NORTON, CAROLINE - Sonnet "on the good little Aunty" (manuscript)
Best known for her high-profile divorce and subsequent pressuring of Parliament to pass the Infant Custody Bill of 1839 and Marriage and Divorce Act of 1853, Norton wrote this sonnet upon the death of her friend, the Honorable Miss Caroline Fox, who died childless and unmarried and who had been a favorite with her nieces and nephews. The sonnet, though unpublished and all but unknown in her lifetime, was reprinted by the sixth Earl of Ilchester, Giles Stephen Holland Fox-Strangways, in his 1938 Chronicles of Holland House 1820-1900. Norton sent the verse in a letter to Charles Fox upon his aunt's death. The opening reads, "'Sonnet upon an old woman seen reading by a lamp, 1842, describing her, not as she is, but as she ought to be and some partial friends suppose her really to be'" (Ilchester reprint). The sonnet is also listed in Henry Sotheran & Co’s 1881 and 1882 Bookseller’s catalogues as handwritten in Norton's presentation copy of Lord Holland's 1817 Lives and Writings of Lope Feliz de Vega Carpio and Guillen de Castro. The description reads, “On the fly-leaf, written in that gifted lady’s excellent hand, is a charming unpublished Sonnet of fourteen lines, 'To Miss Fox' (sister of Lord Holland), signed, and dated 1842, commencing:-- ‘There is a beauty which is all of bloom, Of colored brightness and smooth outlined youth'” (Henry Sotheran (ltd.)).
“Written after dining at Holland House 1842. Miss Fox was reading by a lamp when we came in” written along the bottom; “on the good little Aunty” on reverse side. Three fold marks, two vertical and one horizontal. Horizontal fold just starting to tear at right-hand side. Corners marginally creased.