One of my favorite photos ever taken of Raymond Pitcairn, early figure in my hometown. Also a representation of what the Gilded Age meant to a lot of people. Photo courtesy of Glencairn Museum
I don’t remember what the first run-in I had with the term “Gilded Age” was, but for whatever reason, it has always stuck out to me. Gilded is golden, right? Golden is good. Furthermore, the town that I grew up in was founded towards the end of the Gilded Age and shares many characteristics of the time period (even 100+ years later).
Then I found myself in college at the University of Central Florida, enrolled in a class called simply “The Gilded Age”. It’s the only History class I have ever dropped in my life. Why did I drop it? Because the professor took the stance that the Gilded Age was a time of misery and corruption, when wealthy men (like the man who founded my hometown) oppressed the poor as grievously as any medieval baron. What? I thought gilded was good! And here I was being told the exact opposite?
So what exactly was the Gilded Age, was it a bright or a dark chapter of American history, and why is it important to us now? Continue reading →
Of course, when you read the article you see that what the author of Dear Author was getting at is that right now there are just so many Regency novels out there with plots that feel stale and recycled, that it’s time to move on to something else. I believe her argument is that if Historical Romance has nothing more to offer than Regency after Regency, everyone will get bored and go home.
Compounding that problem are the cringe-worthy reports from some of my author friends that the traditional publishing agency is caught between disinterest in signing new authors who write Regency, but being unwilling to take a gamble on non-Regency authors, especially new authors, because Historical Romance in general just isn’t selling right now. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but from what I’ve seen this seems to be more true than not. Continue reading →
A couple of weeks ago, when I was doing research about 19th century hairstyles, I stumbled across the remarkable story of Martha Matilda Harper. Never heard of her? Neither had I, but she is an amazing woman! I had to share. This is a remarkable 19th century success story about courage, perseverance, and sheer, stubborn determination to raise the status of women and to enable them to stand on their own.
Martha Matilda Harper, courtesy of Wikicommons
Martha Matilda Harper was born to a working class family in Oakville, Ontario in 1857. Not exactly the best circumstances to be born into if you were a woman. At the age of seven, her father sent her away to work as a domestic servant in the household of a relative. Martha Matilda (not sure if that’s what she was called, but I like the sound of it, sooo…) ended up working in service for 25 years.
Now, if this had been the story of any other young woman of humble origin in the mid-19th century, that would be it. Social climbing wasn’t exactly easy in this world. It was a time when a woman’s worth was determined by the men in her life, her father or her husband. Working class women didn’t just set out on their own to create a better life for themselves. And they certainly didn’t start businesses, right? Continue reading →
Today my special guest is a fellow writer and friend of mine, Constance Phillips. I read and enjoyed her first book, Fairyproof, and when I heard that her second novel was out, a delicious story about none other than Harry Houdini and his wife, Bess, I couldn’t resist asking her to come by to talk about it.
So Constance, tell us a bit about Resurrecting Harry.
Can Harry Houdini Escape the grim reapers hold to save the only woman he’s ever loved?
That is the sum of the story. Erich a reincarnated Harry Houdini charged with keeping Bess from falling prey to those who would use her for their own gain, and to save her from becoming obsessed with mysticism and talking to the dead.
There is a bit of a mystery going, but all-in-all it’s a story about the great love these two celebrities shared. Continue reading →
Yet another insult fate has added to injury in the story of how I should have been born 125 years before I was, thus living out the plumb of my days in the late Victorian era, is the fact that I have 19th century hair. Yes, I do. Everything about my hair, from the volume to the texture to the amount of it lends itself to 19th century hairstyles. See?
My hair as it was styled for my brother’s wedding back in December