26 August 2014
Catherine Hutton's Purse
Purse made by Catherine Hutton in the early 1800s.
Catherine Hutton was the daughter of the Birmingham's first historian William Hutton; she never married, and after the family home was burnt down in the riots of 1791, she took to company less and less. Two years after the riots she wrote to a friend: "Last Monday I broke the spell by visiting the Miss Mainwarings, and I was found so rusticated, so antiquaited, that the first thing they did was to take my cap to pieces and make it up in a different form. Now, mark my resolution. I visited three families on the three following days, and I have engaged myself for two evenings next week. Be so good when you write to say something about fashion, that I, who used to be an example, may not be quite a scare-crow".
Like her father, she was a prolific writer, and was putting pen to paper right up to her death at the ripe old age of 91. She was a particular fan of Jane Austen, as she explains "I have been going through a course of novels by lady authors, beginning with Mrs Brooke and ending with Miss Austen, who is my especial favourite. I had always wished, not daring to hope, that I might be something like Miss Austen; and, having finished her works, I took to my own, to see if I could find any resemblance". In 1813 she published her first novel, The Miser Married (view here), and other fiction was published in magazines, as well as articles and letters she wrote surrounding everyday matters.
The purse, above, is part of the Hutton collection at the Library of Birmingham.
Catherine Hutton at ages 43 and 83, she was born 11 February 1756 and died 13 March 1846.