Categories
Blog

Strange Pastimes from the Victorian Era

I’ll be honest with you; as much as I love the Regency and Victorian times and their gossip-loving nobility, I would not have thrived if I had been born back then.

Why, chances are, I would have given my parents’ a whole lot of things to worry about and I certainly would have ended up a spinster.

With lots of horses.

And cats.

And dogs.

Which doesn’t sound so bad right now, actually, but oh dear! It would have been a curse back then!

Daily life in the Victorian Era was strictly regulated, with very particular rules of etiquette that were not to be breached, even during leisure time. In the mid-1800s, visits to public parks, libraries and halls increased (always chaperoned, of course!), however, that did not mean that social rules got any laxer.

Unbecoming behavior, such as public meetings with unmarried men, lapses in decorum, or unsuitable attire were still very much undesirable and forbidden.

Do you know what else was considered unbecoming behavior?

Picking flowers!

(I want to make a flower crown, sue me…)

Having said that though, there was a number of indoor and outdoor pastimes that people of all ages and social standings liked to indulge in, some more than others. Obviously, most of these activities were only accessible to the upper classes, but these social restrictions weren’t enough to stop people from having some much-needed fun.

I’ll go as far as to say that some of these pastimes became “the rage!”

And some of them were weirder than others…

Cemetery Picnics

Sounds crazy?

It sure does!

But I’m telling you, this really used to be a thing!

With fewer parks, gardens, and museums to choose from, many Victorians sought to have a good time in graveyards.

Sprawling “rural cemeteries” began cropping up in Britain after 1830. Groups would pack lunches and have picnics among the tombstones. Afterwards, they might go hunting or have carriage races on the grounds. Cemeteries became such heavily-trafficked destinations that guidebooks were distributed to visitors at some of the most famous locations.

Croquet

Croquet was introduced in England in 1856 and was probably brought to America in the early 1860’s. It was considered particularly suitable for women since it required considerable skills but not too much strength or technique.

(Victorians believed women were deficient in both. Like my iron deficiency, huh?)

Although croquet was never a popular men’s game, it had both social and economic advantages: men and women could play together, and it required little equipment and no special clothing.

-A drawing in an 1870 edition of The Illustrated London News included plenty of croquet players at the All-England Croquet Club. Hulton Archive, via Getty Images.

Fern Collecting

In the 19th century, “fern fever” or pteridomania caught England by storm. It was so prevalent that it was even given an official name: pteridomania. The phenomenon took off in 1829 when a British botanist named Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward started cultivating the plants in glass cases (later known as Wardian cases; today we call them terrariums). Soon enough, Victorians around the country were hunting desirable ferns to grow in their own homes. The hobby was especially popular among women, perhaps because it offered them a socially acceptable excuse to be outdoors unsupervised.

-"Gathering Ferns" (Helen Allingham) from The Illustrated London News, July 1871.

Anthropomorphic Taxidermy

When it came to the taxidermy of creatures of the Victorian period, some had more dignified afterlives than others. Positioning stuffed animals in typically human scenarios became a popular theme within the artform—and it was indeed an artform. Popular taxidermists like Walter Potter and Hermann Ploucquet put an extraordinary amount of effort into making their scenes come to life. Memorable pieces from the era depicted ice-skating hedgehogs, a classroom full of rabbits, and a wedding attended by kittens decked out in highly detailed garb.

Consider me adequately creeped out…

-Walter Potter’s Museum of Curiosities: “A Schoolroom of Rabbits”

Making Scrapbooks…With Seaweed

You can add seaweed to the list of plants Victorians were obsessed with. After collecting the specimens, scrapbookers would paste the multi-colored strands onto sheets of construction paper. The designs were more aesthetic than educational, with the seaweed sometimes arranged to spell out words or form images.

Using Hair To Make Jewelry

Though using human hair in art and jewelry dates back to ancient Egypt, the practice soared to new heights with the Victorians. Snippets of hair were woven into rings, necklaces, pins, watch chains, and other unique pieces of ornamentation. A lock of hair taken from a living loved one acted as a very personal version of a friendship bracelet. Hair cut from the deceased, meanwhile, was often made into keepsakes for those coping with their loss.

-https://www.langantiques.com/victorian-hair-mourning-brooch.html

And here’s a bonus fan fact, that might not be related to the Victorian Era but I still find it interesting!

Did you know that scientists nowadays can turn human hair into diamonds?!

Some Good Ol’ Ghost Talking

Ah, I saved the best for last!

These days, “seances” seem more like the stuff you see in teen horror films, with a group of unsuspecting teenagers breaking out the Ouija board and unleashing unspeakable evil upon the world. But during the Victorian Era, attending one was a major event. At the time, Spiritualism—a religious practice focused on contacting the dead—was extremely popular. Spiritualists would host intimate séances at home, or go out to see mediums perform otherworldly acts on stage. In addition to moving Ouija boards, mediums would summon disembodied hands, levitate tables, and cough up ectoplasm during communions with the dead. Or at least, that’s how it seemed to participants who bought into their tricks.

Yeaaah, thanks, but no thanks!

Phew!

Victorians sure did know how to have fun, didn’t they?

Why, what could possibly be more exciting that human-looking deceased animals or eating your lunch among the tombstones of strangers?

….

….

….

On a second thought, I’ll stick with my books, thank you!

Written by Hanna Hamilton

Categories
Blog

The Secret Language of the Victorian Fan

Let’s be honest here.

There’s something exquisitely graceful about a beautiful, well-dressed lady waving her fan bashfully.

With uses ranging from the practical to the symbolic, fans have been playing the part of the link between cultures for thousands of years.

They can keep you cool in hot weather, serve in religious ritual, display sophistication and wealth, or function as an advertising medium. Perhaps the most enduring role of the handheld fan is as the symbol of wealth or Royalty, which stretches as far back as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Babylon and continues even to this day.

However, there’s one lesser-known fact about fans that you probably haven’t heard of before.

Fans had and, to this day, still have their very own distinct language!

As it turns out, Regency and Victorian Era ladies were experts at it!

And today, I’m going to walk you through this unique code of courting, flirting and secret messages!

The Code of Fans

Carrying the fan, open, in the left hand: “Come and talk to me.”

Touching the tip of the fan with the finger: “I wish to speak to you.”

Letting the fan rest on the right cheek: “Yes.”

Letting the fan rest on the left cheek: “No.”

Drawing the fan through the hand: “I hate you.”

Drawing the fan across the cheek: “I love you.”

Presenting the fan shut: “Do you love me?”

-1886 feather opera fans and satin painted fan

Twirling the fan in the left hand: “We are watched.”

Twirling the fan in the right hand: “I love another.”

To fan very slowly: “I am married.”

To fan very quickly: “I am engaged.”

To put the handle of the fan to the lips: “Kiss me.”

To open the fan wide: “Wait for me.”

-Vallotton, Félix Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

To place the fan behind the head: “Do not forget me.”

To do so with the little finger extended: “Goodbye.”

Carrying the fan in the right hand and in front of the face: “Follow me.”

To press the half-opened fan to the lips: “You may kiss me.”

Clasping the hands under the open fan: “Forgive me.”

To cover the left ear with the open fan: “Do not betray our secret.”

To hide the eyes behind the open fan: “I love you.”

To shut the full open fan very slowly: “I promise to marry you.”

Drawing the fan across the eyes: “I am sorry.”

Touching the tip of the fan with the finger: “I wish to speak to you.”

Number of sticks shown: Corresponding hour to meet.

Placing the fan near the heart: “You have won my love.”

-Eva Gonzales, Drawing, 43 x 28 cm, 1869, (Minneapolis Institute of Arts (United States))

Oh dear, how very exciting!

I’ve always been extremely interested in secret codes and this special use of such an unassuming item makes my senses tingle!

Now, doesn’t a heroine who uses this language deserve her own story? And a Duke?

Hmm….

Written by Patricia Haverton

Categories
Blog

Weirds Habits From the Victorian Era

Have you ever watched the “Victoria” miniseries? Or the “Crown”? Or any movie or TV Show that deals with the British 18th and 19th century?

If you have, then I’m certain your head is already filled with images of grand manors, elaborate balls, flamboyant dresses and impeccable coifs.

The truth is though, that the Victorian Era was certainly weirder than that.

Much, much weirder…

And today I’m gonna walk you through a few things that might sound downright bizarre to you rears, but they were definitely a thing back then!

Welcome to the dark side!

Belladonna Eye Drops

Victorian women were obsessed with bright eyes.

They admired them, craved them, and apparently, they were willing to do anything to attain that seductive, doe-eyed look.

Even drown their eyeballs in the distilled essence of a toxic plant!

You see, belladonna might mean “beautiful lady” but there’s a pretty good reason why this plant is also called deadly nightshade.

While the use of these eyes drop did indeed dilate the pupil and give the eye a certain glow, they also had a plethora of adverse side effects. Blurry vision, red dry skin, fever, rapid heartbeat, difficulty with urination and sweating, hallucinations, spasms, mental health issue, and, if used over a prolonged period of time, even permanent blindness and coma.

If that ain’t a bargain, I don’t know what is!

-Illustration from Köhler's Medicinal Plants 1887

The Garden Hermit

Yes, you read that one right!

Victorians had a penchant for the bizarre and the unusual.

Among other things that would be considered utterly preposterous nowadays, the people of that Era liked the disheveled look of a hermit.

Large landowners in the 18th and 19th century were unusually fond of the eccentricities of forest people, and they often employed people to assume the role of the live-in hermit.

Picture this: you’re walking down a cobblestone path, with fragrant flowers arranged beautifully all round you. You’re whistling a happy tune as you walk, perfectly content.

And then, the whistling turns into a scream.

Because right ahead, staring at you is an old man with a long beard, tangled hair, and wearing dirty, Druid-like clothes.

These hermits would often spend decades living in an aristocrat’s garden. When they no longer could perform their duties either because of age or sickness, they were given sums of money large enough to get them through the rest of their days.

I do wonder what was written on that job description!

-John Bigg, the Dinton Hermit (via Wellcome Library)

Fasting Girls

Now, considering how big of an issue eating disorders are nowadays, this particular “craze” makes you wonder what exactly were the Victorians thinking back then.

Fasting Girls were women who appeared to possess the ability to survive without sustenance of any kind. “Appeared” being the keyword here. Obviously, these miraculous women were frauds down to the very last one, pretending to possess the unearthly power to live off on nothing more than air.

Of course, as you can imagine, once the show was over, these “special” women ate a feast all on their own.

Why would they day such a lie, I can hear you asking…

Money, fame, the chance to be picked by a rich nobleman as their personal entertainer.

Perhaps the most famous of Fasting Girls was Mollie Fancher, who supposedly lived fourteen whole years without touching food.

-Mollie Fancher(1848-1910), Known is a photograph by Mary Evans Picture Library which was uploaded on January 18th, 2018.

Electrocution

Victorians had a thing for medical therapies.

From hydrotherapy to pelvic finger massages, the people of the Era had a penchant for turning new inventions into medical treatments (many of which were entirely unsuitable for the ailment they were supposed to be a treatment for).

Why would electricity be any different?

Electropathy involved using electricity to alleviate medical problems ranging from gout, muscular weakness, rheumatism and torpid liver to (of course) hysteria.

Essentially, patients paid to be given electrical shocks. Willingly. And they paid for it!

Strange times indeed!

-Antique Davis & Kidder's Patent Magneto Electric Machine for Nervous Diseases

Professional Mourners

Compared to modern attitudes, the Victorians had a morbid fascination and peculiar obsession with death.

And professional mourners, also known as Mutes, were all the rage.

They would usually just stand in their mourning clothes around looking very sad and miserable. Walking around with a big stick, they would follow the hearse and coffin.

Considering the number of deaths during the Victorian Era, demand for the job was high.

I have to give it to Mutes though, they sure did know how to be fashionable!

Cocaine as Dental Care

Yes, you read this one right too!

Apparently, normal dental care was just too mainstream for Victorians.

Back then, toothpaste was not overly famous or regularly used (no surprise there), and instead, people chose to use a homemade tooth powder, which often included cocaine as an ingredient.

I’m not entirely sure why that was, though I presume it served as a numbing agent for the gums.

Even more disturbing was the dental care products that were used on children.

Those were almost entirely made of cocaine!

Oh dear! Can you imagine that?!

So, tell me! Did you know any of these strange habits from the Victorian Era?

Do you know any peculiar fact that belongs on this list?

Oh, please do tell!

Written by Emma Linfield

Categories
Authors Books Clean Regency Emma Linfield Historical Romance Regency Romance Romance

The Untold Tale of the Winter Duchess

Because wherever your heart is, that is where you'll find your treasure...

Lillian Newman, wife of the Earl of Clottrahorn, is facing disaster.

When her husband falls victim to poison right in front of her eyes, she becomes not only a widow but also the prime suspect. Desperate to escape prosecution for a crime she never committed, she is left with no other choice: she flees.

Sebastian Hughes, Duke of Parkforton, is on the hunt for a governess for his two unruly brothers. He never expected to find one in a horse shed behind his manor. Especially not one as beautiful and well-mannered as Lillian.

Constables start knocking on the door, looking for a lady, whose description strangely resembles Sebastian's newly-hired governess.

When Lillian falls gravely ill with symptoms suspiciously similar to her husband's right before his death, it becomes apparent that not even a Duke's estate is safe from an enemy that comes from the inside. To unravel Ariadne's Thread, deep they must go, into the wine cellars where the sun doesn't glow...

*If you like powerful Dukes, loving Duchesses and a marvelous depiction of the majestic Regency and Victorian era, then The Untold Tale of the Winter Duchess is the novel for you.

Emma Linfield's 22nd book is a historical Regency romance novel of 80,000 words (around 400 pages). No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a sweet happily ever after.


Pick up "The Untold Tale of the Winter Duchess" today to discover Emma's amazing new story!

Book Details​​​​

  • Author: Emma Linfield
  • Genre: Regency Romance
  • Publisher: Cobalt Fairy
  • Publication: Dec 2019
  • ASIN: B082ZPJWYF

About Emma Linfield

Emma Linfield has always been passionate about historical romances. Ever fascinated with the world of Regency England and being utmost inspired by Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s work, she decided she wanted to write her own stories. Stories of love and tradition being mixed in the most appealing way for every hopeless romantic, much like herself.

Born and raised in Southern California, Emma Linfield has a degree in Creative Writing and English Literature, and she has been working as a freelance writer for the past 10 years. When she isn’t writing,  Emma loves spending her time with her own prince charming and two beautiful children, all the while enjoying the famous Californian sun and ocean.

So, hop on to this exciting journey of Dukes, Earls and true love with Emma and find pleasure in the old fashioned world of Regency - an Era of pure romance, elegance and high fashion!


Readers who read this book also liked

Categories
Blog

Yule Traditions to Spread the Holiday Cheer

Ever since I was a kid, I have been super into Christmas and I mean annoyingly so. The kind of annoying that makes your friends roll their eyes in a “we’ve been through this already, but your fascination is cute, so we let you get away with it” kind of way.

In a way, I’ve always felt a bit sorry for November. Between Halloween and Christmas, November seems to fade in the background as “that month before the holiday season.” Which is a shame as November is a pretty great month!

When those first November winds start blowing, we get cozy beneath a blanket with a good book and a cup of hot, pumpkin spice latte, and what’s better than that?

We also bring out those fluffy sweaters and there’s nothing on this earth that can convince that there’s a single bad thing about sweater weather!

But the holiday season has always been my favorite time of the year for more reasons than just one. Christmas is a time where people come together despite their differences and who they are. We decorate trees, put up colorful fairy lights and listen to Christmas carols while unwrapping presents.

We also bake apple pies! Let’s not forget the apple pies!

-Father Christmas postcard

People simply seem happier during Christmas.

There is something about being around family, seeing decorations and being home that makes me happy. I would describe myself as a relatively happy person, but December just put me in an exceptionally good mood.

Is there any better feeling of quality time than around the holiday season? For me personally, there really isn’t. I feel so at peace when I’m surrounded in a room with people I care about.  I love the quality time with my family, friends, and co-workers at things like holiday gatherings and parties. It’s a special time where people can get together, reconnect, and enjoy themselves.

But quite possibly the best part of Christmas is feeling the joy of giving. I’ve always considered myself a giver with both my money and my time and the time around Christmas is no different. There’s just something about giving someone a present and watching their whole face light up with excitement. There’s no greater feeling than giving to those who are less fortunate and seeing the kind of impact you made.

What do you know about this wonderful holiday though?

Do you know how it started? What it meant to our ancestors?

Or even how people celebrate it in different parts of the world?

Let’s dive deeper, shall we?

Traditions of Yule

Yule, or Winter Solstice traditions are many and generous, and are shared not only with Christianity with the birthday of the Christ Child, but with many pre-Christian Pagan traditions and indeed more recent ones. It is difficult sometimes to identify their sources, but they are all very familiar in our Western culture even if we don’t recognize the symbology behind them.

The Evergreens

Evergreens represent everlasting life and were traditionally hung around doorways and windows. Each has a symbolism of its own.

-https://lynchcreekwreaths.com/collections/fresh-centerpieces/products/yule-log

Hanging the Mistletoe

Greatly revered by the Druids, this is the healer and protector. It is carefully cut to ensure it never touches the earth. Its “magical” properties are believed to be connected to the fact that it lives between the worlds, between heaven and earth.

The Wreath

It was traditional to make wreaths from evergreen. Coupled with the circular shape of the wreath that symbolizes balance, internal peace, and spiritual continuity, the evergreen created the Wheel of Life. These were hung on doors or laid horizontally and decorated with candles.

-https://lynchcreekwreaths.com/collections/fresh-wreaths/products/country-christmas

The Yule/Christmas Tree

It was introduced into modern times by the German Prince Albert in Victorian times and it has certainly taken root and become an integral part of celebrating Christmas.

Why, you can’t have Christmas without a Christmas tree! (What a terrifying thought!)

In ancient Rome, pine trees were an essential part of Goddess groves. On the eve of the Midwinter Solstice, Roman priests would cut down a pine tree, decorate it and carry it ceremonially to the temple celebrations.

People decked their homes with boughs of evergreen trees and bushes in pots. Pines and firs were cherished as a symbol of rebirth and life in the depth of winter. It was the festival of Saturnalia. Pagan families would bring a live tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm in the cold winter months—food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat

The Yule Log

It is traditional to light a special ‘Yule Log’ on Christmas Eve and keep it burning through the 12 nights of Christmas until Twelfth Night.

Traditionally, a huge log would be selected in the forest on Christmas Eve, decorated with ribbons, and dragged back home. This was known as ‘Bringing in the Yule Log‘. The magical properties of the Yule Log were said to ensure good luck in the coming year to all those who lent a hand at pulling it over the rough ground.

-Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Once the Yule Log was brought to the fireplace, a blessing was said over it, asking that it should last forever. Wine was poured over the log at this point to make it feel welcome. It was then placed on the fire and lit with a torch made from a piece of wood left over from last year’s Yule Log.

After lighting, it was kept burning throughout the twelve days of Christmas.

The Celts believed that, for twelve days at the end of December, the sun stood still (which is why the days grew shorter and shorter). If they could keep yule logs burning bright for those twelve days, then the sun would be persuaded to move again, and make the days grow longer. If a Yule Log went out, then there would be terrible luck.

For Christians, the symbolism of the Yule Log was that it represented the need to keep the stable warm for the Infant Christ.

Above all, Yuletide is a Celebration of the return of the Light, the promise fulfilled of Light birthing out of Darkness.

It is a time to share love and celebrate with our community of family and friends!

And the Wheel Turns…

 

Written by Hanna Hamilton

Categories
Blog

The Art of Making a Match

If you’ve read my latest novel, Perfectly Mismatched with the Duke, then you already know that it revolves around a matchmaker who refuses to allow herself to fall in love…and a Duke, whose meddling mother is so determined to find him a suitable spouse as soon as possible, that she ends up employing our heroine to find him one!

Of course, nothing works out the way our dear Duchess wants, and our heroes are in for many a surprise before they finally reach their happily ever after.

As I’ve already mentioned, the heroine of this book, our dear Alexandra, is a matchmaker with a flourishing business. And while this is merely a historical romance novel, such businesses were indeed a thing!

Matchmaking is one of those elements that you know are there in historical romances, but you don’t get to see much of. It is understandable, considering what we want to see is the budding relationship between the heroes, but what these novels—mine included—often fail to show is how important a part matchmaking played in marriages.

Matchmaking goes as far back as human relationships go, and many consider it a form of art. I do too! It takes a considerable amount of forward thinking and insight to “read” two people and determine whether they are compatible or not. It demands a lot of practical thinking too, which is why I’d be a terrible professional matchmaker.

I’m such a hopeless romantic, you see, I’d simply want to match everyone!

As terrible as I’d be as a professional though, I’ve dabbled in a bit of matchmaking over the years myself and I’m pretty sure you have too. We all have a friend or two that we know would be great together.

Come on, don’t be shy!

We’ve all been there, I assure you! 

The point is, ss long as people have entered into relationships, people have been matchmaking. And the matchmakers who facilitated these matches, were figures considered worthy of respect.

Choosing a life partner was often viewed as far too complicated a decision for young people on their own, and from Aztec civilization to ancient Greece and China, their elders (often women) intervened to make sure they had the right kind of suitor. 

Britain’s early tribal groups arranged marriages as a strategic tool to ensure their inheritance of, and continued dominance over, land, wealth and status. Parents sought to match their offspring with partners at least as wealthy as themselves but often strived to make a profit. 

The consent of the future bride and groom was of little to no importance to these matchmakers, and all of the arrangements were simply made on their behalf. 

In 1140 however, the Benedictine monk Gratian brought the concept of consent into formalized marriages through his law book, Decretum Gratiani. This work would go on to inform the church’s stance on marriage throughout the 12th century. 

From here on, there would be more to marriage and matchmaking than just land and property. Matchmakers now needed a keen eye for a couple who could live together harmoniously and enjoy each other’s company—as well as each other’s inheritance. 

The first matchmaking agencies in Britain appeared in the 1600s when parish vicars played a crucial role in matching their parishioners with a spouse from the same social class.

Matchmaking didn’t relinquish its ties to religion until 1825, when the first non-religious dating agency opened its doors in London though the focus was still on matching clients within their own class. 

So far so traditional, I’d say!

But matchmaking throughout human history has had its irreverent moments…

Why don’t we have a look?

A Matchmaker Is Mentioned In The Bible And He Felt Strongly About Being Nice To Camels

The matchmaker, or shadchan, remains an important figure in some Orthodox Jewish communities, and has a pretty ancient lineage: the first example shows up in Genesis in the Bible, and is performed by a dude. The episode involves the servant of Abraham, Elizier, selecting a bride for Abraham’s son by observing women by a well. His ultimate choice was made based on what scholars now call “the camel test.” Rebekah, a young woman from the village close to the well came to fetch water from the well for her own family, but gave some to both Elizier and all his camels. Given that there were ten of them, this was some feat of generosity. Rebekah passed the test with flying colors!

-Rebekah at the Well with Eliser, the matchmakers on behalf of Abraham for Isaac, detail. Nicolas Poussin, 1648, oil on canvas, 118 × 197 cm, Paris, Musée du Louvre

Greek Matchmakers Were Master Gossipers

Ancient Greek matchmakers operated, essentially, as telegram-carriers or go-betweens. Always women, the promnestria, as they were called, did all the negotiations for two families wanting to marry; they made the approach, took messages, and, most importantly, reported their personal opinions of prospective spouses to hopeful brides and grooms. It’s likely that some pairs in this arrangement didn’t meet each other at all until the wedding day!

However, whoever said that such a profession does not come with certain risks?

-physorg.com

If the marriage were to prove unhappy, the blame fell entirely on the promnestria, and that often meant going out of business or even being shunned by society!

Ancient Chinese Matchmaking Was Dictated By Swallows

The Ancient Chinese were very attuned to the changes of their environment, and many of their beliefs were heavily influenced by the seasons and the altering nature.

According to texts, the coming of the swallows every spring to raise their young symbolized to matchmakers that the “season” for setting up young people had begun, and that they could make the relevant sacrifices to the gods (an ox, a sheep and a pig).

As with other animals and plants, the eggs of swallows carried certain symbolism: fertility and nobility.

Have you ever heard of the legend of Jiandi? She was one of Emperor Ku’s many wives, and one of the best-known. Ku’s son Xie, born miraculously to Jiandi after she swallowed the egg of a black bird, became the predynastic founder of the ruling family of the Shang dynasty.

-WANG Xuetiao artist style. Original, Hand Painted Chinese painting.

In Ancient Japan, There Were Matchmaking Competitions

These competitions were massive, thus giving the participants the opportunity to meet potential spouses from outside their own villages or towns. These festivals took place in both spring and autumn as, similarly to the Chinese, the Japanese associated these seasons with new beginnings and the formation of new life.

-Spring Blossom In Maldives. Flamboyant Tree I. Japanese Style is a photograph by Jenny Rainbow which was uploaded on March 29th, 2012

Aztec Matchmakers Did Everything!

Marriage for the Aztecs was considered a family affair. Individuals did not have any say in the selection process, and the parents would normally consult a fortune teller, who could, based on birth dates, predict the future of the marriage. Normally, a pair of older women, called cihuatlanque, would negotiate between the families. The tradition called, then, for a meeting of the girl’s family to assess the proposal and obtain permission of all the family members.

After this, the marriage ritual would be celebrated next to the home, with the bride and groom sitting next to each other while they received gifts. The old women would tie a knot in the shirt of the groom and the blouse of the bride. From that moment on, they were married!

Can you guess what else Aztec matchmakers did?

They put newly married couples to bed!

Now, whether that included solely leading the couple to their chambers or offering other types of advice, it remains unclear!

-Aztec Solar Calendar, https://sixthsunridaz.com/mexica/

Victorian Matchmakers Were Tough Nuts To Crack!

If there was one thing the Victorians were good at, it was keeping a tight watch on the behavior of young women of marriageable age.

The “season” was declared open around Easter in Court and closed on the 12th of August.

If they didn’t make a match between those dates…things were grim!

Even more so if the young ladies did anything that put their reputations under scrutiny. Being seen with the wrong person at the wrong place could mean a life of spinsterhood, even for daughters of esteemed members of the ton. Many matchmakers would turn down such clients, as they were considered “hopeless cases.”

During the Victorian Era, women were allowed extremely limited contact with the men who courted them. Matchmakers often played the part of chaperone for potential spouses and they were often the ones serving as go-between, asking the questions and driving the conversations.

Well, well! Have I put you in the mood for love?

Perhaps a walk along a tranquil river with an interested party?

Sounds good, right?

But hey…

Hey, wait!

Take your matchmaker with you, hon!

 

Written by Patricia Haverton

Categories
Authors Books Clean Regency Hanna Hamilton Historical Romance Regency Romance Romance

The Lady in the Emerald Mask

And after all, what is a lie? It is but the truth in masquerade....
It all starts with a Masquerade Ball.
When Miss Aurora Mitchell, second daughter of the Viscount of Backton, abandons the dance floor for some fresh air, she never expects to find herself alone with a charming stranger in a mysterious dark mask.
Ethan Hart, Duke of Durston, is on a mission: discover the identity of the enchanting lady he met on the night of the ball. His trail leads him straight to Backton Manor and into Aurora’s waiting arms, certain that he has found everything he’s been looking for.
It all starts with a Masquerade Ball and ends when the masks finally fall off, only for Ethan to realize that he has made a terrible mistake. Aurora was never the one he found and he’s been courting the wrong lady all along...
*If you like a realistic yet charming depiction of the Regency and Victorian era, then The Lady in the Emerald Mask is the novel for you.

This is Hanna Hamilton's 31st book, a historical Regency romance novel of 80,000 words (around 400 pages). No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a sweet happily ever after.

Pick up "The Lady in the Emerald Mask" today to discover Hanna's amazing new story!


Book Details​​​​

  • Author: Hanna Hamilton
  • Genre: Regency Romance
  • Publisher: Cobalt Fairy
  • Publication: Dec 2019
  • ASIN: B082HZW8N9

About Hanna Hamilton

Hanna Hamilton has been fascinated with the regency era ever since she was a young teen, first discovering historical romance novels by famous authors such as Jane Austen and Lisa Kleypas. She believes that love was just so much more magical back then, more like a fairy tale. She always daydreamed about finding love herself that way, but since that is impossible in the twenty first century, she decided to write about it instead!

Born in Texas, Hanna Hamilton obtained a degree in Creative Writing, and has worked as a literature teacher before becoming a novelist. When she isn’t writing, Hanna likes to explore the countryside with her husband and two children, gaining inspiration from the natural world around her.

So, come on a journey into love, confusion, and redemption all within the regency era. Hanna hopes that you will enjoy immersing yourself into her novels, and that you too will find a love for old fashioned romance, just as she has.


Readers who read this book also liked

Categories
Blog

If Jack the Ripper Had a Soulmate, It Would Be This Woman!

When we think of crimes that shook Britain, there is one name that comes to mind almost immediately.

Jack the Ripper.

Shrouded in mystery, the nameless ghost of this elusive serial killer stills haunts the alleys of Whitechapel and makes the imagination of millions of people run wild.

And for good reason!

The brutality of his crimes along with the complete lack of any solid clues as to who he really was have turned the figure of Jack the Ripper into a cultural phenomenon. A morbid legend that still troubles criminologists and researchers to this day. It seems that even many decades after his death and the end of his reign of terror, Jack still maintains his hold over the public.

Even the mere notion than someone like him could possibly be stalking you as you walk home after sunset is enough to make your heart tremble in fear.

I know I get chills every time I think about it!

One would think that there could be nothing worse than the brutal Whitechapel murders. Such atrocity could never be surpassed, surely.

Yeah…About that…

What if I told you that there is someone who could give Jack a run for his money?

And what if I told you that someone is…a woman?

Buckle your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen, for today we are getting up close and personal with one of Britain’s most prolific female serial killers!

Unlike many of her generation, Amelia Dyer was not the product of grinding poverty. She was born the youngest of five in the small village of Pyle Marsh, just east of Bristol, the daughter of a master shoemaker, Samuel Hobley, and Sarah Hobley. She learned to read and write and developed a love of literature and poetry. However, her somewhat privileged childhood was marred by the mental illness of her mother, caused by typhus. Amelia witnessed her mother’s violent fits and was obliged to care for her until she died raving in 1848.

After her mother’s death Amelia lived with an aunt in Bristol for a while, before serving an apprenticeship with a corset maker.

At the age of 24, she married George Thomas. George was 59 and they both lied about their ages on the marriage certificate to reduce the age gap. George deducted 11 years from his age and Amelia added 6 years to her age—many sources later reported this age as fact, causing much confusion.

For a couple of years, after marrying George Thomas, she trained as a nurse, a somewhat grueling job in Victorian times, but it was seen as a respectable occupation, and it enabled her to acquire useful skills. From contact with a midwife she learnt of an easier way to earn a living—using her own home to provide lodgings for young women who had conceived illegitimately and then farming off the babies for adoption.

But what was ‘baby farming’?

Unmarried mothers in Victorian England often struggled to gain an income, since the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act had removed any financial obligation from the fathers of illegitimate children, whilst bringing up their children in a society where single parenthood and illegitimacy were stigmatized. This led to the practice of baby farming in which individuals acted as adoption or fostering agents, in return for regular payments or a single, up-front fee from the babies’ mothers. Many businesses were set up to take in these young women and care for them until they gave birth. The mothers subsequently left their unwanted babies to be looked after as “nurse children”.

Ms. Dyer, herself, assured clients that children under her care would be given a safe and loving home.

Initially, Dyer would let the child die from starvation and neglect. “Mother’s Friend,” an opium-laced syrup, was given to quiet these children as they suffered through starvation. Eventually Dyer resorted to faster murders which allowed her to pocket even more profit. Dyer eluded the authorities for years but was eventually arrested when a doctor became suspicious of the number of babies dying under her care. Surprisingly, Dyer was only charged with neglect and sentenced to 6 months of labor.

Dyer learned from her initial conviction. When she returned to baby farming, she did not involve physicians and began disposing of the bodies herself to avoid any added risk. She also relocated frequently to avoid suspicion and took up the use of aliases.

The Case of Evelina Marmon’s Daughter

In January 1896, Evelina Marmon, a popular 25-year-old barmaid, gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Doris, in a boarding house in Cheltenham. She quickly sought offers of adoption, and placed an advertisement in the “Miscellaneous” section of the Bristol Times & Mirror newspaper. It simply read: “Wanted, respectable woman to take young child.” Marmon intended to go back to work and hoped to eventually reclaim her child.

Coincidentally, next to her own, was an advertisement reading: “Married couple with no family would adopt healthy child, nice country home. Terms, £10”. Marmon responded to a “Mrs. Harding”, and a few days later she received a reply from Dyer, who presented herself as a childless woman of good standing who wanted to raise a little baby girl as her own.

After picking up the child, Dyer did not travel to Reading, as she had told Marmon. She went instead to London. There, Dyer quickly found some white edging tape used in dressmaking, wound it twice around the baby’s neck and tied a knot. Death would not have been immediate. Amelia later said “I used to like to watch them with the tape around their neck, but it was soon all over with them”.

The End of Amelia’s Reign of Murder

Unknown to Dyer, on 30 March 1896, a package was retrieved from the Thames at Reading by a bargeman. As well as finding a label from Temple Meads station, Bristol, an ingenious constable from the Reading Police Department, used microscopic analysis of the wrapping paper, and deciphered a faintly-legible name—Mrs. Thomas, which was one of Dyer’s many aliases—and an address.

This evidence was enough to lead police to Dyer, but they still had no strong evidence to connect her directly with a serious crime. Using a clever plot and a decoy in the form of a young woman looking to employ Dyer’s services, Dyer was eventually apprehended. She was later tried at the Old Bailey in March 1896, using insanity as her defense. It took a jury less than five minutes to reach a guilty verdict. She plead guilty to just one murder, but using estimates based on timelines and years active, she likely killed between 200-400 children. On Wednesday, June 10, 1896 just before 9:00 am, Amelia Dyer was hanged.

There is even a theory, albeit not backed by evidence, that because the murders occurred during the same period, Amelia Dyer and Jack the Ripper are one in the same and that the Ripper’s victims were botched abortions committed by Dyer.

And that’s a thought equal parts comforting and terrifying!

Comforting because it’d mean that there was one deranged killer instead of two, and terrifying because it’d take a whole other level of depravity for one person to commit these heinous crimes!

What do you think? Is that possible that they were one and the same person? Personally, I don’t think they were, but the theory still makes me shudder.

There’s one thing for sure: I’m mighty glad Jack the Ripper and Amelia Dyer never met!

 

Written by Emma Linfield

Categories
Authors Books Clean Regency Historical Romance Patricia Haverton Regency Romance Romance

Perfectly Mismatched with the Duke

She swore never to love and he swore to love her until the end of time...

Matchmaker extraordinaire Alexandra Evans lives by one rule: never fall in love.

Having watched her mother wilt away after her father’s untimely passing, she has vowed to dedicate herself to her flourishing business and never fall victim to that kind of painful loss.

Maxwell Hayes, Duke of Gatterlen, feels like an ensnared hare when his mother announces that she has found a suitable match for him. That is until he meets the matchmaker tasked with making it happen.

With her walls crumbling one by one, courtesy of one dashing Duke, and someone ransacking her home, Alexandra decides this just might be the first match she’ll walk away from.

Only, she never gets the chance to. And when he goes looking for her, all that’s left behind for Maxwell to find is a single silver pendant…

*If you like powerful Dukes, loving Duchesses and a marvelous depiction of the majestic Regency and Victorian era, then Perfectly Mismatched with the Duke is the novel for you.

This is Patricia Haverton's 3rd novel, a historical Regency romance novel of 80,000 words (around 400 pages). No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a sweet happily ever after.

Pick up "Perfectly Mismatched with the Duke" today to discover Patricia's captivating story!


Book Details​​​​

  • Author: Patricia Haverton
  • Genre: Regency Romance
  • Publisher: Cobalt Fairy
  • Publication: Dec 2019
  • ASIN: B0827SPK97

About Patricia Haverton

Born the oldest of three children, Patricia Haverton grew up believing that she'd follow in her father's footsteps and pursue a career in science. However, her worldview changed when she decided to explore her British mother's roots. The trip to her ancestral lands solidified her conviction that she had found her true calling in the romanticism of the Era of Kings and Queens.

A hopeless romantic and a firm believer in the idea of soulmates, Patricia changed the course of her life and decided to get her degree in Creative Writing and Psychology. As she jokingly says ever so often, "she lives in the past now, where love shows the way and Dukes save the day!"

When she's not weaving tales of love that prevails, Patricia enjoys spending time with her husband, roaming the British countryside, where they have been living in for the past decade.

Now would be the time to let yourself go and experience the true magic of the Regency Era! Let your imagination run wild, live amazing adventures through the eyes of brave heroes! Like the legendary wise wizard, Patricia will be your guide!


Readers who read this book also liked

Categories
Authors Books Clean Regency Emma Linfield Historical Romance Regency Romance Romance

An Unbending Lady for the Desperate Earl

Their love was a storm. Not the kind you run from, but the one you chase...

In a world ruled by men, ingenious detective Victoria McCarthy has to fight tooth and nail in order to be accepted. Titled “the Vixen” by her colleagues, she strives to walk in her late father’s footsteps.

And London has just declared a state of emergency.

With his fiancée the latest victim of a series of kidnappings, Christian Turner, Earl of Galbury, is willing to do anything to get her back. He never expected that joining forces with one Victoria McCarthy would leave him so conflicted: for the closer they get to their target, the nearer he gets to having to say goodbye.

With their trails going cold, and the clock ticking against them, Victoria comes up with a dangerous plan: she is to pose as a Lady and invite the kidnappers to come and get her, even if it means never seeing Christian again.

For there's one thing she knows for certain: she's about to walk into the lion's den and there is no escape plan...

*If you like powerful Dukes, loving Duchesses and a marvelous depiction of the majestic Regency and Victorian era, then An Unbending Lady for the Desperate Earl is the novel for you.

Emma Linfield's 21st book is a historical Regency romance novel of 80,000 words (around 400 pages). No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a sweet happily ever after.

Pick up "An Unbending Lady for the Desperate Earl" today to discover Emma's amazing new story!


Book Details​​​​

  • Author: Emma Linfield
  • Genre: Regency Romance
  • Publisher: Cobalt Fairy
  • Publication: Nov 2019
  • ASIN: B081XQKM85

About Emma Linfield

Emma Linfield has always been passionate about historical romances. Ever fascinated with the world of Regency England and being utmost inspired by Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s work, she decided she wanted to write her own stories. Stories of love and tradition being mixed in the most appealing way for every hopeless romantic, much like herself.

Born and raised in Southern California, Emma Linfield has a degree in Creative Writing and English Literature, and she has been working as a freelance writer for the past 10 years. When she isn’t writing,  Emma loves spending her time with her own prince charming and two beautiful children, all the while enjoying the famous Californian sun and ocean.

So, hop on to this exciting journey of Dukes, Earls and true love with Emma and find pleasure in the old fashioned world of Regency - an Era of pure romance, elegance and high fashion!


Readers who read this book also liked