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Jane Austen and Bath: Her Time There

By Geri Walton | August 16, 2019

Jane Austen and Bath have long been associated with one another partly because it was her home from 1801 to 1806. It was also about 116 miles west of London, and unrivalled as the head of English water places. At the time the Austen family moved there it was a thriving and vibrant spa town…

Biddy Mason: Californian Real Estate Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

By Geri Walton | August 12, 2019

Biddy Mason was born the same year that Madame Récamier’s friendship with François-René de Chateaubriand became intimate. But unlike Madame Récamier, Bridget, as she was named at birth, was not a French socialite. In fact, she was an African-American born into slavery on 15 August 1818. Exactly where she was born is unknown but various…

Hair Powder: History of Its Popularity and Unpopularity

By Geri Walton | August 9, 2019

Hair powder was at one time used as an ornament for powdering a person’s hair or wig. It was sometimes perfumed and generally made from pulverized starch or Cyprus powder, although the poor classes were known to use flour. In addition, according to Chambers’s Encyclopaedia, the idea for hair powder was initiated in France:

Jane Leigh-Perrot: The Arrest of Jane Austen’s Aunt

By Geri Walton | August 5, 2019

On Wednesday, 7 August 1799 Jane Austen’s maternal Aunt, Jane Leigh-Perrot, described as a pale, thin, fine-featured lady with a melancholy expression, went to a haberdashery and milliner’s shop at Bath and Stall Streets. It was being managed by Elizabeth Gregory, sister-in-law to a man named Smith, who had owned the shop. He had separated…

Pierre Charles L’Enfant Revolutionary Architect and Washington, D.C. Planner

By Geri Walton | August 2, 2019

Pierre Charles L’Enfant was a military engineer born in Paris on 2 August 1754 to Pierre L’Enfant, a painter who served King Louis XV, and Marie L’Enfant, the daughter of a minor court official. After his older brother died at the age of six, L’Enfant was sent to study art at the Royal Academy in…

Wardian Cases: The First Early Terrariums for Plants

By Geri Walton | July 29, 2019

Wardian cases were an early type of terrarium that were sealed protective containers for plants. They were created by Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, an English doctor, after he noticed the effects of hermetically sealed glass containers in 1829. Of his discovery he wrote:

John Muir America’s Preeminent Naturalist

By Geri Walton | July 26, 2019

John Muir, America’s preeminent naturalist, is also known as “John of the Mountains” and “Father of the National Parks.” He was an influential Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States of America. He was born in Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland to Daniel Muir and Ann Gilrye on…

Ladies of Llangollen: Life on Their Terms

By Geri Walton | July 22, 2019

Despite living in a time where the fate of women was to find a husband and marry, Eleanor Charlotte Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, known as the “Ladies of Llangollen,” decided to live a life based on their terms. Their story begins with Butler and Ponsonby living about 15 miles from each other and meeting for…

The Elgin Marbles or the Parthenon Marbles

By Geri Walton | July 19, 2019

The Elgin Marbles, also known as the Parthenon Marbles, are a collection of Classical Greek marble sculptures made by Greek sculptor, painter, and architect Phidias in 400 BC. They were originally part of the Parthenon and other buildings erected on the Acropolis of Athens. However, between 1801 and 1812, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin…

Jane Austen: Her Family, Her Life, and Her Story

By Geri Walton | July 15, 2019

Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 at the Steventon rectory to the Reverend George Austen and his wife Cassandra Leigh. Her life would be short for she was just 41 years old when she died in Winchester on 18 July 1817. However, her accomplishments would be long remembered.