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Title:
Commonplace book compiled in Coonoor, India.
Published/Created:
Coonoor, India, 1898-1905.
Physical Description:
1 volume ([57] leaves) : illustrations ; 23 cm
Holdings:
Rare Books and Manuscripts
PN6245.S74 C66 1898+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Information
Classification:
Archives & Manuscripts
Notes:
Commonplace book associated with the Indian hill station of Coonoor (now in Tamil Nadu). Primary responsibility for the contents is unclear. Inserted at front is a piece of paper wishing a Happy New Year to Major General H.S. Stewart from “your honor's most obedient servant Mir Hashmat Ally, son of your honor's obedient Manager late Mir Ghulam Abbas Sahib.” At front is the monograph "E.B.S."; at back, "E.E.S." Members of the Stewart family may have compiled the album. Alternatively, it could be the work of the Stanes family, one of the leading British families at Coonoor. Full names of contributors (those recorded in the album) include: Sybil Chilton, Agnes Field, R.E. Picton-Jones, Joceline [?] S. Watson, Stella Powell, Mabel E. Rolland, Marjorie Seymour, R.E. Carter, Eva C.J. Elliot, W.F. Symes, E. Maxwell, and Daisy A. Dobbs.
The album includes numerous ink drawings and watercolors, some drawn directly on the page and others pasted into the book. The subjects include a ship, views of the Indian coast, mountains and streams, and several “aspects” of Coonoor itself. Some are signed with initials (such as "GS") and dated, usually around 1899. Images of flowers are also numerous, though these are not directly associated with Coonoor, nor are they captioned. The remainder of the images consist of various sketches, caricatures, and illustrations, in pen, and occasionally watercolor. There are images of cats--one labeled a “A Distinguished Member of the Kit-kat Club”--of baskets of cats, of children, of cats dressed as children, of cartoons, of cartoons of cats, and so on. One drawing depicts a woman saying, “It's a wicked world, friends, but--I never tasted drink in my life.” Her apron (pasted onto the page) lifts up to show a hidden bottle.
The album also includes an assortment of photographs. The topics vary, though one notable group depicts a number of people posing together in various places. Another pair of photographs is labeled “gymkhana ground” and “Wellington,” and a later series is captioned “views in Rangoon" (depicting elephants). A loose newspaper clipping shows “British and Afghan Officers” in full military uniform, posing for a group portrait in front of tents.
The text includes quotations, poems, and sayings taken from various literary sources, such as Shakespeare or Victor Hugo. The two most significant pieces are a short essay, titled “How to Cook a Husband,” and a lengthy, tongue-in-cheek poem about life at Coonoor. The first begins: “Some women keep their husbands constantly in hot water, others let theirs freeze by their carelessness & indifference, some keep theirs in a stew by irritably ways & words, others roast theirs, some keep theirs in pickle all their lives.” It includes several sketches of husbands with various captions, such as “no vinegar.”
The poem about life at Coonoor stretches several pages. Its first stanza reads: “Hid amongst the Neilgherries / A secluded favored spot / Lies Coonoor, the home of ladies / Who find the plains too hot.” It describes the pastimes of the British at the hill station: “Badminton is all the rage / With dances for the sub [?] / Every week the band it plays / And jolly is the club.” It includes a comparison to another town, and concludes: “Give me Coonoor with all its ills / I'd rather far be there / A better station on the hills / To find would be most rare.”
Bound in contemporary black leather.
Subject Terms:
British -- India.
Cats.
Coonoor (India) -- Description and travel.
English poetry.
India -- Description and travel.
Stanes family.
Stewart, E. B.
Stewart, H. S., Major General.
Form/Genre:
Commonplace books.
Photographs.
Albumen prints.
Gelatin silver prints.
Travel photography.
Ink drawings.
Watercolors.
Botanical illustrations.
Contributors:
Stanes family.
Stewart, E. B.
Stewart, H. S., Major General.
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