Rules of the Road for the Regency Language

Pride and Prejudice 1980 Elizabeth Garvie David Rintoul Elizabeth Bennet Mr Darcy

There was an interesting article over at Austen Authors a few days ago:

Rules of the Road for the Regency Language

While talking a little about the differences between UK and US terminology, it also goes into the history behind it, and another thing I know many aren’t aware of: the grammar is different. For example, there are times when American English would refer to something as singular, where in British English it would be a plural.

The one that always gets me: US English saying ‘the staff was’ when we say ‘the staff were’ in Britain, Australia etc.

Because I read so many US-produced review books I think I do okay switching between the two versions of English, but authors should take note when writing dialogue. I’m okay with US grammar in my historical romance as long as it’s not coming out of the mouth (or the pen – I get picky over letters in books!) of a Brit.

The blog post – and the entire site – is well worth a read. I am really impressed by how much detailed research some authors dive into.

A visit to Dr Johnson’s House

Samuel_Johnson_by_Joshua_ReynoldsPortrait of Samuel Johnson commissioned for Henry Thrale's Streatham Park gallery. BY Joshua Reynolds 1772.

My first full day in London in a while was a big one: a visit to Charles Dickens’ house, visits to two of the places I used to live, a night at the Royal Ballet… But before I got to the theatre I also visited the building I lived in the very first few weeks I was in England all those years ago: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese London England EC4 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney February 2017

Before that, I finally paid a visit to the house of Dr Samuel Johnson, the man credited with creating the first modern dictionary, amongst other things.

Stealing the Wikipedia introduction:

‘Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709 [O.S. 7 September] – 13 December 1784), often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory, and is described by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history”. He is also the subject of perhaps the most famous biography in English literature, namely The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell.’

It was another famous landmark I’d lived practically next door to, but never visited. Built in about 1700, the house is VERY different to the Victorian-era Dickens house I’d been to earlier on.

Dr Samuel Johnson's House London England EC4 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney February 2017 Cat

Dr Samuel Johnson's House London England EC4 Sonya Heaney February 2017 Sittiing Rooms.

Dr Samuel Johnson's House London England EC4 Sonya Heaney February 2017 View

Dr Samuel Johnson's House London England EC4 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney February 2017.

Dr Samuel Johnson's House London England EC4 Sonya Heaney February 2017 Stairs to Basement

Dr Samuel Johnson's House London England EC4 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney February 2017

Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World (Jane Austen Regency Life #2) by Maria Grace

Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen's World (Jane Austen Regency Life #2) by Maria Grace

Jane Austen’s books are full of hidden mysteries for the modern reader. Why on earth would Elizabeth Bennet be expected to consider a suitor like foolish Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice? Would Lydia’s ‘infamous elopement’ truly have ruined her family and her other sisters’ chances to marry?  Why were the Dashwood women thrown out of their home after Mr. Dashwood’s death in Sense and Sensibility, and what was the problem with secret engagements anyway? And then there are settlements, pin money, marriage articles and many other puzzles for today’s Austen lovers.

Customs have changed dramatically in the two centuries since Jane Austen wrote her novels. Beyond the differences in etiquette and speech, words that sound familiar to us are often misleading. References her original readers would have understood leave today’s readers scratching their heads and missing important implications.

Take a step into history with Maria Grace as she explores the customs, etiquette and legalities of courtship and marriage in Jane Austen’s world. Packed with information and rich with detail from Austen’s novels, Maria Grace casts a light on the sometimes bizarre rules of Regency courtship and unravels the hidden nuances in Jane Austen’s works.

Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World (Jane Austen Regency Life #2) by Maria Grace

Sometimes, no matter how much you know about a topic, it’s nice when someone puts it all together and gives it all some context.

This was the case with Courtship and Marriage. If you read as much about England in the early nineteenth century as I do, you’re not going to be surprised by much here, but this was definitely one of the better little books about life in the Regency era.

Additionally, the facts are explained in relation to the characters of Jane Austen’s books; Austen critics (of the ‘Why doesn’t Elizabeth Bennet do blah, blah, blah instead of just sitting there?!’ ilk) could benefit from the historical context author Maria Grace gives the characters’ actions.

I found this book via a link to a blog post on Twitter, so now I have found both a good historical blog and an author to follow in the future.

A visit to Charles Dickens’ house

Charles Dickens Doughty Street London Sonya Heaney February 2017

The view down Doughty Street.

Charles Dickens lived in many different places in his lifetime, but this house near my old home in Holborn, London is the one that has been turned into a museum about his life (and was recently – expensively – renovated).

Even though I lived and worked within a short walk of this house for a couple of years, I never actually visited. And so one chilly day at the end of February, on a short break in London on the way home from Italy, I marched from Covent Garden to pretty Doughty Street to finally pay a visit.

It is an interesting house in its own right, a recreation of middle class life in the Victorian era. I am not a fan of Dickens, the family man (or should I say, Dickens, the man who abandoned his family!), but there is no denying the impact he made on the world.

Naturally, the museum errs on the side of worship, rather than presenting some of the less savoury facts about his life beyond his books.

Dickens’ writing desk.

This is the bedroom where his teenaged sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, died unexpectedly. Dickens had a rather unhealthy obsession with this girl and her “purity”, which would carry over to a fascination with other very young women throughout his life.

The Enterprise and The Dolphin Red Lion Street London February 2017 Sonya Oksana Heaney Holborn Pubs

And, of course, the day wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to my old home – Red Lion Street!

Ukraine offers free metro rides for poetry buffs

Taras Shevchenko (centre) died in St Petersburg in 1861, after a long period of exile imposed by the Russian authorities

The metro in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, is offering free rides to people who can recite a poem by Taras Shevchenko.

Shevchenko died in exile in Russia after being convicted of using the Ukrainian language in his work (the Imperial Russians seriously disliked people using their native languages).

Ukraine has a massive literary heritage – some of “Russia’s” most famous literary figures are actually Ukrainian.

I cannot imagine this poetry-for-free-trains idea working in most countries! One article about it is here:

Free metro rides for Kiev poetry buffs

(One day – probably in about 1600 years – the Western media will catch up with post-Soviet Eastern Europe and start calling Ukraine’s capital city KYIV instead of “Kiev”!)

Walking Jane Austen’s London by Louise Allen

walking-jane-austens-london-by-louise-allen

Walking Jane Austen’s London contains eight new walks to appeal to Jane Austen enthusiasts, history buffs and anyone who enjoys exploring London. It is lavishly illustrated in colour with detailed maps, original prints of the period and photographs.

Walking Jane Austen’s London by Louise Allen

Louise Allen is one of my favourite authors, and – in addition to writing excellent Regency-era stories, she produces some non-fiction guidebooks to the London of two hundred years ago.

I’ve owned Walking Jane Austen’s London for a while now, but recently revisited it for an upcoming short trip to the city.

Having lived on Fleet Street (in the City with a capital *C*), in nearby Holborn on the edge of the West End, and in Notting Hill, I find Allen’s guide very useful, as the old rich, Mayfair part of London is probably the bit of town I’m the least familiar with.

This guide points out heaps of little historical details about the streets and buildings you’d otherwise never know, as well as tying it all in to Austen’s books.

Allen has another guide worth a look: Walks Through Regency London.

Walking Jane Austen’s London is interesting if you plan on being in London soon, or if you’re just a fan of historical fiction.