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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

A Review of Vignettes!

The September/October edition of Jane Austen's Regency World has this fantastic review of Vignettes! A big "Thank You" to reviewer Jocelyn Bury! The magazine also includes my article
Caroline of Brunswick.
on marriage and divorce in Austen's day, plus an exclusive look behind the scenes of the new TV adaptation of Sanditon, Jane Austen's last unfinished novel.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Free Preview of Vignettes!

Illustration for S. Richardson's 'Pamela'. 
A reminder that you can enjoy a free preview of my new Amazon Kindle e-book Vignettes here!  Click on the link to read a free sample and discover the wonderful literary world of Jane Austen. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

VIGNETTES - My New E-book!

I'm very pleased to announce that I've just published a new book on Amazon Kindle: 'Vignettes: Literary Lives in the Age of Austen'.

Here's a copy of the blurb:

'Jane Austen lived in a ground-breaking era for English Literature. This was the age of William Wordsworth, Percy and Mary Shelley, John Keats, and others. Austen herself drew inspiration from the writers who came before her, like Doctor Johnson, Thomson and Cowper. She faced stiff competition from the rival novelists of her day like Ann Radcliffe, Mary Brunton, Fanny Burney and Walter Scott.
Away from the novelists’ world, writers like Mary Wollstonecraft argued passionately for women’s rights, and Parson Malthus, Robert Owen and Thomas Bernard discussed how best to deal with the poor.

Anna Laetitia Barbauld.
Based on the author’s previously published articles in Jane Austen's Regency World magazine, this lively exploration of Austen’s times also looks at popular literature. How did our tradition of Christmas ‘annuals’ begin? Were female novel-readers really the ‘slaves of vice’? Find out more in 'Vignettes'. '

Statue of Dr Johnson, Lichfield.
The book also discusses the career of poet Robert Burns, writer Robert Southey, and publisher Rudolph Ackermann. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed researching the stories of all these wonderful writers over the years!

Friday, 22 March 2019

New Peterloo Exhibition!

Please march over to my history blog for a preview of the People's History Museum's new exhibition on the Peterloo massacre.

Image: Mrs Mabbott's dress, on loan from Manchester Art Gallery, copyright People's History Museum.

Monday, 14 January 2019

1812 Food Riots

A belated Happy New Year to you all! I have been 'tied by the leg' like Mrs Croft in Persuasion as I broke my ankle just before Christmas. But happily I am on the mend now.

My latest feature for Jane Austen's Regency World is on the 1812 food riots in the West Riding of Yorkshire. This year also saw the Luddite disturbances in the manufacturing counties, and you can find out more about the Luddites in my book Regency Spies, which is currently on offer at a special sale price on the Pen and Sword website.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

A Visit to Lyme Regis

The Cobb, Lyme Regis. 
'The young people were all wild to see Lyme...the remarkable situation of the town, the principal street almost hurrying into the water, the walk to the Cobb, skirting round the pleasant little bay, which, in the season, is animated with bathing machines and company; the Cobb itself, its old wonders and new improvements, with the very beautiful line of cliffs stretching out to the east of the town, are what the stranger's eye will seek; and a very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better', (Persuasion).

In Jane Austen's day, the most respectable houses were in the upper part of town. 'To be a person of consideration in Lyme, it is necessary to toil up hill, and to fix one's abode where it is in danger of being assailed by every wind that blows', (John Feltham, A Guide to all the Watering and Sea-bathing Places for 1813, London, 1813). The houses in the lower part of town were rather 'mean', with 'intricate' streets.

View from the Cobb. 
The Golden Lion and Three Cups were the most respectable inns, and lodgings could be procured there 'on easy terms'. Lyme also boasted a 'small Assembly-Room, Card-Room, and Billiard-table' under one roof, and several bathing-machines. The beach was considered too pebbly for pleasant walking. Feltham was also rather sniffy about Lyme's libraries, which were 'neither copious nor select' and the book collections were 'principally composed of novels'.

The Cobb was Lyme's 'harbour of a most singular construction...where ships ride in perfect safety'. And of course Anne Elliot, Captain Wentworth and the Musgrove girls enjoyed walking along it - except on the day of Louisa Musgrove's accident: 'There was too much wind to make the high part of the new Cobb pleasant for the ladies, and they agreed to get down the steps to the lower, and all were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight, excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth'.

But which steps did Louisa fall from? For my money, these horribly gappy ones (left) look like the obvious candidate.

However, there are some very ancient-looking ones (right) near the end of the Cobb which could also be the steps which Jane Austen meant (and which look easier to jump a young lady down from).

Harville Cottage, Lyme Regis. 
There are some nice Regency-era houses on Marine Parade, but they were probably built after Jane Austen's visits in 1803 and 1804.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Thomas Harrison

Harrison's Propylea Gate, Chester.
Please gallop over to All Things Georgian, the fabulous blog belonging to my fellow Pen & Sword authors Sarah Murden and Joanne Major. Today they've kindly hosted my guest post on Thomas Harrison, who changed the face of Chester during Regency times.