Karen Bowman - Characters

Corsets & Codpieces
Gorgeous Georgians
There was no ignoring aristocratic ladies' 'high-hair' during the Georgian era. Women fainted from the weight of additional wigs and decorations, ducked under doors to avoid collisions and sat on the floors of coaches due to the scale of it. Many employed 2 lb of whitening powder per 'dressing' simply to maintain their extravagant styles. The epitome of an 'age of elegance', an elaborate hairstyle was of course just another dazzling and impractical creation, along with wide skirts and beauty patches, which became de rigueur for members of aristocratic society.
The Fan - Provider of Privacy, Mystery & Allure
Just as there was a potential secret language inherent in where a face patch was placed, so too the fan was an instrument both of practicality and intrigue. Itself an object of mystery constructed from 'leaves', 'rivets,' 'ribs', 'sticks', 'slips' and 'guardsticks', this moveable work of art was undoubtedly a most important accessory for a wealthy woman in the seventeenth century. Huge quantities of fans were imported into Europe from China by the East India Company from the seventeenth century onwards. For years fixed or paddle fans had been the norm, mostly consisting of feathers set into ornate handles. Indeed, Queen Elizabeth I of England declared that 'the only worthy gift of a queen are fans', though this could well have originated from the Queen having been told that she had very beautiful hands, and holding a fan would emphasise such beauty.
False Calves & Rising Moons
The Regency period saw a woman's waist take an upward turn. Historically the focus of a woman's body, it appeared no longer satisfied with its natural position and so for upward of twenty years was to be located so high under a woman's breasts as to become invisible. No less than a godsend for the Regency woman, she could suddenly enjoy a freedom of dress that her grandmothers could only have dreamed of. Gone were heavy silks and brocades, the swathes of incongruous petticoats and breath-robbing corsets of previous centuries. Dresses 'à la Grecque' evolved from a European preoccupation with all things Greek and Roman and occurred as early as the 1790s, even though the Regency period in English history did not strictly start until 1811. These changes in fashion favoured the natural contours of the body, draping the female form in gauzy, diaphanous fabrics and were inspired by the French Revolution, the concept of 'Enlightenment', freedom, human rights and equality, which were associated with the ancient ideals of Greece and Rome.
Death by Crinoline
There was no more a contentious Victorian fashion, both for the 'fair sex' who wore it and the male population who were forced to accommodate it, than the crinoline. It was described as 'a monster'. Fathers and husbands hated them, politicians tried to legislate against them, Florence Nightingale decried them and employers banned them. It was once suggested the hoop should only be available for 'mature' women, matrons whose movements were less frivolous and so less of a problem for anyone within 6ft of them. There is no doubt that accidents as a direct result of wearing a crinoline were more frequent than with any other garment in history. In addition, it was the only fashion where not only the wearer but also anyone within a short distance of them was at risk of disaster.
Corsets
It was quite astonishing just how many diseases were attributed to tight lacing: head-aches, giddiness, fainting, pain in the eyes, pain and ringing in the ears and bleeding at the nose. In the thorax, despite the displacement of the bones and the injury done to the breast, tight lacing also produced shortness of breath, spitting of blood, consumption, derangement of the circulation, palpitation of the heart and water in the chest. In the abdomen it caused loss of appetite, squeamishness, vomiting of blood, depraved digestion, flatulence, diarrhacolic pains, dropsy and rupture. This could be followed by melancholy, hysteria and many diseases peculiar to the female constitution. It also produced what no self-respecting Victorian woman wanted – a red nose!
The Roaring '20s
The cloche hat was invented by the Parisian milliner and French fashion designer Caroline Reboux in 1908, and it wasn't long before this small, unassuming fashion accessory, along with the dropped-waist dress, became one of the most recognisable shapes of the 1920s. As with many fashions before and since, the Cloche style did not please everyone. On Saturday, 8 August 1925 the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette ran the following warning, citing the modest cloche hat as the latest danger to womankind from articles of clothing when reporting on the death of a young woman knocked down by a motor-bus travelling at four or five miles an hour. 'The hats worn by women these days are as bad as blinkers on a horse', he said. 'Women are completely blinded on one side of their faces. I wonder they do not meet with more fatal accidents.'
Clinched & Pinched
Dior was heavily criticised for his innovation as the amount of fabric required to create a New Look garment was in direct conflict with the rationing that was still in place. With the economic situation in Britain remaining dire, opposition to the New Look was based on 'waste'. With England struggling to get back on its feet after W.WII there was even talk of a law against it. As if that were not enough The New Look also cinched and pinched women back into shapes reminiscent of those of their Victorian if not Georgian grandmothers!
Essex Girls
Elizabeth (Bessie) Blount (c. 1502-1540)

"She was thought for her rare ornaments of nature and education to be the beauty and mistress-piece of her time." Lord Herbert of Cherbury.

Lady Frances Evelyn Maynard - The Socialist Countess of Warwick (1861-1938)

"I was a 'beauty' and only those who were alive then know the magic
that word held for the period. I was physically fit, eighteen, unspoilt,
and I adored dancing."

Mary Boleyn 'La Petite Boullain'

"Kind, sweet natured, pliable, impulsive and easily manipulated - a woman of easy virtue"

Catherine of Breganza (1638 - 1705)

"Her face is not so exactly as to be called a beauty, though her eyes are excellent good, and nothing in her face that in the least degree can disgust one. On the contrary, she hath as much agreeableness in her looks as I ever saw, and if I have any skill in physiognomy, which I think I have, she must be as good a woman as ever was born." King Charles II

Boudicca - A Woman Scorned

"a Briton woman of the royal family and possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women. In stature she was very tall, in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, and her voice was harsh; a great mass of the tawniest hair fell to her hips; around her neck was a large golden necklace and she wore a tunic of divers colours over which a thick mantle was fastened with a brooch. This was her invariable attire." (Cassius Dio)

Lady Emma Hamilton

"Yesterday Lady Hamilton gave a grand dinner, a ball and supper to the fashionables at Southend to which her Ladyship also invited all the naval officers in or near that place in honour of the Hero of the Nile." Chelmsford Chronicle, Friday August 2nd 1805.

Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick (1768 - 1821)

"Pretty face not expressive of softness figure not graceful tolerable teeth but going fair hair and light eyebrows, good bust Vastly happy with her future expectations talks incessantly." (Assessment of Caroline of Brunswick in 1795 by Prince George VI's friend and confidant James Harris, Earl of Malmesbury, in his Diaries and Correspondence.)

Elizabeth 1 - A Lady of Progress

"When it pleaseth her in the summer season to recreate herself abroad, and view the state of the country, every nobleman's house is her palace" (from William Harrison's 'Description of England')

Essex Boys
Henry VII (1457 - 1509)

"Slender but well built and strong; his height above the average, his face cheerful, especially when speaking; his eyes were small and blue." Henry VII in his mid forties

Charles Dickens

"He is young and handsome, has a mellow, beautiful eye, fine brow, and abundant hair" Eyewitness description of Charles Dickens as he appeared at a party given by Judge Walker in Cincinnati, Ohio, in April 1842.

Daniel Defoe

"He is a middle- sized spare man, about forty years old, of a brown complexion, and dark brown coloured hair, but wears a wig, a hooked nose, a sharp chin, grey eyes, and a large mole near his mouth" Description of him when charged with writing a scandalous pamphlet c. 1704

Daniel Mendoza

"Intelligent, charismatic but chaotic"

Dick Turpin (1705 - 1739) and The Essex Gang

"5ft 9ins high, of a brown complexion, very much marked with the Small Pox, his cheek bones broad, his face slimmer towards the bottom, his visage short, pretty upright, and broad about the shoulders." Contemporary account of Richard Turpin.

King Henry VIII

Henry had given the order to build 'Beaulieu' eight months into Katherine's pregnancy hoping beyond hope that she would be delivered of a son.

Laurence Edward Grace Oates

"Oates is splendid with themI do not know what we should do without him." Captain Scottt speaking of Oates and his ability with the expedition horses.

Sir John Hawkwood

Hawkwood, in all his years as a mercenary was not deemed unduly cruel.

share us with a friend
Corsets & Codpieces | Essex Girls | Essex Boys | Home | About the Author | Recent Publications | Characters | Book Me! | Karen's 'Blog | Reviews | Calendar of Events | Photo Gallery | Contact Karen | Links

© Content copyright Amberley Publishing 2017      Terms PrivacyLayout and CMS ©The Village Websmith  contact websmith

Page generated in 0.0055 seconds.