Victorian Valentines Cards

an140152142all-the-valentin.jpgA small collection of Victorian Valentine’s cards are up for auction going under the hammer today.

The 20 love notes, believed to date to around 1880, were found in an old shoebox by Charles Hanson and go on sale this Saturday.

The cards, covered in gentle floral designs and with messages of love are a world away from the some of the rather brash designs of the current generation.

Mr Hanson, a regular expert on the BBC’s Bargain Hunt show, said: “I couldn’t resist entering these cards into Hansons’ first London auction, giving people the chance to buy a genuine Victorian Valentine card in time for the most romantic day of the year. Surely, there can be nothing more romantic than that.

I found them in a shoebox during a trip to Cambridgeshire and it was love at first sight. The sweet floral decorations, gentle colours and equally gentle wording talking of “hope” are a delight.“

Sending a message of love to someone who may not know your feelings is a delicate matter and the simple charms of these Victorian cards remind us how it should be done, tastefully and elegantly.


Pre Raphaelite Ridiculousness

27459055_10157044953309128_2997197172210892348_nThe above Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece back on public display after its temporary removal.

The painting – part of Manchester gallery’s highly prized collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings – was temporarily removed from display as part of a project the gallery is working on with the contemporary artist Sonia Boyce, in the build-up to a solo exhibition of her work at the gallery opening on 23 March 2018.

Apparently Manchester Art Gallery said it took down Hylas and the Nymphs by JW Waterhouse to “encourage debate” about how such images should be displayed.

But critics accused curators of being puritanical and politically correct and the painting was put back today.

“It’s been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised,” Manchester City Council said.

Professor Liz Prettejohn, who curated a Waterhouse exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 2009, told BBC News: “Taking it off display is killing any kind of debate that you might be able to have about it in relation to some of the really interesting issues that it might raise about sexuality and gender relationships.

“The Victorians are always getting criticised because they’re supposed to be prudish. But here it would seem it’s us who are taking the roles of what we think of as the very moralistic Victorians.”

To be honest it does seem a little odd.

It is art, good art, a beautiful piece of artwork and quite why there even needs to be a discussion around this image seem rather childish and immature, it smacks of child giggling at a nude in a gallery.

Other were equally annoyed by this somewhat daft idea leaving post-its such as the one below.


Political correctness once again seems to have got a little out of hand…

What do you think?


Are you a Neo-Victorian?

Well this is a term that has been bandied around for sometime but what exactly is a Neo-Victorian?

10995932_10152745654359779_4692678856838105036_nAccording to Wiki Neo-Victorianism is an aesthetic movement which amalgamates both Victorian and Edwardian aesthetic sensibilities with modern principles and technologies. A large number of magazines and websites are devoted to Neo-Victorian ideas including  dress, family life, interior decoration and morals.

So lets see:

  • I certainly sport a splendid Victorian moustache and beard
  • I wear Victorian clothes given the oppertuniy
  • I read Neo-Victorian literature
  • I am a Christian which I believe brings my Victorian morality to the fore
  • I enjoy Victorian architecture, interior design

So now I have to ask myself why:

I don’t really know if there is an easy answer.

I find the Victorian era aesthetically pleasing, attention to detail and beauty. Assuming you had money then you dressed finely, hats and canes etc.

The fantastic authors such as Dickens, Bronte, Carroll and Thomas Hardy.

A set of Christian morals were generally accepted and a structure in society was present.

The modern world came into being with fantastic discoveries, feats of engineering. The British Empire had spread across the globe, fortunes were made.

Of course there was immense poverty, workhouses, the poor law, pollution, crime, violence, death and disease…if you were wealthy great, if not well…

But something about that era just draws me too it…how about you?

Jamaica Inn

Finally got round to watching Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier (2014).

The BBC three-part series was


Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan

written by Emma Frost and is an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s gothic novel of the same name.

The acting was all great. Jessica Brown Findlay did a fine job as Mary Yellen as did Matthew McNulty as Jem Merlyn. 

It was a dark and muddy production, just like the horrendous crimes committed  at the heart of this tale.

I think Jamaica Inn portrays that of many compromised characters. Mary Yellen quite sure of what is wrong and right, forced into taking part in the plunder and killing of innocent seaman.

The only character who is not compromised  and appears to know exactly what he is doing is the one at the centre of it all, the more than evil Parson.

The most compromised of all,

Joss Merlyn was played by Sean Harris superbly. He is ensnared in something extremely nasty indeed. His attempt to drag the heroin into the evil cesspool he inhabits was really a first class piece of drama, interesting to watch and yet really a sad story.

However with over 2,000 complaints being received by the end of the series about the ‘mumbling’ by some actors.

I have to say that Matthew McNulty who played Jem Merlyn is mean’t to have a mumbly voice, this clearly works on paper but not if you are trying to listen to him and there were some instances where it was difficult to understand what he was saying.

Apart from that I enjoyed it, quite a good plot and steller acting..

An interesting read

https_cdn.evbuc.comimages37917558778825813511originalEithne Cullen’s story The Ogress of Reading is part fact, part fiction, and tells of the chilling case of Amelia Dyer, who admitted 400 murders of young children in the 1890s.

Despite the shocking nature of her crimes, Amelia Dyer is still relatively unheard of, something that Eithne, 60, is keen to change.

“Jack the Ripper killed five people, and everyone has heard 
of him. Dyer killed hundreds,” she said.

The horrifying tale centres on the then widespread practice of baby farming, where people were paid to adopt children born out of wedlock, a terrible shame in Victorian times.

However, Amelia did not 
raise the children as promised. Instead she started to drown them in a river.

A police investigation ensued, leading to Amelia admitting her crimes and being executed in Holloway prison, which is where Eithne, of High View Road, picked up on the story.

She said: “I was doing some research on dangerous women 
in Holloway prison when I 
came upon the story which fascinated me.”

Although the retired English teacher has always written 
poetry and taken part in creative writing classes, this is her first published book.

Her efforts were greatly helped by Barking and Dagenham Council, and in particular its Pen to Print scheme.

Run by the council’s library service, the scheme is aimed at anyone interested in poetry, short stories, play writing or novels.

Eithne was given a mentor to help with her work, and credits the scheme as being a big 
help to her efforts.

She is now writing her second book, about obsessive love, entitled Never Not in my Thoughts.

Her advice to anyone interested in writing is, if they have the time, to “go for it”.

Eithne will be launching her book at Barking Library on Thursday, January 18. Free tickets can be obtained from

The Ogress of Reading is published by New Generation Publishing and is available from Amazon, priced £6.99 in paperback or £4.99 for an ebook version.

Anyone interested in the Pen to Print project can find out more at

Gaslight and Ingrid Bergman

I have recently found a bit of a passion for Victorian Era black and white movies and have set about acquiring some to watch.


This is such a great film. It stars the very lovely Ingrid Bergman and

Made in 1944. the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Screenplay; it also won the Academy Award for Best Actress and Best Production Design.

It is a beautiful looking film and the monochrome just adds to the depth of it.

The plot revolves around a  newly married couple, Paula and Gregory. Paula moved to Italy as a youngster after her Aunt was murdered in London, Gregory wants to move back to London to live in the house left in Auntie’s will.

Is the suave Gregory everything he claims to be?

Or is there an ulterior motive for wanting to gain access to the house?

Is Paula going insane…?

A great film and well worth a watch.

Dickens series coming

Press Release from the BBC
From the author of Peaky Blinders and Taboo, comes Steven Knight’s vision of Charles Dickens in a series of adaptations of his classic novels for BBC One.
  • A Christmas Carol announced as the first in a series of adaptations
  • Produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free London in association with Tom Hardy’s Hardy Son and Baker

624Commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, and produced by Scott Free London in association with Hardy Son and Baker, Knight will use his trademark style to create a boxset of Dickens’ most iconic novels in the next few years.

A Christmas Carol will be the first adaptation in this planned series. As Ebenzer Scrooge, the miserly cold-hearted boss, is visited by four ghosts from the past, present and the future, on a freezing Christmas Eve, he must face up to how his self-interested, penny pinching behaviour has impacted his own life and those around him, leaving him in a paranoid bubble of fear. Is it too late for him to save the spirit of Christmas, and himself?

Knight says: “Any question about narrative storytelling is answered by Dickens. To have the chance to revisit the text and interpret in a new way is the greatest privilege. We need luck and wisdom to do this justice.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “Steven’s unique ability to reimagine the past and to turn it in to must see drama make him the perfect writer to reimagine Dickens’ most famous works for a new generation. And in A Christmas Carol, that most familiar of Dickens’ stories, he has found the perfect place to start.”

Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content says: “It’s incredibly exciting to have a genius like Steven Knight embark on a series of Dickens adaptations. What can I say? Be prepared to be blown away by his wholly original and visionary take on some of Britain’s best loved classics.”

Ridley Scott says: “It’s terrific to be continuing the creative partnership of Scott Free London with Tom and Steve that started with Taboo and continues with this exciting and ambitious anthology of British classics.”

Kate Crowe, Head of TV, Scott Free London, says: “A Christmas Carol explores miserliness, isolation and selfishness against generosity, charity and open-heartedness; a clash of ideologies that is as significant today as it ever has been.”

Tom Hardy, Hardy Son and Baker, says: “It’s extremely exciting to have the opportunity to team up with Ridley Scott, Steven Knight and our partners at the BBC with this rare and wonderful opportunity to revisit and interpret Dickens’ classic works. A Christmas Carol is a fabulous magical piece of theatre and an embarrassment of riches for our creative team – from character all the way through to design. Here’s to having a lot of intricate and wonderful fun. We feel very lucky.”

A Christmas Carol is a 3×60’ drama for Christmas 2019. It will be produced by Scott Free London in association with Hardy Son and Baker for BBC One. It will be executive produced by Steven Knight, Ridley Scott, Tom Hardy, Kate Crowe and Dean Baker, alongside Piers Wenger for the BBC.

Further details will be announced in due course.