When Jealousy is Not a Curse – My Georgette Heyer Addiction: Guest Post by Avril Tremayne

Today, I am very pleased to welcome author and fellow #DashItAll Avril Tremayne with a guest post on Georgette Heyer!

Composing a Letter by Vittorio Reggianini, (1858–1938).

Composing a Letter by Vittorio Reggianini, (1858–1938).

I’m admitting upfront to a case of author envy when it comes to Georgette Heyer – even though I write super sexy, ultra-contemporary romances that are a world away from Heyer’s bygone eras full of heroes and heroines who fall in love before they even kiss. Continue reading

A Century of Sartorial Style: A Visual Guide to 19th Century Menswear

Individual Collage Images Courtesy of LACMA, Met Museum, and the Kyoto Costume Institute.

Individual Collage Images Courtesy of LACMA, Met Museum, and the Kyoto Costume Institute.

Men’s fashion changed very little during the nineteenth century, especially when compared to women’s fashion of the same period. For this reason, I thought it better to provide a general overview of the century, looking at changes decade-by-decade as opposed to year-by-year. In this manner, you can see the slow evolution of nineteenth century menswear, from the Regency dandyism of Beau Brummell to the matched three-piece suits of the late Victorian era. Changes were subtle, but significant, each of them moving men’s fashion one step closer to the elegant silhouettes still evidenced in fashionable menswear of today. Continue reading

This is Death: A Guest Post on George IV by Catherine Curzon

Today, I am very pleased to welcome royal historian and author Catherine Curzon with a fascinating guest post on the death of King George IV!

George IV by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1814.

George IV by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1814.

“It has pleased Almighty God to take from this world the King’s Most Excellent Majesty.  His Majesty expired at a quarter past three o’clock this morning, without pain.”[1]

Before I even put pen to paper to write Life in the Georgian Court, I had a soft spot for all things George IV.  I’m fairly uncommon in this, as George is a far from popular fellow thanks to his love of spending, excess and treating the world as though it was his and his alone. Continue reading

Circassian Bloom: Cheek Rouge for 18th and 19th Century Ladies

Self-Portrait by Marie-Gabrielle Capet, 1783.
(National Museum of Western Art)

Circassian Bloom—also marketed as “Bloom of Circassia”—is perhaps the most well-known brand of cheek rouge from the 18th and 19th centuries.  Along with such luxurious sounding beauty products as Peach Blossom Cream and Alabaster Liquid, it was featured regularly in Victorian era newspaper advertisements.  It was also frequently mentioned in 18th and 19th century fiction, including short stories in magazines and popular comic verses.  Perhaps the most quoted of these verses is by the English poet George Crabbe who mentions Circassian Bloom in his 1785 poem, The Newspaper.  It reads in part: Continue reading

Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia: A New Novel by the Creator of Downton Abbey

Belgravia Julian Fellowes 2016As a general rule, I don’t accept books for review here at MimiMatthews.com.  However, when I was approached several months ago to participate in the Progressive Blog Tour for Julian Fellowes’ new novel, Belgravia, I simply could not refuse.  Many of you probably already know Julian Fellowes as the creator, writer, and executive producer of the popular television series Downton Abbey.  He also wrote the screenplay (and won an Oscar!) for one of my favorite movies, Gosford Park.  His other film, television, and print credits are too numerous to list.  Suffice to say that he has been entertaining those of us who love historical drama for a very long time. Continue reading

On Bluestockings and Beauty: 19th Century Advice for Educated Women

“Blue-stocking or not, every woman ought to make the best of herself inside and out.  To be healthy, handsome, and cheerful, is no disadvantage even in a learned professor.”
The Art of Beauty, 1883.

Portrait of a Woman by Henry Inman, 1825.(Brooklyn Museum)

Portrait of a Woman by Henry Inman, 1825.
(Brooklyn Museum)

Unlike the clever, witty bluestockings that populated the fashionable salons of the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Victorian bluestocking was considered to be, as one 1876 publication puts it, “a stiff, stilted, queer literary woman of a dubious age.”  This unfortunate stereotype was so firmly entrenched that it even made its way into an 1883 edition of the Popular Encyclopedia, wherein a bluestocking is defined as a “pedantic female” who has sacrificed the “excellencies of her sex” to education and learning. Continue reading

The Peacock in Myth, Legend, and 19th Century History

Peacock and Peacock Butterfly by Archibald Thorburn, 1917.

Peacock and Peacock Butterfly by Archibald Thorburn, 1917.

In his 1836 book On the Mental Illumination and Moral Improvement of Mankind, Reverend Thomas Dick calls the peacock “the most beautiful bird in the world.”  There are few that would dispute this description; however, throughout history, there has always been more to the peacock than its dazzling plumage.  At various times and in various cultures, it has served as a symbol of good and evil, death and resurrection, and of sinful pride and overweening vanity.  And much like its avian brethren, the crow and the raven, the peacock has figured heavily in folktales and fables, as well as in countless superstitions that still exist today. Continue reading

The Victorian Baby: 19th Century Advice on Motherhood and Maternity

First Born by Gustave Leonard de Jonghe

First Born by Gustave Leonard de Jonghe, 1863.

During the 19th century, there were many sources of information on motherhood and maternity.  Some new mothers relied on the instructions of their nurse, midwife, or physician.  While others used the example set by their own mother as a guide for their conduct.  For all the questions remaining, there were motherhood and maternity manuals produced by hospitals, religious organizations, and advice experts.  These guides advised on everything from conception and pregnancy to nursery decoration, childrearing, and teenage rebellion.   Continue reading

Seaside Fashions of the 19th Century

“The close of the London and Parisian Season has now arrived, and the Fashionable World has sought the invigorating breezes of the Seaside…”
The Ladies’ Monthly Magazine, 1869.

On the Shores of Bognor Regis by A. M. Rossi, 1887.

On the Shores of Bognor Regis by A. M. Rossi, 1887.

During the 19th century, there was no such thing as a holiday from fashion.  Seaside resorts in England—whether in Brighton, Bournemouth, or Burnham-on-Sea—were as much a place to flaunt one’s style as London itself during the season.  An 1869 issue of the Ladies’ Monthly Magazine even goes so far as to declare:

“…splendid as they have been in the season just ended, dresses to be worn at the Seaside, and at the mansions of our Aristocracy, often surpass those that have been worn in London or Paris, during the height of the Season.”

Continue reading

Animal Welfare in the 19th Century: An Earth Day Overview

Una and the Lion by Briton Rivière, 1840-1920.

Una and the Lion by Briton Rivière, 1840-1920.

There was no official Earth Day in the 19th century, but scholars, essayists, and theologians often pondered the solemn duty that man owed to the natural world.  Admittedly, these ponderings were not generally focused on environmental issues such as the effects of greenhouse gases.  Instead, those in the 19th century—and Victorians especially—focused on conservation and man’s treatment of animals. Continue reading