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Queen Victoria’s Visit to France in 1843

By Geri Walton | September 2, 2019

Queen Victoria’s visit to see the King of the French at the Château d’Eu in Normandy on 2 September 1843 made headline news. She was the first British monarch to visit a French monarch since Henry VIII of England visited Francis I of France on the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. Queen…

Elizabeth Farren: The Actress Who Became Lady Derby

By Geri Walton | August 30, 2019

Elizabeth Farren was born on 6 July 1762 to George Farren (a surgeon and apothecary) and his Liverpool wife, Margaret Wright. Farren’s father reportedly began acting around 1755 and was associated with a theatre company around 1763. He was also a hard drinking man, which resulted in his early demise and caused Wright to take…

Jane Austen’s Disabled Brother George Austen

By Geri Walton | August 26, 2019

Jane Austen’s disabled brother George Austen was born on 26 August 1766 at Deane, to George and Cassandra Leigh Austen. George Jr. was their second oldest son and was named for his father. He was baptized immediately after his birth but not christened until Monday, 29 September. His godparents were a Mrs. Cockell of whom…

Black Hole of Calcutta: A 1756 Tragedy

By Geri Walton | August 23, 2019

The Black Hole of Calcutta was a small prison in Fort William, India, and became the site of a tragedy where many British prisoners died on the evening of 20 June 1756. The story began when the Bengal Nawab, Siraj ud-Daulah, succeeded his maternal grandfather as Nawab of Bengal in April 1756 at the age…

George Victor Townley and His Murder of Elizabeth Goodwin

By Geri Walton | August 19, 2019

George Victor Townley murdered 22-year-old Elizabeth (Betsy or Bessie) Goodwin on 21 August 1863. It was a passion-filled murder where he stabbed her several times because she broke off their engagement. It was also one more story in a long line of horrid stories and would have been a perfect tableau for Madame Tussaud‘s Chamber…

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…