Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Peerage

Yes, pesky titles. I know I should have this down pat by now. But I just started a new work, and lo and behold the darn hero is the second son of a duke. Not the heir. Now there are all kinds of pitfalls with Dukes, not just what you call them, but what you call their sons, their wives, their sons wives and so on. I am going to deal with just a couple of them here.

I thought rather than do a dry list, I would use the 5th Duke of Devonshire as a living -- a well a previously living-- example. His first wife was Georgiana, a very interesting woman, but in the matter of titles I have chosen this particular Duke because he was around in the Georgian era.

This is a portrait of the fifth duke. Now how would you address the starchy looking gentleman. Oh and by the way, his family name (like your surname) is Cavendish. That becomes important later.

The form of address partly depends on who is addressing him and in what form, writing or speech (just to give you hiccups). A servant might well address him as "Your Grace", probably with his nose touching his knees. Anyone with the rank of baronet or below, e.g. just plain Mrs, Miss or Mr. would also call him Your Grace.

His wife would probably call him Devonshire or, if they were alone or with intimate family or friends, she might call him, "my lord" or "my love". It sounds very formal, but that in a way is the reason for our enchantment for bygone ages. It was different.

Here is a picture of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Gainsborough, while this is still in the 1780's we can see the classical influence.

The Duke's friends, if they are peers, would most likely call him Devonshsire, although they might say, "How are you today, Duke?" and as the conversation continues would address him as "sir".

A Duke is never addressed as "my lord".

Very rarely were first names used, except possibly between boys who were close friends at school, and then only in private. Last names, or the title name (e.g. Devonshire) were the most common forms of address, if not using the respectful, "your grace".

He would sign his name Devonshire on all correspondence. There is only one Devonshire, and there would be absolutely no mistake as to whom had written. If you are going to write to a Duke, you would begin: "My Lord Duke"

Perhaps one of my favorite fictional dukes is His Grace Duke of Avon, in Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades and Devil's Cub. Oh man, gotta read those books again now I have thought about them. He was also in the Black Moth, but he was an anti hero and so she changed his name, but we guessed. I always felt a teeny bit sorry for him in the first book. I do love a bad boy.

Back to titles, girl, before you lose your audience.
Note that a Duke is always the Duke of "somewhere". That is not true of some of the other titles. Remember the Duke of Wellington? He was the first Duke of Wellington.

A Duke will usually have one or more courtesy titles. These are often titles of progression, titles his family earned over the centuries, gradually climbing the ladder of the peerage. So he might also be Marquess of Malmsbury and Earl Chokingham and some others as well as being "Duke of Somewhere". His eldest son will normally take his highest courtesy title during the Duke's lifetime.

The duchess is also "Your Grace" but rather than "My Lord Duke" she is "Madam", on formal correspondence and "Madam" instead of "Sir" in informal speech. She would sign her name Georgiana Devonshire.

Now in my novel, I have an heir, who is a Marquess, so I have to follow the rules for him, but he only makes a brief appearance so I will talk about his title another time. My hero is the second son. So what do I need to know about him?

Of course the biggest fear of the writer is that by now you have so many names floating on the pages that you have made your reader fall asleep.
To wake you up, here is a picture of the 6th Duke of Devonshire. Very much a Regency gentleman. This picture was painted by Thomas Lawrence in 1811.

Anyway, younger sons of Dukes. Since he is my main character let me get it right.
Announced formally or addressed on formal correspondence as: Lord Malcolm Cavendish
(All right so Devonshire only had one son, but this is fiction so use your imagination.)
What we have above is a title "Lord" his Christian or firstname "Malcolm" and his family name or surname "Cavendish". Neither his father, mother or older brother use the Cavendish. But he isn't really a peer, he is only the second son, poor sod.

The salutation on correspondence would be "My Lord". He would be announced as "The Lord Malcolm Cavendish" He would be addressed by his friends as Lord Malcolm (or Malcolm or Cavendish, if addressed by a very close friend or relative). He would sign himself as Malcolm Cavendish or Cavendish. If he had a younger brother, a third son to the Duke, then that son could not sign just Cavendish. He would have to use his Christian name and then the family name in his signature to avoid confusion with his older brother.


Thank you so much for helping me do my research for this book. Without you I would still have a note in the manuscript that says - must check ducal sons' forms of address.

By the way, if you would like all the detail, check out this website. I think it is very clear. You can also investigate Debrett's or Burke's, you will find them listed in the bibliography on the above website. Until next time, Happy rambles.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Town and Country Dining

Beth, you ask a good question. I think that perhaps the main difference in dining is not going to be where you are living, but who you are.

Here is a picture of the Thames in those times, you can see the tower of London in the background. Just look at all of those masts, ships up and down the river. This was how goods came in from other countries and sometime how it was transported around the country also.

Each type of food had its own market in London, Covent Garden for fruits and veg, most of those coming up for the surrounding countryside. The first picture is of Covent Garden on an election day. But you can get a sense of it.

Billingsgate for fish is the next picture. More ships and you can just imagine the smell.

The last picture is of Smithfield the meat market.

Anyway, most of this produce was home grown and seasonal and just as available in the country as in the town.

So the only thing Londoners might have that the country gentleman might not would be expensive foreign items which might not make it to the country markets. And of course those who were rich would simply have them brought in.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the real difference would be between rich and poor. Meat would be expensive, so it would have to go a lot further and be used in gruels and stews. Things like neats tongues (which were on our last menu) would probably be something the poor would never taste, whereas interestingly enough oysters were a poor man's regular diet.

So I think you are quite safe in the country with any kind of food that did not require a French chef or something not grown in England. One thing you have to remember is that England was at war with France and most of Europe during much of this period, not to mention the odd tiff with America, and therefore imported goods were limited.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Regency Dining

This first picture means nothing. I just like it.

Since food was such a luxury in our era, dining or feasting was always a momentous occasion. I thought I would focus on one meal.

This is a description of "a most sumptuous entertainment" given by The Chief Magistrate of Chester (General Grosvenor) in the Exchange, to his cousin Earl Grosvenor, several gentlemen of the country, the Corporation and his friends in the city. This is the Chester Exchange, before it burnt down in 1865. What a busy bustling market square out front and this building is huge, much bigger than it looks.

"The town hall was most tastefully decorated with variegated lamps. The tables were laid out in the following manner: Two long tables down each side of the room, joined at the top in a semi-circular form; and in the intermediate area smaller tables were laid across; in the center was placed a fine baron of beef, ornamented with appropriate devices, encircled by the motto—"

“O! The roast beef of Old England, O! the Old English roast beef.”

"On its right was a Christmas pie, weighing upwards of 200 pounds, containing four geese, four turkeys, six hares, a leg of veal, a leg of pork, sausages &c.; on its side were the heraldic bearings of the house of Eaton, supported by those of the General, with the family motto; on the left of the baron of beef was a salad, tastefully displayed with the motto" “Prosperity to the trade of Chester.”

"This table was surmounted with two elegant transparencies representing the east and north gates of the city."

"About five o’clock dinner was served up to which two hundred sat down. The following is a copy of the:

Bill of Fare

—16 tureens of turtle; 8 boiled turkeys; 3 ham; 4 dishes of a la mode beef; 5 pigeon pies; 3 saddles of mutton; 13 plum puddings; 6 dishes of muranede pork; 8 French pies; 4 roasted turkeys; 8 dishes of rabbits; 3 legs of mutton; 4 geese; 2 fillets of veal; 10 dishes of chickens; 4 dishes of veal surprise; 3 beefsteak pies; 3 dishes of sweet breads; 6 hares; 6 venison pasties; 8 dishes of ducks; 6 oyster patties; 6 dishes of mutton casserole; 6 dishes of pig; 6 lemon puddings; 8 dishes of haricaed mutton; 4 neats tongues; 3 dishes of collard veal; a round of beef.

Removes—Ten haunches of venison; 10 necks of venison.

Sweets—30 salvers of whips and jelly; 20 moulds of jelly; 40 moulds of blancmange; tarts; cheese cakes; mince pies, puffs, &c."

I don't know about you, but this menu did not make me feel hungry. But why is it important? Why spend the time finding out exactly what they ate? Well, while I think I would not put neats' tongues in a book I might well want to put blancmange, and oyster patties, and jelly and mince pies. And by doing this little bit of research, I can happily put them on the table.

While this is an image of the coronation banquet of George IV (yes our Prinny) I think it gives the flavor of what this Grosvenor feast must have been like. No balconies.

Until next time, Happy rambles.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Today is Queen Victoria's Birthday

At least today is the day Canada celebrates her birthday. Her actual dob is May 24 1819, and this long weekend is always called the May 24 weekend. Queen Victoria was born in the Regency period, so she makes an appropriate topic for my blog. Here she is aged four, so in 1823.

It is one of the things often skipped over about her, that she was much less of the moralistic queen than she is painted. She grew up a Hanover and was not quite as Victorian as she might seem to us looking back at her era. It was the middle classes that set the tone, the conservative middle classes that were coming into their own, led by some notable politicians and thinkers.

Although christened Alexandrina Victoria, from birth she was formally styled Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria of Kent. She was called Drina within the family. Princess Victoria's father died of pneumonia eight months after she was born. Her grandfather, George III, died six days later.

This is an extract from her diary the day she became Queen.

June 1837 at Kensington Palace
I was awoke at 6 o'clock by Mamma, who told me that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here, and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing-gown), and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham (the Lord Chamberlain) then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen. Lord Conyngham knelt down and kissed my hand, at the same time delivering to me the official announcement of the poor King's demise.

As the longest reigning English monarch (interesting those that rule the longest are women) at 63 years and 7 months, it still amazes me that her influence on what were call the colonies is still evident in the fact that we celebrate her birthday, when the current Queen's birthday is all but ignored here in Canada. I love watching trooping the color on the Queen's birthday and can remember going to watch it with my father on more than one occasion as a child.

Mind you, who cares why we have a day off, so long as we do.

And we celebrate with fireworks. Endlessly. My poor little Teaser (a Maltese terrier) spent the whole evening under the bed, and its all going to happen again tonight. This is a picture of the Royal Fireworks display on the Thames in 1749, so very apt for this blog, don't you think?

What happened in the latter 19th century, was formed by what happened during the Regency. The Regency set the stage for what was to come; the era's painters, poets and enlightened thinkers; the women Hannah More, Mary Wollstonecraft, even the fascinating and shocking Lady Hester Stanhope. Perhaps in future blogs it might be interesting to take a look at some of these very interesting ladies.

And ages ago I promised you Portugal. Oh for more time.
Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Regency Fashion - May Part II

Sorry about that ducks, we seem to get led down the garden path by buttons and such. Anyway, pulling myself out of the ding weed as it were, we will finish fashions for May.
We took a quick peek at 1806 and 1808, so let us see what delights there are for later years of the regency. The next two are from 1810
No. 1-Evening Shawl DressAah now here we have "a rich Paris-brown French silk shawl robe, with short full sleeves, made to sit very much off the shoulders; worn over a white satin body with long sleeves. Persian scarf of green silk; white satin shoes; and white kid gloves." And just look how slender both of these young ladies are. Don't they remind you of models today?

No. 2-Evening Full Dress
A white satin, or fine India muslin, round dress, made short, and scolloped round the bottom, which is finished with a gold twist, made to sit very high over the neck; ornamented with a full ruck of white crape, or lace; long sleeves laced with gold twist, and small gold drop buttons, the sleeves scolloped to correspond with the bottom of the dress, and ornamented with gold cord; a gold net, or Persian silk sash, encircles the waist. White kid gloves; white satin shoes, with gold rosettes; tippet of white swansdown.

Obviously, the first group with the gentleman from 1817, is one of those rarities that we love to find. He is clearly dressed for evening, with the kneebreches and flat black pumps. And look at the shine on those stockings he is wearing. Now they just have to be silk, wouldn't you think? The next evening gown (1816) is just darling, so delicate, and the pretty embroidery really appeals to me.

This last picture is for Beth. It is the peliss that closes at the front. Can't give you a month or a year on this one, so far I haven't found its origins. But it is gorgeous, and I just love that hat.

That is all for this week. See you next Monday. Until then Happy Rambles.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Regency Fashion - buttons

Beth asked about buttons down the back of an 1810 gown. Here is the picture I promised. And just to be sure, I found a second one. Neither of these gowns if from 1810, the first is from 1804 and the second from 1807, but as you can imagine, if they were doing it earlier, there is no reason why it could not be so in a later year. I hope that helps, Beth.

This next picture is the back view of a spencer, a little jacket it also buttons down the back which i thought you might also like to take a look at.

While we are on the subject I thought we might take a look at buttons in general. Here are a few different kinds.

The button above is a metal circle covered by cotton threads in a decorative pattern.

This button (above) is a button made of agate.

These buttons (above) are made of bone.

Clearly the above button is metal and probably not worn by a female.
This last picture is of buttons made of wood.
Also, do not forget that many buttons, including the ones in the very first picture above would be covered by the fabric of the gown.

Now to the question of gloves. Beth asked would a woman wear gloves when eating lunch alone at home. I have heard much discussion on this topic and the consensus is that women did not eat in gloves and would not normally wear them around the home. That said, there is still some uncertainty about it. Isn't it amazing what we do not know. I do think you would be safe having her not eat in her gloves when she is alone at home.

I still have some May fashions to post and plan to have the rest of them up for you on Thursday. Until then happy rambles.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Regency Fashions for May

Okay, just a quickie tonight, see it as an appetizer. We had family arrive from New York for one evening and we are nothing if we are not family oriented. So we went for dinner, then we walked the dog - a maltese terrier called Teaser - picture to be found for you, and then I said, but I hafta blog. I have friends out there, and they expect me to chat. There was some forehead wrinkling and some rounded eyes, and they said, 'yes, but be quick'. So here I am, being quick. Promise that there will be more on Monday even though Sunday is Mother's Day here in Canada.

This first picture is from May 1806. The description is as follows:

Walking Dress Curricle of Lace over a Round Dress of White Sarsnet. Spencer of Green Sarsnet. Straw Bonnet. Buff Gloves and Shoes. Beaver Hat. Indian Long Shawl. Cambric Walking Dress, with a Lace Ruff.
Full Dress.
Head fashionably drest, with a Band of Embroidered Lace. Dress of White Sarsnet, trimmed with Point. Robe of Pink Crape. White Shoes and Gloves.

This one is May 1808, not very different I think. The description is as follows.

May Cabinet of Fashion (page 264)

Full Dress.-Dress of fine muslin, elegantly worked down the front and round the bottom, and trimmed with pea-green ribbon.-Hair fashionably dressed.-White shoes and buff gloves.
Walking Dress.-Short dress of muslin, with lace trimming.-Shawl of lilac silk, and bonnet of the same colour, with a fancy flower in front.

I really really like the one with the green ribbon down the front. It is elegant and pretty and very wearable, I think.

This last one is just for fun. It is Victorian and is May 1860. We sure have come a long way since then.

Promise, more fashions on Monday. Until then. Happy Rambles.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Regency Flora and Fauna - May

I took the little gem that follows from the Naturists Diary of our period. My last excerpt from him was gloomy, but this really caught my imagination since he waxes so lyrical, and he also mentions heart's-ease which I just may have mentioned is the title of my recently completed manuscript. I tend to put this wildflower in April, but you know, Spring is coming earlier and earlier to England, so I really ought not to discount what was written in our period.

So, my diarists says: “We know little or nothing of the common flowers among the ancients; but as violets in general have their due mention among the poets that have come down to us, it is to be concluded that the heart's-ease could not miss its particular admiration,--if indeed it existed among them in its perfection. The modern Latin name for it is flos Jovis, or Jove's flower,--an appellation rather too worshipful for its sparkling little delicacy, and more suitable to the greatness of an hydrangea, or to the diadems of a rhododendron.

The name given it by the Italians is flammola, the little flame;--at least, this is an appellation with which I have met, and it is quite in the taste of that ardent people. The French are perfectly amiable with theirs:--they call it pensee, “a thought”, from which comes our word pansy:--

"There's rosemary," says poor Ophelia; "that's for remembrance;--pray you, love remember; and there is pansies,--that's for thoughts."

[What a great quote]

Milton in his fine way, gives us a picture in a word,--"The pansy freaked with jet." [Fabulous writing!] Another of its names is love-in-idleness, under which it has been again celebrated by Shakespeare in the "Midsummer's Night Dream."

All right, I’ll stop about the heart’s ease already and talk about some other sights in nature.

The butter-cup (ranunculus bulbosus) spreads over the meadows; the cole-seed (brassica napus) in cornfields, bryony (brionia dioica), and the arum, or cuckoo-pint, in hedges, now show their flowers.

Interestingly enough, at least to me, I have a very pretty scene in Heart’s Ease where mother and daughter make daisy chains and of course put the buttercup under each other’s chins to see if they like butter.

And this is the picture of a cuckoo pint in flower. Ugly right? And poisoness. You should see the fruit of this plant. Remind me to put it up in August if I forget.

But what about the fauna you ask. Well the naturist waffles on about insects, glow worms, which surprised me, because I never saw one in England growing up, crickets and May bugs which I can certainly remember. They are huge and they seem to fly straight at one's face.

He also talks about birds, and one in particular I thought quite interesting and not one I was familiar with:

The sedge-bird (motacilla salicaria)[This was the only picture I could find.] "This bird is found in places where reeds and sedges grow, and builds its nest there, which is made of dried grass, tender fibres of plants, and lined with hair. It sings incessantly night and day, during the breeding time, and imitates, by turns, the notes of the sparrow, the skylark, and other birds, from which it is called the English mock-bird." Who knew! England has a mocking bird.

The animal kingdom will have to wait until next time.

Until then, happy rambles.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Regency Writer's Day Off - Or How to promote your books without really trying

Okay, not really, but I did have fun. As I announced a couple of weeks ago, April 28 I booksigned at the Chapters Indigo in the Town of Vaughn. For those of you not familiar with Ontario, or Canada, Vaughn is the City above Toronto and Chapters/Indigo is our Barnes and Noble.

As you can see from the picture, three of us signed on Saturday. We all write very different kinds of books. Teresa Roblin, my critique partner, writes contemporary, comedic, magic. Great books. And Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, a multi published author with the Toronto Romance Writers Chapter of RWA writes, fantasy and paranormal, some with a romance, but not all, and a bit on the dark side. And a lovely lady. It was a priviledge to sign with her. Well you already know what I do and I brought along Pistols at Dawn and my shop early for Christmas Holiday in the Heart Anthology from Highland press.

Saturday turned out to be a rather wet day for the last days of April in Ontario, but that didn't seem to stop the customers. Boy that store was humming! And the Manager, Vania, gave us pride of place, right by the front door, offered us water and coffee and generally made us feel very at home.

We even had the deputy mayor pop in. How about that. Teresa deserves the credit for organizing such a special day.

And, best of all, Vania invited us to go back again~~ any time.

So what made the event so successful. I thought it might be interesting for me to let you in on what seemed to work for us and what didn't work.

1. Working as a team with the manager really helped. We were accomodating, we provided advertizing, we arrived on time looking smart and professional.
Even though we were nervous, we looked the part.

2. This is only my second booksigning. What I noticed the first time was how people walk through the doors, see you sitting at a table and immediately avoid eye contact. I've done it myself, for heaven's sake. And when you smile and say hi, they almost jump out of their skins, and definately think you are selling raffle tickets and keep on moving.

3. It is even easier for them to pass on by if you sit at the table talking to each other.

4. Having friends and family drop by -- not all at once -- helps, when other people see a crowd, they tend to want to see what is going on. But let's be honest, you need to do lots of booksignings and you can't ask family to turn up for them all. But I did notice that if you can get one or two people to come to the table, others will at least take a peak.

5. We took turns in going around the store and speaking to people. It's great practice for figuring out how a character feels doing something totally outside of their comfort zone, if nothing else. Oh, that's the writer talking, not the promoter, sorry.

6. Something I found very helpful with the meet and greet around the store was my brochure and my bookmarks. I handed a browsing customer a brochure with a smile and told them we were local authors doing a booksigning at the front of the store and that they should feel free to pop by and say hi. Then I offered them a free bookmark to use in whatever book they were going to buy. My brochure has an excerpt of the first scene of my book and I think once they read a little bit of it, they were intrigued.
Several of those people bought books, some of them from all of us, wanting to support their local authors. And that is why Vania was so pleased. She could not believe how many books we sold in such a short time.

7. I used the fact that Mother's Day was coming up as an ice-breaker. You know, mother might like a personalized author signed book... and it is a romance, wink. One gentleman said his mother was fussy. I don't think he meant to be insulting because he looked exceedingly nervous.

8. Depending on what kind of books you are signing, watch your age group. I did tell a couple of mothers with teenagers that the books were at an adult level. I think it is only fair to be honest.

7. Some people dropped by for candies, and stayed to chat or buy ~~ so I do highly recommend bribes.

9. I also signed up a couple of people for my newsletter, so I feel as if I made some friends, perhaps even now you are reading this blog. If so. It was a pleasure to meet you last Saturday, and do feel free to write or leave a comment.

Now, if any of you are browsing your local bookstore and you see a person sitting behind a pile of books with a pen in their hand, go and say hello. Authors don't bite and they don't mind if you don't buy their books. What they hope is that next time you are looking for a book you remember their name.

I do hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the writers life. Until next time~~ as always ~~ Happy rambles.