Tuesday, September 26, 2017

It's Publication Day for I, ELIZA HAMILTON!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Susan reporting,

At last, at last: my new historical novel, I, ELIZA HAMILTON is now available via on-line websites and in bricks-and-mortar stores, and in every format including print, ebook, and audiobook.

       Amazon
       Barnes & Noble
       Books-a-Million
       Book Depository (If you live outside the US, Book Depository ships worldwide for free.)
       Google Play
       IBooks
       Indiebound

If you need to be tempted further,  you can read a description as well as the prologue and first chapter here. You'll find plenty of additional background about Eliza and Alexander Hamilton and the tumultuous times in which they lived here on my website blog. There's also a Behind-the-Book feature at BookPage.
     
So far the initial reviews have been wonderful, including a starred review in Publishers Weekly and more than 65 five-star early-reader reviews on Goodreads.

But the only opinion that matters now belongs to you, dear readers.

Eliza is ready to share her story, and oh, she has such things to tell....

Monday, September 25, 2017

Temple Bar Returns

Monday, September 25, 2017
Loretta reports:

In Dukes Prefer Blondes, I mention Temple Bar, a gateway that stood where Fleet Street meets the Strand. Through it have passed, along with the usual traffic, monarchs dead and alive. On the main arch, on iron spikes, traitors’ heads were on display.

The structure still exists, as I set out to prove to my satisfaction during my stay in London, and this existence, to me, is a miracle. It is London’s only surviving gateway, and the story of its survival includes a trip to Hertfordshire.

Built in 1672, the time of King Charles II, it was taken down, stone by stone, in 1878, because it was in the way. It had for years obstructed traffic, and now it was hampering construction of the Royal Courts of Justice. Unlike other historical structures, though, Temple Bar was saved from complete destruction. The stones weren’t carried off and used to build something else. They were saved, in hopes of a restoration. Nobody quite worked out how to do this, though.
Then, ten years later, at his wife’s instigation, Sir Henry Meux bought the 400 tons of stone from the Corporation of London and rebuilt Temple Bar as a gateway into his estate at Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire. Apparently, it did the trick of enhancing Lady Meux’s social status, as she’d hoped: It’s believed that she dined in its upper chamber with, among other notables, the Prince of Wales and Winston Churchill.

Temple Bar remained at Theobolds Park until 2004, when it returned to London, to be reassembled, stone by stone, in Paternoster Square.

The History of Temple Bar site and the Wikipedia entry will offer you more details. I offer some pictures.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Breakfast Links: Week of September 17, 2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017
Breakfast Links are served - our weekly round-up of fav links to other web sites, articles, blogs, and images via Twitter.
• Newly digitized to view on line: spectacular example of colonial calligraphy by a Boston writing teacher.
• Night witches, Nazi hunters, heroes: the women of Aviation Group 122.
• For a stylish Victorian lady, one's gloves must always be a shade lighter than one's dress.
• The confession of Mary Voce, who inspired George Eliot.
• Born to a one-time slave, Ruth Odom Bonner's life reflected America's "arc of progress."
Image: Rachel M. Thompson & Catherine Jay Moore, early tech pioneers, from Radio Age, January 1924.
• Scientists once dressed frogs in tiny pants to study theories of reproduction.
• There never was a real 17thc Tulip Fever.
• Not seen, not heard: the Ladies' Gallery in the old Palace of Westminster.
• Theatrical cosmetics in the 19thc: making face, making "race."
• The Trotula: Women's Health Care in the Middle Ages.
• Explore Mary Wollstonecroft's legacy.
Image: New acquisition by the Victoria & Albert Museum - Queen Victoria's sapphire and diamond crown, designed by Prince Albert.
• President Benjamin Harrison and the body-snatchers.
• The most inspiring hot-air balloon ride ever.
• A ditch runs through it: Robert Livingston and the first Erie Canal.
Children of convicts transported to Australia grew to be taller than their peers in the UK.
• The fashion for white mourning.
• In the summer of 1792, a ferocious (and mysterious) beast terrorized the countryside around Milan.
• To read online - anonymous visual journal depicting an entire trip through West Indies in 1815.
Image: Geta shoes made of solid iron and worn for martial arts training.
Hungry for more? Follow us on Twitter @2nerdyhistgirls for fresh updates daily.
Above: At Breakfast by Laurits Andersen Ring. Private collection

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Video: The Gold Singing Bird Egg Basket

Friday, September 22, 2017
Loretta reports:

We Two Nerdy History Girls are partial to automata and other clockwork devices. Among numerous other marvels, I’ve shown you the singing bird pistols that inspired a scene for one of my novellas, and surviving clockwork items originally exhibited in London in 1807.

Susan has brought you—to name only two of many—a rope dancer and an automaton watch.

Searching the tags “scientific marvels” and “automaton” will bring up more posts on these ingenious devices.

Today, I offer you an egg.



Video: Gold Singing Bird Egg Basket from M.S. Rau Antiques

Readers who receive our blog via email might see a rectangle, square, or nothing where the video ought to be.  To watch the video, please click on the title to this post.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Pair of Hand-stitched Handkerchiefs from the Wedding of Eliza Schuyler & Alexander Hamilton, 1780

Thursday, September 21, 2017
Susan reporting,

Most historical research for a novel involves words, and more words: letters, journals, diaries, and other books. But sometimes research means things: objects that were significant to my characters, and somehow survived: a tangible, magical link to the past.

Despite the popular history myths, 18thc women didn't sew the their all the clothing that their families wore. Nor did they shear the sheep and harvest the flax, process all the fibers, spin the thread, and weave the cloth; even if you lived on the edge of the wilderness, there were skilled tradespeople who took care of all that, and merchants ready to supply their wares at every price point. But while creating jackets, breeches, and gowns was left to tailors and mantua-makers, women did make the less challenging items like baby clothes, neckcloths, handkerchiefs, shirts, and shifts at home.

Sewing by hand was a useful skill, and considered a virtuously industrious one as well for women of every rank. But for many women, sewing was also a form of personal satisfaction and self-expression. The past (and the present!) is filled with women for whom sewing a neat, straight seam of perfectly even stitches or completing an intricate embroidery pattern is a matter of pride, accomplishment, and zen-like peace. Stitching for a special person could create a personal, even intimate, gift as well. Hand-made items can come with love and good wishes in every stitch.

Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (the heroine of my new historical novel, I, Eliza Hamilton) enjoyed sewing, embroidery, and knitting. I've already shared one surviving example of her needlework, this lavish embroidered mat to display the miniature of her then-fiancee, Alexander Hamilton, made during the summer and fall when they were engaged but apart. Here are a pair of handkerchiefs that, by family tradition, were also made by Eliza, and carried by her and Alexander at their wedding in December, 1780.

The larger handkerchief would have been Eliza's. Made of fine imported linen, it shows skilled cutwork over net inserts as well as precise stitching of the highest level, suitable for a special event like a wedding. (Given its size, I'm wondering if this might have been a neckerchief for wearing around the shoulders - a popular style in the 1780s - rather than a handkerchief, but since the archival description calls it a handkerchief, then so shall I.) Surviving, too, is the gentleman's handkerchief with an embroidered geometric pattern with floral accents. Again, the legend is that Eliza made the handkerchief for Alexander, a romantic gift that he must have treasured.

Today the linen on the two handkerchiefs is yellowed and so fragile that they cannot be unfolded, but the beauty and the undeniable care (and likely love) that went into each one of those long-ago stitches remains. The fact that both pieces were set aside and treasured for more than two hundred years shows how special they must have been - and even now, in their special, acid-proof archival box, they're still stored together.

Many thanks to Jennifer Lee, curator, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University, for showing the neckerchief and the handkerchief to me.

Above: Pair of wedding handkerchiefs, c1780, Alexander Hamilton Collection, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University. Photographs ©2017 Susan Holloway Scott.
 
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