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Showing posts from September, 2011

A Review of The Somnambulist by Essie Fox

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Some secrets are better left buried...'
When seventeen-year old Phoebe Turner visits Wilton's Music Hall to watch her Aunt Cissy performing on stage, she risks the wrath of her mother Maud who marches with the Hallelujah Army, campaigning for all London theatres to close. While there, Phoebe is drawn to a stranger, the enigmatic Nathaniel Samuels who heralds dramatic changes in the lives of all three women. When offered the position of companion to Nathaniel's reclusive wife, Phoebe leaves her life in London's East End for Dinwood Court in Herefordshire - a house that may well be haunted and which holds the darkest of truths. In a gloriously gothic debut, Essie Fox weaves a spellbinding tale of guilt and deception, regret and lost love.
Every heart holds a secret...


The Somnambulist by John Everett Millais, 1871  Millais’ painting was thought by some to be based on Wilkie Collins’ novel, The Woman in White, but others presumed it was inspired by Bellini’s opera, La Sonna…

The Secret Marriage of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and Lettice Knollys

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Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex and Countess of Leicester, was an English noblewoman who was married twice. However, when for her second marriage, she decided to marry her close childhood friend, Elizabeth Tudor's, favorite Robert Dudley, she incurred Elizabeth's hatred. A small price to pay for love, right?
Well, sadly it did not end in happily ever after but let's concentrate on just their union shall we...
*One Interesting Sidenote: Lettice Knollys was a grandniece of Anne Boleyn.

The Secret Marriage
Lettice Knollys married Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester on 21 September 1578 at around seven o'clock in the morning. Only six other people were present at the Earl's country house at Wanstead, Essex; among these were the bride's father and brother, Francis and Richard Knollys, the bridegroom's brother, Ambrose, Earl of Warwick, and his two friends, the Earl of Pembroke and Lord North. The officiating chaplain Humphrey Tyndall later remarked that the bride …

Happy Birthday to Henry VIII's older brother Arthur, Prince of Wales (1486-1503)

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Three Children of K. Henry VII and Elizabeth his Queen. 1. Prince Henry. II. Prince Arthur. III. Ps. Margaret. From the Royal Collection at Kensington Palace. To his Grtace the most noble Thomas, Duke of Leeds, this is most humbly Inscribed by Geo: Vertue.
J.Maubeugius Pinxit cir. MCCCCXCVI. G.Vertue Lond: delin et Sculp. 1748.
Engraving. 570 x 485mm, 22½ x 19". Some wear to edges. Uncut sheet.
Arthur, as heir to the throne takes the centre seat, with his younger brother Henry (later Henry VIII) on the left. On the right is Margaret, grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots.

This engraving is by George Vertue from a no longer extant painting of 1496 that shows the three elder children: Arthur, Henry and Margaret sitting at a table and playing with two apples and some cherries. The picture is ornamented at the top with the portcullis (the Beaufort emblem) surmounted with roses. In reality, Henry had little to do with his older brother, who was educated at Ludlow in the Marches of Wales, …

A Review of Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature By Linda Lear

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Book Synopsis
Beatrix Potter (1866–1943), creator of the immortal Peter Rabbit, is known as an avid writer of comical illustrated letters to friends and as an assertive marketer of her illustrations, and this lively volume also captures her energetic participation in Victorian-era natural history research and conservation. Environmental historian Lear (Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature) relates that, as a child in an upper-middle-class family, Potter sketched flowers, dead animals and live lizards, insects and rodents that she brought home. "Rabbits were caught, tamed, sketched, painted" by young Beatrix and her brother, Bertram. In 1893, while traveling with her pet rabbit, Peter Piper, and seeking unusual fungi with self-taught mycologist Charles McIntosh, Potter jotted an illustrated note "about a disobedient young rabbit called 'Peter' " to an ailing child friend and sketched Peter's nemesis, a McIntosh–look-alike farmer called Mr. McGregor, creatin…

A Review of Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites by Franny Moyle

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2009 UK Cover          2011 US  Cover
BOOK SYNOPSIS In conjunction with a major series for BBC2, this work presents the scandalous saga of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Their Bohemian lifestyle and intertwined love affairs shockingly broke 19th Century class barriers and bent the rules that governed the roles of the sexes. They became defined by love triangles, played out against the austere moral climate of Victorian England; they outraged their contemporaries with their loves, jealousies and betrayals, and they stunned society when their complex moral choices led to madness and suicide, or when their permissive experiments ended in addiction and death. The characters are huge and vivid and remain as compelling today as they were in their own time. The influential critic, writer and artist John Ruskin was their father figure and his apostles included the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the designer William Morris. They drew extraordinary women into their circle. In a move intend…

A Review of Tennyson's Gift by Lynne Truss

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Paperback: 272 pagesPublisher: Harpercollins Pb (May 27, 2010)Language: EnglishISBN-10: 0007355270ISBN-13: 978-0007355273
BOOK SYNOPSIS From the bestselling author of 'Eats Shoots & Leaves', an unexpectedly moving, luminously wise and brilliantly funny novel about a Victorian Poet Laureate. In July 1864, a corner of the Isle of Wight is buzzing with literary and artistic creativity. A morose Tennyson is reciting 'Maud' to empty sofas; the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron is white-washing the roses for visual effect and the mismatched couple, actress Ellen Terry and painter G. F. Watts, are thrown into the company of the remarkable Lorenzo Fowler, the American phrenologist, and his daughter Jessie. Enter mathematician Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll), known to Jessie as the 'fiendish pedagogue', and Lynne Truss's wonderfully imaginative cocktail of Victorian seriousness and riotous farce begins to take flight.


TAKEN FROM LYNNE TRUSS' WEBSITE SHE S…