Here’s a picture of the diary of Isabella Thornhill, nee Gell, which we accessioned yesterday:
I was going to transcribe an entry dated 21 November 1867, describing a dream in which Queen Victoria escorts Mrs Thornhill to a dinner. The punchline, or at any rate the end of the thing, was that just as the dinner (a dish of mutton) was being served, she was awoken by the arrival of her breakfast tray. But I mustn’t transcribe it, because the diary is an unpublished literary manuscript, which will remain in copyright until 2039, unless the law changes later this year.
But there’s nothing to stop you reading it! You can access the diary through our search room right away, using the reference number D258/71/1. The entries cover 1863 to 1875 in only 43 pages of writing, and the handwriting is reasonable, so the diary provides a painless means of inserting yourself in another time. It covers social events, personal encounters and anecdotes gathered from acquaintances.
Isabella Thornhill (1800-1878) was born Isabella Gell, daughter of Philip Gell (1775-1842). She married William Pole Thornhill MP of Stanton Hall (1807-1876) in Wirksworth in 1828. On Philip Gell’s death, the Gell family’s Hopton Hall estate went to Isabella for her lifetime; she and her husband took the name Gell and lived at Hopton Hall for a short time but eventually renounced the inheritance. She was the last of the Eyre Gell line. The catalogue entry describing the diary is here. I added it to the D258 Gell collection, most of which we accepted during the 1960s, and which also includes six volumes of the Lysons’ Magna Britannia, which Isabella Thornhill grangerised.