February 5, 2016

Only connect: On Downshire Hill

Read this morning, on the bus
If Mrs. STC had not gone to live with them, Sara might not have managed so well, but as it was, in the summer of 1830 Sara and Henry found a house big enough for both a new baby and Mrs. STC. Sara was sad to leave Highgate for its proximity to her father, but, without her mother, she struggled to manage the servants and the endless domestic decisions baffled her. The new house, 21 Downshire Hill, in Hampstead (which Sara always grandly called No. 1 Downshire Place), was perfect in every way, except that it was too far from Lincoln's Inn for Henry to commute to work each day. ... Downshire Hill had been newly developed less than 15 years before. The house he returned to each Friday was a simple brick villa with a pretty iron grille above its front door. ...

from The Poets' Daughters:  Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge
by Katie Waldegrave

Reminding me that
From the late 30s onwards, [Elizabeth Jenkins] lived in a pink-washed Regency house in Downshire Hill, Hampstead (The View from Downshire Hill was the title of her 2004 autobiography). There she eschewed modern comforts amid surroundings little different from those in Keats House across the road. As property prices started to rise to crazy levels during the 80s, Elizabeth, like many others, passed her days in a house worth a fortune without the means to run it. Yet she was uncomplaining and in many ways preferred the Victorian kitchen and one-bar electric fires.

Nicola Beauman {of Persephone Books} writing in The Guardian 

And then there had just been this
'...And I did promise Leonora I would take her and Ned to see Keats's house. He has to go there for his work, you know.'
      Humphrey was silent, confronted by the force of a promise to Leonora and Ned's 'work,' though the latter cut no ice with him, as he put it. He was at a loss to understand this new turn things had taken since Ned had come into their lives. What was James up to?  First a mistress and now a lover. And why was Leonora making such a fuss of Ned? For all his charm it was obvious that she didn't like him. How much more sensible it would be for her to admit defeat and give up.
      'Very well, then,' he said at last. 'I shouldn't like you to disappoint Leonora, of course, but don't make a habit of it. A pity it's such a wet afternoon,' he added, not without satisfaction.
      Leonora came out to the car in the beautiful iridescent raincoat she had worn when she went to meet James at the air terminal. One was not at one's best in the rain, obviously, and one needed to be that now as never before.  She had pictured a golden autumn afternoon for the excursion — season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, wasn't it? — and in the past she and James had always been lucky in their weather.
from The Sweet Dove Died, by Barbara Pym

It's things like this that make my day. :)


JoAnn said...

I can certainly see why! It's so much fun when our books intersect like that... a rare occurrence for me.

Lisa said...

I love tracing these kinds of connections between books and authors - and readers!

Vintage Reading said...

I'm interested in the life of Elizabeth Jenkins. She wrote a wonderful biography of Jane Austen that I picked up second-hand. Lovely post.