#Review | Balloonomania Belles: Daredevil Divas Who First Took To The Sky by Sharon Wright #BalloonmaniaBelles #WomensHistory @TheSharonAgency @penswordbooks
Hello my lovely friends, I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of Balloonmaina Belles; Daredevil Diva’s Who First Took To The Sky by Sharon Wright, so grab a cuppa and prepare to be shocked and inspired.
Balloonomania Belles reveals the astonishing stories of the fabulous female pioneers of balloon flight. More than a century before the first airplane women were heading for the heavens in crazy, inspired contraptions that could bring death or glory and all too often, both. Award-winning journalist Sharon Wright reveals their hair-raising adventures in a book that brings the stories of the feisty female ballooning heroines together for the first time.
Women were in the vanguard of the “Balloonomania” craze that took hold in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and swept across Europe then the world. Their exploits were a vital element of our first voyages into the sky. When women’s options were often severely limited by law and convention they managed to join the exhilarating quest for spectacle, adventure and danger among the clouds.
Many of the brightest stars of this extraordinary era of human flight were women. From the perilous ascent in 1784 by feisty French teenager Elisabeth Thible, female aeronauts have never looked back… or down. Who were these brave women who took to the air when it was such an incredibly dangerous and scandalous thing to do? Sharon Wright brings together in one book the show-stopping stories of the very first flying women.
What an education this book was, I had no idea that women were so deeply hands on when it came to balloon aviation, I am absolutely amazed. These women were seriously brave, the thought of climbing into the basket of one the original hot air balloon’s without knowing if you were going to come plummeting to the ground is incredible, these women are inspirational – a little bonkers, but ultimately inspiring. You wouldn’t get me in a hot air balloon now, let alone one of those rickety original efforts.
I haven’t read any of Ms Wrights work before, I’m not sure why – I must walk around with my eyes shut – but I will definitely be seeking out her back catalogue and look forward to discovering more from this wonderful author.
The book is put together in chronological order, there are so many great women featured in this, I love the story of Letitia Sage who refused to get out of one of Lunardi’s balloon’s no matter how much he tried, she stood her ground and made sure that she was the first woman to fly in a balloon, I love that she sounds like such a fun and feisty woman. My heart was in my mouth and I had tears in my eyes when I read about the tenacious Sophie Blanchard who was fearless, she was one of the bravest women I have ever read about, she was terribly shy but what she lacked in social skills she made up for in courage, this plucky woman was in charge of the ballooning displays for none other then Napoleon she was a connoisseur of night time displays that is until one of her balloons caught fire and plummeted to the earth sending her into the history books. There are plenty more within in the pages of this book, these two ladies are just two of my favourites I could talk about all of the woman in the book, but I would probably run out of page room.
What is obvious when you read this is that all these women who were such major part of how the hot air balloon became what we know them today, have been air brushed in a fashion from history, their heroism and bravery have gone unmentioned for too long. Now finally we know their stories, we know that these wonderful women weren’t just pretty assistants only taken on board for something nice to look at, oh, no these women were centre stage and we have to thank Sharon Wright for bringing this fabulous women and their dare devil stories to our attention.
I love how easy on this eye this book is, the cover is so eye-catching and it hint at the fabulously fun stories within. Ms Wright has a fabulous writing style, it’s fun and entertaining, the history of the women featured in this book is right here for you to delve into, yet it’s not in your face or heavy that you fall asleep mid chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it’s lively and captivating, full of rich and vivid historic detail and beautiful pictures that gives the book a whole lighter and engaging tone, which makes this wonderfully easy to read.
If you love your aeronautical history and brilliantly plucky and fascinating women then this is the book you need to read, I think it is fabulous.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you Rosie. X
#Review | All Things Georgian; Tales From The Long Eighteenth Century by Joanne Major & Sarah Murden #AllThingsGeorgian #History @sarahmurden @joannemajor3 @penswordbooks
Hello my lovely readers! Today I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this amazing book; All Things Georgian by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden, if you love a bit of scandalous Georgian’s then look no further, so grab a cuppa – or a iced drink, it is a wee bit hot out today and enjoy.
Take a romp through the long eighteenth-century in this collection of 25 short tales. Marvel at the Queen s Ass, gaze at the celestial heavens through the eyes of the past and be amazed by the equestrian feats of the Norwich Nymph. Journey to the debauched French court at Versailles, travel to Covent Garden and take your seat in a box at the theatre and, afterwards, join the mile-high club in a new-fangled hot air balloon.
Meet actresses, whores and high-born ladies, politicians, inventors, royalty and criminals as we travel through the Georgian era in all its glorious and gruesome glory.
In roughly chronological order, covering the reign of the four Georges, 1714-1830 and set within the framework of the main events of the era, these tales are accompanied by over 100 stunning colour illustrations.
What a brilliant romp through the Georgian world, this is a fun, easy to read book all about an era that in itself could be construed as fun a lot of the time. The writing is clear, entertaining and knowledgeable, there is a real fun, energetic and carefree feel to this which a lot of that is down to the fact that Sarah and Joanne are hugely passionate about this era, so much so that you literally fall into the Georgia era through the pages, add in the beautiful colour pictures that run through the book and you have a real feast for the senses.
I love how this is written, it is made up of a selection of short stories; so it’s not bombarding you with page after page of facts and figures, but gives you a short story and history lesson of each chapters particular subject, which personally I do prefer this way of reading nonfiction it, keeps it light and fun and will keep you reading.
I like how the authors lean heavily towards the women of the era instead of just focusing on men’s accomplishments, there are so many great little stories in this, I can guarantee there is something for everyone. I particularly enjoyed the more obscure stories such as the smuggler queen chapter; which was hugely fascinating, the story about Alicia Massingham the female jockey; was enlightening and off course the hot air balloon ride was brilliant and eye- opening chapter, one that has made me want to learn more and then there is the story of Jenny Cameron; who dressed as a man and fought along side her husband at the battle of Culloden.
Another thing that I really liked about this is that the book isn’t made up of royals and aristocrat’s, there are stories about real and normal people who achieved something great, these are people who have been cast into the shadows of history, so I did like that. What I got from this is that the Georgian era was far more innovative then I originally thought, this book was definitely full of surprises.
Over all this is a fabulous read, highly recommended, no matter what you read, if you love your history then you will all find something in the book to love.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie.
#Review : Suffragette Planners And Plotter; The Pankhurts/Pethick- Lawrence Story by Kathryn Atherton #SuffragettePlannersandPlotters #NonFiction @penswordbooks
Hello everyone! I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this enlightening book; Suffragette Planners and Plotters, The Pankurst/Pethick-Lawrence Story by Kathryn Atherton.
Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence were an extraordinary couple and theirs is an extraordinary political and personal story. Emmeline was treasurer of Mrs Pankhurst s militant Women s Social and Political Union. Fred was the only man to achieve leadership status in the organisation. Without their wealth, determination and skills we might never have heard of the suffragettes . Emmeline was always at Mrs Pankhurst s side whilst Fred was the Godfather who stood bail for a thousand women. Both were imprisoned and force-fed. They provided the militant movement with its colours, its home, and much of its vision, and it was their associates who initiated the hunger strike and who brought force-feeding to national attention.
But in 1912 the couple were dramatically ousted from the organisation by the Pankhursts in a move that has often been misrepresented. This book is a portrait of the couple and their relationship with the Pankhursts, and of their inspirational fight, not just for the vote for women, but for freedom and equality across the world. The Pethick-Lawrences were once as well known as the Pankhursts. But they have been neglected by history. This is the first book to give the Pethick-Lawrences the recognition that their part in the fight for the vote deserves, shedding new light on the development of the militant campaign.
It is also the first to address in detail the complexities of the dramatic split with the Pankhursts which has been misunderstood for a hundred years.
I am and always have been hugely fascinated by the Suffragettes and the Suffrage Movement, and I am slowly devouring as many books about that time that I can. I have find that as fascinating some can be, they can be long-winded with over enthused long chapters that even for someone who loves history, can be tiresome to read. I happy to say that this will not put you to sleep, it is a fascinated and enlightening book which really grasped my attention.
This book tells the remarkable story of Emmeline and Frederick Pethic-Lawrence, who were undoubtable a vital part in Suffrage cause, but i believe were a little over shadowed by the mighty and hugely renown Pankurst sisters, yet if it wasn’t for Emmeline and Fred the suffrage movement may not have gone the way it did, as this couple were hugely instrumental for the cause. I will admit that even though i had heard about the Pethick-Lawrence’s, I didn’t know the full extent of their involvement in the fight for equality. As the authors states in this, they seemed to disappear in history behind the more militant and well known fighters.
Emmeline begin to work as Mrs Pankhurst secretary in the WSPU, like the other members Emmeline was a hands on militant member, but unlike a lot of the other members her and Fred were very wealthy. Fred was known as the ‘Godfather’ in the WSPU as he was the man who dug deep in his pockets to bail out the suffragette’s when they were imprisoned, he must have really earned the women’s respect as he was the only man to be given a leadership role in the organisation, which to me shouts just how much power and influence these two had.
As fascinating as they were as a couple, for me it was Fred that really stood out for me, he seemed like a remarkable man. Not only did he actively support his wife, he stood by her, Fred was also an active supporter of the cause himself, he was passionate about equality for everyone, not only for women but he wanted equality for everyone no matter your sex, place in society or race, and I whole heartedly applaud him for that. From reading this he comes across as so passionate and always willing to help the cause and his wife when he could.
This is a fascinating book that goes into great detail about two equally fascinating people who don’t have the recognition for their work and their achievements in the suffrage fight as other individuals do. It is an engaging and very informative book that is brilliantly researched, there is not doubt that the author is deeply passionate about the history, her writing it vivid, it has a real warmth and realism to it that conveys not only the facts, but the authors opinion in a way that engages the reader.
A great book for anyone who is interested in Suffragette history.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie. x
#Review | The Lengthening War: The Great War Diary of Mabel Goode by Michael Goode #TheLengtheningWar #GreatWarDiary #MabelGoode @penswordbooks
Hello, thank you for stopping by! Today, I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of this gorgeous and insightful book; The Lengthening War; The Great war Diary of Mabel Goode by Michael Goode.
This is a strong narrative of the war, easy to read, mixing news with personal feelings and events (often revealing gap between official news and reality). The diary captures the authors’ growing disillusionment with the war, as it gradually encroaches on her life. The diary starts with great excitement, realizing its importance but expecting a short struggle, blaming treachery and incompetence initially but gets increasingly disheartened and eventually stops in 1916. Entries show growth of total war (seeing ominous Zeppelin’s directly overhead, shelling etc.), experiences of her two brothers in service (their privations and her ‘white-feather’ feelings), personal sacrifice and patriotism, reactions to casualty lists, women entering work (she does various war work), steady collapse of domestic service (Downton angle), reflections on recognizable events such as Lusitania and on the competence of the government.
Also included several poems written by Mabel and a love story in the appendix, giving a complete insight into the diarists life. NB. Mabel and her brothers lived in Germany for some time, meaning they could all speak German and knew ‘the enemy nation’ as many Britons did not.
As soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to read it, it shouted out to me to be read and I am so pleased that I did. I am a bit obsessed with this era, so you can imagine how excited I was when I saw this book, it is not only absolutely gorgeous to look at – it looks so pretty on my bookshelf, not that is not the only reason I chose to review this book, even though that is a bonus.
This is the private diary of a young woman; Mabel Goode, who thought to write down all her thoughts and feelings during the first few years of the great war. With a mixture of Mabel’s own personal views on key events, she gives the reader a vivid and passionate account of what she was experiencing during those harrowing years. The diary starts full of excitement and optimism In 1914, from this part you get a genuine and honest insight into the minds of the ordinary people, what they thought of what was going on, at first it is full of so much optimism that the war would be over by Christmas 1914, a view that was shared by many around the country. She tells of what she is hearing and what is going on at the front, her entry about the soldiers being gassed is harrowing.
For whatever reason her diary stops in 1916, whether this is because she is finding the whole war a strain or whether it was do to with something more personal, we may never know. But what we can take from this is a real sense of the time, for a brief moment we are transported into Mabel’s world of uncertainty, of growing frustration, of her family and of love.
This gives a real insight into her life, of the struggles and chaos which was going on around her, to the simple hope of love. I was completely lost in her words, she was a passionate diarist, there is a lot of emotion on the pages and the reader picks up on those feeling too as you read; from love, confusion, anger, sadness, she lays herself bare and for that we should be eternally thankful as without the likes of Mabel who felt compelled to write about what was going on, we wouldn’t see just how the war effected the ordinary folk.
This book is definitely one that everyone who has any kind of interest in WW1 should read it, it is emotional and real, there is a clarity and vividness that you don’t get from other works. I love how this is laid out too, it’s start with the fact of what Mabel mentioned, followed by her diary. The entire book is thoroughly engrossing, it is an easy book to read, it’s not taxing or overly complicated there is a very warm and loving feeling to it, while reading the diary part of the book it is so clear it is like Mabel is actually standing here telling you her story.
A fabulous addition to the bookshelf and one that I will be pulling off again to read.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Rosie. X
#Review : Great British Family Names And Their History: Whats In A Name? By John Moss #GreatBritishFamilyNamesAndTheirHistory #FamilyHistory #NonFiction #JohnMoss @penswordbooks
Hello everyone, today I have the pleasure to be sharing my review of Great British Family Names and Their History by John Moss, so if your a avid family researcher like myself then you want to stick around and check out this fabulous book.
For better or worse, what we are is often determined by our family; the events that occurred many years before we were born and the choices that were made by our forebears are our inheritance – we are the inexorable product of family history. So it is with nations. The history of Great Britain has been largely defined by powerful and influential families, many of whose names have come down to us from Celtic, Danish, Saxon or Norman ancestors. Their family names fill the pages of our history books; they are indelibly written into the events which we learned about at school. Iconic family names like Wellington, Nelson, Shakespeare, Cromwell, Constable, De Montfort and Montgomery… there are innumerable others.
They reflect the long chequered history of Britain, and demonstrate the assimilation of the many cultures and languages which have migrated to these islands over the centuries, and which have resulted in the emergence of our language.
This book is a snapshot of several hundred such family names and delves into their beginnings and derivations, making extensive use of old sources, including translations of The Domesday Book and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, as well as tracing many through the centuries to the present day.
OK, brief confession I did review this book because – and this is rather, selfish of me – I wanted to see if my own ancestors were named in it, after all my family name goes way back to the 1500’s – can you tell, I am on and have been on the family history trail for years? But, alas, my ancestors aren’t significant enough to be placed amongst these great families which are featured in this book. Oh well, we can’t have it all can we?
Anyhow, you don’t want to hear me rabbit on, your hear for a review. So, as you would have gathered from the title this little book is all about British names and their origins, and it is an illuminating read. Its one of those books that you can have on the sideboard or on the book shelf and pull it out and any time, you don’t have to read it in order but flick through it at your own pleasure. Its not a taxing read, in fact I wiled away many hours with this and before I knew it I had devoured it.
I love the layout out of this, its set out in sections for each corner of Britain, and in each section the names from that area or listed alphabetically, which makes navigating the book that much easier especially if you are looking for a particular location of name. If your like me and on the Genealogy trek then this is a must have for any family historians bookcase, even if it is all about the larger more well known and well developed British named. But you will be surprised that you will come across some very well known names and even – like myself – while reading you will go ‘Ooh, I know that name, my second uncles four times removed knew so and so’.
Each name is thoroughly researched, the author has kept their history light but precise so your not bombarded by constant names and facts. I like the brief account of each family name in the book, it is fascinating to read.
This is a must for anyone interested in family history, or specifically British Names and I would be of invaluable use for writers who are looking for a specific family or name to add to their work.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie!
#Review The Life Of A Smuggler – Fact and Fiction by Helen Hollick #The LifeOfASmuggler #FactandFiction #HelenHollick @penswordbooks
Brandy for the parson, baccy for the clerk…’ We have an image, mostly from movies and novels, of a tall ship riding gently at anchor in a moonlit, secluded bay with the ‘Gentleman’ cheerfully hauling kegs of brandy and tobacco ashore, then disappearing silently into the night shadows to hide their contraband from the excise men in a dark cave or a secret cellar.
But how much of the popular idea is fact and how much is fiction? Smuggling was big business – it still is – but who were these derring-do rebels of the past who went against paying taxes on the importation of luxury goods? Who purchased the illicit contraband? How did smugglers operate? Where were the most notorious locations?
Was it profitable, or just an inevitable path to arrest and the hangman’s noose?
This is an interesting read, I must say that it’s not usually what I would pick up, but I was fascinated and I was pleasantly surprised. Even though it ended up not being how I first imagined to be, as it is a mixture of fact and fiction which I thought was quite a unique approach to a historical book.
I really liked how the author interlaced the fact with the fiction, to create a fun and entertaining book that will satisfy all those who have a real thirst for the smuggling history and tales.
I’ve not read any of Helen Hollick’s work before and even though this particular book wasn’t exactly my cup of tea I would definitely read more of her work. I liked the way she wrote this, her voice is strong and there is a real passion for the subject within her words.
This is an enlightening book, there is a lot in it that will capture the imagination of a bygone era, the stories of the old pirates it utterly fascinating and definitely my favourite parts of the whole book. But, I did think that at times it did prove a taxing read where I did have to put it down for a few days and go back to it later. Even though the actual book itself is quite light, I thought I lot of the writing was a little heavy. I think the fictional side to the book is far stronger than that of the factual side, which is just far more engaging.
Over all this is will appeal for those who like the mix of fact and fiction, and off course the history of Smuggling.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie!
#Review A History Of Cadbury by Diane Wordsworth @DMWordsworth #AHistoryOfCadbury #Historical #NonFiction @penswordbooks
When John Cadbury came to Birmingham in 1824, he sold tea, coffee and drinking chocolate in a small shop on Bull Street. Drinking chocolate was considered a healthy alternative to alcohol, something Cadbury, a Quaker, was keen to encourage.
In 1879, the Cadburys moved to Bournville and created their ‘factory in a garden’ – an unprecedented move. It is now ironic that today’s Bournville is surrounded by that urban sprawl the Cadburys were so keen to get away from.
This book looks at some of the social impact this company has had since its inception, both on the chocolate and cocoa business in general and on the community at large, both within and without the firm of Cadbury.
In 2024, Cadbury’s will be celebrating 200 years of the first store opening. This is the story of how the company began, how it grew, and how they diversified in order to survive
This book is a chocolate lovers dream!! After all who doesn’t love chocolate? If there is people out there in the big wide world who choose not to like chocolate, then they are definitely not amongst my sphere…I cannot think of anything worse then disliking chocolate! How can you not like Cadbury’s Roses? Or Dairy Milk? Surely that is a mortal sin? Anyway enough of my waffling, I need to tell you about this wonderfully delicious book – a book which was consumed along with – yes, you got it; Chocolate!
So for all those – in opinion – odd people out there who have a thing against chocolate and I am not talking about people with allergies or diabetics then maybe this not be the book for you, but saying that this is all about the glorious history of the firm – and not just the sweet stuff!
The book documents the entire history of this much loved company, I think everyone has fond memories associated with Cadbury chocolate and it was fascinating to read into it’s history. From it’s small start as a tea shop in Bull Street, Birmingham set up by John Cadbury in 1824, John was from a Quaker family and he was also an advocate for temperance which is why he chose to go down the chocolate path – and aren’t we all pleased he did? His tea shop was a hit especially as he sold hot chocolate but it wasn’t until the firm was passed to his son’s that the Cadbury name was really established. His son’s Richard and George had real vision, they saw an opening in the market, they knew with a little tweaking that their business could be a success – honestly these lads had smart heads on their shoulders.
What I particularly like about this book is that Ms Wordsworth really educates the reader not just in the history of the firm itself, but with the people. From reader this it is obvious that the Cadbury’s unlike other employer’s at the time genuinely cared for their workers’, they cared about the workers needs and most important they genuinely cared for their workers health and helping them progress in life and I found that far more fascinating then the history of the business.
Ms Wordsworth does a wonderful job at walking the reader through the many changes in the Cadbury history, right from those very early days, right to Cadbury’s lofty heights and back again to now and how it has changed with being apart of Kraft. The writer has obviously done considerable research and that passion for the subject comes through her writing.
This is a great little read and highly recommend not just for those who love their chocolate but also it is a fascinating insight into a family who strove to create a business that would last throughout the years.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Rosie!
#Review A History Of Women In Medicine; Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches? by Sinead Spearing @sineadspearing #AhistoryOfWomenInMedicine #WomensHistory @penswordbooks
I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of this amazing book; A History of Women in History (Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches) by Sinead Spearing, so sit back grab a cuppa and let me tell you all about this brilliant book.
‘Witch’ is a powerful word with humble origins. Once used to describe an ancient British tribe known for its unique class of female physicians and priestesses, it grew into something grotesque, diabolical and dangerous. A History of Women in Medicine: From Physicians to Witches? reveals the untold story of forgotten female physicians, their lives, practices and subsequent demonisation as witches. Originally held in high esteem in their communities, these women used herbs and ancient psychological processes to relieve the suffering of their patients. Often travelling long distances, moving from village to village, their medical and spiritual knowledge blended the boundaries between physician and priest. These ancient healers were the antithesis of the witch figure of today; instead they were knowledgeable therapists commanding respect, gratitude and high social status.
In this pioneering work, Sinead Spearing draws on current archeological evidence, literature, folklore, case studies and original religious documentation to bring to life these forgotten healers. By doing so she exposes the elaborate conspiracy conceived by the Church to corrupt them in the eyes of the world. Turning these women from benevolent therapists into the embodiment of evil required a fabricated theology to ensure those who collected medicinal herbs or practiced healing, would be viewed by society as dealing with the devil. From this diabolical association, female healers could then be labeled witches and be justly tortured and tried in the ensuing hysteria known today as the European witch craze.
Well, what a fascinating, illuminating and at times quite harrowing book. I literally finished this in one day, I was completely hooked from the first page. I hate to say it, but before reading this I hadn’t heard of this author before – and I do feel awful for saying that. I’m very sorry, Sinead!
I was intrigued by the book the moment I spotted it and knew I had to read it and I am so pleased that I got the chance to. It is a remarkable read, I found it to be very hard-hitting and yet sensitive to those women it tells the stories of, it is a book that should be read by everyone, not just women who like me are interested in women’s history and celebrating how wonderful these women were but by all. I can guarantee there will be something within these pages that will intrigue everyone.
I really like how this is written, it not only tells the stories of these amazing women but it also highlights just what ignorance and fear can do, how when people fear or don’t understand something such what these fine women were doing or who then Ms Spearing’s voice comes through the history with such clarity that you feel her passion for the subject of which she is writing.
The book is all about the very early medicine women, or ‘cunning women’, healers and those that were basically viewed as witches; not quite people to be trusted. I loved the opening as Ms Spearing tells the story of how this book came about, all about when archaeologist found the remains of a women not buried in the grave yard but on the edge and buried with some very interesting and quite odd items. From there the book goes further in detail about who this women could have been, about the women like her from around the country doing good work healing and helping, these women who were basically the first doctors, these women who were respected one minute and the next tried for witch craft.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it is a fresh and original book that looks into a different aspect of history.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Rosie.
Hello my lovelies and Happy Valentines Day!!
So Valentines Day, personally it’s all well and good and lovely to have a day to which to tell a loved one you …well, love them. But it really is far too comercilised for my liking these days, it’s all about pushing sales and dragging people through the door – I do speak from experience, after spending many years doing just that in retail I know how shops think. And anyway, we really shouldn’t need a day to tell someone you love them, right? It should really be a none pressure, every day thing. But even I am willing to put my own personal thoughts of the day behind me to celebrate in my own unique fashion, Which is why I have a whole day of Romantic/Valentines posts coming up for you all.
Over the course of the next few posts, I will be looking into the history of Valentines day, chatting about my favourite romances and sharing all things romance and valentines – which I am pleased to say will involve my very popular ‘Hotties’ 😉 I hope you will stick around.
So to start things off lets a look at the history – you know me, I like history!
Valentine’s day as it is now is far removed from how it was once seen thousands of years ago, and to be honest once you start researching this oh-so romantic day you will soon clearly see that it’s origins is anything but romantic or full of love, but it is quite dark and a wee bit gory. Yes, it was that part that got me hooked as well 😉 and what a fascinating multi layered story it is. I don’t know if people know, but I did a previous post about Valentine’s day many years ago when Chicks, Rogues and Scandals was just starting up. At looking back at that post, as fascinating as it is – who knew that I could write a fascinating post, complete news to me that one. But I did hold back somewhat on the history, which is why with this post I intend to bombard you with as much of the history of Valentines as I possibly can – you will most likely fall asleep.
Oh, by the way if your interested in my previous Valentines Post, here is a link A Little History – Valentine’s Special.
So Valentine’s day as we know it today is all about flowers and chocolates and maybe the odd marriage proposal, but what we don’t do is actually celebrate the reason why the whole day exists and that is to honour Saint Valentine. Now here it the start of where thing become a little dark and confusing as there is three Christian saints that have been recognised by the church as being Valentine and more than that Valentine in one form or another has got roots in both Roman and Christian tradition and legend – this is where the none historians of the world (such as myself) get a wee bit perplexed as to who is who, but its fun to try and figure it out.
The Tale of Valentine.
The catholic church does recognise three different saints named Valentine (or Velentinus) all three of whom were martyred, hence being a saint I suppose. There is one legend that says Valentine was a priest who served during the 3rd century in Rome and by the sounds of him he was quite a rule breaker. The Emperor Claudius II thought that single men made better soldiers then those with wives and families– which I’m sure we all know that is a load of codswallop, right? So old Claudius outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine thought this, as I do was a – shall I say it again? Ok, I will – a load of Codswallop he knew that this wasn’t right, he saw the injustice so he went behind the Emperors back – he literally threw the decree back into Claudius’ face as he continued to perform marriages to all the young lovers in secret. As honourable and decent as his actions were, they led him with a death sentence once Claudius found out what Valentine was doing.
There or other stories about how he died, another source claims he was helping Christians escape harsh Roman prison’s and that was the reason he was put to death. But really, how can anyone know for certain? According to legend Valentine himself sent the very first ‘valentines’ card, it is legend that he fell in love with his jailor’s daughter after she began to visit him in prison. It is alleged that he sent her a letter and he signed it “From your Valentine” which we all know is how the majority of Valentine’s messages are signed today.
So here is where history, legend and myths becomes entwined; some believe that Valentines day is celebrated to commemorate Saint Valentines death and burial which some believe occurred in AD. 270. While others think that Valentines day is all down to the Christian Church who it is said moved their St Valentines Feast day to the middle of February so that they could ‘Christianize’ the pagan celebration of Lupercalia.
Dedication To The Goddess.
The fertility festival of Lupercalia was a dedication to the goddess Faunus, this usually occurred from the 13th to 15th of February. This wasn’t so much as a celebration of even a festival, what went on during Lupercalia was more a ceremony which heavily featured animal sacrifice and an awful lot of nudity. In one source it says that they were shepherds and in others it says a secret order of Roman priests; The Luperci – anyway whoever they were, they would gather where the infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for by the she-wolf otherwise known as Lupa. Once in the sacred cave copious amounts of wine would be drunk followed by various animals being sacrificed; a goat for fertility and a dog for purification both animals would be males as these had strong sexual instincts. After the men would then strip, don the animal hides and run through the fields, village street wherever they lived basically and slap the women they wanted with the blooded hides, the women would be very swiftly married off by the priest who was watching over the ceremony and…..well, I think you can gather what comes next. I, for one am very pleased that this doesn’t happen today, but then again would we ladies really allow this to happen? I doubt it!
Towards the end of the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I ended up banning the Lupercalia festival which had already started to fall out of favour with some in the upper echelons of society. He established Saint Valentines day on the 14th February what he thought of as a more Christian holiday instead of a pagan/heathen ritual. This whole new holiday didn’t really establish itself until the 14th century which then saw Valentine’s greetings become more popular. The oldest known valentine still in existence today which is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.
“Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…”
Charles, Duck of Orleans 1415
The Chaucer Effect.
During my research for this post I have found numerous sites that state that Valentines Day wouldn’t be the day of romance as we know it today if it wasn’t for Geoffrey Chaucer. It is said that the author of the Canterbury tales brought the concept of love being connected to Valentines Day and then there are some who believe that Chaucer was the all out inventor of the day. Whether or not that part of the tale is true, no one will ever know, it depends of what you want to believe but one thing is for certain that Chaucer’s poem ‘Parliament of the Foules’ is thought to be the very first written poem which ties both love and romance with Valentines Day, it was the following verse which leads historians to believe Chaucer was the creator of Valentines Day.
“For this was Saint Valentine’s day, when every bird of every kind that men can imagine comes to this place to choose his mate...”
Cards and Love Notes.
Even though the above notes and poem were popular and did start of the sharing of little love notes, exchanging Valentines Days cards or Love notes didn’t actually become popular in Britain until the 18th century The first Valentine cards were initially hand made – but then again why are we surprised, they didn’t have mass manufacturing and machines spitting a hundred out a minute in those days. Everything was more well thought out, lovers would decorate paper with romantic symbols which would have included flowers and love knots. They often would have included a puzzle or a few lines of poetry along with their card. Isn’t that sweet? I love how much thought they put into them, how they thought of the recipient. Once finished the cards would then be secretly slipped under you ‘valentines’ door, or even tied to the door-knocker with ribbon. It was during the Georgian era when pre-printed cards started to appear, at the time they weren’t as popular as the more lovingly hand-made ones but that was all about to change and soon pre-printed cards as we know are all the rage. Not just cheap but convenient for today’s all go society!
The oldest surviving examples of one of these cards dates back to 1797, it is currently held by the York Castle Museum and was sent by Catherine Mossday to a Mr Brown or London, it is decorated with little flowers and the images of cupid and a verse around the border which reads :
Since on this ever Happy day,
All Nature’s full of Love and Play
Yet harmless still if my design,
‘Tis but to be your Valentine
As we all know once the Victorian age arrived there was so much change, there was rapid advances in manufacturing and technologies that it became easier then ever before to mass produce Valentine’s cards, which soon became very popular. It is thought that by the 1820’s at least 200,000 Valentine’s cards had been circulated around London alone. Once the Uniform Penny Post was introduced in 1840 the amount of cards being sent and received just doubled. Victorian cards tended to far more elaborate, with fancy paper, lace work, embossing and various other intricate designs and as today the elaborate the design the more expensive the card and obviously there were some – just like today- that would have measured just how much their special someone loved them by how they would have spent on the card. Which I have always thought that to be a little uncomfortable thinking, what does it matter how much a card costs? It’s the thought that counts, right? One that didn’t feature on the Victorian cards was the huge red heart that is so synonymous to how we see love and valentines today. But, whatever they had on them, or however elaborate they were they came from the heart of someone who loves another very dearly.
But, that was not always the case when it came to the Victorians!
They created the not so romantic ‘Vinegar Valentines’ which it’s name literally speaks for itself, these weren’t lovey-dovey they were basically insult cards. They usually mocked the man’s profession of the woman’s appearance in some way, it is said that some of these cards were incredibly horrible – a bit like a poisonous pen letter. One of the few surviving ‘Vinegar Valentines’ which lives in the University of Birmingham features a lady with a large nose on the front with the tag line which said ‘Miss Nosey’ with the following rhyme:
On account of your talk of others’ affairs
At most dances you sit warming the chairs.
Because of the care with which you attend
To all others’ business you haven’t a friend.
By the mid-19th century the concept of sending your loved ones Valentines cards literally blew up and started to take on the form which we are more accustomed to, especially once it across the Atlantic to America. Cards rapidly gained popularity there, where they were initially advertised as a British fashion, advanced American technologies meant that more elaborate cards were produced cheaply. In 1913 Hallmark Cards produced their first Valentine’s card, representing a key development in the commercialisation of Valentine’s Day and the beginning of what we know see as Valentines day.
And thus, we have gone full circle, I don’t know about you but today’s overly commercialised and cheaper valentine’s just don’t have the same appeal as the lovingly hand-made Georgian ones do.
Before, I go because this post has run on far longer then I expected – Did You Know?
Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.
#Review Exploring The Lives Of Women, 1558 – 1837 by Louise Duckling, Sara Read, Felicity Roberts & Carolyn D. Williams @WSGUK #ExploringTheLivesOfWomen #WomensHistory #WomensStudiesGroup via @penswordbooks
Exploring the Lives of Women, 1558-1837 is an engaging and lively collection of original, thought-provoking essays. Its route from Lady Jane Grey’s nine-day reign to Queen Victoria’s accession provides ample opportunities to examine complex interactions between gender, rank, and power. Yet the book’s scope extends far beyond queens: its female cast includes servants, aristocrats, literary women, opera singers, actresses, fallen women, athletes and mine workers.
The collection explores themes relating to female power and physical strength; infertility, motherhood, sexuality and exploitation; creativity and celebrity; marriage and female friendship. It draws upon a wide range of primary materials to explore diverse representations of women: illuminating accounts of real women’s lives appear alongside fictional portrayals and ideological constructions of femininity. In exploring women’s negotiations with patriarchal control, this book demonstrates how the lived experience of women did not always correspond to prescribed social and gendered norms, revealing the rich complexity of their lives.
This volume has been published to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837. The group was formed to promote research into any aspect of women’s lives as experienced or depicted within this period. The depth, range and creativity of the essays in this book reflect the myriad interests of its members.
This is a fascinating collection of essays that covers all aspects of women’s history and the women themselves from Lady Jane Grey to Eliza O’Neill and many, many more between, plus there are essays on women’s rights, lives, sports, intellect, novels and even sex. I was intrigued by it as soon as I saw it and it did not disappoint. If you are interested in women’s history and the more under-celebrated figures from women history then this will be the perfect book. It is a compelling, richly historic and fabulously written book which will entertain as well as educate.
I was particularly engaged with the chapter about the three ‘radical’ Mary’s; Mary Wollenstonecraft, Mary Hays and Mary Robinson now I have heard of all three, any woman who each in their own way fought for women’s rights and to educate not just women but men too. I thought this particular chapter was wonderfully written, with great insights into these fascinating women plus highly educational, I never knew that Mary Shelley was the daughter of Mary Wollenstonecraft, how amazing!
Plus, the chapter about women’s running is utterly fascinating, I never knew that between 1700 and 1749 there was a t least 68 ladies running races across the country, how fascinating is that? It was those essays that focused more on the ordinary woman such as the brave women who went down the colliery which really jumped out at me, that is one of the reasons I really connected with this book, was the fact that’s its not all about royals and aristocrats its got a lot of depth into the ordinary woman and what she faced.
For those that are more fond of novel’s and lighter historic non-fiction this may be a little heavy, but I would definitely recommend everyone to read it, and the beauty of this book is that you necessarily have to read it in order, you can very easily jump in an out and it will make a fantastic research book for anyone who writing, if you have a woman in your work in progress then I would definitely have a read of this, it will amaze you.
A great book, and one that definitely should be any woman’s bookshelf.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Rosie.