We're celebrating our 17th anniversary!
Welcome to our virtual Regency tea party!
A little over 17 years ago, Mary Jo Putney, Susan King, and author and web-guru Eileen Buckholtz met in a restaurant to catch up and toss around some ideas. Eileen suggested a group blog–not something we'd thought much about. We took the idea to Patricia Rice, and it grew quickly from there. Soon we were joined by a few good friends, including the (late and wonderful) Jo Beverley and Edith Layton, and on May 22, 2006, we launched the Word Wenches blog. Since then, our roster has changed now and again. Eventually we were joined by Andrea Penrose, Anne Gracie, Nicola Cornick, and Christina Courtenay. Today, we're still delivering blogs about our favorite subjects–books, writing, history, romance, and whatever else comes to mind–to our favorite people: you, our readers.
We want to thank YOU for following the blog, commenting, reading our books, and enjoying what we do. We wouldn't be here as bloggers or as authors without our readers!
Today we've organized a Regency tea party — and you're invited! Come with us to the home of newlyweds Arabella and Richard (conjured just for the occasion). We're all bringing goodies and housewarming gifts — what would you bring? Join the party! And be sure to leave a comment below for a chance to win a book — we'll choose a few readers at random from among the comments!
Arabella looked around their stunning new house, amazed. She'd been sure that she'd fail when she had a Season, being only a poor vicar's daughter with no dowry. She never imagined that an amazing gentleman like Richard would fall in love with her and her cats and dogs. And that he was an earl and now she was a countess. The Ton was calling her the Cute Countess! She wasn't sure how she felt about that. But she was completely sure about Richard. Except–how was she going to get this house furnished enough for a tea party?
A warm hand settled on her shoulder. "You're worried about furnishings, aren't you? Don't worry, I have a collection of honorary aunts who will love to swoop in with gifts for the house." He looked out the window. "In fact, here comes one now…!"
Mary Jo here: Who knew that when Susan King, Eileen Buckholtz, and I had lunch 17 years ago and began to talk about maybe starting a blog that we'd still be blogging now and have found such richly rewarding connections with readers and other writers? Some of the best things in life can happen almost by accident!
Now for the serious business of our tea party, I'm bringing Cornish pasties because we need some protein to balance all those sweets! Also, my upcoming book, Silver Lady, is set mostly in Cornwall and my characters ate their share of pasties. Pastry wrapped around a savory filling is found in many different variations around the world, such as Spanish empanadas.
But alas, I haven't a single tea cup in my house. I admire the beautiful ones others are bringing, but when I drink a hot caffeinated beverage, I want the amount to be substantial! And it turns out that I have lots and lots of coffee mugs, including hand-thrown pottery mugs like these. (Arabella has told me privately that she and Richard enjoy coffee with their breakfast, but they don't like to say that out loud in England!)
Anne Gracie here, and I joined the Word Wenches back in 2008, after getting to know Mary Jo and Pat and Jo Beverley at a couple of conferences. When Loretta Chase left the wenches, they invited me to join them, and I was thrilled to accept — and am still delighted to be here. Being scattered around the globe, not all wenches have met each other in person, but we exchange emails almost every day and share all kinds of thoughts and news, and as a result, we've become good friends.
I'm bringing some of my mother's and grandmother's tea cups to the tea party. As a child it was my job to get these out of the cupboard, wash and dry them and match up the cups with their saucers and plates, and I always enjoyed doing it. I'll contribute a plate of "Maids of Honour" (photo and yummy little Tudor cheese cakes — recipe here) and some books to read, because books are always a comfort at any time.
Nicola: I’ve lost track of how long ago it is that I joined the Wenches but I’ve always valued the companionship and fun of the group and the opportunity to chat with readers! The Wench community is a wonderful thing and so to join everyone today for this anniversary celebration is lovely. As it’s almost summer, I’ve brought some home-made lemonade to drink as an alternative to tea, and some flowers from our new garden – lilac, peonies and snapdragons to bring the outside in. My food contribution is an afternoon tea plate with cakes and blackberry Bakewell tarts with clotted cream. These originated from the Bakewell Pudding, which was a Regency dish made with a flaky pastry base, a layer of jam and a topping of egg and almond custard. I’ll bring some silver spoons as a housewarming gift so we can eat the pastries elegantly!
Andrea here, I was invited to join the Word Wenches in 2009 after getting to know Mary Jo and Jo Beverley at various writer conferences. (I nearly fell off my chair in shock— and delight—on receiving "the call" from Mary Jo.) Hanging out with my wonderful fellow Wenches and our fabulous community of Wenchly readers has been one of the unwavering high points in my writing life. It’s hard to express how special these friendships are. Through thick and thin, the Wenches are source of constant support and sympathy. We “chat” most every day—and given that we are spread out around the globe there is ALWAYS someone awake when one of us needs to whimper on a shoulder or be given a medicinal bar of chocolate! So with that in mind, I am, of course, bringing chocolate brownies to our tea party—because what is a party without chocolate! And as a special thank-you treat to all our lovely readers, here is a link to download a free PDF of chocolate brownie recipes created by Lady Arianna, the “chocolate" heroine of my Lady Arianna mystery series.
Pat Rice: I love exploring Regency houses and talking with readers, so I'm dragging myself out of my writing cave to join the other wenches for our anniversary. I'm bringing Irish soda bread, because slathered with real butter, it's better than scones. (here's a recipe) This isn’t my Irish grandmother’s version, but close enough. Have you tried it? And for my housewarming gift, I'm bringing a Japanese teapot, one of the few pieces of porcelain I brought with me when we moved. This is a replica of Japanese Kakiemon china. The Japanese discovered the secret of overglaze enamel decoration in the 1600s, and it became all the craze in Europe in the 1700s. Eventually, they began making them in England at Bow and Chelsea. So I think our Regency hosts should approve.
Christina: I’m the new kid on the block but I’m very grateful to be part of such a fun and supportive reading community! I’m always up for a celebration, and did someone mention a tea party? I would never miss one of those! I’m bringing some blue and white tea cups and saucers (an antique Rosenthal set I inherited from my Swedish grandmother and a Royal Copenhagen one of the pattern called Blå Blomst which is one of my favourites).
I’ll add a batch of scones with clotted cream and jam – you can’t have afternoon tea without that! – and some Swedish Strassburgare – our equivalent of Madeleine cookies. They’re so easy to make – just butter, flour, icing sugar and vanilla essence – if anyone wants the recipe let me know. As a housewarming gift, I’ve got some handwoven table runners in various colours – I’ll let Arabella choose the ones that work best with her furnishings.
Susan here: I'll always be grateful for the gifts of friendship and support that this blog provides all of us. And for Arabella and Richard — a tartan blanket for their home. We were given a tartan blanket when we got married, and we still use it — a lovely soft red Stewart, so it's particularly nice to bring it out at Christmas time. And I'll contribute to the tea party with my favorite black tea, a teapot or two, and a stack of warm, yummy blueberry scones.
Leave a comment below to be entered in our random draw – you might win a book from one of the Wenches!
Thank you for following our blog all these years — we are so thankful to all our readers!