Macabre or beautiful? ~ mourning treasures

I’m going backwards again and sharing another inspiration behind the story of Entangled. I mentioned yesterday, my leaning toward the macarbe (it is definitely no wonder that I’ve ended up moving into writing thrillers). Like I said, I’d prefer to stand on Lyme Regis harbour wall watching a threatening, storming sea thrashing the stone wall, than laying flat on a sunbed on a tropical beach.

So the fascination I have with antique mourning jewellry shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Although, I don’t think I’ve shared that on my blog before. By the time of the regency period many people wore jewellry with an artfully placed lock of hair held in place by glass, to remember a loved one. It might be to remember a living person, but more often it was to remember someone who had passed. It may sound strange today, but it’s not really, they didn’t have a stack of albums or computer folders full of photographs. Perhaps they had a minature portrait, it they were lucky, often just one. Employing artists was a more expensive luxury than jewellry. There were more jewellers than artists because you can’t just learn to be a painter who can precisely capture someone’s appearance as you can learn to manipulate metals, there has to be some rarer natural skill. Therfore, a jeweller’s time was less expensive than a good artist’s. The phrase ‘paying an arm and a leg’ for something comes from the fact that a full portrait was expensive and most people, even the upperclass, would only pay for the head and shoulders. But also, someone’s hair means you retain a part of their presence.

There’s a mourning brooch at Jane Austen’s cottage museum at Chawton containing her father’s hair. If you look out for peices of jewellry in museums and antiques shops, you’ll see a lot, and some, like those in the heading images are really beautiful. I think it’s brilliant. I imagine people regularly looking at their pieces or touching them, rubbing a finger or a thumb over the glass as they think of their missing loved one. It would bring the memories and the good emotions back. Wearing a brooch or a ring with a loved one’s hair inside, meant you always had a part of the person with you.

Of course, because I love mourning jewellry, I had to weave it into the story of atleast one book ( ūüėČ ). Remember also that last week I told you about Ed Sheeran’s song Photograph, which is about a locket, inspiring aspects of Entangled. James, one of my Wickedly Romantic Poets, is a lover of keeping hair, and that is also an intergral part of the story which links the first book in the series to the last. He cuts a lock of Clio’s hair in the prologue of the Thread of Destiny, and he’s already wearing a ring containing the hair of his deceased mother.

I have recently discovered that I have dyspraxia as well as dyslexia and the way my mind works perhaps makes a little more sense now, because I litterally look at a piece of mourning jewellry and my mind races with questions and the desire to see and know that person. So when I saw this minature with what I think must be a lock of his hair, I had to buy it. It makes the image of him more real, giving it a 3D context.

I’ve tried to find out who this gentleman is, without any luck unfortunately, nor can I tell who owned this, his wife, mother, lover … I don’t know. It must be someone who wanted to keep him close while he was distant, because I assume it was made when he was alive, due to the painting. But then the thing with not knowing is that I have to make it up, and that’s a joy and exactly where stories begin …

I didn’t say above, but this bracelt in Beatrix Potter’s cottage is not only displaying human hair, the actual braclet is woven peices of human hair.

Oh and one more cheeky fact before I end this post, I have said it before in my Scandalous Women posts, but I’ll share it again. Lady Caroline Lamb and Lord Byron shared pubic hair, so, I’m sure a lot of that went on too. I didn’t put that act of his in my poets novels, though. ūüėÄ

Inspirations for the Wickedly Romantic Poets Series

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A tour of Rome

If you are a history lover, research can be very addictive, and I love it. Of course, you can follow me on Instagram or Like my Facebook Author Page to catch snippets of research but my recent journey to Rome gathered so much that I thought I’d share it here too.

 

My next historical series will follow a group of young poets who move on to begin a grand tour of the continent. I wish that I had the money and the time to dedicate to tracking the whole grand tour route which would be amazing and I am sure it would¬†generate enough inspirations to write a hundred novels. But that not being an option, so I far I have picked one place to be a ‘tourist’ and research what the men of the 18th and 19th century would have experienced on their travels – Rome.

As I am fascinated by all aspects of history I listened to every bit of information about Roman history and much of it will be irrelevant as somethings were not known in the time of my fictional tourists or will be too detailed for a novel. But I think everything is fascinating enough to share on my blog and I will compare what you’ll see today in Rome with what was there in the time of the Georgian and Regency tourists.

But¬†let me share my¬†first impressions…

We visited the Roman Forum on the first day, without a guide, and just find our way around meant we looked at everything and read every information board so became very acclimatised to the area, but we went back three days later with a guide who added insights we hadn’t know. As I looked at it all the first time, it stood out to me how naked it all seemed. I have been to Pompeii before and walked around the Roman city at Petra both are mesmerizing when you walk on the roads and step into houses still decorated with painted plaster, or temples or early churches decorated in mosaics and shining marbles. The Roman Forum is like the carcass of an animal, it’s just the skeleton, apart from tiny remaining pieces all the skin and flesh had been stripped away.

 

Having seen other places, even in the UK, I had expected to be more intact and it was so much a skeleton it was really hard to imagine what the areas had looked like when they were whole. So while it was really interesting exploring every nook an cranny on our own and building up a full understanding the skill in the engineering and the size and scale when we went back with the guide she began to add flesh to the scenes in front of us.

And this carcass had become that literally because it had been picked over by scavengers through the hundreds of years since the Roman Empire collapsed. The flesh and skin were recycled again and again. The marble floors, columns and walls, the mosaics, statues and bricks all reused by rich and poor.

St Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican, which the 18th and 19th Century tourists would have visited is lined with Roman marble.

The occasional remaining floor discovered beneath later buildings in the city, show the original floors that in other buildings had simply been lifted and reused.

Then when I looked through the open doors of buildings or even at the walls of buildings I saw lots of remnants spread around the city and so the body of old Roman was really still there, just elsewhere.

 

What was really useful was that in The Forum there were lots of pictures of paintings from the period I was researching, I’ll share those too soon.

 

The Marlow Intrigues

Discover hours of period drama (2)

 

The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan  

The Passionate Love of a Rake

The Scandalous Love of a Duke

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue 

The Secret Love of a Gentleman  

The Reckless Love of an Heir 

The Tainted Love of a Captain 

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