Emma Hall of Clinton, Missouri

What it is:

Photo (a bit less than 2.5 x 4 inches) mounted on a cardboard frame/backing (4 x 5.75 inches).

What I know about it:

Photographer is Marks of Clinton, Missouri.  Written on the back in pen is Emma Sullivan Hall.


This evening at the grocery store I ran into an acquaintance whom I met through the Jane Austen Society.  (I’m not a member, and I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never even read one of Austen’s novels, but I’ve done some work for the local chapter of the Society.)  She was telling me about her latest reading (she’s on her eighth or ninth time through Pride and Prejudice) and we discussed some related works (she just finished and enjoyed Death Comes to Pemberley, by P. D. James).  Standing there holding our plastic shopping baskets in the crowded store under the fluorescent lights, she drifted into a reverie about the pleasure she feels slipping back into that time period through the novels, unclear about what the draw of the Regency Period is for her, but acknowledging a certain fulfillment she gets from visiting it.   Then she stopped, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Of course, I wouldn’t want to actually live then.”  I chuckled and said I knew exactly what she meant.  I obviously don’t have any photos from Jane Austen’s time to post (she died in 1817, decades before photography), but I’ll post this in honor of this evening’s discussion, of the pleasure we can take in a romantic notion of a different era, without actually wanting to be a part of it.

8 comments on “Emma Hall of Clinton, Missouri”

  1. She looks as if she’d rather be living in a different era, too. Love her dress, though!

    • Ha! You’re probably right. I wonder what era she’d fantasize about.

      • Maybe the pre-colonial era, before everything got so “built up.” Not sure what era this is, but if it’s post-Civil War and Industrial Revolution, she may have been disappointed in the modern era.

      • Could be. Or even the future? (Her expression almost seems to be saying, “Gosh, I wish I could vote.”) I’m terrible at dating these things. I’d say it’s generally within a decade in either direction of the turn of the last century, a few decades after the Civil War. Hopefully somebody else can chime in with a more accurate date estimate.

  2. I agree with your friend. Love to romanticise but wouldn’t want to have lived then. In fact the earliest era I would go back to is only about 20 years before my birth anyway. The free availability of antibiotics is the clincher for me.

    • Yes! As much as I’m grateful for advances in technology (making this communication possible, for instance) and civil rights, etc., I often go back to that baseline of modern medicine as my reason for not wanting to live in an earlier time. Antibiotics! Anesthesia! Such basics, and yet relatively modern.

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