Friday, 31 July 2009

New Doctor

The Bluestocking commends the tweediness and general chappishness of the new Doctor Who, but we are not too sure about the bow-tie. There are so many elegant and suitably retro choices of neckwear, that one would think that something rather more original than the slightly weedy looking bow-tie sported by Mr Smith could have been chosen. Of course the tweed jacket, being hard-wearing and reasonably impervious to stains, is an excellent choice for slumming it around the universe and mixing with all those grubby aliens. But I do feel he should have chosen brown shoes to go with the brown tweed. Surely Doctor Marten's practical footwear is available in brown? Indeed, I have just checked on Mr Google's patent search machine, and they have a marvellous colour called Peat - very appropriate to accompany tweed.

In a spirit of constructive criticism, may I refer our esteemed Broadcasting Corporation to the gentleman's guide to the tying of ties, from which they could have chosen a Windsor Knot, a Half-Winsor, a Pratt-Shelby or a Four-in-Hand.

Ladies (and gentlemen of a transgender persuasion) may be interested in this scarf-tying guide.

Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes was an intrepid lady traveller who journeyed through the island of Britain in the late seventeenth century. She was also the ancestor of the explorer Ranulph Fiennes, and numerous other famous scions of the house of Fiennes.
Fiennes never married and in 1691 she moved to London, where she had a married sister. She travelled around England on horseback between 1684 and c.1703, "to regain my health by variety and change of aire and exercise" (Journeys). At this time the idea of travel for its own sake was still quite novel, and Fiennes was exceptional as an enthusiastic woman traveller. Sometimes she travelled with relatives, but she made her "Great Journey to Newcastle and Cornwall" of 1698 accompanied only by one or two servants. Her travels continued intermittently until at least 1712 and took her to every county in England.
A Vision of Britain Through Time has excerpts from her books:
I went to see Hampton Court 10 mile from London; it looks Like a little town ye buildings runn so great a Length on yeground, Ye old buildings and ye New part wch King William and Queen Mary built. Ye Queen took Great delight in it. Ye new was but just ye shell up and some of ye Roomes of State Ceil'd but nothing ffinished. The roomes were very Lofty, round a Large Court and all the appartments intire. The old buildings were on the other side the priory Garden: there was the water Gallery that opened into a ballcony to ye water, and was decked with China and ffine pictures of ye Court Ladyes drawn by Nellor. Beyond this came severall Roomes, and one was pretty Large, at ye four Corners were little roomes like Closets or drawing roomes, one pannell'd all wth jappan, another wth Looking Glass, and two wth fine work under pannells of Glass. There was the queens Bath and a place to take boat in the house. The Gardens were designed to be very ffine, Great fountaines and Grass plotts and gravell walkes, and just against the middle of ye house was a very large fountaine, and beyond it a large Cannal Guarded by rows of Even trees that runn a good way. There was fine Carving in the Iron Gates in the Gardens wth all sorts of ffigures, and Iron spikes Round on a breast wall and severall Rows of trees.
Her style is somewhat breathless but has a charm all its own.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Happy birthday

Kate BushEmily Brontë
... to Kate Bush and Emily Brontë, two eminent bluestockings who share the same birthday, July 30th. This was one of the things that apparently inspired Ms Bush to write the song Wuthering Heights, based on Miss Brontë's eponymous novel.

Monday, 13 July 2009

The Ladies of Llangollen

I just found out about these two lovely ladies, who were intellectuals and very close friends.
The Ladies of Llangollen were two upper-class Anglo-Irish women whose relationship scandalised and fascinated their contemporaries. The Ladies are interesting today as an example of historical romantic friendship (and some would argue lesbianism).

Lady Eleanor Butler (1739–1829) was considered an over-educated bookworm by her family, who occupied Kilkenny Castle. She spoke French and was educated in a convent in France. Her mother tried to make her join a convent because she was becoming a spinster.

The Honourable Sarah Ponsonby (1755–1832) lived with relatives in Woodstock, Ireland. She was a second cousin of Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl of Bessborough, and thus a "second-cousin-once-removed" of his daughter the Lady Caroline Lamb.

Apparently they had a lapdog called Sappho. They lived at Plas Newydd, and their friends included Robert Southey, Wordsworth, Shelley, Byron and Scott, but also the Duke of Wellington; industrialist Josiah Wedgwood; and aristocratic novelist Caroline Lamb.