Sunday, May 27, 2012

Boook Giveaway: Radicals and Royalists

The lovely Emily Jacobs wrote to tell me of her newest book, Radicals & Royalists which is now available from Amazon.  Needless to say, it sounds like something many of you bookworms would be interested in:
After a childhood spent learning about abolition, self-government, and the rights of humankind, Lydia Jameson is now an independent-minded young woman who hopes to change the world. As Britain and France wage war over tradition and revolution in 1793, Lydia works with her widowed father Nicholas, operating a bookshop and printing business in Portsmouth, England. Although they live in relative safety, their disdain for the status quo carries the constant risk of arrest. When Lydia's best friend marries a naval officer--against her advice--she must suffer the company of Tories in uniform who consider her a treasonous rebel. Lydia soon finds herself immersed in romance, political conflict, and family drama, as she begins to learn that not all officers are created equal.
Emily has been kind enough to agree to let one reader win a copy of this exciting Georgian tale (so you can read about it and gush all about it to us).  I myself, will be living vicariously through you since, reading for pleasure seems to be a long-lost dream le sigh.

The Rules:
Just leave a comment on this post to be eligible and I will pick out a name at random and announce the winner on June 11.  The winner is then responsible for emailing me back within the week with their mailing address- Sorry, for this giveaway the winner must having a mailing address in the US or Canada.  Good luck!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nursery Rhymes for Little G

The many visitors to Chatsworth every year will be lucky to see an amazing art collection, which includes esteemed portrait by Reynolds celebrating the birth of Georgiana's first child, Little G.  At first glance both eighteenth-century viewers and modern have had one of two reactions; the first being that the beautiful duchess is about to happily smack her long-awaited child (this was actually included in a contemporary review!) or the intended one, that a mother and child are in the throes of a fun game.  The game that the two Georgianas are supposed to be playing is, Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross, which is now sung as follows:
Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes
Perhaps more familiar to British readers than Americans, this nursery rhyme is still sung to little tykes today.  In fact there is a gorgeous statue commemorating it in, you guessed it, Bunbury Cross. The rhyme has gone through some changes throughout the years and it may have been sung a little differently to Little G.  The recorded 1744 version had a different ending:
Ride a cock-horse
To Banbury Cross,
To see what Tommy can buy;
A penny white loaf,
A penny white cake,
And a two-penny apple-pie
In 1884 when Randolph Caldecott illustrated the rhyme, he picked the perfect setting to illustrate his "fine lady." the 1780-90s.  The lovely result has the essence of familiar ladies (and their awesome fashion); methinks the sailor-mouthed, Lady Lade is on the cover!  Thanks to Project Gutenburg you can read the book here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Cheat-Sheet for the Theatre

One of the best places for celebrity spotting in eighteenth-century London was the theatre, where one could see royalty, peers, and famous actors all together in one room.  But how did one know which box a scandalous duchess or naughty count that were frequently talked about in the press would be sitting in?  The papers would publish diagrams of the box subscribers so you could pick out who was sitting where.

One amazing article from the V&A's collection shows that people took this plan one step further.  On one side of this fan is your usual fan decoration.  But on the other side is a theatre layout with a list of subscribers.  That way the owner of the fan could attend the theatre and do their usual people-watching with a cheat sheet of just who they were spying on- in case they forgot.  What a handy tool for gossiping!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Inveraray Castle

I was lucky enough to visit one of the homes previously featured in my Country Homes collection this past weekend and it was so gorgeous I could not resist sharing.

Inveraray Castle is the current seat of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll but this fairy-tale castle was built in 1746 and rebuilt again in the Victorian era after a fire.  On the outside it looks like a gothic fortress but inside you will find it to be covered in gorgeous Neo-Classic splendor.  Inveraray was the home of one of the beautiful Gunnings sisters, Elizabeth who was so taken with her that he married her on the same day that he met her despite the fact that she was low-born.  One does not have to try hard to imagine the elegant duchess wafting from room to room in her newly-built castle in the Scottish countryside.

My favorite room was the tapestry room. In the center was a portrait by Hoppner of Elizabeth's daughter as Aurora
There was also what I like to call a "man room" which tend to entertain gentleman friends moreso than tapestries.
The dining room was all sorts of Neo-Classical
I was also surprised to find the portrait of Georgiana's granddaughter, Lady Sutherland, who followed in her grandmother's political footsteps was housed in Inveraray.  It literally took my breath away!
The residential quarters of the house where I managed to see Elizabeth's portrait through a window.  How could they hide such a thing from public view!

An entry-bridge fit for a duchess