Showing posts with label Georgian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Georgian. Show all posts

Sunday 23 April 2017

A Selection from the Fashion Museum 100 Objects...

I hope you've enjoyed my blog posts about my museum visits last month: the Museum of Bath Architecture and the Bath Postal Museum.

Now it's the Fashion Museum and their History of Fashion in 100 Objects, running until January 2019, alongside their smaller and recently opened Lace in Fashion.

I've split up my selected images between my blogs here and over on my Serena Lake website, so I hope you'll visit Serena's page to see some of the interesting 18th century items I've chosen, reflecting the time periods I'll be writing historical romances in, under my pseudonym.

Over here I'll be going 19th to 20th century.

(Many of these images have had light applied in the preparation for sharing them with you. Also with the big panes of class reflections or shadows do sometimes get caught, so whenever possible I crop the images to centre in on specific items.)

Bath is often associated with Jane Austen and the wonderful costume dramas of her works, so here's a section of dresses from the first half of the 19th century with it's muslin and printed cottons, elegant classical designs and trains going onto frills and flounces...

Early to mid-1800's...

The shoes on the raised platform (bottom left) can be seen in more detail on Serena's blog post.

There was a delightful display of baby bootees too, again from the 1800's. Some were embroidered, others quilted and fairly plain.

Baby footwear...

Some men's clothes were included in the 100 objects, but I suspect that not as many items may have survived as women's. There were waistcoats, jackets and a lovely velvet suit- whoever the man was that wore it, he must have had women wanting to say hello!

Also there was a pair of men's trousers from the 1820's, as the display moved into the Victorian period and clothes seemed to become more sober.

There were a few items in their own individual display cabinets.

I particularly liked the Dolman from the 1870's.

Lady's Dolman from
the 1870's...

This would have been worn over a dress with a bustle. It was part cape, part coat. Some of the large cashmere or paisley shawls were used to make these new types of outdoor wear. As it hangs over the bustle at the back, it does drape well and add to the shape.

Underwear did feature. There were some stays, and this corset from the 1890's.

Evening corset...

It's silk stiffened with whalebone. The waist is 21.5 inches with the tight lacing, but could be let out if needed. I'm not sure anyone would want to eat much laced that tight!

On into the 20th century I chose one item I hadn't realised existed- and I suspect they will appear in the party scene in my 1920's story. Dress Clips.

A selection of 1920's Dress
Clips from the Beeson
Collection...


The dress clips were designed to add sparkle to the corners of the square-neck dresses and round or V shape necklines.

These clips are just a small part of 350 that were collected by a primary school teacher, in Frome, Somerset, Sheila Beeson - over a 40 year period.

From there the exhibition moved on through the WWII and the post war period.

For me fashion seemed to have lost its way after the 1930's. Now we're just repeating the past 50-60 years with slight variations.

Choosing the 100 objects that represent the changing face of fashion history must have taken a lot of discussion and planning. And that's before the museum even began the process of creating the display.

No matter the time period you're interested in, there's something in the exhibition to be appreciated.

There's more shoes, and the additional Lace exhibition in the darker storeroom area, displaying how hand-made and manufactured lace has been used in clothing across the decades too.









Monday 20 June 2016

Back from York...

On Friday I travelled up to York to visit a couple of exhibitions, as well as take advantage of a short break with my husband, minus the family- who are now all adults and can look after the house and themselves.

I must admit there was a pile of dishes in the sink when we got back today... :D

I took lots of photos in York- some for blog posts now, others for later in the year, and a few for Serena's blog; and more random images that I'm sure I'll find a use for.

Having just checked how many, there's 600+. That's going to take me some time to sort out, choose, and label.

I'm amazed I can actually move, as I did so much walking while I was away. Each evening when I got back to the hotel and finally stopped still, my muscles stiffened up and I just wanted to lie down and watch the TV.

After hearing about Betty's, I actually got to experience the tearoom. We were downstairs, but the service was the same as upstairs, and we didn't have to queue up as long either.

We stayed about five-ten minutes walk from the Minster, so we got to admire the amazing craftsmanship, past and present, several times a day.

More soon.

A View of York Minster...




image from Pixabay.






Monday 23 November 2015

My Review of 2015...

Where has this year gone?

In just over a month it will be Christmas again. I'm now a year older, but let's forget about that...:D

Looking back at my 2014 review, I've checked what I intended for 2015.

I did complete the first draft of my contemporary romance, but it hasn't yet been revised and submitted.

I have now got back to my 'historical' first draft so I've started the second draft a month ahead of last year's plan.

So what have I done in 2015?

January: The presentation of the NWC, Mary Street Romance Shield- from my win that was announced at the 2014 Awards Night (December 2014). Plus booking a few future events.

February: Attended the online virtual romance festival #Romance2015- in early February across Facebook, and Twitter, though I didn't get to the Google Hangouts option.

March: I finally got busy, getting Pinterest organised. I bought my domain name and applied it to the blog, and also bought the domain name for Serena (though I wasn't using it straight away). Then the last weekend was the Writing East Midlands Conference; that was a busy and very interesting Saturday.

April: After a temporary health setback I made progress with my contemporary story (the one I'd won with in December 2014).

May: Mid-May I guest posted on the Womag writers blog discussing joining the ALCS. The payment is a great boost to writers even if they only have a few qualifying items. I also became one of the co-hosts for #writingchat on a Wednesday evening on Twitter (8-9 pm each week).

June: That means The Lowdham Book Festival, and fortunately I had volunteers to help me with the writers' club stall. I was also able to meet writer friend Ana Salote in person too.

July: This was Serena month. I took the big step of setting up a website/blog for my pseudonym, and as I already had a domain name waiting for me- bought back in March- it didn't take too long to get up and running. (It's still an ongoing project.)

August: This was my wonderful trip over to visit the Pickford's House Museum of Georgian Life and Historic Costume, in Derby. I had a few moments where I saw-in reality- images that my mind had conjured up some months before for my Nottinghamshire story.

September: I finally got to visit The Bromley House Subscription Library, during the annual Heritage Open Day weekend. Like my August visit, it provided useful answers to my research questions.

October: Submitted my entry into the Love Stories New Talent competition. I didn't give myself enough time for this, as I was working on getting my contemporary romance first draft finished, and as a consequence I didn't get anywhere with the New Talent competition. A lot of the remainder of the month was taken up by the Sci-fi night at the writers' club. But I did write 'the end' on my contemporary romance first draft on the 29th October. :-)

November: Birthdays- and yes I do mean plural. :D I've also been getting the final results in ready for this year's awards night at the writers' club; plus doing some of the organising for the Christmas party afterwards. Most importantly I've started the second draft of the Nottinghamshire story.

December: It will be busy and fun I'm sure.

There's quite a few other bits and pieces across the year, and I always learn from them.

As 2016 is the next Mary Street competition, my brain has an idea bubbling, but I'm not going to allow it to take over like the contemporary romance did.

I need to give some time to Serena's website and blog.

As in previous years, I'm going to be open to writing opportunities that may appear, and any research possibilities. I think my trip to Dorchester will be put off until 2017.


Meanwhile I'll keep writing and reading...







image courtesy of Ventrilock and www.freedigitalphotos.net




Sunday 13 September 2015

History, Books, Cotton Wool and Tights...

If you wonder what cotton wool and tights have to do with books and history then you may be surprised.

But first...

Saturday 12th September was the Heritage open day for Bromley House Library- originally called Nottingham Subscription Library. They take part in the events every year, but previously it's been necessary to book, and I've always missed out; so I was determined to go this year, and was pleased to see that there was no booking this time. The queues to enter started after I arrived...

The house is a Grade II* listed Georgian townhouse, that was built in 1752, and the entrance door is easy to miss bordered by shops on both sides- where originally there would have been rooms. But once inside, and looking at the back of the building from the garden, you can see how large Bromley House once was...

In the garden...
This is one of two Georgian gardens in the city centre- though the other one is not open to the public. There are three huge Plane trees- of six that were originally planted in the late 19th century. As now, they were planted to absorb the pollution in the air- the bark absorbs the toxins and peels off, though these trees were extremely knobbly.

A very old Plane tree...




Considering the amount of traffic that passes in front of the house (all buses going south and west) and a little beyond the back of the garden, one of the main roads, the noise was very muted, protected by the high walls of the buildings alongside.

There were lots of volunteers guiding people and providing information, and who wouldn't enjoy visiting a library that retains the wood and architectural features of the past.

I forget to mention the 40,000+ books... Every available space has bookshelves and lots of book collections- it reassures me that my eight Billy bookcases full, at home, is quite restrained. :D

There's local history, numerous biographies, and they have the library of the British Sundial Society. The sundial that used to be in the garden was stolen many years ago, and all that was left behind was the metal style (the sticking up pointy bit) which was on display in the Neville Hoskins Reading Room - it has a plaster Rococo style ceiling.

Every room I went into- and there were lots of them- I noticed books I'd want to read, and you could see other books awaiting repair and cleaning - they were bound up.

Books in need of repair
So now I'll tell you what cotton wool and tights have to do with old books...

Cleaning cloth-bound book covers.

If you've ever bought old books from the early part of the 20th century then you'll know how dull they have got over time.

Obviously you wouldn't do this to extremely valuable books, but dusting and careful gentle cleaning shouldn't be a problem for standard works.

The tools for cleaning...
A piece of cotton wool placed in a cut up piece of tights or a stocking- gives a slight abrasive effect- dipped into Vaseline, and then dabbed off onto the lid, so there's hardly any left on the pad, and then the cover is gently cleaned, and finally gone over with a cloth- the sort that doesn't shed fibres.

The ladies were all volunteers, and kindly answered my questions about repairing and cleaning the books (writing research, and advice for my own cloth-bound books that need a bit of help).

Saturday's volunteers were one of four sets, so one week a month there will be one day when they are in conserving...

I did make the spiral staircase wobble for a moment when I went down the first turn, which is why people are only allowed to go up or down one person at a time (on Saturday it was the down route from the gallery).

You can see the staircase in one of the rolling home page pictures on their website (link at the top of the post). It was added in 1857, and does not have a supporting column like most spiral staircases,

The library is certainly a delight for any writer and/or reader, and I'm sure that on a warm sunny day the garden is a haven.

I'm seriously considering applying for membership in the future...

(You can now see a couple more images from the day, along with a little more history over on my website at Serena's blog.)









Friday 11 September 2015

Heritage Open Days- This Weekend...

A quick post about a nationwide visiting opportunity this weekend, Heritage Open Days- UK.

I mentioned this to a few writer friends and it was a 50/50 split between those who knew about it and visited place, and those who had not heard about it, so I thought I'd mention it.

In September each year, various museums, private homes and other buildings open their doors to allow the public to visit heritage gems that are not always available to be accessed and seen. Find out how it's brought about.

If you pop along to the website you can search for all the FREE events either by region, county, town or local council, and then print out the details.

Personally I'm hoping to get to see Bromley House Library in Nottingham. It's actually a few doors away from the modern Central Library in the city.

Hopefully I can then get to the places I'd intended to go to last weekend before my plans changed...

I hope to be able to take a few photos for mine and Serena's blog, though they will be different places of course.

So if you get to events near you, have fun...




Saturday 29 August 2015

Fun and Learning at the Museum...

This past week I finally got over to Derby and visited not only Pickford's House Museum of Georgian Life and Historic Costume, but also the Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

I was surprised how much there was to see at Pickford's House, and even more amazing were the unexpected answers to a few research queries,. like sort of objects that might be found in the rectory kitchen in my Nottinghamshire story.

But the biggest surprise was walking into the display bedroom and seeing the four poster with curtaining.

Apart from the colour of the drapes, this was how I imagined my hero Hugh's bed. The bed in the museum is a reproduction but was made to the original 1797 design, so it would fit time-wise.
The four-poster... 

There was a lovely and restful Georgian Garden.

Though this garden was from a design plan for a formal Georgian garden in Lincolnshire. It was in the style of the 1830's, with species planted that would have been available at the time.

Sadly some plants died, and others were planted in their place, but not quite right to the time, so when the garden was refurbished in 2005-2006, they used plants around and up to 1800- as the house was built in 1769-70.

Though there were a few plants of later dates that had happily established themselves since they were originally planted, so they stayed in place.
Part of the Georgian Garden...
For fun I did the 'put your head in the cut out stand-up scene' and have your photo taken. I did take my glasses off to fit the time-period.
Fun time...

The painting that was used as the basis for the cut out scene is actually on display in the museum for a while as part of their Georgian Children exhibition.

There was also a small display of historic costume for both men and women.

mid-18th century brocade dress, hat
and pocket
The Pickford family could afford to have the house built for them, and include fashionable features.

The Hallway is a perfect example. It has neo-classical motifs on the walls and ceiling.

Though I took a picture of the ceiling, it is worth seeing in person if you get the opportunity. It was definitely intended to impress.

The hall ceiling- designed to impress...






The couple of hours I spent wandering around the displays was extremely enjoyable, and the museum staff were knowledgeable and clearly cared about the House-and being able to share its delights with visitors. But like many council funded museums their future is always under review, and it is footfall and feedback that holds sway.

You can find out more about Pickford's House in Derby on their website.

If you pop over to my other blog on my Serena Lake website you will find some alternative information on the house, and a few more photos.

Just want to say hello to the charming American lady who I met in the kitchen and gave my blog details to. Like me, she was taking lots of pictures. If you're reading this I hope the rest of your short trip to England has gone well, and you got to visit some of the other places we were able to suggest.










Thursday 30 July 2015

Planning Museum and Gallery Visits...

Now that Serena's website is complete with it's own domain name, I'm considering a few visits to museums and galleries within the East Midlands so I'll have some interesting items to share here and on Serena's blog. And of course they will be research trips too.

I need to be able to complete the visit in a day, either by bus or train - I may even need to use both!

Locally, Nottingham Contemporary has an exhibition called The Grand Tour; this currently has loans of fine and decorative art from Chatsworth (the popular stately home in Derbyshire) but set among work by contemporary artist Pablo Bronstein, with Baroque inspirations.

Visiting a museum...
Over in Derby, there's a few museums to visit, but I'll be going to Pickford House as it has the Museum of Georgian Life and Historic Costume- the research side of the trip.

It's always interesting to see the different versions of Georgian life, as so often it's big stately homes that get visited.

The Museum and Art Gallery in Derby also has a Grand Tour event. This is a display of paintings by Joseph Wright, 'The Colosseum by Moonlight' alongside 'The Colosseum, by Daylight' are featured.

The Moonlight painting has apparently had "extensive overpainting by an enthusiastic restorer during the 20th century". It's going to begin a conservation process this autumn, so the next time it's seen by the public it will look more like it once did.

It's easy to miss what's happening locally when you live in a city with so many events, and what's available in other locations within travelling distance.

Do you have a gallery or museum that puts on tours or events you can visit?







Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix &http://freedigitalphotos.net











Friday 23 May 2014

Bath: Part 2, Saturday - Going Georgian...

Saturday's 'Georgian' visits are going to be split up into two blog posts, as the Fashion Museum deserves a post by itself; and as No.1 Royal Crescent doesn't allow photography, I don't have any of my own images to show you, just links where you can see more. So No.1 will share a post with the Jane Austen Centre...

*   *   *
Assembly Rooms with the
Fashion Museum

The Fashion Museum is downstairs in the Bath Assembly Rooms.
It is just around the corner from The Circus, and just beyond that is the Royal Crescent.

As I was at the Pultney Bridge end of the city I had to walk uphill for quite some distance, but at least going back it was all downhill.

2014 is 300 years since the ascension of George 1 to the English throne, there have been a number of exhibitions, and television/radio programmes, taking place about the Georgians. 

Bath has such strong associations with Georgian Society, so where else would you expect to see the wonderful clothes worn between 1714 and 1830...

For anyone unfamiliar with original historic costume, displays such as this have rules. No flash photography- bright light or even natural light (sunshine through the window) would damage and fade the material, so you'll see from my photos that the lighting is low. Likewise the environment around the clothes is strictly controlled. At the end of the year, the clothes on display will go back into storage to rest... 

Woman's Closed Robe 1730's and Man's Light Pink
 and Green Woven Silk Coat 1750's
I'm only going to pick out a few of the images I took. But it will give you an idea of the range displayed. If you can get to the exhibition you won't be disappointed.

The Georgians were not scared of colour, and even the men wore pink- sort of!

I'd seen one of the Mantua Court Dresses before- many years ago- but there were three on display, and my photo does not do them justice- they are wide!


My favourite has to be the Red Woven Silk Damask dress from about 1750, I could see my Dorset novel heroine wearing this...
The Red Dress


You have an audio guide that you take with you, and whenever you see the guide symbol with a number beside it, you press the buttons and press play, to hear details and relevant information.






Now to the gentlemen,  though they featured more noticeably in the storage area of the exhibition that goes from 1800 to the early 20th century.

Here are two men's coats from the late 1700's- 1780/90 approx

The image of the men's coats has been digitally lightened so you can see the decoration against the dark fabric, which isn't as clear in the original light level.

(You can see the audio symbol with 77 beside the bases for the men's coats...)

The exhibition moved onto a small display of designer outfits inspired by Georgian fashion- including a Vivien Westwood dress- long, pink and purple with a big bow...

If you think the Georgians used a lot of embroidery then you have seen nothing until you reach the 17th century gloves on display. They are currently on loan to the museum from The Glove Collection Trust, but were items where photography was not allowed at all. Their original owners were definitely peacocks where fashion was concerned...

There was then a section of the modern- an ongoing exhibition- with fashion designer David Sassoon's donated archive of fashion drawings, charting the history of the firm Bellville Sassoon Lorcan Mullany.
This part of the display included three outfits designed for Diana, Princess of Wales, and immediately recognisable- she was a Spencer before marriage, and was related to Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, a well known Georgian.

Moving on it's the Georgians in the 19th century and a peek into a part of the storage area. This was much darker, so again no photos.

Fortunately there was seating available as some of the audio commentary was longer than earlier pieces.

Each display featured a specific time period set among stacks of labelled identical storage boxes. The first featured simple white muslin gowns from 1800, and there was a coat worn by Lord Byron's bride- her going away outfit...

As you moved round the room you could see how fashions changed as you progressed from the Georgian into the Victorian.

Each display highlighted certain aspects of the changing designs; and in one case to one side there were rails of neatly hung but covered waistcoats- I would have liked to have seen all of them...

My tour was over and I climbed the stairs back to the present day. I couldn't leave without popping into the ballroom first, and peeping in to the Octagon, set out with chairs and display equipment for some event.

I wandered into the Tea Room and on into the Card Room that is now set up with a bar and a café.

As I sat there fortifying myself with drinking chocolate and a scone ( plus jam and cream of course) before I made my way to The Royal Crescent, I couldn't help but imagine those men and women who had passed through the rooms in their finery, each with their own dreams and fears...



How to Dance
(lightened)



You can find out more about the Fashion Museum at: www.fashionmuseum.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FashionMuseum

Twitter: @Fashion_Museum




Saturday 16 March 2013

A Costume Book I Couldn't Resist...

Now I have to admit I do have a weakness for books on historical costume.

If it's a full size beautifully illustrated book and the content will be helpful in my research, then I will probably buy it- though I will look for the best price...

Some people collect pottery, and no one blinks an eye at how much they might pay for a teacup. I like costume books. :-)

So my most recent purchase came about via a post on Facebook by Rachel Knowles. Her blog, Regency History can be found here, and will be a useful starting resource for anyone wanting to find out more about this time period...

Go to Amazon and use the look inside option
- image from Amazon.co.uk
The book reproduces a selection of the fashion plates that were published in Ackermann's Repository and covers plates from 1809 to 1820, with the description and spelling of the time they were published.

I suppose you could consider Ackermann's the Regency version of today's Vogue, or Harper's Bazaar.

The book was inspired by romance author Candice Hern who has a large collection of Georgian and Regency antiques and a great selection of images and information on the objects on a section of her website, here.

I have a few favourites in the book. There's a lovely ball dress of April 1812- " A round Circassian robe of pink crape, or gossamer net, over a white satin slip, fringed full at the feet." The "peasant" bodice was clearly designed to show off the fuller bossomed woman...

And there's a fantastic "Spanish lappelled coat of fine orange Merino cloth", part of a Promenade Dress from January 1814 that I adore.

Mantles and capes, I would happily wear them today if they were made in my size.

So that's enough, or I'll be talking for days.

Do you have a favourite costume style - from any time period?







Wednesday 26 September 2012

Wednesday is Novella Day...

Wednesday's have become the day I get on with writing my Nottinghamshire novella.

(This was originally going to be written for the My Weekly Pocket Novel market, but as we now know the My Weekly Pocket Novels have not only undergone a change in cover design, they're now gained different categories - see my blog post from August with useful links.
There's also a good article in the current edition of Writers' Forum (October) which has an interview with MW's Maggie Seed discussing the pocket novel changes and what she's hoping for.)

So, my novella's progress to date.

I did 600 words today, which added another scene to my third chapter.

I think it was a little bit of a struggle because I was dealing with a scene I'd written before- a couple of years ago- and it was much better than what I wrote today (at least that's what my memory tells me).

It's probably saved on one of my floppy disks, so I'll have to plug in my floppy reader and search through my box of disks.

This scene today also had one of the secondary characters, who isn't very pleasant, in it.

In fact this chapter doesn't actually have my hero present, except in thought, which is important.

At some point in a romance the hero and heroine will be apart; unless they're trapped somewhere together, they each have their own daily lives to lead so can't be together all the time.

Yet their love interest still needs to be there in some way so the reader doesn't lose interest. After all it is meant to be a romance.

With a contemporary story contact between hero and heroine can continue - a mobile phone, skype, e-mail or text message. They could even send a message with a picture of themselves...

But in an historical romance you're limited by when the story is set, and what technology is available- if any.

In 1802, there were conventions of everyday behaviour to begin with, so messages going back and forth would be difficult to keep quiet unless you can be sure your messenger is trustworthy and not going to turn to blackmail- that's another plot entirely.

As my story is set in a village in the early part of the 19th century there's no opportunity to use the language of flowers or fans to pass a message.

(For flowers have a look here and here, and for fans there's this silent British PathĂ© film from
1932- see http://www.britishpathe.com - The Language of a Fan.)

So for winter I'm aiming for every free Wednesday to be Novella writing day, just to get the main body of the story down. I have it planned out chapter by chapter so I know where I'm going. I just have to work hard to get to the end.

Then the revisions start...



Monday 18 June 2012

Getting There...

Well I would be if only we had some dry weather...

The flooring in the office area is now down, and it does look very good- plus it will be easier to keep clean and hoover.

A couple more small prints are temporarily hung up on the wall- they're scenes of London places in the Georgian era.

But the sorting of all the boxes is taking time. Mainly because it's been raining so I can't take stuff outside and sift through. The local weather forcast is promising a couple of days of dry weather, so hopefully I can make some progress this week.

Even though I have managed to amalgamate the contents of a number of storage boxes, the heap just doesn't seem to be reducing...

I'd love to go to IKEA to stock up on some bits and pieces- and a new Billy bookcase for the corner- if they still do them- but my OH has an aversion to driving me there, probably because he knows he'll have to spend the next few hours putting something together as soon as we get back home.

I think storage is an issue for any home. In fact most homes never seem to have enough storage space built into them, which may explain why there's a lot of warehouse type places where you can rent units to store your possessions.

One thing I have had to decide on, is reducing the pile of fiction books that I keep.

So I can see that once I have my mini office in place there's still going to be a lot of sorting out left to do.



Monday 9 April 2012

Historical Time Periods: Which Do You Prefer?

Over the years I've read novels that have ranged from Roman to Medieval, and on to Victorian times- I've enjoyed some more than others.

In college I studied Ancient History for O'level and when I moved on to A'level History I was starting in the 18thC, and I really couldn't get on with it.

I enjoyed the Victorian section of the course, with all the political change, but the 18thC was my downfall...

So perhaps it wasn't so surprising when my first novel was set in the early Victorian period when a lot of advancements began to take place- the continuing decline of the old horse-drawn coach services and the emergence of railways.

(No it didn't get finished, it only got to 40,000 words. Mainly because I realised there was a big chunk of story that had emerged during the writing, and it had completely changed emphasis- there was a romance developing against the story background which hadn't been intentional.

With that realisation there was the need to change the time period to fit the romance plot.
And I didn't have the knowledge and experience then to know I should just keep going and sort it out later...One day I might get back to sorting it out...)

I like reading novels set in the Regency, but I don't think I could write one. But if you want a source of information then Social Customs During the Regency on the blog for Jane Austen's World, has a lot of links under the numerous topics- too many to list here, and wide ranging.

It was actually my Dorset novel that started to get in the way of that first one, and it hastened the 'put it in a box and move on' moment.

Originally my Dorset novel was going to have a smuggling background, but again the facts and circumstances of the time period interfered- and for certain elements that I needed for my plot, a slightly earlier setting than I'd originally anticipated was essential.

It was during my research for that time span that I finally started to grasp the 18th C.
If I'd been able to approach the 18thC in this way back when I was doing my A'level, I might have got  the 1700's when I needed it...

Friday 16 March 2012

Costume Heaven for the Writer of Historicals...

The Dictionary of Fashion History by Valerie Cumming, C W and P E Cunnington published by Berg (an imprint of Oxford International Publishers Ltd). This is a revised and updated version of the latter two authors dictionary.

(When I saw the cover image of the Victorian, red and yellow corset, close to, one of my future (but unknown) characters flitted by wearing it...)

Now admittedly I do have quite a few books on historical costume on my bookshelves, some are general, other specific to certain time periods such as the 18th or 19th century. But they each have elements that the others don't.

The newer books have beautiful coloured illustrations, which allow you to see detail, while the much older books relied on old illustrations and black and white images to accompany the text. But old copies of books by Phillis and her husband can be very expensive second hand- and I've picked up a couple in charity shops, but still had to pay quite a bit for them.

The updated dictionary gives a general date period, and a description of the garment, sometimes even a relevent quote. I like the mid-19thC term Howling bags, a slang term for trousers which sport a very 'loud' pattern. I've seen some modern trousers that would certainly fit that description!

If you've ever wanted to know what a particular fabric looked like, or what fibres it was made from, then there's an A-Z covering 50 sides; a glossary of laces- again with dates and descriptions, and a page of obsolete colour names.

Now I don't think anyone would question why the (16th C) Yellowish-green Goose-turd became an obsolete colour...

There's a comprehensive Bibliography too- and I do have a few of the books mentioned.

As many of my characters inhabit the 18th and 19th centuries, I can visualize their clothes better and appreciate the effect on their movements, as well as the texture.

In my Dorset novel my heroine sometimes has to wear clothes that are completely different to her normal attire, and I know that when she first puts them on it will feel strange to her...

Ideally I'd go and look at costumes on display, but costume museums are few and quite a distance from me, and won't necessarily have garments from the time period I need. So books, the web and costume postcards are very useful.

If I chose a particular costume item I'd like for using now, it would be a Calash- especially when I've been to the hairdressers and the weather is breezy... :-)

From any century, what item of clothing, footwear or headgear would you choose?

Saturday 3 March 2012

Infidelity and 'Forced Seduction' in Historical Romance Novels...

I decided to blog about character behaviour after reading a couple of items on the Heroes and Heartbreakers website- they came up on Twitter links; then today I was in my local Waterstones branch glancing through a couple of new romances, and one of them brought these articles to mind.

The issues of infidelity, and 'forced seduction' (so wrong, in so many ways) have more relevance to historical than contemporary romance fiction. And perhaps mostly related to books produced for the US romance market.

A romance novel doesn't have to have a sex scene- or more than one of them- to make a good story with believable characters. But some of those characters will do it- it's part of who they are and it would be daft to deny it.

Personally I consider it's up to the individual  author whether they show that aspects of their characters. In my stories, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. My characters are usually quite clear about that point in their developing relationship.

Women today have freedoms and advantages that their sisters in earlier centuries didn't; so I don't feel it's right to apply modern day thinking to stories set in the past.

So let's start with Infidelity.

Here's Limecello's piece on the H&H website: 'When Going Strange...Isn’t: Adultery in Romance'.

Read any social history of the aristocracy covering 200-300 years ago and you'll quickly discover that infidelity was accepted if it was carried out discreetly. A number of  younger aristocratic children were actually fathered by other men- not the man whose surname they carried through life.

The ideal is fidelity within marriage- I believe in that myself. 

But in the circumstances of the two novels mentioned in the article, I could understand and agree it's not infidelity- when both partners know and agree to the situation for their own reasons.

Yes it goes against my personal view, but I can't impose my morality on another writer's characters/story.
If a storyline offends me, or just doesn't appeal, then I won't buy the book.

'Forced Seduction' is another thing entirely... It truly belongs in the past of the so called Bodice Rippers- horrid description.

Here's a list on Amazon that gives you an idea of some of the titles from the last thirty years- and yes I can confirm that over the years I've read a few of them- especially those by Johanna Lindsey...

Sexual violence against any woman is wrong. Sexual coercion is wrong. Seduction is not coercion.

( I'm not including erotica, bondage and associated preferences in this category, as it's legal and it's between consenting adults.)

I have to say that the line between coercion and seduction can be very thin for some writers. As I saw today when I was looking through the improved romance section in my local Waterstones.

I picked up a book by a US author whose name I recognised (but her stories have not appealed to me previously) and after reading the blurb on the back of the book, I did my standard routine of opening the book a couple of times at random pages and reading on.

Unfortunately I found myself on part of the story where this very thin line between coercion and seduction was on show. Perhaps it was tied up with the author's word choices in that scene, but I decided not to buy it.

Fortunately there are still a lot of good books from both the UK and US on the romance shelves that don't see the need to walk that fine line...

Monday 14 November 2011

It's Monday and...

Usually by Sunday night I know what I'm going to talk about on my Monday blog post, but nothing came to me yesterday...

Now I have to admit there's a good reason for that. My cold of the past few days became a nasty chest infection and yesterday morning I was so ill I ended up with the one man ambulance car coming out to me to check my chest pains weren't a serious problem.

Everything was fine and I just needed to see the emergency doctor for antibiotics.

I'm now on my second day of medicine and I'm feeling much more human. But it did cross my mind yesterday, that if I'd lived in earlier centuries, the outcome of my chest infection would have been very different- and eventually fatal...

Which brings me to mentioning Rosemary Gemmell's, Romancing History blog, where today's subject is Garrow's Law and The Old Bailey. If you haven't seen it before, it's worth watching.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Which Novella to Work On...

Once again I have some peace and quiet to write- the school half term holidays are over and I'm determined to get on with one of my longer projects before the summer holidays begin.

But which one?

I have one novella that I started over two years ago. It's set in a fictional Nottinghamshire village in 1802. While the premise of the story is not original-most have been done before- I think my idea will work.

One of my characters in waiting-Hugh- finally gets his chance to appear.

As I already have a synopsis and the first chapter written, I thought I'd start with this as the time away has helped and I'm ready to move on with the story.

I'd actually entered it in one of the writers' club competitions the year I started writing it- 2009 (just to get an opinion on the story idea and characters- I only needed a synopsis and the first chapter) and the critique was helpful, so I'm going to work on this first draft and see how long it comes out.

It has potential to be a pocket novel, but whether it will be long enough- 50,000 words, I'm not sure.

So tomorrow I'm going to plan out the chapters and work on my character sheets so I avoid my flat characters issue- I'm really trying.

And if anything or anyone tries to interrupts me I will be ignoring them...

Friday 3 December 2010

"sex, scandal and soft furnishings"

I'm certain that I will be finding inspiration from the new series 'At Home with the Georgians' that started last night (Thursday the 4th) on BBC 2- available on BBC IPlayer- for UK only).

The programme has been written and is presented by historian Professor Amanda Vickery who clearly enjoys the Georgians and her enthusiasm oozes out of the screen to the viewer.

There are three parts (not enough for me!) and in part 1 we were treated to revealing thoughts from a few men and women of the early 18th C via their diaries.

It certainly made me reconsider the important role men played in setting up home. Many men today wouldn't necessarily see that as their main priority in the way her chosen Georgian males did.

I'm looking forward to part 2 when the subject is 'taste'. Consumerism 300 years ago perhaps? There will certainly be a lot of choice...

There is a very interesting post by Amanda Vickery on the BBC TV Blog which I'm sure you'll enjoy reading, explaining some of the places she visited in her research, as well as some dangerous contraptions.

Her book 'Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England' is going on my Christmas wish list.

Do explore some of the links that you'll find on the BBC pages, they always lead to other useful information.

Yes the inspiration bug is working already...

Saturday 27 November 2010

Useful and Interesting Websites...

The world wide web has been a boon to writers of fiction or non-fiction- or both. We can now access documents and pictures that would have previously required time and a visit to libraries or museums that may not even be in the same county or even the same country!

One website leads to another and a reference on one to another. Result, a problem solved, knowledge gained or another story idea pops up- I have too many of them to deal with at the moment.

Thank goodness for Favourites...

As I'm having a quiet spell (Wednesday evening and Awards Night at my writers' club approaches - my competition entries will be returned with the judges comments) I thought I'd suggest some interesting websites that I have in my Favourites folder that you might want to look at some time.

History. I love history as you may have realised from the posts about my recent travels. So I've chosen two sites that I'm sure you will enjoy.

The Georgian Index can be graphic intensive so you can click on a text only A-Z list (well Y actually) and go from there. There's also a Napoleonic and American Front Door you can explore (those leads I mentioned).

Particular sections that interest me in the GI include the London Street and Business Index covering London Merchants (with addresses and dates where known).
Just a few examples:
Gun makers- where a Gentleman would go to obtain his weaponry or practice on targets.

Goldsmiths and Jewelers- where Royalty and the wealthy were supplied.

Purveyors (suppliers) of Wine, Tea or Food- Twining for Tea (still producing tea now) and Fortnum and Masons- a well known name- who thrived providing care packages (apparently) for Officers during the Napoleonic Wars.

Modistes, Milliners and Furriers- for Ladies clothing.

Addresses recognised in Regency romances: Grosvenor Square, Hanover Square, Bond Street and Park Lane...

You can find out what the card games of Piquet and Loo were at a Regency Card Party and see pictures of Furniture and a Sedan Chair (I don't envy those Chairmen who carried people around).

There's so much to find out-I haven't even touched on the list of Newspapers...

At a slightly later date- Victorian- there is The Victorian Web.

This site is very text intensive so be warned.

Subjects covered include Thomas Hardy's Dorchester, a gallery of images you can click on including one of the building reputed to be the house of Henchard in the Mayor of Casterbridge- it is now a Bank.

Architecture- Gothic Revival,  Classicism and Moorish.

Victorian Theatre, Gender matters, the list just goes on. You will find something that interests you in the numerous pages.

So go and have a look and enjoy...

Saturday 6 November 2010

Tunbridge Wells and The Pantiles...

architecture,statues,crops

My trip to Royal Tunbridge Wells reminded me of my years in college. I would often  meet up with my friends and (just like young women do now) we'd shop, have coffee and chat. This often included a stroll along the colonnade in The Pantiles.

The modern shopping area is at the top of the hill, updated and still as busy as it was thirty years ago. While the older part of town is at the bottom, almost in a valley.

To reach The Pantiles you walk along a road of old shops, old but not tatty. They have fresh paintwork and clean windows. On one side, the pavement is stepped up and there are black benches to rest on- and my legs did need a rest for a few minutes...or more!

When you walk into the Pantiles the outside intrusions of the everyday world- and the traffic running alongside the area- is dampened and for the time you are there you are cocooned from the hustle and bustle of the modern high street. 

The Pantiles are a good example of the modern world meeting the past harmoniously and each benefiting.

The surrounding Georgian buildings house businesses of all sizes, and one in the centre of the square, houses the tourist information centre.

Former names,Square,places


Tourist Information-not established in the 18th Century...


tourist information,square,red paving

Tunbridge Wells was a watering place of the aristocracy, even rivalling Brighton and Bath. The Chalybeate Spring (discovered in c1606) is still there and working.

Spring,red paving,columns,water

This facade was restored in 1987 and the water is still served by 'Dippers' between Easter and the end of September.

You can post your letters or postcards into an elegant Victorian post box with a decorative top-much nicer than the standard round boxes.

red,postbox,Victorian

columns,tables,chairs,signs,clocks,treesAnd a final view before I strolled away at a lady-like pace...