This is Flat Frances standing in front of an 1830's map of London. She's preparing to tour the places in England where she lived and worked: Aldgate, Dulwich, Camberwell in London; Watnall in Nottinghamshire; Kingston-on-Hull, Kirk Ella, Filey, Scarborough in Yorkshire; and Keswick in Cumbria.
In some of those places she will meet some "flat" figures of past acquaintance: Sir Anthony Carlisle, William Wilberforce, Henry Thompson, William Hone, and William Wordsworth.
The changes since the mid 1800's may be a shock to her—not least that she will travel by airplane.
The "Flat Frances" idea came from the History in the Margins website. FR never had a photograph or portrait made—only the small silhouette seen on the home page of this site. Flat Frances was made from a print of the Gainsborough painting of Mrs. Siddons, which FR's friends said was very like her. The hair is changed to brown and the eyes to blue, to match hers of early life.
If you would like a synopsis of her return to England after the journey, please use the comment option to write "Return to England" and your e-mail address.
April 7, 1840
FR is in Kirk Ella happily at work in the infant school she has established there. Her sister Lucy lives not far from Wordsworth who has been admired by FR ever since he published "Lyrical Ballads" in 1798.
"My sister is at Ambleside, plotting to interest the patriarch Wordsworth for me and my writings. A friend of ours is going to marry a relation of his, so I feel as if it were possible. She tells me Southey is 'in a state of hopeless imbecility'—how sad! I had always believed that the exercised intellect was long-lived; in general I think it is so nevertheless."
In 1847, seven years after writing this letter, FR visited the Lakes District. Sadly for someone who so loved poetry, most of the poets and literary men connected to the Lakes District were dead: Coleridge, Southey, Hazlitt, Lamb, DeQuincy, Arnold, Ruskin, Carlysle, Shelley, Keats, Scott. Only Wordsworth remained.
That November FR finally obtained the introduction to Wordsworth and an invitation to dine at Rydal Mount. The evening seems to have pleased both WW and FR. The next year FR relocated to Keswick, where she remained the rest of her life.
April 4, 1863
A friend has referred FR to an issue of The Ecclesiastic where she may read that her life's work, Mazzaroth: The Constellations, has been mentioned.
"I hear to-day that Sir George Cornewall Lewis has spoken of 'Mazzaroth' as a work of 'great learning and research.' "
The compliment is valuable in FR's efforts to get her work known. Sir George is the British Secretary of State for War. He has also written on ancient astronomy.
The previous year FR read his book and found herself "in the very thick of a tussle with Sir G. C. Lewis. His 'Ancients' and not my 'Ancients,' but the Greeks . . . . Sir G. C. L___ shows what ignorance and confusion the Greek and Roman astronomy was, while I and my party of Orientalists show the sublime simplicity of that of the Hebrew and Arabs. . . . Greece ancient! when it was uninhabited or savage when the magnificent Solomon knew the wisdom of heaven and earth, and reigned in pomp and polish, as Assyrian records now testify."
FR prepares to send Sir George some papers in response to his compliment, but that very month, before she can post them, she learns of his sudden death.
The painting of Sir George Cornewall Lewis above is by Henry Weigall, and is owned by National Museum Wales. It may be seen in the Art Collections Online.