Victorian Valentine’s Day Verses for Rejecting Unwanted Suitors

The Two Central Figures in Derby Day by William Powell Frith, 1860.(Met Museum)

The Two Central Figures in “Derby Day” by William Powell Frith, 1860.
(Met Museum)

Published in 1875, The Lover’s Poetic Companion and Valentine Writer is a book intended for Victorian ladies and gentlemen “who wish to address those they love in suitable terms.”  It contains a variety of Valentine verses, ranging from the sweet to the satirical.  The book promises that these “Love Lyrics” are harmless and that even the more comical lines do not descend into vulgarity.  But what these verses lack in vulgarity, they more than make up for in unkindness and—in some instances—outright cruelty. Continue reading

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

The “Dash It Alls” on Romance, Writing, and the Influence of Georgette Heyer

The Recital by Vittorio Reggianini, (l1858-1938).

The Recital by Vittorio Reggianini, (1858-1938).

As some of you may remember, during the RWA Beau Monde’s 2015 celebration of the eightieth anniversary of the Regency romance novel, I wrote a weekly Georgette Heyer poll here on my site as my way of contributing to the festivities.  These polls were quite popular at the time and a great way for Heyer lovers to connect over favourite characters, favourite scenes, and best loved phrases.  It was during this time that romance authors Avril Tremayne and Jane Godman, editor Ali Williams, and I formed our own little Heyer group which Ali affectionately named the “Dash it Alls” in honour of Freddy Standen from Heyer’s 1953 novel CotillionContinue reading

From Chancery Court to Mansfield Park: A One Year Anniversary Digest

Young Lady in a Boat by James Tissot, 1870.

Young Lady in a Boat by James Tissot, 1870.

Last March, a questionnaire from my literary agent about my social media presence prompted me to finally join Facebook and Twitter.  The very next day on March 23, 2015, I started this blog.  Initially, I wasn’t sure which direction I would go in, however, in real life I’m a crackerjack researcher and—according to my last boss—I write exceptionally compelling briefs.  Since my latest book hadn’t sold yet and I had no blurbs or buy links to post, I decided to focus my skills on the subjects I love best: 19th century Romance, Literature, and History.

Continue reading

Valentine’s Day in the 19th Century: Lost Connections & Lonely Hearts

Valentine's Day Card, 1864.(Image via Victoria & Albert Museum)

Valentine’s Day Card, 1864.
(Image via Victoria & Albert Museum)

February 14th is Valentine’s Day.  To celebrate the holiday 19th century style, I’ve collected a few Valentine’s Day news items from Regency England, Victorian England, and even 1890s Texas.  Some remind me a bit of modern day “lost connections” or “lonely hearts” adverts (hence the title of this post), others are simply humorous historical Valentine’s Day messages or, predictably, not so humorous Victorian Valentine’s Day news. Continue reading

Alternative Courtship: Matrimonial Advertisements in the 19th Century

The Lovers by William Powell Frith, 1855.

For many single ladies and gentlemen of the 19th century, placing a matrimonial advertisement in a local newspaper was considered a viable alternative to traditional courtship.  It was especially popular with those who were new to an area or those who had no family or social groups through which they might otherwise obtain an introduction to a suitable partner.  Naturally, there were those traditionalists who frowned upon this method of acquiring a spouse.  It was viewed as undignified, indelicate, and dangerous.  Even so, matrimonial advertisements were utilized by men and women of every age and every class throughout the Regency and Victorian eras.  Continue reading

The Scandalous Regency Era Criminal Conversation Case of Aston v. Elliot

Symptoms of Life in London, or Love, Law, and Physic by George Cruikshank,, 1821.(image via Wellcome Library.)

Symptoms of Life in London, or Love, Law, and Physic by George Cruikshank,, 1821.
(Image via Wellcome Library.)

In January of 1818, on the second page of a small Irish newspaper, was a brief article with the sensational headline: “Projected Divorce in High Life.”  This case, which would soon become notorious in both England and France, was not, in fact, a divorce.  It was an action for criminal conversation – a tort, long extinct, in which an aggrieved husband could make a claim for damages against the lover of his adulterous spouse.  These sorts of cases were always deliciously scandalous, and none more so than that of Aston v. Elliot – a case which involved noblemen, prostitutes, syphilis, a veteran of Waterloo, and some of the highest ranking members of the beau monde. Continue reading

Napoleon vs. Wellington: The Art of the Passionate Love Letter

Napoleon and Wellington Love LetterRanging from the desperately passionate to the treacly sweet, historical love letters are as informative as they are entertaining.  But who amongst our favorite figures of the 19th century penned the most heart melting missives?  Naturally, one would assume the honors for this would go to Byron, Keats, or Shelley.  Their love letters were sublime, there is no doubt.  However, if you have a yen to read truly smoldering love letters, might I suggest a gentleman who, when not busy conquering the world, expended his time writing scorching hot letters to his wife? Continue reading

Georgette Heyer’s Most Beloved Novel

The Thick of the Plot by George Goodwin Kilburne, 1924.

The Thick of the Plot by George Goodwin Kilburne, 1924.

Filled with sparkling wit, frothy romance, and impeccable period details, every single one of Georgette Heyer’s Georgian and Regency novels has something to recommend it.  There are runaway balloons, devoted rescue dogs, kidnappings, duels, brooding Yorkshire heroes, and “that Greek fellow.”  How can a Heyer fan choose only one favorite?  It would be unfair of anyone to ask us to do so.  Nevertheless, it seems only fitting that for the final Georgette Heyer poll we address ourselves to the difficult task. Continue reading

Venetia and the Byronic Hero

A Garden Stroll by George Goodwin Kilburne, 1924.

A Garden Stroll by George Goodwin Kilburne, 1924.

(*Author’s Note: The following article was originally published in the April edition of The Regency Reader.  I thought it was time to have it here in its entirety.  Enjoy!)

As romance writers and readers, we are all intimately acquainted with the Byronic hero.  That particular brand of brooding, mysterious, misunderstood – and did I mention handsome? – Regency rogue that has stolen the heart of many a sheltered young Regency heroine.  He is Captain Conrad in The Corsair, Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, and Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre.  And as dark and dangerous as he is, he makes the honorable, morally upright gentlemen with whom he shares the page seem downright unappealing. Continue reading