Coffee Table Books

Christina here. During the Christmas holidays I’ve had a chance to relax a bit and do things I don’t normally have time for. One of them is to leaf through some of the many coffee table books I own – and I have to admit there are rather a lot of them!

I’m not sure why I have so many. They’re not exactly necessary and yet seem to accrue of their own accord. Many of them are from exhibitions I’ve attended, especially those of my favourite artists, while others are on subjects close to my heart. I’m never quite sure why I buy them as I don’t usually read them – I’ll only flick through the pages to look at the photos. Admittedly, most of them do have gorgeous pictures!

DuchessToday I thought I’d tell you about a few of the ones I love best, the ones I keep returning to and never tire of looking at, and why. Then I’d love for you to tell me about yours! (Even if that means my collection grows larger as you tempt me …)

My absolute favourite is The Duchess of Devonshire’s Ball by Sophia Murphy. On 2nd July 1897 the then Duchess of Devonshire held a fancy dress ball in her London mansion in Piccadilly, Devonshire House. It was a glittering occasion and a very special ball, but what made it unique is that the duchess had all her guests photographed as they arrived and then had the pictures put into a privately printed album for herself. The costumes are out of this world, and some of them must have cost an absolute fortune. Some of the guests look ridiculous, others uncomfortable, and one can only wonder how they managed to dance all night in their finery. For me, the guest that stood out the most was the Duchess of Portland who was so beautiful, she would have looked regal in a sack. I can readily imagine her as the heroine of a romantic novel as she must have had suitors in droves!

Read more

Early Early Dog Collars

JoannScarf 1760-1780 magdeburga here, with a posting but not exactly the posting I set out to write. This happens once in a while.

The backstory goes like this; It got cold, it being winter, and I bought Mandela the dog a sweater to keep her warm. This got me thinking about dog clothing in general and protective dog clothing  in particular — like warm sweaters or dog boots at the Isentod. This is in contrast to “dressing Phideau up as Santa’s Elf” dog clothing.

I asked myself, “Did they put sweaters on their dogs in Regency times?” and the Dog in coatanswer was pretty much “If they did they didn’t talk about it and they didn’t paint pictures of it.” The British were, in fact, just getting used to the idea of men using umbrellas and women were running around nekkid halfway down from their shoulders so putting a dog in a comfy tweed cape probably didn’t occur to them.

Dogs, like sheep and cats and cows, were expected to deal with the climate on their own.

What dogs did wear, however, was collars. So I will talk about collars.

Read more

Writers and Their Dogs

Mandy by Elaine1 detail

My dog Mandela –Mandy

Joanna here. The last time I posted it was Cats and Their Writers. I promised to tell the dog's side of the story next. 

One thing I discovered when I was looking into this is that writers — and folks in general — talk about their cats and dogs differently.

Can I say there seems to be a closer emotional attachment to dogs? There's a different bond, anyway. For instance, there are many, many elegies to dogs. Somewhat fewer to cats. Dunnoh why.

I've lived with both dogs and cats and am silly fond of them. (They get the expensive brand of dog and cat food, for instance.) In a lifetime of pets, my dearest beloved were one dog and one cat. Oddly, they were my first dog and one of my earliest cats. The third, I think.

Let's see what writers have to say.

Read more

The Dog Days of Summer

Ethel hotNicola here. Yesterday, September 1st, was the official start of autumn, at least according to the meteorologists. Here in the UK the days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler and there is a misty haze lying over the fields on fine mornings, and dew on the grass. It's back to school, back to work, after the long hot days of summer. The harvest is being gathered in; it doesn't feel quite like full blown autumn yet but you can feel the change in the air.

For me this summer will always conjure memories of my two hot dogs, Angus and Ethel the guide dog puppy, lying on the cool stone floor as they slept away those sultry summer days. Often I found the heat made me sleepy too. The "dog days of summer" seems a perfect description for those weeks even if originally it didn't derive from dogs at all, except in an astronomical sense.

Read more

Wonderful Wenchly Eighth Anniversary

 Joanna here, at the Great Word Wenches Eighth Blogiversary. 

 Today we're celebrating by harking back to our favorite blog posting evah!
There'll be four blog links today.  Four on Friday.

This is my own fourth Word Wenches anniversary.  I'm still the newest Wench — the baby Wench, as it were.  So proud and happy to be here.   

When I went looking fStevens the_bath mid c19or my favorite posting, I had quite a number that called to me.  I could go back to the one about women fighting with fists and swords.  Or the 'fireworks and explosives' post.  Or the one about Regency liquor.  (I sense a certain disreputable trend in my posts that had hitherto escaped my notice.)  But on the whole, I decided we'd go with a cleaner topic.  Bathing.

So here is Georgian and Regency Bathing Customs  – here.RupertBoye


Nicola says:

It’s lovely to be celebrating the 8th anniversary of the Word Wenches blog and with it our wonderful Wench readers and a huge variety of blog posts.

It was very difficult to choose a favourite from my time as a Wench and I got completely distracted reading through old posts and thinking anew about a range of fascinating topics relating to history and writing and much more besides. In the end, like Andrea, I chose one of my first posts as a wench, One Man and his Dog.

I was so excited to be a part of the group (I still am!) and so keen to share my quirky research interests with a group of like-minded people. The blog illustrates a couple of my passions – dogs and Prince Rupert of the Rhine – and I know I am not alone in loving both of these disparate subjects! In addition, Prince Rupert is a character in my current work in progress and so there is a nice connection from one of my early Wench posts to my writing now.

So here is a link to the blog post, with thanks to my fellow wenches for being such an amazing group and to our readers for being such  fun to chat with!

Wenches sharpCara/Andrea here,

I think one of the reasons the Word Wenches have thrived for eight years in an internet landscape where sites come and go at the speed of light is because we all have wide-ranging and eclectic interests. (that’s an erudite way of saying we are quirky!) Which makes choosing a favorite from the blogs I’ve done over the years no easy task. Like a magpie, I tend to collect bright shiny tidbits of arcane information. I call it research . . . and usually the esoteric historical information I find fascinating does end up in my books. But most, I just find the stuff fun to know.

However, after going over my contributions to the blog, I’ve decided to spotlight the very first post I did for as a Word Wench. There are two reasons—firstly because I was—and still am—thrilled to be part of such an amazing group of writers. Not only do we share a passion for writing and history, but on a more personal level, we have become a close-knit, supportive group of best friends. Secondly, I’m choosing it because it Wenches gunfireillustrates the sort of offbeat historical subject that set fire to my imagination. And what makes it even more fun is that there is an audience of kindred spirits who seem to share my passion. So without further ado, here is a link to the history of gunpowder. And I’ll also add my own colorful fireworks of thanks to all you readers whose enthusiasm for our posts keeps us going!

 Sherrie drops in to say —Image001

From Sherrie Holmes and Sparky Tabasco, happy anniversary to all the Wenches for 8 wonderful years! As your  blogmistress, I've been privileged to come along for the ride from the very beginning. It's been a trip! I can remember when I was first approached by Mary Jo about researching blog venues and then becoming the blogmistress to keep things running smoothly behind the scenes. Blogging had really exploded back then, and many authors were dragged, kicking and screaming, into the blogosphere. Now, blogs are a great way for authors and readers to connect, and a side benefit has been the wonderful friendships that have been formed as a result. Here’s to another glorious 8 years!

BathingmenAnd Jo:.

I was delighted to be invited to join the Word Wenches back in 2006, and then it seemed quite an achievement to reach our anniversary in May 2007. Of course we wanted to do a group blog worthy of the milestone, so what else but Getting Naked With the Wenches? The topic was "nakedness in the past — the fiction and the non-fiction."

I pulled together the first of three posts on nakedness. In this one the Wenches discussed bathing habits — naked or not?– and even the definition of nakedness, which uncovered (sorry!) this from the OED. 1761:  "The streets were…filled with naked people, some with shirts and shifts on only, and numbers without either." There are pictures.

We also discussed nakedness in sex. No pictures in the blog, but there's a link, with appropriate warnings. Enjoy!

 Stay tuned for Friday's posting when we'll hear from Anne, Pat, Susan and Mary Jo.  On Friday we'll offer a plentitudeand a half of Wench Book Swag to lucky commenters on either of these posts.  What kind of book swag?  Let me say — ARC!  Let me say — Newly released books.  Let me say — audiobook!

 So …  What's your favorite Wench post from the eight years of Wenchdom?