Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Poems for the New Year

Here is some special poetry to see in the New Year! This is my personal favourite by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
Ring Out, Wild Bells

Monday, December 28, 2009

Memorable Marie

In Marie’s dreams she sang in a beautiful blue dress on the music-hall stage to an audience who clapped enthusiastically after each song. When she woke up and found herself sleeping in a small, cramped room with her little sisters, she sighed and turned her face to the wall. How would she ever escape? The London girl wouldn’t take long to make her dreams come true.

After wandering around the music-hall precincts and theatre streets of London with her father, a waiter in a tavern, Marie Lloyd was determined to sing on the stage and be successful. Born Matilda Victoria Wood in 1870, she soon changed her name to Marie because it ‘sounded classy’. Lloyd was obtained from the name of a weekly newspaper.

The pretty blue-eyed blonde formed a singing troupe with her talented sisters. They called themselves the ‘Fairy Bell Minstrels’. Soon Lloyd branched out on her own and made her first stage appearance in a music hall at only 15. She danced an Irish jig which she said ‘went down immense.’

Marie Lloyd’s first hit song was ‘The Boy That I Love Is Up In The Gallery’. During the song her brother would wave a red hanky pretending to be her true love.

The young singer quickly became quite successful and was soon admired by men. She fell in love with smooth-talking Percy Courtney, who was much older, and married him when she was only 17. He was 25.

Unfortunately Percy liked drinking, race-horses and living ‘the good life’ much more than being married. Although they had a daughter, Marie, within a year of marriage, the marriage didn’t last long.

Humiliated by his wife earning more than him, Courtney drank more and more heavily. Finally he assaulted Marie and her reputation was tarnished when this was reported in the press.

Lloyd’s career flourished, however, and she toured South Africa to great acclaim. She also toured America a few times although she got into some trouble there because of her ‘blue’ songs. Apparently the press gave her a hard time.

She was called before the Vigilance Committee because of her ‘rude’ songs and gestures and winks. They didn’t like her dancing which revealed colourful petticoats and drawers either. She convinced them that her songs were completely innocent, however, and that any risqué meaning that they had was in the minds of the audience.

Marie Lloyd’s second husband was the singer, Alec Hurley. She toured Australia successfully with him but the marriage ran into trouble when she got her eye on a much younger Irish jockey called Bernard Dillon.

The Music-Hall Strikes

Marie Lloyd spoke out about the poor working conditions and lack of pay when music-hall performers went on strike in 1907. She supported the workers who were being expected to put on many extra performances for little pay or even no pay at all.
“These poor things have been compelled to submit to unfair terms of employment, and I mean to back up the federation in whatever steps are taken," she said.

It was a huge strike involving many of the London variety theatres and over 2000 of the performers in the Variety Artistes Federation, and took a long time to be resolved. The performers were eventually paid more money and granted a guaranteed minimum wage and musicians gained a maximum working week.

The managers of the theatres never forgave Marie for her involvement. This may have been the reason why she wasn’t invited to perform in the Royal Command Performance of 1912. She was not daunted and put on her own ‘Command Performance’ in a nearby music-hall to great acclaim.

Marie Lloyd was good-hearted in other ways as well. She performed for the troops during WW1 and was greatly involved in charity work for the homeless and the children of London.

Bernard Dillon

Marie was earning huge amounts of money but her private life wasn’t happy. The young jockey that she married at 40 (he was only 22) was just as bad as Percy Courtney. He drank heavily as well and eventually got into trouble for assaulting Marie’s father.

Marie Lloyd became ill in the early 1920’s and practically died on the stage. Her performance was affected and she became wobbly and distraught. She died three days later.

Over 100,000 people watched the funeral procession of the greatly loved ‘Queen of the Music Hall.’

Here is an extract from the film which stars Jessie Wallace and the handsome Richard Armitage:

Miss Marie Lloyd - Queen of the Music Hall

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Paul Iribe

The Aesthete's Lament has a post about the eclectic designer, Paul Iribe, which is well-worth reading.

About Decorative Style

It's a pity that these wonderfully interesting online magazines have been discontinued. There are articles on Belle Epoque fashion, the history of fans, corsets, and many other Victorian and Edwardian topics. You can find them here:
About Decorative Syle.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


My article about the great Spanish designer, Mariano Fortuny, can be seen here:
The Magician of Venice.

A Very English King

Edward VII. (Part One)

Blue-eyed and blonde-haired, young Prince Albert Edward impressed everyone with his sweet nature, except his parents. Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert, were disappointed in the young Prince because they didn’t think that he was as clever as their favourite, his elder sister, Princess Vicky.

They subjected the little boy to a vigorous and strict school-room regime and kept him away from other boys in case he was exposed to bad influences. The young Prince lacked playmates and was teased rather mercilessly by his elder sister. It was no wonder that he was given to frequent rages and his parents found him hard to control.

Even Baron Stockmar, who had advised this extreme method of education, thought that the routine was too rigorous for the young boy and felt sorry for him. However, the Queen and Albert were determined. They didn’t realise that the young Prince’s talents lay in diplomacy and charm. One of his tutors, Henry Birch, praised the Prince’s ‘very good memory, very singular powers of observation.’

Edward also preferred outdoor pursuits, such as shooting and riding to his studies. He was not one for reading but this didn’t affect his capacity to work when he became King. Queen Victoria, eventually realised that she’d underestimated her son but this took many years.

The Affair with Nellie

Edward studied at the universities of Oxford and Edinburgh but his parents were not pleased with his progress. They thought that he spent too much time enjoying hunting and rich food instead of concentrating on his work. They were to be even more disappointed in him.

When the young Prince trained with the Grenadier Guards his fellow officers discovered his lack of experience with women. They sneaked the pretty actress, Nellie Clifden, into his room to surprise him. Edward was delighted with Nellie and she became his mistress. The problem was that Nellie began boasting about the affair.

Queen Victoria and Albert were outraged. It was not only his lack of morals that caused them concern. Princess Vicky had found a good match for Edward – the Danish Princess Alexandra. His parents were worried that his affair could affect the planned romance.

Prince Albert died of typhoid shortly after the affair. The Queen was so upset that she blamed Edward for causing his death. It would take some time before she forgave him.

Princess Alexandra

Luckily Princess Alexandra was still available. The Prince had met her before but he wasn’t that impressed because he preferred Nelly. After his father’s death he felt very contrite and he thought about the beautiful Danish Princess more and more.

Queen Victoria was very impressed with the young woman and the Prince eventually proposed. The young couple were in love and the Queen thought that their marriage would be happy.

Princess Alexandra soon became disillusioned with her husband, however. Her deafness tended to isolate her and probably annoyed Edward. She also had a succession of pregnancies and Edward started mixing with a fast set who liked shooting, hunting and women.

He became involved in many scandals, which annoyed Queen Victoria and his wife.
This included the Mordaunt scandal in which Edward was accused of being the father of Lady Harriet Mordaunt’s child. Many of his letters to her were read in court. These were quite innocent but Edward also denied any impropriety. Lady Harriet was declared insane shortly afterwards.

Edward’s many mistresses included the beautiful actress, .Lily Langtry and Daisy Brooke. He also had a long affair with Alice Keppel.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Decade Like No Other...

I don't think that the last decade had the glamour or the creativity of the Edwardian age but I'm biased! I also prefer to read the writers of the Edwardian era.
Here is a great article from The Guardian comparing the two decades: A Decade Like No Other.

What do you think?

I hope to write a longer post over the weekend - I'm not sure what it will be about.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sir John Lavery

Mrs.Lavery Sketching

Sir John Lavery's art is still deservedly popular, especially in his native land of Ireland where his paintings were attracting high prices recently.

The artist was descended from an ancient King, Labhradh
Loingseach, according to John Lavery and his Work by R.B. Cunninghame Graham. This name means 'Lavery the Mariner'.
He didn't have an auspicious start in life, considering that he was the descendent of a king, however.

Born in Belfast in 1856, Lavery was the son of a failed publican who died at sea while trying to immigrate to America. His mother died soon afterwards and the young orphan was raised by relatives.

He soon showed a talent for painting and studied at the Haldane Academy, Glasgow and the Academie Julien, Paris. He was strongly influenced by the 'Glasgow School' and Whistler's paintings. He also became friends with Whistler.

His break came when he was commissioned to paint Queen Victoria's visit to the Glasgow International Exhibition. He moved to London and became a society painter, with important friends such as the Asquiths and the Churchills. His subjects included Anna Pavlova and the Asquiths.

Lavery painted more than 400 portraits of his beautiful second wife, the Irish-American Hazel Martyn Trudeau who was much younger. He married her in 1909. His first wife, Kathleen MacDermott, with whom he had aone daughter, Eileen, died in 1889 of TB.

The government commissioned Lavery as a War Artist in the First World War bu ill-health and a car-crash prevented him from going to the Western Front. He painted the Home Front and his paintings include the North Sea, The End, and The Cemetery, Etaples. He received a knighthood and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1921.

Lavery became very interested in the Irish 'troubles' and painted pictures of the trial of Sir Roger Casement. He and Hazel held the negotations for the Anglo-Irish
Treaty at their house in London.

Hazel fell for the handsome, young Irishman, Michael Collins, and wrote him poetry and sentimental letters. Whether they had an affair is doubtful because Collins was very Catholic, engaged and the much older Hazel had lost much of her beauty. This did not stop her from trying to throw herself on his grave. (One wonders what her husband thought!)

Lavery went back to his beloved Ireland in the 1930's. He died at 84 in 1941.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Edwardian Style Shoes

What do you think of these shoes: Edwardian Style Zanotti Shoes? They're much too high for me and look fairly dangerous anyway! I wish that this fashion for very high-heeled shoes was over, actually.

I agree that the style is quite Edwardian and attractive but I think that the shoes would still look good if they had lower heels.

I hope to write a longer post on the weekend.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Poiret dress

The vintage fashion expert at Couture Allure has a photo of an elaborate Poiret dress which I love: Red Poiret Gown

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Most Beautiful Girl In The Mid-West

Cathleen ni Houlihan, one of the symbols of Irish nationhood, is often depicted in literature as an old woman who needs the help of young men to fight for Ireland. She is not usually as beautiful as Hazel Lavery appears on the old Irish pound note.

Born Hazel Martyn in Chicago in 1880, she was the daughter of a wealthy American industrialist descended from an old Irish family. Hazel was a talented young artist and ambitious, but fate had other plans.

The ‘most beautiful girl in the Mid-West’ fell in love with the Irish artist, John Lavery, on a family holiday in Brittany, when she was quite young. The widower was thirty years older and Hazel’s family was not impressed with the match. Hazel agreed to marry Ned Trudeau, a handsome surgeon, who was her family’s choice.

Ned died of pneumonia a short time after they were married when Hazel was pregnant with Alice. Hazel wanted to return to John but her mother still opposed the idea.

After her mother died Hazel was free. She married John in 1910.

John Lavery was a very successful artist who painted Queen Victoria, the Asquiths, the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, and other famous people in society. He also painted many exquisite paintings of his wife, Hazel. He was knighted in 1921 so Hazel became Lady Lavery. (I can’t help receiving the impression that she was the type of woman who’d enjoy having a title!)

The Laverys were friendly with the Churchills. After the Dardanelles Campaign in 1915, Churchill’s wife, Clementine, thought that Winston would ‘die of grief.’ He had always wanted to paint and bought a paintbox and brushes. One day when he visited Hazel, she asked: “Why do you hesitate?” She persuaded him to finally start painting.

Hazel and John also helped Winston Churchill by becoming involved in diplomacy. Hazel became extremely interested in Irish nationalism – she even described herself as Irish and put on an Irish accent. She and John offered their house in South Kensington, London, as the site for the negotiations for the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922 which formed the basis for the Irish Free State.

Legend has it that forty year old Hazel fell for the handsome Irish nationalist, Michael Collins, and that they had an affair. She and John apparently had a rocky marriage. Michael wrote poems about her ‘delicate sad grace.’ However, Michael Collins was engaged to a young lady and Hazel was twenty years older and dyed her hair, according to one of Churchill’s daughters. There are claims that Hazel would have been shot by the I.R.A. if they’d had an affair.

There are also stories that Hazel wanted to put on widow’s weeds after Collins was shot and even throw herself onto his grave, but this is probably an exaggeration.

It’s a pity that Hazel’s talent for painting has largely been unnoticed. Perhaps her husband was the more talented of the two. Hazel died in 1935 and is buried with John in Putney Vale Cemetery.

(I hope to write about Sir John Lavery soon. They were certainly a fascinating couple!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Exhibition at the Lady Lever Art Gallery

If only I could go to this! This is an interesting article about the exhibition:
New Exhibition at the Lady Lever Art Gallery

I hope to write a longer post about a different subject soon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New York's Grande Dame

Brooke Astor would probably have been horrified by the trial and conviction of her son, Phillip Marshall, for grand larceny and other charges relating to his abuse of her. However, he obviously made her last years very unpleasant and thoroughly deserves time in jail.

Here is my article about her: New Yorks' Grande Dame

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fashion in Film Link

Here is a site with beautiful photos and excellent descriptions of costumes from historical films: Fashion in Films at Winterthur. There are also audio-clips about the designs. I listened to one but I found it very short and disappointing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Paul Iribe

Paul Iribe was a famous fashion illustrator, designer and graphic artist. He was one of the founders of the art deco movement.

Born in 1883 in Angeloume, Iribe studied at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the College Rollin. He became an apprentice printer at the newspaper, Le Temps.

In 1908 the great fashion designer, Paul Poiret, 'discovered' Iribe. He admired Iribe's use of the pochoir technique, which involved colours brushed onto paper by using stencils. The technique featured bright colours and simple, sharp lines.

Iribe produced Les Robes des Poiret to advertise Poiret's new fashions. Only 250 were printed and each were signed and numbered. This was a great advance in fashion illustration because of the pochoir technique and the very modern poses of the models. They didn't just stand in unnatural poses. These models talked, played the piano, and generally enjoyed life in relaxed arrangements.

Iribe also designed wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, and helped Chanel with her jewellery designs.

He went to Hollywood in 1914 where he designed costumes and interiors for Paramount studios. His designs were used in many of Cecil B.DeMille's epics, including The Ten Commandments.

Iribe eventually returned to France where he continued his design work and set up a political newspaper. Chanel fell for the wonderfully talented fashion illustrator and caused him to separate from his second wife, Marybelle Hogan, an American heiress. He and Chanel were engaged when he died of a heart attack while playing tennis. Coco Chanel was devastated.

Iribe was only 52.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Edwardian Twitter?

Apparently the Edwardians had their own version of Twitter, according to this article: Edwardians used 'Twitter' Speak

I hope to write a longer post soon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Some Edwardian Recipes

I cooked fish for dinner so I thought that I'd find out how Edwardians cooked it. I haven't found the answer yet but I did discover some Edwardian recipes .

I had to look up granose flakes. Here's a site that explains what they are: Granose Flakes

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Courtesan Who Became A Princess

My new post at Suite 101 is about a courtesan who became a princess: Liane de Pougy.

NB: This has also been posted at my Royal Rendezvous blog.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I'd love to go to this legendary restaurant one day! Here is my article about its history: Maxim's, Paris

Silent Lagerfeld Chanel Movie

In some ways I prefer this charming little movie to Coco Avant Chanel! The actress looks more like Chanel. The costumes are more glamorous. It's more amusing and I like the Russian connection:

Chanel-Moscow Movie

Friday, August 7, 2009

Virginia Fair Vanderbilt

As you've probably guessed by now I have a special interest in the Vanderbilts. It's not for any particular reason - I just find The Gilded Age and the famous, wealthy families of that era fascinating.

Virginia was the sister of Tessie Oelrichs and followed in her footsteps. The sister's father made a fortune from the Comstock Lode and Bonanza Mines in Nevada. He was also a US Senator from 1881 -1887.

Virginia, nicknamed 'Birdie', looks like a raven-haired beauty in her portrait, but she was described by The New York Times as 'not exactly a great belle'! A devout Roman Catholic, she once wanted to be a nun, but the attractions of the social life in New York and Newport were too great a temptation. Virginia stayed with her married sister, became popular, and enjoyed many sports. She had lots of suitors, including H. Maitland Kersey and Bourke Cochran.

She married William K.Vanderbilt in 1899 in a Roman Catholic wedding. He inherited a large fortune and worked as the president of the New York Central Railroad Company.
He was the brother of Consuelo, the Duchess of Marlborough.

The marriage only lasted ten years. Virginia started a thoroughbred racing stable and set up the Virginia Fair Legacy Fund to rebuild a Catholic school in San Francisco after the earthquake.

In 1930 Virginia hired John Russell Pope to design a French classic limestone house.
This is now owned by the antique dealer Carlton Hobbs.

Soon after this her son William K. Vanderbilt III was killed in a car accident in Newport. Virginia had also had to endure the death of her brother, Charles, in a car accident. She died shortly after her son, aged only 55.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Drunkenness And Swearing In Edwardian Times

These incidents suggest that the Edwardian era really was a much more innocent time!

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A Favourite Belle Epoque Site

La Belle Epoque is one of my favourite websites about this enchanting era which was full of innovations in the arts and architecture. As well as gorgeous photos, there are articles about Art Nouveau artists and the origins of advertising and cinema.

This is one of my favourite photos on the site Morlaix in Brittany .

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Theresa Oelrichs

Theresa Oelrichs once asked the Great White Fleet of the American Navy to bring their ships to her party to add interest to the view from her house, Rosecliff, in Newport. When they refused she used props instead. Her 'Bal Blanc' party was, nevertheless, a great success. She filled her beautiful house, Rosecliff, with white flowers, including lilies and orchids, and bought white swans for the fountain. The women all wore white dresses.

'Tessie' was born Theresa Alice Fair in Virginia City, Nevada. Her family was poor until her Irish father, a prospector became wealthy because of the Cornstock Lode. This was the largest single deposit of silver and gold ever found.

Her parents divorced and her mother gained custody of Tessie, Virginia and Charles. Her father had custody of another son, James. Sadly, James eventually committed suicide.

Tessie's father became a Senator but he was never accepted into 'Society'. Raised in San Francisco, ambitious Tessie soon wanted 'better things'. She met the extremely wealthy Hermann Oelrichs in 1889 at a tennis match in Newport. He was almost 40 and never married. She was much younger. Although his parents probably wanted a better match for their son they gave the couple one million dollars as a wedding present.

Tessie became one of the leaders of New York society, together with Mrs.Astor and Mrs. Ava Vanderbilt. These three were incredibly powerful and decided who would be accepted into the 'Four Hundred'. They also tried to outdo each other and other wealthy families with their wonderful houses and parties.

Theresa and Hermann commissioned the famous architect, Stanford White, to build Rosecliff which was modelled on the Grand Trianon in Versailles. It cost two and a half million dollars to build. Here she held her famous parties. A ballet, an opera and a circus were also held at the 'Gilded Age' mansion.

Sadly, the house with its 22 master-bedrooms and hand-decorated, gilded ballroom was sold for a very low price in 1941.

It is now a museum in Newport, Rhode Island and it has featured in many films, including the stunning The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford. I wonder whether I'll ever see it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Site of the Week: Fotofacade

Andy Marshall is an architectural historian who takes amazing and unusual photos and writes insightful articles about historical buildings. He is also passionate about preserving historical buildings.

Here is his post about one of my favourites, Charles Rennie Macintosh.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Exhibition of American Impressionism and Realism

I went to see the Exhibition of American Impressionism and Realism from the Met today. It gives a wonderful overview of these styles of painting and it's certainly worth seeing. I especially liked the Childe Hassam paintings and this gorgeous work by Donoho:


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A critic wrote in The Australian that he preferred the Australian artist's work because it wasn't as derivative. I thought that this was probably nonsense but after going to the Exhibition I agreed with him in regard to many of the paintings. Some of the artists were too influenced by Monet and Renoir, I thought. The Australian paintings also tended to be brighter and more colourful and outstanding. These include paintings by John Russell, an Impressionist artist and a good friend of Monet. Here is a link to one of his paintings of Belle Isle: Belle Isle

The Sargent portraits were quite amazing. They must have involved so much work and time! I especially liked this portrait of Mrs. Hugh Hammersley, a wealthy banker's wife. It's such a strong portrait but her beautiful dress is so delicately painted.

(NB: This has also been posted at my blog Favourite Things and More.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Belle Epoque in France

Abelard has an excellent introduction to this era in France. This includes information on Art Nouveau, fashion, and the historical background. I have only skimmed this so far but I'm going to read it properly soon!

I will also read the pages about French umbrellas. I like pretty umbrellas so I just bought an attractive one which was included as a gift with perfume.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gold Coins Gain

Recently investors have flocked to gold. This is because gold is the ultimate asset which provides safety and security. Gold will always hold its value and investors realise this, especially when the economy is volatile. Gold Coins Gain is an excellent site where you can buy gold.

You can buy gold coins here, inlcuding the Liberty Quarter Eagle. There are many gold coins available. You can also buy gold bullion at the site.

This is a well-designed and interesting site for investors who want to buy gold.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Belle Epoque Europe on Facebook

Belle Epoque Europe is a pretty site which has information about artists, authors, paintings and events in the 'Gilded Age'.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to explore this site thoroughly yet but I am certainly looking forward to it!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Ladies Treasury of Costume and Fashion

The Ladies Treasury of Costume and Fashion is my site of the week. This truly is a treasury of enchanting articles about Victorian and Edwardian fashion - I especially liked the one about the rivalry of tea gowns. It also has patterns for those who love to sew.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Course Hero Provides A Great Site For Students

Course Hero is a great website which enables college students and tutors to connect. It is very helpful for students because it enables them to use many different textbooks, such as Computer Science Textbook Answer and form study groups so that they can share problems and ideas. This also helps college students to stay motivated.

There are thousands of textbook solutions at Course Hero. One popular subject is Computer Science. Joining the site will mean that you can easily find a Computer Science Textbook Answer which will enable you to pass your Computer Science Test with flying colors.

The study groups at Course Hero enable students to share resources, help each other with answers and support each other while studying for their exams and assignments. There are study groups for every subject, including Computer Science. Passing a Computer Science Test is much easier with the help and support of a study group.

Signing up for the basic membership of Course Hero is free. It is easy to do this by using their Face Book page. This is a great idea which should help college students to get excellent grades!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Scandalous Idina Sackville: A Review of The Bolter by Frances Osborne

This is a little bit out of time because Idina was really a 'flapper', but she was born during the Edwardian age and she certainly shared some Edwardian traits! I greatly enjoyed this excellent biography. Here is my review: The Bolter

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Biography That She Deserves

Here is my review of Jennie Churchill: Winston Churchill's American Mother by Anne Sebba: Jennie Churchill

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Women's War Work by Jennie Churchill

This is a little out of time, but I'm reading American Jennie by Anne Sebba and I've found a biography of Jennie and a book by her on the Internet: Women's War Work

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Cinq-a-Sept in the Belle Epoque

'Lover's World' by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale (Bristol Museum)

No one knows whether the beautiful Jennie Churchill and the Prince
of Wales had an affair. Someone wrote that they met in a darkened, perfumed room, which was filled with flowers, late in the afternoon. This seems pretty suspicious to me!

The cinq-a-sept was popular amongst the Edwardian upper-classes. This was the French name for the hours between five and seven in the early evening when lovers used to meet. According to The Bolter, this time was practical because women used to change from their afternoon gowns into their evening dresses. Women wore corsets, chemises and underskirts, which required much unlacing and unbuttoning!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I have been away recently and I am going to find it a bit difficult to write often because of travelling between two places. I will do the best that I can to make my posts as frequent as possible.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Jeanne Paquin

You can read my article about this famous designer here: Jeanne Paquin

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Duchess of Marlborough Faberge Egg

Beautiful nineteen-year old Consuelo Vanderbilt, granddaughter of the great Cornelius, could hardly stop crying on her wedding day. She was in love with Winthrop Rutherford, but her mother had made her marry the Duke of Marlborough. This meant that she'd have to leave her own country and live with someone she hardly knew and didn't find impressive.

She found success as a Duchess and grew to love England, but not her husband! She visited Russia and dined with the Tsar himself at the Bal des Palmiers. Although Princess Alexandra's Faberge collection didn't impress her very much, she must have liked Grand Duchess Vladimir's and the Dowager Empress's collections. The former Empress's collection included a Blue Serpent Clock Egg.

Soon afterwards the Duchess commissioned a large egg from Faberge. She was the only American to commission a large egg from them. It is believed to have cost over 5000 rubles.

This beautiful ornament, a clock in the shape of an Easter egg, was crafted by Michael Perchin, who was inspired by a Louis XVI clock. The egg is coloured in translucent pink, white and gold with a diamond-encrusted serpent surrounding it. It features the diamond-set monogram of Consuelo - the initials CM under a ducal crown.

After her divorce from the Duke Consuelo gave this to a charity auction in 1926 where it was bought by the Polish soprano, Ganna Walska. This was the first Faberge Easter egg that Malcolm Forbes bought. In 2004 it was sold to Vekselberg.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Golden Age of Children's Novels

I found a very interesting article in The Times about Edwardian children's novels: Edwardian Children's Novels (NB: I can't seem to link to the article itself.)

The theme of this article is that the children in the novels and their readers were like Peter Pan and refused to grow up. I think that the contrary is true. What about The Railway Children and Anne of Green Gables? The children in the first novel were torn from the middle-class, mired in poverty, and had to endure having a father in jail. They were pretty grown-up! Anne had a tough life as an orphan. After being taken in by Marilla and Matthew at idyllic Green Gables her life improved, but Marilla was quite strict and Anne still had to grow up fast. At one stage, she gave up her ambition to go to university to stay at Green Gables and study by correspondence so that Marilla could keep her beloved home. (She went later.) Now that was pretty damn grown-up!

What do you think?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Edwardian Photos in Colour!

There's a gorgeous gallery of Edwardian colour photos, including photos of King Edward VII and some of the Rothschilds, here: Edwardian Colour Photos

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Princess Grace's Faberge Egg

Inspired by an 18th century French clock, Mikhael Perkhin crafted this beautiful translucent blue egg for Faberge. Tsar Alexander III gave the egg which features a serpent set with diamonds, a base of gold, and a working clock, to his Tsarina, Maria Feodorova, on Easter Day in 1887.

The enamelled egg was removed from the Anichkov Palace to the Armory in the Kremlin during the Russian Revolution. Michel Norman of the Australian Pearl Company then bought it. Eventually the shipping magnate, Niarchos, acquired it and gave it to Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

Princess Grace loved the splendid egg. Legend has it that she kept it on her desk in the Palace until she died.

Controversy About The Date

There is some controversy concerning whether this egg really was made in 1887. Lopato thinks that it is too sophisticated and elaborate to have been made at this early date. It was also supposed to have sapphires. But Tatiana Muntian argues that it was made at this early date.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Like Jordan, I only found out the meaning of this term recently! I love the Victorian/ Edwardian eras so I'm a big fan. Read her post which explains steampunk here:What is steampunk?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gallery of Edwardian Clothes

I found a gallery of beautiful Edwardian designs here: Edwardian Designs

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Meme from Histatic!

(NB: I've also put this on my Royal blog.)

What is your current obsession? Sarah and John Churchill. I'm in love with the ravishing Duke of Marlborough, the victor of Blenheim. Sarah is almost more interesting. It's a great love story.

Good fika place? Not sure about this one.

Do you nap a lot? No-not a napper at all.

Who was the last person you hugged? My husband.

What’s for dinner? Lean pork chop, mashed potatoes and spinach.

What was the last thing you bought? Writing Magazine at the newsagent.

What are you listening to right now? The Duchess by Amanda Foreman.

What’s on your bedside table? Books-I just love them.

Say something to the person/s who tagged you. She didn't tag me, but Histatic is a wonderful blog!

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be? I would have to say the Italian lakes. George Clooney can't be wrong. Stresa is the most beautiful town.

Favourite holiday (sorry) spot? The Italian lakes again. I'd love to go back to Belgirate on Lake Maggiore.

Name the things you can’t live without. I can not live without my husband, my close family and friends and my books.

What would you like to have in your hands right now? The book that I'm expecting about Anna Pavlova!.

What is your favourite tea flavour? At the risk of being boring, Twining's English Breakfast Tea. Yes, it has to be Twinings!

Which modern Royal would you most like to meet? Princess Mary. I like her grace and elegance. I also like her because she's Australian and has a Law degree.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? Lake Louise in Canada. I went there when I was 11. We had lunch at the beautiful old hotel on the lake and walked in the garden. It was wonderful and I'd love to spend more time there.

What did you want to become as a child? I wanted one career after another! They included: actress, writer, English professor, teacher, botanist.. I'm what Barbara Sher calls a 'scanner'.

What do you miss? I agree with Histatic here: University-it was awesome. I miss doing my Arts degree.

What are you reading right now? I am about to read Becoming Queen, Kate Williams.

What do you fear the most? Things changing. (Histatic and I must be somewhat alike!)

What designer piece of clothing would you most like to own (new or vintage)? A Poiret gown.

If you could go back in time what period and where would you go to and why? (question added by TammiMagee of Histatic!) At the minute I would go to the mid to late 18th century in order to meet Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham.

Last question, added by Sallymandy: How do you feel about the economy? I hope that it's looking up!

That’s all for me. If you’d like to do the meme, here’s how it works.

1. Respond and rework. Answer the questions on your blog, replace one question you dislike with a question of your own invention; add a question of your own.

2. Tag eight other un-tagged people. (I decided to open this up to anyone.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jeanne Lanvin

Jeanne Lanvin was a great Edwardian designer. My new article about her: Jeanne Lanvin

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Review of Sara Wheeler's Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard

This Antarctic hero famously almost lost his life searching for the eggs of the Emperor Penguin hoping that they'd help solve a Darwinian problem.

A son of an aristocratic family who eventually inherited two English estates, Cherry-Garrard could have become a country gentleman and squire. He didn't need to work, but he was looking for more meaning in his life. He met Edward Wilson who became his mentor and helped him win a place on Scott's last expedition. 'Cherry' wrote his great classic, The Worst Journey in the World, about his harrowing time in Antarctica.

This biography describes Cherry's great expedition and experiences at the Antarctic, deals in depth with his terrible struggles with depression and his mistreatment by the Press and the British Museum, and his happy marriage at the end of his life. Wheeler also made an expedition to the Antarctic and her anecdotes make this part of the book very interesting.

The problem is that the book fell away a bit after the account of the Antarctic journey, because this was the most fascinating part of Cherry's life. It also became quite harrowing because Cherry was haunted by wondering whether he could have saved Scott and this affected his life badly.

However, it's well-worth reading if you like to read about Antarctic heroes.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Interesting Feature on Sir Robert Helpman

This was on Artworks on ABC National: Sir Robert Helpman He tells us a little bit more about Anna Pavlova with whom he began his career.

Hobble Skirt

Evangeline has an excellent post about this elegant but tight skirt here:The Hobble Skirt

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Couturier Paul Poiret

My article: Couturier Paul Poiret won an Editor's Choice award!

Marchesa Casati

Here is my article about this very odd woman who was a fashion icon in Edwardian times:
An Italian Fashion Legend

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Giovanni Boldini

Boldini was another famous portrait painter of the Edwardian age. There is an article about him here: The Master of Swish

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fabulous Faberge

Recently a large pink Faberge egg sold for $18 million at a Christie’s auction, setting a record for Faberge eggs. The new owners of the brand, Pallinghurst, Inc. are no doubt, extremely pleased with this price.

They hope to restore the company’s illustrious reputation which was tarnished during the seventies by some bad choices of perfumes and tacky diamond-encrusted jeans!
Already Faberge sales of the famous clocks and jewelry have increased greatly.
The new owners have the family’s approval and Pallinghurst, Inc. has appointed Tatiana and Sarah Faberge, the founder’s great-great granddaughters as advisors.

The famous Russian firm was begun by Gustav Faberge, a goldsmith, who immigrated to the country from France when Peter 1 invited goldsmiths, artists, and other skilled people to St.Petersburg. The Tsar wanted to make the city into a center for the arts and his ‘window to the West’.

It was Gustav’s son, Peter, who really founded the company’s fine reputation, however. He studied his art in Florence, London, and Paris, after completing his craftsman’s apprenticeship at a young age. When he returned to Russia he became friendly with the treasurer of the Winter Palace and started copying some of the collections there. Assisted by his brother, Agathon, who was a brilliant designer, he gradually became famous for his unusual techniques and craftsmanship. Faberge used brightly colored enamelling, gold and silver, precious stones and cabochons.

Peter Carl Faberge was so meticulous about the quality of the firm’s work that he smashed any piece that wasn’t up to his standards with a hammer!

Tsar Alexander III noticed copies of ancient jewelry made by the brothers at an exhibition and he was very impressed. Faberge soon became the Imperial goldsmith and silversmith, which increased its reputation greatly. I soon became the largest business of its type in Russia.

The Imperial family began the tradition of giving Faberge eggs as gifts at Easter in the same year (1885). The Tsar commissioned the family to create an egg for his wife, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna. Known as the ‘Hen Egg’ this had plain white enameling and a gold yolk holding a golden hen. They continued the tradition until 1916.

Other famous clients included the British royal family, Consuelo Vanderbilt, and the Rothschild’s. King Edward VII commissioned a miniature zoo for his beautiful wife, Alexandra.

The Russian Revolution led to the company’s sad decline. Some of the family attempted to continue their fine work from France but in 1951 an American corporation acquired the rights to the brand for only $25,000.00. The family couldn’t afford the expensive litigation required to retain the rights.

It is to be hoped that this company, with its distinguished history, can restore its fine reputation. Tatiana Faberge said in the firm’s Press Release about the historic reunification:

‘I have dreamed of
this moment for decades. It has been my life’s ambition
to restore the unsurpassed
standards of design and workmanship that characterised my
great-grandfather’s treasures. Now, finally, we have the basis
for fulfilling this ambition. I am very
pleased to be a part of one of the most significant developments
in Faberge’s history.

(NB:This is also on my old Orble blog.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Under The Jacaranda Tree

This painting by Queensland artist Godfrey Rivers is one of my favourites. It has been called 'quintessentially Brisbane' but it's also 'quintessentially Edwardian'. The serene drinking of tea under the shade of the huge jacaranda, the long white dress and the parasol, and the maid serving the tea are all typical of an Edwardian summer.

Rivers captured the Queensland light and the bluish-purple shade of the flowers perfectly.

The Sensational Scotts: Captain Robert Scott and Kathleen Scott

Scott of the Antarctic by David Crane

This is a grim and very sad story of great courage and sacrifice told movingly and sympathetically by David Crane. Recent historians have given Scott's reputation a beating and Crane restores it very well in this excellent book. He argues that all of the qualities that made Scott so beloved by Edwardians - honour, loyalty, patriotism, sacrifice - are the very characteristics which have made him reviled today.

After reading this book I wonder that anyone dared to criticise Captain Scott. As Sir Ranulf Fiennes wrote: "No previous Scott biographer has manhauled a heavy sledgeload through the great crevasse fields of the Beardmore Glacier, explored icefields never seen by a man or walked a thousand miles on poisoned feet. To write about hell, it helps if you have been there."

Scott coped with enormous difficulties - the deaths of some of his men, the loss of dogs and ponies, crevasses, manhauling heavy loads, terrible winds. The list goes on and on. In the end it was really only the unusually cold weather that defeated his team, according to Crane.

Scott's leadership has been criticised and he did have flaws. He could easily get irritable and he didn't like any lowering of standards, but his men (except for Shackleton) said that they'd follow him to the ends of the earth. As indeed they did.

The sentence that summed up the character of this complicated naval officer, who was unhappily beaten to the South Pole by Amundsen, for me was: "In his journal Bowers noted that Scott gave himself a longer trace on his harness when they were pulling through the worst of the crevassed areas, so that if anyone went down it would be him."

Scott's Last Words

I defy anyone to read these without being moved to tears.

"Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for."

A Great Task of HappinessA Great Task of Happiness: Kathleen Scott by Louisa Young

I can't find this and I hate losing things, especially books, so it's really upsetting me! I'll write a little bit about it from memory, but I like to have the book beside me when I review it. I'll write more when I find it.

This was the sort of book that I really like. Kathleen really had a more interesting life than her admirable husband! She lived life at a breakneck speed and Young, her grand-daughter writes in a breathless style which suits it.

A Bohemian young sculptor who 'gallivanted around Europe' and loved to sleep outside, Kathleen didn't meet Scott until she was 28 and he was over 40. Before this she studied art in Paris where she met Rodin and attracted flocks of men (as she seemed to all of her life), went to Macedonia to help war-victims and backpacked in Greece and Italy. She also met the famous dancer, Isadora Duncan, and stayed with her when she had her baby. Isadora was in love with a 'cad' and was still single. This was rather shocking in those days but Kathleen didn't care.

She became famous herself after she married Scott, gaining commissions from people such as Lloyd George and George Bernard Shaw. She associated with the aristocracy and artists.

Kathleen became rather an intimidating figure as she got older, apparently, although liked by many. Her daughter-in-law, the novelist, Elizabeth Jane Howard, married Kathleen's son, Peter, and found Kathleen difficut to cope with. Only 17 when they married, she felt that she couldn't live up to the success of this eminent family.

Kathleen's reputation has been blackened like her husband's. She's been accused of having an affair with the explorer, Nanssen, while Scott was suffering in the wilds of Antarctica; deserting Duncan when she took to drink; and various other things. Young restores her name in this book, correcting these misconceptions. This is very much worth reading if you are interested in the Edwardian age, the English aristocracy, or just a good biography.

How I Became Interested In Reading About Kathleen

I first went to beautiful Christchurch, NZ, four years ago and saw Kathleen Scott's sculpture of Captain Scott near the cathedral. When I came back I looked her up on the internet and found out more about her. I meant to read this book then but I didn't do it until I came back from NZ last year! She deserves to be famous once again so I hope that this blog will make more people aware of her.

NB: I also published this on my Book Addiction blog

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Anna Pavlova in Australia

This lovely link from Poeartica is about the great ballerina's arrival in Australia in the twenties, but she comes into the category of famous Edwardian people so I am including it here: All Hail The Dancing Queen

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Movie of Edwardian London

London 1904 On Film was made to show Australians what life in London was like in 1904! I haven't seen it yet because watching these movies takes up so much bandwidth but I'm looking forward to it!

Course Hero: A Great Idea For Students

Course Hero is a social networking site which provides a way for college students and tutors to interact. It is a relatively new idea that gives students access to many different textbooks and enables them to form study groups.

There are over 200,000 textbook solutions at Course Hero. These range from books on calculus to texts on management. Two examples are Virginia Tech Textbook Answer and Accounting Textbook Answers. There are also final lecture guides, examples of answers to exam questions, and notes on homework.

Course Hero also provides a way for students to form study groups. They can ask each other questions, help each other with resources, and provide fellow students with support while studying for exams and assignments.

Students can find fellow students, professors and obtain resources easily at Course Hero Signing up is free and easily done through Coursehero’s Facebook page. Basic membership is free. This clever idea will definitely help college students to get ‘A’ grades!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Poor Marie Antoinette: Grace Wilson Vanderbilt

Grace Wilson Vanderbilt once said that: "I feel deeply for poor dear Marie Antoinette, for if The Revolution came to America, I should be the first to go." She might have felt sorry for the doomed French queen, but this inveterate social climber lived exactly the way that she wanted.

Grace was the daughter of Richard T. Wilson, a nouveau riche self-made man who made his fortune by speculating during the Civil War. Rhett Butler, in Gone With The Wind, may have been based on him.

He wasn't highly regarded by those with 'old money' in New York, so scandal broke out when in 1896 Grace became engaged to Cornelius Vanderbilt, the great-grandson of the Commodore.
She'd been secretly engaged to his brother, William Henry, but he died of typhoid fever. Cornelius fell in love with beautiful Grace at first sight, when he was 22.

His parents were strongly opposed to the match because they disapproved of Grace's background, her being two years older, and her broken engagement to Jack Astor. They disinherited him and his father suffered a stroke and died shortly after the marriage.

Grace's parties were famous. She even brought the entire cast of a musical, 'Red Rose Inn', from New York, to a specially built theatre on the grounds of Beaulieu, her villa at Newport. She entertained royalty and she became the leader of New York society. Dressed in Worth and Paquin, she had 33 servants.

At one stage she signed cheques worth $80,000.00 and asked her secretary: "Do I really have this much money?"

The Brigadier-General, who had become a soldier, engineer and businessman, died in 1942. Grace and Cornelius had two children, also Grace and Cornelius.

Eventually Grace moved from her lavish Fifth Avenue mansion to a smaller - 28 room - house along the road, nicknamed 'The Gardener's Cottage'. Here she lived until her eighties when she died of pneumonia. According to an article in Time magazine: "She would say to whoever was near by: "Come, let's go for a drive, darling." Then her companion, sitting down by Mrs.Vanderbilt's bed, would take her on an imaginary tour of Newport. "There's a sparkle on the water today," she would say. "There's Mr.So and So bowing to you..."

There is a picture of Grace here: Picture of Grace

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Edwardian Movies and Television Shows

Here is a list of Edwardian movies and television shows:

Moulin Rouge: A wonderfully acted and sensitive production about the great Toulouse-Lautrec.

Mary Poppins: A charming, but rather too long musical. Dick Van Dyke's Cockney accent is extremely strange!

A Room With A View: This beautiful love story set in gorgeous Italy was one of Merchant-Ivory's best. Why did we need a remake? (Especially one that wasn't much good!)

Titanic This movie is set slightly out of the Edwardian era,(1912), however the fashions and decor are very Edwardian so I'm including it. I enjoyed this although it wasn't regarded as a very good movie and I felt that Kate Winslet looked much older than Leonardo Di Caprio. (He's caught up now!) The anti-English slant of the film, historical errors, and silly ending got on my nerves. I know someone who won't even see it partly because it's anti-English!

Americans may get very upset by this statement and I'm not sure whether it's true. However, I read the other day that more American men survived because the English men were more gentlemanly and were more inclined to let women and children onto the lifeboats first!

The Wings of the Dove This very modern movie based on Henry James's difficult novel tells the story of a journalist who has to choose between two women - one is ambitious and grasping and the other is almost perfect, but very ill. It includes spectacular scenery of Venice. This haunting movie is well-worth seeing.

The Age of Innocence: Everything is perfect in this film - acting, direction, setting and costumes. Based on Edith Wharton's classic novel, it depicts the hypocrisy of Old New York and how convention ruins a great love. I found a moving post about this movie here: Age of Innocence at 32 and 47

Television Shows

Lillie is a well-acted television series with the beautiful Francesca Annis putting her heart into playing the famous 'Jersey Lily'.  It provides a good summary of Lillie's life although some of it isn't historically accurate.
To Be Continued.