I just got this book from the library, “Inventing the Victorians: What We Think We Know About Them and Why We’re Wrong,” by Matthew Sweet. For some reason, it’s super-cheap at Barnes and Noble – wondering if that’s a warning sign. I’m going to give it a go anyway. I’m hoping it will give some new material to post on here! Anyone read it?
This one might be controversial. I think this guy has what it takes to be a Victorian Hottie, but others might disagree. I will admit, he’s no Hermann Rorschach, but I think he looks a bit like Benedict Cumberbatch and that has swayed me. This is George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom under Queen Victoria from 1852 to 1855. Before becoming Prime Minister, one of the many offices he held was that of Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Austria. Ambassador Extraordinary sounds like a superhero name.
Richard III is practically a rock star these days, what with the discovery of his skeleton and recreation of his visage. So that got me thinking, could I even tell Richard III apart from a rock star? Since “Dracula or David Bowie?” turned out so well, I decided to give it a go. For each image, guess if the image is a depiction of Richard III (in a movie or play) or if it is a rock star.
Who is rocking the page boy? Richard III or a rockstar?
That’s not Richard III, it’s Davy Jones from the Monkees!
How about this guy? Rock star or King of England?
Psych out! He may look like a rocker, but he’s an evil, murderous monarch! (I promise, this is Richard III from a 2012 production at the Globe).
How about this guy?
Alright, I think that one was too easy. It’s Kevin Spacey as Richard III. But those sunglasses make him LOOK like a rock star!
Here’s a very regal looking personage – King of England or King of ROCK?
His band may have a regal name, but that’s no Richard – it’s the great Freddie Mercury looking fantastic.
I think the keyboard throne gives this one away. It’s Elton John!
Oh, snap! Elton John again. I could probably do this whole post just with pictures of Elton John.
Ok, you can do this. Just a few more. Who is this, Richard or rock star?
Despite the anachronistic remote control scepter, it’s Richard III again!
Ok, last one. Who is this?
Thanks for playing!
There are so many amazing and beautiful works of art and craft on Etsy that I could spend hours just browsing, but every once in a while I come across a particular artisan that I just have to share with everyone I can. Today, I am bringing you one of those shops, Jezebel Charms.
This shop has creative and unique “literary jewelry.” Her earrings, necklaces, and cuff bracelets feature quotes from great works of literature by some of the Vicky A’s favorite authors.
Like Edgar Allan Poe,
One of my faves, Jules Verne,
Plus one of Heather’s faves, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
But possibly my favorite item is this one because it is true:
This is the perfect shop for the literary nerd, the Victorian nerd, or the Victorian literary nerd, so go check it out!
Valentine’s Day, while meant to celebrate love and togetherness, can be a divisive and uncomfortable holiday, full of pain and sober reflection. We here at the Vicky A’s wish all the love in the world to our fantastic readers and would like to gift you all with Valentines. Vinegar Valentines.
Vinegar Valentines were created around 1840 in America and had quite the run in popularity throughout the Victorian Era and culminating in the 1940’s and 1950’s. As described, they are the antithesis of the Valentine’s cards that we normally give out today and are more akin to hate mail. They would appear as short poems or unfortunate personal descriptions of the receiver, be they an old maid, a vain rooster, a dandy, a loose woman, etc. Who came up with the idea of trolling someone on Valentine’s Day? Only the Victorian’s, people. Unfortunately, some of them could get REALLY really hateful; too hateful even for me to post (I found one that basically told the receiver that they were such a loser they should go hang themselves and the image featured a rope around the individuals neck!! And we feel that bullying is so much worse these days?). So, here are a few of the more wacky and amusing ones.
From Wikipedia: “The unflattering cards reportedly created a stir throughout all social levels, sometimes provoking fistfights and arguments. Ironically, the receiver, not the sender, was responsible for the cost of postage up until the 1840s. A person in those days paid for the privilege of being insulted by an often anonymous “admirer.” Millions of vinegar valentines, with verses that insulted a person’s looks, intelligence, or occupation, were sold between the 19th and 20th centuries.”
It’s a horribly mean-spirited trend but you must admit, it’s also pretty outrageous and hilarious in the fact that the whole idea IS so outrageous, a caricature and bastardization of a holiday about love. It also seems to disparage men and women rather equally. Yay, I guess?
This one is a personal favorite.
Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers! Let not this day lead you to fisticuffs and may your day be full of honey and warmth rather than vinegar. XOXO
I love doing Mad-Libs. Whenever I go on a trip, I take a book with me to do with friends or family. When I tire of the ones in the book, I write my own, generally starring people I am with and sounding suspiciously like the trip we are on. I am now adapting my mad (lib) skills to classic works of literature. Here’s a lighter take on one of the Regency period’s most depressing and tragic novels, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Captain Walton, while <verb-ing> to the North Pole, becomes trapped in the <noun>. He soon encounters a(n) <adj> man who is near death traveling on the ice. His name is Victor Frankenstein. Victor <verb – present tense> to Captain Walton, explaining his <adj> story. As a young <noun>, Victor studies <subject> and becomes obsessed with discovering the secret of <noun>. After spending <number> years in <adj> study, he finally makes a great discovery. He then <adv> begins to <verb> a creature out of <noun-plural>. One <adj> night, he succeeds in bringing the creature to life. He names it <person’s name>. Victor is so horrified by his deed that he <verb-present tense> all over town before <verb-ing> back home to find the creature gone.
The monster <verb-present tense> Victor’s younger brother, causing a <adj> woman to be executed for the murder. The monster then finds Victor and begs him to create a <noun> for him. Victor is <adj>, but he agrees to do it anyway. He later chickens out and puts the <noun> in a <noun>, but the monster finds out and kills Victor’s friend Henry for vengeance and promises to be with Victor on his wedding night, but not in a sexy way. Now Victor is <verb-ing> big time. He <adv> <verb-present tense> Elizabeth anyway, and of course, the monster kills her and then Victor’s dad dies of grief. Things are going really well. Victor vows to <verb> the monster and is picked up by Capt. Walton in the process. Finally, Victor dies of <disease>, and the monster, who is very <adj>, goes off to die, too.
And here’s how Heather filled in the blanks after being given just the word cues.
Captain Walton, while CLIMBING to the North Pole, becomes trapped in the HAGGIS. He soon encounters a(n) BLUE man who is near death traveling on the ice. His name is Victor Frankenstein. Victor SEDATES Captain Walton, explaining his SULTRY story. As a young RACQUET, Victor studies ORGANIC CHEMISTRY and becomes obsessed with discovering the secret of FROG. After spending NINE years in WARM study, he finally makes a great discovery. He then DESPAIRINGLY begins to DRIVE a creature out of WATERFALLS. One SPECKLED night, he succeeds in bringing the creature to life. He names it MR. GOLD. Victor is so horrified by his deed that he CRIES all over town before CROCHETING back home to find the creature gone.
The monster FORGETS Victor’s younger brother, causing a MUSHY woman to be executed for the murder. The monster then finds Victor and begs him to create a CUPCAKE for him. Victor is OBEDIENT, but he agrees to do it anyway. He later chickens out and puts the RIFLE in a TEACUP, but the monster finds out and kills Victor’s friend Henry for vengeance and promises to be with Victor on his wedding night, but not in a sexy way. Now Victor is FISHING big time. He HOTLY SCHEMES Elizabeth anyway, and of course, the monster kills her and then Victor’s dad dies of grief. Things are going really well. Victor vows to SWING the monster and is picked up by Capt. Walton in the process. Finally, Victor dies of CHLAMYDIA, and the monster, who is very GREASY, goes off to die, too.
Today I found myself in an odious mood, a mood that normally lends itself to loud noises, breaking things, and severe indigestion. I stress-ate a bit (pepperoni and mushroom pizza, breakfast of champions), lifted some heavy free weights, and still felt the need to cave in someone’s face…which brings me to today’s topic: pugilism in the Victorian Era.
Fighting was common in the early 19th century, and was relatively unregulated, brutal, and horribly bloody. Matches were fought on dirt in and between villages with untrained amateurs or with professionals in rings with well dressed spectators. Most of our assumptions and impressions of “old timey bare-knuckle boxing matches” are largely correct: grimy venues with spectacularly mustachioed men with fists of iron and a thirst for the other man’s blood.
This is James “The Gypsy” Mace a.k.a Jem Mace, English boxing champion who competed well into his late 70’s. He was considered by many to be the most scientific pugilist alive and had a career that spanned more than 35 years. Apparently, he was also a skillful violinist who was looking to pursue a career in music until “the trashing of his violin by three thugs in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and his subsequent thrashing [of] them led [him] to the ring.”
(I want you all to pause for a brief moment to ponder that glorious bit of information before we continue on. Sip it like a fine wine and let it linger in your mind.)
Boxing as a sport was on the downtrend before the Queensbury Rules came into effect in 1867 in an effort to bring some order into the chaos of the ring, marking the transition away from the brutality of bare-knuckle boxing (also known as prizefighting or fisticuffs. FISTICUFFS.), once so popular in England in the 18th century but now outlawed and consigned to unsavory, underground areas and gambling venues. These rules included many guidelines that would form the basis for modern boxing, such as timing of and between rounds, codes of conduct in and outside the ring, and the banning of any wrestling moves from the action. To quote Wikipedia on the subject, “[t]his version persuaded boxers that “you must not fight simply to win; no holds barred is not the way; you must win by the rules” (17, sect. 5, pt. 1).” These were also the first rules to mention gloves in boxing, which would replace bare-knuckle combat in the last decades of Victoria’s reign. This would change the very nature of the sport, the size of the gloves easily lending itself to improved defense and parrying, which in turn led to longer bouts that emphasized long-term strategy and the stamina of the fighter over the short-term power of a single blow.
After 1866, prizefighting was outlawed in England and any athlete caught red-handed (SORRY NOT SORRY) was liable for arrest and prosecution. This led many boxers to head to the States to find their glory against fine fellows such as this.
This is John L. Sullivan, known as the Boston Strong Boy, the first heavyweight champion of gloved boxing and in 1889, the last heavyweight champion of bare-knuckle boxing under the London Prize Ring Rules of 1838. The fight lasted 75 rounds and in the end, John stood victorious over Jake Kilrain. A sports reporter in 1890 once spoke of him thusly: “Sullivan is a marvel of strength, skill, and agility. If there is another man on earth who is equal, certain it is that that man has never been publicly known. The force with which he delivers a blow is simply appalling to ordinary people. There is nothing comparable to it…his motions resemble those of a tiger in the act of springing on its prey. No ordinary man has any chance at all before him, and it is idle, foolish, to talk otherwise.”
Just because, this is his opponent, Jake Kilrain. He’s a bit of a dish. Suffice to say…I’d hit it.
After years of struggling for legitimacy, glove-boxing increased in popularity as more sanctions and rules were put into place to regulate the sport and establish universal champions. It survived the prohibition of the late 19th century and has endured to this day. Before you float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, you’d better thank these fine gents first; modern boxing owes everything to these pioneer athletes and those enthusiasts who created the rules that transformed and regulated the sport.