…uh, Sam?

Jun. 7th, 2016 12:28 am
tempestsarekind: (your strange behavior puzzles martha)
So I've been watching the Pepys diary feed a little more closely lately because Pepys is basically wracked with jealousy that his wife might be having an affair with the dancing master who has been coming to their house. (His reasoning is basically, "well, I would, with a woman, so how can I believe that she wouldn't?" The thing is, he knows that this is terrible reasoning; he just can't stop doing it.)

But that context is not entirely helping me figure out exactly what he's thinking here:

Up betimes, and my wife and Ashwell and I whiled away the morning up and down while they got themselves ready, and I did so watch to see my wife put on drawers, which poor soul she did, and yet I could not get off my suspicions, she having a mind to go into Fenchurch Street before she went out for good and all with me, which I must needs construe to be to meet Pembleton, when she afterwards told me it was to buy a fan that she had not a mind that I should know of, and I believe it is so.


I feel like I've missed something. Is he thinking that if she doesn't put on drawers, she is preparing for illicit sexytimes? But I thought that it was wearing underwear in this period that was scandalous? So puzzled!
tempestsarekind: (where comedy meets romance)
Well, someone clearly needs to write this novel. Or make a film:

'Royal' 17th century dress found under sand off the coast of Texel

(link via Twitter)
tempestsarekind: (martha at the globe)
Black Soldiers in the English Civil War

(Actually contains information about eMod Black communities aside from the Civil War as well, plus some citations)
tempestsarekind: (london flower of cities all)
link via Twitter:

Tower of London staff 'used magic to repel the forces of the Devil'


From the article:

Archaeologists, carrying out survey work in the residence of the Queen’s representative in the Tower, have found dozens of ‘ritual protection’ marks literally burnt into the timber uprights holding up the roof.

Historic Royal Palaces, which run the Tower of London, says that the discoveries are “hugely significant”. It is believed that the marks – 54 in total – were put on the timbers, mostly between the mid-16th and earlier 18th centuries, as a way of trying to magically protect the building from fire and lightning and to repel the forces of the Devil and the spells of witches.
tempestsarekind: (bananas are good)
I now need a movie about lady bartenders during and after WWII. Or a TV series. It would be like Agent Carter, but with more alcohol.


(link via The Toast.)

This is not really related, but I saw in the bookstore the other day that the book had come out in paperback: has anyone else read The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine?

It's a '20s-era retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," and I read it in one sitting.
tempestsarekind: (henry tilney would SO write fanfic)
The Oxford University Press blog delivers again:


[Francis] Barrett gave private tuition on the magical arts, and one of his pupils was a Lincolnshire cunning-man named John Parkins. When this rural magician returned to his home near Grantham he set up a Temple of Wisdom, and began publishing a series of divinatory, herbal and magical texts. In 1812 we find Strange using his magic in the service of Lord Wellington, and that same year Parkins advertised a lamen or talisman for military and naval officers in his Cabinet of Wealth, or the Temple of Wisdom. ‘God Save the King, and Defend this Nation!’ He declared. Parkins’ lamen would ‘not only powerfully protect and defend the British Army and Navy in all those times of the greatest danger, but also give them the most complete victory over all enemies, both foreign and domestic.’

So when you watch the next episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, spare a thought for those very real friends of English magic: Sibly, Barrett, Denley, and Parkins."
tempestsarekind: (dido plus books 2)
The Fortunes of Francis Barber: The True Story of the Jamaican Slave Who Became Samuel Johnson's Heir by Michael Bundock

It came out in March, but somehow I hadn't heard of it...
tempestsarekind: (histories)
I was searching for information about Tudor petticoats on the internet (like you do), and happened upon the fact that Mary Shelley wrote a novel about Perkin Warbeck.

How did I not know this before?

It is apparently available on Project Gutenberg Australia:
tempestsarekind: (bonny kate)
Top ten historical forensic facial reconstructions

This includes the recent reconstruction of Richard III (the one with blond hair), and the reconstruction of Mary, Queen of Scots done from portraits, as well as a rather nice one of a woman from medieval Edinburgh.

Of particular interest here is the "Beachy Head Lady," described as "a sub-Saharan African living in Eastbourne during Roman times." As the article says, "Beachy Head Lady was assumed to be a third century European Roman until experts took a closer look."

And this is precisely why people who talk about "the historical record" as if it is fixed and objective - usually to complain about the inclusion of people of color in media that take place in the European past, because of that terrible specter, "political correctness" - are so frustrating. (Well, there are many reasons; this is one.) The historical record is determined by what is left out and what is assumed, just as by what is there. How many skeletons might there be like this one, but which are still keeping their secrets because historians and archaeologists never considered the possibility that they might have belonged to people of different races?

(With all the caveats necessary when one talks about "race" in other periods, of course.)

And here's a story on the Beachy Head Lady, from the same site:
tempestsarekind: (pilgrimage)
England's medieval immigrants revealed by universities

(link via Twitter.)

And here's the England's Immigrants project itself (linked in the BBC article), described on its website as "a fully-searchable database containing over 64,000 names of people known to have migrated to England during the period of the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death, the Wars of the Roses and the Reformation":
tempestsarekind: (margaret hale does laundry)

I remember reading at least one review of the author's book (The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution by Faramerz Dabhoiwala) that suggested that his claims were too broad, but the article was an interesting read nonetheless.

This is one of those topics that I wrote a research paper or two on in college (one on Charlotte Charke, from whence comes nearly all my knowledge of the eighteenth-century stage; the other on women's "romantic friendships" in nineteenth-century America), in addition to reading the usual Alan Bray and Stephen Orgel that happen to you if you take a class on popular culture in early modern Europe or are interested in Renaissance stage practices (or both!), so I often feel like I have just enough familiarity with this topic to regret how little I actually know about it.

(This is why I never miss grad school - where almost all of my essays were hastily cobbled together attempts at trying to pontificate about a text I'd barely read, and argue with critics I didn't have time to understand about things I didn't even care about much anyway, while doing that for four classes at once - but often wish I could have the experience of college again, where a knowledgable expert sits you down with a carefully chosen reading list, and then you get to do some research at the end of the process, about something you found interesting over the course of the semester. College was fun.)

(NB: I think other people have grad-school experiences that are more about actually learning and attempting to master a subject, instead of the "just go and be brilliant" attitude that dominated my program.)
tempestsarekind: (martha at the globe)
Miranda Kaufmann, whose articles I've linked to a couple of times, has a book called Black Tudors coming out in 2016:

Unlike Imtiaz Habib's book (Black Lives in the English Archives 1500-1677: Imprints of the Invisible), which I found interesting (and helpful when I was doing some research for a professor into some Hollar engravings), this book sounds like it's going to be organized, at least in part, around the specific individuals that Kaufmann has found evidence about. So that's exciting!

And a related link that's still being updated:
The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section - Black and Asian Entries

(from the site: People of African and Asian origin have lived in Britain for at least two thousand years but this aspect of our heritage has been largely forgotten. Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section has launched a project to find Black and Asian Londoners in the records we hold. We invite all our readers to participate and let us know their findings, either in our reading room or by e-mail. So far we have found 550 entries, the earliest in 1573/4 and the latest in 1939.)

I feel like there's an entire novel in one of the earliest entries:

St Botolph Bishopsgate: 25 September 1586, baptism of ‘Elizabeth, a negro child, born white, the mother a negro’ (GL Ms 4515/1) (underlining mine)

But then, I feel that way about a lot of these entries. I may be particularly partial to this one, in part because I love St Andrew Undershaft (I kind of decided once that a character of mine used to go to church there…):

St Andrew Undershaft: 2 February 1688/9, baptism of ‘Grace Man a Blackmore daughter of Peter Man and Mary his wife’ (GL Ms 4107/2 f.136v)
tempestsarekind: (regency house party [s&s])
So, before I get started, here's a review of Belle that I don't like or agree with much:
"In 'Belle,' a complex life tangled in class and commerce"

If you like Jane Austen film adaptations and/or period drama more generally, I think you should go out and see Belle if it's playing near you. And obviously I can't tell anyone what to do, but if this is the kind of thing that interests you, then I think it's worth going out to see it in the theater if that is within your means - voting with your wallet and all that - rather than waiting to catch it on DVD or Netflix. Personally, having done it yesterday*, I think it was very much worth the money, and also, Gugu Mbatha-Raw has the kind of vividly expressive face that is just made for closeups. I thought the whole thing was moving and immersive, with a script that was spare but still containing a real sense of eighteenth-century cadence, and Gugu did a fabulous job.

*I got home yesterday at about ten minutes to six, took my shoes off, ate a spoonful of peanut butter and two dried apricots while I tried to figure out what I was going to make for dinner - and then abruptly remembered that Belle was opening at my local cinema that day. It turned out that there was a 7:05 screening, so I ran back out to catch it. Happily, the theater was mostly full by the time the movie started.

As I sat there waiting for the movie to start, I amused myself by trying to imagine the kinds of ways that people might discount this movie. It was going to be "too much like other period pieces," I imagined, too much like Jane Austen, not big or significant enough to be a worthy film. And sure enough, check out the end of this review:
While the basic outline of Belle's story is real, the filmmakers have invented freely within that outline, and most of what they've invented has the themes and tone of vintage Jane Austen — dowries, deceptions, suitors only some of whom are suitable. This has the effect of making the film feel elegant but a little weightless despite the weighty matters at its center.

Still, it's smartly acted, handsome and well-crafted in a way that'll make it irresistible to the Merchant-Ivory/Masterpiece Theater set — think pride, with a whole lot of prejudice.

Got it in one, guys. (This is literally the first review of the film that I pulled up.) Because you can't tell a story about slavery without showing whips and chains and suffering black bodies; because a film set in drawing rooms can't ever matter as much as one out on the open seas; because apparently the fact that women of color rarely if ever get to be the heroine of Austen-style period dramas has totally escaped this reviewer's notice. (This was in fact the director's point, but whatever.) Because everyone knows there's only one way to talk about race in the movies, and race is always the only thing that could matter to characters of color: how could Dido (the way "Belle" is referred to in the film) be concerned with…finding a husband? That paltry subject? How could she want to find the personal happiness that everyone else might want when there is slavery on the line???

[Here is an interview with the director, Amma Asante, that is *not* tone-deaf and infuriating:
“I wanted to ask the question, ‘Who defines us — society or ourselves?’ ” Asante says. “If society simply sees her as the child of a slave but she feels like the child of an aristocrat, what is the most important predictor of her success?”

I also probably shouldn't be as annoyed as I am about the fact that this review calls Dido a "slave girl" raised in an aristocratic family when the movie tells us in, like, minute two that Dido was born on British soil - and hence not a slave, ever - but I AM, anyway. It's like the desire to fit this movie into the particular expected boxes turned the reviewer selectively deaf. This movie is *so* much about class and status as well, not just about race - it's almost like intersectionality is an actual thing, you guys! One of the major points of the movie - I don't think this was true in actual fact - is that Dido is able to inherit 2000 pounds a year from her father after his death, because he acknowledged her while he was alive, whereas her white cousin was penniless - and that meant that in that ruthless marriage market of the eighteenth century, there were people who would see Dido as the catch, even if they felt they had to "overlook" her color; this is a plot point as well. Dido's great-uncle/adopted father (Lord Mansfield, played by that period-drama stalwart Tom Wilkinson) is terribly angry when his new law student tells Dido about the slavery-ship case that he's struggling with, because as far as he is concerned, slavery should never have to matter to her: she is a Murray, and you are the son of a vicar, how dare you even speak to her! (This is, of course, naive and infantilizing; but the point is that for Lord Mansfield, Dido's color is really not the salient fact in some ways, though of course not all. And the Black servant Mabel highlights this point: she's a servant (not a slave; Dido asks pointed questions about this when they go to the house in London), not because of her color, but because in the 18th-century English aristocratic mind, some people are servants and some people are lords - they have plenty of white servants as well. But it's like there's so little frame of reference for this reviewer to imagine a Black character in a pre-1900 period film who is *not* a slave that this just passed him by.

And I do think that this attitude has ramifications beyond this one film - because there are certain kinds of Black experiences that are considered "authentic," and some that are not, regardless of whether there are actual people who live them (someone on TV - et tu, PBS! - called The Cosby Show less "authentic" than Good Times in a documentary just the other day); because people still think there were basically no Black people in the UK before the 1950s (guess who's still mad at Downton Abbey for importing a Black character from the US instead of challenging that view and finding a character from right there at home? Go on, guess). Et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum. (To say nothing of the continued stupidity of claiming that the concerns that governed women's lives in the past are weightless. How dare you.)

Anyway, you should go see Belle, because Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a delight, and it's got lovely costumes, and it's romantic (because yes, figuring out whom you are going to spend the rest of your life with is a pretty big deal when you can't get a divorce and can't own your own money because you're a gentlewoman and so can't have a job; and even if that weren't the case, people have relationships and therefore stories about those relationships are important), and I cried a bunch of times, and maybe if enough people go see this movie, maybe someday I will get my Benjamin Banneker biopic, or - no disrespect to 12 Years a Slave or the real lives that inspired it - at least some other pre-1900 period drama that isn't about a slave, because I still think it's totally fishy that Hollywood overlooks the many people of color, even in slave-holding societies, who lived in the past and weren't slaves.
tempestsarekind: (martha at the globe)
On people of African descent in England and Europe in the early modern period:

--a Guardian piece from 2012:

--and a link to the above author's website and her other articles, etc. on the subject:


tempestsarekind: (Default)

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