Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Victorians consider the Regency: Magazines and Newspapers

This past August I wrote a blog about 1865 in the Regency. My new book, due out in February 2019, is titled The Governess's Peculiar Journey. (It just received an excellent review; I am so excited.) The governess in question time-travels from 1865 to 1815.

This is problematic for her as the mid-and late-Victorians found nothing to admire in the world of their fathers and grandfathers. Indeed they seem to have despised it, and regarded it as an embarrassment.

Victorian books on the recently past eras of George III, the Prince Regent (George IV) and his successor William IV abounded. And they weren't complimentary.

The book "When William IV was King" by John Ashton, published in 1896, began with the death of George IV in 1830. After reproducing articles on the sale of his Majesty's effects, he goes on to say that there was not much interest in the items and very little respect for either the late king or his possessions.
 "The Dawn of the XIXth Century in England: A Social Sketch of the Times" also by John Ashton, took on a more blatant note of disrespect, poking fun at ladies' fashions.

 And at the educational system of the earlier time:

"Follies & Fashions of our Grandfathers" by Andrew W. Tuer is designed in imitation of the journals popular at the beginning of the century. By taking unusual items from original magazines the author makes a new journal dated 1807 (some eighty years before the publication date). It pokes fun at the early days of the century whenever it can and the introduction contains some telling criticisms.

"The Year 1800 or The Sayings and Doings of our Fathers and Mothers: 60 Years Ago" by F. Perigal exposes the early part of the century in a different way. The author uses original newspaper and magazine items to illustrate different topics such as 'Amusements' and 'Science'. The items are carefully chosen to show the 'ignorance' of the earlier age.
Every era looks back at those before it with a certain degree of pity, and something of nostalgia. That Victorian era looked back to its Regency roots with disdain and distaste shows the Victorians in a unattractive light. 

My heroine revises her opinions about both eras! See more about the book at my website -

Next month, we'll look at Christmas...

'Til then, all the best,


N.B. All books cited above should be available at Google Books for download.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Taylor's Architectural Library

I love buildings and architecture, but particularly I love houses. So when I am searching through Google Books, I am always attracted to early books about them. As I was looking through several of these books the other day, I noticed that many of them were published by J. Taylor, The Architectural Library.

In about 1770 Isaac Taylor, an engraver, took over a printing, publishing and bookselling business which specialized in architectural publications. By 1797 he had handed over The Architectural Library to his son Josiah. The publishing firm printed hundreds of different volumes; an advertisement in one of the books lists thirteen pages of titles for sale.

Some of the volumes were reprints of early titles. Grotesque Architecture had first been published in 1767.
 It included plans for hermitages, greenhouses and rustic seats, as well as grottoes and cascades.

Other publications were more modern and original.
These cottages are very austere, to my eyes, but they do have interesting floor plans. I must admit though to preferring the 'cottage ornee' style.

The Architectural Library also printed extremely usable handbooks such as: The Builder's Price Book, New Principles of Linear Perspective, The Carpenter's Pocket Directory et al.
And the following useful, and thorough, guide...

It has all kinds of plans:
Plan for a Farmyard
Plan for a Brewhouse, Washhouse & Bakehouse
Farmhouse and offices
I'll be looking through Google Books for more from The Architectural Library. I think we can be sure that readers, for nearly a century from the mid 1700s to mid 1800s, watched for their publications also.

'Til next time,


Source: All titles from Google Books

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Peacock's Polite Repository

While researching other things recently I came across, quite by chance, "Peacock's Polite Repository or Pocket Companion".

I thought it was a charming and very handy book. It was also a very long-lived publication. Appearing yearly, from about 1788 to at least 1830, it was a small book (115 mm x 74 mm), often in a slip-case. It contained diary space and an almanac of all sorts of useful information. It was exactly the sort of thing that anyone new to the country, or desirous of exhaustive information about the country, would have owned. In my new book, the hero buys the heroine a copy; she is definitely in need of the information.

From 1790 to 1811 Humphrey Repton supplied the illustrations for the books, generally a frontispiece and headings for the diary pages. The copy I am using is from 1812, and I have not yet discovered the illustrator but the pictures are charming.

St. Bernad's Well near Edinburgh
The information that filled the pages--about 125 of them--was wide-ranging.

With the number of dukes appearing in Regency fiction these days, it is interesting to have the actual list of those peers. There weren't very many.
 Below is the type of calendar that appears for each month before the diary blanks.
Each month has an illustration in the diary.
The universities figure large in the plethora of information:
Holidays which seem to have been organized by major organizations or business were not neglected. A little more explanation of them would not come amiss. There are more than I would have expected.
It was not a completely insular book. Below is part of the list of foreign rulers:
Even the esoteric was covered by the Repository:
I wonder what were the duties of heralds in 1812? I can feel more research coming on!

'Til next time,


Sources: a Google search on Peacock's Polite Repository will bring myriad results. I used several of them, but cannot list one definitive source.

Monday, August 6, 2018

1865 in the Regency era

The title of this post sounds odd, doesn't it? But I am working on a new book--to be released February 15, 2019--and 1865 plays an important part in my Regency-set romantic tale.

Victorian England in 1865 was very different from Regency England in 1815. Here are a few glimpses of that Victorian world.

Chester Chronicle - Saturday 17 June 1865
Lancaster Gazette - Saturday 30 September 1865
Liverpool Mercury - Saturday 17 June 1865
Wrexham Advertiser - Saturday 22 July 1865
My heroine is very familiar with 1865 and its Victorian sensibilities. She is accustomed to its comforts, and its burgeoning excesses. Without giving too much away, it is her world.

In 1815 there were no railways, no photographs, and there were few town clerks and public works. The parish was the local government and the landowners had the main voice in local improvements. There was little gas lighting, no steam travel, highwaymen were still to be feared and a great war had just ended. But the world was manageable, the pace of life was slower and expectations were more humane.

Human nature did not change as the Petty Sessions from 1815 and 1865 below prove. And human nature is what stories are built upon.

Derby Mercury - Wednesday 17 May 1865

Tyne Mercury; Northumberland and Durham and Cumberland Gazette - Tuesday 04 July 1815

You will be hearing further about my new book in the coming months. Please stay tuned to discover more about the connection of 1865 with 1815.

'Til next time,


Sunday, July 8, 2018

James Bartleman - Regency Celebrity

My first indication of the existence of James Bartleman, "the finest singer that the English school has produced", came from The Picture of London for 1809, and more particularly its column "An Almanac of the Exhibitions and Amusements of London" where he appears in the May entry under
20   Bartleman's Annual Concert, New Rooms, Hanover-square
Morning Post Thursday May 16 1805
 James Bartleman was born in 1769 and by the 1790s after a career in the choir of Westminster Abbey, he was well-known in the musical circles of London. While we still know the names of Signora Catalani and Mrs. Billington, that of Bartleman except in musical history is largely unknown.
by James Thomson (Thompson), after Thomas Hargreaves
stipple engraving, published 1830
Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery
But in The Musical Times of 1853 he was still remembered:
In the 1790s he was a performer at the 'Ancient Concerts' (an abbreviated version of the title for the Concerts of Ancient Music hosted by the Academy of Ancient Music), The Madrigal Society, the Catch Club, and many music festivals and benefit concerts around the country. Eventually he joined the Vocal Concerts, which he later managed and produced.

Morning Post Monday 20 February 1815

London Courier and Evening Gazette Sat  May 6 1815
Such was the popularity of the Vocal Concerts that the songs that were sung there were reproduced as sheet music and were widely sold at the time.
Courtesy of
By 1819 Bartleman was very ill. He had suffered many years in pain (I have not been able to discover what his illness was) and it had at times interrupted his performing career. Note the last sentence of the article below:
Morning Post Monday May 10 1819
He did not however attain a 'perfect recovery'. He died April 15, 1821 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The tablet there is inscribed:
"To the memory of James Bartleman, formerly a chorister and lay-clerk of Westminster Abbey, and Gentleman of His Majesty's Royal Chapel. Educated by Dr Cooke he caught all the taste and science of that great master, which he augmented and adorned with the peculiar powers of his native genius. He possessed qualities which are seldom united, a lively enthusiasm, with an exact judgment, and exhibited a perfect model of a correct stile, and a commanding voice; simple, and powerful; tender and dignified; solemn, chaste, and purely English, his social and domestick virtues corresponded with these rare endowments: affectionate and liberal; sincere, and open hearted; he was not less beloved by his family and friends, than admired by all for his preeminence in his profession. He was born 19th September 1769, Died 15th April 1821, and was buried in this cloister, near his beloved master".
A fitting monument, surely, for a true celebrity of the Regency era, and a great musician.

'Til next time,