Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fashion Forecast: 1825

What was the well-dressed young woman wearing in 1825?

She might step out for the evening in this gorgeous purple Evening Dress (January, Ackermann’s Repository). Full sleeves caught in with ribbon are making an appearance again this year; here they’re pulled in just above the wrist. Though you may not be able to see it here, her belt is decorated with a cameo clasp, and her hat is a turban of lavender and yellow striped silk. Very distinguée!
Remember those huge muffs of the earlier years of the century? They’re still around, as we can see in this Promenade Dress from February’s Ackermann’s. This one appears to be made of something like Persian lamb, as the texture is curly. The skirt of the dress is ornamented with woven trim in the same color as the fabric…and what a hat, worn over a ruffled cap!
The Ball Dresses of this year seem curiously unfit for dancing in…just look at the enormous rouleau at the hem of this Ball Dress from March’s Ackermann’s Repository! Don’t you think that would get in the way of a lively country dance? However, the rest of the dress is charming in pale pink with faux lacing up the front of the bodice and ribbon applique on the sleeves:
Here’s a simple but handsome Morning Dress in a lovely purplish blue, with a lace scarf crossed over the bust and tied in back. She’s wearing a rather large and heavy-looking cross necklace as well as a quizzing glass…all the better to read The Times with! (May, Ackermann’s Repository):
It looks like there was no rest for weary moms, even in 1825. Perhaps she was having a last snuggle before venturing out in this Evening Dress in sky blue decorated with delicate lace ruffles and appliques on the skirt, with a matching lace ruffle around the neckline. And that could be either a boy or girl child—clothes were pretty unisex until about the age of 4 or so. I’m wondering if the child’s red bead bracelet isn’t a teething ring—coral beads were popular for that purpose. (May, Ackermann’s Repository):
Here’s another crazy Ball Dress from July’s Lady’s Magazine, with the original description: Dress of yellow striped gauze over white satin, with a very broad full border, bouilloné, of gauze, confined by wreaths of full-blown roses; the centre rose much larger than the others; the wreaths are placed rather in a zig-zag direction. Corsage of yellow satin, with a bouffont drapery of gauze across the bust. Sleeves very short and full, and adorned next the shoulder with a bouquet of roses. The hair arranged in full clusters of curls, interspersed with bouquets of roses and silver wheat ears. Necklace, formed of three rows of fine pearls. Pear-pearl ear pendants, gold bracelets, fastened with a clasp composed of a large topaz, set round with pearls. The above dresses were furnished us by Miss Pierrepont, Edward-street, Portman-square:
This Dinner Dress from August’s Ackermann’s Repository is a curious mix of styles: the striped sleeves and bodice, with slashing and puffs of an underdress poking out, hearken back to the Renaissance, while the skirt is a blend of modern and Renaissance. Note the sleeves tied off close to the wrist as in the Evening Dress above:
I couldn’t resist including this charming muslin Morning Dress from September’s Ackermann’s. Note the large collar, or pelerine—these will grow to enormous sizes in the dresses of the 1830s—as well a waistline that seems to be dropping ever closer to the natural waist. And what about the child’s costume—a nod to the craze for all things Scottish that had started to sweep society, thanks to the Prince Regent’s fascination with Scotland and the popularity of Sir Walter Scott’s novels:
We’ll finish up with a Garden Costume—whatever that is!— from November’s Ackermann’s. This dress hearkens back to 15th century houppelandes, but with the 1825 sleeves caught in at the wrist and what looks like a white eyelet underskirt. And I adore her parasol!
What do you think of 1825’s fashions?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Good Gossip

[Thank you for your comments and congratulations on debut of The Rogue’s Reform! The winner of an autographed copy is Ettie! Please contact me via my website, and I’ll get that sent right out!]

Marissa and I have written about La Belle Assemblée many times. With articles on managing households, updates on advancements, and those all-important fashion forecasts, the publication served to educate and entertain. But one section, the Provincials column, could be the most interesting. It shared stories from around England: births, deaths, and marriages of famous people; important court cases; and legends in the making. Sometimes, though, it passed along juicy tidbits of gossip. Take these examples from the October 1810 edition:

  • Mrs. Dicken, wife of Mr. Dicken, baker, Daventry, was lately delivered of three fine children. This birth has increased the family five in number in the course of twelve months and three days. The children are all well, and the mother in a fair way of recovery. It is somewhat singular likewise, that she was delivered by a blind Accoucheur [male midwife].

  • Lately as Mr. J. Adams of Norwich, and Mr. J. Broad, of Drury-lane, were returning to the former place in a chaise, through the village of Thorpe, their horse having taken fright, ran the wheel of the chaise against a post, and they were both thrown out of the chaise with great violence. Mr. Broad at the time had a severe attack of the gout, but the shock being so sudden the gout immediately left him; he afterwards walked to Norwich, a distance of three miles, without the least inconvenience, excepting a few bruises, nor has he had the least symptom of gout since.

  • A couple who had agreed to be married at a church near Lewes, set out from their home, accompanied by the bride-maids, etc. to have the ceremony performed; and had actually reached the church door, when a qualm of conscience, or some other qualm, occasioned the bride to change her mind, and she actually ran off, leaving the disappointed bride-groom, bride-maids, father, parson, and clerk, in a state of utter astonishment. The damsel, however, afterwards attended the altar and the indissoluble knot was tied.

  • Married.—Lately, Mr. Thomas Wray, blacksmith, to Miss Susannah Hodgson, both of Wensleydale, in this county. The bridegroom has had the banns published with eighteen different females, and been twice married; this last marriage, however, was by license. He has for some time past gone on crutches, but was so elated with joy on this happy occasion, as to be able to lead his bride to the hymeneal altar with the assistance only of a walking-stick.

Hm. I think I’d prefer to stay out of that particular publication.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guest Blogger Jackie Horne on Teen Reads in the 19th Century

Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games — many of the most popular books for young adults today are works of fantasy. If you were a teenager in the 19th century, though, the books you’d be reading would be far different.

In 1884, Charles Welsh sent out a circular to schools for boys and girls in England, asking students to answer questions about their reading preferences. What is your favourite book, and why do you like it best? Who is your favorite author? Which of his books do you like best? What other writers of fiction do you like? are among some of the questions he asked. Welsh received responses from 790 boys and more than a thousand girls aged eleven to nineteen. His colleague, Edward Salmon, undertook the work of tabulating the results of what may be the first poll of child readers’ tastes and interests, issuing his findings in the introduction to his book, Juvenile Literature As It Is, published in London in 1888.

Salmon’s list of the most popular authors and books tell us two surprising things about teen readers in the late Victorian period. First, although a vibrant market for books written specifically for children existed at the time, teen readers polled by Welsh preferred authors who wrote for a broader audience, not only for children. The top vote-getting among both boys and girls asked about their favorite author is a novelist whom today we categorize as an “adult” writer: Charles Dickens, whose novels were appreciated by family members young and old in the 19th century. Only two authors who wrote primarily for children appeared on the list of girls’ favorite writers (Charlotte Mary Younge and Hans Christian Andersen), and none on the boys’ (Captain Marryat wrote for both children and adults, but his adult seafaring adventure novels were far more popular than his moralistic children’s books).

The second interesting observation has to do with gender. The children’s book market was clearly split into books intended for boys (primarily adventure novels) and books intended for girls (primarily domestic stories), and in the case of male teen readers, this split continues into the teen years. With the exception of Dickens and Shakespeare, the remainder of boys’ top ten authors are all wrote in the genres of adventure or historical romance. Girls tastes, in contrast, were far more wide-ranging: favorite books included historical romances (The Days of Bruce, Westward Ho!), domestic novels (Little Women, The Daisy Chain), social realism (John Halifax, Gentleman, David Copperfield), sentimental fiction (The Wide, Wide World), and, of course, The Bible.

The mid-19th century is often referred to as the “Golden Age” of children’s literature, for this is when works of fantasy for children first began to flourish (Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, and Mrs. Molesworth’s The Cuckoo Clock, to name just a few). Ironically, though, the only fantasy novel mentioned on either list is F. Anstey’s Vice Versa (which readers and filmgoers today might recognize as the precursor for the Disney film Freaky Friday). Would 19th century teens find Harry Potter as appealing as young readers do today?

Boys’ top ten authors:
C. Dickens (223 votes) W. H. Kingston (179) Sir W. Scott (128) Jules Verne (114) Captain Marryat (102) R. M. Ballantyne (67) H. Ainsworth (61) Shakespeare (44) Mayne Reid (33) Lord Lytton (32)

Boys’ top ten books:
Robinson Crusoe (43) Swiss Family Robinson (24) Pickwick Papers (22) Ivanhoe (20) Boy’s Own Annual (17) The Bible (15) Tom Brown’s Schooldays (15) Valentine Vox (13) Vice Versa (12) St. Winifred’s, or The World of School (11)

Girls’ top ten authors:
Charles Dickens (355) Sir Walter Scott (248) C. Kingsley (103) C. M. Yonge (100) Shakespeare (75) Mrs. Henry Wood (58) E. Wetherell (Susan Warner)(56) George Eliot (50) Lord Lytton (46) Andersen (33)

Girls’ top ten books:
Westward Ho! (34) The Wide, Wide World (29) The Bible (27) A Peep Behind the Scenes (27)John Halifax, Gentleman (25) David Copperfield (22) Little Women (21) Ivanhoe (18) The Days of Bruce (16) The Daisy Chain (13)

About Jackie: A former children's book editor, Jackie Horne is the author of History and the Construction of the Child in Early British Children's Literature (Ashgate 2011) and coeditor of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows and Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, volumes in the Children's Literature Association's Centennial series. She has taught courses in Victorian Children's Literature and Fantasy and Science Fiction for Children at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College. She's also currently at work writing a Regency-set historical romance for adult readers.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Secrets from Samantha, Lady Everard

[We had only one poet on Tuesday’s Valentine challenge, so I am pleased to offer a copy of The Rogue’s Reform to Cara King! Cara has already been in contact with me, so I’ll send out the book right away. I’m offering another chance to win today—please see the bottom of this post.]

Today we have with us Samantha, Lady Everard, who recently inherited the Everard Legacy. Lady Everard lives in Dallsten Manor in the Evendale Valley of Cumberland in 1805. At sixteen, she seems a little young to be in charge of such wealth. What is it, lands in six counties, a fleet of sailing vessels, and a considerable fortune invested in the Exchange?

Samantha (as she insists we call her): However you count it, it’s impressive! But I don’t generally worry about it. I have my cousins to manage it.

Nineteenteen: Cousins you only recently knew you had, I understand.

Samantha: True. I’m still not sure why Papa thought he had to hide them from me, and me from them for that matter! It would have been a lot more pleasant growing up here in Cumberland if I had known I had other family somewhere.

Nineteenteen: Other family? Then you did have family with you at Dallsten Manor.

Samantha: I was counting my governess Miss Walcott. She’s like family to me. I barely remember my mother, and Papa couldn’t visit often enough for my liking.

Nineteenteen: So how is Miss Walcott getting on with your new cousins?

Samantha: Very well! Oh, she tries to pretend otherwise, but I can see the sparks flying between her and my cousin Jerome. With a little help from me, they might just fall in love. Then I’ll only need to settle Cousin Richard. I understand his first courtship ended badly, which is why he went to sea, but I think I know a way to tempt him to try again.

Nineteenteen: I see. And what about your cousin Vaughn? With him a poet and noted duelist, I believe a number of ladies in London sigh every time he walks by.

Samantha: Do they? Well! I have plans for Vaughn too, but I refuse to say more at this time.

Nineteenteen: You seem to have a lot of secrets in your family.

Samantha: Indeed we do! But you’ll have to read our stories to learn more.

If you’d like a chance to learn more about Lady Samantha Everard and her three handsome cousins, leave a comment on this post by midnight wherever you are on Monday, February 20. I’ll announce the winner of The Rogue’s Reform on Friday, February 24.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day, My Dear Sweet Rogue!

Happy Valentine’s Day, my dears! Today is a very popular day, now and in the nineteenth century, when postal carriers groaned under the weight of missives from those in love. And it’s special day to me this year because my 21st book officially debuts today. The Rogue’s Reform is the first in a miniseries, as my publisher calls it, about the Everard Legacy. Three handsome cousins set out to claim their inheritance, and find love is their greatest reward. Here’s a summary:

Jerome Everard expected to inherit his wayward uncle’s estate. Instead, all has gone to a daughter his uncle never bothered to mention! Only by disproving his young cousin’s claim can Jerome save the family’s legacy from a schemer. So why would he find himself drawn to the girl’s lovely governess, Adele Walcott, the woman who holds the key to all his uncle’s secrets?

With Adele’s family fortune, and her marriage prospects, long gone, her goal in life is to secure her charge’s happiness, even if that means taking on her new cousin. Jerome is surely a rogue like his uncle, for he seems intent on charming her, and making her dream of love again. When she learns his true motives, will she be able to forgive his past and reform his heart, to make it hers forever?

As you can tell, my hero, Jerome Everard, is a bit of a charmer. He’s used his gilded tongue to get himself out of any number of scrapes over the years and win people around to his way of thinking, just like the early Valentine writers tried to sway their loves. So, in his honor, we’re having a Valentine contest!

Below are two examples of Valentine poems from the nineteenth century. Compose a poem of your own (even a couple of lines!) and post it in the comments, and you will be entered to win an autographed copy of The Rogue’s Reform.

“Soft Spring returns with all her Train,
To crown with Joy the happy Plain;
The Nymphs and Swains to Love incline,
To welcome in St. Valentine.”

“Our fortunes I believe are equal.
Let’s join to make a pleasing sequel.
At least such is my fond design
If you’ll consent, dear Valentine.”

Come back on Friday for another way to win, when we interview the cause of Jerome’s troubles, his newly discovered cousin, Samantha Everard.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Grand Tour, Part 4: The Art of Paris

We’re here in Paris! We are staying in a sumptuous hotel close to the opera-house, which I am told has the greatest splendor of set decorations of any theatre in Europe. Streets seem a bit more narrow than we’re used to and a lot dirtier. But the architecture is even more sweeping, a grand scale envisioned by Napoleon. Many of his plans remain unfinished, such as the Arc de l’Etoile and the Fountain of the Elephant. But our dear Mrs. Starke calls the Louvre, which houses the Musee Royal, one of the most perfect specimens of modern architecture. Many of its treasures were plundered in the wars, but plenty remain for us to appreciate!

Let’s go there first this morning. It is open Tuesday through Sunday, and foreigners like us are allowed entrance free from 10am to 4pm so long as we show our passports. We wander through the marble-tiled ground floor, where from the vestibule through the various rooms we find statues from Rome and other parts of Italy crowded side by side. As you know, in her guidebook Mrs. Starke puts exclamation points beside the most meritorious things to view. It seems that covers everything in the Louvre! One item with three exclamation points is a the statue of Silenus with the infant Bacchus (much like this one), which was discovered in the 16th century in the gardens of Sallust.

Thoroughly sated, we climb the stairs for Gallery of Apollo to see the paintings. The Gallery has nine parts, the first three devoted to French masters, the second three to German, Flemish, and Dutch artists; and the last three to Italian artists. Here again, paintings are crammed cheek to jowl, stacked frame to gilded frame from the high ceiling down nearly to the floor. Mrs. Starke recommends the Dropsical Woman by Geritt Dou in the Dutch section and Antiope Asleep by Antonio Allegri da Correggio in the Italian section (both two exclamation points!) as well as several works by Raphael. Also upstairs is the Exhibition Rooms of Living Artists, with more gorgeous works.

I think we could all spend all day here, but there are so many more things to see! One of the areas Mrs. Starke advises us to appreciate is the Boulevards, a set of drives and walks that encircles Paris, bordered by trees and gardens and filled with shops. Then, there is the tempting Bibliotheque du Roi, a library with more than 800,000 printed volumes, 80,000 manuscripts, and 5,500 volumes of prints. And that’s just one of several libraries open to the public in Paris. Oh, be still my beating heart!

Please look around and enjoy yourselves! Before we leave France, we must visit Versailles! In the meantime, do come back next week, when Nineteenteen celebrates Valentine’s day and the launch of the first book in the Everard Legacy miniseries: The Rogue’s Reform!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Charles and Laura!

February 7 just happens to be the birthday of two extraordinary figures in English language literature: Charles Dickens, who is celebrating his 200th this year, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, celebrating her 145th. Happy birthday to you both!

I’m not going to write a conventional biographical post on these two—you can find that easily enough on your own. Nor do I think it necessary to post a list of their works—also easily obtainable elsewhere. What I’m offering today are a few words on part of why I think they are important figures now in 2012. I hope that you’ll post your thoughts as well—your thoughts on their place in your lives as a reader, your favorite book by them—whatever you like.

First, Mr. Dickens. My husband just finished reading Stephen Pinker’s new book The Better Angels of Our Nature (yes, a Christmas gift from me), which discusses why he thinks that on the whole, civilization has progressed and violence in society has declined over the last couple of thousand years. You may or may not agree with him (I haven’t read the book yet, but it sounds fascinating) but he made one point that struck my DH strongly, and that he passed on to me: that one of the reasons western society as a whole has become a gentler place over the last two hundred years is the rise of novel reading since the 18th century—that reading novels (which became more affordable and obtainable via libraries in the 19th century) forced people to temporarily inhabit the skins of other people and live through their joys and sorrows, and thus develop empathy. Poor people weren’t just lazy or somehow inherently bad—they were human beings too, with aspirations and dreams, and deserved respect and help rather than scorn. If there was ever a champion of the poor in literature, that person has to be Charles Dickens. Thank you, sir, for helping to civilize the world. Who said that books don’t possess power?

And now, Mrs. Ingalls. Okay, so I’m an unashamed LIW fan and have been since fourth grade—let’s just get that said up front. I still re-read her Little House books every few years; interestingly, the book I had the hardest time with and liked the least back then (The Long Winter) is now my favorite. I have read biographies of her and of Rose Wilder Lane and understand that her books are indeed, as she said, the truth, but not all of it. But I think she’s part of the origin of my history geekishness and my fascination with the details of how people once lived; she’s also a symbol, to me, of the sweep of history. Think about this: she was born two years after the end of the Civil War, and died just months before the first satellite went into earth orbit. In between that she saw the fall of horse power and sail and the preeminence of the engine on sea and land; she saw the telephone, the motorcar, radio, and television, the birth of medicine as a science, and the emancipation for women. What a life to have lived! Thank you, Mrs. Ingalls, for bringing part of that history to life for me.

P.S. In a few weeks we'll learn more about what teens read in the 19th century. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Public Spectacles, Amusements, and Objects Deserving Notice, February

I have an object deserving notice. Nineteenteen just crossed the 200 barrier—200 followers, that is. Thank you all! Marissa and I are delighted and honored you want to come along with us! And now, to our post.

Ah, February! The month of love! The beginning often starts out chilly in London but by the end of the month, daffodils are in bloom. So, as the days brighten and the air warms, what’s a young lady or gentleman to do for entertainment?

I have it on good authority that the concert of ancient music, Opera House on Haymarket, starts early this month. Also known as the King’s Concert, this group of talented musicians play no composition less than 25 years old (didn’t know you were ancient at 26, did you?). They play every Wednesday until the end of May. (They were actually part of the Academy of Ancient Music but had a bit of a spat about refusing to play newer music, so now they’re on their own!)

The Academy of Ancient Music, meanwhile, continues to perform once a fortnight at the gorgeous assembly room in the Crown and Anchor Tavern. The subscription for the 6 to 8 performances is a stiff four guineas (more than four pounds). While they favor classical music from the 1600s and 1700s, they occasionally play current songs. Gasp! Really!

If your tastes run to visual expression instead, you might try the British Gallery on Pall Mall, which opens around the 19th. The gallery features 300 to 400 paintings by Dutch and Flemish masters as well as British artists. While it is open to the public, subscription members of the Gallery are generally the aristocracy, so you might find yourself rubbing elbows with an eligible earl.

Not to be outdone, the Royal Academy of Art begins lectures around the 22nd. The lectures are free, but you’ll need to get a ticket from one of the Academicians. And don’t forget, once Lent starts, every Wednesday and Friday evenings you can hear oratorios at Covent Garden and Drury Lane Theatres.

Me? I intend to bundle up and take a walk in Hyde Park. There’s more than one way to catch that elusive earl.