Victorian Tumblr Themes
19th century miscellany; cakes, cats and rants

Velvet hat lady of certain age and less certain maturity.

Particularly though not exclusively interested in the nineteenth century; also prone to ranting about my job hunt.

Masquerading as Susanna Lunden because someone once said I looked like her, which delighted me and bless her, she isn't around to object. We share a taste for extravagant hats and velvet.

1/35 Next


Excuses are boring.

Thanks for this lies, I need to follow this blog :)


Wladyslaw Podkowinski - Chopin’s Funeral March, 1894



Today’s top book news item:

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s rough memoir of frontier life, which served as the basis for her Little House on the Prairie series, will be published this fall as Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. The Associated Press reports, “The not-safe-for-children tales include stark scenes of domestic abuse, love triangles gone awry and a man who lit himself on fire while drunk off whiskey,” adding, “Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, herself a well-known author, tried and failed to get an edited version of the autobiography published throughout the early 1930s.” It will be published by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press.

10/10 will read.

Oooh great, will have to wait for paperback or second hand copies, I’m broke!  Was amused and frankly rather scandalised to read somewhere on tinternet recently that Tay Pay Pryor, one of the mosquito screen wrecking drunks in Little Town, was actually Mary Power’s father!  Laura changed his name to avoid embarrassing the family. 


Before Moby-Dick there was Mocha Dick—not a coffee-chocolate phallus but “a real-life whale … who fought off whalers for decades before being killed by harpoon.” It was a magazine story about Mocha that inspired Melville to write his novel; now, in a new illustrated book, Mocha Dick: The Legend and the Fury, the original whale gets his due.

For more of this morning’s roundup, click here.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter.
Born in a small village in Germany’s Black Forest, Franz Xaver Winterhalter left his home to study painting at the academy in Munich. Before becoming court painter to Louis-Philippe, the king of France, he joined a circle of French artists in Rome. In 1835, after he painted the German Grand Duke and Duchess of Baden, Winterhalter’s international career as a court portrait painter was launched. Although he never received high praise for his work in his native Germany, the royal families of England, France, and Belgium all commissioned him to paint portraits. His monumental canvases established a substantial popular reputation, and lithographic copies of the portraits helped to spread his fame. Winterhalter’s portraits were prized for their subtle intimacy, but his popularity among patrons came from his ability to create the image his sitters wished or needed to project to their subjects. He was able to capture the moral and political climate of each court, adapting his style to each client until it seemed as if his paintings acted as press releases, issued by a master of public relations.



"The mind in creation is as a fading coal, which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness; this power arises from within, like the colour of a flower which fades and changes as it is developed, and the conscious portions of our nature are unprophetic either of its approach or its departure." 

Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry.

Romanticism was an attitude or intellectual orientation that characterised many works of literature, painting, music, architecture, criticism, and historiography in Western civilisation over a period from the late 18th to the mid-19th century. Romanticism can be seen as a rejection of the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealisation, and rationality that typified Classicism in general and late 18th-century Neoclassicism in particular. It was also to some extent a reaction against the Enlightenment and against 18th-century rationalism and physical materialism in general. Romanticism emphasised the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental.


The glowing skull “will help you in many ways.” From an 1898 issue of The Strand.

HR Millar, Scottish artist and illustrator of fairy tales and children books including novels by E Nesbit.  

This sadly neglected and vandalised site on the Thames at Greenwich is Enderby Wharf, home of the worldwide communications revolution that started in the mid-nineteenth century.  Many telegraph cables were manufactured here including the first to be laid successfully - and stand the test of time where earlier attempts failed! - on the Atlantic seabed in 1865-6.  Brunel’s gargantuan ship Great Eastern was used to lay the cable, being the only ship large enough to contain its entire length.  The Great Eastern was however too large to dock at Enderby Wharf so the cable was transported down river in sections by two smaller ships and loaded on to the Great Eastern at Sheerness in Kent.  The whole operation took several weeks. 

The house is Enderby House, office and possibly also a home of the Enderby family, who originally made their fortune in whaling, and by the mid-nineteenth century had developed a rope and sail business.  Dating from the 1830s it apparently has a very special octagonal room behind the large bay upstairs with fantastic views along the Thames.  With a great deal of luck some of the room’s original features may have survived the years of neglect and vandalism…..  There is also a domed roof but I wasn’t able to photograph it thanks to restricted access and a lack of hills roundabout.  The house now belongs to a property developer, who plans to build apartment blocks on the recently levelled industrial zone that surrounds it.  As a listed building of historic interest the house cannot be demolished, but it remains to be seen what the developers plan to do with it.  I am not sure what the vintage of the cable loading equipment is, or whether it is listed. 

There is lots online about Enderby Wharf, the history of cable laying, and the importance of saving the Wharf as an historic site.  These are the main ones I used as sources while writing this post: (sadly this is out of date concerning the condition of Enderby House)


The Blue Dress (1872) by Auguste Toulmouche.

Oh my, is anything NOT happening with this dress!


Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (1872-1898) The Victorian age was also considered the Golden Age of Illustration. Beardsley was considered one of the leading artists in the style. You can also plainly see Art Nouveau influencing his work. Seen above his one of his earlier works: Neophyte.

Beardsley didn’t live very long, succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of 25.


If you haven’t visited Guildhall Library (yet), you can now take the virtual tour, which includes the current WWI exhibition and our popular poppy installation. 


Interior of rococo period Pullman car. late 1800s

Finding myself reluctant to use a plastic bag for scooping the cat litter tray…. because it came from Waterstones. 

"As Arnold points out, there is an otherwise inexplicable shift in direction in the Piccadilly line passing east out of South Kensington. “In fact,” she writes, “the tunnel curves between Knightsbridge and South Kensington stations because it was impossible to drill through the mass of skeletal remains buried in Hyde Park.” I will admit that I think she means “between Knightsbridge and Hyde Park Corner”—although there is apparently a “small plague pit dating from around 1664” beneath Knightsbridge Green—but I will defer to Arnold’s research.

But to put that another way, the ground was so solidly packed with the interlocked skeletons of 17th-century victims of the Great Plague that the Tube’s 19th-century excavation teams couldn’t even hack their way through them all. The Tube thus had to swerve to the side along a subterranean detour in order to avoid this huge congested knot of skulls, ribs, legs, and arms tangled in the soil—an artificial geology made of people, caught in the throat of greater London."

London and Its Dead (via lajacobine)

In Necropolis Catharine Arnold states that the plague pit in question was located “where Brompton Road and Knightsbridge now meet”, placing it a little way south of Hyde Park and definitely between Knightsbridge and South Kensington stations.  Near Brompton Road station which came into use when the Piccadilly Line opened in 1906 but closed in the 1930s as superfluous, being very close to Knightsbridge and South Kensington stations. 

Sites containing human remains - including a plague pit at Charterhouse Square and the former Bedlam graveyard at Liverpool Street - have come to light during the recent Crossrail excavations but they were pretty close to the surface.  With apologies to Ms Arnold I have to admit being swayed by the argument here that the plague pit induced Piccadilly Line curve is an urban myth.  The Piccadilly Line runs far below the depth at which anyone would have been buried.