Regency Slang – Section G

I’ve really been enjoying the previous posts I’ve done on Regency slang, so I’ll keep it up for this week before switching over to something else. I found this list of on The Regency Assembly Press, here. I’m only picking a few excerpts, so visit their site for the full list.

Gallied–Hurried, vexed, over-fatigued, perhaps like a galley slave.

Gander Month–That month in which a man’s wife-lies in: wherefore, during that time, husbands plead a sort of indulgence in matters of gallantry.

Gap Stopper–A whoremaster.

Gaying Instrument–The penis.

Gentleman of Three Ins–In debt, in gaol, and in danger of remaining there for life: or, in gaol, indicted, and in danger of being hanged in chains.

Gentleman of Three Outs–That is, without money, without wit, and without manners: some add another out, i.e–without credit.

Giblets–To join giblets; said of a man and woman who cohabit as husband and wife, without being married; also to copulate.

Gluepot–A parson: from joining men and women together in matrimony.

Go by the Ground–A little short person, man or woman.

Gollumpus–A large, clumsy fellow.

Goose Riding–A goose, whose neck is greased, being suspended by the legs to a cord tied to two trees or high posts, a number of men on horseback, riding full speed, attempt to pull off the head: which if they effect, the goose is their prize–This has been practised in Derbyshire within the memory of persons now living.

Gotch-Gutted–Pot bellied: a gotch in Norfolk signifying a pitcher, or large round jug.

To Gouge–To squeeze out a man’s eye with the thumb: a cruel practice used by the Bostonians in America.

Gravy-Eyed–Blear-eyed, one whose eyes have a running humour.

Green Bag–An attorney: those gentlemen carry their clients’ deeds in a green bag; and, it is said, when they have no deeds to carry, frequently fill them with an old pair of breeches, or any other trumpery, to give themselves the appearance of business.

Green Gown–To give a girl a green gown; to tumble her on the grass.

Green Sickness–The disease of maids occasioned by celibacy.

Greenhorn–A novice on the town, an undebauched young fellow, just initiated into the society of bucks and bloods.

Grim–Old Mr–Grim; death.

Grinagog, The Cat’s Uncle–A foolish grinning fellow, one who grins without reason.

To Grind–To have carnal knowledge of a woman.

Grog-Blossom–A carbuncle, or pimple in the face, caused by drinking.

Gropers–Blind men; also midwives.

To Grubshite–To make foul or dirty.

Grumbletonian–A discontented person; one who is always railing at the times or ministry.

Grunter’s Gig–A smoaked hog’s face.

Gum–Abusive language–Come, let us have no more of your gum.

Gummy–Clumsy: particularly applied to the ankles of men or women, and the legs of horses.

Guts and Garbage–A very fat man or woman–More guts than brains; a silly fellow–He has plenty of guts, but no bowels: said of a hard, merciless, unfeeling person.

Gut Scrapper, or Tormenter of Catgut–A fiddler.

Guzzle Guts–One greedy of liquor.

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Regency Slang – Sections E and F

I’m taking a quick break from my “Badass Women” posts to indulge in my other love: weird vocabulary and slang. I found this list of on The Regency Assembly Press, here. I’m only picking a few excerpts, so visit their site for the full list.

Earth Bath–A Grave.

Elbow-Crooker–Drinker.

Elbow Shaker–A gamester, one who rattles the dice.

Eternity Box–A coffin.

Eve’s Custom-House–Where Adam made his first entry; the monosyllable [i.e. “cunt”].

To Fag–To beat; a fag also means a boy of an inferior form or class, who acts as a servant to one of a superior, who is said to fag him, he is my fag.

Fallen Away From a Horse Load To a Cart Load–A saying on one grown fat.

Fancy Man–A man kept by a lady for secret services.

Fart Catcher–A valet or footman from his walking behind his master or mistress.

Fartleberries–Excrement hanging about the anus.

Feague–To feague a horse; to put ginger up a horse’s fundament [i.e. anus] …to make him lively and carry his tail well.

Fice, or Foyse–A small windy escape backwards, more obvious to the nose than ears; frequently by old ladies charged on their lap-dogs [i.e. a silent-but-deadly fart].

Figure Dancer–One who alters figures on bank notes, converting tens to hundreds.

To Fire a Slug–To drink a dram.

Fire Priggers–Villains who rob at fires under pretence of assisting in removing the goods.

Fit Of The Blue-Devils–Depressed.

Fizzle–An escape backward [i.e. a fart].

Flap Draggon–A clap, or pox.

Flash Of Lightning–Gin.

To Flash the Hash–To vomit.

Flaybottomist–A bum-brusher, or schoolmaster.

Flyer–To take a flyer; to enjoy a woman with her clothes on, or without going to bed.

Foreman of the Jury–One who engrosses all the talk to himself, or speaks for the rest of the company.

Foxey–Rank–Stinking.

Frenchified–Infected with the venereal disease–The mort is Frenchified: the wench is infected.

Frigate–A well-rigged frigate; a well-dressed wench.

Froglander–A Dutchman.

Frosty Face–One pitted with the small pox.

Frog’s Wine–Gin.

Fruitful Vine–A woman’s private parts, i.e–that has Flowers every month, and bears fruit in nine months.

Fusty Luggs–A beastly, sluttish woman.

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Sutematsu Oyama

I’m continuing my series of Badass Women posts with the discover of this FAB website called Rejected Princesses, which tells many, many stories about kick-ass women in legend and history kind of through the narrative style of Disney. I love it. I forgot who initially recommended this site to me, but I salute you!

Today we are going to talk about Sutematsu Oyama, the daughter of a samurai who, in a weird reversal of the common trope, was forced to go on adventures and go to college instead of being forbidden from it. In the long run, this experience and her later work had massive international impact and led to great cultural exchange and a total reworking of the Japanese educational system.

As my knowledge of Japanese culture and history is shaky at best, please let me know if any corrections or clarifications need to be made. Trigger warning for discussion of battle, explosions, and death.

Let’s back way up.

In 1868, Sutematsu’s family was caught up on the losing side of a civil war which, much like the American civil war happening at roughly the same time, would prove to be Japan’s last ‘war of the sword’. She was involved in the last major battle action, in which enemy forces closed in on Aizu castle, the local samurai estate for which her family were retainers.

Despite being very young, she did her part by running ammunition to the gunners and–extremely dangerously–using wet blankets to smother live artillery shells that landed inside the walls before they exploded. Her sister-in-law was doing the same thing when a shell exploded before she could reach and smother it. Sutematsu caught a piece of shrapnel in the neck, which gave her a major scar for the rest of her days. Her sister-in-law, meanwhile, took the brunt of the explosion and begged the other women to give her quick death. They couldn’t bring themselves to do it, so she died slowly while young Sutematsu looked on.

When the war was over, Japan opened its borders and realized that survival depended on reversing their centuries of isolation. The government offered significant financial rewards for any Japanese citizens who would be wiling to take part in the Iwakura Mission: to live abroad for ten years and promote good international relations and a cross-pollination of cultures.

Despite the large amount of money, almost no one signed up. Without consulting her, Sutematsu’s brother signed her up to go to America. For ten years. She had never left the country, and certainly didn’t speak English. She was 11 years old.

His motives were very pragmatic–it would increase the family’s prestige and it would ease their financial burden.

Sutematsu’s situation was not unusual. She and four other girls, from age 6 to 14, were shipped abroad as the first Japanese women in living memory to go to the west; all of the other girls were signed up without being consulted, either.

They landed in California and made their way to the eastern United States which was only just starting to recover from the effects of the American Civil War. There were a lot of firsts for Sutematsu–as it is pointed out on the Rejected Princesses site, it was the first time she had seen blackface (and it was probably the first time she’d come to understand the concept of racial tensions, or at least racial tension between black and white groups). In Colorado it was the first time she’d seen snow. And the girls had saw the unpleasant aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire when they passed through the city. They were hounded by the press and equally mocked and fetishized by the public. All in all, a totally bewildering, disorienting time for a kid.

The girls, unsurprisingly, clung to each other and isolated themselves–not really surprising given their age, the culture shock, and the fact that their every move was recorded by the press who wouldn’t leave a group of little girls alone. As a result, they had hardly been able to learn any English. The two eldest girls in the group found the strain to be too much and returned to Japan, leaving the three youngest girls to continue on without them.

Then the three younger girls were separated and given over to foster homes. Sutematsu was promptly renamed (“Stemats”) because her American family found “Sutematsu” too difficult to pronounce. Despite her early difficulties with the language, she excelled in school and was the only girl in her class to go to college. She went to Vassar and graduated valedictorian, making her the most highly-qualified Japanese woman living.

After she graduated, she then had to return to Japan–to a family that she hadn’t seen since she was a child and with whom she no longer really shared a language. When asked about how she felt about her return, she said, “I cannot tell you how I feel, but I should like to give one good scream.”

In her time away from Japan, there had been a regressive backlash to the early push for progress that had sent her westward. With the political climate grasping for tradition, Sutematsu realized that she didn’t really have a place in her own country anymore. So she and two other girls, who had also been sent abroad, decided they would need to push forward on their own and change Japan themselves. Their first goal was to open a school for girls. Securing the funding and the social acceptance for such an endeavor was going to be an uphill climb.

Then, out of nowhere, this dude asked for her hand in marriage:

His name was Iwao Oyama, he was almost 20 years her senior, and he was an Imperial Japanese Army General who had also fought at the battle of Aizu, where the then-child Sutematsu had smothered shells in wet blankets.

But he had fought for the other side.

And he was an artillery man. It is entirely possible that he fired the shot that killed Sutematsu’s sister-in-law.

Sutematsu’s family, upon hearing his proposal, said no and gave him his marching orders, no two ways about it. It was, surprisingly, Sutematsu who insisted on the match. She saw in him a chance to accomplish more than she might be able to do on her own. She didn’t love him, but he had the significant prestige to get her girls’ school off the ground.

Through her new husband, she managed to secure funding from the EMPRESS, of all people. The school started out teaching only noble women, but, hey, it was a foot in the door. Of course, such a marriage, such an accomplishment, and such close proximity to the empress raised Sutematsu’s profile even higher than it already was. People got jealous and suspicious and terrible, criticizing her for being too westernized, for being too buddy-buddy with the empress, for being some sort of power-hungry villain set on changing Japan.

In a truly terrible series of events, Sutematsu’s step-daughter got ill and died. That would be a strain on any household. Except it was made ten times worse when one of Sutematsu’s critics decided to write about it, turning the event into a novel, in which the Sutematsu is portrayed as a scheming social climber responsible for the death.

The book was a best-seller.

Over the years, Sutematsu suffered from extreme stress. She said, “My husband grows fatter every year, and I thinner.” After decades of pushing, though, her stress and work paid off. In 1899 it became law that every prefecture must have at least one school for girls.

Her husband died in 1916, but Sutematsu kept working. When the 1919 Spanish flu epidemic reached Tokyo, many others left the city for fear of contracting the illness. And, indeed, it was the same illness that had killed her step-daughter years ago. When teachers fled, Sutematsu stayed on so she could guarantee that the school would continue to run and that girls could continue to learn.

She caught the flu and died two weeks later, having found a replacement for herself at the school before she died. She almost single-handedly changed the structure of the Japanese educational system and was one of the leading figures who introduced Japan to the west.

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Victorian Paintings: A Miscellany

This isn’t a real post. Also, it’s going to be full of swearing. NSFW, probably.

I just went to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which has not only a fantastic Edwardian Tea Room, but also a great collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. One of my favorite things to do in the entire world is go to art galleries, though I know sod-all about art. This is because I enjoy 1.) seeing portraits of women wearing fabulous headdresses, and 2.) snarking silly looking paintings with ridiculous things happening in them.

While having a good, irreverent giggle at the Museum, I managed to write down the names and artists of several paintings from the 1700s-early 1900s so I could share them all with you. My caption is at the top, but I’ll be sure to put the actual title, artist, and year below.

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“I HEARD YOU TALKING SHIT ABOUT MY MULLET, KYLE”

Briton Riviere, “Phoebus Apollo” (1895-98)

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Not going to lie, guys, Brienne of Tarth is starting to look real good.

George Frederic Watts, “Aspiration” (1866)

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When the high school jock gets publicly told off by the underdog, and tries real hard to salvage his cool.

Charles Lock Eastlake, “The Champion” (1824)

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Salma Hayek is fucking AGHAST

Frederick Sandys, “Medea” (1866)

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It’s hard out there for a pimp

Joshua Reynolds, “Portrait of Dr Ash” (1788)

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Well, I found my epitaph

Stained glass window, Birmingham Museum and Gallery

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“There . . . there appears to be a hole in me stump.”

Wooden pocket watch holder, 1700s, Birmingham Museum and Gallery

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“Mother and I would like to welcome you to our house.”

Evelyn De Morgan, “Portrait of William De Morgan” (1909).

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“What we are doing here need not concern you, human.”

Jean-Baptiste Oudry, “The Cat and the Monkey” (1739).

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This is some Great God Pan/The Shining/Children of the Corn bullshit. These two little dread-beasts are the very last thing you’d want to see on an isolated walk.

Johann Zoffany, “The Blunt Children” (1765)

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There is nothing wrong with this painting, except for the name of the sitter: Mrs Farquharson of Finzean. All I could think of was me trying to write fantasy novels as a preteen and coming up with names by randomly banging my hands on the keyboard.

What should I name the heroine of my fantasy epic? Mrs . . . Farquahadsnvlkskeb of . . . Finzeaiunkmunnadj

Sir Henry Roeburn, “Mrs Farquharson of Finzean” (1812-23?)

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When you meet up with friends for a night out, but you’re four drinks ahead of everyone else.

Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre, “Psyche Rescued by Naiads from Drowning” (1750)

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The reactions of the three women in the background are:

“OMG, don’t drink poison, Sigismonda!”

“No! Stop! Don’t throw your life away!”

“Do it, bitch. I fucking hate you anyway.”

Joseph Southall PRBSA, “Sigismonda Drinking the Poison” (1898-99).

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That eye-roll we all did when we read the 7th Harry Potter book and discovered that the Malofys have peacocks running around their estate.

Joseph Southall PRBSA, “New Lamps for Old” (1900-01)

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“I mean, isn’t drawing a dick on his face a bit . . . sophomoric?”

“Do it.”

Joseph Southall PRBSA, “Exchanging the Letter” (1908-09).

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I didn’t realize you could actually paint someone making a weird noise, but all three people in this painting have proved me wrong.

Ford Madox Brown, “The Death of Sir Tristram” (1864)

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I don’t know what that lamb must have done to that baby in order to make the red mist descend like that.

Ford Madox Brown, “The Pretty Baa-Lambs” (1851-59)

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That’s all for me today! Expect more of these with each new museum I visit.

 

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Madam Lou Bunch

I was originally made aware of this nineteenth-century badass woman by @WhoresofYore‘s tweet here.

Today we’re going to discuss frontier brothel owner and all-around cool person Madam Lou Bunch. There is, in fact, a holiday dedicated to her (the third Saturday of June) that is widely celebrated every year in Central City, Colorado (once called ‘The Richest Square Mile on Earth‘) due to its prospecting success–apparently $75 million in gold was mined there.

Madam Louisa (“Lou”) Bunch was a major personality during the gold rush days, running what would ultimately become Central City’s last brothel, while also being a successful business woman and political figure in other areas. Her brothel was right off main street, and right next to the mines, a strategic location to put her girls close to their customers while also maintaining a prominent location in town.

As there were three men to every woman in town, demand was quite high and business was good for Madam Lou. That’s not to say she didn’t have her share of troubles. Prostitution was illegal, but officials mostly looked the other way. To help solidify her position, Madam Lou became very friendly with most of the town and helped to support local organizations, like the county baseball team.

When the town was hit by a terrible epidemic (I’m not sure of what), Madam Lou helped out by closing up her business to help keep the contagion from spreading and instead threw her energies into running a makeshift hospital with her sex workers nursing sick miners back to health.

It wasn’t solely out of the goodness of her heart that she did this. Ever the savvy businesswoman, she knew that the town’s economy (and the security of her own business) relied solely on active and healthy prospectors. That was the major industry, and she was going to get it back on its feet–risks to her own health be damned.

Despite the risque nature of Madam Lou’s business, the yearly festival is a town-wide, family friendly event that includes a ‘Madams and Miners Ball’, historical presentations on the town during the gold rush, mass neo-Victorian cosplay by residents and visitors, and a series of ‘brass bed races‘, which are exactly what they sound like:

A man and a woman sit in a brass bed with wheels, while a second man pushes them down the street, attempting the fastest time.

The festival tradition began not at any point during Madam Lou’s life, nor even after her death in 1935, but rather in 1976 when Goldie Hawn and George Segal filmed a comedy western in the town called The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox. The film did really poorly and Madam Lou is not listed as a character in the film.

However, the connection between the film, the festival, and Madam Lou is as follows: in the film, they had a scene in which people are pushed through the street on a brass bed. The scene ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor, but it coincidentally (?) mirrored a local legend about Madam Lou. It is rumored that she was caught in bed with the mayor by the mayor’s furious wife. The wife then ran Madam Lou out of town, pushing her beyond the city limits in the very brass bed she caught her in.

This story is almost certainly apocryphal, if for no other reason than that Madam Lou was extremely heavy and it is extremely unlikely that a single woman would have managed to get a double bed outside and into the street with Madam Lou still in it and then push her such a distance.

The festival remains probably Central City’s biggest event and tourist attraction. There isn’t a great deal of biographical information about Madam Lou, but if anyone can provide me with further details, I’d be happy to include them here.

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Winnaretta Singer

To continue my recent series of ‘Badass Women’ posts, today I’d like to talk about Winnaretta Singer: heiress, arts patron, two-time princess, open and unapologetic Victorian lesbian.

Oh, and I forgot to add to her bio: fabulous cape-wearer.

I’ll just do some quick bullet points about her life:

1.) She was the 20th of 24 children, so first of all, YIKES. Her father was Isaac Singer, he of the millionaire sewing machine fortune, and his second wife, a Frenchwoman named Isabella Boyer. Of course she had a French mother. Fabulousness was pretty much in her blood.

2.) Her parents had a scandalous damn marriage. Firstly, her mother was thirty years Isaac’s junior (being 22 to his 52). He had divorced his first wife years previously, and had many mistresses over the years. I suppose that’s not really surprising, though, because he looks like a walking hard-on:

Two observations–Winnaretta clearly got her cape-wearing skills from him, and he also looks like the sort of guy who begins every sentence with, “Baby”, Barry White-style.

When Isaac convinced his young second wife Isabella (who was pregnant with his child, but married to someone else at the time) to leave her husband and marry him, it wasn’t Isabella’s former husband who caused the trouble. Oh no. Isaac’s former mistress had him arrested for bigamy, because they apparently had had a common-law marriage.

Turns out he had SEVERAL secret families. While still married to his first wife, Catherine, he had an affair with Mary Ann Sponsler, by whom he had ten children. Over the years, he had other overlapping families, including Mary McGonigal (who bore him five children), and Mary Eastwood Walters (who bore him one daughter).

Well, with three mistresses/common-law wives all named Mary, I guess you don’t have to worry too much about shouting out the wrong name in bed. Unless it’s with one of your actual wives, Catherine and Isabella.

From what I understand, he seemed to settled down once he married Isabella.

3.) Winnaretta’s family seemed to attract scandalous unions. We’ll get to her own marriages and affairs shortly, but it should be known that her nephew, Paris Singer, was the poor, long-suffering sod who was Isadora Duncan’s long-term partner, in this completely banana-pants post I wrote way back in the day.

4.) When Isaac Singer died in 1875, Isabella took the children back to Paris with her. Around 1887, when Winnaretta was 22, she married Prince Louis de Scey-Montbéliard, despite it being a fairly open secret that she preferred the company of women.

As the possibly apocryphal story goes, on their wedding night, Winnaretta climbed atop an armoire and told the amorous groom that she would kill him if he came near her. Their marriage went unconsummated until it was annulled in 1892.

5.) Her second marriage, which took place a year after the first one was annulled, was considerably happier. Following in the footsteps of her parents, the ex-princess quickly re-princessed (look at me, making up verbs!) by marrying Prince Edmond Melchior Jean Marie de Polignac, an aristocrat and amateur compose who was exactly 30 years her senior.

The reason for the success of this marriage? They were both openly gay, were extremely good friends, and both had a deep passion for music.

He died only eight years after their marriage, and was sincerely mourned by Winnaretta. She never remarried, although she did have plenty of affairs (more on that later).

6.) Although her first marriage was an unhappy one, it did give Winnaretta initial access to Paris’s elite artistic circles where she quickly became a patron of the arts. She became even more embedded in the arts scene during her second marriage, and established a salon in 1894, which became known as THE PLACE to go for avant-garde music in Paris.

She was so close with musicians that you can actually find several famous compositions dedicated to her, including Ravel’s “Pavane pour une infante défunte“, Stravinsky’s “Piano Sonata” and  Fauré’s “Mandoline“.

7.) During both of her marriages (and before and after them), Winnaretta had many affairs that she never attempted to hide. This was revolutionary, and not only because she was a lesbian. As I’ve talked about in previous posts about etiquette and marriage in the upper classes, affairs were fine (mostly), as long as the participants were discreet. It was discretion, not fidelity, that was the prized trait in aristocratic circles. In short: DON’T FUCKING EMBARRASS YOUR SPOUSE IN THE EYES OF SOCIETY.

I’m not sure about how either of her husbands felt about her quite public love affairs, but an educated guess would be that the first husband was pretty pissed and the second husband probably less so.

Winnaretta was rarely single for long, and seemed to favor other married women. This occasionally led to scenes being made by outraged and embarrassed husbands. At one point in Venice, an enraged husband stood in the middle of a palazzo and yelled up at Winnaretta’s apartment, “If you are half the man I think you are, you will come out here and fight me.

As far as I’m aware, she did not fight him.

8.) It didn’t help that Winnaretta’s affairs were with other high-profile women. The list includes:

Olga, Baroness de Meyer, (the artist’s model, writer, and socialite who was rumored to be Edward VII’s love-child). The affair lasted from 1901-05.

Romaine Brooks (the American painter). It is rumored that Winnaretta left Olga, Baroness de Meyer, for Romaine Brooks. Quel scandal.

Ethel Smyth (English composer and suffragette). She fell violently in love with not only Winnaretta, but (later?) also Emmeline Pankhurst and Virginia Woolf, although I’m not sure to what extent those other relationships were reciprocated.

Renata Borgatti (Italian musician). Winnaretta was with her in the early 1920s, presumably until Winnaretta met one of the great loves of her life: Violet Trefusis.

Violet Trefusis (English socialite and author). Violet and Winnaretta were together for ten years.

Previously, Violet Trefusis had a notorious affair with author and aristocrat Vita Sackville-West that ended rather badly. Vita Sackville-West went on to have a famous (if rarely consummated) friendship/love affair with Virginia Woolf. Virginia was so smitten with Vita that she wrote Vita’s fantasy-biography, Orlando. In Orlando, Violet Trefusis is portrayed as the heartless and heart-breaking Russian princess, Sasha, who abandons Orlando early in the book.

Alvilde Lees-Milne, Viscountess Chaplin (British gardening expert and landscaper; daughter of the Governor of South Australia). This was all kinds of messy, not only because of their tumultuous relationship, but also because Alvilde had once been involved with Vita Sackville-West, the one-time lover of Violet Trefusis. It looks a bit like Vita and Violet rebounded, respectively, with Winnaretta and Alvilde after they broke up, only to have their rebounds go on to date each other years later.

Alvilde and Winnaretta had their ups and downs, but were together until Winnaretta’s death in 1943.

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Bad Book Covers – The Hound of the Baskervilles

I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled “Badass Women” posts to bring you another installment of Bad Book Covers. One of the Sherlock Holmes novels, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), was recommended to me by @VictorianMasc and @DrDouglasSmall about a year ago, and I’m only just getting around to it–mostly because one of my followers,  linked me to some damn ridiculous covers that got my butt in gear.

Previous posts in this series include: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The MoonstoneDracula, East Lynne, Lady Audley’s Secret, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Scarlet Letter, Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol, Little Women, Jekyll and HydePamela, Ivanhoe, Anne of Green GablesVanity FairTurn of the ScrewShe,  The Jungle Book, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

Usual disclaimers:

1.) These are all professional book covers instead of fan or amateur artwork (or at least I hope so). I’m more than happy to pick on marketing boards who thought these were good ideas, but I don’t want to pick on fans trying to express their love of books. If a fan cover made it in to this collection, then I’m very sorry and you are clearly a good enough artist to make me assume it was professionally done.

2.) I’m ridiculing the covers, not the book itself.

3.) I’m going to swear. A lot. If this isn’t your thing, then don’t read it.

Plot Recap (SPOILERS)

Sir Charles Baskerville croaks mysteriously at his big swanky Gothic-ass estate, and his buddy, Dr James Mortimer, asks Sherlock to check it out. Dr Mortimer says that the official cause of death is a heart attack, but he’s suspicious because Sir Charles died with an expression of horror on his face.

Yeah. Having a painful heart attack will do that.

BUT there were also footprints near his body. Footprints . . . of a giant hound! Dun dun DUUUUUUHHHH! The Baskerville family has been under a curse for hundreds of years when a shitty ancestor offered his soul to Satan so he could sexually assault a woman, and was then immediately killed by a giant black hell-hound. Dr Mortimer now fears for the life of the new heir, Sir Charles’s nephew, Henry Baskerville.

Henry’s had some weird shit happen to him already, including having one of his boots stolen and getting a serial killer-style note that’s like, “STAY OFF THE MOOR, I’M DEFINITELY NOT TRYING TO LURE YOU OUT HERE SO I CAN KILL YOU, UHHHH, DEMON DOGS WILL EAT YOUR SOUL OR SOMETHING, ‘KAY?”

Sherlock and Watson go back with Henry to Baskerville Manor, and a series of other weird-ass nonsense happens, like further boots disappearing and reappearing, a dude with a big beard stalking Henry, and an escaped convict hiding out on the moors.

I gotta ask, has literally anything good ever happened on the moors? Like, name one single thing. I dare you.

Sherlock and Watson get to the house and hear random crying in the middle of the night, and the butler starts acting suspicious, and everyone hears an animal baying. They meet a brother and sister, Mr and Miss Stapleton, who collect butterflies and shit on the moors, and therefore seem utterly uninterested in the concept of their own mortality. Lust for butterfly capture > potential maiming by demon dog.

Miss Stapleton is hot, so she and Henry fall in love, as you do, but her brother gets all weird and possessive.

In a series of totally predictable family secrets, it turns out that the butler is the escaped convict’s brother, and he’s been leaving him supplies on the moor, and also Mr and Miss Stapleton aren’t really brother and sister–they’re married!

Then the convict dies from a fall–because god knows felons can’t escape a Victorian novel happily–but he was wearing some of Henry’s old clothes, so Sherlock thinks he was mistaken for the Baskerville heir and targeted.

Sherlock notices a convenient family portrait that looks a lot like Mr Stapleton–is he secretly a Baskerville relative looking to kill off every heir who stands between him and inheriting the estate?

Yup.

They rush to Stapleton’s place just in time. He released a giant mastiff to attack Henry as Henry was walking across the moor, and they shoot the dog dead, and discover it looked all creepy because it was painted with phosphorus to make it glow. They kill Stapleton in his attempt to escape, free his sister/wife who he has kept tied up in the basement or some such shit, and also relocate Henry’s missing boot, which Stapleton had stolen to give the dog his scent.

All wrong-doers are dead (and also dog, but no one much cares), and all boots are reunited, and everyone is happy, except PETA.

THE END

On to the covers!

We’ll start with a few good covers, shall we?

This is probably the most original take–I have yet to see any other cover that doesn’t reference a hound in some way (even if this does kind of give away the identity of the murderer).

These are all perfectly lovely and ominous portrayals of hounds. No complaints from me!

*

But I know you guys don’t come here to look at good covers. So let’s get on with it. I call the below category Hounds That Harness the Power of the Sun:

Greg, I don’t want to alarm you, but I think you may be on fire.

“Susan . . . did you give the dog all our MDMA?”

No comment, I’m just going to link to a Doctor Who reference.

*

This next section is called The Dangers of Crossbreeding Your Pets

There is something significantly wrong with that camel.

The Pregnant Three-Headed Fox of the Baskervilles

In this version, Sherlock goes on an imperial adventure to central Africa, upon hearing reports of an accursed spectral gorilla terrorizing the area.

Hey, this is the height of empire. I’m sure at least 14 stories like that were written. In that year alone.

Honestly not sure if that’s supposed to be a leaf-nosed bat, a panther, or a ‘hound’, but it’s fucking awful, whatever it is.

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This leads me to my favorite section, The Fluffy Pupper of the Baskervilles:

GIGGLE-SNORT

I know that’s probably Holmes’s dog, Toby, but COME ON, the title has the word ‘hound’ in it, and THIS is the dog you put on the cover?

“My god, Holmes! The hound has struck again! It shivered, and yipped, and peed itself until the man DIED!”

(the caption his hysterical, by the way, and knowingly so. I kind of love this cover)

I like that Holmes looks like he’s inspecting the world’s tiniest, most pathetic hunting dogs–none of which which, consequently, IS THE FUCKING HOUND BEING REFERENCED.

*

There is an associated category called Sad Hound Is Sad:

“Don’t shoot, I just want him to LOVE ME”

“What . . . hath . . . I . . . wrought?”

That dog is doing the ugly cry. That dog is me during my entire 8th grade year.

“Rupert, why would you say such hurtful things to me? Didn’t our road trip to the Catskills mean anything to you?”

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And the final catch-all category, linked by only one theme: Too Confusing to Make Me Mad

I . . .

Um . . .

Okay.

OUR LOVE CAN NEVER BE

Is Holmes doing straight-up opium now? There is no other reason for him to be that louche and also holding a gun.

I have a PhD in loucheness (and Victorian literature), so I am authorized to make this assessment.

“Hey, Craig, do you have any ideas about how we can make the dog on the cover art kind of spooky?”

“You could … give him … a … smoke … tongue?”

“Goddamn it, Craig, you brilliant bastard. You’ve outdone yourself again.”

*

That’s all I have for you today, but I have at least one other Bad Book Covers post on deck, probably for next month. As always, I am open to suggestions!

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