Amusements of Old London: Sundry Diversions

Wonderful Blog Series by Susana Ellis

Susana's Parlour

Amusements of Old London

William B. Boulton, 1901

“… an attempt to survey the amusements of Londoners during a period which began… with the Restoration of King Charles the Second and ended with the accession of Her Majesty Queen Victoria.”

“Modern” folks less brutal and more sophisticated

People of condition in the reigns of Anne and the Georges flocked to the Strand or to Covent Garden to see waxworks at Mrs. Salmon’s, or puppet-shows at Mr. Powell’s, or to watch Mrs. Saraband’s dogs and monkeys going through the operations of a siege with toy cannons and scaling-ladders.

Side by side with these innocent simplicities flourished the brutalities which we have examined in our inquiries into the humours of Hockley, the cockpit and the prize-ring, the last two at least of which famous institutions depended upon the support of well-to-do people for their prosperity and development. So too with the great…

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Mediomania: Spiritualism, Crisis, and Mediumistic Hysteria of the 19th Century

Dirty, Sexy History

A depiction of table-turning in Le Magazine L’Illustration, 1853

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story?

The residents of Hydesville, New York were sure intrigued when rumors erupted of the Fox sisters and their ability to communicate with the dead through taps and rappings in their home. Kate and Margaret Fox invited the public to demonstrations of their abilities, asking the spirits to respond to questions with the correct number of knocks. And from these few taps, a religious movement grew.

But it wasn’t the need or the determination to speak with the dead that drove the development of Spiritualism. The religion came along at the right time when it was needed most by those wishing to enact social change. In the 1850s, Quakers were looking for an escape. Abolitionist Quakers in particular were in a fix. Their religion forbade them from taking a stance on measures such as abolition…

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Amelia Bloomer, Fashionista and Women’s Rights Advocate

History Imagined

I couldn’t let March come to an end without having History Imagined pay homage to National Women’s History Month, established in 1987 by a declaration of Congress after several years of hard work from the National Women’s History Project. That organization’s goal is “Writing women back into history,” so I thought I’d take the opportunity to turn the spotlight on one of the early women’s rights reformers, Amelia Bloomer, who made an appearance in my first book, The Reluctant Debutante. My heroine, Ginger Fitzpatrick, idolized Amelia Bloomer and tried to, in her own way, become a feminist as well. But Ginger was only one of a large following that had gathered around Amelia and other outspoken women searching for equal rights.AmeliaBloomer-sig

Born Amelia Jenks in May of 1818, she received only a few years of formal education locally before becoming a teacher in a school and also performed duties as…

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The Firstborn’s Hero: Lord Haughton

The Quirks of Quen

Writing heroes is always fun. I never set out with a perfectly formed character in mind. I usually have a scene, or even a scene-let, with a few lines of dialog, maybe a bit of action, and that’s it. But it gives me enough of a springboard that I can start building a story around this guy.

And a lot of the time, he’s definitely not the most likable character. Alexander_Jakesch_-_Old_History

Take Lord Haughton, or Finnian, as he’s more familiarly known. He’s the hero of my next book, The Firstborn, and at first introduction, he’s not exactly someone you’d immediately warm up to. He’s stuffy, he’s stubborn, he’s worried about keeping up appearances.

His younger brother, David, has gone and sired a son out of wedlock. It’s a scandal, or it could be if it’s not kept under wraps. And Finnian, being the oldest son and the one with the weight…

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