Smokin’ Hot Literary Characters

Back in the day when cigarette smoking was cool (and some physicians actually prescribed cigarette smoking to their patients!) tobacco companies invested heavily in advertising.

One of the most successful and effective methods for spreading the word about cigarettes was through printed cigarette cards.

Issued between 1885 and the beginning of World War II, pictorial cards were extremely popular with consumers. Each cigarette pack included a collectible card and a bit of history, which might have helped smokers justify wasting their money and health on the wicked weed.

In England, John Player & Sons (a branch of The Imperial Tobacco Company) was arguably the most popular producer of collectible cards. They typically issued their cards in sets and encouraged consumers to collect them all.

The company issued hundreds of different sets, some containing as many as 50 individual cards. The most popular sets featured images of royalty, with collectible sets depicting kings and queens, coronations, castles, and highlighted events from a particular monarch’s reign.

While not quite as popular, the company also issued about a dozen sets dedicated to literary characters. Dickens was very popular; Thackeray and Scott had their own sets, too.

 

The images in this post give a sampling of characters from books published in 1766 to the mid-1800s. Some of the artwork was produced by major artists, including H. M. (Henry Matthew) Brock, British illustrator of Jane Austen’s novels.

I like these particular images, because they coincide with the way I imagined the characters in my head when I read the books.

An added bonus: the Cliffs-Notes-style descriptions of the books on the reverse side of the cards, which gave just enough information about the characters and the plots for smokers to converse intelligently about classic novels while they smoked themselves to death.

My favorite cards are the three characters from Vanity Fair: Becky Sharp, Jos Sedley, and Lady Southdown.

What do you think: Are the characters portrayed on these cards as you imagined they would look?

Confessions of a Lookie-Loo

Be a Lookie-Loo with me and take a peek into Elizabeth Bennet’s bed chamber at the Inn at Lambton!

I’m on Austen Authors today discussing rooms and places in Jane Austen’s novels that haven’t been depicted in movie adaptations. Please click on the image to join me!

 

A Jigsaw Puzzle for You!

It’s National Puzzle Day. If you’re like me and enjoy solving puzzles of all kinds, here’s one of the jigsaw variety.

This puzzle will reveal a scene that might be in the beginning chapter of a Regency or Austen-inspired romance.

Ready to solve the puzzle? Just click on the puzzle pieces to solve the jigsaw puzzle online.

If you need help, click on the image below to see what the entire finished puzzle will look like.

Once you’re done, I hope you’ll comment and tell me how you liked solving the puzzle.

Have fun!

I’m Giving Away Books!

Shame on Santa. He brought me new books for Christmas, but neglected to bring the shelves to put them on.

That means I have to get rid of some of my existing books to make room for my new treasures.

If you’re a book-lover living in the U.S., and you’re interested in history and all things English, I’d love to send you one of my research books FOR FREE!

All you have to do is promise to give it a good home.

Here are the books I’m giving away this month:

The London Mob; Violence and Disorder in Eighteenth-Century England, by Robert Shoemaker

About the book: By 1700 London was the largest city in Europe, with over 500,000 inhabitants. Weakly policed, its streets saw regular outbreaks of rioting by a mob easily stirred by economic grievances, politics or religion. If the mob vented its anger more often on property than people, eighteenth-century Londers frequently came to blows over personal disputes in a society where men and women were quick to defend their honour. Slanging matches easily turned to fisticuffs and slights on honour were avenged in duels. In this world, where the detection and prosecution of crime was the part of the business of the citizen, punishment was public and expected to be endorsed by crowds. The London Mob draws a fascinating portrait of the public life of the modern world’s first great city. This is a hardback book with original dust cover.

Heroines, by Norma Lorre Goodrich

About the book: Norma Lorre Goodrich, world-renowned Arthurian scholar and historian, turns her attention to female heroes whose valor, fortitude, fearlessness, brilliance and fame have defined and defied women’s roles throughout the ages. She traces the core archetypes of women in ancient history, shows how the stories have descended through the ages, and examines the historical truths behind the myths. From legendary “Good” women to Amazons, fallen women to Joan of Arc, Goodrich examines the female legends on which today’s grand operas, classic novels, and beloved movies are based. This is a hardback book with original dust cover.

Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter, by Diana Souhami

About the book: Alice Keppel, the married lover of Queen Victoria’s eldest son and great-grandmother to Camilla Parker-Bowles, was a key figure in Edwardian society. Hers was the acceptable face of adultery; discretion was her hallmark. It was her art to be the king’s mistress, all the while lauding the Royal Family and the institution of marriage. Formidable and manipulative, her attentions to the king brought her wealth, power, and status.

Her daughter Violet Trefusis had a long and tempestuous affair with author and aristocrat Vita Sackville-West, during which Vita left her husband and two sons to travel the world with Violet.

From memoirs, diaries, and letters, this is a fascinating portrayal of two strong women, their complicated relationship, and the duplicity and double-standards of the world in which they lived. This is a hardback book with original dust cover.

The Man Who Would Be King, the Life of Philippe D’Orleans, Regent of France, by Christine Pevitt

About the book: When Louis XIV, the Sun King, died in 1715, his five-year-old great-grandson succeeded him as King Louis XV. But real power passed to the new Regent, the man who became the de facto ruler of France, Philippe, duc d’Orleans. This biography examines the character of a man whose scandalous reputation has almost overwhelmed his many extraordinary qualities. He earned a reputation as a philanderer and a rake, but he was also intelligent, diligent, loyal, and brave. At a time when Europe was enjoying the dawn of the Enlightenment, Philippe d’Orleans established France as the very center of the intellectual and artistic ferment. This is a hardback book with original dust cover.

If you reside in the USA and would like to have one of these hardback books, leave a comment below, telling me which title you want.

If none of these titles sound like your cup of tea, please check back regularly. I’ll have more research books to give away in the next week or two!

Remembering Alan Rickman

Actor Alan Rickman passed away on this date in 2016.

He was a beloved actor known for many roles, including the villain in the first Die Hard movie, and Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies.

But I’ll always think of Alan Rickman as the perfectly honorable, perfectly romantic Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (1995).

Here’s one of Alan’s performances you may not have seen yet. He joins a stellar cast of British actors (including Imelda Staunton, Geraldine McEwan, Bill Patterson, and Victoria Wood) in a delicious bit of silliness for Regency and Jane Austen fans. Enjoy!

Admiral Lord Nelson’s Final Journey

In a previous post (which you can read by clicking here) I talked about how long it took for news to reach England of the death of Horatio, Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. Today marks the anniversary of Nelson’s funeral.

Nelson was a hero, by any standard. He not only led England’s navy to victory, he lived his life in service to his country, and suffering serious injury in the process. By the time he led his fleet into battle with France and Spain on October 21, his battle experiences had already taken from him an arm and an eye, and he had sustained numerous other injuries over the years, all in service to England. The public revered him, so with his passing it was fitting that he be given a hero’s funeral.

Nelson’s coffin on its journey through the streets of London.

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Nelson’s body finally reached British soil on January 5 (he died on October 21). His remains were placed in a coffin and lay in state in Greenwich’s Painted Hall where thousands of members of the public paid their respects.

This commemorative linen panel from 1806 depicts the funeral procession of Lord Nelson and scenes from his life. The image at the top right shows a portion of the funeral cortege on its way to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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On January 8, 1806 a royal barge, draped in black velvet, carried his coffin up the Thames to Whitehall, where it remained overnight. The next day, a funeral cortege preceded the coffin to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Tens of thousands of Londoners lined the streets to see the procession. Thousands of navy pensioners and soldiers marched from Whitehall to St. Paul’s, including the officers and crew of Nelson’s ship, the Victory.

Nelson’s coffin arrives at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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The entire procession was so long that by the time the column reached St. Paul’s, the funeral car was still at Whitehall, almost two miles away.

Tens of thousands of Londoners lined the streets to see the procession, which lasted well into the night. By the time the service began at St. Paul’s it was dark; the light of 130 candle lamps lit the cathedral’s dome, where two gigantic captured French and Spanish flags were hung, as reminders of the security Nelson gave his countrymen by defeating their enemies.

Nelson’s funeral service inside St Paul’s Cathedral.

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When the service concluded on January 9, 1806, as Nelson’s coffin was lowered into a crypt, a herald read aloud Nelsons titles, and ended with these words:

The hero, who in the moment of victory, fell covered with immortal glory.

On Susanna Ives’ blog there is a wonderfully detailed account, taken from an English newspaper at the time, of the entire funeral procession and service. It’s a somber and moving tribute to Lord Nelson, “a perfect English Hero.” You can read Susanna’s post by clicking here.

A Closer Look at Fitzwilliam Darcy

Hello, and happy Saturday to you!

Today I’m on the Austen Authors blog, talking about Fitzwilliam Darcy, the hero of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Was Darcy a meddling busybody, as Elizabeth Bennet supposed?

Or was he just a nice guy who tried to take care of the people he loved?

Click here or on the icon below to read the post and have your share in the conversation!

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! For your enjoyment, here’s a charming image of a Regency era household on Christmas morning (it’s from an old postcard).

Looks like both the little girl on the balcony and the gentleman in the red coat are holding mistletoe, so there will be plenty of kisses to be had on Christmas morning in this house!

May your Christmas be happy and filled with love, too!

 

 

 

My Christmas Read

My Christmas shopping is done, my house is thoroughly decorated, and the Christmas gifts I’m giving are wrapped and ready under the tree.

So, this weekend, my only plan is to relax and read some heartwarming Christmas novels and stories that will help put the bow (so to speak) on my Christmas spirit!

What will I read first?

My Kindle. What’s beneath the cover?

Hint: I downloaded this Christmas novel when it was first released on Amazon in October, but decided not to read it until the weekend before Christmas.

It’s been sooo hard to wait to read this well-reviewed book, but I stood firm and now the wait is finally over. This afternoon I’m firing it up on my Kindle.

The Christmas Company, by Alys Murray

The Christmas novel I’ll be reading this afternoon is The Christmas Company by Alys Murray. Here’s the book’s blurb:

She’s out to save her town
from a real-life Scrooge…

The small town of Miller’s Point is known across the country for their annual Dickensian Christmas festival. When the celebration is threatened by Clark Woodward, a miserly, big-city businessman, Kate Buckner steps up to save her hometown, their traditions, and her favorite holiday. But, along the way, she realizes that the man she’s trying to protect her town from might need some rescuing of his own.

With a lot of heart and a little Christmas magic, Kate is convinced she can teach Clark to love her favorite holiday. But can such different people learn to open up and love each other?

Hello, mug of hot cocoa and comfy couch! I’m comin’ at ya with my Kindle and The Christmas Company by Alys Murray!

If you’d like to see if The Christmas Company is a book you might enjoy too, click on the cover below to read sample chapters and some fabulous reviews.

Have a wonderful weekend!