Monday, December 7, 2009

Viewing the Masters in the Regency Era

At the time Jane Austen had Elizabeth Bennet visiting Pemberley, the Darcy estate, there were no public art museums in Great Britain. Those wishing to view paintings and sculptures of the Masters would visit England's great estates as well as the extensive parkland surrounding their magnificent manor houses. Middle-class travelers could visit Blenheim, the ancestral seat of the Churchills, or Chatsworth, one of several homes of the Dukes of Devonshire, among many others. The first National Gallery in England would not open until 1824, seven years after Austen's death, at 100 Pall Mall, in the former townhouse of John Julius Angerstein, a Russian emigre, banker, and art collector, who had died the previous year. It was small, hot, crowded, and a national embarrassment when compared to the Louvre in Paris, but it was a start.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Skating Party

Skating party
Originally uploaded by Mary L. Simonsen
Other than walking and riding, there were few outdoor activities that a woman could do in Regency England, but ice skating was one of them. Although this picture shows only the two dandies skating while their female companions look on, women did skate, often on the arm of their suitor. Obviously, the two men in this picture are trying to impress the ladies. They are in their best clothes, and they must have been freezing!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In World War II, lipstick tubes became bullets.

The setting for my novel, Searching for Pemberley, takes place in post World War II England. As a result, I did a lot of research on the war and post-war periods. Did you know that when World War II broke out and the country went on a wartime footing, and manufacturers had to convert their assembly lines to produce materiel needed for the war? Some of the changes resulted in a shortage of lipstick tubes (needed for bullets) and nylons (necessary for parachutes) and the auto industry stopped producing sedans and started making tanks and airplanes. If you would like to learn more, please read my guest post at A Bibliophile's Bookshelf.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Wordy Shipmates - A Review

The Wordy Shipmates is a look at our Puritan roots. A book about the Puritans? Pretty dry stuff—unless it’s written by Sarah Vowell. But reading this book reminded me of someone who drives a SUV with off-road capabilities. You are humming along reading a rambling, but very interesting, story of the Puritans carving a civilization out of a wilderness, when you find yourself on a side road that takes you to a story line involving the Brady Bunch.

But when she writes of John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and religious zealots, Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, and the Puritans’ Indian allies and/or enemies, it is a page turner. She brings a unique and often amusing perspective to this chapter in Colonial American history. As an American, she is an admirer of these people who wanted to build “a city on the hill” for all to emulate, but as a realist, she examines the contradictions of a God-fearing people who can burn an entire Pequot village, women and children included, and find that such an act is Bible based. Grade: A-