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Edith Blackwell Holden (b. September 26, 1871)

From The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady 

For those looking for inspiration of the highest level in the realm of nature notebooks, Edith Holden (1871-1920) has been the standard for so many of us.  Homeschooled by her mother during her early years, she became an artist and teacher.  She wrote her Nature Notes as a model nature journal for her students at Solihull School for Girls, never intending to have it published. Thankfully, her great niece, Rowena Stott, presented it to a publisher and in 1977 it was published as The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady .  Another preserved heirloom , The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady was published in 1989.

The Edwardian Lady: The Story of Edith Holden, Author of the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady
Biography by Ina Taylor

 Her life was interesting.  She was born and raised in England as a Unitarian, married a 33-year-old when she was 40, and died nine years later while trying to reach a branch of chestnut buds over a river. Her middle name was in honor of her cousin, the first female to receive a medical degree in the U.S., Elizabeth Blackwell.


We refer to her notebooks often.  Her choice of quotes and poetry to illustrate her journals have been quite helpful when we want to embellish our own notebooks.  Sometimes I just display a page on a table because they are so beautiful. 


There is a 12-part series on you tube made in 1984 to enjoy.  They are titled by month.  Here is the introduction/January installment.



I just noticed that I do not have an entry on our nature notebooks in my right sidebar under "Living Journals".  Since we are into our 2nd decade of keeping these journals, I will try to put something up soon.  Nature study in a Charlotte Mason education is the foundation of all science study.  Do you remember when and where you saw your first copy of an Edith Holden journal?  I do.  I was at William Caxton Books, LTD in Door County, Wisconsin about 13 years ago. Et tu?

From joy to joy,
Nancy

17 comments:

  1. "Do you remember when and where you saw your first copy of an Edith Holden journal?"
    Many of your readers may be able to say that they saw this first many years ago or have had a copy for as long as they can recall. I first saw this at a public library in 2010. I sat on the floor, right there in the library, and looked at it cover to cover.
    Thanks for the reminder of this great book! I am looking forward to finding a copy for our home.

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    1. I think I bought my first copy from "Trademe" a NZ auction site about 10 years ago. Then I found another copy at a booksale or something like that. I also was surprised when my husband brought home a copy of Nature Notes from work. He was working for a picture framing business who were having a cleanup of their building. Apparently the previous business was a secondhand bookseller and it was one of the books that got left behind. We have often used them for nature study. Unfortunately, with my 10yo daughter's springtime allergies becoming increasingly severe, we find it hard to get outside altogether for nature study.

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    2. Blossom,
      I thought certain individuals would be able to recall this! I've seen more of these since then at library discard sales than actually on the library shelves. Thanks for sharing!

      Rachael,
      Nice pick-up by your hubby! Allergies can be such a detriment to nature study but knowing you, your family probably has a plan around that. Thanks for the stories!

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    3. Nancy,
      I'm a year late reading your blog ✿◠‿◠) I found it while searching for Edith Holden Images. I bought the first book in 1981 in a bookstore in Santa Rosa, CA. I loved her work. A couple years later I got married and received a set of china with her images on them (Noritake ~ Ireland). I cherish that china to this day. ✿◠‿◠)

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  2. I was in college at my favorite book store in uptown. I bought my copy because I was so drawn to the paintings. I had no idea what to do with such a book, or why on earth I should own it, or who Mason was or what Nature Study was. Just something in me.... loved it. Great post!

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    1. You were destined to discover this philosophy, Bobby Jo!

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  3. Thanks for all your book suggestions. I'm new on this home school journey, so I'm building up my library. I just ordered this book tonight as I'm quite behind on discovering this treasure. I was wondering how often your children work on their nature journals?

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    1. Shannon,
      We purposely make an entry at least once a week, sometimes through our TBG community. Some of my children will go out and make an entry because there is something interesting outside. However, it has taken years for them (and me!) to make it a habit on their own. Plus, I make sure to just go out and sketch something myself on occasion.
      HTH,
      Nancy

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  4. I'd heard of Edith Holden's 'Country Diary' and her interesting life in CM circles but had never seen a copy until three years ago when it was sitting on a sidewalk table in front of a used bookstore in Lenox, Mass. I took it to the cash register and tried to put on my best poker face as the price wasn't marked. It is now one of the few books I have unpacked since we're still crashing at a relative's home and living out of suitcases.

    Tried hard not to covet when a copy of 'Nature Notes' was given away at the LER.

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    1. Richele,
      Remember the first time I saw it at the bookstore? My sister-in-law bought that copy for me for over $30.00. Ouch!

      -Nancy

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  5. It's a pity postage to the US is so costly! I often come across both books at second hand book sales here in NZ.

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    1. OTOH, think of the friends you could bless over there! Interesting that they are so readily available there, Rachael.

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  6. Thanks for the wonderful reminder, Nancy. I, too, keep a copy handy and display it often for the love of the illustrations and the inspiration they convey. When Mollie and I were in Paris this summer, we found a copy in French at one of the sellers of old books that line the Seine. I was so happy to see it! I love sharing a book with kindred spirits!

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    1. That is so sweet, Gladys! I can just imagine you spotting it! Thanks for sharing that.

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  7. I put The Country Diary on hold at the library with a stack of other recommended books and just loved it but didn't really "own" it at that time....about 6 months ago, I was browsing a thrift store and there is was, shining gloriously ;) from a top shelf. $2 later it was MINE! Now I just LOVE it...I actually did not know she had another until THIS post! I've been using it on our nature shelf also since seeing that idea on Linda Fay's blog...yay! :)

    ~Amy

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  8. I happened to buy it at our library book store for a couple of dollars ,not knowing anything about it. I loved the looks of it and thought it would be a great model for a nature journal. Right I was! Score!

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  9. Received the Nature Notes book 2 days ago from a dear friend's aging mother in a bag of many books. Didn't think it would interest me. Just spent 2 + hours pouring over it and wanting more. Wow!

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