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Lot 30: NATHAN, Mrs: Elvington. A Novel in Three Volumes (1819)
August 28, 2016
Adelaide, AustraliaLive Auction
NATHAN, Mrs [nee Elizabeth Rosetta WORTHINGTON]: Elvington. A Novel in Three Volumes.
London, Printed for J.J. Stockdale, 1819 [first and only edition]. Duodecimo (190 x 110 mm), three volumes bound as one, [iii]-viii, 288 (last blank); 288; and 280 pages, with a separate title page for each volume (but presumably lacking the initial half-title). Early gilt-decorated half calf and marbled papered boards, with a contrasting leather title-label on the spine; leather scuffed, rubbed at the extremities, and a little worn at the corners; heavy surface rubbing to the marbled paper sides; scattered foxing throughout; trifling signs of use and age; essentially in very good condition.
At the head of the first title page is the ink ownership signature of Charles Nathan (1816-1872), the eldest child of the author, Elizabeth Rosetta Nathan, nee Worthington. At the age of 17, Elizabeth Worthington eloped with her music teacher, Isaac Nathan, music librarian to the Prince Regent (later George IV), singing teaching to Princess Charlotte, and most famous for his 'Hebrew Melodies' (1815), with 29 songs by Lord Byron. Elizabeth died in 1824, leaving two sons and four daughters; Charles, the eldest child, was only eight years old. Although he ran away from home at the age of thirteen and studied to become a surgeon, he joined his father and family in migrating to Sydney in 1841. There he started a successful medical practice in Elizabeth Street and in 1845 he was one of the original four doctors appointed to the new Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary. He was a pioneer in anaesthetics (in June 1847), a founder of the British Medical Association in New South Wales, and a foundation member of the Senate of the University of Sydney. His father, who had remarried in 1826, became the colony's first composer, although 'his influence on Australian musical history is hard to assess. His own music was of little worth but he probably contributed to the prevailing pseudo-Byronic and Romantic tone of Sydney's artistic life. He was certainly the first musician with a European reputation to settle in Australia, and the first to attempt a serious study of Aboriginal music' (Australian Dictionary of Biography). We have gleaned little about Elizabeth Nathan: born circa 1795, died 1824, dismissed by the ADB as 'a minor novelist and the only child of an Irish army officer', who, as a young pupil, eloped in 1812 with her music teacher, Isaac Nathan. The British Library catalogue credits her with one other novel, 'Langreath, a Tale', published in London in 1822. Six children and two three-deckers in a little over a decade is no mean feat ... Her literary legacy may be said to be continued through her great-great-grand-daughter Catherine, the matriarch of the Mackerras family.