I was researching an old book by E Beresford Chancellor (trying to find if anyone had read it before I spend money buying a copy) when I came across a new book out this year (I’ll have to get) titled “Literary Celebrity, Gender, and Victorian Authorship, 1850–1914” by Alexis Easley about literary tourism in the Victorian age and how that affected the wider culture. The page that popped up mentioned a poet named Christina Rossetti. My brain came to a stop as it tried to compute a female name before Rossetti (the famous painter Dante Gabriel who apparently was also a poet – I missed that somehow, but then he’s not one of my favorite artists). I had no idea he had a sister who was a famous poet. Being a curious wench, I had to look up her work. It’s very Victorian! For all curious people who love glimpses into the forgotten past I highly recommend her poem A Bird’s Eye View. I imagine the author (an aging spinster dressed in black silk – the stiff bombazine sighing with every slight movement) sat in some room made dark by heavy blood red velvet curtains half drawn; her corset holding her so rigidly straight only her head can bend down over the small desk holding her paper and ink well. How could she not write depressing poetry with a neck ache?
I’m now off to read more!
Today I’ve been researching England’s Holy Wells (you never know where the curse of curiosity will lead or what insanities it will breed) and I came across a text by a R.R. Rawlins written in the year 1823 titled; On the Ancient Custom of Decorating Wells with Flowers etc. In capturing a custom, Rawlins unwittingly captures a moment in the lives of ordinary people. As I was reading his descriptions of making the floral decorations I stopped and thought about the men and women who, after exhausting daily chores, gathered flowers and constructed these elaborate decorations for their local Holy Wells. The time and energy that went into creating these decorations must have been considerable. Rawlins was some sort of churchman so there’s a religious flavor to his reminisces, but that too is very Regency.
This event was a big deal; his text closes with, “The day concluded by the visitors partaking of the hospitality of the inhabitants, and being gratified with a well-arranged band, playing appropriate pieces of music at each other’s houses; and had the day been more favourable, and free from rain, a greater attendance at Church and the Wells would have been witnessed.”
It’s only three pages long. I highly recommend reading all three pages to get the full flavor (he starts out with a brief history of May Day), but if you just want to read about Holy Wells…start the fifth paragraph down where it reads: “The flowers used on this day…’
If you’re curious and want to read more about Holy Wells I found this page fascinating.
History Notes, Regency Notes
Morning sunlight is burning through a passing patchy blanket of clouds. My corner of England is forecast rain later today. I haven’t decided whether I should return my library books or wait another day. I suspect in either case it will rain. Hello November! The perfect day for ‘November Skies’ (by the Danish artist Tomas Barfod). I LOVE this song (listen till the lady starts singing before deciding whether you’ll like it or not – there’s something about the layers of sound – it makes me feel like I’m snuggled up inside where it’s warm while the rain lashes the windows. Lovely!