Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Billy Dimple


Isn’t this pair of chaps utterly glorious? Robert Dighton’s The Macaroni Painter, or Billy Dimple Sitting for his Picture, shows painter Richard Cosway posing for a portrait in all his finery! 1772, via the British Museum.

See more #gloriousGeorgians on Twitter!

Monday, 12 October 2020

In Conversation with William Nicholson

 Find out who connects Wedgwood and Mary Shelley with clean energy at the Bloomsbury Festival - 17 and 20 October

 

A Georgian polymath, William Nicholson (1753-1815) will be coming to life from his grave in St George’s Gardens, London, as part of the 2020 Bloomsbury Festival.

 

His biographer, Sue Durrell shall be interviewing him about his life – from travels with the East India Company, work with Josiah Wedgwood, socialising with a radical literary circle, launching a school and entertaining Mary Shelley as a child.

In the front room of his house in Soho Square, in May 1800 Nicholson and his friend Anthony Carlisle discovered the technique now known as electrolysis.

Curious about the future of his discovery, the ghost of Mr Nicholson then takes the lead and interviews a team from UCL who will demonstrate how they are using electrolysis to create clean energy for the future.

Live event - Saturday 17th October, at 2.30pm

Numbers are strictly limited for the live event in St Georges Gardens in London.

Tickets £8 (£6 consessions)

Click here for details of the live event on 17.10.20

 

 

Online webinar with opportunity for Q&A – Tuesday 20th October, 2.30pm

Join the online webinar at 2.30 PM (GMT)

Tickets £5

Click here for details of the video event




Monday, 5 October 2020

The Daughters of George III


I'm thrilled to announce that The Daughters of George III: Sisters and Princesses is out now. If you'd like to learn more about the six daughters of the Windsor nunnery, follow the link below to read my guest post at the Pen & Sword blog.

The Six Daughters of George III

In the dying years of the 18th century, the corridors of Windsor echoed to the footsteps of six princesses. They were Charlotte, Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary, Sophia, and Amelia, the daughters of King George III and Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Though more than fifteen years divided the births of the eldest sister from the youngest, these princesses all shared a longing for escape. Faced with their father’s illness and their mother’s dominance, for all but one a life away from the seclusion of the royal household seemed like an unobtainable dream.

The six daughters of George III were raised to be young ladies and each in her time was one of the most eligible women in the world. Tutored in the arts of royal womanhood, they were trained from infancy in the skills vial to a regal wife but as the king’s illness ravaged him, husbands and opportunities slipped away.

Yet even in isolation, the lives of the princesses were filled with incident. From secret romances to dashing equerries, rumours of pregnancy, clandestine marriage and even a run-in with Napoleon, each princess was the leading lady in her own story, whether tragic or inspirational. In The Royal Nunnery: Daughters of George III, take a wander through the hallways of the royal palaces, where the king’s endless ravings echo deep into the night and his daughters strive to be recognised not just as princesses, but as women too.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

A Seaside Postcard


On a hot summer day, the #gloriousGeorgians let it all hang out... Intrepid bathers and dirty old men have been the stuff of seaside scenes for centuries! Summer amusement at Margate, or a peep at the mermaids, 1813, Thomas Rowlandson. Via the British Museum.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Join me at the Bradford on Avon Authors' Panel

I'm thrilled to be appearing virtually at the very first Bradford on Avon Book fiesta. Join me and authors Cass Grafton, Karin Quint and Rose Servitova as we chat to Dr Gabrielle Malcolm about our careers and all things Austen - Being Mr Wickham is certainly on the agenda!

Click here to watch the panel



Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Hair's the Fashion


A savage satire on fashion - just look at that nose! A new fashion'd head dress for young misses of three score and ten, Philip Dawe, 1777, from the British Museum.

See more #gloriousGeorgians on Twitter!

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Watch Your Parsnip!


Knocking over this veg seller's beer might cost a careless macaroni his tail! "Make good the damage you dog, or I'll cut away your parsnip". Irish Peg in a Rage, 1773. 

Via the British Museum.

See more #gloriousGeorgians on Twitter!

Friday, 21 August 2020

Under a Spitfire Sky

I'm really excited to announce that Eleanor Harkstead and I have signed a two-book deal with Orion! We can’t wait to introduce you to Florence and Siegfried.

Under A Spitfire Sky, our first novel writing as Ellie Curzon, will be published  on 7th January 2021. You can preorder it now!

Can they find love in the darkest days of war?

It’s 1944, and Florence is a talented engineer in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, patching up planes to make sure that the brave Spitfire pilots of Cottisbourne airbase return safely day after day.

When she befriends the new squadron leader – shy, handsome Siegfried – it seems that romance might blossom under the war-torn skies. But Florence is nursing a broken heart and a terrible secret, which might destroy her one chance of happiness…

Meanwhile, a new plane is being developed that could turn the tide of the war, but Florence fears there is traitor is in their midst, putting Siegfried – and the whole country – in terrible danger. Can Florence save her Spitfire boys, and her own heart?

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

The Spell - Hobnelia


A lady uses her garter to cast a love spell on a sleeping gent! “Firm be the knot, firm may his love endure.” The Spell - Hobnelia, from the British Museum; illustrating John Gay’s verse.

See more #gloriousGeorgians on Twitter!

Monday, 10 August 2020

30% Off My Glorious Georgians

To celebrate the 30th birthday of my wonderful publisher, Pen & Sword books, all of my books currently have up to 30% off their cover price. Available in both ebook and physical formats, there's never been a better time to grab a right royal bargain!

Click here to visit Pen & Sword



Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Fortune Hunting Privateers


This innocent fellow doesn't stand a chance against two determined ladies! Two Privateers Attacking a Man of War, c. 1783.

Via the British Museum.

See more #gloriousGeorgians on Twitter!

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

The Polite Maccaroni


Here’s a chap who’s out to impress. The Polite Maccaroni Presenting a Nosegay to Miss Blossom, 1772. 

Via the British Museum.

See more #gloriousGeorgians on Twitter!

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Dandy in Distress


The Exquisite, Alias Dandy in Distress, is so buttoned up and laced in that he can't pick up his fallen kerchief! This image illustrates a letter from a correspondent (beneath the image) who has concerns about modern fashions... Via the Lewis Walpole Library.


A Correspondent furnishes us with the following Picture of an Exquisite alias a Dandy in distress, 

“Walking in one of the squares last week [,] it was my fate to follow an Exquisite stock'd and stay'd laced and bound collar'd and pilloried in all the fashion, so slender, so straight and so stiff that a man of ordinary strength might have used it as a walking stick, This thing flourishing a very nice perfumed handkerchief happened to let it drop; the question was how to get it up again; stoop it could not, and I confess I enjoyed its distress; for tho' for any other female I would have raised the handkerchief with alacrity, I wish'd to see how this creature would help itself, then thus it was : having eyed the handkerchief askance, something like a magpie peeping into a marrow-bone, it gently straddled outs its legs, and lowering the body between them it brought the right hand in contact with the object sought. What shall we say to the association of ideas, when I assure you, that looking on this unmanly figure, brought into my mind the knights of old, who when once unhorsed, could never from the weight and stiffness of their armour hope to mount again”. 

N.B. it is found remarkably convenient in such a case for the Exquisite to carry a cane or stick with a hook at the end, as he may fish up any thing he unfortunately drops without breaking his back or exciting the pity or visibility of the Spectators. - The Publisher respectfully solicits a continuance of the ingenious communications of his friends, to which he will pay the most particular attention.”

See more #gloriousGeorgians on Twitter!

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Sporting Ladies


Skittles and beer for some #gloriousGeorgians gals - and not a chap in sight! Miss Tipapin Going for All Nine, by John Collet, 1779, via the British Musuem.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

An Unhappy Empress

Those of you who follow me on Twitter already know that I love to share gorgeous, cheeky and downright saucy images from the long eighteenth century using the hashtag, #gloriousGeorgians. Not everybody uses Twitter, of course, so I'll be sharing some of my favourite finds here at the salon.


When Catherine the Great saw Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun's portrait of her granddaughters Alexandra & Elena Pavlovna, she was NOT happy. "Not only is there no resemblance, but the two sisters are so disfigured that people will ask which is [which]." What a critic!



Wednesday, 3 June 2020

George I: Murder, Marriage and Mayhem

I'm delighted to be visiting my esteemed publisher, Pen & Sword, to tell the story of the disastrous marriage of George I and Sophia Dorothea of Celle. When a loveless marriage erupted into violence and adultery, the stage was set for a scandal that sent the woman who could've been queen of England into captivity for thirty long years.

Click here

Friday, 29 May 2020

Marie Antoinette: Dauphins and Dentistry

Marie Antoinette
I'm delighted to be visiting my esteemed publisher, Pen & Sword, to tell the story of the making of Marie Antoinette, From hairdressers to dauphins to haberdashers, dauphins to dentistry, don't miss this glimpse into the creation of a queen!

Click here

Monday, 25 May 2020

Sophia: Mother of Kings in Paperback


I’m thrilled to announce the paperback release of my new biography, Sophia: Mother of Kings. Sophia was famously the mother of George I but she was much, much more than that. As Stuart, Hanoverian and the Winter Princess, it’s been a real privilege to tell her story and I hope you'll enjoy reading it!

Buy it now

Sophia: Mother of Kings

Sophia, Electress of Hanover, was born to greatness. Granddaughter of James I and mother to George I, she was perhaps the finest queen that Britain never had.


As daughter of Frederick V of the Palatinate and Elizabeth Stuart, Sophia emerged from an impoverished, exiled childhood as the Winter Princess, a young woman of sparky intelligence, cutting wit and admirable determination. Once courted by Charles II, Sophia eventually gave her heart to Ernest Augustus, at whose side she became the first Electress of Hanover and the mother of the first Georgian king of Great Britain.

Sophia: Mother of Kings, brings this remarkable woman and her tumultuous era vividly to life. In a world where battles raged across the continent and courtiers fought behind closed doors, Sophia kept the home fires burning. Through personal tragedy and public triumph, Sophia raised a family, survived illness, miscarriage, and accusations of conspiracy, and missed out on the British throne by a matter of weeks.

Sophia of Hanover became the mother of one of the most glittering dynasties the world has ever known. From the House of Stuart to the House of Hanover, this is the story of her remarkable life.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Sophia: Mother of Kings £1.99 sale


The ebook of Sophia: Mother of Kings is currently just £1.99 from Pen & Sword. Sophia, Electress of Hanover, was born to greatness. Granddaughter of James I and mother to George I, she was perhaps the finest queen that Britain never had and she loved a bargain, so she'd appreciate this special offer!

Buy it now

Friday, 17 April 2020

Kings of Georgian Britain: 99p Sale

From George I locking up his wife to George IV knocking up other people’s, Kings of Georgian Britain is currently on sale for 99p. That’s just 25p per king - why not indulge yourself and get to know the four kings of Georgian Britain?

Buy it now

George IV: The King's Most Extra Moments

I'm delighted to be visiting Pen & Sword books this week to discuss five of King George IV's most extra moments. From his love life to his coronation to his dedication to all things decadent, Prinny never did things by halves. 

Find out more at this link.


Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The Imprisoned Princess: Out Now


My new book, The Imprisoned Princess, is available to buy now. I'm so delighted to have written the biography of this remarkable woman!

When Sophia Dorothea of Celle married her first cousin, the future King George I, she was an unhappy bride. Filled with dreams of romance and privilege, she hated the groom she called “pig snout” and wept at news of her engagement.

In the austere court of Hanover, the vibrant young princess found herself ignored and unwanted. Bewildered by dusty protocol and regarded as a necessary evil by her husband, Sophia Dorothea grew lonely as he gallivanted with his mistress under her nose.

When Sophia Dorothea plunged headlong into a passionate and dangerous affair with Count Phillip Christoph von Königsmarck, the stage was set for disaster. This dashing soldier was as celebrated for his looks as his bravery, and when he and Sophia Dorothea fell in love, they were dicing with death. Watched by a scheming and manipulative countess who had ambitions of her own, it was only a matter of time before scandal gripped the House of Hanover and tore the marriage of the heir to the British throne and his unhappy wife apart.

Divorced and disgraced, Sophia Dorothea was locked away in a gilded cage for 30 years, whilst her lover faced an even darker fate.


Buy it now:

Pen and Sword
Amazon

Monday, 3 February 2020

The Ghost Garden Award Nomination News!

I'm thrilled to announce that  The Ghost Garden has been shortlisted for the RNA’s 2020 Romantic Novel of the Year Awards. Awarded each year by the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the RoNAs are the romantic fiction equivalent of the BAFTAs. And yes, we’re very pleased and very excited!

Sunday, 2 February 2020

On This Day...

Each day on my Twitter at MadameGilflurt, I share a variety of stories of Georgians who were born, died or otherwise became notable #onthisday, under the hashtag #GloriousGeorgians.

Here's a particularly choice one, to kick you off - don't read whilst eating!


Antonio Maria Valsalva, pioneer of ear anatomy, died #onthisday 1723. He analysed bodily fluids by taste and observed, "Gangrenous pus does not taste good, leaving the tongue tingling unpleasantly for the better part of the day.”

Yum!


Monday, 13 January 2020

Being Mr Wickham: New Dates Added


I'm thrilled to announce that booking for Being Mr Wickham, starring Adrian Lukis, is now open at for three additional dates. There are also still a very limited number of tickets available for the show's two-night run in Bath next week. We hope to see you there!

Oundle Literature Festival, 14th March Click here to book 
Huddersfield Literature Festival, 21st March Click here to book (includes Q&A)
The Haymarket, Basingstoke, 1st July Click here to book (includes Q&A)

Written off as a rake and reviled as a rogue, join George Wickham on the eve of his sixtieth birthday to discover his version of some very famous literary events. From childhood games at Pemberley to a run-in with Lord Byron, via marriage to Lydia and just a little bit of matchmaking for Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, Mr Wickham is ready to set the record straight.

This brand new production by Catherine Curzon and Adrian Lukis sees Adrian return to his celebrated role as George Wickham, Jane Austen's most quintessential trouble-maker. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Homosexuality in 18th Century England

It's my pleasure to welcome Lucy May Lennox, to life the lid on a little-explored part of 18th century life!


---oOo---


With the prominence of gay identity today, there is sometimes a misconception that homosexuality is modern, but in reality that could not be further from the truth. There is abundant evidence of a flourishing gay subculture in eighteenth century London, despite attempts to outlaw it. As I was researching my novel, The Adventures of Tom Finch, Gentleman, which is set in the opera world of Covent Garden in 1735, I kept coming across surprising, fascinating details about gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Although the title character is straight (this is not a m-m romance), the novel explores many different types of marginalized people, so I decided to include some gay and bisexual characters, with references to real practices and people of the time. 

My main source of information was the fantastic website by Rictor Norton. He provides detailed contemporary descriptions of the molly-houses, which were essentially eighteenth century gay bars. These are the roots of modern gay culture, particularly camp and drag performance. Men would dress as women and act out the marriage ceremony, followed by a trip to the marriage bed that everyone witnessed, then an elaborate lying-in and pantomime birth of a wooden doll. As sodomy was a capital offense, men who visited a molly-house were literally risking their lives, and they were frequently raided. Despite the danger, it sounds like there was an atmosphere of fun and freedom, and we can see some element of gay pride, as in this song:

Let the Fops of the Town upbraid
Us, for an unnatural Trade,
We value not Man nor Maid; 
But among our own selves we'll be free

Transcripts of court cases are an amazing picture of how ordinary people talked and thought at the time, and there were, sadly, many cases involving gay men. In 1726, William Brown was tried and found guilty of attempted sodomy in a popular cruising ground north of London called Sodomite’s Walk. He was a victim of what today we would call entrapment: Thomas Newton, a male prostitute, had been sent there to entice other men, in exchange for avoiding prosecution himself. The trial transcript includes this remarkable line:

We asked the Prisoner [Brown] why he took such indecent Liberties with Newton, and he was not ashamed to answer, I did it because I thought I knew him, and I think there is no Crime in making what use I please of my own Body.

I was so impressed by this sentiment that I borrowed it for one of my characters, although under happier circumstances. While the court cases show the suffering caused by homophobia, we don’t have the same clear record of ordinary gay people living their everyday lives, although we can imagine it. Brown’s sense of self hints at a rich private life.

Cross-dressing was very popular with people of all classes and persuasions, particularly in theatrical performance and at masquerade balls, where straight men frequently dressed as women. While cross-dressing in daily life was less common and riskier, it did still happen. A man who went by the name Princess Seraphina shows up in a trial in 1732, and the comments of witnesses make it clear that she used female pronouns and dressed as a woman often. But this was not a sodomy trial—Princess Seraphina sued another man for stealing her clothes. Aside from this case (which she sadly lost), she was never troubled by the law again. Unfortunately we know very little about her life, but I included her as a minor character. 

There is less information about female homosexuality but it definitely existed. Unlike sodomy, which was illegal, sex between women was not a crime, and seems to have been considered more of a quirk than a moral failing. There are accounts of women (especially actresses) alternating between male and female lovers, such as Elizabeth Ashe who had a fling with Caroline, Countess of Harrington. The common practice of well-to-do women keeping a lady’s companion also allowed sexual relationships between women to hide in plain sight, as society would assume they were merely friends. I reflected this more relaxed attitude towards bisexuality in women in the character of Tess Turnbridge, an aspiring opera diva who has male and female lovers.

While femme women who took female lovers seem to have been somewhat tolerated, the same was not true of women who dressed as men in daily life. There are some tragic cases of women attempting to pass as men who were publicly whipped or pilloried, including Mary Hamilton in 1746 and Ann Marrow in 1777. It’s interesting to note they were convicted of fraud, not lesbianism (which was not a crime), but the viciousness of their punishment speaks to a deep-seated anxiety about women taking on a male role.

The slang term for lesbian sex was “a game of flats” or “a game at flats.” There was a charming love poem with the title “The Game at Flats” published in 1715, with the footnote “These Stanzas were made on Mrs. B––le, and a Lady her Companion, whom she calls Captain.” How enticing to wonder who this couple might have been.

The Joys of either Sex in Love
          In each of them we read,
Successive each, to each does prove,
          Fierce Youth and yielding Maid.

Even in previous eras with less personal freedom than we enjoy today, there were people who did not conform to society’s rules. I think it’s important to include LGBT characters even in novels that are not specifically about homosexuality, because they have always existed.

---oOo---


London, 1735. Covent Garden offers a world of pleasures and diversions, even for a blind man. Tom Finch approaches life with boundless good cheer and resilience, whether he’s pursuing a musical career or pursuing women. And as for his blindness, to him it’s merely an inconvenience. Join Tom for a picaresque romp through high and low Georgian society among rakes, rovers, thieving whores and demireps, highway robbers, bigamists, and duelists, bisexual opera divas, castrati, mollies, and cross-dressers, lecherous aristocrats, and headstrong ladies. This meticulously researched, witty and lively tale overturns stereotypes about disability and revels in the spectacle and excitement of 18th century opera.