Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A Festive Digest

Today the salon doors close until 5th January 2016; this year has truly been a wonderful one here at the salon; thank you to all of you who have read, shared, encouraged, written and made keeping the salon enriching, rewarding and just so much fun.

Do have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year; enjoy the Christmas-themed posts below and I shall see you anon!

Farmer Giles's establishment: Christmas 1816 by William Heath
Farmer Giles's establishment: Christmas 1816 by William Heath

Learn the fascinating tale of the premiere of Silent Night!

What were Christmas celebrations in the Regency period?

A recipe for Georgian Christmas cake...

Try some 18th century Christmas recipes!

Friday, 18 December 2015

The Lake District in the Early 19th Century

It's my pleasure to welcome Eileen Richards, with a look at the Lake District in the early 19th Century!


For my series, A Lady’s Wish, I chose the setting of a small village in the Lake District, a minimum ten days carriage ride from London.  Frankly, between you and I, I was terrified to write about London society.  I had also found this really interesting piece of folklore: The Fairy Steps, outside of Beetham, Cumbria. The Steps are part of the Lakeland’s corpse trails. Apparently, pallbearers would lower the caskets down the steps to be buried in St. Michael’s nearby.

Beetham, Westmorland, where all three novels are set was an Ecclesiastical town. The church, St. Michaels dates back to the 1300’s with the oldest part of the lower tower from Anglo-Saxon times.  The closest market town was Milnthorpe, which boasted the ability to receive goods via the River Bela.  Milnthorpe was about a mile to a mile and a half away. Not a bad walk from the village. Lancaster was the closest city at about 22 miles away.

The Lake District was an undiscovered country at a time when poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley were popular. The Romanticism movement embraced by these writers fueled the public’s curiosity to explore the natural wonders around them.  Wordsworth published his travel guide about the Lake District in 1810. He moved to Dove Cottage near Grasemere in 1799 and wrote some of his greatest poetry there. 

The Romanticism movement fueled an interest in the natural world.  Wordsworth’s book included information on Inns and stages so that the tourist traveling to the Lake District could easily find his way. What they discovered upon visiting was an incredibly beautiful landscape and some really unpredictable weather. 

Like tourism, the Industrial Revolution brought change to the remote areas of the Lake District.  Minerals and rock, timber, and water all helped to fuel manufacturing in the area. With Lancaster so close, work in woolen mills could be found, though the living conditions could be dreadful. For most folks, agriculture was still the big business of the area. 

The Georgian Era saw many large beautiful manor houses built in the countryside of England. Dallam Tower was one such house. It sits on the River Bela with a dear park of 190 acres that run all the way down to the river.  The house was built early 17th century and renovated over the years.  A pele tower was built in 1375 but was demolished to build the house in the 1720s. 

The Gentry earned their living from the land. The land is worked by tenant farmers who lease the land from the landowner. If you’ve watched Downton Abbey, you’ve seen this in action. 

Part of the storyline in An Honorable Wish has to do with the Williams family, tenant farmers on a neighboring estate, are in dire circumstances.  The head of the house, Mr. Williams has been critically injured in an accident.  His son is but sixteen and is not yet old enough to take control of the farm.  The family cannot pay the high rents due to the accident and lower yields.  Tenant rental agreements were signed for many years.  Rents were based on the cost of grain. If the price of grain was low when the agreement was signed, rents were low. If the cost was high, rents were high.   

The family is at the mercy of the land steward or the land owner. At the time this book takes place, 1818, land stewards and owners could evict at will any tenants they deemed unsuitable.  It could be for lack of payment of rent or some sort of insult made. 

It wasn’t until 1832 that Parliament passed any type of reform to provide protection for tenants.  The most notable change was allowing tenant farmers to vote. Prior to that only landowners could vote.  This gave the farmers a say.

References of Interest:
The Early Days of the Nineteenth Century in England, 1800-1820, Volume 1 by William Connor Sydney.  1898. Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=SN9CAAAAIAAJ&lpg=PA15&ots=y59mpBcmjD&dq=life%20in%20Lake%20District%20England%201820&pg=PA179#v=onepage&q=life%20in%20Lake%20District%20England%201820&f=false

The Rural Life of England, Volume 1 by William Howitt. 1848. Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=HfMPAAAAYAAJ&dq=regency%20england%20rural%20life&pg=PA28#v=onepage&q&f=false

Social England Under the Regency, Volume 1 by John Ashton. 1890. Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=uAkZAAAAYAAJ&dq=regency%20england%20rural%20life&pg=PR10#v=onepage&q&f=false

A Guide Through the District of the Lakes in the North of England, with a Description of the Scenery by Williams Wordsworth. 1835. Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=idlAAAAAYAAJ&dq=wordsworth's%20guide%20to%20the%20lakes&pg=PP9#v=onepage&q=beethom&f=false

Jane Austen’s World Blog: https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/

Regina Jeffer’s blog: https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com/

About the Author

Eileen Richards has been writing for most of her life. Poetry, totally inappropriate answers to essay questions in school, and interesting error codes during her 30 year IT career has prepared her for the manic world of publishing.

She writes sassy regency romps set in the small villages of England where the rules are bent a bit and gossip rules the day. Eileen resides with her husband and their diva of a greyhound in North Carolina.

An Honorable Wish

Tony Matthews spends his time in London’s most notorious gambling dens, frittering away his fortune. But when his latest victory leaves a man ruined, Tony knows he’s reached his lowest point. Determined to make amends, he returns home to his family’s country estate with plans to settle down and marry at last. And he hopes the lovely Juliet Townsend will help him—if only he can keep his disgrace a secret.

Juliet’s secret wish has always been for Tony to love her. The only bright spot in her dreadful London season was dancing with him—before he disappeared to the card rooms. Now, he’s returned, but has he truly changed? Or will gambling always be his mistress, even if she becomes his wife? And does Juliet dare risk her heart by finding out?

Buy the Book:
Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/nchbv3g
B&N:  http://tinyurl.com/pjjcrel
iTunes:  http://tinyurl.com/p63l6vd
Kobo:  http://tinyurl.com/pp6wjzc

Social Media Links: 
Website: http://www.eileenrichardsauthor.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authoreileenrichards
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/EileenRAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EileenRAuthor

Written content of this post copyright © Eileen Richards, 2015.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Label Your Library with the Jane Austen Foundation!

It's an absolute pleasure today to welcome Caroline Jane Knight, of the Jane Austen Literary Foundation, with exciting news of an opportunity to join the Foundation's Christmas campaign and #LabelYourLibrary!


We are registered not for profit organisation run by volunteers with no wages or commissions paid to anyone.  You can be confident that donations made to Jane Austen Literacy Foundation appeals are used to buy books and writing materials for communities in need.  For example, we buy ‘School in a Box’ literacy kits to be used in temporary schools set up by UNICEF in Syria.  We also buy books for disadvantaged remote indigenous children in Australia to support the fantastic literacy programs of the ALNF (Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation).

As a thank you for donating to the foundation, we give every donor their very own bookplate personalised with their name in Jane’s own handwriting.  Bookplates were popular in Jane’s time and are used to label books with the owners name so they didn’t get lost when lent out or read by others.  We have a news article on our website that talks all about the bookplates that Jane (and I) knew from our family library), see https://janeaustenlf.org/news

Here’s a picture of our bookplate.


Donors can choose what name goes on the bookplate, so they can now be given to other people as a gift and the bookplates are produced every few days, with each one personalised for thou to print out yourself or send on to a friend!

We're calling the campaign #LabelYourLibrary and will feature on the foundation Facebook feed any great photos people post of their bookplate posted in a book.  

The bookplates will change periodically so donors can collect a full set, and they will be available throughout the year, not just at Christmas!

Please supper the campaign at https://janeaustenlf.org/support or donate now via https://janeaustenlf.org/support-us, and #LabelYourLibrary!

Written content of this post copyright © Caroline Jane Knight, 2015.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Prinny's Taylor – The Life and Times of Louis Bazalgette (1750-1830)

It's my absolute pleasure to welcome Charles Bazalgette to the salon today. Charles is the author of the marvellous, Prinny's Taylor, and is on intimate terms with George IV's apparel... I cannot recommend the book highly enough, it is a definite must-read for anyone with an interest in the period, the man or the wonderful fashion he wore!


Louis BazalgetteTwenty  years ago when I started researching for this book I never imagined that I would find out so much about an almost unknown ancestor that I would end up with a 380-page biography.  But over those years some extraordinary finds elevated the work from perhaps a monograph, of interest mainly to my family, to a biography which tells us a great deal more about George, Prince of Wales than has ever been published before.  Through his extensive dealings with his tailor of 32 years, Louis Bazalgette, we see in great detail what clothes he ordered,  when and where he more many of them, and how much they cost the nation.  Unbelievable quantities of clothes of great richness were ordered.  The huge debts that Prinny ran up with his tailor led to financial crises, the most important of which was in 1795, when the Prince was forced because of it to marry his cousin Caroline of Brunswick  – well-documented as a disastrous match.  This occurrence can be attributed in considerable part to his spending on clothes, making Louis Bazalgette a very wealthy man in the process.
CoverLouis’s tailors made the livery and uniforms for the Prince’s household, as well as for many of his friends, and for public figures such as William Pitt the Prime Minister and Richard Brinsley Sheridan, both of whom had suits made for them by Louis, who must have learned a great deal from his intimate contact with these men.  Being a very punctilious man who kept detailed records it is hard to imagine that he did not keep a diary.  Unfortunately none is known to exist, which is a great shame because it would have been a most illuminating source.  Families have an annoying habit of destroying such things.
As his fortune grew, Louis invested in securities but also in the ‘West India’ and ‘East India’ trades, as well as in shipping cotton from America.  Her also accumulated property by lending large sums for which property was mortgaged to him as security.  Some of these loans were defaulted and property therefore passed to Louis as a result.  Except that because of other claims he or his estate had great difficulty in getting possession of it, resulting in lengthy legal cases.

The book also contains a great deal of information about gentlemens’ tailoring in those times, as well as being a microcosm of Georgian and regency life.  As such is should be on the bookshelf of any historical researcher and writer concerned with this fascinating period.

About the Author

Charles Bazalgette was born in a pacifist commune in Ashburton, Devonshire, towards the end of the second world war. His father Deryck Bazalgette was a conscientious objector who devoted his life to horticulture. His mother, Margaret Bonham, was a successful writer of short stories. He went first to Knowles Hill School in Newton Abbot. His parents divorced and his father remarried and moved the family to Surrey, where Charles went to a junior school in Virginia Water and then to the aptly-named Wallop School in Weybridge. For his secondary education he was lucky enough to get a grant to go to Dartington Hall School, back in Devonshire, where he was an indifferent student, preferring to play jazz and fish for trout in the nearby River Dart. On leaving school he worked at an art college and then in several public libraries, even going to library school in London before switching to a more lucrative job in computer programming. He has worked in the IT industry in a variety of roles for over forty years, discovering on the way a talent for intuitive technical problem solving, and still works from home for a major software company. He now lives near Salmo, a village in British Columbia, Canada, with his second wife Trish, who runs a bookstore and frames pictures. His interests are mainly in the past - research into family and social history but also the restoration of old buildings, furniture and clocks. He has always enjoyed writing (except essays at school) but has not done a great deal of it. He is fascinated by biography as a genre, and is currently researching the career of Louis’ son Joseph William Bazalgette, who served as an officer in the British Navy for eighteen years during the Napoleonic Wars.



Amazon US

Amazon UK

Written content of this post copyright © Charles Bazalgette, 2015.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Gadding About...

The salon closes today until Wednesday 15th December as I follow in the footsteps of Prinny and gad off to Brighton; see you anon!

The Chain Pier, Brighton, by John Constable
The Chain Pier, Brighton, by John Constable

Friday, 11 December 2015

Artisan Fair and Book Signing

It's a pleasure to welcome Jude Knight, with news of an artisan fair in aid of charity!


Mrs Marlowe, proprietor of Mrs Marlowe’s Book Emporium and Tea Rooms (fondly known as The Bluestocking Bookshop), is proud to announce a special pre-Christmas charity and gift-buying event.
On 12 December, the characters from the Bookshop will be introducing authors and artisans from the ‘real world’ in an Artisan Fair and Book Signing. Join this Facebook Event for readings, (electronic) book signing, and special deals on handcrafted items for the holidays You can find the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/415098252012503/.
Before the event, the characters are setting up booths for the authors and artisans. Do stop by to talk to them! You might also want to drop by the Bookshop, where characters are setting up informal ‘tea tables’ to talk about the books and other items they will be reading from and signing on the day of the fair.
Authors will ‘sign’ (Kindle and print) books on the day of the event, but feel free to leave your Kindle Authorgraph.com request on the site between now and then. Links for participating authors can be found on the ‘vendor stall’ threads.


Mrs. Marlowe, Proprietress of the Bluestocking Bookshop
Mr. Archibald Poltrune, Bookshop Manager
Miss Fanny Vincent, Shop Assistant
The Duke and Duchess of Wellbridge (from Royal Regard)
The Earl and Countess of Chirbury (from Farewell to Kindness)
Eleanor, Duchess of Haverford (from A Baron for Becky)
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew and Georgiana Mallet (From Dangerous Works)
The Countess of Chatham (from the fictional and non-fictional works of Jacqueline Reiter)
Other patrons to be announced.
Written content of this post copyright © Jude Knight, 2015.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Saucy Seventh

It's my pleasure to welcome Sarah Waldock, author of Ophelia’s Opportunity, with a look at the Saucy Seventh!


The Saucy Seventh

The ‘Queen’s Own 7th  Hussars’ had their origins in a newly formed dragoon troop in 1690, raised to police Scotland, known then as ‘The Queen’s Own Dragoons’, and in its early years served largely in the Low Countries and Scotland.  Disbanded twice, and spending some time as ‘The Princess of Wales’s Own Regiment of Dragoons’ in 1715, the regiment returned to being ‘The Queen’s Own 7th  Dragoons’ in 1727 with the accession of George II.  It was out of action again until 1742 when the regiment saw action all over a troubled Europe, and gained one of its nicknames [not popular with its members] of ‘strawboots’, when the regiment mended their broken boots with straw after the battle at Warburg in 1760.  

The regiment, who called themselves ‘The Saucy Seventh’ served in the French revolutionary wars, and in 1801 their new Colonel was Henry Paget, who remained with the regiment until 1842, serving through Waterloo where he lost his leg. 

However, before Waterloo, in 1807, the Dragoon regiment became the second regiment of dragoons to be honoured by the Prince of Wales with a slight change of designation to become Hussars; this was largely, so far as I can see, because Prinny liked the uniform of hussars and wanted some in England.  The appellation ‘the Lilywhite Seventh’ arose from this, because the facings of their new uniforms with all that frogging were white, from their old dragoon uniforms, not blue.  

The 7th served with distinction on the Peninsula and throughout the Napoleonic campaigns, and they were one of the regiments at Quatre Bras.  Not all losses were to the enemy, however, since on 22nd January 1809, 60 officers and men and 44 horses were drowned when their troop ship was wrecked off the coast of England.

The hero of my book ‘Ophelia’s Opportunity’ [book 2 of the ‘Charity School’ series] is a captain in the Saucy Seventh.  He had joined when it was still a Dragoon regiment, and because I needed him elsewhere when his daughter, Lucy, was born, and the regiment had not been mobilised, I came up with a mission to help with the re-forming of the Royal Corsican Rangers, on the grounds that he spoke fluent Italian.  He went on to serve at Corunna, where he lost a hand.  We meet him in the book as he has tracked down his daughter, who has formed a close bond with the new young preceptress at Swanley Court School for Impoverished Gentlewomen. 

April had come in with definite April showers after a fine close to March, but as the showers were intermittent, in consultation with both the doctor and Mrs.  Ashley, Ophelia bundled Lucy into outdoor garb to walk in the grounds with her father. 
Captain Sanderville, now sporting a somewhat more fashionable jacket, the left sleeve cut to accommodate his hook, lifted an eyebrow. 
“Am I like a wet hound, not permitted in the house?” he asked. 
“Oh I think you can be trusted, sir, to keep your muddy paws off the furniture,” laughed Ophelia.  “It is good for Lucy to get as much fresh air as possible, and while it is not raining, I thought we might stroll down to the folly, sit a while, then stroll back up to take tea, or in Lucy’s case, milk.”
“I shall be guided by you, Miss Rackham,” said the captain.  “I promise faithfully not to shake muddy water all over the place too.”
Lucy giggled. 
“If you were a dog, you would be a very nice one,” she said. 
“If any of my brothers were dogs, I’d hide until they finished shaking,” said Ophelia. 
“Oh, small boys are small boys,” said Captain Sanderville.  “Are we to do botany lessons?  I don’t know how much I remember, except that I can recognise that there is a buttercup over there, so I can find out if Lucy likes butter.”
“Oh how?  How?” demanded Lucy.   Captain Sanderville picked a blossom and held it under her chin.
“Definitely the Queen’s Own Lucy likes butter,” he said, solemnly. 
“Well, I do, but how do you know, Papa?” demanded Lucy. 
“Why, because the petals shine a buttery glow on your skin,” said her father.  “Try it with Miss Rackham, if she permits of course, and see; it is harder to see it above a man’s stock.”
“Ahah, men say that, Lucy, to hide just how much they love butter!” laughed Ophelia.  “Let me lean down and lift my chin for you.”
Lucy’s mouth described a silent ‘O’ as she saw the golden glow reflected under Ophelia’s chin. 
“It’s like magic!” she said. 
“Fun, isn’t it?” said the captain.  “As to the botany side of it, I think it’s a Ranunculus of some kind.”
“I wasn’t going to trouble about botany,” said Ophelia, “just some fun for Lucy.” 
“Saved from my ignorance, by Jove!” laughed the captain. 

Ophelia’s Opportunity kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015COIYM4
Also available in paperback. 

Find the previous book here: http://www.amazon.com/Elinors-Endowment-Charity-School-Book-ebook/dp/B00ZF1H00C/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=14422570

About the Author
Sarah Waldock grew up in Suffolk and still resides there, in charge of a husband, and under the ownership of sundry cats. All Sarah’s cats are rescue cats and many of them have special needs. They like to help her write and may be found engaging in such helpful pastimes as turning the screen display upside-down, or typing random messages in kittycode into her computer. 

Sarah claims to be an artist who writes. Her degree is in art, and she got her best marks writing essays for it. She writes largely historical novels, in order to retain some hold on sanity in an increasingly insane world. There are some writers who claim to write because they have some control over their fictional worlds, but Sarah admits to being thoroughly bullied by her characters who do their own thing and often refuse to comply with her ideas. It makes life more interesting, and she enjoys the surprises they spring on her. Her characters’ surprises are usually less messy [and much less noisy] than the surprises her cats spring. 

Sarah has tried most of the crafts and avocations which she mentions in her books, on the principle that it is easier to write about what you know. She does not ride horses, since the Good Lord in his mercy saw fit to invent Gottleib Daimler to save her from that experience; and she has not tried blacksmithing. She would like to wave cheerily at anyone in any security services who wonder about middle aged women who read up about making gunpowder and poisonous plants.

Written content of this post copyright © Sarah Waldock, 2015.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Opportunities vs. Oppression: A Feminist Man’s Opinion of the 18th Century

It's my pleasure to welcome DD Wynn to the site with a fascinating look at the women on the 18th century...


Opportunities vs. Oppression
A Feminist Man’s Opinion Of The 18th Century

“It was a time when women were so repressed!”
“They lived in a man’s world!”
“There was nothing for women back then!”

These kind of statements drive me mad. I don’t know about other history lovers out there, but it gets on my nerves, intolerably. The 18th Century was such a changing, moving and evolving period that gave opportunities for not just men, but for women alike. I would like to say it is all relative to their class or financial situation, in which yes that is a great part of it. But it was not always the case as I will point out throughout this blog.

But a woman of sure common sense and basic level of intelligence would be surely capable of doing well for herself, no matter what her background was. Like today, things never change, where some of the most accomplished and richest people in the world are women. Yes there was awful sexist attitudes towards the fairer sex from men in this period, but that kind of ignorant thinking hasn’t changed either today. In my opinion, it is futile and intolerant for men to think of themselves superior, when most women have many more attributes that deserve accomplishment than most men of the world.

The 18th Century, of which mainly I speak about in England, was a fantastic era for evolution. The evolution of people’s thinking, ways of making money and basic sense of comfortable living was something that changed so radically. It is a topic not many people know of, which rather annoys me when people say ‘there was nothing for us women out there’. People nowadays like to talk about people who suffer, gritty upbringings and tragedy. But it is from this horror that women mainly could rise in the 1700’s to become so much more. This undoubtable need to have some level of intelligent capability, gave rise to strong and independent women who became icons. 

Ladies wearing the a la mode of French fashion, circa 1750’s. This is the usual fleeting image people think of when they are reminded of 18th Century women.
Ladies wearing the a la mode of French fashion, circa 1750’s.
This is the usual fleeting image people think of when they are reminded of 18th Century women.
Firstly, most ladies of good standing and middle class upwards had one easy way of making themselves much more than just “a woman”. Fashion. Clothes were their best way of expressing themselves and the 1700’s was a time of constant and ever changing way of women upgrading their looks. France led the way with trends and the beau monde of England were sure to become influenced by it. 

But by the end of the period it was infamous ladies like Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, who would become pioneering leaders of style. Painters like Gainsborough promoted the youthful look of neoclassical fashion of which was the natural vogue of the late 1700’s and some of the questionable icons from across the pond like Queen Marie Antoinette invented images which we still associate today. Something like a simple wig design has prevailed into the year 2015 as one of the stern symbols of 18th Century fashion and these were coined by ladies, sometimes designed by men but became classic for being on top of a woman’s head.

It was a time where fashion changed and became rather couture like, almost like pieces of wearable art. Any lady would feel proud wearing a gorgeous mantua gown with silk, jewellery, high wigs, feathers and light ruffles. I mean who wouldn’t? I know I would! But this was superficial in terms of accomplishments of the brain. But it still granted them one quick way of finding a stage either for their voice or beauty. It granted women from the day they were born, one sure and unhindered way of expression, almost like today. Except without the invention of Twitter and Facebook to make a mockery of them, the poor ladies of the 1700’s had newspaper and pamphlets to do that.

Duchess of Devonshire and her sister at the gaming table, Devonshire house, 1791.
Duchess of Devonshire and her sister at the gaming table, Devonshire house, 1791.
Georgiana Cavendish, as I mentioned was an icon. An icon of style, attitude and classed too many as the “first celebrity”. The first non-royal celebrity, whom some of you may not know but she is related to our poor Diana, Princess of Wales, many centuries obviously between one another. Georgiana also, which is strange enough to hear now of a lady with such fortune and aristocratic manners, but she was well known for liking science and politics. She collected rock and mineral samples and travelled Europe with her passion for fashion, science and connections with royalty and politics. I mean for a woman who was married to the richest man in all of England (after the king) this was unheard of. Having almost every action and little thing that she did in daily life, became the headline news of all newspapers and magazines. She was the pitiful but yet beautiful first celebrity of the modern world.

But politics was one of the sure parts of her downfall, as well as her gambling, which was the big scandal of her period of life. Politics was something that was so targeted and really only allowed for men to speak of, be involved with and to even work as part of. But the Duchess was a prominent voter of the early women’s suffrage, trying to get women more freedom when it came to such viewpoints of politics and social life.  She was also a Foxite, a supporter of secretary of state, Charles James Fox and regularly went to protests and held rallies for his elections. Mostly on behalf of the Earl Grey, of whom she had a secret affair with. If you have seen the film with Kiera Knightley in, you will understand what I’m speaking of. He is whom the famous tea is named afterwards, by the way.

You may think she was only able to travel, become fashionable, involved with politics and gamble a lot of wealth because of her standing in society and the fact she was married to a Duke. But it isn’t. She was able to do it through passion and her unwavering length of astute sense of mind that made her do these things and take interests in such “manly” hobbies. She had passion that any lady of the period could have had and used it to her best.

Apart from her and other really high aristocratic ladies, there was many women not fortunate to reach those wealthy highs. People like Mary Wollstonecraft (mother of Mary Shelley – author of Frankenstein) who for the time was one of a kind, a marvel, an innovator of women’s liberties and rights. She even wrote a very famous but obviously controversial book called ‘The Vindication of Women’s Rights’. Before the women’s suffrage, the vote, women doing men’s jobs in the War and even before old Germaine Greer, there was Mary
“Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.”
“Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.”

Yes it was a time when issues such as work, politics and rights were not as female friendly as they are now, but it was still a time when there were women who were paving the way for their sex in massive strides. What Mary did was not violently portray her gender as the pivotal goddess they should be, but she argued that women were only inferior because most were not as educated like men. Yes, the 18th Century was not as open as it was a 100 years on for education of the opposite sex; you would be surprised of how many accomplished and very smart ladies were induced into high education, higher than most nowadays. 

What Mary did was try to point out that everyone should be treated as rational beings, almost like biblical scripture. She was a woman though, who some of you may look at her and think “Oh look at her, who does she think she is” but she had just as many problems, even worse, than we do today. She tried to kill herself several times, she was married to an anarchist philosopher and led a very controversial and unorthodox lifestyle. But this does not take away the fact she was one of the first feminists who stood up for her sex and told the rest of the world what she though ought to be right. Thus just short of over 100 years later, the women got what they deserved.

The 18th Century was not just a period of women designed dresses that shocked the world or ladies exhuming their beliefs on others, it was an age of sure invention of science and power. One woman, I came across whilst researching for this blog, to me is the epitome of the accomplished lady of an era of oppression. Yes the days held a light at the end of the tunnel for some women, but it was an age of oppressed views and men could destroy a woman with just a few simple words. But one woman, a comet searching and scientific endearing woman paved the way for more women wanting a life of astronomical pursuits. 
William Herschel
Caroline Herschel
Now here was a woman who, not knowing she even existed up to a few weeks ago, was blown away with what she achieved. She was the sister of the infamous William Herschel who discovered our planet Uranus. She also made significant contributions to the world of astronomy by using a large telescope that her brother so kindly designed for her. The discovery of comets was her main goal and she found quite a few floating around up the there, but the fact of what she discovered and catalogued is by the by for me. I was rather surprised but glad that she was the first woman in history to be paid for her services to science. I mean for a woman 300 years ago that is almost un-heard of. It was hard enough for women like Fanny Burney and Maria Edgeworth to earn money for their novels, let alone getting them published and receiving what they sought too.

Caroline along with Mary Somerville were the first two women to be inducted in the Royal Astronomical Society, something of rather a grand prize, due to it being rather a strict and man only society. But also she went onto live to the prime age of 97. I mean 97! Most men did not get to that age, so that was a feat in itself. She was a woman who did not let the fact she was born to an almost impoverished band stand leader and she was adamantly taught how to sew and learn millinery, let her slow her down. As soon as her brother William left Hanover in Germany for England, she followed to help him run his household and then soon became interested in his life of mapping the stars.

I mean for me, someone like this is so inspirational to women, that most ladies today probably don’t have a clue who she is or what she did. But the fact she was so regarded she was awarded medal after medal for her contributions to the world of science; which was so repressed in its views of women, is outstanding to me. She did not let the fact so many did not agree with her, stop her from achieving everything she wanted. 

If this is not an opportunity to view unguided oppression with such an investigavite eye, then I do not know what it is.

D.D. Wynn

About the Author

D.D. Wynn is my pen-name in dedication to my grandparents, who influenced me to write with their never ending avail of support. My debut novel 'The Choice of Duty' is dedicated to them. It is a book set in the 18th Century, if time travel was real then I would give anything to go back there and re-live it. Most of my novels I plan to write after my debut is soon to be published, will be set in the period, for I am endlessly enchanted with it's music, people, literature, fashion, politics, everything! 

My website features the reasoning behind my novel and a little synopsis of what it entails. It is simply a tale of a family that go through hell and high water for their daughters, who try their hardest to find love, honest true love in a world that is as deceitful and difficult to traverse as ours is today.
For more information here is my website - www.ddwynn.com

Written content of this post copyright © DD Wynn, 2015.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Wicked Wit: Darley's Comic Prints

Wicked Wit: Darley's Comic Prints is a wonderful new exhibition currently at Chester Beatty Library in Dublin; it's my pleasure to share news of it with you! I can personally recommend the beautifully illustrated exhibition catalogue, a must for anyone with a passion for the glorious Georgians!


The Siege of Cork
Drawing on the Library’s own collections, this exhibition features over 100 hand-coloured, eighteenth-century etchings by the husband and wife team, Mary and Matthew Darly. From the time of their marriage, they worked in tandem designing, engraving and publishing prints using the signature, MD or MDarly. 

This printer-publisher team produced well over 500 comic images of Caricatures, Macaronies, and Characters from no. 39 Strand (London) between 1770 and 1780. At the height of their fame, carriages lined the streets so their occupants could titter at the images on display in Darly’s Comic Exhibitions, held every spring from 1773 to 1778.

By the end of the decade, they had become so popular that their publications were available throughout Great Britain and Ireland, Europe and even America. The name Darly became synonymous with the humorous images they produced. 

A richly illustrated catalogue to accompany the exhibition is availlable to purchase in the Library shop.

Wicked Wit: Darley's Comic Prints is open until 14th February 2016.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The Top 5 of November

As Christmas draws ever closer, it's time for a look back at the most popular posts of November; as ever, in no particular order!

Christmas in the Regency
How was Christmas celebrated in the Regency?

German Sausages and Flying Ambulances
A look at battlefield medicine with Sarah Mallory...

The Horrible Murder of Count and Countess d’Antraigues
Naomi Clifford takes a look at murder most foul...

A Report of Bigamy
A cheeky judge gives his ruling... 

Modern Day Fiction from Historical Fact
How does historical fact inspire modern day author, Terry Tyler?

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Merchant Ships Ruled the Waves

It's my pleasure to welcome Stephen Baines to the salon, to tell us of a time when merchant ships ruled the waves!


History used to be taught in the United Kingdom as a series of battles on land and sea, usually depicted as heroic British victories. The 18th Century was presented as the glorious Age of Sail in which the Royal Navy ruled the seas, due to its wonderful ships and fearless Admirals. It was not quite like that. Two questions need to be asked: Why did Britain want to rule the seas? And how was it achieved?

A crucial factor in beginning to answer these questions was the merchant marine. In the mid to late 18th Century there were some 81,000 British-owned ships, of which the Royal Navy owned a mere 5%, and of those only 270 were ships-of-the-line. Not enough, by themselves, to rule the waves. 

The 95% were merchant ships, and The Royal Navy needed them. The Admiralty hired and bought merchant ships as victuallers, storeships, troopships, and for voyages of exploration.
The Endeavour Replica. Endeavour  was a merchant ship, then bought and later sold by the Admiralty, was again a merchant ship and was contracted out to the Admiralty as a transport.
The Endeavour Replica. Endeavour  was a merchant ship, then bought and later sold by the Admiralty, was again a merchant ship and was contracted out to the Admiralty as a transport.
The 18th-century marine contribution to warfare was largely overlooked until the work of Ralph Davis and David Syrett.
Money spent by the Navy hiring transports during the Seven Years War. £50,000 pounds then was roughly equivalent to a billion pounds today. (Data fromTNA 106/3524.listed in Syrett Shipping and Military Power in the Seven Years War.)
Money spent by the Navy hiring transports during the Seven Years War. £50,000 pounds then was roughly equivalent to a billion pounds today. (Data fromTNA 106/3524.listed in Syrett Shipping and Military Power in the Seven Years War.)

Reciprocally the merchant marine needed the Royal Navy because the reason why it was important to rule the seas was to protect and expand trade. An island like Britain must be a maritime trading nation, and to safeguard the wealth which commerce could bring, the merchant shipping had to be supported and protected by the government. 

The common assumption was that there was only a finite quantity of commerce, so the more that was had by other nations the poorer and weaker a country would be. Britain’s main trade rivals were the Dutch, the French and the Spanish; and the 18th Century can to an extent be considered as a struggle between these four countries to gain the largest slice of the mercantile cake.
The Custom House London, a temple to commerce.
The Custom House London, a temple to commerce.

Voyages of discovery, like those of James Cook, were undoubtedly scientific ventures, but primarily they were to refine navigation and to help find new territories which had commercial potential: either because they had a useful flora (and to a lesser extent fauna), or as customers for British products, or as a victualling stop. Ideally all three. As a harpooner claimed possession of a whale for his ship by being the first to plunge his harpoon into it, so an explorer planting a Union flag on an uncharted island claimed it for Britain. If another of the major maritime powers contended ownership, there were problems, as in the festering Falkland Islands, which escalated to the brink of war in 1771. Endeavour and the kit-ship Penguin played an important part in the aftermath. Clayton, master of Penguin, made a thorough scientific account of the plants and wildlife of the islands; but his main intention was to evaluate the usefulness of the islands. He concluded that the climate was ‘very agreeable to European Constitutions’ and that the Falklands could be ‘a good port to touch at for Refreshment in the Passage round Cape Horn’.

The goals of Enlightenment and Commerce frequently clashed. Joseph Banks was not simply finding and classifying new plants, but also ascertaining their properties and, if possible, transplanting them into different places where they could be useful and profitable. 

 A breadfruit tree, Artocarpus altilis.
 A breadfruit tree, Artocarpus altilis.

Benjamin Franklin helped persuade the French to join the Americans in their struggle for independence; the French sent them gunpowder manufactured according to Antoine Lavoisier’s latest and secret process. The details of Cook’s Endeavour voyage were shrouded in secrecy. 

But on the other hand Franklin persuaded the American Navy and also Louis XV not to attack Cook’s ships as his mission was for thebenefit of Mankind’. Banks, Franklin, Lavoisier and Cook were all Fellows of the Royal Society, where knowledge was shared.

Stephen Baines’ new book “Captain Cook’s Merchant Ships”, which has been described as ‘marvellous’ and ‘a must read’, is published by The History Press www.thehistorypress.co.uk.

Captain Cook sailed in or with eight ships which began as merchant vessels. This detailed history tells the story of these vessels and the people who sailed in them. In placing these ships and people in the personal, political, social, financial, scientific and religious contexts of their time, this book provides a comprehensive and readable account of the ‘long eighteenth century.’

Using contemporary sources, this gripping narrative fills a gap in Cook history and attempts to catch something of the exciting, violent, gossipy but largely untaught and unknown period through which these vessels and their people sailed literally and figuratively between the old world and the new.

Written content of this post copyright © Stephen Baines, 2015.