Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Baby, It's Cold Outside

 

After a very mild autumn, my neck of the woods is finally getting a sharp dose of winter today, with temperatures hovering in single digits (which is why I did anything that needed doing outdoors yesterday.) Of course, in today’s world we have central heating and insulated homes and amazing fabrics that keep us warm…and while winter temperatures in England aren’t generally as severe as those in the more northerly parts of North America, the world was still in the grip of the Little Ice Age and the Thames still occasionally froze over. So what did a Regency miss do when winter dogged her heels and nipped at her nose?

I’ve one word in answer to that question: fur.

Since down jackets and Gore-tex had yet to be invented, the warmest thing in outerwear that one could wear was fur…and our hypothetical Regency lady took full advantage of it. She might wear fur-lined pelisses and cloaks like some of these:

Carriage or Promenade Dress, Ackermanns Repository, January 1810. Incidentally, this print and the next are among the only illustrations Ive seen of fur used in millinery in Ackermanns Repository; the other is a print from La Belle Assemblee that we looked at in detail a few years ago.
Morning Walking or Carriage Costume, Ackermann
s Repository, December 1810

 

 

 



Carriage Dress, Ackermanns Repository, February 1820

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or maybe just settle for fur trim, as in this Walking Dress from the March 1822 Ackermanns Repository.

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

She might cuddle up in a fur tippet (or what we call a boa) to keep her neck warm. (A Walking Dress, or Carriage Costume, Ackermanns Repository, February 1811.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course, there were those enormous, eye-catching muffs that were popular for decades...and no wonder: gloves were worn year round, but when glovemakers boasted of the fineness of the kidskin they used, something more would definitely be wanted in winter to keep the hands and forearms warm. (Promenade Dress, Ackermanns Repository, January 1814)




Promenade Dress, Ackermanns Repository, December 1822.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what kind of fur was worn?

Looking over years of Ackermann’s Repository images gives the impression that a lot of ermine (white fur decorated with the tufts of black tail fur) was worn. But actually reading the text accompanying the images tells a different tale (ahem): for example, the fur-lined mantle above from January 1810 is made with (are you ready?) “spotted American squirrel skin”! A coat from January 1811 (not shown here) was trimmed with blue fox fur. The February 1811 Walking Dress with the tippet and fur trim uses “astracan” (more commonly spelled astrakhan), or lamb. Other plates mention red fox, mole, leopard, sable, and chinchilla in addition to ermine.

While these prints are fascinating to look at, I have to say that Im very grateful that we dont have to follow their example any more. Now if youll excuse me, I think I’ll go have some quality time with my Primaloft quilt...

 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Launching a Prince

The daughter of a duke, bound by duty.

A prince in disguise

A matchmaking cat.

Yes, if you recognized the last as Fortune, you’re right! Fortune had a hand, er, paw, in matching up all the heroines in my Fortune’s Brides series, starting with Never Doubt a Duke. Now she’s back, with the next generation of young ladies, and she has help. http://www.reginascott.com/neverdoubtaduke.html

Lady Abelona, youngest daughter of the Duke of Wey (Belle to friends and family), is ready to make her debut in Society, but, oddly enough, her two older sisters, Larissa and Callie, and best friend, Petunia Bateman, have yet to find their happily-ever-afters, despite three Seasons in London. So Belle makes them vow to see all four of them wed by harvest. Fortune will have her paws full!

Though Larissa promises to help (after all, no one says no to Belle), she’s all but given up on finding her own groom. What gentleman could possibly be good enough to meet her late mother’s and grandmother’s expectations. She has a hard enough time meeting those expectations for poise, propriety, and perfection. But a chance encounter brings the most marvelous gentleman to her attention. A shame he is merely a captain of the Imperial Guard of Batavaria and in no way the suitable husband for the daughter of a duke.

Prince Otto Leopold Augustus of Batavaria has one goal: to win back his country from those who ousted his family. But someone seems intent on stopping him, for danger stalks the corridors of their palace in England. So why not trade places with his identical twin brother, the leader of the Imperial Guard? Leo might just uncover their enemies before someone is hurt. And having an ally in the thoroughly proper and pretty duke’s daughter can only help.

The more Larissa and Leo are thrown together, the more secrets come to light and the more their attraction grows. Would the daughter of a duke dare to throw off propriety, if it means winning the heart of the most princely of men?

Available now in ebook from fine online retailers and print from Amazon and an independent bookstore near you:

Smashwords 

Amazon (affiliate link)

Barnes and Noble

Apple Books

Kobo

And look for Callie’s story, Never Court a Count, coming in February!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Hello, Sunshine!

We’re only a week or so away from the Winter Solstice here in the northern hemisphere, when the days are shortest and the nights longest. The lack of sunlight can be hard…which is why I thought this fashion print from La Belle Assemblée would be just the thing to brighten the day.

I mean, YELLOW! 

 

This is an Evening Dress from February 1812; the British know something about gloomy winters, so I can imagine this dress would have brightened things up then just as much as it does now.

The description reads, No. 1.—Evening Costume  An amber crape dress over white sarsnet, trimmed with pearls or white beads, with a demi-train; a light short jacket, rather scanty, with two separate fancy folds, depending about three quarters down the front of the skirt, forming in appearance a kind of Sicilian tunic, and trimmed down each division, like the bottom of the dress, with a single row of pearls: short sleeves, not very high above the elbow, fitting close to the arm, and ornamented at the top with distinct points of satin, the same color as the dress, relieved by pearls; two rows of the same costly material or of beads, according as the robe is ornamented, form a girdle. The hair is dressed in the antique Roman style, with tresses brought together and confined at the back of the head, terminating either in ringlets or in two light knots; a braid of plaited hair drawn over a demi-turban formed of plain amber satin, with an elegantly embroidered stripe of white satin, separated by rows of pearl, and a superb sprig of pearls in front. Necklace of one single row of large pearls; with earrings of the Maltese fashion to correspond. Ridicule aux getons of slate colour, shot with pink; the firm base secured by a covering of pink stamped velvet, with pink tassels. Italian slippers of amber, fringed with silver, or ornamented round the ankle with a row of pearls or beads. White kid gloves. –This elegant dress owes its invention to the tasteful fancy of Mrs. Schabner, of Tavistock-street.

To me, it’s not just the color that makes this dress stand out: it’s the extravagant simplicity of it all. There’s little fuss or bother to this dress, stylistically, though the little peplum at the back of the waist is a nice touch. But the materials say otherwise: though a simple illustration can’t depict it, picture the contrast of the textures of the “crape” and the satin on that sleeve, even though they match in color.

 


And the pearls! I would hope that beads were used at least for the hem, because that is an enormous number of pearls (which weren’t at that time as common as they are in this day of extensive pearl culturing)…not to mention the likelihood of pearls being trod upon and crushed. Eek!

The headdress, curiously, is the busiest part of this ensemble, with its “elegantly embroidered” band and the ringlets and braid inspired by ancient Roman styles seen in statuary: don't forget that a great deal of fashion in both clothes and home furnishings were heavily influenced by the ancient world.

Also outstanding, though not in a positive sense, is the reticule or “ridicule”; gray and pink do not harmonize well with the yellow in my opinion, but tastes do change…

 

What do you think of this dress? I hope it brightened your day—in all senses of the word! And as Regina and I will be taking a couple of weeks off over the holidays to spend time with our families, I will also take this opportunity to wish our NineteenTeen readers many, many bright days over the rest of this year and into 2022.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Nineteenth Century Christmas Wish List, 2021 Edition

Many people I know started their Christmas shopping early. If you are one of them—good for you! If you aren’t, no worries! Here are a few things to inspire those who love the nineteenth century or to just inspire in general!

Banks by Grantlee Kieza 
Naturalist Sir Joseph Banks dominated the sciences in Regency England. I’ve used him a time or two as a supporting character. This biography by an award-winning journalist shines new light on the man himself, calling him “a fearless adventurer” whose “fascination with beautiful women was only trumped by his obsession with the natural world and his lust for scientific knowledge.” Sounds like a great read to me!

Becoming Future You: Be the Hero of Your Own Life by Mel Jolly 
Everyone has a dream, but sometimes we aren’t entirely sure how to reach it or why we haven’t reached it yet. Having worked with authors and other creative entrepreneurs for nearly two decades, Mel knows what it takes to move forward in your life. And her warm, encouraging prose will make you feel like your best friend is walking right there with you.

Jewels Through Time on Etsy 

Can I just say I’m in love? This amazing shop has wonderful reproductions of jewelry worn in historical movies. You’ll find pieces that look like they came off the set of Emma, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Poldark, and more, at reasonable prices. For example, you can get a reproduction of this piece worn by Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett in the 1995 miniseries adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth as Darcy). Gorgeous! (My husband has already purchased a piece for me for Christmas.)

Cuddly, Period-Inspired Throw on CafePress
This lovely plush fleece throw blanket is based on Regency dress fabric. Perfect for cuddling up with a good book!


And speaking of books, December 3 through 10, you can get the first book in the Marvelous Munroes series, My True Love Gave to Me, free in ebook form. The print book and series bundle are also discounted.

If you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll also know when a book is on sale or up for preorder. I send an exclusive Christmas story only to newsletter subscribers each year. Sign up before December 20, and you’ll receive it too. 

Happy Christmas shopping!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Peering Into the Shadows: Nineteen Teen Interviews Bestselling Author Julie Klassen

Please welcome bestselling author, Julie Klassen. Julie visited us previously, but she has news you’ll want to hear, and we asked her to tell you all about it!

Nineteen Teen: Since you last visited us, you’ve been busy with eight more books, including four in your wonderful Ivy Hill series, and accolades such as the Minnesota Book Award, Midwest Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. Well done! And now you have something special coming next week. What should we know?

Julie: My 18th novel, Shadows of Swanford Abbey, releases into the world. Release time is always exciting, if a little nerve-wracking as well. My publisher describes the novel as “Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen,” which I love since I admire both of those authors. The book is about a young woman staying at a Medieval abbey-turned-hotel rumored to be haunted. There she encounters a man who once broke her heart. When an author is murdered is the hotel, the two work together to solve the mystery, and find danger and romance along the way.

19T: Why did you decide to dip your toes into the mystery world?


Julie
: My husband and I had been listening to many mystery audiobooks, including titles by Agatha Christie and others. Somewhere along the line, I was struck with the idea of trying a “locked door” mystery myself (when a person locked alone in a room is killed and no one can figure out how). And being a writer, I was intrigued with the idea of the victim being an author who is perhaps not all that his public persona appears to be. Weaving together a convincing whodunit wasn’t easy but I enjoyed the challenge. Hope readers enjoy it as well.

19T: What was the most interesting thing you learned while researching Shadows of Swanford Abbey?

Julie: Good question! I was moved by the sad history of the many religious buildings that were claimed by the crown in previous centuries and given to noblemen, many of which remain private homes today, a few of which have become grand hotels. I was also interested to discover a few fascinating features in Lacock Abbey (the real abbey that inspired my fictional one), like a hidden staircase and abbess’s squint. You KNOW those ended up in the novel!

19T: You’ve been fortunate enough to take part in the Jane Austen Festival in Bath. What was that like?

Julie: It was memorable and strangely wonderful to parade through Bath in Regency attire while thousands of onlookers lined the streets to watch (even in the rain). Another time, I was blessed to find myself sitting next to Benjamin Whitrow (Mr. Bennet in 1995 Pride and Prejudice) at a theatre and enjoyed a lovely chat with him. Sadly Mr. Whitrow has passed away since then, but I feel privileged to have met him.

Popcorn round:

Milk or lemon in your tea? Milk.

Redingote or pelisse? Redingotes strike me as a bit more fashionable, but pelisses seem warmer, so since I live in frigid Minnesota, I’ll go with a pelisse.

Waltz or country dance? Waltz (I LOVE to waltz).

London townhouse or cottage in the country? Cottage in the country every time.

Jane Austen or Jane Eyre (we know, that’s tough one!) That is too difficult. May I just say “Jane” and leave it at that? 😊

Thanks for sharing Shadows of Swanford Abbey with us!

Gentle reader, be sure to preorder the book so that it delivers on release day, December 7, 2021: 

Amazon 

Apple

Baker Books (free shipping!)

Barnes and Noble

Books a Million

Christian Book

Indie Bound, an independent bookstore near you

Kobo

Book Depository, free shipping worldwide

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Listen While You Bake

It’s the time of year around here when folks start thinking about cooking, especially baking. Pumpkin pies, spice cake, oatmeal cookies, peanut butter fudge, raspberry crisp, you name it. So, in case you’re one of those so inclined, here’s a throwback to a great historic recipe from beloved author Louise M. Gouge, as well as some reading and listening to go along with it. 


While you’re waiting for the pie to bake or the fudge to set, try It Started With a Duke: Fortune’s Brides, the Beginning, with two full novels and a novella, now available as both ebook and audiobook!

The mysterious Meredith Thorn and her cat, Fortune, opened an employment agency to help gentlewomen down on their luck. Her first assignment? Finding a governess for the young daughters of the Duke of Wey. Enjoy three warm, witty Regencies that begin the Fortune’s Brides series: Never Doubt a Duke, Never Borrow a Baronet, and Always Kiss at Christmas, Meredith’s origin story.

“I am seriously LOVING this series. Regina is hooking me from the first page, and I don’t want to set the book down until I finish the story!” – For the Love of Christian Fiction

“I highly recommend the entire series - to anyone who enjoys well written Regency romance.” – Audible listener Lil Miss Molly (used with permission)

Smashwords 

Amazon (affiliate link)

Apple Books 

Barnes and Noble  

Kobo

Audible 

Apple audio  

Scrumptious!

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Children of George III: Mary, Duchess of Gloucester


1776 might not have been the best of years for George III, but it was not without its bright spots; one of those occurred on April 25, when his eleventh child and fourth daughter was born. Mary (yes, that’s all—had her parents grown tired of bestowing multiple names on their numerous offspring, or had they just run out??) came into the world at Buckingham House in London, and was destined to outlive her numerous siblings…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

Just as her elder three sisters formed a sort of subgroup within the family, Mary would become the eldest in a second sisterly subgroup, along with future siblings Sophia and Amelia.) The practical upshot of this was that my now, with eleven children, the king and queen simply didn’t have as much time and attention for the younger ones, and Mary and her sisters would not receive the same careful academic education that the Princess Royal, Augusta, and Elizabeth had.

As it happened, though, Mary did fine without it, for her intelligence was less academic than it was interpersonal. She was a charming baby who grew into a charming toddler, already described at sixteen months by one of the royal household as “a lovely elegant made child” and by another, a few years later: “There never was a child so consummate in the art of pleasing, nor that could display herself to such advantage.” While still small, she became the lifelong favorite sister of her eldest brother, the Prince of Wales, and indeed of many of her siblings.

After that rocky start in 1776, the world in which Mary grew up remained a rocky place, especially after the French threw in their support for the American independence effort and, a few years later, had their own revolution. It was a world that the king hesitated to allow his daughters out into, and so Mary’s debut at age 15 meant she was joining her elder sisters in spinsterhood. Unlike them, though, Mary seemed reasonably content in her single state; her name would never be connected (at least not seriously) with a secret lover’s, though she did strive to be out in society as much as possible; she loved attending the theater and such balls and parties as she was allowed to. She had grown into the beauty of the family, darker of hair and finer of feature, and had an excellent fashion sense (sharing her love of clothes with the Queen)…but emotionally, seems to have cared only for her parents and siblings and her cousins the Gloucesters, children of one of her father’s estranged brothers.


As her younger sister Amelia’s health declined in the first decade of the new century, Mary became her devoted companion and nurse (and conspired in Amelia’s doomed love for Charles Fitzroy. Amelia’s death in 1810 and the king’s subsequent final descent into madness marked the beginning of changes for the family; by 1813, the remaining sisters, now in their thirties and forties, were settling into new homes and routines around London and Windsor. Many of those routines revolved around visits from their niece Princess Charlotte, whose tempestuous teenhood was at hand; Mary, always sided faithfully with her brother in the upheavals surrounding Charlotte and her estranged mother, Caroline.

Eventually, though, Charlotte’s troubled youth resolved into happy marriage in May 1816 with her Leopold…and to everyone’s surprise a month later, Mary announced her own upcoming June wedding…to her cousin William, Duke of Gloucester. To this day, speculation about their relationship remains rife: some sources say he’d been in love with his beautiful cousin for years, while others state that since he’d been unable to charm Charlotte into marriage, Mary was his second choice to worm his way back into royal favor (and regain the title of “royal highness” that had been stripped from his father after his runaway marriage.) Some fondness seems to have existed between them, but William did not prove to be a kind husband to his bride: in general, he did not enjoy the reputation of being an intelligent or even vaguely sensible person. But Mary now had the pleasure of being a married woman, mistress of her own establishment and even freer now to go about in society—and to serve as hostess for her beloved eldest brother’s court, something only a married woman could do.


Mary’s difficult marriage lasted till 1834, when the Duke died suddenly. Mary took to widowhood quite happily, and continued her comfortably busy social life, though no longer the first lady at court after George IV’s death in 1830. She traveled to visit her sister Elizabeth in Germany, became quite a favorite of her niece Victoria (that's Mary at right, with Victoria and her children Bertie and Alice), and helped nurse her sisters Augusta and Sophia through their final illnesses; the last, in 1848, left her the last daughter of George III. Her own health became of occasional concern, but Victoria continued devoted to her, a source of much comfort through the 1840s and 1850s. After a period of declining health she died just a few days after her 81st birthday, on April 30, 1857, and was sincerely mourned by the queen and her family.