Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Victorian Medievalism

Lamia and the Soldier, by John William Waterhouse Wikicommons

Lamia and the Soldier, by John William Waterhouse

You’ve heard the old saying that History repeats itself, right?  Of course you have.  But it’s not just the events of History that have a way of resurfacing every now and then.  People have a tendency to look back to an earlier age for inspiration on both an artistic and spiritual level.  At the end of the 18th century and in the Regency the trend was to look back to the ancient world of Greece and Rome.  But as the 19th century progressed, artists and scholars began to take another look at a period of time that many of their contemporaries had written off as dark, bleak, and unenlightened: the Middle Ages.

In fact, Medievalism became such a fad with so many off-shoots by the end of the 19th century, that we are still feeling the effects of the revival today.  What started as a small movement amongst painters and poets, a reaction against the modernization of Realism, turned into an expansion of creativity that today’s fantasy and paranormal fans would recognize, in spirit and practice. (more…)

Mrs. Child’s General Maxims for Health

By Anna Kathryn Lanier 

A few years ago I came across a reproduction copy of THE AMERICAN FRUGAL HOUSEWIFE. DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO ARE

The American Frugal HousewifeNOT ASHAMED OF ECONOMY by Mrs. Child, originally printed in 1828.  This reproduction is of the 12th addition, published in 1833.  THE AMERICAN FRUGAL HOUSEWIFE “was an extremely popular nineteenth-century manual for homemakers. Interesting recipes and remedies, advice on


ing and the myriad responsibilities of housekeepin

g are all put forth in straightforward, no-nonsense, Yankee prose.” 


Romantic Excess

I was a God-fearing child, innocent and physically unattractive.” — Robert Schumann, Diaries

Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856) was the true Romantic pianist. He lived a life of excess in romance–closely chronicled in an environment of “devotion and tempestuous passion.” 

Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann

Schumann originally started out studying law but left it for music, with the notion of becoming a virtuoso pianist. Then, in some obscure way, he suffered “an injury” to his hand and had to give up this dream:

“Schumann suffered from many afflictions…continuous general malaise, tinnitus, vertigo, insomnia, headache, depression, premonitions of insanity, numbness, cramp, difficulty in writing, speech disturbance, memory failure, a stroke, pains in bones and joints, florid psychosis, giddiness, general paralysis of the insane, and deterioration to death – to which one might add: manic depressive schizophrenia, a suicide attempt, and a hand problem” — http://www.pianisttopianist.com/?p=10

Faced with this failure. Schumann cast about for a remedy and found it in the daughter of his piano teacher. He could not expect to make money as a performing pianist, but Clara Wieck with her modest dowry might answer to the purpose. She was an aspiring pianist, with no injury to her own fingers. Her father naturally objected but Schumann persevered and when Clara was old enough, she decided for herself. (more…)

The Princess Diana Connection

Frances Work

Frances Work

My research into the Victorian Gilded Age revealed that from the late 1800’s through the Edwardian era, more than a 100 American heiresses were married off to British nobility with the result that most of the great British noble families can now trace their ancestry through American bloodlines. And that includes the Royal family. Princess Diana’s great grandmother, Frances Work (an American stockbroker’s daughter) married the Hon. James Burke-Roche and gave birth to twin sons, the elder of whom was the maternal grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales and, therefore, great-grandfather of William, Duke of Cambridge. Diana’s middle name, Frances, is taken from her mother and great-grandmother.

The Hon. James Burke-Roche was a younger brother of an Irish baron named Lord Fermoy (James became the 3rd Baron Fermoy after his brother’s death in 1920). While the family owned some 16,000 acres in County Cork and County Waterford, the land only earned about £7000/year leaving little for a younger brother. So James set out for America to use his good looks to advantage. After attempting to raise cattle in Wyoming, he made his way to New York City and then Newport in 1880 where he met Frances Work, a beautiful daughter of stockbroker, Frank Work, protégé of Commodore Vanderbilt, and married her that September. (more…)

Desiderius Erasmus

Erasmus HallI’ve been getting messages about my upcoming high school reunion. Are you scratching your head? What does my high school reunion have to do with Desi? I am proud to say I went to Erasmus Hall High School, in Brooklyn. So, who was Desiderius Erasmus and why name a school for him?

Born Gerard Gerards, October 27, 1466 in Holland. Gerards was known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, or simply Erasmus. He was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, social critic, teacher and theologian. He was the most famous and influential humanist of the Northern Renaissance, a man of great talent and industriousness who rose from obscure beginnings to become the leading intellectual figure of the early sixteenth century. He was courted by rulers and prelates who wanted to enhance their own reputations by associating with the greatest scholar of the age. (more…)

Hildegard of Bingen and Writing in First-Person

Every once in a while, Amazon gets it right.  A few weeks ago I pulled my Kindle out of its cover and there, on the sleep-mode page, was a recommendation for Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen, by Mary Sharratt.  Well of course I bought it!  Hildegard is one of my favorite historical figures.

Cover-of-IlluminationsAt the same time, I’m really not all that surprised when I hear someone say “Hildegard von Who?”.  Precious few people are aware of medieval history, and even fewer of those people stop to consider what women in the Middle Ages were doing.  In the case of Hildegard, she was doing a lot!

In a nutshell, Hildegard was a German (and I use the term anachronistically) nun whose life spanned three-quarters of the twelfth century.  She was a mystic, a writer, an abbess, and one of the greatest minds of the High Middle Ages.  The crowned heads of Europe, including the Pope, wrote to her for advice on some of the thorniest issues, both personal and political.  Her musical compositions are still performed.  Her dramatic works are some of the finest of the pre-Shakespearean era. (more…)