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EMO (E.M. Otway)

Horace Jones (1978) describes this as: Pictorial - festooned and decorated with vignettes of nude female, swan and 3 cupids.

But if you look closely, it's not a swan but a snake in the hand of the naked woman, who may be lying on a shroud about to be covered by one of the cupids while the other two dance in glee, one with an arrow (of love or death?) in her hand. It's not Leda and the swan, even if at first gance it looks like it, and the crown with wings and a cross at the top suggests a death. The flowers are probably significant, too. There's a message here, from a woman, I suspect.

If Jones (1978) is correct, and this is for E.M. Otway, I think that EMO is Henrietta Evelyn Marianne Otway (1855-1916), daughter of Arthur Otway, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, and his wife Henrietta Evelyn, née Langham. In 1880 Henrietta Evelyn married Captain Edward Whitby (1857-1900), who added the name Garrow by Royal Licence to become Garrow-Whitby, a common practice among bookplate lovers of those days. He died in 1900 aged 43 y and is buried in the New Protestant Cemetery in Athens. She had a son in 1883 named Edward Otway Humphrey Whitby, who went to Radley School, became a priest in the Church of England, and died in 1948.

I think this information is correct because Henrietta Evelyn Marianne Whitby is buried next to her mother Henrietta Otway, in All Saints Church burial ground, Wyke Regis, Dorset. She may have not used the name Henrietta because it was the same as her mother and the initials EMO are perhaps the first three letters of emotion, or is that too fanciful?

So perhaps she was pining when she had this very personal plate designed for her in 1905.





Date: 1905
Paper size: 71 x 110
Design: 51 x 71 mm max.
Credit: INV W.P.B. (William Phillips Barrett)
Designer: Charles Bird
Proof: MH
Image of bookplate

Bookplate (click to enlarge)