Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink

It's a pleasure to welcome Monica Hall, author of A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England, for a look into the murky matter of Georgian water...

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Water, water, everywhere
Nor any drop to drink
‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Well, hardly any drop fit to drink, at any rate.  The first half of the 18th C was unusually dry, as it happened though, which makes it all the more remarkable how many people managed to drown themselves.  (http://booty.org.uk/booty.weather/climate/1700_1749.htm)
Deep water in wells, ponds, rivers and mill-races was a particular hazard as very few people could swim.  Water was for work, not recreation, so the opportunities for learning to swim were rather limited.  People fell into their own wells, lost their footing when getting in and out of flimsy ferries, got swept away in tidal rivers, or trapped in quicksands and mud when trying to fish or empty eel traps, or simply trying to get clean.  Very often their clothing bogged them down.   Poor women often did the laundry in rivers and if they fell in, due to pregnancy or advancing age, their long and bulky cotton and woollen clothes absorbed huge amounts of water leaving them unable to climb muddy and slippery banks to save themselves.  You could drown in quite shallow waters.  Another hazard among the young particularly was skating on frozen ponds and falling through the ice.
Sailors and fishermen were notorious for being unable to save themselves by swimming to a shore which was sometimes close by.  When Captain Cook was murdered on Hawaiian beach, members of his crew were close by in an open boat, hoping to save him if he ran into the sea.  But he didn’t, because he could not swim, unlike the scantily-clad Hawaiians of course.  But learning to swim in the tropical waters off an island paradise is rather different to the chilly and murky waters of British rivers and seas. 
It is, of course, difficult to compare accidental death statistics from over 300 years ago to ours because of lifestyle changes.  Drowning does not figure so high up in ours partly because children are taught to swim, and partly because we have so many more ways in which to kill ourselves, such as high speed transport and electricity.  But humans can be remarkably stupid when it comes to assessing risk.  If you want to see exactly how stupid we are today, then check out the 2014 Darwin Awards (http://www.darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin2014.html) which are  –
“… named in honour of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, (they) commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.”
Nonetheless, some people in the 18thC eventually decided that something should be done, which may be an early example of Health & Safety, or it may have just been due to entrepreneurialism.  The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England (Strutt, 1801) confirms that, by the late 18thC, people were swimming more, and the first recorded swimming pool, open to the public (i.e. males) was the Peerless Pool in Baldwin Street, City Road, which opened in 1743 and was used for over a century.  The annual subscription rate was £1 10s, or 1s a visit.  There was a marble changing pavilion and marble steps down into the waters which ranged from 3 – 5 feet in depth with a gravelly bottom.  So not for the poor, then.  But then, accidental death by any means was expected among the poor, and nobody would want them sullying the Peerless Pool anyway.  It was closed in 1850 and built over, but its memory is preserved by Peerless Street and Bath Street.  But in the 19thC public schools were beginning to teach their pupils to swim for sporting and health reasons.  One can imagine that swimming races in icy waters were considered character-building for the scions of the rich who were being raised to run the Empire.  But at least the waters in India would have been warmer, even if patrolled by rather more dangerous wildlife, as the most that could menace a swimmer in British waters would have been an irate pike or an angry seal.  

But people didn’t just work around water, or drown in it, or gradually discover its value as a health and leisure facility.  They had to contend with the problems of drinking it and washing in it, which were very considerable.  The Georgians, of course, had little idea about water-borne diseases, and the proof of that had to wait until Dr. John Snow tracked the source of a cholera outbreak to one water pump in Soho in 1854.  Whilst all the while being obstructed by authorities and his colleagues, of course.  But they did have a vague idea that disease was communicated by odiferous air, or miasma, and in this they were on the right track, albeit for the wrong reasons.  Poor water hygiene certainly smells.  No efficient sewage disposal systems, no understanding of the water table, and a tendency to regard all rivers and streams as convenient conduits for waste disposal meant that water was not safe to drink.  So they drank alcohol.  I am always pleased to contemplate this when being urged by our Government not to exceed 14 units a week.   
In the early 18thC the Fleet River in London was still open, flowing from its sources in Hampstead to the Thames.  It was notorious for being an open sewer in which a tide of excrement, dead dogs and the waste from tanneries, and more besides, rolled down to the Thames in an overwhelming stench (miasma).  Oddly, they built rather attractive Venetian-style bridges over it.  

By 1737, however, they’d had enough and slowly began enclosing stretches of it.  It was finally fully enclosed into the Victorian sewage system, although you can still hear it running below a grating in Clerkenwell, and it disgorges into the Thames just below Blackfriars Bridge as a storm drain.  
One might think one would be safer with water in the countryside rather than the cities.  But probably only if you lived on a hill and drew your water from a well up high as livestock and industrial activity waste ran off fields and into rivers, thus polluting the waters downstream.   Water chlorination was not widely introduced into the UK until 1905, although sand filtering was known and spasmodically used in Georgian times.  In fact, the quest for clean water has continued since 2000 BCE, according to Sanskrit writings, so they certainly knew it was both essential and dangerous.
But today, the bottled water industry is worth billions, even though western countries have safe potable water from the tap.  One American has done his sums.
“That’s right – 4,787 bottled waters could be filled with tap water for $2.10! So every time you buy a bottle of water for $1, you are paying 2,279 times what you would if you filled that same bottle with tap water.”
Oh dear.

About the Author
Monica Hall has spent her working life in marketing and advertising, both in industry and academia. When not making ends meet and raising two sons, however, she has devoted years to delighting in the social history of her favourite era, the Georgians. She has written articles for several online historical resources, including the renowned Madame Gilflurt and Encyclopedia Titanica, as well as reviewing historical books and TV programmes. Monica lives in Hampshire with a cat who seems to have discovered the secret of eternal youth.





Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Detective Bent and the Murder of PC Cock

It's a pleasure to welcome Angela Buckley, author of Who Killed Constable Cock?, to delve into the world of Detective Bent and a mysterious crime.

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In the early hours of 2 August 1876, 21-year-old PC Nicholas Cock was walking his beat in the quiet suburb of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester. He stopped briefly at a junction for a chat with a passing law student and a colleague, after which all three men went their separate ways. A few minutes later, two shots rang out in the dark. PC Cock’s companions ran back to the junction to find the young police officer lying in a pool of blood. He had received a bullet to the chest and later died of his injuries. 


When the tragic news reached the police station, Superintendent Bent knew instantly who had killed his officer. Within half an hour of PC Cock’s death, he had arrested the three Habron brothers and charged them with murder. With his prime suspects firmly in his sights, and without considering any other leads, he set out to prove their guilt.

James Bent was born in Eccles, Salford in 1828. His father was a night watchman. At just seven years old, James began working in a silk mill, where he was constantly beaten by the supervisors. On 7 November 1848, Bent joined the Lancashire Constabulary. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes and sandy hair. A married man with four children, he was transferred several times and promoted through the ranks, reaching superintendent in 1868, by which time he was stationed at Old Trafford police station, from where he commanded the Manchester division. 

PC Nicholas Cock was tragically murdered in 1876.
Armed with his favourite adage, ‘Always believe everybody guilty until you prove them innocent’, Superintendent Bent investigated many different types of crime, including theft, burglary, illegal gaming and assault. He once tackled an intriguing case of attempted murder by a hawker of blacking who tried to poison his wife, an inmate of Prestwich Lunatic Asylum. During a visit, the itinerant salesman took her some Eccles cakes and, when she tried to eat them, she discovered that inside each cake was a dozen pins twisted into the shape of fish hooks. Superintendent Bent had the cakes analysed and found that they also contained antimony, a lead-based poison. He kept the pins as souvenirs, handing them out to crime enthusiasts. 

Shortly after, Superintendent Bent investigated another complex murder, for which he employed a very controversial method identify the killer. Nineteen-year old maid Sarah Roberts was murdered in her employer’s house by an unknown assailant. When the police failed to find the culprit, Superintendent Bent resorted to having the victim’s eyes photographed, to see if the attacker’s face was imprinted on them. The day before Sarah Jane’s funeral the police lifted the coffin lid and took images of the corpse, in the hope that the figure of the murderer would appear under the examination of a powerful microscope. Despite the image being magnified to the size of half a sheet of ordinary notepaper: ‘there was nothing visible which would furnish the slightest evidence as to the features of the murderer’ (Manchester Courier, 16 January 1880). Sarah Jane’s killer was never caught.
Superintendent James Bent set out to find PC Cock’s killer.
In 1891, Superintendent Bent published his memoirs, in which he described the murder of PC Cock, and the investigation he had led to catch the perpetrator. The wily detective built his case against the Habron brothers mainly on the discovery of footprints at the crime scene, which matched the suspects’ boots. He also found percussion caps in the youngest brother William’s waistcoat, although the murder weapon was never recovered. In November 1876, William Habron, aged 18, was convicted of Nicholas Cock’s murder. Once again Superintendent Bent had caught his man. Or so he thought. As young William languished behind bars, three years later an astonishing confession by a notorious Victorian cat burglar completely overturned the case and Constable Cock’s real killer was finally revealed.


Who Killed Constable Cock? by Angela Buckley is out now in ebook and paperback. You can find out more about Angela’s work on her website, www.angelabuckleywriter.com and on her Facebook page Victorian Supersleuth.


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Ludwigslust Palace – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s very own Versailles

I'm delighted to welcome Julia Meister, who is your guide to Ludwigslust Palace – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s very own Versailles

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Ludwigslust Palace – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s very own Versailles
Entering the gardens of Ludwigslust Palace is quite a magical experience: Lush green trees everywhere you look (if you are lucky enough to visit the palace in the spring or summer!), with a vast alley leading the way to one of the most beautiful palaces of North Germany. Add to that the clear air and the feeling of being quite alone in this lush landscape – Ludwigslust Palace is hardly ever overrun by tourists, and all the more worth visiting because of that! - , and you have more than enough reasons to visit this joyous (The –lust in Ludwigslust meaning as much as ‘joy’) place. Built originally as a hunting lodge for Prince Christian Ludwig of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who was to become duke in 1747, it was eventually turned into a proper palace in the 1770s, once Ludwingslust had been named the capital of the German duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The palace features Baroque as well as Neoclassicist elements, and is unique due to the fact that it’s the only ensemble of a Baroque garden and palace in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern area: Hence it being referred to as its very own Versailles!

We may thank Christian Ludwig II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, for being able to enjoy the grandeur of this ensemble today, since he was the one who had seen Versailles with his own eyes during his Grand Tour of Europe, and desired nothing more than having his own version of Louis XIV’s lavish palace in Ludwigslust. Jean Laurent Legeay, architect to the Imperial Court, who drafted the architectural plans for the project. With the help of Johann Joachim Busch, they began to build an entire Baroque city to surround the castle, as well as a glorious chapel royal. Of course, this was no cheap endeavour, which is where the use of  papier-mâché comes into play: The so-called called Ludwigsluster Carton was used in various parts of the castle instead of expensive materials.  It seems to have worked for Ludwigslust Palace – just goes to show how easily people can be fooled and that clever businessmen existed back in the 18th Century as well! In the 19th Century, the park was remodeled by the famous Prussian gardener and landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné.

The palace is further embellished by the very romantic palace pond and various other artificial ponds, as well as a gorgeous water cascade that also provides the visitor with great photo opportunities and angles!  If one visits Ludwigslust, one really needs to schedule in a few hours dedicated to just exploring the park - there’s just so much to see! A Swiss cottage, two mausoleums (one was built for  Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, the other for Grand Duchess Elena of Russia, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg), an artificial ruin, and even a Gothic chapel! 

The inside of the palace is no less visually stunning: With the Eastern wing having recently been restored to its former glory, the Golden Hall, now and then used for classical concerts, can now finally be visited again (it is quite a sight, with its big chandeliers, the entire room being all golden and sparkly!). Obviously, the many portraits of Baroque ladies and gentlemen displayed throughout the castle are a feast for the eyes, too! The palace also contains a vast royal collection of clocks, as well as musical instruments, Baroque pieces of furniture and various busts of the royals that used to live here (and of their relatives, too!). An interesting figure to watch out for is Frederick Francis I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who inhabited Ludwigslust Palace with his family from 1785 until his death in 1837. His statue looms large in front of the palace. Two of his children converted to the Catholic faith (how scandalous!), and Frederick Francis himself founded the first German coastal resort in Heiligendamm (a place located at the coast of the Baltic Sea) in 1793. It was modeled on the then already very famous seaside resorts in the South of England.


If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also be interested in my musings about Mirow Castle. If you ever take a trip to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, I’d strongly suggest not to miss either Mirow Castle or Ludwigslust Palace – the pleasure will be all yours (see what I did there?)!


About the Author

Julia Meister is an 18th/19th Century enthusiast, and is especially interested in the social history of women. She has a vast knowledge of royal mistresses and is fascinated by their political power. Whilst she loves British and French history, her main passion is the Habsburg Empire: When on holiday, she can most likely be found visiting a castle in within the former Austro-Hungarian region that has once been inhabited by Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Buda Castle, Gödöllő Palace and Vienna’s Hofburg are among her favourites). In 2016, Julia wrote and recorded the texts for Marienfließ Convent’s audioguide – the first female Cistercian convent in the Brandenburg area of Germany, founded in 1231. She is currently seeking new ways of indulging her passion for history and writing.

All content of this post copyright © Julia Meister, 2017.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The History of the American News Media

It's a pleasure to welcome Mari Anne Christie for a delve into the history of the American news media!


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Back when the American news media could be trusted…

“A gruesome clash between North and South is inevitable—
if only because newspapermen are screaming about it.”
— Blind Tribute

America is a country divided; it cannot be argued. Perhaps more so than any time in our history, barring only the Civil War of 1861-65. And the environment now is beginning to look remarkably similar to 1860.
While it seems logical to say that, as Americans, we have more in common than not, myriad forces continue to tell us we are wrong, chief among them, that broad, varied and variable category, “The Press.” Whether “fake news” or “Russian partisan propaganda” or “opening up the libel laws” or the role of comedic satire or the need for (or advisability of) “Woodward-and-Bernstein-style” exposés, all we seem to hear about on the news is… the news.
Conventional wisdom says the media environment wasn’t so hyper-partisan before President Reagan pressured the FCC to abolish the Fairness Doctrine, which mandated balanced reporting in broadcast journalism, requiring broadcasters to discuss controversial matters of public interest and air opposing views. Back then, the story goes, the press existed to provide a service, to act as part of the systems of checks and balances—the “Fourth Estate” in the triumvirate of American checks and balances. Reporters acted with integrity and forethought, exposed corruption, spent more time informing than imposing electoral dogma. The news business used to be trustworthy. Right?
Not exactly. 
The Fairness Doctrine, when instituted, was sorely needed. The ethics the Fairness Doctrine meant to codify in the face of new broadcasting technologies were still quite young in 1949. They weren’t even industry norms until the early 20th century. (It should be noted that, even now, media ethics are entirely voluntary and, ironically, unenforceable by virtue of the First Amendment.) While the question of ethics and values in this industry goes back to the 17th century in Europe, the answers, in America at least, are much more recent.
The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), arguably the modern keeper of this canon of ethics, was not formed until 1909 (then—and until 1960—a men’s fraternity called Sigma Delta Chi). The American Society of Newspaper Editors (as of 2009, the American Society of News Editors) (ASNE) was formed in 1922 for the express purpose of developing and codifying norms and ethics for the industry, which were set in type the following year. The SPJ borrowed this code in 1926, and these remained their central tenets until 1973. 
However, if we travel further back, sixty or so years before the ASNE and SPJ began their work to make the news business honest, trustworthy, and accountable, we reach the beginnings of the Civil War, when the glorious olden days of media integrity didn’t exist. Not only that, just about any reporter, if presented with the concept of “fair and balanced,” would have either given you a blank stare or laughed at you outright.
On the question of partisanship, our modern media has nothing on the early 19th century. 
So, back to the Civil War: the current president asks, “Why couldn’t we just work that out?” Of course, the thought process is reductive; in short, it couldn’t be worked out because slavery could not, should not, and would not stand. But as to why emotions ran to such a fever pitch at just that moment in history? Perhaps because newspapermen were screaming about it.
Even given the risk inherent in trying to separate a man from his money (even when that “money” is invested in ownership of other humans); and given the (pseudo)religious and (im)moral justifications for slavery, and their opposite refrains in the Abolitionist movement; and given the innate tension between federalism and community sovereignty that threads through our entire democratic history; and given that Europe would quite possibly have used slavery (in due course) as a pretext for embargo or another war; and given, finally, that an armed black uprising probably would have eventually succeeded, why did the rhetoric heat to a boil then? Why did we end with a conflagration then
At the risk of also becoming reductive (probably inevitable when discussing the causes of the Civil War): 
It might have had something to do with the fact that nearly every newspaper in America was associated with one political party or another, and no political party was without its conjoined newspapers. Not only was this the norm and accepted practice, it wasn’t even considered unethical. If a man (and, of course, it was always men) was smart enough to own a printing press, erudite enough to make his opinions matter to his readership, and wealthy enough to expand his newspaper’s reach, why would he not use it to trumpet his own views? If he had once held elected office or planned to in the future, would that not just make him better informed about the issues of the day? And why would he not affiliate with the politicians who agreed with him, to expand his circulation, lend weight to his message, and defray his costs? It is capitalism in action. The American Way. (For both Americas—freedom of the press was enshrined in both Constitutions, and the norms of the burgeoning industry crossed the Mason-Dixon line.)
Thus, a partisan, vocal, and influential news media (in part) drove conflict into war, and now, it seems, we have forgotten the lessons of the past. To provide a bit of necessary perspective, it should be noted that without the constraints of the Fairness Doctrine, and owing, in part, to the expanded technological landscape, partisanship in the news business is once again the norm, as are the use of political relationships and affiliations for purposes of profit and influence. The primary differences between the media now and in 1860 are: the increased speed with which news travels and the expanded breadth of its reach.
References:
"American Society of Newspaper Editors Code of Ethics or Canons of Journalism." (1923) Illinois Institute of Technology Ethics Codes Collection, 10 Nov. 2016, http://ethics.iit.edu/ecodes/node/4457.
"American Society of Newspaper Editors: History." (2014) ASNE website, 10 Nov. 2016, http://asne.org/content.asp?contentid=83.
"American Society of Newspaper Editors: Statement of Principles." (2014) ASNE website, 10 Nov. 2016, http://asne.org/content.asp?contentid=171.
 “Society of Professional Journalists: Code of Ethics [2014]." SPJ website, 10 Nov. 2016, https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp.
“Society of Professional Journalists: History of the Society." SPJ website, 10 Nov. 2016, https://www.spj.org/spjhistory.asp.

https://youtu.be/m9oihJUkTBk
 Excerpt from Blind Tribute
The general looked as if he were sucking a lemon. “As it happens, Mr. Wentworth, your note was prescient. The Army has need of your services.”
“I can’t imagine what the Army could possibly need from me.” Harry didn’t need to imagine, as the subject had been raised twice by his contacts in Lincoln’s cabinet, and both times, he had politely declined their requests. Harry was not of a mind to be as polite a third time, and this man wasn’t nearly important enough to warrant restraint.
“Clearly, I am here to discuss it.” 
Judging by the shade of his face, the general’s mood was devolving every minute, and Harry expected it wasn’t going to get any better before he left.
One might assume a man wanting someone’s help would at least drink his whiskey. 
“As we move into new territory,” the general said, “we are coming across abandoned newspaper offices.”
“Abandoned?”
Stevens looked away briefly. “What do you call it when a building full of printing presses is found with no owner?”
“I’d call it violent suppression of information at the hands of an invading army. In line with President Lincoln’s actions against the Journal of Commerce and other newspapers in the North, but presumably involving more bloodshed and fewer arrests.” Harry struggled to calm his tone, in pursuit of the other goals to be accomplished before the general left in his inevitable huff. “But I’ve seen such actions all over the world, both subtle and brazen. Perhaps, for some, it isn’t so easy to identify.” 
“The president had every right to—”
Harry held up a hand and shook his head, stopping the general’s speech. He smiled, taking in every motion as Stevens shifted in his seat. Showing his teeth, he said, “No. There is no argument to be made on Lincoln’s side of this issue, if you would call yourself a patriot. Not if you wish to be received in my home. So, what is it you’d like me to do about these newspaper offices?”
A wiser man would have been distracted by Harry’s canines. “We’d like you to organize them into a logical structure to… assist us in achieving our military objectives.”
“Is it not enough you have a stranglehold on the Associated Press and American Telegraph? Now you want to operate a misinformation service, and you think I should manage it?”
The general stiffened. “I would not express it in those words.”
“Of course not.” Harry sat back silently, and Rink followed his lead. The captain tapped out and refilled his pipe, and Harry took out a cigar. He offered the box to Stevens, but the man declined with a quick shake of his head. Stevens sat staring, but was more than self-disciplined enough to also remain quiet. Eventually, Harry said, “You’d like me to print articles favorable to the Union in areas you’ve occupied.”
“Well… yes.”
“The dictionary definition of misinformation. No.”
“No?”
“No. To begin with, Lincoln and I do not see eye-to-eye on the role of the Fourth Estate. He may thank his treatment of the opposition press, in part, for this decision, and he well knows it, as he has heard my opinion on the topic at great length. This is why he did not approach me directly, and why you have been sent against your will to have your ears blistered in his stead. There are plenty of correspondents milling around the South who believe far more in your cause; I daresay some would do it purely for the dubious prestige. Choose one of them.”
“We have… I mean, for individual… we need someone who can oversee the entire…” The general trailed off at the look on Harry’s face. He managed a blush before he regained his military composure. “It’s a sizable enterprise…”
“I imagine. The more sizable, the more my answer is no.”

To pre-order Blind Tribute for July 28 delivery: www.Books2Read.com/BlindTribute

Giveaway

Mari will be giving away a quill pen (like Harry's) and powdered ink, a swag pack including Harry's Editorials Collection, and a e-copy of the book to one winner.

If you can’t embed here is the direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/16e4beaa15/?

Book Blurb
Every newspaper editor may owe tribute to the devil, but Harry Wentworth’s bill just came due.

As America marches toward the Civil War, Harry Wentworth, gentleman of distinction and journalist of renown, finds his calls for peaceful resolution have fallen on deaf—nay, hostile—ears, so he must finally resolve his own moral quandary. Comment on the war from his influential—and safe—position in Northern Society, or make a news story and a target of himself South of the Mason-Dixon Line, in a city haunted by a life he has long since left behind?
The day-to-day struggle against countervailing forces, his personal and professional tragedies on both sides of the conflict, and the elegant and emotive writings that define him, all serve to illuminate the trials of this newsman’s crusade, irreparably altering his mind, his body, his spirit, and his purpose as an honorable man. Blind Tribute exposes the shifting stones of the moral high ground, as Harry’s family and friendships, North and South, are shattered by his acts of conscience.

Author Bio

Mari was “raised up” in journalism (mostly raising her glass at the Denver Press Club bar) after the advent of the web press, but before the desktop computer. She has since plied her trade as a writer, editor, and designer across many different fields, and currently works as a technical writer and editor. 
Under the name Mari Christie, she has released a book-length epic poem, Saqil pa Q'equ'mal: Light in Darkness: Poetry of the Mayan Underworld, and under pen name Mariana Gabrielle, she has written several Regency romances, including the Sailing Home Series and La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess. Blind Tribute is her first mainstream historical novel. She expects to release the first book in a new family saga, The Lion’s Club, in 2018.

She holds a BA in Writing, summa cum laude and With Distinction, from the University of Colorado Denver, and is a member of the Speakeasy Scribes, the Historical Novel Society, and the Denver Press Club. She has a long family history in Charleston, South Carolina, and is the great-great niece of a man in the mold of Harry Wentworth.


Links

Universal Link
books2read.com/blindtribute

Mari’s Website
Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

iBooks

Kobo

Scribd

24Symbols.com

Indigo
Mari Christie Social Media  
Facebook Launch Party, July 28th, 2pm - 8 pm MDT: https://www.facebook.com/events/724880974366499/

Author Website & blog: www.MariAnneChristie.com 
Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/marismuses/

 ASNE Code of Ethics table


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

An Evening with Jane Austen: New Dates Added

I'm thrilled to announce four new performances of An Evening with Jane Austen starring Adrian Lukis and Caroline Langrishe!

Click here for tickets to Bath on 10th September

Tickets for Kenwood House on 1st October and Godmersham Park on 29th October coming soon!



An Evening with Jane Austen offers the opportunity to spend a magical evening in the company of Jane's most memorable characters from the comic absurdity of the Dashwoods, to the heartfelt passion of Wentworth and Anne, not to mention the charming duplicity of the notorious Mr Wickham!

Performing duologues from Pride and PrejudiceMansfield ParkNorthanger AbbeySense and Sensibility and PersuasionCaroline Langrishe (Lovejoy) and Adrian Lukis (Pride and Prejudice) bring Jane's timeless writing effortlessly to life. These respected performers are accompanied by vocalists and musicians whose interpretations of 18th century and regency-era music give audiences a glimpse into the evocative sounds of Jane's own household. Yours truly will provide an introduction to the glittering Regency era in which Jane's works are set, a time when fashion and society ruled supreme!




An Evening with Jane Austen has been performed to sell-out audiences at The Masonic Hall and Assembly Rooms in Bath, Godmersham Park, former home of Jane's brother, Edward Austen Knight and most recently at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, with a surprise guest appearance by Benjamin Whitrow (Pride and Prejudice's Mr Bennet). Musical accompaniment has been provided by English National Opera alumnus, Rosie Lomas, World Harp Festival and BBC Young Musician of the Year finalist, Camilla Pay, award-winning and twice Guildhall Artist Fellowship winner, Katarzyna Kowalik. and internationally recognised performer Valeria Kurbatova.



Friday, 30 June 2017

A Brief (and not at all definitive) Overview of the Menagerie

It's a pleasure to welcome JL Ashton, author of Mendacity & Mourning, with A Brief (and not at all definitive) Overview of the Menagerie!

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One can set a hundred scenes in sitting rooms and ballrooms, on Oakham Mount or in the shrubbery. But if an author has placed her characters in London, there are so many interesting locations ripe for plot twists and full of potential conversations. After all, in London, there was excitement to be had at museums and theaters, opera houses and menageries.

Darcy? Are you with us, man?” Richard’s voice interrupted his reverie. “Miss Bingley was enquiring about Georgiana.”
Darcy sat up a little straighter. “Pardon me. My mind had drifted to an issue with the harvest at Pemberley, and I recalled I must send a letter to the duke about our change in plans. My visit will be delayed at least a week.”
Miss Bingley looked pleased by his news. “How is dear Georgiana?”
“My sister is quite busy with her aunt. During our stay in London, I hope we shall attend the menagerie. In her letters, Georgiana has written of a collection of foreign animals. The tiger and the constrictor are of particular interest.”
“Oh, Lizzy saw the tiger!” Miss Bennet’s face lit up in excitement. “She said it was quite fascinating, if not a bit melancholy.”
While Darcy absorbed the happy news and began forming a query about Miss Elizabeth, he heard Miss Bingley titter.
“A wild cat prone to melancholy? A fierce and bloodthirsty beast such as that has no such feeling.”
In a cool voice, his eyes fixed firmly on Miss Bingley, Richard replied, “I have seen animals feel many things: fear, excitement, joy. Dogs are happy creatures. Horses love to run, but in the face of danger or loud noises, they are frightened. A wild, untamed creature cannot be happy in the city with the cries of children breaking the peace and the eyes of the multitude upon him.”
“Oh, this makes me sad,” Miss Catherine said in a small voice.
“It does, indeed,” Bingley exclaimed. “But to see it makes it real and not a creature of myth and legend.” He smiled when Miss Bennet met his eyes and nodded.
“Yes, Mr. Bingley,” she said softly. “It does.”
Darcy watched as his cousin’s eyes roved over the couple as though assessing the field that lay before him. Shrugging, Richard sat back and enquired as to the whereabouts of Hurst.
Mrs. Hurst averted her eyes as her brother revealed that her husband had met a hearty ragout he deemed the finest of his life but lost the battle. Richard chuckled. “He best not be in the militia or the navy if his stomach is so delicate.”
“Ah, I believe it was the quantity he ate rather than the quality of the dish,” Bingley asserted. “Four servings. And soup, a pudding, and a tart.”
“He is resting upstairs,” Mrs. Hurst added.
Richard coughed out a laugh. “Well. He stands tall in my esteem, even while lying abed.”

Before the London Zoo opened, the menagerie visited by Darcy, Elizabeth and Georgiana in Mendacity & Mourning was the sort of traveling collection of unusual and exotic animals that visited London and other European cities. It was, for many, a walk on the wild side.

Showcasing and exhibiting animals began with William the Conqueror, who established a royal menagerie, including lions and camels, at Woodstock Manor near Oxford. This tradition was maintained by his successors, who received exotic animals as gifts from foreign rulers. It was Queen Elizabeth I who first allowed the public to view the royal menagerie. By then it had been moved to the Tower of London, where visitors could pet the lion cubs that played in the grounds. Entry was free to anyone who brought a dead cat or dog to supplement the animals' diets.
In 1773, to compete with the royal menagerie, showman Gilbert Pidcock (or Pidock, by some accounts) opened his own collection of exotic animals at the Exeter Exchange (or ‘Change) on the Strand. 
The ‘Change was designed with an arcade and small shops on the first floor, and lodgings above. Over time, the upper floor apartments began housing a menagerie formed by Pidcock, who promoted his collection with newspaper ads; in one, he assured the public his wild animals were "so well secured, that the most timorous may approach them in safety.”
In 1812, the animals at the Exeter ‘Change included a Bengal tiger, a hyena, a lion, a jaguar, a sloth, a camel, monkeys, a hippopotamus, a rhinoceros, an elephant, an ostrich, a cassowary, a pelican, emus, cranes, an eagle, cockatoos, elks, kangaroos, and antelopes. “Chunee” the elephant was the star attraction of the menagerie. After arriving in England in 1809, he performed on stage, entertaining audiences in Covent Garden. He often was paraded in the street outside the menagerie. But in February 1826, Chunee killed one of his keepers and, for safety reasons, was put down. Without the elephant, attendance dropped and the Exeter ‘Change was demolished in 1829.

By that time, menageries were not found only in the City. Shoemaker George Wombwell recognised that interest in wild animals, and the populace to pay to see them, went beyond London’s borders. In 1810, he founded one of the first travelling menageries; by 1839 it had 15 wagons of animals and a brass band. His menagerie inspired circuses to start using animals in their shows, but the main attractions remained in London. 
In 1828, as Victorian interest in natural science grew, the London Zoo was founded in Regents Park. Run by The Zoological Society of London, the collection was open only to members. However, exclusivity had it price. With a large collection of animals—including many inherited from the Royal Menagerie—that were costly to feed and maintain, the zoo opened to the general public in 1897. The curiosity of thousands could now be sated.
JAFF writers are not the only ones to utilize London’s menageries and zoo in their stories. Fans of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach might remember that James Henry Trotter was orphaned when his parents were killed by a zoo escapee. 
“Both of them suddenly got eaten up (in full daylight, mind you, and on a crowded street) by an enormous angry rhinoceros which had escaped form the London Zoo… They were dead and gone in thirty-five seconds flat.”
Menageries and zoos…still a walk on the wild side.


Thank you so much for hosting me and Mendacity & Mourning here at A Covent Garden, Catherine!

Mendacity &Mourning
By J. L. Ashton 


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gossip in possession of misheard tales and desirous of both a good wife and an eager audience need only descend upon the sitting rooms of a small country town in order to find satisfaction. And with a push from Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins sets alight a series of misunderstandings, rumours, and lies that create obstacles to a romance between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

This slightly unhinged romantic comedy follows Darcy as he sets off to find himself a wife and instead finds himself pulled into the mire of his aunt’s machinations and his own fascination with Elizabeth, whom he believes betrothed to another. As Meryton judges him the grieving groom of Anne de Bourgh and a caddish dallier with the hearts of others, Darcy must ferret out the truth behind his cousin’s disappearance, protect his sister from the fretful fate of all Fitzwilliam females, and, most importantly, win Elizabeth’s heart.

Author Bio: 

Jan Ashton didn’t meet Jane Austen until she was in her late teens, but in a happy coincidence, she shares a similarity of name with the author and celebrates her birthday on the same day Pride & Prejudice was first published. Sadly, she’s yet to find any Darcy and Elizabeth candles on her cake, but she does own the action figures.

Like so many Austen fans, Jan was an early and avid reader with a vivid imagination and a well-used library card. Her family’s frequent moves around the U.S and abroad encouraged her to think of books and their authors as reliable friends. It took a history degree and another decade or two for her to start imagining variations on Pride & Prejudice, and another decade—filled with career, marriage, kids, and a menagerie of pets—to start writing them. Today, in between writing Austen variations, Jan lives in the Chicago area, eats out far too often with her own Mr. Darcy, and enjoys membership in the local and national chapters of the Jane Austen Society of North America. 

Mendacity & Mourning is her second book with Meryton Press. She published A Searing Acquaintance in 2016.

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Blog Tour Schedule: 

06/19   Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, GA
06/20   My Jane Austen Book Club; Author/Character Interview, GA
06/21   Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
06/22   From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
06/23   More Agreeably Engaged; Vignette, GA
06/24   Just Jane 1813; Review, GA
06/25   Margie’s Must Reads; Guest Post, GA
06/26   Of Pens and Pages; Review, Excerpt, GA
06/27   Tomorrow is Another Day; Review, GA
06/28   Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, GA
06/29   My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, GA 
07/01   Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, GA
07/02   Laughing With Lizzie; Vignette, Excerpt, GA
07/03   Diary of an Eccentric; Review