NORTON (CAROLINE) and THE SHERIDAN FAMILY

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Lot 21
NORTON (CAROLINE) and THE SHERIDAN FAMILY

Sold for £ 2,880 (US$ 3,548) inc. premium
NORTON (CAROLINE) and THE SHERIDAN FAMILY
Three exceptionally attractive early nineteenth century albums, kept by and for members of the Sheridan family, children of Thomas Sheridan, son of the playwright, including an album illustrating the early married life of the poet Caroline Norton, the cover stamped 'Nortoniana &c.' and containing nine full-page watercolours showing George and Caroline in undignified situations (as for example "George Chapple Norton Esq.r in the Shower-bath", Caroline failing to dismount in the correct manner, and as a sixteen-year-old returning to Hampton Court from school); an album inscribed for her sister Jane Georgiana, afterwards Seymour, by Price Blackwood, afterwards Lord Dufferin, husband of their sister Helen ("Juanita Sheridan from her never to be sufficiently thanked, admired, and beloved Brother in law Price Blackwood 1829"), including two sets of autograph verses, signed by her sister Caroline under her maiden name, one dated 5 April 1826; and an album inscribed to their brother Richard Brinsley by Georgiana ("RBS from his Affectionate sister Jane Georgiana Seymour"), containing her illustrated verse romp "The Pound: a Tragedy", three volumes, morocco gilt, one with silver clasps, 4to and 8vo, [c.1830]

Footnotes

  • The Sheridan sisters, grand-daughters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the playwright and politician, were famous alike for their beauty, intelligence, and high spirits, the last two qualities reflected in these albums: in later life Helen Lady Dufferin, eldest of the three, was to tell Disraeli: "You see, Georgy's the beauty, and Carry's the wit, and I ought to be the good one, but I am not". The album made for Caroline, the second sister, showing scenes with her husband, the Hon George Chapple Norton, must date from soon after their marriage in 1827: for the marriage was soon to deteriorate into extreme rancour with Norton displaying a "coarse nature and violent temper" (DNB). In 1836 Norton was to accuse Caroline of having an affair with the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, resulting in a court case so absurd that Dickens based 'Bardell v. Pickwick' upon it. Later he attempted to seize her literary earnings, while failing to pay her allowance. Not one to take her husband's mistreatment lying down, Caroline became a doughty fighter for female justice and did much to ameliorate the rights of married women, especially as regards custody of children. It is surely not too fanciful to image that some of the pictures from their early married life on display here - such as "St George and the Dragon", showing Norton wielding his meerschaum pipe to fend off the dragon Caroline - foreshadow the storm that was to come.
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