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!

It’s Holiday Dress-Up Time!

I don’t often get the chance to dress up for an evening out, but when I do, I quite enjoy it.

I have a Christmas party to attend next week that’s one of those evenings out. A special dress, my best shoes, a sparkling necklace and some dangling earrings—I’ve already planned what I’m going to wear.

It’s on special occasions like the Christmas party, though, that I wish I had long hair. I love the look of an elegant up-do, and if my hair were longer, I’d definitely try to wear it up.

Of course, I’m very partial to the beautiful hair styles women wore during the English Regency period.

Some ladies wore their hair in relatively simple fashions, swept up into a bun, with curls framing their face:

The Ainslie Sisters, by Thomas Stewardson, 1808.

While others, who had fuller, thicker hair to work with, created hair styles that were much more intricate and complicated.

The Artist’s Wife by Carl Joseph Begas, 1828

I know that if I had long hair, I would be tempted to try styling my hair in the Regency mode, because it looks so perfect for a special night out.

Here’s a video that shows how to do it! It gives step-by-step instructions for creating a classic Grecian hairstyle so popular in Jane Austen’s day; and I have to say, it looks simple enough to do.

Readers, if your hair is longer than shoulder length, I’d love to know if you’ve ever given a Regency hairstyle a try. How did it turned out?

Lizzy Bennet’s Doppleganger

I have a short post to share with you today, and it fits in nicely with my crusade to prove that not all my time spent on the Internet is wasted time (although, admittedly, some of it is).

I was scrolling through an online art site and came across this image:

It’s a 1799 portrait titled “Girl with Portfolio” by artist Guillaume Guillon-Lethiere.

As I gazed at the portrait, marveling over the artist’s skill, I got the feeling I’d seen that image before.

And then it hit me.

Actress Keira Knightley was made to look very similar to the sitter in the portrait when she played the role of Elizabeth Bennet in the 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice.

You see the similarities, too, don’t you? They both have striking dark eyes, their lips have the same shape, and they’re dressed similarly in dark coats with high collars.

Eerie coincidence? I think not. They say everyone has a doppelganger, and I think I just found Keira Knightley’s.

Should Darcy Stay . . . or Should He Go?

Good morning, and a happy Saturday to you!

Before you get too far into your day, I hope you’ll join me on the Austen Authors blog. I have a post there today about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and what she might have envisioned for her characters after she wrote “The End” on the last page of her manuscript.

Click on the Austen Authors icon to read my post!

How England Learned of the Battle of Trafalgar

On October 21, 1805 the Battle of Trafalgar was fought between the English Navy and the combined fleets of France and Spain.

The Battle of Trafalgar, by George Clarkson Stanfield.

England’s chances for victory were slim. The British force had twenty-seven ships; the enemy had thirty-three.

But England’s secret weapon was the gallant Lord Nelson, commander of the fleet.

Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronte.

The engagement lasted four hours, and in the end, twenty Spanish and French ships were sunk or destroyed, the French commander-in-chief was captured, and two Spanish admirals were taken prisoners by the English.

It was a decisive victory, but it came at a cost. Nelson was wounded midway through the action and died nearly at its close.

The Evening after Trafalgar, by Claude Thomas Stanfield Moore.

But the victory forever removed any threat that Napoleon Bonaparte might invade England.

So if the battle was waged and won on October 21, why am I telling you about it on November 6?

Because November 6 is the day news of the victory finally reached England.

In our modern world of instant newsfeeds and alerts it’s sometimes easy to lose perspective about the speed with which information traveled during Jane Austen’s time. News traveled slowly, and, in this case, Mother Nature added to the fifteen-day delay.

The Battle of Trafalgar was fought and won on October 21. No sooner was victory assured, than “a gale of wind” blew in. The storm that followed was of such ferocity, the fleet had no choice but to hunker down. They were so busy ensuring the safety of their own and captured ships, they had no chance to send word to England, or even count their casualties.

The storm lasted five days. Finally, on October 26, the British commander despatched a ship to England. On board, Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotiere carried written reports of the battle.

A miniature, believed to be of John Richards Lapenotiere

Nine days later, Lapenotiere arrived at the harbor at Falmouth. From there he traveled overland to London by “express in a post chaise and four.”

He covered the distance of 271 miles in 38 hours, making 21 stops to change horses.

A fast-traveling post-chaise and four upsets a gig.

His overland journey was well documented, and today, there are plaques along route—now known as The Trafalgar Way—that commemorate Lapenotiere’s journey, as well as the men from each location who fought in that decisive battle.

One of the Trafalgar Plaques, this one in Salisbury.

On November 6, Lapenotiere finally delivered reports of England’s victory into the hands of the Admiralty and the King.

That very day, newspapers printed the story. Click here to read one of those newspaper stories.

And if you’re interested, Wikepedia has an interesting page about The Trafalgar Way that documents the distance, horse-changes, and cost of Lapenotiere’s travels.

I love reading all the details about Lapenotiere’s journey. It’s a reminder to me to be mindful of the limitations of Regency-era travel when I write my own stories set during that time period.

It’s also a fascinating true-life story of heroic men who always kept duty to country uppermost in mind, and risked all to serve their country and its citizens. I applaud them.