Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The London Mob

You know, those 18th century London types knew how to party. Right now I'm reading The London Mob by Robert Shoemaker. There was so much social upheavel and very little methods of control, the lower classes of London ran amuck. This book studies the reasons behind and the activities of the London mob.

Shoemaker writes with an informality without giving up the scholarship. He peppers the text with primary sources and uses the illustrations to describe a situation. I'm enjoying the book very much.
Quick post!...
Melissa - glad you enjoyed the article :-) And yes, it was neat meeting Sandra and getting to know her.

Ok - here are a couple more links:

Voice of the Shuttle - European History Resources
Class in the 18th Century - a bibliography


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A wee bit o' BSP...
Not normally something I engage in, but... *g*

In October 2000 I interviewed Sandra Gulland for an article for Solander (magazine of The Historical Novel Society). She's a lovely person and we have met several times since. The HNS has the text of the article up at its website:

Living With Josephine

It appeared in the May 2001 issue of Solander :-)


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Josephine B.

Tess had a link to Sandra Gulland's website on her blog today. If you haven't read Sandra's trilogy of books inspired by Josephine's life, you are in for a real treat.

I've always had a fascination with Napoleon and Josephine. I suppose it originated from two sources. One, the ABC mini-series of "Napoleon and Josephine" and two, Rosalind Laker's Tree of Gold.

But I counted my blessings the day I found Sandra's trilogy in Barnes and Noble. I bought all three books and read all three in quick succession. They are wonderful at drawing you into the period, at exposing you to the daily lives of Josephine and Napoleon, their wants, desires, emotions, dreams, ambitions...

I started a novel set during Napoleon's reign in France and Napoleon and Josephine were actually main characters. I hope to return to it someday.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Some more research links...
I did a quick search this morning and found some more great links for the period:

The Age of George III
The Age of Enlightenment in France
Syllabus for French Cultural History in the 18th Century at UNLV
Age of the Enlightenment - lecture by Dr. Gerhard Rempel

You can browse through more of Dr. Rempel's lectures on his Western Civilization II Lecture list.


Teresa :-)

Friday, June 24, 2005

My latest book purchase!!

Blood Sisters: The French Revolution in Women's Memory by Marilyn Yalom. I bought it from Tricolor Books - Susanna has a great selection and amazing prices.

It's up next on my non-fiction reading list once I finish Pandora's Breeches.

While searching for the Yalom book, I found a link to this old history module at the University of Warwick:

Enlightenment and Revolutionary Paris: 1750-99

Those of you who share my interest in French history might find this an interesting place to browse :-)


[Currently listening to: A Man And A Woman - U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (04:30)]

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I second Rene's recommendation of...
Through a Glass Darkly.

And would add Jo Beverley's Malloren series. Jo has some good historical info on her site, of interest to 18th C enthusiasts:

Female Georgian Costume
Male Georgian Costume
Georgian Military
Georgian Diary

She also lists some of her research sources and links.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Through A Glass Darkly

Through A Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen was a book that really pulled me into the era. Basically a soap opera, Koen blends history, culture and plot so well, I was totally captivated. She wrote a sequel, but others have told me not to bother, it might ruin my enjoyment of the first.

It is not available new, but I've seen it in plenty of used bookstores. While fool of detail, it is juicy enough to qualify as a beach read.
Ooooh, Rosalind Laker's Tree of Gold
Yes! She definitely influenced me with both that book and To Dance with Kings (which spanned the reigns of Louis XIV-XVI, IIRC).

Melissa - I'd LOVE to read your essay. Sounds wonderful. Too bad it's no longer up at history1700s :-(

I just ordered Roy Porter's book on Eighteenth Century England!! Am looking forward to getting it.

Rene - thanks for mentioning those books! And I agree with you re The Old Bailey Online. It's fantastic.

Here are a couple of neat resources I found via the Humbul Humanities Hub:
The European Enlightenment
The Hannah Snell Homepage (she successfully masqueraded as a man in the British Navy)
William Hogarth and 18th-Century Print Culture
Overview of the French Revolution
18th Century at

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Why I Adore the Eighteenth Century

I've just popped in briefly to mention a book I thought might be of interest to others, but I haven't yet discussed why I love the eighteenth century.

If I stretch my memory back to my childhood, television and books influenced me. Television, you ask? Yes - the absolutely awful (to some people, although I liked the romance of it all) miniseries "Napoleon and Josephine." To this day, I adore Armande Assante and he is the model for the hero of my first book, appropriately entitled, Depths of Love.

The book that influenced me the most, however, was Rosalind Laker's Tree of Gold. Set during the early years of Napoleon's reign in France, it delves into the silk weaving industry and also takes you on a historical journey through Europe across battlefields. To this day, Tree of Gold influenced me to write and to delve into history.

I am particularly fascinated with the French Revolution. Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities made me cry because Sydney Carton sacrified his life for the woman he loved. In the midst of such turmoil, who could fail to cry over such a sacrifice?

In graduate school, I wrote a paper comparing and contrasting the women of the American and French Revolutions, something that has not yet been done. But I soon discovered why. It is an intensely difficult subject to comprehend. Social class played a very important role. The majority of the women who participated in the French Revolution were lower and middle class, not aristocrats. In America, we did not have aristocrats and thus, the difficulty in comparing the two is further complicated by trying to discern the social aspects of the two revolutions. But I did manage to find a home for my paper online at (although it's no longer up).

On a more normal level (I sometimes wonder if academics are normal, LOL!), I love the clothes, the manners, the music, the personalities...

Actually, it's kind of hard to define exactly why I love the eighteenth century. Maybe it's because the world imploded upon itself in so many ways. America declared its independence. A Corsican Upstart ruled the most powerful empire in the world. Borders changed. Fashions changed. (And oh how I love to study the history of fashion!). People changed.

Sigh...well, so this post is rather a mish-mash of thoughts and ideas about why I love the eighteenth century. But that's perhaps why I love it - the mish-mash of different ideas, concepts, beliefs, and attitudes prevalent at different points during this time period.

It's utterly fascinating.

Crime Time

As fascinating as the glittering world of the 18th century aristocrat was, equally interesting is the seedy underworld. As London grew in population, so did its crime. The characters that populated the criminal world grew into larger than life celebrities. A couple of books that are great reading on the topic are both by Lucy Moore. First is Con Men and Cutpurses : Scenes from the Hogarthian Underworld. This book follows the criminal records of the time to explore the criminal underworld. Moore tries to use the cases to show the values and attitudes of the time. The other is The Thieves' Opera. This book is more biographical in nature, spending more time on the actual persons perpetrating the crimes.

Online, one of my favorite sites is The Proceedings of the Old Bailey. It has accounts of trials from 1674-1834. It's one of those sites that I easily get lost in. Really interesting stuff.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Mary Robinson

Just received this in my History Book Club packet for this month.

Perdita: The Literary, Theatrical, Scandalous Life of Mary Robinson
by Paula Byrne.

Called the "Madonna of the eighteenth century." Looks to be good!
I forgot to add my...
Link of the Day: Doing Research on the internet.

Oooh - this is a neat little page...
from a university seminar. A nice summary of Everday Life in the Eighteenth Century.

Melissa is here now too :-)
Melissa, another 18th C enthusiast, has arrived. Look for her postings in the near future.


Why the Eighteenth Century?
Some of you might be wondering why we find the eighteenth century so interesting. I can only speak for myself, but I think for me is because it was a vibrant and ever-changing period in history. Lots of movement, revolution, developments in art, architecture, literature etc.

It was a time when women had a measure of freedome. Not what many of US would consider freedom, but certainly more than their Victorian descendants. In the upper classes, marriages were arranged, but often once the heir and the spare had been successful brought forth, if the couple wasn't compatible they would lead separate lives.

Granted, women in the lower classes, while also have freedom, had to deal with poverty and feeding many, many mouths.

Hardly a surprise, then, that by the end of the century, Mary Wollstonecraft was advocating for women's rights in England with her Vindication of the Rights of Women, while Olympe de Gouges crafted a Declaration of the Rights of Women in 1791.

Women's history has always been of special interest to me, so now I think about it, maybe this is why I find the Age of Enlightenment so fascinating. I'm currently reading Pandora's Breeches: Women, Science and Power in the Enlightenment, by Patricia Fara, in which she explores the role women played in some of the great scientific discoveries of the period. The women I've met so far have proven to be intelligent, witty and brilliant in their ability to combine the traditional female roles of wife and mother, with that of scientist and writer.

Follow this with the upheaval of the French Revolution and the roles that women played there, is it really any wonder this era draws so many of us in and invites us to write about it?


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Delightful Reading

I've always had a "thing" for the 18th century. What a tumultuous time in history, a century that brought great change in thought and science. And the clothes were so wonderful.

Since Teresa went with a couple of websites, I thought I would introduce a couple of books I find invaluable for understanding the period.

First is Roy Porter's English Society in the Eighteenth Century . This book is a hodge podge of what was going on in the century and why it was unique. It doesn't go into great depth on any one topic, however, it will perk you interest and gives you ideas on where to continue to research. Porter's style is informal and he does try to explain the concepts in a way a modern reader can understand. It is also apparent Porter loves his subject and when an author can convey their passion, it makes the book so much more fun to read.

Amanda Foreman conveys her admiration for her subject in Georgiana : Duchess of Devonshire. This book gives a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of the century's most prominent and colorful personages. Through Georgiana's life, the reader gets a glimpse of society at the time and a woman's place in it.

I would recommend both of these books to anyone who is interested in the period. They make for great reading whether you want to write about the period or are just a history nut.
Rene has joined me :-)...
Well, you can see that from the sidebar, but still - thanks, Rene, for joining me here. Looking forward to your input!

A couple of my favourite online sources...
for info on the 18th century contain a wealth of information.

First is Eighteenth Century England, based at the University of Michigan. Students from the English Department there pick a topic for study and post the essay to the website. The variety of information is astounding, ranging from English Fairs, to Banking, Coffee Houses, Crime, Food, Leisure etc. At present there are 54 projects on the site.

I've visited many of them and while the quality does vary, for the most part the work is solid. Illustrations abound and each project is well referenced, with footnotes and a bibliography. Also included is a set of research tips, an added bonus for those of us inclined to follow up and explore further.


Next up is Eighteenth Century Resources, a site maintained by Jack Lynch at Rutgers University. He focusses on what is know as the long eighteenth century, spanning the mid-17th Century all the way to 1800 and even a little beyond. The resources are divided into categories such as Art, Architecture, Landscape Gardening, &c., History, Music, Science and Mathematics etc. There's even a link to a page listing other academics working on the same period.

Each category page has links to other websites. What's important here is each link is annotated, with a brief description and assessment of the site. Very important for a researcher.

And no description of this site would be complete without mention of the Chronology. Though still a work in progress, it's a treasure trove of detail for writers working on building a believable, historical world. Some years have more info than others, yet this in no way detracts from the overall value. Especially as it's indexed and, best of all FREE!

The academic world is extremely generous to researchers, making available a wealth of knowledge when it could just as easily be kept hidden on an intranet. For that, I'm extremely grateful.

So, there we are - hope you enjoy these sites and stay tuned for more!


Friday, June 10, 2005


I mentioned over on Melissa's blog that we should start a French Revolution blog, but that's a little too restrictive. The eighteenth century was a fascinating period. I'll be inviting people to join me here to discuss this era and provide research sources :-)

So stay tuned.