Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Christmas from Nineteenteen!

Happy Christmas, my dears! Marissa and I will be taking some time off, as we usually do this time of year, to make memories with our families. Look for my next post on January 4. In the meantime, be sure to beg, borrow, or rent a copy of the film Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson so you can be ready to share your thoughts in our next Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema discussion on January 14.

Of course, we could not leave without a couple of Christmas presents for you. The first is a loving tribute to Chatsworth, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire and supposedly the model on which Jane Austen based Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley.

The second can be found on my website. The Love Inspired Historical authors have put together a recipe book of favorite family dishes, including one my father used to make every Christmas. I hope you enjoy it.

From Marissa and me, a very merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year to you all!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema: January Movie!

Hello there!  I'm Cara King, back again to announce the second installment of NineteenTeen's "YOUNG BLUESTOCKINGS ATTEND THE CINEMA," the four-times-a-year gathering of the young and young-at-heart to talk about interesting movies with 19th-century settings.

So... (Drumroll, please!)

Our next movie will be:  SENSE AND SENSIBILITY!

Of course, there are many different adaptations of Jane Austen's first published novel. The one we'll be discussing is from 1995, and stars Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, and Greg Wise.

Our discussion will be on Tuesday, January 15.  So you have a month to beg, borrow, buy, or check out from the library a copy of the movie, and see what you think.

Because what you think is really the whole point of this. This is your chance to be a movie critic, and tell everyone else what's good or bad about the movie. And it doesn't matter whether or not you've read the book -- the more perspectives we have, the more fun for all!

So please join us here on January 15!

All images copyright Columbia/Tristar Pictures.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Grand Tour, Part 12: Home Is Where the Heart Is

We have returned from our year-long Grand Tour. Our last stop was Gilbraltar, where we were feted by the families of the garrison officers. We found the romantic Moorish architecture to be in direct contrast to the bastions built by Britain to fortify this rock jutting out of the sea. We were also fortunate enough to spend some time in the Garrison Library (an honor normally reserved only for the soldiers stationed here, but you know SOMEONE in our group would bat her eyes!). The library is an amazing place stocked with tomes in many languages and covering hundreds of years. We also visited the cemetery to pay our respects to the sailors buried there who died in the Battle of Trafalgar.

And now we are back in our own little homes, having bid each other a teary goodbye after living cheek-by-jowl for so many months. Ah, but the comfort of friends, family, and familiar surroundings cannot be overestimated. Yet somehow England looks smaller, perhaps less colorful, than we remembered it. Then again, it is dreary December, so perhaps our outlook will improve in the spring.

In the meantime, everyone we know wants to hear more about our travels, and we have no end of invitations for dinners and teas. Remembering all our adventures brings a smile to our faces every time. And we find we have opinions on matters we had not considered before, such as whether antiquities should be left in their native lands and how women and gentlemen should relate to each other.

We’ve also collected a number of keepsakes along the way. Here are a few of mine:

Lace from Venice

A set of etchings of the Roman ruins

A Moorish shawl

So what did you bring back from your travels? Is there somewhere else you’d like to travel next year? I do believe we can find a likely chaperone to accompany us. Or are you happy now that you have safely returned to England’s shore?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Queen Victoria’s Christmas Dinner

If anyone in the 19th century was going to celebrate Christmas in a truly outstanding fashion, you know that person had to be Queen Victoria, who more than anyone helped popularize the holiday and set its traditions in stone (or fruitcake). But how, exactly, did she celebrate December 25?

To answer that question, I did a little digging…and found the following. For the menu below, I’ve provided translations where necessary—the Queens’s menus were always in French).

Queen’s Victoria’s Christmas Day Menu - 1896
(from the English Heritage Website (

Potages (Soups)
La Tête de Veau En Tortue  (head of veal and tortoise)
Aux trois racines (three root vegetables)

Poissons (Fish)
Le Turbot bouilli sauce hollandaise (Boiled turbot with Hollandaise sauce
Les Filets de soles frits (fried filets of sole)

Les Kromeskys à la Toulouse (Toulouse style Croquettes wrapped in bacon)

Les Dindes rôties à la Chipolata (roasted turkey with sausages)
Chine of Pork Roast
Sirloin of Beef
Plum Pudding

Les Asperges sauce mousseline (asparagus in mousseline sauce)
Mince Pies
Le Pain de riz à la cintra (not sure about this one, though it sounds perhaps like a rice pudding?)

Side Table (more about these below)
Baron of Beef
Woodcock Pie
Wild Boar’s Head
Game Pie

We aren’t the only curious ones…readers of the New York Times got this peek into the Queen’s holiday in an article in their December 26, 1898 paper:


How the Festival is Observed at Osborne—What an Old-Fashioned Christmas is Like.
From the London Mail

For weeks before Christmas the cooks at Windsor are busy preparing the Queen’s dinner for Dec. 25. The principal dishes are all prepared at Windsor, as the kitchen accommodation at Osborne is totally unequal to the task. The Queen’s plum pudding is the triumph of Windsor cookery. In an enormous caldron are placed the usual ingredients, well soaked in fine old Madeira or rum, and all the cooks take their turn in stirring round this huge mass—over 200 puddings are made at Windsor—and occasionally privileged persons are permitted to be present as spectators.

The duly mixed mess is divided into the required number of puddings, which are then boiled for twelve hours. One of these puddings is sent to every one of the Queen’s immediate relatives and descendants. The mincemeat also involves considerable preparation; it is made according to a recipe of King James I.

The ox from whose carcass the baron of beef for the royal table is to be cut is specially fed up, and in Christmas week the enormous joint is handed over to the tender care of the cooks. So big is it that it is placed before a roaring fire at 8 o’clock in the morning and exposed to the heat until 8 at night, when it is pronounced “done”.

Afterward the royal monogram in shredded horse radish is imprinted on the joint, which is served cold. It does not appear on the table, but stands on the sideboard.

The boar’s head always figures in the menu. Both the German Emperor and the King of Saxony invariably send a boar’s head to the Queen as a Christmas present, but the chef finds that an ordinary bacon head cooks better, so the tusks of the wild boar are fastened on to the head of a tame pig, whose appearance is further “made up” by fierce eyes and painted gums.

The game pie is a huge pasty, in whose bowels is concealed a savory compound of woodcock, game, pork, bacon, eggs, spice &c.

Christmas presents for the Queen frequently take the form of delicacies for the royal table. The Czar of Russia keeps up the custom of his late father and sends a royal sturgeon.

The Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin always forwards a splendid paté-de-foie-gras encased in pastry, and resembling an enormous pork pie. The Crown Princess of Greece sends her grandmamma a case of fine currants and spices and the Empress Frederick some German gingerbread, of which her father was very fond. The Emperor of Austria forwards a dozen bottles of his priceless Tokay wine.

All these presents are sent to Windsor, and forwarded to the Isle of Wight, along with the other Christmas fare. The Royal yacht used for conveying provisions to Osborne when the court is there, is irreverently called “the milk cart” by the young Princes and Princesses.

The Christmas fare is sent across Southampton Water in time to reach Osborne on Christmas eve. Such dishes as are to be served hot are either warmed up or prepared wholly at Osborne.

Dinner on Christmas Day, as on other days, is served at 9 P.M. All the Queen’s splendid gold and silver plate is used. After the most substantial dishes have been disposed of Stilton cheese is served, and then comes dessert, which consisting of all the rare fruits of the season, is served on the famous Sevres set of plates and dishes, valued at £50,000. Music is provided by the royal band.

Quite an observance, don't you think?  I must say, though, that I feel sorry for whoever had to wash the Queen's dishes (that's a piece from her Minton service, above) after Christmas dinner.  Hopefully they hadn't sampled the tipsy plum puddings beforehand!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Items Deserving Notice, December: A Fine Shew of Cattle

If December near you is anything like December near me, the month is thronged with events, from craft shows and markets to parades and parties, all centering around the celebration of Christmas. I was therefore surprised to find something altogether different as the highlight of the month of December in London in the nineteenth century. December marked the annual show of the Smithfield Club.

The Smithfield Club was started in 1798 at the Smithfield Meat Market in London. With no less than the Duke of Bedford as its president, the club welcomed agriculturists and enthusiasts as its members. The idea was to encourage the early maturation of cattle and sheep so that the highest quality meat could be brought to market.

Prizes were offered annually for the best beef cow above a certain weight and fed on grass, hay, turnips, or cabbages (apparently the cow, unlike our friend Cara, did not turn up its nose at turnips); the best beef cow fed on corn or oil cake (a solid block of vegetable material from which the oil has been extracted); and the best sheep in the same kind of categories. A total of 50 guineas were won at the first event in 1799 when hundreds of cattlemen from around Britain brought their animals and families to London.

At first, the club was limited to 50 members, then expanded to 100, and finally allowed open enrollment. Gentlemen as well as ladies attended, and certainly young men and women were encouraged to attend with their parents. Indeed, a Miss Strickland, daughter of baronet Sir George Strickland, won a prize one year. Partially under the influence of the club, cattle and sheep began to be classified according to breeds, with the prizes changing to accommodate accordingly.

However, the enthusiasm of the Bedford family, which had continued putting up the prizes of silver plate and medals, began to wane, and the club looked as if it might fold. It was the interest of Earl Spencer, the forebear of Princess Diana, who brought the club back into prominence in 1825, and it has continued to this day.

And after learning about this club, I so want to write a story about a noble British “cowboy.” :-)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Victoria’s Grandchildren, Part 2: Ella of Russia

Queen Victoria was not fond of Russia, despite having fallen a little in love with the young Tsarevitch Alexander (later Tsar Alexander II) when he paid a state visit to the young queen’s court in 1838 (they danced a great deal, which must have been a sight with the queen so petite and tsarevitch so tall). But two of her favorite grandchildren would marry Alexander’s son and grandson…with disastrous outcomes.

Elizabeth Alexandra Louise Alice was born on November 1, 1864, the second child and second daughter of Princess Alice, Victoria’s second daughter, and her husband, Prince Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. Princess Alice was a devoted mother to her family, which eventually numbered seven, and little Elizabeth’s (her nickname in the family was “Ella”) life up to her early teens was a happy one…until the unexpected and shocking death of first a younger sister, and then her mother, during a diphtheria outbreak in 1878.

Queen Victoria came to the rescue, and from then on Ella and her remaining brother and sisters spend at least as much time in England living with their grandmother as they did in Hesse, becoming especially close to their uncle Leopold, Victoria’s youngest son and a partial invalid who lived with his mother well into his twenties.

Ella grew in, by all accounts, a lovely young woman. All princesses are supposed to be beautiful, but in her case, it actually seems to have been true: she had delicate features, a porcelain complexion, and a graceful, slender figure. Royal suitors began to flock around her after she made her debut, including her cousin Wilhelm, who became quite besotted with her but whom Ella politely refused. Instead, she eventually fell for a very different suitor: Grand Duke Sergei Romanov, son of Tsar Alexander II and his wife, a princess from Hesse-Darmstadt. Sergei was an enigmatic figure: educated and cultured, yet stiff and reserved and with a difficult temper. But he seems to have been fond of his young wife (they married in 1884, when Ella was not quite yet twenty), and the marriage, if not a blissfully happy one, was yet a content one.

Ella threw herself into her new country, studying Russian language and history diligently as a young bride and eventually converting to the Russian Orthodox faith, which she embraced wholeheartedly (much to the dismay of most of her staunchly Protestant family. She and Sergei did not have children, though they did semi-adopt the children of one of Sergei’s brothers, who had been exiled.

Sergei was close to his brother, Tsar Alexander III, and accepted the role of Governor of Moscow, where his stiff, unbending attitude and deep conservatism made him enemies. He remained an influential advisor to his nephew, Tsar Nicholas II, who came to the throne in 1894 (at the same time that he married Ella’s younger sister, Alix of Hesse), and grew to be a deeply hated man…so much so that in 1905, as unrest grew in Russia in the wake of the humiliating Russo-Japanese War, Sergei was assassinated by a revolutionary’s bomb tossed into his carriage in the streets of Moscow.

A devastated Ella slowly began to draw away from her old life at court…and in 1909, withdrew even more, giving away some of her fabulous art and jewelry collection to relatives and selling the remainder, then using the proceeds to buy an estate on the Moscow River. Here she founded a religious order, a convent dedicated to Saints Mary and Martha. She became its abbess, taking the veil and dedicating herself to a life of charity, something she’d learned at the feet of her late mother: Princess Alice had been deeply interested in improving the nursing profession and providing health care for the poor, and in turn her daughter’s new enterprise included a large charity hospital and outreach to the poor of Moscow.

But despite the good work she accomplished for the poor of her adopted land, Ella was never accepted by a certain segment…and it was that segment that came into power with the fall of the Romanov dynasty and the rise of the Bolshevik party. They regarded her as a foreigner and a German sympathizer, and she was arrested early in 1918 and shuttled from location to location, depending on the whim of her captors and the fortunes of the varies parties struggling for power in Russia in those chaotic months. She eventually wound up in Alapaevsk, a town in the Ural Mountains, along with a few other members and connections of the Romanov family. In July, members of Lenin’s secret police, Cheka, came to Alapaevsk with orders to execute the prisoners. They were beaten and thrown down a mine shaft, but somehow survived this brutal treatment until desperate Cheka operatives threw hand grenades into the mine and finally set fire to it.

However, a few months later her body was found and removed from the mine, then smuggled out of Russia for burial in Jerusalem. Sixty-three years later, Queen Victoria’s pretty grand-daughter was canonized as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Looking Like Samantha Everard, and Looking for Some Likes

We’ve had several posts now authored by the intrepid Lady Samantha Everard, the young lady at the heart of the Everard Legacy series. Those of you who have been following the series also know she can be irrepressible. But what does she really look like?

She supposed to have golden blond hair, somewhat long and curly, and the deep brown eyes of the Everard miscellany. She’s athletic, fencing and riding with equal joy. In the books out now, she’s sixteen going on seventeen (hm, isn’t there a song about that?). But she’ll be just short of her twenty-fifth birthday when she stars in her own love story next March. How would a cover artist capture her delight at life, her mischievous grin, all grown up?

Like this:

What do you think? Does she look the way you’d imagined? I must admit I was rather pleased. She looks like someone I would like to know.

And speaking of likes, I finally took the plunge and added Regina Scott’s page to the scores of authors on Facebook. I hope to post something of interest daily, be it a nineteenth century fashion plate with a fun twentieth century caption, research tidbits too small for a blog post, and the latest news as it happens. I’d love for you to “like” me. Click here to go to the page.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fashion Forecast 1827, Part 1

What was the well-dressed young woman wearing in the first half of 1827?

January 5 saw the death of Frederick Duke of York, Prinny’s younger brother—which meant mourning at court for the fashionable population. But no one ever said that black had to be boring…and it certainly isn’t in this stunning Opera Costume (Ackermann’s Repository). Though I must say that if I were at the opera, I would not want to be sitting behind anyone wearing a hat like that!

I find the sleeves on this Evening Dress from March’s Ackermann’s Repository fascinating, shaped as they are on wire or bone. Note the plaid shawl: the mania for things Scottish was still in full swing:

Here’s a Carriage Dress in sunny yellow for April, with some ornate applique decoration down the front of the skirt, a deep, lace-edged collar that presages the enormous pelerines to come into fashion in just a couple of years, and gauze oversleeves. Note that her hat is half blue, half yellow—and that its long ribbon ties are also blue on one side, yellow on the other! (Ackermann’s Repository):

Also from April Ackermann’s is a pink Ball Dress with an appliqued overskirt—perhaps muslin over pink satin?—and puff sleeves decorated with free-standing petals. Her gloves are ruffle-edged (I love these!) and her dancing slippers lace up the ankles, a la ballet shoe. Note the heavily curled hairstyle—common this year and into next:

Here’s a total confection of an Evening Dress from May’s Ackermann’s: lace flounces at the pouffed hem and making up the puffed sleeves, geometric applique topped the lace flounce, reminiscent of the angular sleeves back in March’s dress, more ruffled gloves (yay!), and a hat of truly heroic proportions, featuring a lot of ostrich plumes: I can’t tell if the jeweled band in front is a separate tiara, or part of the millinery. And then that flame-colored fan setting it all off—very attention-getting!

Big hats were definitely the thing this year, as we can see from this Morning Dress from May’s Lady’s Magazine, complete with original description: A high gown of lavender-colored gros de Naples, with two flounces, elegantly scaloped at the edges, and headed with a corkscrew trimming of the same; a marked distance between the flounces; these flounces are rather narrow, and are set on in festoons, while the body is made plain, and a narrow triple frill encircles the throat. Hat of pink satin, trimmed with scrolls and ornaments of the same, and a few summer flowers; pink strings floating loose. An amber-colored shawl of Chinese crape is generally worn with this dress. However, the fashion editor goes on to decry the enormous size of hats this season: “…we do not altogether admire their shape, and they are in general too large.”

And of course, as if in answer to that charge, here is an Evening Dress from June’s Ackermann’s with a most minimal headdress. The skirt and sleeves have elegant gold edged appliques, and even the gloves are threaded with gold ribbon to match. Very elegant!

This is Ball Dress is a complete delight! I love the pink of the underskirt shining through the gauzy overskirt, and the magenta ribbon decorations on the lower part of the skirt, looking rather like the lacing on a pair of shoes, is original. Loops of matching ribbon adorn the neck and sleeves; they must have fluttered fetchingly in the midst of dancing…and again, the ribbon lacing at the tops of the gloves is adorable (Ackermann’s, June):

What do you think of 1827’s fashions so far?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanks and Thanksgiving

Thanks to those who took the Everard dating quiz! The winner of the free copy of a book from the trilogy is Lane Hill House. Congratulations! You left your e-mail in your comment, so I will be in touch shortly.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the States. Marissa and I will be taking the week off to spend time with family and friends. But should you find yourself surfeited with turkey and not sure what to do with it, here’s a recipe from the nineteenth century, updated to today, courtesy of Mrs. Beeton.

Hashed Turkey

Leftover turkey
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
A little more than a pint of water
1 carrot, sliced
1 turnip, sliced
Herbs to taste
1 dozen mushrooms, cut up
Butter and flour or corn starch to thicken

Cut the turkey into pieces and set aside. Put the remaining ingredients except the thickener in a stew pan and simmer for an hour. Strain the gravy and thicken it, then return it to the pan and lay the pieces of turkey into it to warm them. Bring it all to a boil. Serve over toasted bread.

You can find more of Mrs. Beeton's recipes online, especially at Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Jane Austen Cornucopia

For our latest look at Jane Austen-related books in celebration of the upcoming 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, I’ve chosen a selection of three “little” Janeian titles, some of the many small, novelty-type books on Jane Austen out there (and which would make great stocking stuffer gifts for your literary-leaning friends, by the way…)

101 Things You Didn’t Know about Jane Austen by Patrice Hannon is just that: a compendium of short (2-5 pages) essays about different aspects of the author’s life and works—from “What was Jane’s mother like?” to “Who were Jane Austen’s favorite novelists?” to “Why didn’t Pride and Prejudice keep its first title?” (Spot quiz—what was Pride and Prejudice’s original title?)*. It’s great to dip into and read at random in a spare moment, or munch straight through when you’re in the mood for a full meal of Jane.

Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades, and Horrible Blunders by Josephine Ross (illustrated by Henrietta Webb) is a little gem of a book—small in size, but beautifully designed with numerous (and amusing) watercolor illustrations, printed on lusciously thick ivory paper, with a ribbon bookmark bound in. Part playful advice for social interaction, part look at Jane Austen’s own outlook on personal conduct, it’s perhaps most interesting as a general introduction to the manners and mores of 19th century society, a great aid in enhancing understanding and enjoyment of the Austen oeuvre.

The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World by Margaret C. Sullivan leans a little more to the tongue-in-cheek end of the spectrum (there’s a section on “How to Elope to Scotland", for example!); this book purports to be a guide for young ladies to life in early 19th century England, via Jane Austen’s novels. Alas, some of the history is not entirely accurate (I caught a reference to dining while wearing elbow length gloves which instructed wearers to slip their hands through the buttoned placket at the wrist...a useful feature which Regency-era gloves did not possess) so a grain or two of salt may be required…but it’s still good fun. One note of caution for those with middle-aged eyes: it is printed in aqua ink, and while pretty, it does not aid in readability.

Happy reading!

*Oh--and the answer to the spot quiz? Pride and Prejudice's original title was First Impressions; Jane Austen changed it before publication in 1813 because another novel had been published with that name in 1800.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Win a Date with an Everard

The three books in the Everard legacy miniseries thus far feature three very different gentlemen, and some of you have indicated preferences on the heroes. But do you know which gentleman really aligns with you, which one would make your heart go pitter patter, which one you’d be tempted to join in a walk down the aisle?

Take our Win a Date with an Everard quiz below and find out! Just tally how many of each letter you choose, then look in the comments section to see which Everard is your match. Let us know how you did in your own comment by midnight next Thursday, November 8, and your name will be entered to win an autographed copy of any one of the three books, even this week’s release The Rake’s Redemption. Your choice. Good luck!

1. When it comes to a gentleman’s physique, you prefer them:
a. Tall, dark, and handsome
b. Mustachioed and manly
c. Athletic and wiry

2. A pleasant activity to share with a gentleman on a sunny afternoon would be:
a. Riding in Hyde Park
b. Sailing on the Thames
c. Taking in a pugilistic match

3. When discussing literature, you’d prefer your stories:
a. Nonfiction, true-to-life
b. A good adventure or romantic yarn
c. Stirring poetry

4. When attending the theatre, you lean toward:
a. A Shakespearean drama
b. A witty satire
c. A compelling opera

5. As for partnering a gentleman in a dance, you gravitate toward:
a. A stately minuet
b. A lively country dance
c. The waltz

6. You believe that an intimate conversation with a gentleman should be:
a. Clever and engaging
b. Quiet and heart-felt
c. Intense and personal

7. When it comes to courting, you prefer a gentleman who will:
a. Follow all the traditions of society, from showering you with flowers to taking you driving
b. Become your closest friend before confiding his secret love
c. Sweep you off your feet and into his arms.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Introducing Vaughn Everard from The Rake's Redemption

[We are pleased to once again welcome Samantha Everard to Nineteenteen. The sixteen-year-old Lady Everard, a baroness in her own right, has proven rather adept at interviewing her recently discovered cousins and their roles in the Everard Legacy miniseries. The third book of the series, The Rake’s Redemption, is out this week from Love Inspired Historical. Be sure to come back on Friday for a special quiz and a chance to win an autographed copy.]

Samantha: Delighted to be back. I have with me today my most dashing cousin Vaughn Everard. Or at least he was here with me. He has a bit of an obsession with trying to discovery who murdered my father. Excuse me. (Hops off chair, peers around corner, beckons to someone, returns with a tall, striking platinum-haired man.) Yes, well, Vaughn, introduce yourself to our delightful readers.

Vaughn, sweeping a dramatic bow that reveals the sword at his side: Dear ladies, your servant, Vaughn Everard.

Samantha: I see you couldn’t leave your blade at home. Did you bring the book of poetry I asked?

Vaughn, flicking a speck of dust off the lapel of his crimson coat as he straightens: Alas, I fear not. But if you need a recitation, you have only to ask.

Samantha, brightening: Oh, yes, please. Say something poetic.

Vaughn, raising his head and gazing off into the distance:

Faith finds what mind and will deny
And lights the heart that wanders lost.
Love fills each void and heals the cry
Of one who could not count the cost;
Who spent a lifetime wondering why
And squandered time as so much dross.

Now hope flies close on gilded wing
And love can blossom in a kiss;
The dark dethroned like aged kings
That now will nevermore be missed.
And I who scoffed at many things
Believe again, and rise to bliss.

Samantha, fanning herself: Oh, my. Was I the inspiration for that?

Vaughn, lowering his gaze and chucking her under the chin: Not precisely, infant.

Samantha, dropping her hand with a frown: Oh? Who was? You’ve fallen in love, that’s clear as day! What lady has finally touched your heart?

Vaughn, turning away: Don’t ask questions to which you won’t like the answers.

Samantha, with a gasp: You mean? Oh, Vaughn, not her. She’ll break your heart. And if she doesn’t, her father certainly will see to it she’ll never wed you. After all, you think he murdered my father!

Vaughn: Enough! It matters not. I set out to find a killer and traitor to England and bring him to justice, and I won’t be swayed, for anyone. Now, if you’ll excuse me.

Samantha, watching him go: All right, but I’ll be here if you need me.

You can learn more about the poet and duelist Vaughn Everard, his quest for vengeance, and the lady who has stolen his heart, in The Rake’s Redemption, available from fine retailers like these:

Barnes and Noble
Powell’s Books
Independent Bookstores Near You
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Items Deserving Notice, November: Museum Macabre

Ah, a dreary month is November. Good society is largely at home in the country. Those in town must find things to occupy their days and evenings. I have heard that Mr. Sheldon’s lectures on anatomy commence the first Monday in November in the evening at the Royal Academy’s rooms at Somerset House. Tickets can be had for free from any of the esteemed artists and architects that serve as Academicians. Unfortunately, many of us who frequent Nineteenteen would not be allowed to attend. We’re women, you see. Learning about anatomy wasn’t deemed appropriate for our tender sensibilities.

[Grumble, grumble, kick the wall, grumble some more.]

But there are other ways to learn about anatomy, be it of an animal nature or the human body. We could, with permission of the curators, visit Dr. John Hunter’s museum under the care of the Company of Surgeons.

Dr. Hunter was considered one of the premiere anatomists in Europe during his lifetime, which ended in 1793. He collected and preserved hundreds of specimens of animals and human tissue, some of it deformed or diseased. He also developed models in wax and had artists such as George Stubbs paint detailed pieces of the various subjects of interest to him, including North American Indians, Inuit, and a yak.

In glass bottles and cases, he presented almost 14,000 preparations, from the simplest forms of life like a shrimp up to man himself, embalmed or preserved in spirits. Hunter arranged them by parts: those used for motion, for bodily function, for reproduction of the species, and for maintenance and protection of the young. Specimens from the animal kingdom included a rhinoceros from Egypt, a giant beaked squid brought back from Captain Cook’s voyages in the Pacific, and ostriches from Australia. He had some of the only skeletons of whales in Europe. Not content with the animals still living, he also collected fossils of extinct animals.

Perhaps most interesting, or disturbing as the case might be, were the specimens of the human form. Anatomists required human cadavers to perfect their art, yet procuring such specimens often involved unsavory pursuits like grave robbing. Thankfully, Mr. Hunter’s fame was such that he was often provided with cadavers to experiment upon. His collection included everything from dwarfs to giants, all standing appropriately for study.

The Hunterian Collection is still available for tour at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. And women are welcome.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Not Quite Trick or Treat, but Almost

I was in a large party supply store a week or so ago looking for napkins. I found them, eventually, after wading through the front two-thirds of the store that was entirely given over to Halloween-related goods, from 15-foot tall inflatable lawn ornaments to every conceiveable costume--for children, yes, but especially for adults. Am I the only one to notice that over the last several years, Halloween has morphed from a children’s holiday to one just as popular among grown-ups? I guess some things never change, because people in the 19th century loved dressing up in outlandish costumes just as much…only they didn’t do it at Halloween.

The 19th century was undoubtedly the century of the costume ball. Their popularity in England probably grew with our friend Prinny, the Prince Regent, who adored “dressing up”, first in military uniforms, then later in Scottish dress as he fell in love with the romanticized Scotland of Sir Walter Scott’s novels…and from there, it was a logical progression to adoring costume balls. A few years later, his niece Victoria was equally addicted to costume balls up until the death of the Prince Consort in 1861, and they remained popular at court (though she no longer participated) and in society at large right into the 20th century. Historical and cultural themes for costumes--dressing up as someone from the past or from a different land--were probably the most usual, especially earlier on, but as you'll see shortly, costumes weren't limited to Queen Elizabeth or romantic cavaliers.

Here are a few costumes from the first part of the century for your Halloween inspiration (a post on the costume balls of the later 19th century would require its own post, as another Prince of Wales, Victoria’s bad boy son Bertie, also loved to play dress-up). Enjoy!

This first one is a "Danish Fancy Dress Worn at the Prince Regent's Fete", from La Belle Assemblee, August 1819:

And a "Fancy Ball Dress" also from La Belle Assemblee, August 1820. Perhaps she was going for the milkmaid look?

The young lady on the left is dressed as one of the waiting women of Mary Queen of Scots in this March 1833 print from The Court Magazine:

I'm not sure what these costumes are supposed to represent, though the one on the right seems to have a somewhat Russian feel, with her vaguely slavic headdress and fur-edged boots (this from a French publication, Petit Courrier des Dames, March 1837):

Medieval themes were popular, as we see in this couple from 1838...interesting to see a male costume, and how a 14th century "gates of hell" surcoat could be adapted to a 19th century corseted silhouette (Journal des Modes):

Last are a pair of costumes from 1838...first, these from La Mode--perhaps a musketeer and a revolutionary?

And last, these "15th and 16th century" costumes, also from La Mode:

Are you dressing for Halloween? Would you want to borrow any of these costumes?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Grand Tour, Part 11—A Detour on the Road Home: Malta

Alas! We had planned to visit Athens as our last stop, but war has broken out there! British travelers fleeing the conflagration meet us at the docks in Sicily and warn us not to continue in that direction. The Ottoman Pasha has besieged Athens, his war engines pounding the fair city into ruins far less charming than the ones left by the ancients. With a heavy heart, we decide to book passage to Malta instead and begin our journey home.

Malta is a tiny island just to the south of Sicily, but its strategic location, between Italy and Africa, has made it a contested place for centuries. Nearly 300 years before we set foot on it, King Charles of Spain ceded it to the Knights of St. John (and the portion of them on the island became known as the Knights of Malta). This Order protected pilgrims traveling back and forth between Europe and the Holy Land, and rescued those who had been attacked at sea. Many of the beautiful churches, palaces, and gardens in Malta stem from their time on the island. Their rule only ended with the arrival of Bonaparte.

In 1798, when the knights refused to supply Napoleon’s fleet with water on its way to Egypt, the French conquered the island and initiated radical reforms. The Maltese people revolted and asked the British government for help. The British defeated the French, so now there has been a garrison on the island for many years, and indeed, the harbors provide homes for many British ships.

So, sweeping churches, majestic palaces, peaceful gardens, stunning artwork, and . . . men in uniform! What more could a girl want?
Our two days in sunny Malta are spent touring and socializing. A handsome lieutenant assigned to us by the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet himself escorts us through the fort-like Church of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St. John, where we find not only stirring architecture but the tombs of the valiant knights of old. We take tea with the Commander in his gorgeous residence, which the lieutenant confides was once the home of the Grand Master of the Order. He also reminds us that none other than Byron once visited these very shores, penning some of his poems here.

In the evening, we attend a ball with the regimental and the naval officers in attendance. The gentlemen outnumber the ladies by a delightful three to one, ensuring that everyone who wishes to dance can do so with a variety of partners. And a quartet of gentlemen are more than happy to sit out the dancing to play cards, promenade, and discuss the latest literary compositions of our fine empire. Quite a few can quote Byron.

On the way back to our hotel, we are verses a little more authentic: by singers playing Maltese songs, as sweet and spicy as the culture from which they sprung. We soak it all up, drink it all in, knowing that shortly, our travels must end. The next stop is Gibraltar, and then home!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema: "Pride and Prejudice" (2005)

Welcome to Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema!

Several times a year, NineteenTeen will be hosting a discussion of a historical movie set during the Nineteenth Century.  Today's discussion:  the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Mathew Macfadyen.

So whether you saw it recently or long ago, whether you have watched it many times or just once, we'd love to know what you think!

And if you want to add some context, go ahead.

For example...have you read the book?

Have you seen any other adaptations of Pride and Prejudice?

If you've read the book, what did you think of this interpretation?

Were the characters how you envisioned them?

Do you miss what was cut out?

If you've seen another adaptation, which did you prefer? Why?

If you've never read or seen any other version of Pride and Prejudice, I'd particularly love to hear your opinion!

Could you follow the story? Did you feel you knew the characters?

In particular, did you feel you knew Lydia and Wickham well enough that their story had a real impact?  (I'm really curious about this point!)

To help the discussion, here's a list of the major characters, and the actors who played them.


Keira Knightley -- Elizabeth Bennet

Rosamund Pike -- Jane Bennet

Talulah Riley -- Mary Bennet

Jena Malone -- Lydia Bennet

Carey Mulligan -- Kitty Bennet

Donald Sutherland -- Mr. Bennet

Brenda Blethyn -- Mrs. Bennet

Claudie Blakley -- Charlotte Lucas

Simon Woods -- Mr. Bingley

Kelly Reilly -- Caroline Bingley

Matthew Macfadyen -- Mr. Darcy

Rupert Friend -- Mr. Wickham

Tom Hollander -- Mr. Collins

Judi Dench -- Lady Catherine de Bourgh

Now that I've poured you a cup of the most delicate Darjeeling, along with rich seedcake and the creamiest syllabub in London, do let us know what you think!

(All images copyright Focus Features.)