WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Wife in Water Colours

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Wife in Water Colours

They are often written as a foil to the heroine: vain, overblown, and vengeful. They often have some skeevy characteristic such as malice, possessiveness, or extreme avarice that only manifests itself (or seems unattractive and potentially problematic) to the hero after he meets and/or falls for the heroine. In nearly half the novels in which they make an appearance, they don’t take dismissal by the hero with a thank you, but rather use it as kindling in the formation of a plot to harm the heroine.

Beware the ides of Mistress.

The Amorous Courtesan by Pierre Subleyras, 1735, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Wife in Water Colours (noun)

A mistress, or concubine; water colours being, like their engagements, easily effaced, or dissolved.

I know many Regency gentlemen kept mistresses, and I have no problem reading of their accounts in contemporaneous resources and historical texts. I don’t, however, want to read about them in flagrante delicto with the hero in my historical romance. The hero may visit her off-page, give her her congé, or even offer assistance toward a more respectable direction; I don’t want to read about them engaging in energetic discourse of a horizontal nature.

The Jersey Smuggler Detected; – or – Good cause for (separation) Discontent by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 24 May 1796.

Once a male character in a novel becomes clearly identifiable as the hero, I want him to remain committed to the heroine. He may fight with her and against his attraction for three-fourths of the story, but he may not visit another’s bed. Author Susana Ellis wrote several posts about what she called “Historical Romance Deal Breakers,” and adultery was number two. I concur.

Now, turn the mistress into the heroine … well, I’m all for that. I like a good underdog story.

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • Want to learn more about courtesans and mistresses in Regency England? Head to The Culture Concept Circle.
  • Someone else agrees with me about adultery being a no-no in historical romance. Read what Susana Ellis has to say about it.
WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Hobberdehoy

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Hobberdehoy

I think we all know someone who needs to act their age rather than their shoe size (to paraphrase Prince). This week’s word may be more a literal reference to age rather than behavior, but it’s easier to illustrate the latter, so I beg your indulgence of my interpretation.

Hobberdehoy (noun)

Half a man and half a boy, a lad between both.

For the ultimate Regency boy-man, I of course thought of the Prince Regent, the patron saint of leisure, fashion, and food, and extravagance in all three. He was criticized as selfish, careless, and inconstant, offering no direction to the country during his father’s incapacitation or the wars with Napoleon and America. His legacy is self-aggrandizement for all things frivolous and profligate.

George IV by Thomas Lawrence, 1822, Chatsworth House Chintz Bedroom.

George IV by Thomas Lawrence, 1822, Chatsworth House Chintz Bedroom.

The remaining behavioral visual aids for Hobberdehoys may be fictional – but they fit my thematic rendering rather well. And of course they came from the inspired mind of Jane Austen. Upon examination, I found a Hobberdehoy in each of her novels.

Do you agree with my choices?

Allesandro Nivola as Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park, 1999.

Allesandro Nivola as Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park, 1999.

Rupert Evans as Frank Churchill in Emma.

Rupert Evans as Frank Churchill in Emma, 2009.

William Beck as John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, 2007.

William Beck as John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, 2007.

Anthony Head as Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion, 2007.

Anthony Head as Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion, 2007.

Greg Wise as Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, 1995.

Greg Wise as Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, 1995.

Adrian Lukis as George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

Adrian Lukis as George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed

I am not getting sick.
I am not getting sick.
I am not getting sick.

I hope.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds ¦ WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed. Pictured, Hugh Laurie as Prince George in Blackadder the Third.

As I lay here half puny, half slug-a-bed, I feel the need to be amused by great British television. The program I selected, Blackadder the Third, put me in mind of a diverting term for this week, and also provided a few graphic illustrations. The term is an oldie-but-a-goodie prank still around today. The illustrations aren’t necessarily germane to the Word of the Week, but they are period-ish.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds ¦ WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed. Pictured, Hugh Laurie as Prince George in Blackadder the Third.

Apple-Pye Bed (noun)

A bed made apple-pye fashion, like what is called a turnover apple-pye, where the sheets are so doubled as to prevent any one from getting at his length between them: a common trick played by frolicsome country lasses on their sweethearts, male relations, or visitors.

Perhaps Prince George's bed hath been apple-pyed.

Perhaps Prince George’s bed hath been apple-pyed.

Just for chuckles and, again, because it’s barely apropos to the Word of the Week posts yet still entertaining, may I present a clip from the Blackadder the Third episode “Ink and Incapability,” followed by the episode in its entirety for those who have extra time on their hands. What could be more fitting to share on a blog about words than an episode of Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, and Robbie Coltrane – Blackadder, Prince George, and Samuel Johnson – scheming about just that: words.

For your delectation.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cinder Garbler

We’re likely all familiar with the story of Cinderella, especially the animated Disney version with its helpful animals and horse-faced stepsisters. My favorite adaptation is Ever After, the 1998 movie starring Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott, likely because the story is treated as historical fiction (and I ignore the fact that despite its French setting, the French accents appear few and far between). Fun Fact: Did you know that Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien) from the OG Rocky Horror Picture Show plays the despicable Pierre le Pieu? The More You Know.

Cinderella illustration by J. Macfarlane.

Cinderella illustration by J. Macfarlane.

But I digress.

Cinderella – from the French Cendrillon, meaning little ashes – gave me my first glimpse of the life of an historical housemaid. And if relatives treated their poor cinder girl so awfully, just imagine the treatment meted out to a simple hireling.

Cinder Garbler (noun)

A servant maid, from her business of sifting the ashes from the cinders.

Her First Place by George Dunlop Leslie, date unknown, Christopher Wood Gallery.

Her First Place by George Dunlop Leslie, date unknown, Christopher Wood Gallery.

Author Angelyn Schmid has a wonderful blog on all things historical, and her posts include contemporaneous sources that really make the history come alive. Her two latest posts address the various realities for a Regency maid-servant … and they unfortunately never involved pursuit by a Prince.

A sketch of the female domestic servant during the Regency period is summed up thus:

“..her own character and condition overcome all sophistications…her shape, fortified by the mop and scrubbing-brush, will make its way; and exercise keeps her healthy and cheerful. Through the same cause her temper is good..”

La Belle Assemblée; or, Bell’s court and fashionable … N.S. 15-16 (1817)

Angelyn also reveals the maid-servant’s position in the downstairs hierarchy is decidedly middling, and she has little recourse but to “keep calm and carry on,” to purloin a popular phrase from today.

“..she gets into little heats when a stranger is over saucy, or when she is told not to go down stairs so heavily, or when some unthinking person goes up her stairs with dirty shoes..”

— La Belle Assemblée; or, Bell’s court and fashionable … N.S. 15-16 (1817).

Please follow these links to read all of Angelyn’s insightful peek into the life of a Cinder Garbler:

The Regency Maid-Servant – Part One
The Regency Maid-Servant – Part two

And because it’s Monday and I mentioned Rocky Horror, it’s time for the Time Warp!

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lollipops

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lollipops

Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day … or as I like to call it, the first Candy Holiday of the year. I’m not a big candy eater, but I do splurge on Candy Holidays: Valentine’s is for Nerds, Easter brings the Cadbury Creme Egg, Halloween calls for candy corn and pumpkins, Thanksgiving means caramel apples, and Christmas is of course reserved for Reese’s Christmas Trees.

Those vulgar Long Regency-ites had a slang term for candy that’s still in use today, although what we know now didn’t make its appearance until 1908, and with a stick. This word called for some era-appropriate recipes for 19th Century candy.

Lollipops (noun)

Sweet lozenges purchased by children.

Old Covent Garden Market by George Sharf 'The Elder', 1825, British Museum.

Old Covent Garden Market by George Sharf ‘The Elder’, 1825, British Museum.

Author Laurie Alice Eakes visited Vanessa Riley’s blog several years ago and left two lovely Regency candy recipes. Perhaps children bought these lollies once upon a time.

Confectionary Drops

Take double refined sugar, pound and sift it through a hair sieve, not too fine; then sift it through a silk sieve to take out all the fine dust which would destroy the beauty of the drop. Put the sugar into a clean pan, and moisten it with any favourite aromatic…Colour it with a small quantity of liquid carmine, or any other colour, ground fine. Take a small pan with a lip, fill it three parts with paste, place it on a small stove, the half hole being the size of the pan, and stir the sugar with a little ivory or bone handle, until it becomes liquid. When it almost boils, take it from the fire and continue to stir it: if it be too moist, take a little of the powdered sugar, and add a spoonful to the paste, and stir it till it is of such a consistence as to run without too much extension. Have a tin plate, very clean and smooth; take the little pan in the left hand, and hold in the right a bit of iron, copper, or silver wire, four inches long, to take off the drop from the lip of the pan, and let it fall regularly on the tin plate; two hours afterwards, take off the drops with the blade of a knife.

Chocolate Drops

Scrape the chocolate to powder, and put an ounce to each pound of sugar; moisten the paste with clear water, work it as above, only take care to use all the paste prepared, as if it be put on the fire a second time, it greases, and the drop is not of the proper thickness.

Author’s Note: A pound of sugar is about 2 cups by modern measurements.

Antique 19thCentury Primitive Shaker Treen Hair Sieve from www.worthpoint.com

Antique 19th Century Primitive Shaker Treen Hair Sieve from http://www.worthpoint.com

Another candy recipe that came about in the late Georgian era can be found at the Westminster City Archives in the fantastically named The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies.

Extract from an 18th century recipe for orange chips (candied peel) in The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies from the Westminster City Archives.

Extract from an 18th century recipe for orange chips (candied peel) in The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies from the Westminster City Archives at http://www.lostcookbook.com.

Orange Chips

Take yr whole oranges & scrape of the outward rind with a knife to make them look clear, then steep in water 4 days, shifting them 2 a day. Then cut them in halves & take out the clear lumps between the partitions as whole as you can with the point of a knife. Boyle yr peel in water, very tender. Then take out all the strings but take out as little of the white as you can. Then cut them in small long thongs as broad & thin as possible. Then take dubble their weight of dubble refind sugar & make it in a rich sirrip, the sugar only dipt in boyling water. Then put in yr chips & clear lumps, the seeds pick’d out with a pin. Boyle them slowly a good while, 3 qrs of an hour. Keep them in a china bason. Dont cover them till quite cold. When you do them for tarts, you may do them with powder sugar & slice some raw appels thin & boyle it in the sirrop with yr chips. Frensh appels or pippins are best.

So where could one purchase sweet treats? From a establishment similar to the one run by gentlemen such as George and Alfred Pill, pastry cooks and confectioners. Baldwin Hamey runs two fascinating blogs: his namesake, and London Street Views, where I found out about the brothers Pill. They learned their trade from their father and were also apprenticed out to other confectioners, George Ponton and John Coombes, before obtaining their freeman status and opening shop. Click here to learn about their “exquisite jellies” and which brother married his housekeeper!

Bow Steeple Cheapside, with the future location of the Pill Confectionary at number 51 marked, from Thomas Malton's Picturesque Tour of 1792, British Museum.

Bow Steeple Cheapside, with the future location of the Pill Confectionary at number 51 marked, from Thomas Malton’s Picturesque Tour of 1792, British Museum (courtesy London Street Views).

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Carry Witchet

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Carry Witchet

I had a bit of fun creating my very own illustration of this week’s word.

Carry Witchet (noun)

A sort of conundrum, puzzlewit, or riddle.

Valentine puzzle purse, 14 February 1816, image courtesy Nancy Rosin.

Valentine puzzle purse, 14 February 1816, image courtesy Nancy Rosin.

I made a thing! I made a thing! Or rather, I made a carry witchet!

It’s not pretty at all, especially compared to the contemporaneous puzzles above, but it’s chock-full of Regency terms. I grabbed the single words from previous Word of the Week posts and made a crossword puzzle of vulgar proportions! Who says Mondays are boring?! Click the link at the bottom of the puzzle to print your own fill-in-the-blank copy.

I’ll post the answers on Facebook on Wednesday. Not that anyone will need them.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds ¦ WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Carry Witchet

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds ¦ WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Carry Witchet. Talk Vulgar To Me Crossword Puzzle printable.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lun

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lun

Clowns.

One single word that strikes fear into the heart of people of all ages. But not all clowns are created equal. Way back in the early 16th Century, the Italians devised the Commedia dell’arte, which literally translates to “Comedy of Art” but in practice means “Comedy of the Professional.” These artistes were masters of the unwritten and improvised, the “Commedia” of their title referring not to the subject matter but instead to the way in which they performed. No dialogue was written down and memorized, although performance matter was discussed and choreographed in terms of characters, plot, and pace. Actors organized in groups of ten, called a company, with each performer specializing in a specific character or type of acting: the swashbuckling pirate, simpleton love-stricken swain, or the now-dreaded clown.

Troupes soon spread across Europe, and the style worked its way to England via France in the late 17th Century, likely with the return of Charles II, the Merrie Monarch. According to information posted at the Victoria & Albert Museum, stock characters like Harlequin, Columbine, Pantaloon and Clown developed into the English Harlequinade, while Pulcinella, developed into Mr Punch.

And added bonus to my research this week was the discovery of why Harley Quinn carries a bat as her weapon of choice: historical harlequins armed themselves with a “magic sword” called a “slapstick.” The more you know.

Trigger warning: the following images contain clowns. I’ll save the absolute creepiest for last (although Cruikshank’s subject is holding what looks like a knife, and he’s second in my exhibition).

Lun (noun)

Harlequin.

Harlequino (1670) by Maurice Sand, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequino (1670) by Maurice Sand, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr. Grimaldi as a Clown in Harlequin & Friar Bacon by George Cruikshank ca. 1779, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr. Grimaldi as a Clown in Harlequin & Friar Bacon by George Cruikshank ca. 1779, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Triumph of Harlequin by Felicita Tibaldi and Pierre Subleyras ca. 1750, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Triumph of Harlequin by Felicita Tibaldi and Pierre Subleyras ca. 1750, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin and Columbine by Derby Porcelain Manufactory ca. 1755-1760, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin and Columbine by Derby Porcelain Manufactory ca. 1755-1760, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin ca. 18th Century, artist unknown, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin ca. 18th Century, artist unknown, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr G. French as Harlequin published by J. Redington ca. early 19th Century, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr G. French as Harlequin published by J. Redington ca. early 19th Century, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr (Melbourn) Eller as Harlequin, artist unknown, published 17 February 1829, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr (Melbourn) Eller as Harlequin, artist unknown, published 17 February 1829, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin Buff Melbourn Mellar in Harlequin & the Swan, artist unknown, ca. early 19th Century, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin Buff Melbourn Mellar in Harlequin & the Swan, artist unknown, ca. early 19th Century, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin & Mother Goose sheet music by W. Ware, 29 December 1806, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin & Mother Goose sheet music by W. Ware, 29 December 1806, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin Mother Goose by William West ca. 1811, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin Mother Goose illustrations by William West ca. 1811 and performed at Covent Garden Theatre, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Harlequin and the Flying Chest by William Clarkson Stanfield (theatre design), Charles Hullmandel (printer), and W.S. Reynolds (artist) ca. 1823, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Lithographed key to “The Principal Objects in the Moving Diorama of the Plymouth Breakfwater in Harlequin and the Flying Chest by William Clarkson Stanfield (theatre design), Charles Hullmandel (printer), and W.S. Reynolds (artist) ca. 1823, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Winding up to a pitch the Automaton Scaramouch, -.or,- Harlequin Courier's Delight attributed to Theodore Lane, published by George Humphrey 17 February 1821, National Portrait Gallery.

Winding up to a pitch the Automaton Scaramouch, -.or,- Harlequin Courier’s Delight attributed to Theodore Lane, published by George Humphrey 17 February 1821, National Portrait Gallery.

Blowing up the Pic Nic's; - or - Harlequin Quixotte attacking the puppets by James Gillray, publishing by Hannah Humphrey 2 April 1802, National Portrait Gallery.

Blowing up the Pic Nic’s; – or – Harlequin Quixotte attacking the Puppets by James Gillray, publishing by Hannah Humphrey 2 April 1802, National Portrait Gallery.

And the pièce de ré·sis·tance:

Arlequin (Pantin) from Imagerie Pellerin.

Arlequin (Pantin) from Imagerie Pellerin. This one is so disturbing I couldn’t even find an artist or museum collection to claim it.