Posts Tagged ‘Historical’
Even though house parties were often arranged to facilitate advantageous society matches, strict social codes limited the interactions a young lady could have with the gentlemen in attendance.
However, she did have a little help from her fan, which was much more than a mere accessory. An artful manipulation of her fan could do the talking for her without the young lady ever having to utter a word.
Fan were mostly used in royal courts until the Victorian era, when mass production brought the accessory to the masses. In royal courts, fans were kept closed. Opening them and waving them about was considered a sign of poor breeding…until the son of Paris’ premier fan maker arrived in England.
The concept of the fan as a tool of communication is believed to have been brought to London by Louis Duvelleroy, the illegitimate son of the founder of the House of Duvelleroy.
He opened a shop on Regent Street and it was an immediate success. Although there is no concrete evidence fans were used to send coded messages before this time, Duvelleroy played up this idea, and even invented a few secret fan gestures of his own, in order to sell his wares.
Fan makers said there was no passion the fan could not reflect and, held up close to a lady’s face, it seemed to convey its owner’s mood.
Duvelleroy even published a pamphlet called Language of the Fan, which highlighted the coded gestures women had supposedly used for centuries. These messages included sentiments such as “I love you”, “follow me” and “you are cruel,” all with a simple twist of the fan. The Maison Duvelleroy in London included instructions on how to flirt with each fan it sold.
According to Victorian Fashion Accessories by Ariel Beaujot, the following fan gesture instructions appeared in a pamphlet published in 1899:
Open and shut: You are cruel.
Open wide: Wait for me.
Closing: I wish to speak to you.
Shut: You have changed.
Handle to lips: Kiss me.
Dropping fan: We will be friends.
Carrying in right hand: I wish to be acquainted.
Twirling in right hand: I love another.
Twirling in left hand: I wish to get rid of you.
Resting on right cheek: Yes.
Resting on left cheek: No.
Drawing across forehead: We are watched.
Drawing across eyes: I am sorry.
Drawing across cheek: I love you.
For some, the fan was as much of a weapon for a practiced seductress as a sword was for a man. This view highlighted the fear of the power of female sensuality, rather than of the fan itself.
There were, of course, practical uses of the fan. It could hide a yawn if one was bored and the fan could shield one’s emotions, such as an unwanted embarrassed blush, from public view. One presumably wouldn’t have needed a pamphlet to decode these particular gestures.
There is no way to know just how much ladies and gentlemen really knew about fan gestures. The uninitiated might have easily found themselves betrothed or unknowingly arranging a scandalous liaison by an untutored movement of the fan, especially if the young lady happened to place her open fan over her heart, which meant “I love you.”
Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of Diana’s upcoming book, Compromising Willa.
Diana Quincy is the author of Seducing Charlotte, Tempting Bella and the forthcoming Compromising Willa (December 2013). While researching the language of the fan, she tried to employ the flirtatious techniques she learned about, but Mr. Quincy did not appear to notice.
As an author, my romance novels are often inspired by history and my latest book, Tempting Bella, is no exception. The story begins when a 13-year-old girl is forced to marry the heir to a dukedom in order to settle a gaming debt between their fathers.
It’s a provocative start, but the fact that it was inspired by a true story is what makes it even more compelling. However, as occurs in Tempting Bella, the real-life union did not start as a happy one.
According to accounts from the time, the marriage was arranged after the first Duke of Richmond lost a round of cards to the first Earl of Cadogan. To settle the 5,000-pound debt, a marriage between Lord March, the duke’s heir, and Lady Sarah Cadogan, the earl’s daughter, was arranged.
It is unclear exactly who lost the game. Most accounts suggest Lord Cadogan won. However, his daughter was an heiress who would bring a great dowry to the union, so it’s possible the duke emerged victorious.
Whatever the case, the following day, the debt of honor was paid when Lord March was brought from university and young Sarah from the nursery, to stand before a clergyman. When the handsome young groom spotted the plain awkward girl, he is said to have exclaimed in disgust, “You are surely not going to marry me to that dowdy!”
But whether he liked it or not, the marriage did indeed take place. Immediately afterward, the groom jumped into a waiting carriage and, accompanied by his tutor, headed off on his Grand Tour of the continent. The bride, meanwhile, returned to her mother and the nursery.
Years later, when Lord March returned home after his travels, he was known to be “a strikingly handsome, cultured young man” who wasn’t eager to renew his acquaintance with his “ugly duckling” wife.
On his first night back in London, avoiding a much-dreaded reunion with his wife, Lord March attended the opera. In the box opposite, he spied a beautiful woman and asked who she was.
“You must indeed be a stranger to London,” was the answer, “if you do not know the beautiful Lady March, the toast of the town!”
Shocked and disbelieving, Lord March went to the box and introduced himself. He was delighted to learn that it was true, the enchanting woman was none other than his wife.
The marriage is said to have been an enormously happy one. The Richmonds were known to kiss, coo and cuddle constantly. On one occasion, an acquaintance of the couple, Horace Walpole, said “the duke sat by her side all night kissing her hand and gazing at his beautiful daughters.”
It was also a fruitful union. The couple made excellent use of the marriage bed. Sarah got pregnant twenty-eight times and twelve children survived. When the duke died in 1750 at the young age of 49, Sarah was despondent. She died a year later, in 1751, at the age of forty-five.
Those who knew the couple said the duchess died of a broken heart.
While I do re-imagine key parts of the Richmonds’ love story—such as the youthful marriage and the first sighting at the opera—Tempting Bella takes its own course as my hero and heroine struggle along their way toward happily ever after.
Here’s a preview and excerpt:
Mirabella can hardly remember the man she married as a girl. And it’s just as well. She feels nothing but contempt for the man who married her for her fortune and promptly forgot she existed.
Sebastian has been apart from his child bride since their wedding day, after a teenaged marriage forced upon him to rescue his family from certain ruin. His attempt to honor his vows to his absent wife have earned him the nickname, “The Saint.”
But when he encounters an enchanting impish beauty at the opera, Sebastian cannot resist learning who she is. He is thrilled to find she is none other than his long-ago bride.
Already resentful of his early abandonment, Bella is suspicious of her husband’s unusual activities —mysterious midnight outings and apparent liaisons with pretty servant girls. Then there is the mounting evidence that Sebastian is not who he claims to be.
Guarding the painful secret of his true identity, Sebastian is entranced by Bella. Delighted by his good fortune, he is eager to make her his wife in truth. But he soon realizes the beguiling lady has no intention of coming meekly to the marriage bed!
Uttering an uncharacteristically terse thank you to the butler, Sebastian took Bella’s arm to escort her above stairs. His rigid posture, the intransigent set of his expansive shoulders, the very deliberate click of each boot step, all belied that otherwise calm exterior.
He was angry. Furious even.
The hair on the back of her neck tingled. She’d never seen him truly out of sorts. His demeanor brought to mind that ominous lull before a natural disaster strikes.
He hastened his steps, practically dragging her up the stairs, pulling her arm, moving quickly. When they reached her chamber, he did not leave her as he usually did. Instead he stepped in behind her.
“Thank you, Louisa, that will be all,” he said to the sleepy girl, who’d waited up for her mistress. “Go and seek your bed.”
As soon as he closed the door behind the maid, Bella spun around to face him, her heart clamoring. “I did not give you leave to enter my bedchamber. Please show me the courtesy of departing at once.”
He pulled off his cravat and folded it in a slow deliberate manner, as though he hadn’t heard her. Removing his tailcoat, he placed it neatly over the back of a chair.
Alarm trilled down her spine. “Why are you disrobing?”
Unbuttoning his waistcoat, he said, “Take off that dress.”
“I beg your pardon?”
He advanced toward her, the muscles in his thighs flexing powerfully as he did so. “You heard me.”
Hugging herself, she stepped back from him. “I will do no such thing. Leave or I will scream.”
Cold anger glittered in his eyes. “Take if off or I will take it off for you.”
Do you have a favorite love story, real or imagined? Please leave a comment
for a chance to win a digital copy of Book 1, Seducing Charlotte.
Diana Quincy is an award-winning former television journalist who decided she’d rather make up stories where a happy ending is always guaranteed. Growing up as a foreign service brat, she lived in many countries and is now settled in Virginia with her husband and two sons. Diana loves to hear from readers. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and visit her website.
Never in my wildest dreams had it occurred to me that I would one day live in Budapest. Little old me, a girl from Minnesota, living in Hungary? A former Communist country? Eastern Europe?
What a remarkable and beautiful city Budapest is. What fascinating history. I have fallen in love with it all. It just so happens that my favorite royal fell in love with this country as well. The Empress learned the language, considered to be the second most difficult language in the world, and was so loved by the Hungarians, she became a historical icon. They built a summer palace for her just outside Budapest. One can find any number of statues bearing her likeness throughout the city, and one of the bridges crossing the Danube that connects Buda to Pest is named after her.
Did you know that in the Regency period there were all sorts of cosmetics and the author of The Mirror of Graces, who was known rather dashingly as ‘A Lady of Distinction’, compiled a list of helpful recipes for various beauty preparations?
Well, now you do, so let me tell you more! Some of these preparations I find hilarious and some rather clever.
I am thrilled and delighted to host the lovely Leigh LaValle, whose debut book THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS comes out tomorrow! COUNTESS has already earned great early acclaim, including:
- 4 stars from Romantic Times: “LaValle’s debut is exciting and action packed, with a hero and heroine who play well off each other.”
- A blurb to die for from Tessa Dare: “Leigh LaValle weaves an enthralling tale of passion and deception, laced with charm and wit…a captivating new voice in historical romance.”
- Another blurb to die for from Courtney Milan: “an enchanting debut, full of passion, angst, danger, and the promise of true love.”