Daily Diversion #58: Suffragette City

My mom sent me this reproduction postcard from England. The original is from c1910.


The text on the reverse side reads: The suffragette movement swung into action with police and hardy women coming face to face.

“Coolest f-word ever deserves a fucking shout! I mean, why can’t all decent men and women call themselves feminists? Out of respect for those who fought for this.”-Ani DiFranco

A Year in Books/Day 180: Inside the Victorian Home

  • Title: Inside the Victorian Home A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England
  • Author: Judith Flanders
  • Year Published: 2003 (W.W. Norton & Company)
  • Year Purchased: 2004/2005
  • Source: History Book Club
  • About: I am lustfully curious about matters of domestic history. No, not marital details. I mean the inner workings of domesticity-cooking, shopping, consumerism, the running of households, servants, the cost of goods, wages. It may be a strange occupation, but then I have never claimed nor aspired to normalcy. Inside the Victorian Home is not the only book on the subject I own (although it was the first I bought). It breaks down and explicates on all of the above subjects (as well as social and political history), as filtered through rooms of a house: bedroom, drawing room, morning room, etc., before throwing us out on the street, as it were, in the last chapter. So many things can be learned-insights gained-from how we lived, perhaps even more than what we say or record for posterity. It is a gem of its kind, and one that I turn to for clarification on such matters.
  • Motivation: History + England + Domestic History= a book I could not resist.
  • Times Read: 2
  • Random Excerpt/Page 28: “If the family’s status was on display in the choice of the house, then it followed that location and public rooms were more important than comfort and convenience, and certainly more important than the private, family spaces.”
  • Happiness Scale: 9+

A Year in Books/Day 153: Tennyson’s Poems

  • Title: Tennyson’s Poems
  • Author: Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • Year Published: Unknown, but it is fairly old (Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.)
  • Year Purchased: 1990s
  • Source: Columbus Public Library sale
  • About: How many times have you had your metaphorical heart broken? One, three, five? How many times, in the quickening of your pain, has someone attempted to dress your ripening wound with the phrase  ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?  Although it has been degraded from over-use to the level of cheap platitude, it actually represents two lines from Tennyson’s IN MEMORIAM A.H.H. , which took the poet 17 years to write. A one-time Poet Laureate, his work remains popular. This book is a complete edition, and features a striking blue cover with an embossed Art Noveau design. The poet’s name on the spine is on a  deep gold background. It is one of the prettiest volumes in my library.
  • Motivation: The opportunity to get poetic kicks on the cheap, in the form of a lovely old volume, made this too good to pass up.
  • Times Read: Cover-to-cover: 1/Random poems: countless
  • Random Excerpt/Page 17: “Vex not thou the poet’s mind /With thy shallow wit:/Vex not thou the poet’s mind; For thou canst not fathom it.”
  • Happiness Scale: 8
    Carbon print of Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1869, pr...

    Carbon print of Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1869, printed 1875/79 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A Year in Books/Day 134: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew

  • Title: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew From Fox Hunting to Whist-the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England
  • Author: Daniel Pool
  • Year Published: 1993 (Simon & Schuster)
  • Year Purchased: 1994
  • Source: A gift from an ex
  • About: This book is history-light. Don’t get your knickers in a knot, as that is rarely a bad thing! Although I love weighty, intellectually demanding tomes like a kid loves candy, lighter fare inhabits its own cozy corner of my heart. It took awhile for that to happen. Even as a pre-teen, I was (perhaps unnaturally) concerned with running out of time in which to read the world’s literary classics. Yes, I truly thought about such things as an eleven-year-old. As I thought that time was-a-wastin’, I wasn’t about to devote my precious allotment to “lesser” reading. Eventually, I discovered history books of the pop culture variety. I ate volumes whole, on a variety of history-related topics: fashion, art, film, photography. This led me down the lovely, informative and fun path that is littered with books like What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: well-researched, well-written and highly readable books devoted to popular and general history subjects. I have a preference for the Elizabethan and Victorian eras, with the Jazz Age coming in a very tight third. These are my idea of “beach reads”. Now, I’ll turn to the book at hand. Nearly every aspect of daily life that the average person could find interesting is discussed and dissected within its pages: etiquette, currency, society, marriage, kids, death, clothing, food, commerce, orphans, maids, “lesser folk”, crime, rural life, urban living, sex, balls, dinner parties, hygiene, occupations…..There is a handy glossary for those new to the era and its terms. Although not ground-breaking or revolutionary, it’s engrossing enough that it demands your attention from start to finish.
  • Motivation: It was a gift from someone who was trying to woo me. Unfortunately, it worked (for a time) because, obviously, books are a way to my heart. This gift was so perfect that it blinded me to all common sense and logic. Or, so I’d like to think.
  • Times Read: 2
  • Random Excerpt/Page 134: “In England in 1800 one could be hanged for sheep stealing, sodomy, murder, impersonating an army veteran, stealing something worth more than five shillings from a shop, treason, doing damage to Westminster Bridge, and about two hundred other offenses. (Killing a man in a duel, although murder, was considered socially okay for people of quality, so juries generally didn’t convict until the 1840s. Thereafter it became advisable to duel on the Continent, as Phineas Finn does.)
  • Happiness Scale: 9 1/2
    Charles Dickens

    Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia) has some things he would like to share with you.


A Year in Books/Day 124: By Permission of Heaven

  • Title: By Permission of Heaven The True Story of the Great Fire of London
  • Author: Adrian Tinniswood
  • Year Published: 2003 (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group)
  • Year Purchased: 2005
  • Source: The Book Loft, Columbus, Ohio
  • About: London was devastated by a fire on 2 September, 1666. By Permission of Heaven chronicles the confusion, terror and panic that befell the city’s inhabitants during the fire and its aftermath. He continues the story through the re-building that set the stage for the modern London that we know today. It’s riveting, nail-biting, human history at its best. I’ve written several times about the challenge of making history seem alive, present and tactile for readers. Fear not, because Tinniswood is a master. Challenge achieved.
  • Motivation: I’m an Anglophile and I particularly love the history of London. I’m weird that way.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 43: “At some point Hanna was badly burned. But she managed to scramble to safety along the eaves with her father. They were followed by the manservant. Only the maid was left in the house, too frightened of heights, or too confused by the noise and the smoke to escape. As the easterly gales whipped across the rooftops, she died there–the first victim of the Great Fire of London. No one even knows her name.”
  • Happiness Scale: 9

A Year in Books/Day 111: 1700 Scenes from London Life

  • Title: 1700 Scenes from London Life
  • Author: Maureen Waller
  • Year Published: 2000 (Four Walls Eight Windows)
  • Year Purchased: 2002/2003
  • Source: History Book Club
  • About: This is a biography/history of a very specific time and place. What was it like to live in London at the start of the eighteenth century? If you had walked its streets and slept in one of its tall, cramped terraced houses, what could you expect from life? What did you eat and drink? What did you do with your scant leisure time? What did you wear and how did you worship? Waller addresses as many of these questions as possible, bringing us several paces closer to knowing what life was like as a Londoner three centuries ago.
  • Motivation: History. London. Rinse and repeat; you’ve all read this explanation before.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 57: “For babies of poorer parents left behind in the disease-ridden capital with its smoke-choked skies and contaminated water, life was just as perilous. Many died from neglect, the unsanitary conditions, and from being smothered in bed by their mothers-whether by accident or intent it was never easy to determine.”
  • Happiness Scale: 8 1/2

A Year in Books/Day 79: Royal Panoply

  • Title: Royal Panoply Brief Lives of The English Monarchs
  • Author: Carolly Erickson
  • Year Published: 2003 (History Book Club)
  • Year Purchased: 2003-2005
  • Source: History Book Club
  • About: This handsome, heavily illustrated volume covers the English Monarchs from William I to Elizabeth II. Each ruler is given a short biography, usually consisting of a few pages. Although concise, the portraits are rich in detail and the historic context flows perfectly from one subject to the next.
  • Motivation: I actually know English history better than American (which I know pretty damn well, thank you very much). I’m just a gargantuan history nut in a teensy package. Plus, I love the intellectual order provided by such compilations.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 69: “When the nine-year-old King Henry III was crowned in October of 1216, hastily and with minimal ceremony, in a makeshift ritual at Gloucester Cathedral, the realm was in peril. The oppressive and divisive reign of Henry’s father, King John, had ended in disaster, the crown jewels were lost in the quicksands of the Ouse, and a foreign invader, the French dauphin Louis, had established himself in London.”
  • Happiness Scale: 10
    Henry III of England Česky: Jindřich III. Plan...

    Henry III of England Česky: Jindřich III. Plantagenet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A Year in Books/Day 75: Madame Tussaud A Life in Wax

  • Title: Madame Tussaud A Life in Wax
  • Author: Kate Berridge
  • Year Published: 2006 (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd)
  • Year Purchased: 2010
  • Source: A gift from my lovely Momma.
  • About: Even though an autobiography exists under her name, there is so much about Madame Tussaud’s life that has been lost to time. A lot of the information that remains is untrustworthy or muddled. This only adds to the burden carried by any biographer. Kate Berridge’s account is better than expected yet still suffers in spots from lack of original source material. Fortunately, she almost makes up for that deficiency by her unusual approach of treating her subject as a historian, instead of merely as an artisan-impresario. By the end of the book, she succeeds in making Madame Tussaud at least as life-like as her statues-not a small feat given the circumstances.
  • Motivation: History + Biography + Unusual Female Subject= an irresistible trio for me. My Mother knows this!
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 21: “The waxworks were the ideal forum to cater for a phenomenal human interest in public figures that was distinct from respect for their work. In fact cultural achievement was not necessary at all to appear there: the admission requirement was to have attained sufficient public interest to guarantee a crowd; notoriety was as compelling as admiration. From the recently executed criminal to society beauties, Curtius guaranteed a close-up view of the most talked-about people of the day. As each person had their time in the spotlight of public interest, they would take their turn in his pantheon.”
  • Happiness Scale: 7 1/2
    English: The wax statue of the creator of &quo...


A Year in Books/Day 60: The First Elizabeth

  • Title: The First Elizabeth
  • Author: Carolly Erickson
  • Year Published: 1983 (St. Martin’s Griffin)
  • Year Purchased: 1990’s
  • Source: Antique Barn at The Ohio State Fair, Columbus, Ohio
  • About: My favourite historical personage and all around kick-ass woman receives an above-average biographical treatment here.
  • Motivation: See above. Also, I love my fellow redheads.
  • Times Read: 2
  • Random Excerpt/Page 187: “There were more festivities in the coming days. The queen went to Woolwich to launch a fine new ship for her navy, christened the ‘Elizabeth’, and returned to Greenwich to watch more military games-among them a “great casting of fire, and shooting of guns, till twelve at night.” The recent peace, these exercises proclaimed, had not dimmed England’s warlike spirit; let other nation’s take warning.”
  • Happiness Scale: 10
    English: The "Darnley Portrait" of E...

    Image via Wikipedia