Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Early-Morning Walk Through Colonial Williamsburg

Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Isabella reporting,

Yes, I'm back in Williamsburg, VA this week, researching and visiting family and friends. As I've mentioned before, I like Colonial Williamsburg in the early morning hours, when the light is sharp and clear and there aren't many modern folk about.

No grand pictures of the Governor's Palace; I prefer the less photographed spots. Here are four photos I took Monday morning. If you enjoy these, there are more (and will be more still, throughout the week) on my Instagram account here.

Above left: Tailor's apprentice Michael McCarty welcomes the first customers of the day to the Margaret Hunter shop. He can be very persuasive presenting the shop's wares. Even Barbie seems impressed, doesn't she?

Above right: The back gardens behind the houses on Duke of Gloucester Street offer all kinds of surprises. Look closely, and you'll see a local cat (no doubt offended by how the nearby thoroughfare is referred to as DoG Street) lounging on the corner of the white fence.

Lower left: A glimpse of one of the landmark building: the top of the Courthouse silhouetted in the morning sun. I'm not sure what those writhing plants are in the foreground, making their final stand of the season - any ideas among our gardening readers?

Lower right: New buildings in Colonial Williamsburg are rare, but this year the 18thc. outdoor Market House (the original was built in the 1750s, and torn down in the 1790s) was recreated. Here an interpreter begins to bring out the day's stock of baskets.

All photographs ©2015 Susan Holloway Scott

Monday, October 12, 2015

Astley's Amphitheatre: What's Playing in October 1811

Monday, October 12, 2015
Astley's, from the Microcosm
Loretta reports:

In my third Dressmakers book, Vixen in Velvet, the hero takes the heroine to Astley’s Royal Circus. For the performance, I used descriptions from the 1830s, when Andrew Ducrow was manager, and Miss Woolford was the beloved equestrienne.

This critique below of an Astley’s performance comes from a generation earlier, when King George IV was the Prince Regent. It’s the sort of show Jane Austen might have seen.
Astley's Show 1811

You can learn more about Astley’s here at Jane Austen’s World as well as at the Victoria and Albert Museum, whose account of Astley’s covers Andrew Ducrow’s and Miss Woolford’s time as well as the interesting story of a famous equestrienne of the Victorian era.

Astley's Show 1811
As always, the blog Spitalfields Life has a larger, crisper, more beautifully colored version of the above illustration (please scroll down) from Ackermann’s Microcosm of London, originally published in 1808-10.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Breakfast Links: Week of October 5, 2015

Saturday, October 10, 2015
Ready for your browsing pleasure - our weekly round-up of fav links to other websites, blogs, articles, and images via Twitter.
• Conserving 19thc. actress Ellen Terry's famous costume embellished with beetle-wings.
• The early 20thc. magician who astounded the world by raising spirits and talking with mummies.
• Who were Anne Bonny and Mary Read, and how did they become pirates?
• The final resting place of the bishops of London.
• The now-forgotten "scribbling woman" who outsold Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Image: Early 20thc. unworn corset still in original box.
• A medieval town and its imported and domestic woollen cloth.
• The Chiswick churchyard where William Hogarth now lies with his neighbors.
• Why ancient Rome matters to the modern world.
• The incredible expandable medieval book.
Image: Brilliantly colored early 20thc. advertising fan.
Scars of war: shrapnel and bomb damage that remain as reminders in modern London.
• The fashion police in 16thc. Italy.
• The paper airplane collector of New York.
• A history (and an ode to) strong women in black turtlenecks.
• Creature feature: centaurs.
Image: Joseph Lister's hearse, 1912.
• A fanciful 1873 cast-iron facade on Broome Street, NYC, features sunflowers.
• This looks like an intriguing one-week exhibition on costume at the University of Washington.
• Ahoy! The English language is chock-a-block with invisible nautical terms.
• Unbuilt London: 19thc. plans for straightening the Thames.
Image: From Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, 1922: "the explosion of pedigreed bunk."
• Feeding the troops: the emotional meaning of food during wartime.
• A very close look at the earthquake repairs to the Washington National Cathedral.
• "I beg to apply for a ticket": Lenin visits the British Library.
• Moptops to Apple Corps: the language of the Beatles.
• Just for fun: Who knew Doc Marten and William Hogarth would become design collaborators?
Hungry for more? Follow us on Twitter @2nerdyhistgirls for fresh updates daily.
Above: At Breakfast by Laurits Andersen Ring. Private collection.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Video: Horrible Histories and George IV's Not-So-Bad News

Friday, October 9, 2015
Isabella reporting,

We haven't had a Friday Video from the Horrible Histories crew for a while. Here's one of our favorites: George IV receiving news that, to him, isn't nearly as bad as it should be. It's easy to imagine the real George's reaction probably wasn't much better.

He probably believed he had good reason, too. This video isn't far from the historical mark (always the case with Horrible Histories.) As most of our readers already know, George IV (1762-1830) did have to wait most of his life to claim the crown; his father, George III was 82 when he died, and George IV himself was nearly 60. The fact that the younger George had also served as Regent while his father suffered from his final mental illness likely only made him more impatient. While he waited to become king, he did in fact lead a life filled with complicated womanizing, gormandizing, and spending, as the video describes. He was not a well-regarded monarch - not because he was fat (thought that did make him an easy target for the viciously barbed caricaturists of the day), but because he was self-indulgent, extravagant, and irresponsible.

But the video is amusing....

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Art of Listening

Thursday, October 8, 2015
1835 French Fashions
Loretta reports:

It had seemed to me that listening had become a lost art, which I blamed, as one does so much else, on technology.

Then I came upon these pages in The Gentleman and Lady's Book of Politeness of 1833 (the English translation is the U.S. edition of a French etiquette manual).

Apparently, every generation needs to be reminded, and not everybody learns or cares to learn. While some of the rules in the book will seem to us very dated and even backward, this part at least strikes me as reasonable and kind, in the way etiquette is supposed to work.


 Fashion illustration for April 1835 courtesy Los Angeles Public Library, Casey Fashion Plates.
Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.
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