Friday, March 29, 2013

Ride, Cockney, Ride!

When I was researching Easter customs (oh, lovely, lovely research!), I ran across a mention of Cockney riders distinguishing themselves at a hunt in Epping Forest on Easter Monday.  I don’t know about you, but most often I associate the term Cockney with the working-class Londoners who live near the Thames on the East Side.  In the nineteenth century, many of them would not even have owned horses, much less been known as bruising riders.  And hunting, in my mind, was generally reserved to the aristocrats and gentry out in the country.  So, of course, I had to investigate further!

It turns out that for most of the nineteenth century, Epping Forest held 7,000 acres of unenclosed woodland, marshland, and fields as part of a Royal Forest.  It was the haunt of highwaymen and gypsies, a place to bury bodies.  If you wanted to hunt there, you had to have a grant of right by the ruler. 

But over the years, a set of circumstances had led to the belief that the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and all the citizens of London had the right to hunt a stag in Epping Forest on the Monday after Easter.  And hunt they did.  Until at least 1807, the Mayor and Alderman could be found chasing through the forest after a deer, with the City of London’s own pack of hounds.  But then other Easter civic duties crowded out their schedules, and the costs for keeping a pack of hounds was crowded out by more pressing fiscal responsibilities. 

Still, the citizens of London continued attending the hunt.  And various gentlemen made a sport of it.  For a few years, one fellow encouraged ladies to join the hunt, holding a ball at his nearby country house afterward.  Even when all the deer had left the forest, tame deer were brought in especially for the hunt, their antlers adorned with ribbons and garlands of flowers around their necks. 

Every type of horse and donkey, horseman and horsewoman, of every class, showed up, with dogs of all sorts.  Because of the cost of keeping a large enough pack of hounds, the dogs were cobbled together from several owners and often had trouble staying together as they coursed.  Vendors hawked pies and drinks.  Inns in the area did a brisk business too.  People climbed trees to watch as the deer was let loose and chased over hill and dale.  I was personally enheartened to hear that the deer was caught alive and lived to run again the next year, until I read further that everyone wanted some of its coat to commemorate the affair and in one case nearly plucked it bald! 

I think I’ll stick to colored eggs and Easter services to celebrate the day, thank you very much!  And to help you celebrate, I've written a very short story about how Samantha, Lady Everard, spent her Easter in 1805.  You can find it here.
Wishing you a very happy Easter, however you choose to celebrate!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema: April Movie!

Here at NineteenTeen, we LOVE books (and if you don't believe me, I'll show you a picture of all the walking paths in my home totally blocked by stacks of books)...and we also love movies based on books.

Or, at least, we love talking about them. ("The book was better!" "The movie made the characters live!" "Those costumes were bizarre!")

When we get together to talk about movies based on books, we call it "Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema"! (We're bluestockings because we're all love books so much that we risk being called bluestockings by all the dandies out there, and we don't mind one bit!)

Our next movie:  drumroll, please!   Is
LITTLE WOMEN from 1994!  To be discussed on April 23!

Based on perhaps the most beloved and influential book about teen girls ever written, this movie stars everyone from Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, and Kirsten Dunst to CHRISTIAN BALE!  Yes, Batman is in the house, but he's young...and he smiles.  In fact, sometimes he even laughs.   (Special effects were really good in those days!)

So all you need to do is watch it (or remember it, if you've already seen it), and stop back in here on Tuesday, April 23, when we'll all discuss it!

Please join us!

The 1994 LITTLE WOMEN movie is available on DVD, Netflix DVD, iTunes HD, Amazon Instant Video, and quite possibly from your local library.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wonder Weather

I’ll admit it.  I tailor the weather in my stories to suit the situation.  I wanted my heroine’s first sight of the coal mine my hero owns in my August 2013 book, The Courting Campaign, to be bleak, so I set it on a gray, misty day.  I wanted the hero and heroine in my December 2013 book, The Wife Campaign, to search for creative ways to survive an enforced house party, so I made it rain, and rain, and rain. 

But did you ever wonder what the weather was like in certain seasons in the nineteenth century in England?  Several sources on the web offer tidbits.  From them and from historical documentation, we know the following:

  • January 1811, it was cold enough in London, for long enough, that the Thames froze over.
  • May 1811, London saw thunderstorms nine different times in one month.
  • Spring and summer 1812 were unusually cold and wet.
  • The winter of 1813/1814 was extremely cold, and the last of the famous Thames frost fairs was held in February 1814.
  • 1816 was the “Year without a summer,” which has been blamed on a volcanic eruption in 1815 that sent up a cloud of ash into the atmosphere.  London reported snow on Easter Sunday (April 14) and more snow on May 12!
  • Early March 1818 saw strong gales across England that damaged structures and crops.
Makes our late dreary spring look absolutely cheerful!

If you’re stuck indoors today or next week because of inclement weather, and you wonder what to do with yourself, you might wander on over to the blog of Regency authorLesley-Anne McLeod, where yours truly will be sharing information about Easter customs in the early nineteenth century.  You can also join the Love Inspired authors at Goodreads from now through March 28 for an Easter egg hunt with fun prizes.  My day is Wednesday, March 27, but you’re welcome any time.

Regardless of the weather.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mystery Object Unscreened

Thank you to everyone who played along with my Mystery Object last week. Alas, stumping most of you was not in the cards: the objects depicted in the Ackermann’s Repository print I posted are indeed firescreens.

So what is a firescreen?

In the days before oil burners and thermostat-controlled central heating, fireplaces were more or less it for keeping warm…and while you might want to sit as close to the fire as possible to stay toasty, having your face close to open flames could prove deleterious to the complexion…and if we go back to earlier centuries, when paste makeup was more common, sitting to close to the fire would cause one’s face to…well, let’s just say that streaks of melting makeup running down one’s cheeks is NOT an attractive look. And so the firescreen was invented, to protect one’s delicate visage from too much heat, but still allow sticking close to the fire.

But firescreens also became an opportunity, of sorts. Here’s the text that accompanies this Ackermann print:

The talent for drawing, which has been cultivated with so much success by some ladies of high rank, enabled them to decorate several articles of furniture in a very novel and tasteful manner. A laudable emulation in the higher circles caused this species of art to become a fashion, and an extensive variety of ornamental furniture has been produced by ladies; many articles of which have lost nothing even in comparison with the work of very clever professional artists.

There are few pieces of furniture so appropriate to the purpose of decoration in this style as the screen, either for the hand, or to be supported by poles: four designs for the latter are introduced in the annexed plate; they exhibit the proportions and forms applicable, which may be ornamented as the taste of the amateur may suggest, either by figures, landscapes, vases, flowers, or simply by Etruscan or embossed gold borders.

Small paravents [folding screens] would afford ample means for the exercise of the elegant talent of design, and be beautiful and useful appendages to the drawing-room.

So there you have it: when handsome young men pay calls on days when there's the least bit of chill in the air, you make sure there's a cracking good fire in the drawing room...and then make sure that one of the firescreens you painted with an attractive prospect of the seashore at Brighton, drawn from memory, is in prominent view. Thusly can you protect your delicate complexion and demonstrate your exquisite talent and taste, all at the same time. Sounds like a reasonable idea to me!

Thanks for playing along with my Mystery Object. :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

How to Fight Like a Cavalry Officer, and Look Quite Nice in the Process

Now, don’t take this as an instruction.  Yes, I know how to fence, but it’s been a long time since I wielded a blade more deadly than a boffer sword.  And while I can dispatch an imaginary foe quite nicely with PVC pipe wrapped in padding and duct tape (ask either of my sons or nieces), I would never presume to go toe to toe with a gentlemen trained during the nineteenth century, when swordplay was still the mark of a man.

But those young gentlemen had to learn somewhere.  While we’ve discussed the famous Angelo’s fencing academy some time ago, there were also instruction manuals at the time that laid out the main positions of the sword.  Below are some I believe come from a cavalry officer’s training manual, for how to behave when afoot.

Be on your guard.  (Such handsome fellows, guards.)

Parry well. (Perrier, anyone?  I get so thirsty watching others work!)

And for pity’s sake, watch your leg!  (Oh, gladly, sir!)

That last picture is supposedly a caricature by Thomas Rowlandson, who was a master of the art.  But I must admit, it makes perfect sense to me!

But then again, boffer swords are my choice of weapon.

And my choice to receive the free copy of The Heiress’s Homecoming is QNPoohBear!  She and Laura AKA Loves to Read Romance were the only ones brave enough to take the Everard quiz last week and report their scores.  Bravo, ladies!  QNPoohBear, e-mail me at and I’ll put the book in the mail to you.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

At Last! Mystery Object Time!

We haven’t done a Mystery Object in a long while because I simply haven’t run across any suitable candidates…but I think I finally found one here in a print from Ackermann’s Repository, dated December 1815, that I recently acquired.

Aren’t they pretty? So...what are they?

Unfortunately, since this is a drawing, I can’t provide measurements or materials. But I can give you a little background information: they were usually anywhere from three to five feet tall, and could be found in most rooms of the house, particularly living spaces like sitting rooms or parlors. They were in common use for centuries, but their usefulness came to an end over the latter half of the 19th century.

Any ideas? If you think you know, post your guess in the comments section. If you know you know, post your answer also…but please, don’t post links to pictures to prove that you know. That tends to bring the guessing to a screeching halt, which isn’t much fun for anyone. No prizes—we’re doing this Mystery Object just for fun. And I promise that next week I’ll tell you all about these whatchamacallits...and maybe some other news that I've had to keep a "mystery" for a while. Have fun!

Friday, March 8, 2013

So You Say You Know the Everards? Prove It!

I know many of you have read at least one of the books in the Everard Legacy series (because you told me so—thank you!), but just how much do you know about the Everard family, Jerome, Richard, Vaughn, and Samantha? Take the following quiz, then post a comment letting me how you did. If you get 100%, you must might find a signed copy of whichever one of my books you choose winging its way to you! (I’ll be drawing for one of several copies next week.)

Get your Everard on!

1. The name of the fellow whose death started the entire series was

a. Ambrose, Earl of Evermore

b. Arthur, Lord Everard

c. Mr. Carruthers

d. Mr. Walcott

2. Jerome’s forte is

a. Charm

b. Gambling

c. Riding

d. Fencing

3. Richard left England to seek his fortune as a

a. Captain in the Horse Guards

b. Captain in the merchant marine

c. Sailor on a privateer

d. Farmer in India

4. Vaughn is equally well known for

a. Pride and prejudice

b. Gambling and drinking

c. Poetry and dueling

d. Lace and lavender

5. Samantha has two pastimes somewhat unusual for a lady of her time. They are

a. Drizzling and weaving

b. Boxing and composing symphonies

c. Boxing and fencing

d. Portrait painting and mountain climbing

6. Samantha’s childhood home in Cumbria is called

a. Samantha’s Estate

b. Everard Alley

c. Primrose Hill

d. Dallsten Manor

7. The house where the Everards live in London is called

a. Dallsten Manor

b. Primrose Hill

c. Everard House

d. The British Museum

8. The Everard title is

a. An earldom

b. A dukedom

c. A barony

d. Entirely too short and unoriginal

9. Samantha calls the little neighbor boy she is fond of

a. Jamie

b. Georgie

c. Priscilla

d. Hey, you

10. The names of Vaughn’s favorite carriage horses are

a. David and Goliath

b. Aeos and Aethon

c. Laverne and Shirley

d. Thunder and Lightning.

Answers are listed in the first comment. Do let me know how it goes! And if you’d like a little more fun today, stop by Regency author Ella Quinn’s blog, where she’s interviewing me and we posted another excerpt from The Heiress’s Homecoming, this one with Samantha in a sword fight. :-)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Launching the Last Everard: Samantha, Lady Everard

It’s here!  It’s today!  My March release from Love Inspired Historical, The Heiress’s Homecoming, should be available in stores near you. Some of you have told me that you pre-ordered, so those copies should be showing up in your mailboxes shortly.  I can hardly believe it’s finally Samantha’s turn for her own story, after flirting, finagling, and in one case fighting her three cousins to the altar. 
And did she go quietly to her own happily-ever-after?  Of course not!  First she insisted on a much more stylish wardrobe than I generally reserve for my heroines, including this little number:
Then she refused every suitor I paraded before her, including a dashing cavalry officer. 
And when she finally showed interest in a gentleman, he seemed determined to keep her out of his family.  Here's what happened shortly after Samantha met William Wentworth, Earl of Kendrick, for the first time after she'd visited his son, her old friend Jamie, who's all grown up at seventeen to her twenty-four years and has some matrimonial ideas of his own. 
“Lady Everard,” Will said, approaching her where she paced in the entry hall, waiting for her carriage. 
She pulled herself up in obvious surprise, skirts swirling about her ankles like a gentle tide. The smile that brightened her face stopped his movement, his thoughts and very nearly his breath.
“Lord Kendrick,” she said. “You didn’t have to abandon your other guests for me. Your staff is wondrously efficient. I expect my carriage any moment.”
He thought the footmen stood a little taller at her praise. He wanted to stand a little taller as she gazed up at him. This was ridiculous! He wasn’t an eighteen-year-old lad on his first year in Society. And he feared something far darker lay beneath that pleasing smile.
“I wished a word with you before you left,” he said, lowering his voice. “I must ask your intentions concerning my son.”
Her golden brows shot up. “My intentions? Isn’t it generally the lady’s father who asks that question, of a suitor?”
She was right of course, and she could not know he’d just asked Jamie the same question.
“Generally,” he acknowledged. “But these are unusual circumstances. The gentleman is usually the elder and therefore more experienced.”
Now her brows came down, and he felt as if a thundercloud was gathering. “Are you implying I am too experienced for your son, my lord?”
In some matters, he very much feared that for the truth. Oh, he had no doubt she was still a lady; her three guardians would have horsewhipped any man who had tried to change that. But she had seen things Jamie had yet to discover, things Will hoped he never would.
And thank You, Lord, for that!
“I merely meant,” he said, “that you have had more time in Society than Lord Wentworth, and you must know he isn’t ready for a serious courtship.”
She cocked her head, curls falling against her creamy neck, and he had to pull his gaze away. “So you’d prefer he merely dally with me,” she mused, though her voice held an edge, “perhaps increase his reputation with the ladies while sullying mine. Heaven forbid that he actually marry me.”
This was getting worse by the minute! Will tugged down his waistcoat and raised his chin, trying to look every inch the Earl of Kendrick even while using his best diplomat’s voice. “Suggesting my son dally with you would be most ungentlemanly,” he assured her. “But if it’s a husband you’re seeking, I should point out that as a baroness in your own right you could do far better than Lord Wentworth.”
He thought that would appease her. It was the truth, after all. Jamie might be the heir to an earldom, but only Will and his steward knew how tight the purse strings had become. Unless Will was very careful, his son would inherit nothing but an empty title.
But Lady Everard did not appear appeased. “Your son,” she said, each word precise with tension, “is a paragon—clever, loyal and kind. I assure you, I could do far worse.”
Was she intent on capturing Jamie, then? He ought to feel protective of his son, annoyed by her presumption, aghast that she would parade her intentions before him like a challenge. But the emotion striding to the front of his mind was nothing short of jealousy.
He drew himself up, shoved his feelings down deep. “I must ask you to leave my son alone. I will not countenance a marriage between you.”
She blinked, then a laugh bubbled up, soft and lilting. Another time, he was certain he would have been enchanted.
“How funny,” she said, steepling her fingers in front of her lips. “I would have thought a gentleman who had seen so much of the world would have acquired more sense along the way.”
Will was prepared to take offense, but she leaned closer, and the scent of roses seemed far too soft for the hard feelings he was trying to muster.
“Ask yourself this,” she murmured, gaze on his. “If I truly wished to marry into your family, why would I pursue the cub instead of the lion?”
Will recoiled. Her gaze danced with laughter; her smile could only be called smug. She knew she’d shocked him. Even with his years of experience as a diplomat, he had no idea how to respond.
The clatter of horses’ hooves outside announced her carriage. She straightened. “Thank you for a most diverting evening, my lord,” she said, and she turned and followed one of his footmen toward the door as the other servant threw it wide for her.
Will could only stare after her. He should speak to Jamie, confess his concerns, forbid the boy to see anything more of the beautiful Lady Everard. But as he moved to return to his other guests, he passed the gilt-framed mirror, and he wasn’t entirely surprised by the smile lining his face.
I hope a smile lines your face when you read the rest of the story.   You can find it at the following retailers: 
TheBook Depository (free shipping worldwide) 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Colors of Spring, 1806

I imagine I’m not the only one eagerly awaiting signs of spring.  The crocuses are all in bloom here, and with them the heather.  I know daffodils and tulips can’t be far behind.  Around this time of year, I also start looking at what fashion pundits predict will be the “in” colors for the spring/summer season.  Nineteenth century young ladies were no different, and they turned to La Belle Assemblée.

That venerable ladies magazine included some of the lovely fashion plates Marissa so graciously shares with us.  But it also included general observations of what was likely to be “in” for the Season.  Take this advice from 1806:
“The general style of forming dresses is very high in the bosom, so as to preclude the necessity of the neckerchief; plain fronts, uniting in the centre with a clasp, and a demi wrap over it, finished on the left side, where the dress closes, are uncommonly elegant. We observed a dress of this formation at the Duchess of G___’s assembly, let in all round, and up the left side, with the most delicate Mechlin lace, and tied with tassels of cut steel.”

Or this one:
“The hair is chiefly worn in disheveled curls, exhibiting much of the forehead. Bandeaus of diamonds, garnets, or emeralds, are considered elegant; and the rainbow coronet, formed of diverse precious stones, worn by the Marchioness of E_____ on a late splendid occasion, excited universal admiration, from its singularity, brilliancy, and beauty.”
In 1806, the colors for the Season were olive, celestial blue, apple blossom, lavender, jonquil, lilac, and dove-brown.

Other recommendations include wearing a chip or straw gypsy hat, lace or needlework of leaves, white satin jackets trimmed in chenille with Van Dyke lace, and for pity’s sake,
“It should be remembered that the morning costume, according to the present standard of fashion, is considered vulgarly deficient without a cap.”
Excuse me while I go find a cap, as I would not wish to appear vulgar!