Edith begins her May entry thus: The name of this month is of doubtful origin. Ancient-writers suggest it to be derived from Maia, the mother of Mercury; to whom the Romans were accustomed to sacrifice on the first day of the month. May-day is the name given to the first day of the month in England, when, in old days the people went out at dawn to welcome the advent of spring. May-queens and May-poles were once general throughout the country. The last may-pole erected in London was taken down in 1717. . . .
Below is the first page of Edith's diary. I was delighted to see that she made two mistakes and had to add in the missing words with a ^ ! I'm delighted because this puts the mistake on my painting this month in good company. . . .
In Edith's biography it is the summer of 1905 and the family has just moved to Olton. Edith's mother had died the year before so she and her two unwed sisters (who never marry) have moved to a smaller house with their father. This is the house where Edith writes Nature Notes for 1906, the diary that has become known as The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. This is the diary that she used in the classroom where she taught art on Friday afternoons at Solihull School for Girls beginning in early 1906.
I began my day by watching the May episode of the 12-part 1984 TV series The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. May's episode interweaves Edith's diary entries with moments when she looks back to when her mother was still living. One memory is of her sister Evelyn's engagement. Evelyn, who is a very accomplished artist, is asked by Edith, "When are you going to do your painting?" Evelyn says, "I'm happy. Isn't that enough?" Later after her mother's death Edith decides not to go back to art school so she can stay home and take care of her 69-year-old father. She intends to get a teaching job. When he protests she says, "Evelyn is giving up her work when she marries." Her father responds, "But that's different. A woman expects to do as much when she marries. It's natural." There is much tension in the family because of the philosophical differences between her two brothers on how the family manufacturing business should be run. Most of the episode shows Edith roaming through the lush countryside. There are many scenes of wildflowers and birds as she recites the poems from her diary. The episode ends with her setting up her easel to paint an oil rendition of the May painting (above) for the exhibition of the Royal Academy in Birmingham.
The little drawing booklet I've been using only has two lessons per season so there was nothing new to draw from there. I did not want to attempt the May painting above because there were so many flowers to paint, so I chose the May painting from the Nature Notes for 1905. First, I drew it in pencil on my sketch pad. . . .
Then I redrew it on watercolor paper and outlined it in brown ink. . . .
Then I took this photo of the wildflowers outside my window (anything to procrastinate!). . . .
After a tea break I started painting. It took me a very long while (and another break or two) to get it to where I liked it enough to show you, so here it is. . . .
I didn't realize until I read this month's Country Diary that Wild Hyacinths are Bluebells. I planted 80 English Bluebells last Autumn. Most came up but only five plants bloomed, so I will have to content myself with my painting.
If you've been following this series every month I will have to disappoint you because Jackie Kellum left off posting Edith's diary on her Blog with last month's entry. So if you want to read the May entries you will have to search out a copy of the book for yourself. There are plenty on Amazon.com. Bunny Mummy continues, however. You can read her May post HERE. She writes about Edith's 1905 Nature Notes, but she also includes photographs from the English countryside that I think you'll find enjoyable. Ragged Robin's post takes you to Kingswood where Edith lived from 1890 to 1897. There are more lovely countryside photos here, too.
While searching I came across another Country Diary book! I found it at my local used book store's on-line shop. I'll be able to pick it up at the store in a few days. I'll let you know how it is in next month's post. . . .
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