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.