How many of us read the epic Old English poem, Beowulf (in translation, of course), when we were in high school or college? If, like me, you found it rather slow going, you now have yet another reason to wish to be transported back to the Regency. No one, except a handful of scholars, had any idea of the existence of this epic poem at that time. Even when the first transcription and translation of Beowulf was finally published, during the Regency, it was not printed in England, or in English. Perhaps fittingly, since British bombardment nearly prevented the first translation from ever being completed. Or did it?
How Beowulf first got to press . . .
And a key member of the "Sebastian Squad."
Very few people today are aware of Vincent Novello, despite the fact that the company he founded, in the first year of the Regency, is still in business today. Novello was an organist, choirmaster, music teacher, composer and conductor (even before the term came into wide use), as well as a collector, editor and publisher of music. In addition to his deep love of music, he had a keen interest in the literary arts. He was a good friend to a number of prominent writers and poets of the Regency period, who frequently gathered at his home. Added to all that, he was a devoted family man and a genuinely good guy.
Backgammon is a board or "table" game which has roots going back to ancient times. In fact, most scholars believe it even pre-dates chess, and is the oldest known board game. The game was certainly known in England during the Regency, but the more important question is, was it played during that decade? And, if it was, who were the people most likely to play it? Regency authors may want to know the facts in order to ensure that, should they introduce a game or two of backgammon into a story, they do so with historical accuracy.
A brief look at backgammon up to the Regency . . .
Recently, I was given a book by a friend who is well aware of my dual interests in needlework and the Regency. The book is Needlework Patterns in the Era of Jane Austen, by Jody Gayle. I was completely unaware of this book until I removed the wrapping paper. Since it was just published this year, I suspect other needlewomen and Regency aficionados may not yet know about this book, either. Therefore, I thought I would take this opportunity to review it.
My thoughts on Needlework Patterns in the Era of Jane Austen . . .
Last week, we left Napoleon Bonaparte and Captain Maitland on board the Bellerophon, anchored off Torbay in Plymouth Sound. While boatloads of people were ferried out to the vicinity of the ship to get a glimpse of the former French Emperor, the ministers of the British government were busy trying to find a legal means by which they could put away "The Great Disturber of the Peace" for good. In the end, they were able to accomplish their goal, with a combination of special legal rulings and the cagey tactics of those who held Bonaparte in custody.
Bonaparte’s last days on the Bellerophon . . .
Rather ironically, Napoleon Bonaparte spent his last day and night in France on Friday, 14 July 1815, the twenty-sixth anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris. Known in France as Fête nationale (French National Day) or simply as Quatorze juillet (The Fourteenth of July), it is usually celebrated with fireworks and parades, similar to the 4th of July, or Independence Day in the United States. Though Napoleon did not participate in any celebrations on that day, it was to be the last day of liberty he would ever enjoy. The following day, he stepped aboard HMS Bellerophon and quite literally into the custody of Britain. He would remain in their custody for the rest of his life.
Bonaparte on the Bellerophon . . .
Two hundred years ago, this coming Monday, while still in France, Napoleon Bonaparte wrote a letter to the Prince of Wales. Though that letter has often been referred to since then as Napoleon’s letter of surrender, the erstwhile Emperor of the French considered it no such thing. In his mind, he was simply requesting asylum, as much from those who had taken control of the French government, as he was from the Allied leaders. He considered the English the most honorable and trustworthy of his enemies. He was soon to be proven wrong, but that is a story for next week.
The odyssey of Boney’s letter to Prinny . . .