Title: The plays of William Shakespeare
Author: Shakespeare, William
Publication date: London, 1823
Library: University of Virginia, Alderman Library
Call number: PR2752 .S8 1823
Submitted by: Maggie Whalen
Judith Rives was not the only writer in her family. In the later years of his life, her husband, William Cabell Rives, wrote biographies of John Hampden and James Madison, both of which are available in the UVA Library circulating collection. Their daughter, Amélie Louise Rives Sigourney (1832-1873) also dabbled in writing, penning but never publishing a number of poems and stories before her death.
The most notable writer among the Riveses, though, was surely Judith’s granddaughter and Amélie Rives Sigourney’s niece, Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy (1863-1945). Goddaughter of Robert E. Lee and eventual heiress of the Castle Hill estate, Amélie ran in the same circles of Albemarle society as her grandmother had. Unlike her grandmother, though, Amélie’s celebrity was not only local, but national. Amélie’s fame was due in large part to her first novel, The Quick or the Dead? (1888), which was an immediate sensation. The book, which dared to depict women as sexually aware, was “reviled by critics and clergymen across the country,” but nonetheless sold 300,000 copies (Lucey). Amélie proceeded to publish at least 24 volumes of fiction, a number of uncollected poems, and a play. According to Censer, Amélie was part of a small group of southern female authors who in their works “presented southern women who were intellectually astute and domestically skilled. Their heroines neither sought nor enjoyed belledom but instead searched for fulfilling, useful lives” (8). Amélie, in particular, experimented with gender conventions and on occasion confronted the more difficult topics of race and class (Censer 8).
The UVA Library Collection contains a number of books associated with Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy, including those written by her and others owned by her. This copy of Barbara Dering, Amélie’s 1893 sequel to The Quick or the Dead?, is thoroughly marked, featuring the inscriptions of at least two distinct owners and marginalia throughout.
The circulating collection also contains a thick copy of Shakespeare’s plays, formerly owned and heavily annotated by Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy herself.
Amélie inscribed the volume with her name multiple times. The first example appears on the front endpaper and reads: “Amélie L. Rives / Castle – Hill / 15th of March – 1885.” At the time of this initial inscription, Amélie was just 22-years-old, still three years from publishing The Quick or the Dead?.
A second inscription appears on the title page of The Tempest. Here, Amélie has inscribed her name twice, first with her maiden name, “Rives,” and a second time with her married name, “Troubetzkoy.” The names are accompanied by a date: “18th June 1900.” At the time of this inscription, Amélie was 37-years-old and had published a number of novels. Though she had married the noble but impoverished Pierre Troubetzkoy four years prior to this inscription, Amélie continued to publish her literary works under her maiden name, perhaps explaining the double signature.
Many passages of the plays that follow are bracketed, check-marked, and underscored.
Amélie has also left several notes throughout the volume. In The Gentleman of Verona, for instance, Amélie stars and brackets several lines of text at the end of Scene I and writes at the bottom of the page: “Same idea exposed several times in Tempest by Gonzalez.”
Later, in Much Ado About Nothing, she notes: “In Shakespeare’s time ‘ache’ was pronounced ‘H’ – AR.”
In the margins of Taming of the Shrew, she seems to make a wry joke about husbands, marking the line: “A husband! a devil!” and writing at the bottom of the page: “The book opened here of itself just as I had said laughingly ‘O gin I had a husband!’” According to the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “gin,” this exclamation might translate roughly to “If only I had a husband.”
Perhaps the most intriguing of Amélie’s annotations appears in All’s Well That Ends Well. Here, Amélie marks an “X” beside the line: “So there’s my riddle, One, that’s dead, is quick,” and writes below: “The book also opened here just as I was trying to find another title as good as The Quick or the Dead. 23 Nov. 1888.” In this moment, we witness an intimate memorialization: Amélie marks in her copy of Shakespeare’s plays the phrase that inspired the title of her most famous literary work, published just half a year prior in April 1888.
From Judith Rives’s humble response upon finding her name in Female Writers of the South to her granddaughter Amélie Rives’s remarks and reminiscences upon Shakespeare, it is clear that the UVA Library Collection contains an array of Rives family literary treasures, not only those printed by press but also those marked by hand.
For further examples of volumes owned/annotated by members of the Rives family, see the related post on Judith Paige Rives’s copy of The Living Female Writers of the South.
For more on Book Traces @ UVA, visit our blog at https://booktraces.library.virginia.edu .
“The Cabell Family.” Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. University of Virginia Library, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Censer, Jane Turner. The Reconstruction of White Southern Womanhood, 1865-1895. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2003. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Hatch, Peter J. “The Garden and Its People.” “A Rich Spot of Earth”: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello. N.p.: Yale UP, 2012. 33. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Lay, K. Edward. “The Georgian Period.” The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia. Charlottesville: U of Virginia, 2000. 60-61. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Lucey, Donna M. “Patron’s Choice: Sex, Celebrity and Scandal in the Amélie Rives Chanler Troubetzkoy Papers.” Notes from Under Grounds. University of Virginia Library: Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections, 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Prose, Francine. “Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous”. The Washington Post. Web. 30 Jul, 2006.
Rives, Amélie. Barbara Dering. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott company, 1893.
Shakespeare, William, et al. The Plays of William Shakespeare. New ed. London: Printed for F. C. and J. Rivington; [etc., etc.], 1823.
Tardy, Mary T. The Living Female Writers of the South. Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, 1872.
Varon, Elizabeth R. “We Mean to Be Counted”: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia. N.p.: U of North Carolina, 2000. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Weeks, Lyman Horace. “George Lockhart Rives.” Prominent Families of New York. New York: Historical, 1897. 478. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.