The random—and not so random—musings of a quirky Regency romance writer.
No one with that many people in her head can possibly be normal...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Gambling

Ah, gambling. Gambling was an aspect of Regency life that was accepted as normal, even required. It was, however, technically illegal.

Gambling was made illegal in the early-1700s when it was decided that such an addictive pastime, where whole fortunes were won and lost, needed to be curtailed. This merely forced the activity to go behind closed doors. By the time the Regency rolled around, gambling was more than just a pleasurable pursuit. It was nearly a requirement in High Society.

The things one could gamble on were many and varied. Ladies and gentlemen could gamble at nearly every Society function, as most of these had card rooms for those who didn't care to dance. For gentlemen, they could also gamble at horse races, pugilistic events (boxing), cock fights, dog fights, and many other sports that ran along the same lines.

Gambling at private parties such as balls usually had limits. Even card parties tended towards smaller stakes, although fortunes could still be won or lost on the turn of a card. If a gentleman wanted to take real chances with his money or property, he had to go to a gaming house or gambling hell.

Curiously, in researching for this post, I have stumbled across a name that I have never heard before. William Crockford was possibly the richest self-made man of the time. His gambling house was said to rival the Palace of Versailles for opulence. He built his gambling house in 1827 in St James's Street, calling it Crockford's Club.

Perhaps the reason this man and his club goes unmentioned is the time he was known. Few Regencies venture into the time after the coronation of the George IV even though this time was still considered the "Regency" by most.

Speaking of George IV, he was quite the gambler himself. However, I think maybe he deserves his own post, don't you?

*Further reading: The Regency Underworld by Donald A Low and the Wikipedia article titled William Crockford.
**As always, I welcome comments or questions. Feel free to correct or question everything. :o)

Friday, December 25, 2009

~Photo Friday~ Waiting for Spring

I admit, I am not a winter person. I suppose Michigan is not the best place to live when one is not a winter person. Oh well. I am already looking forward to all the wonders of spring.

This pic was actually taken in July 2008. These adorable baby whitetail deer were in my backyard.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Gretna Green

Gretna Green was not the only place in Scotland to which one could elope. It just happened to be the first town over the England-Scotland border on the Great North Road. Scotland's more liberal marriage laws allowed for what came to be known as "over-the-anvil" unions. Basically, all the couple had to do was declare they were married before a witness (often the local blacksmith)...and they were.

These marriages, however, were unlikely to stand up in an English court, especially if one of the parties involved was under legal age to marry without parental consent. In 1856 the law in Scotland changed, requiring the couple to live there for 21 days to make the marriage legal.

*Further reading: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool.
**Photo above is licensed under the CC Attribution 2.0. Pic links to the Wikimedia page that explains.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Giveaway at Romance, Old School

Hello, lovely readers!! I interviewed Miss Mae, author of the fabulous YA novel, When the Bough Breaks. She is giving away one signed copy to a very fortunate reader. Come on over and check it out.

Interview here.
My review of When the Bough Breaks here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Rookeries

Not all Regency novels, especially romances, venture into the seedier parts of London. In the East End were warrens of streets and alleys, buildings all crammed together and the poor unfortunates who lived and worked there.

The rookeries were hotbeds of crime, havens for drug users and dealers, prostitution and worse. It was these areas that Charles Dickens quite often focused on in his chilling tales. It was in the rookery of Jacob's Island (pictured here) where the villain Bill Sikes met his end in Oliver Twist. The full title of David Copperfield was "The Personal History, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery which he never meant to be published on any account."

*Further reading: The Regency Underworld by Donald A. Low, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool and the Wikipedia article titled Jacob's Island.

Friday, December 4, 2009

~Photo Friday~ Apple Blossoms

We have this incredibly tiny apple tree in our front yard. I went out one evening earlier this year to take these pics. I love apple blossoms.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Bow Street Runners

Bow Street is often mentioned in Regency novels, some are even centered around the famous Runners of the time. Simply, a Bow Street Runner was a professional thief-taker who answered to the law enforcement office in Bow Street. They could be, and often were, hired by private citizens or organizations to recover or protect property or relatives. They were held in some awe by the general public.

The novelist Henry Fielding was appointed magistrate in 1749. His base of operations was in Bow Street and his inclinations as a social reformer eventually led to his forming the specialist thief-takers known as the Bow Street Runners. His brother worked with him and took over in 1754. The Runners were disbanded in 1839.

*Further reading: The Regency Underworld by Donald A. Low and What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool.


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