Winter Blog Hop Day 19 – Happy Book Birthday to Me!

Today on the hop I’m featuring yours truly. ūüôā ¬†Today is release day for my third book, Tempting Mr. Jordan. I really love this book, which tells the story of Julia Tenwick (Jonathan’s little sister from Stirring Up the Viscount, all grown up). I hope you like it too! (And do scroll to the end of this post for a chance to win a Maine gift basket from me and Becky Lower!)

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Tempting Mr. Jordan

After four unsuccessful London seasons, Lady Julia Tenwick despairs of ever making a love match. With spinsterhood looming on the horizon, she and a friend set sail for America on one last adventure. When her travels take her to northern Maine, Julia meets a reclusive but handsome artist, whose rudeness masks a broken heart Julia feels compelled to mend.

Still haunted by the betrayal and death of his pregnant wife two years before, Geoffrey Jordan is determined never to risk his heart again. Certainly not with the gorgeous and impetuous aristocrat who intrudes upon his small-town solitude, and is far too similar to his late wife to tempt him to take another chance on love.

But when Julia and Geoffrey find themselves united in a reckless plan to save Julia’s friend from ruin, they discover that temptation is impossible to resist.

Excerpt:

Cranberry Cove reminded her of home, her family’s estate in Durham, where ton rules were abandoned in favor of lazy days riding, reading, caring for her pets, or playing the piano. It occurred to her that she had not played in weeks. Her fingers itched to touch a keyboard, and she flexed her hands inside her calfskin gloves. She vowed to play soon. She thought she had seen a harpsichord in the drawing room of Maria’s enormous house.

Reaching the end of the little lane on which Maria lived, she took a right onto Main Street. It consisted of several houses similar to the one in which she was staying, so she turned left onto Maple Street, which was much more interesting. There was a green grocer, a bookseller, a milliner, a tailor, a blacksmith‚ÄĒeverything one could want in a village. The streets were clean‚ÄĒmuch cleaner than London‚ÄĒand the air was crisp and fresh, even if it smelled ever so slightly of fish.

Julia was staring into the newspaper office‚ÄĒa badly written but oddly gripping tale about missing lobster traps was plastered to the window‚ÄĒwhen she was nearly knocked off her feet.

‚ÄúOh, I beg your pardon!‚ÄĚ She managed to right herself, wondering why she should be the one to apologize. She looked up into the hooded eyes of Geoffrey Jordan, who held a book in one hand. ‚ÄúMr. Jordan!‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúLady Julia.‚ÄĚ He reached out to steady her, the touch of his hand on her arm causing a charge to shoot up her spine. ‚ÄúPlease forgive me. Are you hurt?‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúAre you in the habit of running over tourists on your streets?‚ÄĚ She freed her arm, flustered by her own reaction, and busied herself with adjusting her hat. When she regarded Mr. Jordan again, he was smirking.

‚ÄúNo, just the ones who stop in the middle of the street,‚ÄĚ he said.

Julia opened her mouth to retort, but he held up a finger to silence her. ‚ÄúNevertheless, I am sorry. I wasn‚Äôt paying attention. And the scintillating prose of our local newspaper could halt anyone in her tracks.‚ÄĚ

She laughed. ‚ÄúIt is not The Times, to be sure.‚ÄĚ

His lips quirked up at the tips in something approaching a smile. Julia thought she hadn‚Äôt seen him do that before and found it oddly entrancing. ‚ÄúWhere are you headed, Lady Julia?‚ÄĚ

She forced herself to look away from his lips. ‚ÄúUm. Nowhere in particular. I was in need of a walk after luncheon, so I thought I would explore a bit.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúThe Universalist church, just around the corner, is particularly beautiful, and you will need to sample lobster from the establishment run by the Maclays, on the pier. It will melt in your mouth.‚ÄĚ

The way he looked at her as he made the remark made her own mouth dry. Her cheeks burned.

‚ÄúUm. Yes. That sounds lovely.‚ÄĚ She gazed down at her feet until she collected herself. Raising her head, she found herself caught in his sights. She swallowed nervously. ‚ÄúWell, if you‚Äôll excuse me, Mr. Jordan, I really must get back. Constance will be wondering where I‚Äôve got to.‚ÄĚ She brushed past him, her shoulder tingling at the contact with his arm.

‚ÄúLady Julia?‚ÄĚ His tone was vaguely amused.

She stopped and turned to face him. ‚ÄúYes, Mr. Jordan?‚ÄĚ

His thin lips turned up at the corners again, and he pointed behind him. ‚ÄúI believe your house is that way.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúOh. Yes. Of course.‚ÄĚ She willed herself not to stumble as she passed him, at least not until she‚Äôd cleared the corner.

You can find Tempting Mr. Jordan at these retailers: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iBooks ~ Wild Rose Press.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for this fabulous gift basket¬†Becky Lower and I are offering. In addition to the items pictured, Becky is offering an ecopy of her new Wild Rose novella,¬†Love’s in the Cards!fullsizerender
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Winter Blog Hop, Day 12 – Victorian Cookies

SecretPromise_w9701_750Today’s scheduled guest is unable to be here, so I’m filling in with a Victorian era recipe¬†for Cinnamon Cakes, which are actually cookies. I found it¬†in Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery, and featured them in Secret Promise. Here’s an excerpt:

Zachary was curled up in a chair in the sitting room, reading.

‚ÄúZachary,‚ÄĚ Anna said, ‚ÄúI have a surprise for you.‚ÄĚ

Zachary‚Äôs head snapped up, and he sniffed the air.¬†‚ÄúHave you been baking, Mam?‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúI have not, but Mrs. Graham has.‚ÄĚ The woman¬†herself appeared at the top of stairs, smiling in¬†welcome. She removed a cinnamon cake from the bag¬†she carried and held it out to Zachary.

Zachary leapt out of his chair. ‚ÄúIs that for me?‚ÄĚ He¬†hesitated, looking from¬†a smiling Mrs. Graham to Anna¬†for verification.

Anna nodded. ‚ÄúYes, it‚Äôs for you. Mrs. Graham¬†spoiled me with treats when I was young, and I have no¬†doubt she‚Äôd very much like to spoil you, too.‚ÄĚ

Zachary took the cake, inhaling its sweet, spicy¬†smell before devouring it in three bites. ‚ÄúThank you,¬†Mrs. Graham. It was delicious!‚ÄĚ

Here’s the original recipe from the 1845 edition of Modern Cookery:

CINNAMON, OR LEMON CAKES

Rub six ounces of good butter into img_4520a pound of Ô¨Āne dry Ô¨āour, and work it lightly into crumbs, then add three quarters of a pound of sifted sugar, a dessertspoonful of pounded cinnamon (or half as much when only a slight Ô¨āavour is liked), and make these ingredients into a Ô¨Ārm paste with three eggs, or four, if needed. Roll it, not very thin, and cut out the cakes with a tin shape. Bake them in a very gentle oven from Ô¨Āfteen to twenty minutes, or longer, should they not be done quite through. As soon as they are cold, put them into a clean and dry tin canister, a. precaution which should be observed with all small sugar cakes, which ought also to be loosened from the oven tins while they are still warm.

Flour, 1 lb.; butter, 6 ozs. ; sugar, 3/4 lb.; cinnamon, 1 dessertspoonful (more or less, to the taste) ; eggs, 3 to 4.

Obs. Lemon cakes can be made by this receipt by substituting for the cinnamon the rasped or grated rinds of two lemons, and the strained juice of one, when its acidity is not objected to. More butter, and more or less of sugar, can be used at will, both for these and for the cinnamon cakes.

And here’s my modern variation, which is a bit easier to follow:

CINNAMON CAKES
Makes about 4 dozen large or 6 dozen small cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

6       oz. (approx 1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1        lb      cake flour (approx. 3-1/4 cups)
1        tsp    baking powder
1/4    tsp   salt
3/4   lb      sugar (approx. 2-1/4 cups)
1        tsp    cinnamon
3        lg      eggs

img_4518Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Mix together the baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon and add to the flour. Add the eggs and beat just until mixed. If the dough is too dry, add up to 1-2 tablespoons of milk, just enough so that the dough holds together.

img_4519Roll out the dough on a floured board to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a your favorite cookie cutters. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle with decorating sugar (or if you really like cinnamon, use cinnamon sugar).

Bake in a 375 oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly brown on the edges.

Cool on a wire rack.img_4521

Just as an FYI, I omitted the salt in one half of the dough and compared the two versions. I liked the salt version a little bit better, but my kid noticed no difference in taste–so if you’re limiting your salt intake, go ahead and try them without.

Feel free to experiment and let me know what changes you made. ūüôā

Winter Blog Hop, Day 5 – Becky Lower

Good morning, all! Welcome to Day 5 of the Winter Blog Hop. Today features the first visit from historical (and a few contemporaries) romance author, Becky Lower. Many authors are content with releasing one, maybe two, books per year. But Becky, who has the creative energy of most of the people I know combined, is releasing three this month.  The first is a boxed set of her beloved Cotillion Ball series.

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You’ll fall in love with the spirited Fitzpatrick family as they find romance in turbulent Civil War-era America. Raised to defy societal convention and follow their passions, these siblings’ rebellious hearts meet their matches. Settle in to enjoy these 10 tales of independent, passionate, and strong American heroines and heroes, set in the 1850s and 1860s. American history comes alive as each child in the family comes of age.

Hop over to Becky’s blog to read more about the Fitzpatricks, and stop by tomorrow to hear from author Landra Graf!

 

Taking Tea

I apologize, my friends, for my sad neglect of this blog. I have no excuse, really, beyond being busy and inefficient, and, if truth be told, possessing a certain degree of laziness. But never mind, I am back, so I hope I am forgiven.

Sitting in the queen’s chair at Hampton Court Palace (I’d been awake for 36 hours)

Lately¬†I have been thinking about tea and scones far more than is normal for¬†your average American. This past week I returned from a visit to¬†England, where I traveled hither and yon¬†with my dear college friend Helen, talking and laughing and walking and drinking tea at every opportunity in which wine (or gin, in Helen’s case) was inappropriate.

On my first day there I did obtain a scone with jam and clotted cream at Hampton Court (as one does), but all additional efforts to secure afternoon¬†tea were for naught. We arrived at the tea shop as it was closing (as happened at Hughenden Manor and across the street from Jane Austen’s house), there was¬†no clotted cream (said in a rather rude “even if we did have cream I wouldn’t give you any” sort of tone at the cafe in Hyde Park), or on one occasion (at the 1657 Chocolate House¬†in Kendal), I was in the mood for a cup of chocolate and a sandwich instead.

Lady Bedford, circa 1830

Lady Bedford, circa 1820

Spending so much¬†time drinking tea and visiting historic sites last week, I started thinking about the history of afternoon¬†tea.¬†Although tea as a beverage has been common in England¬†since the mid-17th century, it was not until the 7th Duchess of Bedford was feeling a bit peckish that the concept of afternoon tea as we know it today was born. The story goes that sometime in the 1840s Lady Bedford, a¬†close friend of Queen Victoria, found herself desiring a snack around 4 o’clock, halfway between lunch and the fashionably late dinner. She asked for a tray of tea, bread, butter, and cake. This repast was so pleasant she made a habit of it, and then began inviting her friends round to enjoy it with her.

Afternoon Tea–not to be confused with High Tea, which is another animal altogether–consists of tea, small sandwiches, cake, and scones served with jam and clotted cream. It is not only the meal itself but the ritual that makes afternoon tea what it is. Ideally, the tea should be loose leaf, served from a tea pot. Milk is added after the tea is poured, not before. (Apparently there is much¬†disagreement¬†on this issue–I had no idea it mattered so much.) There is also great debate about whether jam should be slathered on the scone before the cream. In the spirit of research I tried it both ways, and admit I prefer jam then cream, which gives one the ability to add far more cream than is strictly healthy.

In an effort to make up for my lack of afternoon tea while in England, I shall be baking scones, brewing tea, and eating this afternoon. (Unless I have to go watch middle school boys play hockey, or take a nap.)

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Here’s my recipe for scones:

8 oz (approx. 1-3/4 c) all-purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 oz (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 oz (2 T) sugar
4 fl oz (¬Ĺ c) milk

*Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
*Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, lightly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and the milk and lightly mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.
*Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Spread the dough using your hands until it is about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out 8-12 scones using a 1-1/2 to 2 inch fluted biscuit cutter. Press straight down–do not twist, or the scones won’t rise properly. (Ask me how I know!)
*Place the scones on to the baking sheet and brush with milk or an egg wash.
*Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place onto a wire rack until cool enough to handle.
*Serve the scones warm with clotted cream (or butter) and your favorite jam. If you can’t find fresh clotted cream in your local grocery store, or you object to paying $10 for a jar, you can find a number of recipes online. Here’s the one I’m planning to use, although it takes so long it will have to wait until next weekend’s afternoon tea:¬†https://fearlessfresh.com/make-clotted-cream/. I’ll let you know how it goes!

For more information on the history of afternoon tea:
http://www.creamteasociety.co.uk/history-of-the-cream-tea
http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/afternoon-tea/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-mirza-grotts/the-history-and-etiquette_b_3751053.html?
https://www.fortnumandmason.com/fortnums/short-history-of-afternoon-tea

 

 

 

The Victorian Diet

Last October I turned 50. My sixth decade began with shingles on my face¬†and in my eye, which took about 6 months to¬†vanquish. I gained ten pounds and was diagnosed with high blood pressure, started a new law firm, and finished a book, so it’s safe to say there have been ups and downs. A couple of months ago I decided to get¬†serious about making myself healthier, so I joined a gym, am working with a trainer, and last week I put myself on¬†a diet.

If you have read this blog, or know me at all, you know I love food. Restricting myself to 1350 calories of it is tortuous, especially when I have an active, underweight teenager who needs to have high calorie foods in the house or he’ll blow away in a strong wind. So to occupy my brain while I digest my measly caloric intake, I thought I’d do a little research on the Victorian diet. I know from research for previous blog posts¬†what the Victorians cooked, but I suspected that it was really only the upper and middle classes who ate well, and the poor, working classes ate scraps of bad meat and potatoes. I was, as so often happens, wrong.

One of the Family. Frederick George Cotman, 1880.

One of the Family. Frederick George Cotman, 1880.

Recent studies have demonstrated that the Victorian working classes in the UK were healthier than we are today. For¬†the most part, the Victorians ate nutritious foods (and a LOT of them–the average male consumed 5,000 calories, the average female 3,000), exercised¬†more (which actually means their work was highly physical), ate less sugar and salt, and¬†drank and¬†smoked less. ¬†Their average life expectancy (about 75 for men, 73 for women) was¬†comparable to¬†ours, taking into account the higher infant mortality rate in the mid-19th century. ¬†But infants died due to disease, not malnutrition–one child in five died in its first year, one in three before the age of 5. ¬†Today’s UK working and lower-middle class men live to about 72, and women to about 76.

The working class diet involved¬†stone-ground wholemeal breads made daily, fresh meats and fish, and 8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. They ate what was in season, usually grown themselves–apples in the fall and winter and lettuces, peas, beans, and cherries and other fruits in the summer–and because it was fresh it had more nutrients. Daily vegetables included what we consider superfoods today–onions, watercress, cabbages, and beets. Portions were smaller.¬†They arguably had stronger immune systems due to more natural yeasts in their diet–from the bread (including the moldy bits) and the large amounts of beer they drank. And no, this is not incompatible with the statement I made earlier about drinking less. Their beer had less alcohol in it to begin with, and was often watered down. ¬†They ate cheaper cuts of meat on the bone–often boiled with vegetables, resulting in greater¬†nutrition and flavor. Their work involved long hours in the fields or in the house, and often required them to walk long distances to and from home in order to get to their jobs. Most people, unless they were carried off by disease, enjoyed robust health into their 70s.

Starting in the late 19th century, the same industrial factors that led to an increased quality of life–easy travel, cheaper goods–also led to a¬†decrease in overall health. Work became less physically demanding, so people began to expend¬†fewer calories every day. That coupled with the advent of processed wheat flour, cheap sugar, and mass production of inexpensive,¬†high salt, high sugar foods led to a decrease in nutrition and a rise in obesity which only gets worse with each passing year.

 

 

 

 

So don’t think Dickens, poverty, and squalor when you think of the Victorians. Think of fresh fruits and veggies, tasty bread and meat, and lots of walking, and then consider eating more like they did.

 

 

 

 

Sources for more reading:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3317096/Forget-Paleo-try-VICTORIAN-diet-Eating-onions-cabbage-beetroot-cherries-meant-19th-century-people-healthier-today.html
https://chriskresser.com/what-mid-victorians-can-teach-us-about-nutrition-and-health/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2672390/
http://health.spectator.co.uk/forget-paleo-go-mid-victorian-its-the-healthiest-diet-youve-never-heard-of/
http://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/health-wellbeing/diet-nutrition/nutrition/healthy-eating-victorian-style.aspx#

Book Blast Friday: Cover Reveal!

Happy Friday, everyone!¬†I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with breathless anticipation–or possibly not–but¬†finally,¬†the time has come to reveal my beautiful cover for my¬†third book featuring the Tenwick family.

Tempting Mr. Jordan is set six¬†years after my first book, Stirring Up the Viscount,¬†and features Jonathan Tenwick’s¬†younger sister, Julia, all grown up.

After four unsuccessful London seasons, Lady Julia Tenwick despairs of ever making a love match. With spinsterhood looming on the horizon, she and a friend set sail for America on one last adventure. When her travels take her to northern Maine, Julia meets a reclusive but handsome artist, whose rudeness masks a broken heart Julia feels compelled to mend.

Still haunted by the betrayal and death of his pregnant wife two years before, Geoffrey Jordan is determined never to risk his heart again. Certainly not with the gorgeous and impetuous aristocrat who intrudes upon his small-town solitude, and is far too similar to his late wife to tempt him to take another chance on love.

But when Julia and Geoffrey find themselves united in a reckless plan to save Julia’s friend from ruin, they discover that temptation is impossible to resist.

So without further ado, here’s the cover, designed by cover artist extraordinare, Rae Monet:

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Stay tuned for a release date! In the meantime, check out my Pinterest page for some of my inspiration for this book.

Summer Vacation, Victorian-Style, AND Two Giveaways!

We’re starting our weekend early at the blog today, just because–it’s summer! I always think of summer as a lazy, quiet time, with long evenings spent on the patio with a glass of wine, vacations in¬†locales exotic, familiar, and somewhere in between,¬†and schlepping the kid to day camp. Naturally, his favorite camp is a 25 minute drive.

I tend to think of Victorian era summers as similarly lazy and quiet, although I have no idea if they truly were. I’ve written before how affordable train travel revolutionized the way middle-class Victorians spent their leisure time, and summer was a¬†popular time to take that vacation they’d saved for all year. Victorians traveled a lot, including women on their own, and their travels took them not just to the Continent, but¬†to the Middle East,¬†Asia, India, Australia, and America.

Brighton, Frederick William Woledge. 1840.

But for those less adventurous souls, a trip to the seaside was just the thing. For those who wished to stay fairly close to London, Brighton was only fifty miles away, easily accessible by train. Sometimes called “London-by-the-Sea,” Brighton was a mini-London without the smog. Bradshaw in his 1863 Railway Handbook writes of the traveler’s first view of Brighton from the train station:¬†The twang of saltiness that greets the lip, and the freshening invigorating tone of the breeze, are agreeable proofs, on your first entrance, of the bracing bleak atmosphere that characterises the climate, though in various portions of the town, more shelter, the air will be found adapted to the exigencies of the most delicate invalid. The panoramic view that first bursts upon the eye is so striking of itself, that it may be worth while glancing at it in detail, for the benefit of the visitor’s future peregrinations.

Brighton, from the Pier, ca 1890. Source: Photochrom Print Collection [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

He also notes,

Bathing establishments, too, are almost as numerous [as accommodations], whilst, for amusements, there is no provincial town in the kingdom that can offer such a variety of assembly and concert-rooms, libraries, bazaars, and other expedients for slaughtering our common enemy–Time.

The more things change…

Blackpool Promenade, 1898

 

 

 

Brighton, of course, wasn’t the only seaside destination. For those in the North, a¬†popular resort was¬†Blackpool, on the northwest coast. When the cotton mills in Lancashire closed for a¬†week every ¬†summer, the town was inundated with factory workers seeking a respite from their usual lives.

Southend Pier, date unknown. By Snapshots Of The Past (Wikimedia Commons).

 

 

On the east coast, holidaymakers sought their summer break in Southend-on-Sea, situated at the mouth of the Thames in Essex, famous for its pleasure pier and miles of sandy beaches. Currently the longest pleasure pier in the world at over a mile long, in 1848 it was the longest pier in Europe at 7,000 feet long. Our friend Mr. Bradshaw notes of Southend in 1863, “The company that assemble here in the season will be found more select than at Margate, but it suffers severely in its climate when an easterly wind prevails…[Its pier] forms besides a pleasant promenade for those who love to enjoy the salubrity of the sea-breeze…”

 

Woman in bathing suit, 1893.

There were countless other resorts dotting the English coast–Margate, Ramsgate, Tynemouth, Dover, etc.–and at most of them you could find the ubiquitous bathing machine. These cabanas on wheels would be pushed out in the water, where bathers could descend into the sea, modesty intact, via a set of stairs.

Many of these resorts remain popular today–minus the bathing machines.

What’s your favorite summer vacation spot? If you comment below, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a $10 Amazon gift card OR an autographed¬†copy of one of my books, your choice. (I will use a random name generator to pull the name of a commenter on July 31, when the Summer Blog Hop has concluded!)

And now that you’ve finished taking the seaside air with me, click here¬†to visit¬†my fellow Wild Rose authors¬†on their summer blogs.¬†Each blog offers another glimpse at summer–and possibly another giveaway–so be sure to check them all out. You can also enter to win a Kindle Fire from Wild Rose Press using the Rafflecopter below. Thanks for visiting and happy Summer!!

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Sources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/victorians/seaside_01.shtml
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackpool#Arrival_of_the_railways
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southend-on-Sea
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southend_Pier
Bradshaw’s Descriptive Railway Hand-Book of Great Britain and Ireland (1863).

Happy Father’s Day!

Wishing all the fathers out there the happiest of Father’s Days. And because I am far too lazy today to write two blog posts, I will direct you to my post about Victorian fathers at Heart-Shaped Glasses. ¬†I hope you’ll take a moment to stop by.

Victorian Fashion

I am not a fashion maven. I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, unless I’m wearing Chico’s Travelers Collection, which look stylish but feel like pajamas. (Need I say more?)¬†I¬†have one favorite pair of shoes for each season and I wear them until they fall apart, at which time I spend hours online looking for the exact same pair. I almost never wear shorts because of my pasty white Cleveland legs, but the pair I don’t mind being seen in¬†I bought in 1998. Seriously.

Despite my embarrassing anti-fashion proclivities,¬†I am a writer of historical romance, and in the Victorian era, women of a certain class were very concerned with fashion. And if I am to write about them, I need to care about what they wore. Or at least how to get it off them. ūüėČ

To that end, I spent Saturday¬†taking a field trip with my NEORWA chapter mates to the Kent State University Museum of Fashion. The most interesting exhibit, at least for me, was one called Inside Out, which featured clothing literally inside out so you could see how it was constructed. And they had Darcy’s puffy shirt! Colin Firth wasn’t even it–more’s the pity–and we were all still drooling. You can find pictures¬†at https://insideoutksum.wordpress.com/–I can’t get WordPress to cooperate with the photos I took.¬†

The Victorian era lasted from 1837 to 1901, and fashions changed drastically during that timeframe. ¬†And don’t even get me started on men’s facial hair–that is deserving of its own post.

In the 1830s, as at right, the ideal form was a long torso with a slim silhouette, so corsets were tight and movement was restricted. (Isn’t that an odd picture? The upper half seems oddly disconnected from the bottom, but I sometimes wonder if that’s how women felt…)

 

Starting in the 1840s, skirts became wider–the fuller the skirt, the more petticoats underneath, which was a sign of wealth. I love this relaxed portrait of Queen Victoria and her prince from 1841.

Illustration of cage crinoline from Punch, 1856

 

The 1850s saw the invention of bloomers, as well as the cage crinoline–a miraculous contraption that held the skirts out in lieu of a dozen petticoats, returning women to a comparative freedom of¬†movement.

 

There is an adorable scene from Mrs. Gaskell’s¬†Cranford¬†in which a fancy cage from Paris is ordered for Miss Pole’s bird. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong type of cage. It’s just the first minute¬†and again at about 3:45, but if you like BBC period programs, you have to watch the whole series–it’s delightful.

The 1860s saw skirts at their widest and waists at their narrowest–remember this scene from Gone With the Wind?

 

In the 1870s, skirts deflated quite a bit, hoops replaced by a flatter front and layers in the back, as in this painting by Pierre Auguste Renoir from 1874.

 

 

In the 1880s, the bustle was the dominant feature in women’s fashion (and the top hat for men) as seen in this 1883 painting by James Tissot.

 

 

 

The last decade of the 19th century brought big sleeves, sharply defined¬†waists, and slimmer skirts, as in this fashion plate from 1893…

 

 

 

 

…and this John Singer Sargent painting from 1896.

 

 

The turn of the century brought us more masculine attire for women, the Gibson Girl–see the Sargent painting at right from 1903–outrageous hats, and the rise of haute couture.

Londoners in front of Harrods, 1909

There is far more to seventy years of fashion than I have the time, energy, or inclination to share here, but¬†if you’re interested in learning more,¬†click on the link for each decade above, and¬†check out these sites for more information and lots more pictures:

http://www.victoriana.com/Victorian-Fashion/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_fashion
http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian/art/costume/index.html
http://www.fashion-era.com/the_victorian_era.htm
https://www.buzzfeed.com/niaalavezos/proof-the-victorian-era-had-the-greatest-fashion
http://www.fashionlady.in/victorian-era-fashion/855
http://vintagefashionguild.org/fashion-timeline/

 

Motherhood, Victorian-Style

‘Tis Mother’s Day in the U.S.,¬†the day we celebrate Mothers and all they do for their children. In my household, I have only one rule for Mother’s Day: I do not have to cook a single meal ALL DAY. This generally means that we go out for every meal, but¬†whatever. I am greatly looking forward to this, as I am extraordinarily tired of my own cooking, and even more tired of having to decide what to cook.

This year on the blog, I thought I would head back to the Victorian era for¬†thoughts on motherhood. Queen Victoria, of course, set quite the example–the “Grandmother of Europe,” she was the model of marital harmony, utterly devoted to her husband, even after he died, and their nine children. Women during the Victorian period were expected to marry, bear children, and provide domestic stability to their families. Periodicals and books of the day–Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, Cassell’s Household Guide, and many, many others–all emphasized that the role of women was to be exclusively with the realm of the household, and provided many hints for domestic success.

cassellshousehol02londuoft_0009Cassell’s Household Guide: Being a Complete Encyclopaedia of Domestic and Social Economy and Forming A Guide to Every Department of Practical Life was published initially in 1869. Running into several volumes, it offered advice on such diverse topics as household chemistry, raising animals for profit (“Pigs”) and for pleasure (“The Silkworm”), how to make fans, ornamental soap (“We believe that most people are aware that scented soap is bad for the skin…”), cooking, the manufacturing of artificial manure (who knew?), the mechanics of chimneys and gas meters (complete with mechanical drawings), and, of course, how to rear one’s children.

So in honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would share with you some tips from Cassell’s.¬†The more things change…

“When a woman is about to become a mother, she ought to remember that another life of health or delicacy is dependent upon the care she can take of herself; that all she does will inevitably affect her child, and that mentally as well as physically.¬†We know that it is utterly impossible for the wife of the labouring man to give up work, and, what is called, “take care of herself;” as others can. Nor is it necessary. The “back is made for its burthen.” It would be just as injurious for the labourer’s wife to give up her daily work and exercise, as for the lady to take to sweeping her own carpets or cooking the dinner. Habit becomes second nature.”¬†

“A nursing mother should live well. She may take a glass of porter or ale at dinner.”

“The aspect of a day-nursery should be light, airy, and, if attainable, exposed to the south. It is impossible to over-estimate the worth of this situation in the attempt to rear children in full health and buoyancy of spirit.”

“In more advanced childhood than we have hitherto spoken of, the importance of sleep is undiminished, and should be observed with regularity. No invariable rule can be laid down for general observance, but most children between the ages of four and seven years require, at least, twelve hours’ sleep. Ten hours are supposed to be needful for schoolboys, and eight for adults. Few children under ten years of age can be kept out of their beds after seven o’clock without injury to their health. When once awake in the morning, they should be accustomed to rise without delay.”

“The best dress for the crawling age is one in which little French children are usually attired – a sort of knickerbocker suit, warm and loose, with trousers and vest all in one piece. The over-all pinafore, so much in favour in our nurseries, is a capital contrivance for keeping the under-garments clean, but sadly impedes the free movement of the limbs, by being apt to get twisted round the child’s legs, and it should always be taken off when they crawl.”

“There is not a single duty which a mother discharges towards her babe which may not be rendered the medium of conveying the highest principles of morality.”

“A contrary course of conduct is unfortunately liable to be pursued by parents, who, either from excessive fondness, impatience, or want of intelligence, habitually give their little ones all they ask for. No more effectual mode of spoiling a child can be pursued than by so doing. By thus inverting the order of things, and making themselves instead of their rulers, slaves to their children, they create a double misery ‚ÄĒ neither themselves nor the children are happy.”

“The law relating to the vaccination of infants is imperative in its tone, and commands the parent (or other person having the care, nurture, or custody) of every child born in England or Wales, to procure, within three months after the birth, the vaccination of the child by the medical officer or practitioner appointed for the purpose‚ÄĒ”

“The habit of giving children much bread and butter, to the exclusion of other substances, is an error liable to be contracted from the facility of providing the meal. The practice is to be condemned, not only on the score of deficiency of nourishment, but on that of economic value. The butter sold in towns is seldom what it professes to be, and is liable to be composed of inferior fats artfully disguised.”

“The highest test of maternal love is the judicious blending of approval or reproof, according as it is right or wrong to gratify a child’s fancies. That description of love which consists in anticipating every wish and humouring every whim, is but the shadow of affection. The time comes when baby-passions are no longer to be quelled by bribes of sweetmeats and toys; and a bond of love which has been formed mainly on so insecure a foundation is ready to be broken at the first sign of opposition.”

“So important, from every point of view, is the habit of speaking the truth, that too much effort cannot possibly be made to render truthfulness a part of a child’s nature, whilst the mind is yet plastic enough to receive true impressions, and the conscience still sensitive to tender rebuke.”

For more maternal¬†advice¬†from Victoria’s time, check out these sources, and Happy Mother’s Day!

https://dontknowdickens.wordpress.com/presentation/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/17/victorian-breastfeeding-photo_n_3442872.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/trail/victorian_britain/women_home/ideals_womanhood_01.shtml
http://www.victorianlondon.org/cassells/cassells-5.htm
http://royal-splendor.blogspot.com/2012/02/queen-victoria-and-growth-of-royal.html

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