgraceful?  Since I initially wrote this post I have come across some biographical information on father and son Valade-Gabel.*  “Jusqu’en 1850, le nouveau directeur s’appliqua par des leçons constantes à former un personnel capable, dévoué, lorsque brusquement, le 25 juillet 1850, Valade-Gabel fut relevé des ses fonctions et replacé professeur à Paris.” – “Up until 1850, the new director applied himself by constant lectures to forming a capable staff, when suddenly, on July 25th, 1850, Valade-Gabel was relieved of his functions and returned to the position of professor in Paris.” (see Bélanger, 1900).  It did not affect his later career it seems.

Jean-Jacques was born at Sarlat in the Dordogne on the 23rd of September, 1801.  He entered the Institution Nationale de Paris on the 8th of September, 1825, as an aspiring professor, which position he attained in 1829.  At that time Bébian was deputy Principal.  He was a disciple of Pestalozzi (who has been mentioned before on a post).

Picture LessonsJJ Valade GabelHe taught in Paris from 1826 to 1838, was director of the National Institution at Bordeaux from 1838 till 1850, and later became Government inspector of the schools for the deaf in the 1860s, which must have put him in a powerful position to get his educational views instituted across France (The Association Review, 1902, p.274).  Our copy of Méthode à la portée des instituteurs primaires pour enseigner aux sourds-muets la langue française : sans l’intermédiaire du langage des signes (1857) is signed by Valade-Gabel.  This was the book that set out his views in full, and in 1875 his method was officially recognised by the Ministry of the Interior (The Association Review, 1904, p.274).VG Deaf Boy

We have two copies of the translated Picture Lessons for Boys and Girls, one with the author’s introduction, where he indicates a disdain for signing.  It seems he gave emphasis to reading and writing.  He says,

The reproach addressed by Jacotot to those who too much distrust the penetration of children, falls directly on such teachers as are in the habit of constantly interposing signs between the deaf and dumb and written language.  They become unconsciously genuine stupefying explainers.  The more graceful and appropriate are the signs, so much more do they turn the pupils from the attention which must be given to writing, in order to obtain in it a sort of power interpretive of thought.  We know in a certain establishment a certain very distinguished master, who, nevertheless, has not succeeded in making a good scholar, for the sole reason that he does not know how properly to teach the deaf-mute to cope with the difficulties of reading. (p.vi)

In The Association Review, they say,

This untiring reformer introduced at the Bordeaux Institution the intuitive method in instruction in language in its written form. He attracted the attention of specialists to his method by annual courses and lectures from 1839 till 1850, and in 1857 published his famous work, “Method for the use of primary teachers for teaching the deaf the French language without the intermediary of the sign language.” This important work was favorably received by the leaders of the French education of the deaf; and in 1875 Valade-Gabel’s method was officially recognized by the Ministry of the Interior. This method which substituted the eye for the ear, employed writing, and abandoned signs as a means for learning language, was adopted either entirely or in conjunction with older methods by the majority of the French schools many years before the Milan Congress. (p.274)

They continue to explain something of his method (p.275): “Valade-Gabel’s method is based on two leading principles: the first, that language shall be taught without either methodical or natural gestures, and the second, that instead of beginning with words, developing and explaining them, each one by itself, the beginning should be made with sentences.”

VG Deaf and Dumb Man

Above are two pages from the Picture Lessons.  Note that this last picture below, shows a child – a ‘chatterer,’ – signing to his fellow.  “They are chatters when they make any unmeaning or unnecessary signs.” Chatterer

I think that the poet, Leon Valade, may have been his son, or a relative.  Please add a note in the comments if you can provide any additional information about Valade-Gabel.

Arnaud, Sabine, Fashioning a Role for Medicine: Alexandre-Louis-Paul Blanchet and the Care of the Deaf in Mid-nineteenth-century France.  Soc Hist Med (2015) 28 (2): 288-307

*Bélanger, Ad., Nos Gravures – J.J. Valade-Gabel, André Valade-Gabel, Revue Générale de L’Enseignement de Sourds-Muets, Vol.2, (5), Novembre 1900 & two plates facing p. 122 & p. 128

Fourth Report of the Institution for the Deaf at Venersborg, Sweden… The Association Review, 1902, Vol.4 p.272–8

Lane, Harlan, When the Mind Hears, a History of the Deaf.  

Picture Lessons for Boys and Girls [review] American Annals of the Deaf, 1860 Vol 12, p.191-2

Quartararo, Anne T.,  The Perils of Assimilation in Modern France: The Deaf Community, Social Status, and Educational Opportunity, 1815-1870.  Journal of Social History, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Autumn, 1995), pp. 5-23

Valade-Gabel, J-J., Picture Lessons for Boys and Girls, Translated and adapted by Charles Baker. 1860, London, Wertheim and Macintosh

Valade-Gabel, J-J,, The Institutions for the Deaf and Dumb in France

A picture of Valade-Gabel is on this interesting Danish website

“the deaf who had been taught by the manual method were more intelligent & much better educated…” Agar & Rosa Russell

H Dominic W Stiles13 January 2017

Rosa Brommage was born in Wolverhampton in 1862, fourth child of Alfred, a clerk for a cemetery company, originally from Kidderminster, and his wife Caroline.  Her older sisters, Caroline and Annie, were both, like Rosa, deaf ‘from birth’ according to the census return.  Her five younger siblings all had normal hearing.  On the 18th of April, 1892, she married Agar Russell, who had lost his hearing aged 12.  Agar’s father was originally Samuel Gunster, from a Jewish family in Posen, although Agar said that they did not know his nationality – whether Polish or German.  Samuel went to America as a young man, but somehow avoided conscription and ended up in London, where he met his ‘wife’, though Agar was never sure whether they were married (various pages in his Reminiscences).

Agar Russell April 1899 Ephphatha 1We have the manuscript of Agar’s memoirs, Surdus; Reminiscences, written it seems in the war years.  They are rather higgledy-piggledy, with chapters that are themed rather than being chronological, for example “Workhouses and other Institutions,” or “Holiday Adventures.”  Some things you would like to know are not mentioned in much detail.

Agar Russell had grown up in London, where he was acquainted with the Rev. Fred Gilby and various people in the St.Saviour’s Deaf church congregation.  When he was 16, it was suggested that he become a teacher to the deaf, yet, as he says, “having never met a deaf and dumb person, or seen the manual alphabet.”  He went to the Llandaff School for six years as assistant to Alexander Melville.  The children of the school “gave a smiling welcome, and then began to make remarks to one another in a gesture language which I felt I should never be able to understand.”

Agar paints an interesting picture of life in the school.  He does not seem to have particularly liked the headmaster, Alexander Melville, and was not impressed by his teaching methods.  Melville “expected the children to answer his questions on subjects of which they had not sufficient written instructions.”  “Mrs Melville was deaf and dumb, of a quiet and gentle disposition and of no unusual attainments, and evidently in awe of her husband.  We cannot but conjecture that this union was due to her being the means of his requiring funds for the purpose of establishing the school” (see his Reminiscences).  When Mr Clyne of Bristol Deaf School came to take over temporarily after the death of Melville’s first wife,  Agar says he used instructions in writing before he put questions to the pupils –

Who? – Does? – What?

Mary – sweeps – the floor

What? – Done? – By Whom?

The floor – is swept – by Mary

In his Reminiscences he also said, “From my own experience I found that the deaf who had been taught by the manual method were more intelligent and much better educated than those brought up on the manual system.”  In the Ephphatha interview in 1896, Agar’s questioner, ‘C’, asked him,

“Speaking of the need for special services, have you ever met with a deaf person who could follow an ordinary discourse, by watching the lips of the speaker?”
“No, never; only a few who could with more or less difficulty make out short sentences uttered in an exaggerated manner by the speaker.  […] To suppose that children educated on the oral system can read everybody’s lips, even if everybody is patient enough to try them, is fallacious; and to assert that they can follow an ordinary viva voce lecture or sermon, is absurd.  The training of the mind of the deaf is more perfectly accomplished by the manual method and writing.  Many of the graduates of the oral system have a very poor grasp of language, and a very inferior mental development, as a consequence of their having been forced through many weary years to learn mere articulation and lip-reading.” (Ephphatha, p.67)

Mrs Russell jubilee ticketAgar took photos when he was in the Staffordshire mission, many being stuck into the annual reports that we have for the mission.  I expect that these were Agar’s own copies and that they were donated or willed to the library when Agar died in 1956, aged 91.  Unfortunately for us, this means that his photos are still in copyright for another ten years, so without knowing who inherited the copyright and holds it at present, we cannot legally reproduce his photos taken in the 1890s.

Rosa died in 1942, after fifty years of marriage.

Mr Russell Agar, an interview.  Ephphatha, vol.4 p.66-7, 1899

Russell, Agar, Surdus – Reminiscences.  Unpublished manuscript in library.

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2229; Folio: 20; Page: 34; GSU roll: 6097339