Friday, May 29, 2020

What’s in Your Cabinet?

We’ve talked about La Belle Assembleé, Ackermann’s Repository, and Godey’s Lady’s Book for ladies magazines of the nineteenth century, but I recently came across one I hadn’t heard of before. The Ladies Cabinet of Fashion, Music, and Romance was published monthly in England in the mid-nineteenth century. It offered stories (some rather gothic), poetry, and fashion news, featuring columns on the latest looks in Paris and London. I’ve perused through several digitized issues and haven’t located the “music” part, but it may be that the sheet music was meant to be removed and so would not be found in extant versions. 

The Ladies Cabinet had several things going for it. At a modest schilling per issue, it was favored by those in the middle class. It was also apparently small, being called by some “pocket sized.” Unlike many of the other ladies journals of the time, which were edited by men, it was purportedly edited at least for part of its life by a pair of sisters, Margaret and Beatrice de Courcy. However, some think those might have been pseudonyms, and the sisters might have been men as well.

Still, some newspapers of the time applauded it as being by women for women. Critics called it prudish, the poetry melancholy and sentimental, and the fiction harking back to an earlier era. The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland, edited by Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor, calls it “high quality” with “beautifully engraved fashion coloured plates.” Though the National Portrait Gallery in London carries several of these fashion plates, the prestigious art gallery notes they were “badly drawn and crudely coloured.” I’m no art critic, but I must admit the print above doesn’t have the detail or elegance shown in the ones our dear Marissa shares from other sources.

Perhaps most intriguing is that, in creating the magazine, the editors claimed to be offering an antidote to cholera

The Ladies Cabinet ran from 1832 to 1870, but several sources noted that, from 1840, the contents were identical the new monthly Belle Assembleé. Interesting that the two audiences didn’t seem to coincide.

Now, may I offer you something that probably isn’t the antidote to cholera or any other health surge plaguing the world. I’ve collected the three novels in my Spy Matchmaker series into a boxed set.

In Regency England, one man is known as the spymaster, recruiting his daring agents from among the best and brightest of the aristocracy. From the eager, newly initiated to the world-weary campaigner, these are men used to accepting challenges, righting wrongs. Perhaps their greatest challenge awaits: finding the perfect bride.

You can find it at fine online retailers such as


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