Brooke, Harriet (McKechnie Section 1)

Harriet Brooke was the godchild of Miss Barbara Anne Townshend (q.v.), who on 4 November 1805 gave her a scrapbook, now in the Patton collection. The flyleaf is inscribed, in an adult hand, 'Harriet Brooke, from her affectionate God-mother Barbara Anne Townshend', and the date is clearly written: 'November 4th, 1805, Stanley Place'. It is possible that this inscription was written over at a later date, and that '1805' was wrongly copied from '1825', in which case the cuttings could have been the work of Miss Townshend, done by her, years earlier, during childhood. This explanation does seem unlikely, however, and the paper cuttings which fill this little book are in fact probably Harriet's work, though she may have cut them partly under her godmother's supervision. The inscriptions under the cuttings are in a childish hand, and there are signs of corrections to spelling mistakes in a hand which appears to be Miss Townshend's.

Two complete children's stories are illustrated, and the remainder of the book is filled with charming illustrations of animals and other cuttings of the genre type. The first story, 'The History of the Apple Pie', by 'Z', is inscribed as having been illustrated in Chester in 1805. It depicts each letter of the alphabet. The second is 'The History of the Plumb Cake, by 12 Monkies'. It depicts the numbers up to twelve, and is inscribed 'Chester' and 'November'; I have illustrated this series complete.

Of course Harriet Brooke was not a professional artist; I have illustrated her work in order to show the part that the cutting of silhouettes played in education at the time. It seems likely that she was taught the basic technique of cutting by Miss Townshend, who may also have been responsible for the ideas from which the pictures derive.

Ills. 302-315

Title page of ‘the History of the Plumb Cake, by 12 Monkies’, a scrapbook (1805) of paper cuttings by Harrient Brooke.


D. S. Patton collection


The twelve paper cutting with which Harriet Brooke illustrated ‘The History of the Plumb Cake, by 12 Monkies’, in her scrapbook (1805).


D. S. Patton collection


Inscription, in Miss Townshend’s hand, in the front of the illustrated book of cuttings by Harriet Brooke.


D. S. Patton collection