A #Love Token Of My Affection

We think of #Valentine’sDay as a time to exchange cards, flowers and Godivas. But as David Copperfield, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, so vividly remembers, the Victorians had a special way of showing their devotion: a common coin, sanded then engraved with all manner of sentimental designs such as entwined initials, hearts, doves and roses, even entire pastoral scenes, usually made by a man and presented to his beloved.  They lasted longer than a bouquet and were easier than scrimshaw! It became popular to sell premade love tokens at country fairs–to any gentleman who lacked the time or … Continue reading A #Love Token Of My Affection

Vinegar #Valentines

Jane Eyre may have received one–if not from Mr. Rochester than from her horrid cousins. Called “vinegar valentines” or “penny dreadfuls”, these alternative Valentine’s Day cards were mailed to people of whom you disapproved, reminding them of their flaws and/or rejecting their love. Starting to appear in the 1840s and continuing well into the 1970s, they became as popular as the “real” penny Valentines being sent left and right on February 14th. Well before the Internet, these comically cruel cards were a reminder that human nature demands the sour with the sweet. Like the messages of today’s internet trolls, they … Continue reading Vinegar #Valentines

The Heart of Mr. Darcy

  Yes,  it’s almost that time again–Valentine’s Day when our thoughts turn to the heart. Of all of literature’s romantic heroes Mr. Darcy is probably the most popular. He is certainly the total package: intelligent yet normal (when compared with say Heathcliff), less of a liar than Rochester, richer than Tom Jones, younger than Maxim de Winter. His heart has captured that of many ladies. But what, in the Regency, WAS a heart’s true value and how was it measured? Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813. The first stethoscope was invented in 1816 by Doctor Laennec; when he saw a … Continue reading The Heart of Mr. Darcy

Frozen Roses

Jane Eyre, separated from Mr. Rochester on Valentine’s Day, may not be having any champagne over ice this Feb. 14th. But she can have roses over ice! Thanks to tips she learned from her gardener at Thornfield Hall, Jane knows how to keep roses alive over the winter: Know which variations to grow–old garden roses, such as China, Moss and Damask, rather than hybrid tea roses, are much hardier and stand a greater chance of making it through. Put your roses in a coma: roses that are completely frozen all the way through will probably live; but if they freeze, … Continue reading Frozen Roses