April 18, 2006
Preliminary Draft of
I plan to write my
thesis about Fanny Brawn. She was an
English woman who lived from 1800 till 1862.
When she was a young woman of twenty, the poet John Keats was in
with her. Because there is so much
interest in Keats, and because so much has been written about him,
quite a bit
has also been written about Fanny Brawn. There is a lot of interest in
character, her feelings for Keats, her effect upon him, and so on.
I plan to write
about Fanny Brawn from a different perspective.
From my preliminary reading, I learned that Fanny Brawn was very
knowledgeable about the history of costume and fashion.
Several writers have mentioned that she was
something of an expert. She was a
fashionable person herself, but her interest in fashion seems to have
Fanny Brawn kept
two scrapbooks, which were formerly on display at Keats House in Wentworth Place,
outside of London. They are now being stored in the London
Archive. With the help of Joe LaRose, I
searched all the appropriate data bases to see if anyone has ever
the scrapbooks, or about Fanny Brawn’s interest in fashion history. We could find no record of any such research,
here or in Great
I have contacted
the archive, and they have given me permission to see the scrapbooks. There are direct flights from Cleveland to London
through the end of September. Since
there is no language barrier, and I have enough frequent flyer miles, I
see any impediment to my going. I would like to find a free or very
to stay while I am there, though. Dr.
Gunn seems to think that one week is more than sufficient time to
I have two possible
focuses for my research. If I can find
enough information about Fanny Brawn’s knowledge of, and interest in
history, then I would like to write about her, as a fashion-interested
of the Romantic period in England.
I would use the scrapbooks to help document
the research. If, on the other hand, I
find that there is not enough information available about this aspect
personality, I will make the scrapbooks the focus of my thesis. I will conduct an artifact study of
them. This may include some content
analysis. I will use the information I
find in my reading as background to understanding the scrapbooks.
I will not know which way I am going until
get into the research more.
II Information Gathering
research, from secondary sources, will focus on the following areas:
1. Beau Brummell – Fanny Brawn was
first cousin to this famous dandy. Apparently,
the fashion interest ran in the family.
I want to know how much, if any, contact they had with each
other. He is a lot older.
plates of the Regency period and Romantic period- I need to have a
knowledge of these, as they are most likely to be the sources she used
the scrapbooks. Who published them?
When? Where? Who
were the artists? How and where were they
purchased, and so
on. I need to be knowledgeable about
3. Writings by people who knew
Fanny Brawn- Two of Keats’
friends have written
about her. There may be other accounts as
else written about her- I have read
the one and only biography about her.
There are some works of fiction, and numerous references to her
wrote- Fanny Brawn wrote to Keats’s
sister, also named Fanny, for about two years after his death. There are references to her fashion interest
in those letters that I can use. Letters she wrote to Keats, and he to
not touch upon this subject.
information about the English Romantic period-
I will need to research this era, so that I can
understand the culture in which she lived. Fashion is so much a mirror
culture, I believe that I must be well-versed in this area.
III The Scrapbooks as Artifacts
will be able to determine from the scrapbooks, how Fanny Brawn got her
knowledge of fashion. What sources did
she look at? What was the extent of her
knowledge? Did she know about folk
costume, for example, or was her interest limited to fashionable
have not seen the scrapbooks, but I expect to be able to analyze their
tracking sources, number of times used, areas of interest, etc.
Summer I, 2006
I will finish my course
work at University
I hope to be finished with
I will go to the London
Archive to examine the scrapbooks.
I will have written
Here are some things I found:
Brawn or Brawne??