On a Regency Exhibit

Cheryl Bolen toured the Regency Exhibit at California's Huntington Library in 2011, the two-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Regency.

Cheryl Bolen toured the Regency Exhibit at California’s Huntington Library in 2011, the two-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Regency.

©By Cheryl Bolen

As an author whose first Regency historical romance was published in 1998, I’ve long been a student of the period, and in 2011 I had the opportunity to visit a fabulous exhibit on the English Regency at the Huntington in Los Angeles County.

The Huntington (Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens) offered the exhibit to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Regency, which began in 1811 when George III was declared too mad to rule. His eldest son served as Prince Regent until his father died in 1820, whereupon the regent became King George IV.

I particularly enjoyed reading the era’s newspapers. The following advertisement (these were intermingled with news stories) I think must be geared to men, but could also apply to women:

HAIR

A new oil which gradually changes white, gray or red hair to a beautiful brown – gives softness, elasticity, curl and thickens – 7 shillings, 6 pence per bottle  

A loan office, located at 2 Craven, Strand, advertised that it gave loans “to persons of fashion, promisary notes to persons of known credit and consequence.” The office was open from 10-4.  
The most well-known jewelry store of the era offered this advertisement:

Rundell, Bridge, Rundell

Goldsmiths & Jewelers

to Their Majesties

Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales

and the Duke of York and Royal Family

Ludgate Hill  

And the last advertisement I’m going to feature was for an on-premises auction by “Mr. Christie.” Yes, that Christie’s auction house!

Valuable Library Richmond Surrey – By Mr. Christie on the premises by order of the Executors of Miss Hotham deceased, 6,000 volumes. Catalogues are preparing.  

The Huntington Library and Art Museum itself is a treasure to visit. The former estate of rail magnate Henry Huntington, it’s nestled on a few hundred acres of lush botanical gardens in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The Huntington collections of rare manuscripts and old master paintings is particularly geared for English history. It houses Gainsborough’s Blue Boy (as well as Pinkie), first editions of Jane Austen, and an original Chaucer manuscript. And almost half a million rare manuscripts.

This article was first published in The Regency Reader in September 2011.

Jane Austen’s Bath

jane austen center

Bath’s Jane Austen Center

© Cheryl Bolen

Cheryl wrote this for Mary Gramlich’s blog last year

It’s no coincidence that the Jane Austen Center is located in Bath, England. The city has so many associations with her. She visited there several times, so it was only natural she set two of her novels (Persuasion and Northanger Abbey) there.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen

The Georgian era in which she lived is reflected in the city’s Palladian-inspired architecture more than in any other town. Few cities in the world are graced with the uniformity of architecture that Bath has. Throughout the famed watering city, most of the graceful buildings are clad in the pale, golden Bath stone.

Architects John Wood the Elder (1704-54) and his son, John Wood the Younger (1728-1782), designed some of the city’s most prominent buildings, including the Royal Crescent, the Circus, and the Assembly Rooms. These building are well maintained in the 21st century. The Assembly Rooms look as they did when Jane Austen visited and can be toured today. The lovely townhouse at Number 1 Royal Crescent is also offered for touring.

The Romans built a city on Bath’s seven hills much as their own Rome had been built on seven hills. Like Rome, Bath is dissected by a river, the Avon. The heart of the city lies to the west of the River Avon. That is where the old Roman baths, Bath Cathedral, most shopping, the Circus, Queen Square, the Royal Crescent, and the Assembly Rooms are located. The beautiful Pulteney Bridge, built by Robert Adam in much the same style as Florence’s Ponte Vecchio, links the two parts of the city.

Bath's Pulteney Bridge, which crosses the River Avon, was designed by Robert Adam.

Bath’s Pultney Bridge, which crosses the River Avon, was designed by Robert Adam.

Visitors can easily walk the compressed city, though double-decker tour buses will provide interesting commentary.

Cheryl Bolen standing in front of Bath's Royal Crescent.

Cheryl Bolen standing in front of Bath’s Royal Crescent.

A two-time visitor to the city , I was excited to set my popular Brides of Bath series there. The latest installment is the novella, A Christmas in Bath, which brings together most of the characters of the earlier books—with a brand new love story that was hinted at in Book 2, With His Ring.

 

Fashions in the era of Jane Austen

photo standing

Jody Gayle

Jody Gayle is the editor/designer of Fashions in the Era of Jane Austen, and it is solely through her efforts that this wonderful resource is now available both electronically and as an oversized paperback with hundreds of color illustrations.

Thank you, Jody, for being my guest today, and thank you for introducing a whole new generation (and more) to Ackermann’s Repository. First, will you tell us what Ackermann’s Repository was?

The Ackermann’s Repository of the Arts was a monthly British periodical published from 1809-1829 by Rudolph Ackermann.  It was a highly popular nineteenth-century publication devoted to the study of the arts, literature, commerce, manufacturing, politics and fashion.  I believe a contemporary example could be a monthly version of the New York Times with somewhere between 60-80 pages.  However, the Repository of the Arts included a significant amount of information provided by the readers including personal letters, poems, opinion pieces and general articles.

Jody coverEach monthly issue contained several illustrations produced by artists using a technique called etching. Two of the illustrations were always hand-painted prints normally featuring the whole body of a woman dressed in the latest fashions.  Every fashion print included a detailed description of the type of clothing shown, its style, cut, trim, color, type of fabric and the accompanying accessories.

In compiling your book, why did you make the decision to reproduce all the illustrations with the exact same language that was used in their original publication?

There were a couple reasons why it was important to include the language of the time to accompany the fashion plates.  When I began my research I found books with tons of beautiful fashion prints.  Then I began reading Ackermann’s Repository that included the descriptions and discovered a whole new dimension and depth to the illustrations.  It seemed sad that the words of the past were being forgotten and I felt there would be others who might like to read the descriptions.  Plus, I wanted to provide a convenient means for scholars and authors to access this information.  There are over 240 issues of Ackermann’s Repository and over 16,000 pages!  It can take months to research or find all the fashion prints.

Can you describe for us the some of the steps you had to take in order to produce your incomparable work? inside-1

 

Just a few years ago I worked for a local newspaper company and they also published a bridal magazine so I had some idea of the process of printing and design.  I was able to publish my book due to the fantastic program through Amazon.  It allows authors to self-publish their own digital and paperback books but then every little detail and decision has to be made by the author without the assistance of a publishing house.

I began by contacting the Philadelphia Museum of Art Library for the permission to use their copies of Ackermann’s Repository of Arts.   Then I spent my time searching, scanning, and organizing the illustrations and then searching, typing and organizing all of the text.  Developing the organization system was crucial to keep the illustrations and the accompanying descriptions straight.  I had to be meticulous since one of my goals was to provide a resource to scholars and authors.  Everything had to be exactly right and accurate.   There wasn’t an easy way to accomplishing this task other than pure determination and hard work.  Then I had the whole book professionally proofread and compared to the original documents.

The Kindle book was designed by me but I paid an experienced company to format the book but for future projects I can format the book myself.  A critical decision in designing the paperback book was choosing the size of the book.  This decision impacted everything from the fashion plate quality and detail, the book design, and ultimately the price of the book and shipping costs.  In the end I chose the largest book size available and the size is similar to a textbook.

Just how many pages are in your book, and how many illustrations?

Well, since you asked I counted and there are 291 illustrations and 376 total pages.  When I first uploaded my book to Amazon it was too many pages and I had to redesign the book so some of the illustrations included the descriptions on the same page.  When you purchase the Kindle version there is a note to readers that due to its large file size, this book may take longer to download.  Fashions in the Era of Jane Austen are the fashion plates from 1809 to 1820.  My next project will contain the next nine years I was unable to include in the in the first book.  I am having a difficult time deciding on a title.

Once again, Jody, many thanks for your contribution to Austen era scholars and writers.