Are you a female writer over 40? If so, you could be living in a period cottage near Stratford-upon-Avon – though not the one pictured – that’s Anne Hathaway’s – with all expenses paid for anywhere from two months to a year and an annual stipend of nine thousand pounds. The Hosking Houses Trust has been calling for applicants for the 2010-11 award, but so far only two ladies have applied! What’s the catch? Well, you’ll need to have “a contract for publication or performance of original work on any subject” and “the legal right to be in the U.K.” The cottage is in Clifford Chambers, three miles from Stratford-upon-Avon and Hidcote Gardens, Chipping Campden and Warwick Castle are all within easy reach. Applications will be accepted until April 12. Visit the Hosking Houses Trust for full details and do let us know if you’re the writer they accept!
I am delighted to share some of my research at Number One London. Here’s a little info about me and how my research interests developed.
I grew up near Chicago and spent my summers at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, a sparkling glacial lake just north of the Illinois border. Many of the properties along the 27-mile shoreline were great mansions built by Chicago millionaires (back when a million meant something!) as their summer homes in the mid-19th century. How I fantasized about life in those huge houses. I imagined myself as the heiress daughter, beautiful beyond belief, who was destined to marry a prince. May I point out that I blame my father for giving me royal illusions by choosing the name Victoria?
My mother told me her first visit to Lake Geneva was as a child in the 1920’s when she and her family visited an aunt, the Swedish cook at one of the great houses. Even the downstairs servants were allowed to invite their families from time to time. But I identified more with upstairs residents, of course. Wishful thinking. This photo of Stone Manor on Geneva Lake, WI, is used by the courtesy of Mark Czerniec. Thanks, Mark.
Geneva Lake is ringed with the great mansions of
Chicago titans like the Wrigleys and the Schwinns.
This one, known both as Younglands and as Stone Manor, was built by Otto Young, developer of the long gone State Street landmark, The Fair Store, as well a real estate mogul and financier. Young was born in Germany in 1844 and died at Lake Geneva in 1906. He had been treasurer of the board of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 in Chicago.
If you visit Geneva Lake, you may want to schedule a tour of Black Point, shown at left.
The home has been open to the public for a few years, with acess only by the cruise boats of Gage Marine. I used to come here as a teenager when Uncle Ernie Schmidt entertained the young sailors on the lake. The house was built in 1888 by Chicago beer baron Conrad Seipp, one of Uncle Ernie’s relatives.
Ever since childhood, I have had a great interest in the homes of the wealthy, be it in Newport, NYC, Florida, or anywhere. Mostly, I am interested in the families who lived in these houses. And my interests widened to English country houses when I visited England as a college student.
After college and grad school and time working in Washington D.C., my husband and I moved to Milwaukee where we have lived ever since, except for winters, which we spend in Naples, FL, from which I am currently writing.
I have published a dozen books, mostly regency-era romances. Lately I have been working on some new projects about which I will write someday. But my fascination with great houses and the families that lived in them remains.
A few years ago, several friends and I took a course at Oxford University (through the Smithsonian Associates) to study the history of stately homes in Britain. We were in residence at Worcester College and traveled around Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire to various estates under the leadership of Geoffrey Tyack, as delightful a professor as I have ever known.
I will be writing about some of these houses soon on this blog. But first, remember some of the earliest remains of English Country Houses are actually Roman. The Romans were in Britain for over 400 years, beginning in 55 B.C. and left behind remains from the Channel ports to Hadrian’s Wall. Bath has its famous Roman springs. Excavations have uncovered the ruins of many country estates, such as the Chedworth Roman Villa, below, now run by the National Trust in Gloucestershire.
Soon, we’ll move forward in time to a wonderful medieval house, Haddon Hall. If you have a favorite stately home in England (or elsewhere), let me know. I love to hear your experiences. I have occasionaly run into the house owners, all of whom did not pay the slightest attention to their paying guests. One was the Duke of Northumberland at Syon Park; another was the 10th Duke of Roxburghe at Floors Castle. Can’t say I blamed them a bit! But Her Grace, the lovely Duchess of Bedford actually waved to our group at Woburn Abbey.
Until later, cheers, Victoria Hinshaw
The Archive CD Books website offers rare and invaluable British research tools reproduced on CD – books that most of us would otherwise not have access to outside of county libraries and archives. Not only that, the CD’s are affordable – about $30 each. They have wide range of titles, including Pigot’s directories for all counties in England, Post Office directories and unique books such as a contemporary tourist guide entitled, “Excursions through Essex 1818.” They also offer the London 1833 Royal Blue Book, the listing for which reads: One of the most interesting directories, and a really beautiful and valuable book. The Royal Blue Book is in two parts: a complete street by street listing (with house numbers) for central London in 1833, together with a complete alphabetical listing of all heads of household, their occupation where applicable, and address. It also includes Institutions, Societies, Public Offices, Hotels, Coffee-Houses and Taverns, Army and Navy Agents, and Bankers, followed by a section containing advertisements. An 1831 street map of London has also been included on the CD. (The original book never did have a map, but this one is taken from the 1831 Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of England).
“When a man is tired of London . . . “
Jo Manning, author of My Lady Scandalous, Seducing Mr. Heywood, The Sicilian Amulet and other novels will be speaking at Dr. Johnson’s House, London. The topic of Jo’s talk will be Artists and Their Models: A Personal Insight Into Three Georgian Artists and Their Favorite Female Sitters and will include a personal look at three prominent Georgian artists – Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, and George Romney – and what Jo Manning imagines their relationships were with several of their female sitters.
Jo asks, “Have you ever wondered, when you looked at a particularly beautiful portrait, what the dynamics were between the artist and his/her sitter? While researching the world of Grace Dalrymple Elliott for my biography, My Lady Scandalous, I delved deeply into the Georgian art scene and came to some interesting conclusions about three particular artists and their favorite models, all of them women who happened to be courtesans. These portraits are not only beautiful works of art by gifted artists; I believe they tell a fascinating story about the relationship of each of these men to his model(s) and thus serve to enrich our viewing pleasure.”
Dr. Johnson’s House is one of the few residential houses from the period still surviving in the City of London. Built in 1700, the house has now been restored to its original condition, with a collection of period furniture, prints and portraits. Situated to the north of Fleet Street, the house is found among a maze of courtyards and passages that are a reminder of historic London. If you’re going to be in London on May 20th, I urge you to attend. If Jo’s other seminars are anything to go by, this talk will be a pip!