Literary Links

November/December 1999


Good News and Announcements

Michelle Hoppe, Literary Liaisons president, is pleased to announce that she placed third in the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest with her historical, BETRAYALS. 

Favorite Book of the Year--Don't forget to vote for your favorite romance book of 1999. See the RWA National web site for details.

Golden Heart and RITA Contest--If you're planning on entering either the Golden Heart or RITA contests sponsored by Romance Writers of America, be sure to check out the October issue of the RWR for submission guidelines. Don't delay! Entry fees are due November 30, 1999.

RWA National Award Nominations--Romance Writers of America is accepting nominations for the following awards through the end of the year--Lifetime Achievement, Service, Librarian of the Year, Bookseller of the Year, Veritas and Industry. Log on to the RWA National web site to make your nominations now.


New On Literary Liaisons

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

American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs by Priscilla Harris Dalrymple
Children's Fashions, 1860-1912: 1,065 Costume Designs from "La Mode Illustre" by Jo Anne Olian
Costume Through the Ages: Over 1400 Illustrations by Erhard Klepper
Full-Color Victorian Fashions: 1870-1893, edited by JoAnne Olian
Medieval Costume and Fashion by Herbert Norris
Nineteenth-Century Costume and Fashion by Herbert Norris and Oswald Curtis
Shoes, Hats and Fashion Accessories: A Pictorial Archive, 1850-1940 by Carol Belanger Grafton
Tudor Costume and Fashion by Herbert Norris
Victorian and Edwardian Fashion: A Photographic Survey by Allison Gernsheim

Featured Title

The House Beautiful by Clarence Cook 

Researching the Romance

American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs by Priscilla Harris Dalrymple
Children's Fashions, 1860-1912: 1,065 Costume Designs from "La Mode Illustre" by Jo Anne Olian
Costume Through the Ages: Over 1400 Illustrations by Erhard Klepper
Full-Color Victorian Fashions: 1870-1893, edited by JoAnne Olian
Medieval Costume and Fashion by Herbert Norris
Nineteenth-Century Costume and Fashion by Herbert Norris and Oswald Curtis
Shoes, Hats and Fashion Accessories: A Pictorial Archive, 1850-1940 by Carol Belanger Grafton
Tudor Costume and Fashion by Herbert Norris
Victorian and Edwardian Fashion: A Photographic Survey by Allison Gernsheim 

Writers' Resources

All Experts
Cameo Manor
The Electric Library
Language Dictionaries and Translators
The Overland Trail
Writer's Avenue (formerly Romance Medley) 


Feature Article 

By Michelle J. Hoppe

Christmas celebrations are as individual and personal as the family. Each family has its own favorite traditions and recipes handed down through the generations, or perhaps some begun anew by the younger set. Yet, everyone seems to fall back on the customs and heritage native to their country. The English are no different.

A family of the Regency era may have chosen to celebrate with relatives only, or perhaps elected to dine with close friends. Either way, several foods formed the staple of their Christmas Dinner.

Roast Beef and Venison were the mainstay of the dinner, supported by goose, capon, pheasant, bustard, swan and/or peacock. The goose held sway until well into the 19th century. It wasn't until mid-century that turkey overtook goose in popularity and became the standard Christmas meat with Victorians. Households with small ovens couldn't cook their own meat, however. So they had bakers cook their birds and roasts, then they picked up their dinner on the way home from church services. Vegetables such as potatoes, squash, Brussels sprouts and carrots, supplemented the meal, as did stuffing for the fowl.

A second staple was the Mince or Christmas pie. Actual recipes varied by region, but ingredients usually included beef, suet, sugar, raisins, lemons, spices, orange peel, goose, tongue, fowls, eggs, apples and brandy. This was also called Twelfth Night Pie because it was originally made with the leftovers of the Christmas dinner. The pies were eaten every day for the Twelve Days of Christmas to ensure good luck for the twelve months of the new year. But the pies must be offered by friends and baked in dozens to strengthen the charm.

Finally, and perhaps the most popular of English dishes, was Christmas pudding. This was a mixture of thirteen ingredients (to represent Christ and the twelve apostles) which was boiled in a pudding cloth. Usual ingredients included suet, brown sugar, raisins, currants, citron, lemon and orange peels, spices, crumbs, flour, eggs, milk and brandy.

Gingerbread was another Christmas dessert, as were butter shortbread, trifle and syllabub (a milk, brandy and wine concoction originally drunk, but later whipped and gelled for eating.) Sugar plums and ginger nuts were favorites of the children.

Since water was not safe to drink, wine was served with the meal. For the heartier, there was the wassail bowl, a mixture of beer, sherry, sugar and spices. The actual recipe varied by region and family, individual preferences altering the recipes over the centuries.

Christmas Dinner was served about 4:00 p.m. Then, during the evening, a toast was made to the season. This often included the servants, as they received their Christmas gifts at this time. The children sang carols for entertainment.

Here is a recipe for a traditional Christmas Pudding:

The English Royal Family's Christmas Pudding

1 1/4 lb. suet

1 lb. Demerara (cane) sugar

1 lb. raisins

1 lb. sultanas

4 oz. citron peel

4 oz. candied peel

1 tsp. mixed spice

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 lb. breadcrumbs

1/2 lb. sifted flour

1 lb. eggs (weighed in their shells)

1 wineglassful brandy

1/2 pint milk


Prepare all ingredients, well whip the eggs, add to milk, and thoroughly mix. Let stand for 12 hours in a cool place, add brandy and put into well-greased basins and boil 8 hours or longer. Sufficient for twenty to twenty-eight people.

--For more sources on Christmas in Regency England, I suggest the following references:

 Discovering Christmas Customs and Folklore by Margaret Baker, Buckinghamshire, Shire Publications, 1994.

Jane Austen's Town and Country Style by Susan Watkins, New York, Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1990.

Food In England, by Dorothy Hartley, London, Futura Publications, 1985.

Some of these books are available for purchase in our on-line bookstore in the non-fiction section.
Also see the
Researching the Romance page of Literary Liaisons for more suggestions.


Editor's Note

You may have noticed a theme in the new research books this month--fashion and costume. I came across so many new references, I couldn't decide which ones to list for you, so I chose them all! You'll see a nice variety, from medieval times to Edwardian photographs. And my favorite accessory--shoes. So enjoy browsing. As for new web sites, I've gone back to the basics and listed some sites for the writer, whether beginning or established. will take you on a search engine ride, and All Experts provides you with answers to your questions. I've also squeezed in two historical sites, Cameo Manor (see FAQ column below) and The Overland Trail. Have fun exploring both. And if there's any topic you want to see covered, please drop us a note, and we'll be sure to research it for you.


FAQ Column

Q: Hi, I was sent to your site to check on mourning in the past. ...... I thought there was a wreath hung on the door if the house was in mourning. Can you tell me anything about that? I believe it had black ribbon on it. Not sure about any flowers.

Thank You for your time and interesting site.

A: I checked several of my reference books, and not one of them mentioned wreaths on the door as a sign of mourning. The house did publicly display the death of a family member in other ways, however. To the extreme, a family replaced all draperies with black cloth, had only black silk flowers inside as arrangements, and hired 'mutes' to stand guard outside the house and look sombre.

Most families at least used black-edged stationery and dressed in full mourning. One practice I did read about was draping the bell-knob or door handle with black crape with a black ribbon tied on it. If the deceased was young or unmarried, the ribbon was white. Maybe this is what you remember hearing.

(NOTE: This reader's web site, Cameo Manor, is featured in our newsletter this month. Please visit her charming site on life in the Victorian Era.)


Historical Calendar of Events



Herbert Henry Asquith, British Prime Minister
Paul Bourget, French author
George Augustus Moore, Irish novelist
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, Irish composer and conductor
Antoine Henri Becquerel, French physicist and Nobel Prize winner
J.H. van't Hoff, Dutch physicist and Nobel Prize winner


The Duke of Wellington


January 17--The Sand River Convention signed by the British recognizes the independence of the Transvaal
February 3-- Argentine dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas is defeated in the Battle of Caseros and Argentina abandons her designs on Uruguay.
July 17--Argentina recognizes Paraguay's independence and right of free river navigation.
Franklin Pierce is elected 14th President of the United States.
"Uncle Sam" is portrayed for the first time in cartoon form by the New York comic weekly Diogenes, Hys Lantern.
Burma deposes her king Pagan Min after a 6-year reign, and British forces take Rangoon as a second Burmese War begins.
The new French constitution gives the president monarchial powers. Two weeks later, the president, Louis Napoleon, proclaims himself Emperor Napoleon III.
New Zealand adopts a new constitution.

The Arts

"Christ Washing Peter's Feet" by Ford Madox Brown,
"The Light of the World" by William Holman Hunt
"Ophelia" by John E. Millais
Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases by English physician-scholar Peter Mark Roget
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
History of Henry Esmond by William Makepeace Thackery
Emaux et Camées by Théophile Gautier
4/30--Dmitri Donskoi premiers at St. Petersburg.
La Dame aux Camelias by Dumas fils
9/27--Uncle Tom's Cabin by George L. Aiken and adapted from the Harriet Beecher Stowe novel premiers at the Troy, N.Y., Museum
Popular songs:
"Massa's in de Cold Cold Ground" by Stephen C. Foster

Daily Life

Emigration from Ireland has its peak year but will continue on a large scale for years to come.
Massachusetts adopts the first effective compulsory school-attendance law.
Tufts College is founded at Medford, Mass., by Hosea Ballou II, nephew of a prominent Universalist clergyman.
Antioch College is founded at Yellow Springs, Ohio, by Massachusetts educator Horace Mann
Mills College for Women is founded at Oakland, Calif.
Chicago merchant Potter Palmer opens a shop that will develop into the city's largest department store.
French merchant Aristide Boucicaut joins the Bon Marché at Paris and will turn the small piece-goods shop into the world's first true department store.
The Holstein cow that will be most significant to the development of the major U.S. dairy breed arrives aboard a Dutch vessel.
The U.S. imports sparrows from Germany as a defense against caterpillars.
The first saltwater aquarium opens in London.
Massachusetts, Vermont, and Louisiana adopt Prohibition laws.
Service à la Russe arrives in England but will not be common for another 20 or 30 years.
The Boston Public Library opens with funds raised by public subscription in a drive led by local financier Joshua Bates.
The governor of California calls for land grants to encourage continued immigration of Chinese.


Bright tobacco is discovered by North Carolina farmers Eli and Elisha Slade near Durham and will soon be used in Bull Durham pipe tobacco.
February 20--The first through train from the East reaches Chicago by way of the Michigan Southern Railway. The railroad will make Chicago more than ever the grain and meat-packing center of America.
Paddington Station, London, is designed by Brunel and Wyatt.
London's King's Cross railway stations open.
The National Road that began as the Cumberland Road in 1811 and reached Wheeling 6 years later finally reaches Illinois.
The Pennsylvania Railroad completes trackage between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Pennsylvania adopts a railroad gauge different from that of New York to prevent the Erie Railroad from passing through the state into Ohio.
October 10--A railroad that will become famous as the Rock Island Line runs its first train.
The first Boston street railway begins operations with a single horsecar between Harvard Square, Cambridge, and Union Square, Somerville.
The Niagara Falls suspension bridge is built.
The safety elevator invented at Yonkers, N.Y., by master mechanic Elisha Graves Otis, 41, will lead to the development of high-rise buildings.
Studebaker Brothers is founded at South Bend, Ind., by Pennsylvania-born wagon maker Clement Studebaker and his older brother Henry. The company will become the world's largest wagon and carriage maker.
Wells Fargo and Co. is founded.
David Livingstone explores Zambezi.
A Boston pharmaceutical firm distills "coal oil" from coal tar. It will start selling the oil under the brand name "kerosene".
German-American inventor Christopher Dorflinger devises an improved lamp chimney.
Hydraulic mining begins in California.
The Société Aerostatique, the world's first aeronautical society, is founded at Paris.
July 30--The world's first tramp steamer, the S.S. John Bowes, is launched at Jarrow, England.
The S.S. Pacific goes into transatlantic service for the Collins Line. The 2,856-ton Pacific is the first ship to cross from New York to Liverpool in less than 10 days.

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