Book of the Month – The Tenby Souvenir by Fanny Price Gwynne

Posted by Tenby Museum on May 7, 2018 Blog No Comments

Born c. 1819 in Tenby, Fanny Price Gwynne was the daughter of Thomas and Fanny Gwyther (nee Price) of Tenby. Her father was a master in the Royal Navy and served on the local management committee of the RNLI whilst her mother was the Tenby correspondent for the Carmarthen Journal newspaper. Fanny enjoyed a privileged upbringing and in her mid-twenties she married John Gwynne, a local solicitor.

In 1846, the year after their wedding, Fanny published her first book, Sketches of Tenby and its Neighbours. Fanny loved Tenby and she supported any activities that improved the town. She continually promoted the town as a fashionable watering place for rich visitors, but did not forget the less wealthy locals and worked endlessly for charities, especially concerning mariners and fishermen. She and her husband also donated towards the opening of Tenby Local Museum in 1878 and she would surely be delighted to know that it is still running as an independent museum 140 years later.

Fanny published three guidebooks, showing not only her love of the area but an interesting knowledge of its history. The Tenby Souvenir was Fanny’s second book and was more creative in it’s writing than a factual guidebook, with sections on local customs, shipwrecks, superstitions and privateers. It was aimed at the wealthy Victorian traveller and was sold for 1 Guinea each, which would be seen as expensive even by today’s standards.

The book was published in 1863 by R. Mason of High Street, Tenby. It was described as ‘A Table-Book in Prose and Verse’ with 25 illustrative photographs by Charles Allen within the 81 pages. The book measures 18.5cm x 26.5cm x 1.5cm. The attractive, embossed, red leather cover was bound by Bone & Son of Fleet Street, London and the title, on both the cover and the spine, is in gilt lettering, surrounded by borders of flowers and ivy.

Handwritten inside the front cover is a rhymed inscription by Fanny Price Gwynne to her friend, which she signs, With the Author’s love, 1867. The contents page includes such standards as Pembroke Castle and Stack Rocks, but also more intriguing titles such as The Murmuring Billow, The Landing of the French and The Tournament – Carew Castle. The illustrations include Hoyle’s Mouth, Oyster Women of Milford Haven, St. Gowan’s (Govan’s) Chapel and The Valley of Caverns, Lydstep.