Literary Links

September/October 1998


Good News and Announcements

Literary Liaisons, Ltd. has earned a bronze award for web design from the Team Creations web site and staff. Check out the personalized award on our index page! Our thanks to Team Creations for this honor.

Literary Liaisons, Ltd. President, Michelle Hoppe, is pleased to announce that she placed second in the first annual Lover's Knot contest sponsored by Neighborhood Press. She placed in the Long Historical category with her manuscript TEMPTING FATE.

October 2 to October 4--Love Designers Writer's Club, publisher of Rendezvous review magazine, is hosting their annual conference, Autumn Authors' Affair XV in Schaumburg, IL, near Chicago. For more information, e-mail me at


New On Literary Liaisons

There are many new additions to Literary Liaisons. After reading about them below, check them out on the web site.



Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
The Confederate Privateers by William Morrison Robinson, Jr.
Lifeline of the Confederacy: Blockade Running During the Civil War
by Stephen R Wise
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain
An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, alias Pvt. Lyons Wakeman by Sarah Rosetta Wakeman by Gary Gach


Various titles by Alexandre Dumas 

Featured Title

Life at the Court of Queen Victoria edited by Barry St-John Nevill 

RWA Chapters On-line

Austin Romance Writers of America
Mid-West Fiction Writers
Northern Arizona Romance Writers of America
Romance Writers of West Texas

Researching the Romance

Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
The Confederate Privateers by William Morrison Robinson, Jr.
Lifeline of the Confederacy: Blockade Running During the Civil War
by Stephen R Wise
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain
An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, alias Pvt. Lyons Wakeman by Sarah Rosetta Wakeman by Gary Gach

Writers' Resources

Britannia History--This history section of the Britannia site includes a look at documents that shaped history--timelines, bios of monarchs and much more.
The Discovery Channel--The online site for the acclaimed television channel
Dreams Unlimited--Electronic Publisher
Hard Shell Word Factory--Electronic Publisher
Jessamyn's Regency Costume Companion--Small but detailed site with graphics and descriptions of Regency costume
New Concepts Publishing--Electronic Publisher
Petals of Life--Electronic Publisher
St. Rose Press--A showcase for new authors, viewed by publishers, agents and other writers
The U.S. Civil War Center--An index of Civil War Information available on the Internet, maintained by Louisiana State University
United States Copyright Office--The official site of the copyright office, maintained by the Library of Congress
Xlibris (Book-on-demand publishers)


Feature Article 

A Tour of the Ballroom
By Michelle J. Hoppe

Ballroom. The very word conjures up images of breathtaking gowns, musical strains and twirling couples. But ballrooms were more than just places to dance the quadrille. There, one could further a career, make an advantageous match or advance in Society.

At the beginning of the 19th century, most ballroom dancing was done in public assembly rooms such as Almack's in Bath. But assemblies were not only places to dance. They defined who 'Society' was and who was not. One could be refined, well-mannered and praiseworthy, but unless one received invitations to and attended Almack's or a similar hall, one was not a member of 'Society'.

As the century wore on and the aristocracy began building houses with large ballrooms, private dances became the norm. By the 1840s, assembly rooms had lost their popularity.

Hosting a ball was every society matron's dream and nightmare. Just to be able to hold an affair of that size was something to be proud of. The key, however, was to attract guests of social importance and standing. During the season, it wasn't unusual for three or four balls to be running at the same time. Because the less important affairs were attended early on in the evening, an anxious hostess hoped her guests would arrive late and stay through the night.

Invitations went out three to six weeks before the event. In preparation, ballrooms should be cleaned, aired and well lit, and the floor should be polished.

In addition to the dancing area, a hostess provided a refreshment or supper room, preferably on the same floor as the dancing so the ladies did not have to take the stairs. There was also a cloak room with one or two maids in attendance for the ladies, and a hat room for the gentlemen. And if space allowed, a card room was set up for the older guests who didn't join in the dancing. Dance cards were distributed to the ladies in the cloak room, with a list of dances on one side of the card, and blank lines on the other for partners to pencil in their names.

If one's rooms were large, guests could mingle and dance comfortably. For smaller houses, however, hostesses sometimes had to revert to 'crushes', whereby as many people as possible squeezed into rooms to socialize. Dancing, of course, was impossible. Yet the parties as such existed, and people attended.

The three mainstays of a ball were the quadrille, the polka and the waltz, or valse. By mid-century, every ball opened with a quadrille. The quadrille was a group dance with a series of figures performed without changes. More active during the Regency era, the quadrille slowed to a walk by mid-century. It was not good for conversation between dancers, however, as partners kept changing within small groups of eight.

The waltz, or valse, was the biggest revolution in Western social dancing in the late 18th century. First of all, it did not require a group formation. There were two people dancing alone, without the audience of the group formation. One can imagine the critics to such a scandalous idea. Popular etiquette manuals of the day claimed that unmarried ladies should never dance the waltz, and young married ladies should only dance the waltz at private balls. Even then, a woman should dance only with a family member or close friend.

A second criticism of the waltz was its moves. They were deemed dangerous for a female's 'delicate' constitution, the rotary motion possibly causing injury to the brain and spinal marrow. Considering that the waltz was danced turning clockwise as partners while traveling counterclockwise on the floor, it is no wonder there were cases of vertigo. But when Queen Victoria took to dancing the waltz, for which she apparently had a strong enough constitution, the stamp of approval was put on the dance, and it became a mainstay at balls.

The polka or galop was the last of the required dances. Like the waltz, it was danced as a partnership of two. It was faster than the waltz, but without the continual spinning. There was no stamping of the heels or toes as we know the polka today, however. The practice was considered 'Bohemian' and not performed in the salons of Paris or London.

After the opening quadrille, fourteen waltzes, galops or polkas were played, then there was a break for supper. Another ten or so dances would follow the supper. A fancy ball did not end until at least one in the morning.

Etiquette followed an English lady throughout her life--from birth to death, from private to public, she was constantly reminded of the rules of social conduct. The ballroom was no exception.

A lady could not accept an invitation to dance with a gentleman unless she knew him. A chaperone or friend had to introduce them first. The first dancers of the evening were the hostess, or her daughter, and the gentleman of highest rank present. At the beginning of a dance, the gentleman would bow to his partner, and the lady curtsey. Early in the century, a gentleman would take his partner for a walk around the room after the dance ended. He would offer her refreshment, and if she desired some, would retrieve it for her. When the supper break came, the gentleman who had been dancing with the lady would offer to take her in to eat.

Finally, gentlemen, too, had rules to follow in the ballroom. First and foremost, if they attended a ball, they should dance. They should not sit idling while ladies were waiting for an invitation.

The ballroom, as we can see, was an important part of a woman's life. For while men held seats in parliament and governed the world, it was a woman's destiny to charm and influence them. It seems as much as things have changed, they've stayed the same. 

For more information on ballroom dancing in the 19th century, I suggest the following references:

From the Ballroom to Hell: Grace and Folly in Nineteenth-Century Dance by Elizabeth Aldrich, 1991, Northwestern University Press. ISBN#0810109131

Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England--From 1811-1901 by Kristine Hughes, 1998, Writer's Digest Books. ISBN#0898798124

Both are available for purchase in the Literary Liaisons bookstore in the non-fiction section.

(Michelle J. Hoppe, 1997 Golden Heart Finalist, is webmaster for Chicago-North RWA and President of Literary Liaisons, Ltd.)


Editor's Note

This month we're featuring some new and different sites on our on-line resources page. We're expanding to include new publishers, both electronic and on-demand. In this ever-tightening market, it is more important than ever to investigate alternative avenues of publishing. So we've listed a few here for you. Like any other publisher, however, take the time to study their guidelines and read their books. Your chances are better the more knowledge you have. Happy hunting and good luck in your publishing quest!


FAQ Column

Q: A newsletter subscriber recently asked if there was a web site that listed up-coming writing contests for the RWA chapters listed.

A: For contests, check out Heart Realm at Then, on the main page, click on "Non-HeartRealm contests". It lists RWA-sponsored contests by deadline date.


Historical Calendar of Events


Elihu Root, American statesman
King Louis II of Bavaria

Andrew Jackson, 7th U.S. President

March 3--Florida becomes the 27th state.
March 28--Mexico severs relations with the United States following Senate ratification of a treaty to annex Texas.
July 4--The Republic of Texas is annexed to the United States over Mexican objections.
December 29--Texas becomes the 28th state.
James K. Polk is inaugurated as 11th President of the U.S.
Portland is founded in Oregon Territory near the junction of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
Diplomats renew the 49th parallel as the boundary between Oregon and British territory.
The first Tuesday following the first Monday in November is established by Congress as election day for electors of presidents and vice presidents.
Richard Cobden and John Bright at Manchester lead a wide-scale agitation against the Corn Laws that prevent free imports of grain following the English potato famine.
The Maori rise against British rule in New Zealand.
The Anglo-Sikh War begins in India as British forces set out to conquer Kashmir and the Punjab.
Thomas Carlyle publishes "Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches".
Friedrich Engels publishes "The Condition of the Working Class in England".

The Arts
Balzac begins "Les Paysans".
Benjamin Disraeli publishes Sybil, or The Two Nations.
Dumas pere publishes Vingt ans apres, or Twenty Years After, the sequel to The Three Musketeers.
Alexandre Dumas publishes Le Comte de Monte-Cristo.
Prosper Merimee writes "Carmen".
Edgar Allan Poe publishes "The Raven and Other Poems" and Tales. Also, "The Purloined Letter" appears in The Gift.
Charles Dickens publishes The Cricket on the Hearth.
The Police Gazette begins publication. This weekly U.S. scandal sheet carries lurid illustrations.
Feminist Margaret Fuller publishes Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Her work for the New York Tribune has made her the leading U.S. critic.
August 28--Scientific American begins publication at New York in a newspaper format.
October 19--Tännhauser is performed at Dresden, with music and libretto by Richard Wagner who has based it on legends of a medieval German knight-minstrel who died in 1270.

Daily Life
Knickerbocker Baseball Club codifies the rules of baseball.
The U.S. Naval Academy opens at Annapolis, Maryland.
The Oxford-Cambridge boat race is transferred from Henly-on-Thames to Putney.
Baylor University, the first Baptist college in Texas, obtains a charter.
Belfast's Queen's College is founded by the British government for the education of Ulstermen who do not belong to the Church of England.
Potato crops fail throughout Europe, Britain, and Ireland as the fungus disease Phytophthora infestans rots potatoes in the ground as well as those in storage. Irish potatoes are less resistant than potatoes elsewhere. Up to half the crop is lost.
Famine kills 2.5 million from Ireland to Moscow and is generally blamed on the wrath of God. The famine is especially severe in Ireland where so many peasants depend on potatoes for food while exporting their grain and meat. British charity and British government relief do little to alleviate the suffering.
The Methodist Episcopal Church in America splits into northern and southern conferences after Georgia bishop James O. Andrews resists an order that he give up his slaves or quit his bishopric.
Benjamin Disraeli in his novel Sybil, writes, "Infanticide is practiced as extensively and as legally in England as it is on the banks of the Ganges." Disraeli is criticizing the use of laudanum, the opium preparation commonly employed by British mothers and nannies to quiet their infants.

Sir William Armstrong patents the hydraulic crane.
American inventor E.B. Bigelow constructs the power loom for manufacturing carpets.
The first submarine cable is laid across the English Channel.
May--British Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, sails with two Royal Navy ships on a new expedition to seek a northwest passage. Lured by unusually good weather, he ventures deep into a hitherto unknown channel where his ships become icebound and all hands are lost.
New Bedford, Mass. reaches the height of its whaling trade. Manned by 10,000 seamen, the New Bedford fleet brings in 158,000 barrels of sperm oil, 272,000 barrels of whale oil, and 3 million pounds of whalebone.
The Rainbow, launched by New York naval architect John Willis Griffiths, is the first of the "extreme" clipper ships that will be the fastest vessels afloat for years.
May--The world's first wire cable suspension aqueduct bridge opens to span the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh. The bridge has seven spans, each 162 feet long, and is the first built by German-American engineer John Augustus Roebling, who 4 years prior founded the first U.S. factory to make wire rope.


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