Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fascinating history

As a consequence of wanting to know a bit more about Wallis Simpson, I found a new blog - or it's very old, actually, as a blog considered, as the last post was made in last decade... And most of it is about Rome and Greece and such, and slightly uninteresting, but there are a couple of post that made me interested.

The Duchess of Argyll and the Headless Men
Here's a bit more about the affair


Count Fersen and Marie Antoinette - Count Fersen and Marie Antoinette revisited
Altered portrait - eyes made smaller, nose longer and fatter, Habsburg lip given and hair blonded (she had a very pretty golden hair, which would have looked quite white powdered). Frankly, I don't think the paintings of her are THAT beautified. The painters had to make the people look themselves. Even if the skin was smoothed, eyes perhaps made a bit bigger and proportions tweaked a little, the changes were so small one shouldn't even bother thinking about them.

I think about Princess Royal, Anne of England, whose is supposed to look like a horse...



A very pretty horse that is :-) But she too has long face and nose and sort of fleshy lower lip, and even though her eyes are by no means small, they can give that perception.

The paintings made of Marie Antoinette later make me think of Maggie Smith.

She isn't really beautiful either, with her rather long and narrow face, but... frankly... none of these women is ugly.

Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know

The Secret Meaning of Elizabethan Salads
So fascinating... symbolical foods taken to the next level... that could be used in a book.

The Seductive Lady Hamilton
Emma, Lady Hamilton, as seen by Louise-Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun
about Lady Hamilton
Lady Hamilton; a regency romance era heroine

Christine de Pisan

Napoleon and Pauline Bonaparte - Incest?
Famous Affinities of History
the Coincidental Dandy: Wayward Venus; the Life of Marie-Pauline Bonaparte Borghése

Olympe de Gouges

Lady Godiva, peeping Tom and taxes

Boudicca, revenge of a warrior queen


Messalina, the worst wife in history?

Valeria Messalina's statue colored
Nicola Pagett as Messalina in Granada's The Caesars
I think Messalina could well have looked very much like her...
I think she is very pretty... Nicola, that is. Probably Messalina as well.

Theodora, the whore who became an empress

History and women: Nefertiti
Unusual Historicals and Michelle Moran; Nefertiti

The Great Courtesans
Marquerite, Violetta and Marie
Vintage Powder Room and Deauville
La Païva - pickled and preserved

Scandalous Women - blog

The Hero Workshop
Why are scandalous people more intersting than heroes?

Historical warrior women
Jean d'Arc - the wrong hero
Quaintrelles:

P.S: Once again, Fascinating People -

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A couple of blog entries from Scarlett Gypsy

Writing: Physical character description

Those innovative, fun-loving Victorians...

and some others :-)

30 days of writing meme? I challenge anyone reading my blog :-)

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you’ve worked with and why.

When I was about 10 I created my own fantasy universe with horses as sacred animals and matriarchy. My Empress, my Mary Sue, did all the things I wanted to be able to do. I created characters and storylines as I needed them, told myself stories to fall asleep to, entertained myself when I was alone, or waited, or traveled, run the forests discussing with my imaginary friends... I still do, after 30 years :-)

Monday, April 4, 2011

750 words

A wonderful site!
I love the statistics part. It gives a much better idea of how quickly I write than all the others so far.
Right now it takes about an hour for me to write the 750 words, of which 1/2 is actual writing.
I write about 13 words a minute, which would take me about 2 hours and some to write the 1667 words needed for NaNoWriMo... Hmm...


Spinsters

In Susan Coolidge's last Katy book was mention about the unmarried sisters of hundreds of Englishmen who traveled with their brothers to keep their houses in the New World. Not a word of these sisters have ever been mentioned. It's time to make their lives and thoughts important.

Uta Northwood didn't have much talent in anything, nor was she beautiful, so she was deemed useless and unattractive. When it was time for her brother, Lionel, to make his to take over the world in the name of British Empire, it was considered self-evident that Uta would follow with him and make some use of herself.
Uta did have talents and gifts, but these were not of remarkable kind. Sure, her taste in clothes and homemaking was boring, as she didn't care about which colors went well together, or silly, frivolous details that made things unique and pretty. She used the clothes that were functional, stood against dirt and wore wearing well. Because of this her clothes were usually shiny wool of some ugly, dirty color and very old-fashioned. She chose furniture with the same thoughts, sturdy, ugly things that would last several lifetimes, and make her brother's great-grandchildren cry. Her talents were in organization, and never were cupboards and drawers as tidy as hers, her brother had never any problems with economy, and there always was bread in the basket and clean, fresh water in jug. She was not stingy and had always something to eat for everyone who asked for it. She did expect you to work for your bread, though, but she could clearly see one's limits and never expected too much. She was made to keep house, and as her brother's companion and housekeeper, she found her place.
Now, such life is not very pleasant. Her friends were those who weren't good or interesting enough for anyone else, like she herself was, but as a friend she was worth gold, always loyal, to a wise, always there, and she remembered all the important dates and preferences.

Her best friend was another sister. This woman was the sister of a Canadian doctor, and they lived in their old home. He had married and had six children with his wife, who then had gotten ill and died when the youngest was just a baby. Jenny had stepped in and was keeping the house and family, but she wasn't very motherly person and didn't much like children either. She kept them fed and well dressed, and saw that they did their duties, other needs they had to satisfy otherwhere.

Jenny and Uta lived in the same little town and used to visit each other rather frequently. They met first in market. They both had wanted the same thing, and complained, and it was ordered, and they both thought it was for them, and crabbed it the same time. Two almost identical leather glove covered, thin hands with long fingers, one glove grey, the other brown, landed on the thing, and the ladies looked up and for a second thought they were looking in the mirror.
Then they realized that the colors were wrong - one sepia, other black and white, both thin, dry women in boring and ugly but functional and sensible clothes, face not used to express feelings, which were considered mere waste of time anyway, and therefore surprisingly young and smooth, watery eyes, thin, colorless eyebrows and lashes, long nose, sharp, thin lips and remarkable chin line... and for the first time in their lives, Jenny and Uta felt kinship of souls, and they smiled.

Victorian girls' novels

I have been reading Susan Coolidge's Katy books, and I am struck, in the comparison with Louisa M. Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder, by how a middle-class Eastern coast family has very different living standards than a poor Western family. Clover has to keep a house for herself and her brother and she doesn't seem to know how to cook and bake.
"Fairly good soups could be bought in tins, which needed only to be seasoned and heated for use on table. Oysters were easily procurable there, as everywhere in the West; good brown-bread and rolls came from the bakery"
Also, the need of "help" in both Little Women and Katy books is surprising... In Little Women there are five (5) women (from age 9 and up) living in a little house, and they have a help! In  Montgomery's Anne books she is a good help for Marilla already when 12, and all they think is that Matthew would need a boy for some of the farm work. March women had only a house!
I can understand that sometimes help is needed with laundry and perhaps when the whole house needs to be cleaned thoroughly, but not all the time. Katy's father had a cook, a maid and a handyman, and still they "needed" a housekeeper. I really don't get it.


BTW, What Katy Did Next is horrible! I remember liking it when I read it as a girl, but now I'm disturbed by all kinds of things. The "lovely" Amy who's dumb and selfish as a girl can be, spoiled rotten, and yet Lily, who is what Amy is growing up to be, is considered horrible. That Englishmen didn't know who Jane Austen was. That an Italian woman would have thrown a sick child out from her house. How everyone not American was somewhat weird, evil, primitive, ugly, dirty and so on and so forth.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I'm getting back on writing :-)

After four months of no writing to speak of, I'm getting interested again :-)

Angels and demons, vampires, dragons, fairies... aliens. We describe all supernatural, paranormal creatures to come from the skies or beyond, "extraterrestials", aliens, space creatures, when in reality they are just as terrestial as the rest of us.

John Gray, a vampire, loves to read vampire stories, and discuss them with his human friend, Celine. Celine has a slight crush on John, and John knows this, and teases her about it, because he like having her as a friend. He's more than 300 years old, and the game of love, sex and blood has grown old and boring. It's all the time the same. Stupid teen-aged girls believe to be "The One" who changes you, whom you'll love and who will rescue and save your soul... and it never happens. Human are simple creatures, easily controlled, easily manipulated, especially when you were once one yourself. It takes only a lifetime to know man, and that all men - and women - are the same, and that's all it takes.

A young dragoness visited them every now and then, and she was foolish enough not to have learned the finer aspects of human control. When she first met Celine, she asked if she was John's pet, and he answered that she was his friend. Similar but better than pet.

People were always speaking of the coldness of vampires, the lack of feelings, but in reality it was lack of chemicals, good for nothing but disturbing the thinking process. His brain was still working as it always had been, but now the human needs and emotions weren't bothering him. Sure, it had been amusing to seduce girls, even older women who should have known better, for a while, but in the end it stole time from more interesting issues. Also, there is a saying of youth being wasted on young people. He was as good as youth, stronger, healthier, more handsome, perfect, so why would he behave as youth when he had the wisdom and experience of old age? No, sex and partying was for the young people, he wanted more of life. Friends, among other things. It was sad though that everyone was immature compared to him, but in time he learned to appreciate the quality of being unspoiled and fresh. It was also amusing to see young people have the insights anew he had had already so many lifetimes ago.

Now he was reading the new books about vampires being written by young women, and in everyone the vampires were presented as sexually desirable. Depending on what was considered exciting at the time, the vampires were given other qualities. Some 50 years ago danger was arousing, now it was romantic, eternal love. In a time when ethics and morals weren't so strict and limiting, old-fashioned values were seen as something exotic and interesting. Nevertheless, the mere idea of a vampire falling in love...

"Do they really think this story is believable?" he asked Celine.

"Yes, it's romantic!"

"I'm sorry but isn't this man supposed to be over hundred years old?"

"Yes"

"And he has never loved a woman in his life?"

"No..."

"But now he sees this girl and falls in love with her immediately, passionately and possessively?"

"Er... yes..."

"And she as all teenagers have no idea of what they actually want, like, think or prefer, but she decides the best thing for her is to become a vampire as well."

"Yes, because she couldn't live without him."

"It is surprising how well we actually can live without everyone and everything we have ever loved, Celine. I'm sure this girl would think differently in some 20 years. Most likely she won't understand what she ever saw in this man."

"But that's the thing, it's love! She will love him forever, and he will love her, and they will live forever, together, young and beautiful. It's a lovely story, John! I don't expect you to understand, as you have never loved anyone, but..."

"I see... so the author made her a vampire because it is impossible for a man and a woman to love each other for as long as they both shall live. Wouldn't it be lovelier, if she grew old as normal human beings do, and live being loved by him, and die in his arms, being loved by him, even as she is old and sick? I think it would be more romantic that way. Also, kinder to her surroundings. What about her parents? Are they never to see her again, because she will always be a teenager, and never to have children..."

"She will have children."

"With whom?"

"With the vampire."

"With the vampire?" John laughed. "I love this author. I have to have all her books. Though I suppose there won't be any more books about this couple after she has given them their happy ending, forever after, young and beautiful, frolicking in the forest together in eternal love..."