Tag Archive | CBLS Promotions

The Blue Stockings Society and Benjamin Stillingfleet

In the Regency era, a young lady who gained the reputation of being a bluestocking would likely find herself “holding up the walls” as a wallflower at a ton event, since it was not the thing for a woman to be more educated than a man. Women were to be beautiful, fashionable, eloquent yet demure, and proficient in the social graces. A typical lady’s education would include reading, writing, geography, history, embroidery, drawing, French (or at least some French phrases), music, dancing, and, of course, riding, should her family have the means for a stable.

While there were, of course, learned ladies in society, it was thought prudent to keep one’s scholarly achievements private in order to avoid the bluestocking label, particularly for a young lady on the marriage market, which most genteel young ladies were. One hint that she might have blue tendencies could ruin her reputation and her opportunities for an advantageous marriage. And for most young ladies, marriage was the decision of a lifetime. Since divorce was nearly impossible and the husband held all the cards in the relationship, a mésalliance could very well mean a lifetime of misery and regrets.

In spite of this, there did exist a smattering of ladies—even some young, unmarried ladies—who defied prudence and flaunted their academic superiority to all and sundry. Some were married already, probably to indulgent husbands or those who were scholarly themselves. Those who were unmarried typically disdained the traditional role of women and did not aspire to giving some man control over them, although presumably these, too, were blessed with indulgent families with enough wealth to support a daughter for the rest of her life. There were some, like Hannah More, who, although she eschewed the frivolity of the ton, advocated the traditional role of marriage as the ideal for women, even though she herself never married.

Elizabeth Montagu

In the mid-eighteenth century, Elizabeth Montagu and Elizabeth Vesey, among others, founded a women’s literary discussion group, that later came to include gentlemen as well. The society promoted education for all (including women and the poor). Several prominent members of the society, which came to be known as The Blue Stockings Society, were (at one time or another):

  • Elizabeth Montagu: social reformer, patron of the arts, salonist, literary critic, and writer who helped organize and lead the Blue Stockings Society
  • Elizabeth Vesey: a wealthy patron of the society
  • Samuel Johnson: poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer
  • Anna Williams: poet and companion of Samuel Johnson
  • David Garrick: English author and playwright, friend of Samuel Johnson
  • Anna Laetitia Barbauld: a prominent English poet, essayist, literary critic, editor, and children’s author
  • James Beattie: Scottish poet, moralist, and philosopher
  • Frances Boscawen: literary hostess and correspondent
  • Edmund Burke: Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher
  • Frances Burney: novelist, diarist, and playwright
  • Elizabeth Carter: poet, classicist, writer, and translator
  • Margaret Cavendish-Harley: Duchess of Portland, and scholar/collector of natural history
  • Hester Chapone: author of conduct books for women
  • Mary Delaney: artist and letter-writer
  • Sarah Fielding: sister of Henry Fielding, novelist herself, who wrote the first children’s novel
  • Ada Lovelace: daughter of Lord Byron and his wife Annabella Millbank (who was a scholar herself), a noted mathematician and considered to be the first computer programmer
  • Catharine Macalay: historian
  • Hannah More: religious writer and philanthropost (see earlier post on this blog)
  • Sarah Scott: novelist, translator, social reformer, and sister of Elizabeth Montagu
  • Sir Joshua Reynolds: prominent portrait painter
  • Horace Walpole: art historian, man of letters, antiquarian, and Whig politician

Benjamin Stillingfleet

The name of the group supposedly came from an invited guest, Benjamin Stillingfleet, a noted botanist and scholar, who wore blue worsted stockings to the meetings because he could not afford the requisite black silk ones. Since the group prided itself on valuing conversation over fashion, the term bluestocking was more of a jest than a slight in the early days of the society. It was later that it became a term of shame and derision when applied to a young lady.

Stillingfleet was the son of a physician who attended Cambridge and worked as a tutor to his young relative, William Windham. He later accompanied Windham on a Grand Tour of the Continent, where they lingered several years, doing, among other things, scientific studies of the glaciers, for which his protégé was later honored as a Fellow of the Royal Society.

A bluestocking heroine, you say?

It can be done, of course. I’ve read dozens—if not hundreds—of historicals with bluestocking heroines. But she needs a special sort of hero, doesn’t she?—one who has enough confidence in his own abilities to appreciate and desire to nurture hers. Or at least, that’s what he needs to become by the end of the story. And I think it’s also important for him to be able to draw her out of her preoccupation with academics and into the real world on occasion as well.

However, in order to become a bluestocking in the first place, a heroine would need to have been brought up in a manner that would make this possible. A rare, scholarly family, perhaps, or a negligent one that doesn’t realize how much time she spends with her brother’s tutor and is properly horrified when they discover it. Because any girl tagged as a bluestocking would become the object of much derision and gossip by the high-sticklers of society, and these high-stickers never forgot such things, even when they were proven untrue. A marriage-minded miss and her mother would be horrified at the very thought.

Donning my teacher hat

As a former teacher, I cannot help comparing this to the seeming popularity of idiocy in modern culture, at least among the youth (I was a middle school teacher). It’s always been a concern of mine that adolescents—particularly girls—play down their intelligence in pursuit of popularity. Frankly, I’ve never understood it, not even when I was that age. Why anyone should eschew their God-given intelligence in order to cater to someone else’s insecurities is beyond me. One would think that we would have evolved beyond this by now, especially with the job market being so competitive, but I’ve seen too many students of both genders fail to take advantage of their academic abilities and end up with lives on the fringes of success. And frankly, all the standardized tests in the world are not making a whit of difference in the status quo.

That’s what I think anyway. What do you think? Do you think movies like Dumb and Dumber only serve to lower the value of serious scholarship among our young people?

Blog Barrage for Treasuring Theresa

CBLSbarragebanner

CBLS Promotions is sponsoring a Blog Barrage for Treasuring Theresa today and tomorrow. Check out the stops and enter the Rafflecopter contest for my newest treasure box (including UK souvenirs) (see below).

Lovely wooden box, 2013 Ellora's Cave playing cards (for adults only), sheep soap, James I and II necklace, Union Jack sequined coin purse, plaid bagpipes Christmas ornament, Treasuring Theresa key chain, plaid pen, crown pencil, fizzing bath crystals

Mark Your Calendar

fall2010

Coffeetime Romance Chat 

August 24  • 8:00-10:00 p.m. EDT

Eight Authors • Eight Giveaways

Theme: Historical Romance

Participating Authors

Aileen Fish
Shelly Munro
Lexi Post
Susana Ellis
Amy Hearst
Sasha Cottman
Sabrina York
Julie Johnstone

Her Hottest Heroes: 4 Historical Romances by Victoria Lynne

Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains adult sexual situations and/or adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers.

hhhbundle-barragebanner

(Click banner for links to the other tour stops.)

Her Hottest Heroes

(Historical Romance Boxed Set)

by Victoria Lynne

Historical (Regency) Western Romance 

FOUR of Victoria Lynne’s hottest heroes brought together in one great, money-saving bundle. Each book is a full-length novel.

Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains adult sexual situations and/or adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers.

WITH THIS KISS

An act of heroism leaves Morgan St. James, Viscount Sinclair, scarred for life. Rake turned recluse, he withdraws into his sheltered estate, away from the busy whirl of London society. There he remains until Julia Prentisse approaches him with a scandalous offer: if he marries her and protects her from her uncle, she will help him capture the arsonist who ruined his life.

“A smoldering Victorian era romance.” –Booklist

A Romantic Times “Top Pick” Nominated for their prestigious “Best Historical Romance”

WHAT WILD MOONLIGHT

When Nicholas DuVall, rakehell Earl of Barrington, witnesses Katya Alexander pick the pocket of a fellow passenger, her skill and audacity captivate him. He enlists her help to retrieve a priceless family scroll, unaware that an age-old family feud has made them mortal enemies, and that his beautiful thief has secrets to burn.

“A wild ride of an adventure romance destined to keep you reading all night. Simmering with sexual tension and the perfect amount of suspense.” –Romantic Times

CAPTURED

Treachery destroys Captain Cole McRae’s ship and most of his crew. Now he’s determined to take Devon Blake, British beauty and convicted spy, to the gallows. Her wild attempts at escape only fire his fury, until their daring race through enemy territory ignites a passion stronger than vengeance.

Nominated for two RITA Awards.

“A pure delight. Plenty of suspense, and beautifully drawn characters.” -Rendezvous

CHASING RAINBOWS

Smooth-talking gambler Jake Moran finds himself volunteering to escort the notorious Outlaw Annie, along with the ugliest cat he’s ever seen, to Cooperton, Colorado. Once Jake’s roped in and they hit the trail, nothing prepares him for the final showdown as he tries to tame the wildest woman in the west.

“Extremely well-written, faced-paced, and funny, Chasing Rainbows is a pot of gold from this talented, up-and-coming author. One for your keeper shelf.” – Romantic Times 

hhhbundle-cover

Available at

Amazon

About the Author

Victoria Lynne is the author of five historical romance novels. She’s received two RITA Award nominations, and has consistently earned Romantic Times’ “Top Pick” award. She lives in Vermont with her husband, two children, and one very playful mutt.

Contacts

Facebook • Goodreads • Amazon Author Page

Grace Eliot and “Verity’s Lie” (The Huntley Trilogy #3)

Grace will award 3 eBook copies (1 each to 3 winners) of “Verity’s Lie (The Huntley Trilogy #3)”. Contest is open internationally and ends August 7. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Click banner below for the Rafflecopter to enter the contest.

verityslie-blastbanner

Verity’s Lie (The Huntley Trilogy #3)

by Grace Elliot

Historical (Regency) Romance

About Verity’s Lie

Charles Huntley, Lord Ryevale, infamous rogue…and government agent.

In unsettled times, with England at war with France, Ryevale is assigned to covertly protect a politician’s daughter, Miss Verity Verrinder. To keep Verity under his watchful eye, Ryevale plots a campaign of seduction that no woman can resist– except it seems, Miss Verrinder. In order to gain her trust Ryevale enters Verity’s world of charity meetings and bookshops…where the unexpected happens and he falls in love with his charge.

When Lord Ryevale turns his bone-melting charms on her, Verity questions his lordship’s motivation. But with her controlling father abroad, Verity wishes to explore London and reluctantly accepts Ryevale’s companionship. As the compelling attraction between them strengthens, Verity is shattered to learn her instincts are correct after all – and Ryevale is not what he seems. If Lord Ryevale can lie, then so can she…but with disastrous consequences.

Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains adult sexual situations and/or adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers.

Excerpt

verityslie-coverRyevale alighted first, then offered up his hand to assist Verity down.  She placed her fingers lightly in his engulfing palm.  A chemical reaction fizzed between them, like acid to alkali, as warmth tracked up her arm and expanded in her chest.  Defying the urge to melt into his arms, she tipped her chin up defiantly for if he had any idea of how his touch affected her, she would be at his mercy.

As soon as her slippers touched the pavement, she shook her hand free.  “I can manage, thank you.”

“Very well.  The entrance is this way.”

Their little party waited beside a double door, outside which stood a rotund gentleman sporting a red waistcoat the same color as his nose.  He and Ryevale shook hands.

“Just the two ladies tonight, my lord?”

Verity suppressed a shocked gasp—and had that man just winked at Ryevale?  The sting of jealousy caught her by surprise as she wondered how many other women he had brought here.  She glance from one the other, but Ryevale seemed oblivious to her ire as he withdrew a metal token from his breast pocket.

“…and a shilling each for the ladies.”

Ryevale handed over the cash, plus a tip for the doorman.  “And this is for you, Annie,” he pressed a silver coin into her palm.  “Meet us back here at midnight.  Understand?”

The maid clutched the coin to her chest and nodded.

“Yes, my lord.  You want me to leave you and Miss Verity alone and meet yer here.”

“That’s the measure of it.”

“Then see you later, my lord, Miss Verrinder.”

With a provocative wiggle of the hips, Annie flounced through the doors.

The jolly man beamed and stood back.  “Have a good evening, my lord.”

Ryevale addressed Verity.  “Shall we?”

Dry-mouthed, she nodded and slid her hand through the proffered arm, touching hard muscle that made her eyes widen.

Together they entered an unlit tunnel, running through the width of the house.  There were no lanterns and, as they left the road behind, a black velvet blackness blanketed their senses.  Uncertain of her footing, Verity clung to Ryevale to guide her forward.

“Nearly there,” he said, his voice soft and intimate in the darkness.

From up ahead came the sound of a trilling bird: a lazy, sweet song as beautiful as life.

“Is that a nightingale?” she marveled.

“It is indeed.”

They edged forward, drawn on by a distant glow.  Then the drifting lilt of a waltz lifted on the breeze, and Verity couldn’t help but smile at the music.  As they approached the light even the air changed; scented with roses and ladies perfume…and another odor that puzzled her.  But at the end of the tunnel, as Ryevale pushed the gate open, she realized she smelled burning oil from hundreds, no thousands, of lamps hanging in tree lined avenues so long they disappeared in the distance.

Verity gasped as she struggled to take in the vista.

“Vauxhall Gardens.”  Ryevale stood back and grinned.

Verity clung to his arm like an anchor and drank in the sights.  Lanterns hung from tree branches, an amber glow falling on strolling couples.  She swallowed hard; her father would definitely disapprove of such shocking familiarity, but then that’s why she was here—to form her own opinion.

Available

Amazon (US) • Amazon (UK)

gelliot-authorphotoAbout the Author

Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace lives near London and is passionate about history, romance and cats! She is housekeeping staff to five cats, two sons, one husband and a bearded dragon (not necessarily listed in order of importance). Verity’s Lie is Grace’s fourth novel.

Contacts

Website • Blog • Newsletter • Twitter • Facebook • Amazon Author Page