Two dilemmas: two apologies

Two dilemmas have been niggling at me and I possibly have two apologies to make. The first to John Harkness (1857-1933) for omitting his work from my review of C19th Rose Literature and the second to Miss Mary Lawrance/Lawrence (Died 1831) for the misspelling of her name in my review and other research I have done.

When writing my review of C19th literature I left out the publication by John Harkness ‘Practical Rose Growing’ (1889) thinking at the time it was a pamphlet rather than a published book. In my defence Mrs H.R.Darlington in her comprehensive review of ‘Rose Literature of the Past Fifty Years’ written for the 1926 Rose Annual (National Rose Society) refers to it as a “useful pamphlet on the cultivation of the Rose for exhibition and decorative purposes”. Theo Mayer in his article ‘Victorian Rose Literature’ printed in the 1970 Rose Annual does not mention the work at all.

Looking a little further Werger and Burton in their ‘Roses. A Bibliography of Botanical, Horticultural, and other works related to the Genus Rosa’ (1972) list only the second edition of 1898 and describe the work as having 68 pages with illustrations. Stock in his ‘Rose Books. A Bibliography of books and important articles in journals on the genus Rosa, in English, French, German and Latin, 1550-1975’ published in 1984 goes a little further by including both editions together with their printers:

1st ed. 1889 Armitage and Ibbetson, Bradford 1889

2nd ed. 1898 J.H. Blackett, Bedale 1898

None of this is conclusive, however, as to whether this is a published book or a printed pamphlet as it must be remembered that in Victorian times and earlier the printer was often also the publisher.

The work is not mentioned in the bibliographies of Vergara or Thory.

A suggestion that it may be a ‘book’ came from Amazon where it is listed but currently unavailable. It is also currently unavailable from ABE Books. I went to one of my favourite searching grounds and where I should have gone in the first place, the catalogue of The Lindley Library only to find that it was not listed there. Finally I went to the catalogue of The British Library where it was listed as a ‘book’ under the title ‘Practical Rose Growing: a guide for amateurs etc’ (1889).

That is a good lesson learned – go to the largest library in the country first but I did enjoy the journey and I needed to have a few excuses for leaving out a strategic work! I have not seen the book, cannot find it anywhere other than The British Library and the only description of the text I can find is that given by Mrs Darlington who says John Harkness gives very careful instructions on the thorough making of the soil for Rose beds and

“His chapter on Developing Exhibition Roses is interesting in that it strongly advocates and minutely describes the art of ‘dressing’ exhibition Roses. The quotations at the headings of the chapters are well chosen and suggest a knowledge of Milton not possessed by all writers of the Rose”.

I am almost convinced that this work is a published book, unless you the reader, know otherwise, so my apologies to John Harkness.

So on to Mary Lawrance/Lawrence and I must say from the start of this discussion that there are copies of her book ‘A Collection of Roses from Nature’ (1796-1799) in both The British Library and The Lindley Library and they list her as Mary Lawrance. So why the confusion? Why do some authors write of Lawrance and others of Lawrence? Rather than follow the line of my research as I did with Mr Harkness I will cut straight to the chase so to speak!

According to Rondeau and Verdegem in their massive and striking book ‘The Quest for the Black Rose’ (2006) Mary Lawrence Kearse, better known as Miss Lawrence, a botanical artist and much acclaimed teacher, exhibited at The Royal Academy between 1794 and 1830. They suggest in their footnotes on P. 32

“A certain confusion exists as to the spelling of the name, ‘Lawrance’ being the spelling of the first edition. But in later editions it is corrected to ‘Lawrence’. Many modern authors still use the spelling from the first edition.”

Whether they mean here the first of the 30 parts issued or the first of the groups of the parts dated 1796, 1797, 1798 and 1799 I am not sure but I am unaware of any further editions of the original whole text being printed. I have a contact in The Linley Library who is very helpful with research matters but I know that their rare books are not available currently due to refurbishment but I will check with her at a later date. Perhaps you, the reader, may be able to help!

The correction is supported by Stock in his bibliography who writes that Lawrance is corrected to Lawrence in Errata to Vol. 111 of ‘Les Roses’ 1824. It is originally spelt as Lawrance in the bibliography written by Thory at the end of Vol. 1 (1818). I have checked this out as I have a facsimile of the bibliography entitled ‘Bibliotheca Botanica Rosarum’ and have consulted the entry. I have also checked the Errata through this website:

Stock continues by referring to various authors and how they have spelt the name. When researching it seems pretty even to me but it would be good to know one way or another. I need to apologise anyway as I have spelt her name both ways in research I have done. Perhaps I will currently follow the lead of The British Library or spell it both ways ‘Lawrance/Lawrence’!

I am happier now that I have ‘aired’ these issues.

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