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Monday, 14 September 2015

The History of Little Fanny - the first ever dressing doll

I've used 'The History of Little Fanny' in the second of my 'Charity School' series because it was published just in time for little Lucy to be given it as a gift by her father, when he returned from war and tracked her down.
I've long been a collector of dolls, including paper dolls, and I was delighted to discover this first ever cut-out-and-dress doll as early as 1810!  It differs from later dolls in the tradition, in that the head is slotted into whole body costumes, rather than being a doll in undergarments with other clothes folded on top, but it was quite revolutionary for its time.    The history itself is terribly pi and moralising, and not especially realistic, and in 'Ophelia's Opportunity', Lucy loves the doll and decides to make up her own stories that are better than the one told.
Little Fanny is a disobedient child who runs away from her nurse and gets lost, and ends up as a street urchin because she cannot find her way home, then manages to learn to work and through her industry eventually gets a job delivering a parcel to her own home, which she does not realise at first is her own home [a singularly moronic child is Fanny] but her mother recognises her and is happy to have her back, which Fanny thought would never happen.  The clothes show her riches-to-rags and back again story, and I have to say that even dressed as an urchin, Fanny is better dressed than many of the real urchins one sees over and over on cartoons of the period.

Fanny's face, one rich and one poor costume
Fanny's rich coat and day dress
Fanny's costume at the bottom of the heap and then with enough to have shoes and stockings, plus the triangles for mounting the head. 
And here's a shot of some of the very sickly prose which is the right way up on my computer and firmly turns round when uploaded here.  Sorry about that, some of the other pics are not as I saved them either. 
Little Fanny was followed two years later by Little Henry in America; and by the 1820's sets of dressing dolls were produced in Europe quite regularly, but as they are ephemera, I have been unable as yet to glean many details.  Fanny really is the first paper doll in the sense we think of them nowadays, as a plaything for a child.  Eighteenth century France had dolls called pantins which were much like jumping jacks, and were designed to entertain adults.  One might easily hypothesise that fashion plate figures were cut out to play with, and in 'Elinor's Endowment' I have the children do just that, to use as actresses and actors on their Lilliputian Theatre, but Fanny appears to be the first custom-made doll who can change her costume.
And thank goodness that the idea stuck, despite the story!

My copy of 'The History of Little Fanny' is a British Museum facsimile. It's possible to pick them up on Ebay occasionally as they are out of print. 

Ophelia's Opportunity is out on Kindle and will shortly be in paperback HERE

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Literary names for the Regency Heroine.

Literary names for your Regency Heroine

I’ve mentioned a few literary names before, but I thought I’d actually get around to a reasonably comprehensive list, with dates they are first used, since a lot of the names saddled on literary heroines grew out of the doubtless fevered brows of their creators.  After all, some of the names the writers of the late 18th and early 19th century came up with were quite as awful as modern idiocies like Chelsea, Courtney, Kasey, Janelle, Kendra. Louetta and other cruelties.
We know that Jane Austen read Richardson, most of whose characters have quite everyday names,  Charlotte Smith and Fanny Burney, and chose to name all her heroines with names from the top 50 names of the period; but sometimes there is a call for more unusual names, or for names a heroine would have liked to have been called [readers of Anne of Green Gables will recall that Anne longed to have midnight dark hair and be named Susquehannah]. And sometimes unusual names may be a literary device to show the foolishness of a parent [such as the five girls named after characters in Mrs. Williams' poems whom I feature in 'Jane and the Bow Street Runner', or a parent of scholarly but not practical turn of mind like the father of Ophelia Rackham in 'Ophelia's Opportunity' [coming soon].  A memorable name can be invaluable; Georgette Heyer's 'Frederica', 'Venetia', 'Arabella' and 'The Grand Sophy' are unforgettable books.   None of the names were in common use but none of them could be said to be too out of the ordinary, with the possible exception of Venetia.   
Venetia is probably a latinised version of the name Gwynneth, and was then name of notorious 17th century beauty, Venetia Stanley. Her middle name, incidentally, was Anastasia.  In her lover's memoirs, she too has a made up pseudonym: Stelliana.  This, being shocking, is not an appropriate name to be given to any heroine!

Cleone 1667
Herminone 1667

Jonathon Swift
Vanessa 1713

Samuel Richardson:
Pamela 1740
Clarissa 1747-8 [Clarissa was an extant name, but may have revived in popularity]

Helena Maria Williams
Mrs. Williams’ sisters were called Cecilia and Persis

Mary Wollstancraft: not for literary heroines but because her sister was called Everina which is fanciful enough to include here.

Charlotte Smith
Emmeline 1788
Adelina 1788 [from Emmeline]
Ethelinde 1789
Celestina 1791

The Burney sisters were particularly active in naming heroines.

Fanny Burney
Evelina 1778
Cecilia 1782 [certainly an old name but again may have gained popularity]
Honoria [from 'Cecilia' and also an extant name]
Elgiva 1790
Elberta 1788-91
Camilla 1796

Sarah Burney
Clarentine/Clarentina 1798
Geraldine 1808 [also probably extant but more likely to be used in Scotland]
Adela 1810 [a name more used on the continent.]

Caroline Burney [probably no relative and using a pseudonym to cash in on the popularity of Fanny and Sarah]
Seraphina 1809
Lindamira 1810

Walter Scott
Rosabelle 1805
Rowena 1820 [an invented version of Reinwen or Rhonwen which was used in the late Middle Ages]

Anna Louise Germaine de Stael
Delphine 1802
Corinne 1807

Miss Owenson
Ida 1809 [an old name but popularised]

Mrs. Sykes
Margiana 1808

For older literary names:
Here is a partial list of the more exotic female names used in songs and poetry on broadsheets of the 17th century:




Saturday, 29 August 2015

Time as measured in Jane Austen's time.

This is something of a rewrite of an earlier post, but I am concentrating on time for people in the late Georgian era, and have included a couple of useful charts for sunrise and sunset times in Britain through the year.  This is London and will vary slightly to north and south.  The whole of Britain only subtends a couple of degrees of arc, however, and for the purposes of the inexact time of the era will do just fine.

Time Generally

      Time by the late Georgian era was no longer measured by the Church and its offices, but they happened to coincide with the times of day most people cared about – midnight, sunrise, rising time, opening of offices and shops, noon, knocking off time or sunset, which depended on the time of year which came first, and bedtime.  Recent research suggests that people of the 18th century and before may have slept for four hours, woke and either rose for a drink or engaged in sex for a couple of hours and then went back to sleep again for four hours; this is apparently a natural biorhythm.  I’m a little sceptical, myself, since the average working man would not have had ten hours overnight to play about with like that.  Possibly it may have been a pattern followed by some of the leisured classes, but Austen never mentions her characters getting up in the middle of the night, so I’m inclined to go with her.  As to natural biorhythms, once I’m off, I’m off until my alarm clock puts his soft paws on my face and bites my nose gently seven hours later. 

Even in the Regency time was not as all-important as it is now.  Time nowadays is measured in nanoseconds and consumes all our lives.  Then the nearest quarter hour was good enough – and likely to be different in every village or at every church steeple by which gentlemen set their watches.  Accurate chronometers for the use of sailors had been invented in 1750 for the purposes of calculating longitude at sea, but pocket watches were not of that degree of accuracy, and nor did this particularly matter.  Especially as the time from one place to the next might be anything up to an hour different.
Country wide timekeeping only became important with the widespread use of railways; when ‘railway time’ was adhered to as the standard.
No Regency buck is going to look at his watch and say ‘it is three seventeen’; for one thing that means of expressing the time is modern, and for another it would not occur to him to be that accurate – unless he was trying to break a record driving from London to Brighton, when he would probably start on the hour or half hour in any case.  He would for every day purposes say either ‘it’s about quarter past three’ or if he was trying to hurry up the females in his life ‘hurry up, it’s coming up twenty past three already’.

sunrise times London

Sunset times, London

The country year, in common with the medieval year, was governed by farming expediency; such religious festivals as were retained in a Protestant country were those which, like the pagan festivals, fitted in to the farming year.  Most people by now had some idea of what the date was, but most country people would still count time as being along the lines of, ‘the day after old Mrs. Scroggins slipped on the ice, which is two years since there was ice as bad as this and the river froze’.  The state of the moon would also be something more people would be aware of than in these times of street lighting, and high rise buildings that block the moon.  ‘I’ll sow my seeds on the waxing moon next month’ would be a statement that made sense to any countryman [and as a matter of interest some extensive research seems to concur with the old country saying that seeds should be sown with the moon waxing. Something to do with tidal drag.]

The farmworker’s day was determined as it always has been by the time of year; he worked from dawn until dusk. The hardest work of the year was during harvest, when the day was very long too; in winter there were less tasks to do on the land save marling it but the few animals that were not slaughtered still had to be cared for, and there was repair to tools and fences.

The year was still divided into quarters, and this was the day on which debts were settled, rents were paid, quarterly pay was given, disputes were heard by magistrates, and many fairs were held, including hiring fairs where country servants might hope to get a position.
Quarter days:
Lady Day, 25th March, held as New Year’s day until 1751 and the reason for the superstition of cleaning the grate completely on New Year’s eve [it makes sense at the end of spring to be without a fire where it does not do so in the middle of winter]
Midsummer Day 24th June
Michaelmas Day 29th September
Christmas Day 25th December

Country folk were still calculating by the quarter day up to the second world war in some places.

Moon phases as they relate to time of rising and setting.

Nothing irritates me much more than to read things like ‘the sickle moon was just rising as they went to Almack’s’
The rising and setting times of the moon are determined by the phases and though that may vary by some hours in general the following is true.

The New Moon or dark of the moon rises very early in the morning, between the late early hours and early morning and sets in the early evening.  This is only really noticeable when there is the first sliver of new moon visible.

First Quarter  rises quite early in the morning and sets sometime at or after midnight.

Full Moon rises early evening, sets very, very early in the morning

Third Quarter rises after midnight and sets  during the first part of the morning

During each of these phases of course the time shifts slightly each day. 

NOTE: tides will be high roughly when the moon is at Zenith and Nadir . This is also affected by latitude. I haven’t come across a reliable engine to do the maths for me yet.  Just please, don’t have a high spring tide, or any kind of high tide, as the sickle moon rises.  High springs are with full moon.  

Note 2: the graphs are drawn by me from data in books, so please attribute me if you use them. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Reprobate's Redemption is live!

Following a botched abduction in which he was wounded, Evelyn, Marquis Finchbury finds himself embroiled with the determined young runaway Imogen. Short of money but loath to get attached to a chamberpot heiress, Finchbury spurns the idea of courting Imogen. Instead he hands her over to his mother’s protection.

As Imogen turns her hand to sorting out Lady Enid’s problems and rescuing Finchbury’s illegitimate children from a murderous gypsy and a vituperative gentlewoman, Finchbury finds himself drawn to Imogen against his will. His protestations that he is no good for Imogen fall on determinedly deaf ears as the chamberpot heiress unravels the ghosts of his past and determines to marry Evelyn.

The background picture is Bath, where Finchbury, travelling reluctantly with Imogen, meets up with his mother and her paramour, and thankfully hands Imogen over to her.  Here Imogen makes a social debut, meeting some of the younger inhabitants of the town and trying the baths with Lady Enid, the cause of whose strange malady Imogen is able to guess.  However, Enid agrees to go with her son, with Imogen in tow, to his Seat, to decide what to sell, in order to start to recoup his fortunes.  We discover a lot about Evelyn's father, all to the man's detriment, and I enjoyed writing the children so much I'm going to work them into another book in the series just for kicks and giggles.  This may delay the book involving Letty Grey, as that doesn't take place until early 1815, but it will be coming! 
Fortunately I had all my weather research to hand in the writing of this, so the weather, including snow in Bath early in May  is accurate,  because it was written in the book, and sent to a friend to beta-read, before the Great Data Crash.  

It's coincidental that I was involving gypsies at the same time as my friend and editor, Giselle Marks, was writing a book in which Gypsies were a major feature, so we were able to share information.  The carts of the time were not the brightly painted vardos of later times, but were more akin to the pioneer carts of the wild west, with carts hooped and covered with canvas.  The hoops, often cut from local materials at each stop, were used to make rude tents for living in.  I call them vardos for convenience, because the word isn't going to have sprung out of nowhere. 

And the UK manages to have both on one page HERE  and I'm sorry about the price, costs keep going up with everything...  I make 27p per hard copy...