Thursday, January 15, 2015

British Sport and Fashionable Sportsmen

Regency sport--stalking, shooting, fishing, fox hunting, horse racing, coursing--was very different from what we today call sport or sports. It called for a level of involvement in nature that is foreign to us, and a heavy dependence on that essential of the age, the horse.

The Sporting Magazine was a necessity for any gentleman calling himself a "crack sportsman", a "blood", or a "Corinthian". The magazine's subtitle is worthy of note:
 The Sporting Magazine or Monthly Calendar of the transactions of The Turf, The Chase, and every other Diversion interesting to the Man of Pleasure, Enterprize and Spirit"
But even the august publication of Rudolph Ackermann, The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashion and Politics, included a column "British Sports" in every issue, with a fine plate illustrating some aspect of the activities of the field and stream. The column even waxed lyrical, with sporting poetry that included such lines as
The plates that appeared in The Sporting Magazine and Ackermann's Repository were detailed, accurate and evocative of the sentiments expressed in the lines above:

"Going Out" from Repository of Arts January 1810

A winter sport--snipe shooting
The plates also display the animals necessary to 'sport', both the pursued and the pursuers:

Hare from Repository of Arts

Spaniels from Repository of Arts
Despite the celebration of outdoor life in both magazines, in 1802 a letter to the editor of The Sporting Magazine made some interesting points:

 Next time, his thoughts on the Fashionable Sportsman. They are not at all flattering!

'Til then,

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Happy Holidays!

 Wishing you peace, joy and the love of family and friends this Christmas...

See you in the New Year!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Queen's Drawing Room May 1816

As promised last time, here are the particulars of the Drawing-Room held by Queen Charlotte just days after her granddaughter's wedding:


A Drawing-room of 1809
This account of the social event of the 1816 season comes from the popular journal, La Belle Assemblee, for May 1816. The exact date of the Drawing-room is not provided. There are long lists of the presentations made at the event, and even longer lists of the ladies' gowns. Please leave me a comment or send me an email letting me know if you would like to see those lists posted here. I don't feel confident of their general interest, so your input would be appreciated!

'Til next time,

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Dresses of Her Royal Highness The Princess Charlotte" -- the 'trousseau' of a princess

Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales was married on 2nd of May, 1816. The wedding and the royal couple's relationship was subjected to a scrutiny very familiar to us--the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge endure the same press attention every day. 
After the wedding, La Belle Assemblee, the premiere fashion magazine of the day, published--in addition to the report of the wedding--the following article on what today we might call Princess Charlotte's trousseau. The dresses sound astonishingly beautiful, and I hope you enjoy this account of them.

above  The happy couple returning from the Altar after making their marriage vows. This picture appeared in La Belle Assemblee in June of 1816.
A few days after the wedding, Queen Charlotte, the Princess's grandmother held a Drawing-Room. I will blog with La Belle Assemblee's account of the event in a couple of weeks.

'Til next time,


By the way, do join my author friend Jana Richards for her birthday giveaway. You could win one of my books or one of many others!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dottator et Lineator Loquitur

I just came across this most interesting illustration and poem in Ackermann's Repository of Arts for February 1817, and I just had to share it.

Click on the illustration to open a large version so that you can read the words under the charming stick figures.

The artist of the plate, and the composer of the accompanying poem are given no credit or identification. You must read the poem to make sense of the intention of the illustration.

This is what might be called, I think, a charming conceit, and I hope you enjoy it!

'Til next time,


Ackermann's Repository of Arts 1817 available from

Friday, August 8, 2014

Treasure from 1809

At the last book sale I attended, I was fortunate to discover a little treasure from 1809. It is a survivor, worn and separated from its companion volumes, from the Regency era: a book, by Miss Maria Edgeworth, Volume II of "Tales of Fashionable Life".

I cannot explain to you the thrill, for me, of encountering a genuine piece of Regency life. This book might have been read by one of my characters! (For I do visualize my characters as real Regency people.) This book was held by a person wearing a silk gown and a cap, or jean half-boots, or a tail coat and pantaloons. It might have been read in post-chaise, or a drawing room, or the Bath Pump Room. My mind reels with the possibilities.

The printer is Wood and Innes of Poppin's Court, Fleet Street
It is a small book--4 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches--with worn brown marbled covers and a brown leather spine and corner caps. The pages are foxed, and there is that indefinable old book smell that intoxicates book collectors. It is certainly legible, and no pages are missing.

Of course an antique such as this has been through many hands, and the people who owned the book are nearly as interesting as the book itself. Inside the front cover of my treasure is this inscription:
I discovered that Ormiston Hill is in Kirknewton, Fife, nearby Edinburgh. It is also known as Black Cairn Hill. Ormiston Hill House was a 17th century building, home of the Wilkie family. It was replaced after 1851 by Ormiston House in the Scots Baronial style. I know nothing more of Miss Margaret except that she owned this book!

And one more survivor--tucked into the pages of the book is a calling card. It is certainly Victorian, but I have no expertise in dating such ephemera.

I feel that it might be 1860's or 1870's, but I have no basis for that other than the look of the artwork. It surprises me that there is no 'Miss' before the name, and the name itself is interesting; an unusual spelling of Charlotte, I believe.

I wonder what Margaret and Sharlet thought of Miss Edgeworth's stories. Did they have all three small brown volumes? And if so, when did the other two volumes become parted from this one?

An antique book tells two stories: the one printed on its pages, and the other--more mysterious--of its travels, and its owners.

'Til next time,