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timemachine1Dickens On The Strand was earlier this month. It included a holiday parades of pirates, fellow Steampunkers, choirs of carolers, beggars, a host of other memorable Victorian characters and also the suffragettes. This picture of me next to H. G. Wells’ time machine as I’m wearing my Votes for Women sash is fitting. I went back in time on the strand as I marched with the Victorian suffragettes in the parade.

We sung: All I want for Christmas is the right to vote The right to vote The right to vote All I want for Christmas is the right to vote So I can govern my existence

votesMarching as a suffragette was a blast but the real suffragette movement was serious business and a long hard fight. Millicent Fawcett founded the National Union of Women’s Suffrage in 1897. The movement began with peaceful protest arguing that if women had to pay taxes they had the right to vote.

But because Fawcett’s progress through peaceful protests was slow, a lawyer, Richard Pankhurst, his wife, Emmeline, and daughter, Christabel, made a fresh attempt to gain the vote for women and formed the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903. They pursued civil disobedience for the cause. Suffragettes protested by chaining themselves to railings and eventually by smashing windows.

As you make your New Year resolutions tomorrow, think about these brave women of the suffragettes movement who resolved to gain us the vote and did so, both Suffragettes in England and also in America. They gave us a great gift, the opportunity to vote.

Consider adding a suffragette sash to your Steampunk costume. I’m going to continue to wear mine. Also consider making one of your Steampunk characters a suffragette – it worked well for Mrs. Banks in Disney’s Marry Poppins film.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 24 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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peterson1888Fun without a television? *GASP* Horrors, you say?

In the Victorian Era, where much of Steampunk is set, entertainments in the home were very much a DIY experience.

Part of what I love about Historical Fiction and Speculative Fiction is research… love it… nerd-like love… oh, who am I kidding! NERD LOVE…

So, I thought I share some of the home entertainments discussed in my Peterson’s Magazine from 1888. Why this issue? ‘Cause It’s at my desk and I’m LAZY tonight 😀

Anywho… this is from pages 178-179 FIRESIDE GAMES

Games for Winter Evenings – We give a game or two more, for amusement on winter evenings. The “Magic Answer” is a game much liked. There are two ways of playing it, and it requires two confederates; one leaves the room and the company decides upon the name of any person they please; on being recalled, the other confederate puts the question, and asks “Is it So-and-so?” naming a different person each time. The answer is “no,” until the right person has been named, when it is “yes.”  The simple trick consists in always naming a person with white hair before the name of the person agreed upon. The correct answer creates much surprise as to how it has been arrived at.

– they say there are two ways of playing it… but um… they only gave us one way… *tsk tsk*
– the other thing is that they may not have explained it fully… the ‘company’ doesn’t know it’s a trick… needless to say the ‘tell’  changes depending upon the company… a room full of people with white hair will need something different

“Birds” is a rather fun game, if it is well played. Four or five ladies out of the company each choose the name of a bird, and whisper it to the gentlemen who is to sell them. Any of the company offers to buy a bird, and asks for the one he wants; the amusement consists in the badinage which passes between the birdseller and the purchasers, and the guesses as to which of the ladies is intended by the birds described; children and young people enjoy this game, and the description of the birds are made as apropos as possible. 

– I wonder how much flirting went on with this game… would the ladies choose their birds for a reason? What if it was a bird that had special meaning for the object of their affections.  Would they choose the bird hoping that he will ask for that very bird? Ah… romance… or frustration as may have happened!

 

More from the home entertainments of Victorians… NEXT time 😀

 

 

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Steampunk and Chocolate go together like tea and scones. After all modern chocolate was created in the Victorian era and steam power made the first mass production of chocolate possible. Not to mention when I think of chocolate factories, I think of Willie Wonka, which has a steampunk vibe.

I set up a Steampunk event to tour the Keggs Chocolate factory here in Houston Texas. It’s not quite Wille Wonka’s but it’s a lot of fun and full of freshly made chocolate treats. Yum yum! The choclate factory -Chocolate was first molded into solid form in 1847 by Francis Fry, who added melted cacao butter back into Dutch cocoa then added sugar, creating a moldable paste. He called it “eating chocolate” Two years later the Cadbury brothers were also selling “eating chocolate”. And in 1861 Richard Cadbury created the first heart-shaped candy box for Valentine’s Day. If you like milk chocolate like I do, you can thank Daniel Peter, who invented it in 1875  by using condensed milk his neighbor Henri Nestle developed. Then Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle formed the Nestlé Company.putting swirls on the choclate to tell which kind is which

In 1879 Rodolphe Lindt invented the conching machine to heat and roll chocolate to a smooth and creamy consistency so it melts on the tongue. In 1895 Milton S. Hershey sold his first Hershey Bar in Pennsylvania. He made it using modern, mass-production equipment he purchased at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

so hard to decide – it all looks good

So we can think the Victorian era for chocolate. After the scrumptious chocolate factory tour, we had lunch at Your Cup Of Tea, an English style Tea House.

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Her latest Steampunk Romance is a re-release, As Timeless As Magic, the sequel to As Timeless As Stone and Brass Octopus is coming in September.

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At Apollo Con I attended the Amusements and Diversions in the Age of Steam – Magic Lantern show – by fantasy artist, Theresa Mather.

She showed us a photographic history of Victorian entertainment and oddities A popular fair attraction In the mid 19th century was the platform carousel with a circular floor rotating around a pole in it’s center and operated manually or by ponies. The carousel went steamed in 1861. Thomas Bradshaw created the first steam-powered mechanical carousel, (I call them Merry-Go-Rounds). That carousel and others of it’s day spun much faster than modern ones. It’s a wonder people were able to hold onto the horses during the ride. it was a thrill ride of it’s day. A high-point of early fairground art was the elaborate decorations created by Italian designers and craftsmen imported at the showmen’s expense and they even included lavish center organs.

The first Steampowered carousel inspired Frederick Savage to try his hand at making similar machines using the expertise at his agricultural engineering works at Kings Lynn.Savage’s first steam powered ride was a bycle carousel, the Velocipede. Savage also competed with several manufacturers to try to make carousel horses gallop and created their first platform galloper in 1885. The same year Messrs Reynolds and King designed the overhead crank system. By the end of the 19th century crank-action gallopers were a popular ride. The steam engine connected to a spinning top that in turn linked to the platform.One  variant used galloping cockerels rather than horses.

In 1880 the partnership of Frederick Savage and William Sanger gave birth to another novelty ride, Sea on Land. Replicas of seafaring vessels were pitched and tossed by mechanisms beneath their hulls. Then a patent taken in 1888 introduced the Steam Yachts the ultimate mechanized swing ride. William Cartwright of Bromwich first succeeded in building a set using upright cylinders. The Steam Yacht rides used huge boats able to carry 20 or more people at a time.They even named the ships after giant ocean-going liners like the Lusitania, Mauritania. Cymric, and Celtic, although Olympia and Titanic proved short lived names..These rides were gorgeous in full swing as the boats had lavishly painted bottoms.

Savage also created the Razzle Dazzle ride, with seats and an outter wall it tilted side to side as it spun around. By 1885 Savage made the ride Tunnel Railways, a locomotive pulled carriages on a circular track with a tunnel. Frederick Savage enjoyed prominence as the pioneer of the steam roundabout but several engineering firms  along with some amateurs. Robert Tidman of Norwich, Thomas Walker of Tewkesbury and William Howcroft, of Hartlepool, all emerged as competitive manufacturers of steam powered rides by the 1880s.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

 

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We recently had a fun event in Houston for the local Steampunk community. The Brass Ball, a DJed dance with multiple musicians and vendors was held Sunday July 27 at Mimms Martini and Wine bar on Montrose. You can see photos of the Brass Ball here in the blog post.

This event had me thinking about Houston saloons in the 19th century. The main choice of drink in the saloon was whiskey, also called rotgut, sheep-dip, cactus juice, coffin varnish, and tarantula juice. In those days cowboys and western gents could partake of more than just a drink in a saloon. In 1839, a local Houston, Texas newspaper decried the town’s houses of ill repute. The newspaper was probably either The Houston Morning Star, a daily newspaper founded April 8, 1839, or the Telegraph and Texas Register, a weekly newspaper that included local, state, and national news, established July 10, 1839. The Houston Morning Star was actually printed in the office of the Telegraph and Texas Register.

In Houston Land of the Big Rich the author, Geroge Fuerman, statesbrass ball 2 that from 1880 to World War I Houston’s vice area was on old Howard Street. In the early 1900’s the brothels in Houston used a practical bookkeeping system based on towels. One was given to each customer and at the end of the night the madam counted the brass ball 5towels and paid the girls accordingly. There’s a story about a Howard street brothel in those days that caught on fire. The madam fled the burning house by taking the outside stairs but when she looked up she saw the porter jump form a second story window with his arms loaded with towels. She exclaimed, “Thank God. He saved the books.”

I did find some saloon information from other Texas towns. In the early 1870s in Lampasas Texas a gunfight broke out in the saloon between state police and outlaws. Three officers were shot to death in the saloon and a fourth was fatally wounded while trying to escape.

There’s even a Texas saloon story involving Jesse James. The brass ball 9outlaw lived for a time in the area of Granbury Texas. He fell in love with an 18 year old saloon girl and began to settle down. In those days if a saloon patron was upstairs with a saloon girl when his wife came to drag him home, the barkeep would send the man down the husband escape, which was the outside stairs. The saloon girl Jesse loved had to run down the husband escape one night but she wasn’t fast enough to escape a bullet in her back. Some people say the saloon girl still haunts the empty up stair rooms around the square in Granbury.

I’m glad to report the Brass Ball at Mims was old fashioned fun and great music without any wild west shenanigans or shootouts but there were some card tricks.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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I recently worked a temp job where my co-workers sent a group email once a week when the food trucks came to the area. Everyone was always so excited about lunch on those days. It was the one time they all went to lunch together. In a large group they’d walk over to where the food trucks parked to try out the different ones. Some of the most popular food trucks in Houston, where I live are Yummy’z Kitchen serving American classics, the waffle bus with their gourmet waffle sandwiches, and FoodGasm offering everything from burgers and lobster rolls to wings and waffles and deep-fried Oreos. I love the food trucks that come to the Houston Highland Games each year where I get cultural delicacies such as haggis, bangers and mash, and scotch eggs and Irn – Bru to wash it all down. I haven’t got my granddaughter to try haggis yet but I did get her to each a scotch egg. She loved it. And everyone loves food trucks. Here are some great photos of actual Steampunk food trucks. It might surprise you to know food trucks aren’t new. And, yes, they go back to Victorian times. They were called lunch wagons then.

In 1887, Walter Scott, a Rhode Island pressman at the Providence Journal, made extra money selling homemade sandwiches and coffee he carried in baskets to co-workers. This little side business did so well Scott upgraded to a horse-drawn wagon with walk up windows on each side. There, he served fresh sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, sweet pies, and steaming coffee. Scott’s customers, these late night regulars and shift workers, were the rough and rowdy kind. He often had to hold their hats as collateral until they paid for their sandwiches.  Sometimes he even had to collect  payment with a club. It seems selling sandwiches in the Victorian age wasn’t for the faint of heart.  Still, his business boomed. Soon copy cat lunch wagons popped up giving him some local competition.

A Massachusetts wagon owner,  T.H. Buckley, discovered building lunch cars was more profitable than operating them. Commercial production of lunch wagons began.  The leading advantage of Buckley’s design, No. 22,743, Patented Aug. 22, 1893, was a series of windows extending  around the wagon and a door on either side of the wagon. The row of windows in the upper portion of the wagon body added a light and airy appearance. Buckley’s wagons also had large wheels to maneuver over the cobblestones, overhangs to keep patrons out of the rain, decorative murals, frosted glass and shiny fixtures, as well as ice boxes and cook-stoves.

The united States post Office honored these early lunch wagons with a 29 cent Lunch Wagon stamp issued on April, 12, 1991.

Food Time Line is a great source for 19th century foodways for Steampunk stories – authentic saloon menus are even listed and a recipe for a pioneer birthday cake as well as Queen Victoria’s favorite foods. Also click here for some great Lunch Wagon images.

If you enjoy eating at food trucks keep that in mind when writing stories set in the 19th century. Have your characters stop by a food wagon or create a character who owns a food wagon.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Maeve Alpin will be making several appearances this month at the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention in New Orleans and at Comicpalooza in Houston.

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I just recently saw this great French comedy adventure film set in the Edwardian era, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec. It’s on Netflix and certainly has Steampunk elements. Here’s the trailer:

Just as we in the 21st century are mad about zombies, those in the 19th century were mad about mummies. Some people, like me, are still mad about mummies.

Here’s a trailer for another modern day mummy movie set in the Edwardian era that I’m sure you’re familiar with. The Mummy. Here’s the favorite scene in that movie for most writers, readers, and librarians.

Reviving mummies began with Jane Webb Loudon who wrote “The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century” in 1827.This was the first mummy story, one of the first sci-fi books and the first sci-fi work with a modern world building style.

“The ancient Egyptians you know, believed that the souls of their mummies were chained to them in a torpid state till the final day of judgment, and supposing this hypotheses to be correct, there is every reason to imagine that by employing so powerful an agent as galvanism, re-animation may be produced.” – From The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century.

And so it is, two of Loudon’s characters, Edwin and Dr. Entwerfen, embark by balloon on an expedition to the tomb of Pharaoh Cheops (Khufu), to shock him back to life with a galvanized battery.

Mummies proved a popular theme in many Regency, Victorian and Edwardian books. With so many mummy books, I’m going to only name the stories or poems about mummies or pharaohs written by author’s you’ll recognize. You may be surprised.

The first is Lord Byron. His poem growing old references the famous Pharaoh, Khufu (Cheops) who built the pyramid at Giza.

“What are the hopes of man? Old Egypt’s King
Cheops erected the first Pyramid
And largest, thinking it was just the thing
To keep his memory whole, and mummy hid;
But somebody or other rummaging,
Burglariously broke his coffin’s lid:
Let not a monument give you or me hopes,
Since not a pinch of dust remains of Cheops.”

Next is another famous poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley’s husband. He was inspired by the ancient Greek writer, Diodorus Siculus, who on his travels to Thebes described a giant fallen statue of Ozymandias (Ramesses II). It was inscribed, “I am Ozymandias, King of Kings. Should any man seek to know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works.” So Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the sonnet Ozymandias.

“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Then we have Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, “Some Words with a Mummy”, written in 1845. It’s humorous satire, a delightful read, and the author’s voice is so fresh it seems as if it could have been written today. Simply put – it’s so Poe.

Next, Louisa May Alcott, of Little Women fame, wrote a short story, “Lost in a Pyramid: The Mummy’s Curse” in 1869 . It’s on the horror side, quite Victorian, and you’ll recognize Alcott’s writing style.

The last one and one of the best is Bram Stoker, author of Dracula. The Jewel of Seven Stars is a full length novel written in 1903 about a female mummy an Egyptologist brings back to his home to revive. His daughter is then possesed by the mummy’s soul.  Stoker is a master of suspense and elegant writing. He has wonderful page turning hooks at the end of each chapter. It’s not as great as Dracula – but it’s good and it’s pure Stoker. I loved it.

The Jewel of Seven Stars has two endings. On the third print run, in 1912, the publisher demanded Stoker change the ending. At the time, critics called the original ending too gruesome. I read this at Project Gutenberg, which had the newer ending, but I was able to read the original ending at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/543300.The_Jewel_of_Seven_Stars The first ending isn’t gruesome by today’s standards though it is horribly sad. Still, the original ending is clearly the best.

What are your favorite Mummy books or movies? Have you read any Steampunk Mummy books? Which do you prefer zombies or mummies? Feel free to comment below.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Maeve Alpin will be making several appearances next month in May at the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention in New Orleans and at Comicpalooza in Houston.

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