Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles

On Friday, August 1st, a group of attendees at the RWA went on a very special roadtrip. We were escorted by the charming and knowledgeable writer and Beau Monde program coordinator Kalen Hughes to visit a tiny lace and textile museum/retail shop in Berkeley, the Lacis Museum. Kalen directed us through the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system, including dealing with one particularly balky ticket machine. We arrived in Berkeley, and it was strange to see open space, and parking lots, and low-rise buildings after our days in downtown San Francisco. Upon entering the museum, we immediately scattered to study the fabulous exhibits. I was fascinated by the marvelous displays–antique thimbles, bobbin lace, shown mid-weave, perfectly preserved Georgian clothing. We were then given a tour by Erin, the manager of Lacis. It was wonderful being in such erudite company with similar interests, and we had spirited debates about the development of fichus, the origins of the spencer jacket, and differences between Regency and modern muslin fabrics. Kalen, alas, had to leave for another appointment, but we managed a few purchases, and a geographically-savvy tour member got us safely back to the hotel. On the way, we had a spirited, okay, heated, discussion of the merits of various Pride and Prejudice films. The universal decision was that Wickham had to be gorgeous, perhaps even more gorgeous than Darcy, in order for him to cause as much trouble as he did.

I did get some photos of some of the clothing Erin showed us, and they’re posted on my Flickr site. Feel free to check them out. I especially loved the 18th Century waistcoats. The design and handwork was truly incredible.

Here’s the web-site for Lacis:

Admittance to the museum is free, but rest assured you’ll find something to purchase.

And here’s Kalen’s web-site. Her information and links for Georgian and Regency costumes are fabulous. You could dress all the characters in your book from this information. It’s amazing!



Find out how Joanna responded to these:

p 239. & elsewhere “front room.” It’s in OED, but in early reference simply indicates the more attractive rooms in the front of a structure, probably for public use. I don’t think it refers to the large gathering place in a contemporary house. “Sitting Room” or even “parlor” would be a workable substitute for that.

page 249: Turkish robe; did you find that somewhere? I found an early 20th century reference to Turkish toweling, but not to a robe. “chenille” wouldn’t work, either..

p 242: “land mines” 1890 in OED; seems to indicate a sophistication of mechanized warfare not available in early 19th century. Did you find it in your research?

p. 249: “bedspread” per OED, orig US, 1845; anything else would work, sheet, coverlet, blanket, quilt, etc.

p. 263: “linden tree” more commonly called “lime tree” in Britain. (I learned this the hard way, trying to find a tree that bloomed in late summer.)

p. 275: “suicide” as a verb, 1841, sounds very contemporary and edgy.

read Joanna Bourne’s blog entry:

Final Notes

(These were initially posted on in Summer 2007.  I’m reposting them here, as they are no longer available there.)

Well, it’s been a marvelous week. I’ve enjoyed all the questions and comments from everyone. I’ll check back over the next couple days to see if there are any more questions, comments or solutions to the final research question, before posting the answer. Congrats to all who attempted and/or succeeded on the research projects. It was really fun reading your responses, and sharing in your enthusiasm.

I have a confession to make: not only am I not an MLS librarian, but I have an expert whom I consult when I am well and truly stymied. I turn to author Carola Dunn, who lives nearby. We have a deal: I help her with word origins and usage, and buy her lunch, and she answers my headscratcher questions and corrects my shaky French translations. Carola is currently writing a series of delightful mysteries set in England in the 1920s, and also has written over 30 intriguing (and very well researched) traditional regencies now available as e-books at Carola and I were the only people in the theater, and probably in the state of Oregon, who watch the marvelous movie “Amazing Grace,” and grew noticeably perturbed at the presence of the king’s son in the House of Commons.

There’s one more web site that I’d like to share:
It’s a treasure trove of equine information, including all the winners of all the big races in England, information about all the famous British racehorses, bits about the big racing stables, and so on. There’s probaby more, such as information about racing in America, that I haven’t even found yet.

Two final notes: as a personal plea, if you have the inclination, and the health, please consider contributing at your local bloodbank. It would be a most precious gift to someone.

And finally, to all you EJ fans impatiently waiting for An Affair Before Christmas. It is well worth your wait. It is that good. I read many parts of it a dozen times, not because they weren’t perfect, but because they were utterly perfect. We are all in for such a treat.

Thanks for everything, and
Best Wishes

Six More Reference Books

(These were initially posted on in Summer 2007.  I’m reposting them here, as they are no longer available there.)

Here’s another half-dozen of books that I’ve found particularly helpful. Again, they were all purchased on-line, and used.

I’d like to mention here The Regency Companion by Sharon H. Laudermilk and Teresa Hamlin. If ever a book needed reprinting, it’s this one. It still horrendously expensive, but is a compact, thorough source of almost everything a writer needs to know about the Regency. I recommend getting a copy from your library through Interlibrary Loan, and then you can decide if it’s worth the investment, or just taking lots of notes.

Owen, John B. The Eighteenth Century 1714-1815. Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield, 1975. Lots of politics here, if you have scenes in Parliament, or a politician as a character, you’ll find plenty in here to keep him busy.

Burton, Elizabeth. The Pageant of Georgian England. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1967. For all its grand title, this is a very domestic book,and covers all the little things people needed in their lives–medicines, gardens, furniture, cosmetics, etc. It provides all the little details that you’d need to furnish a Georgian home, and supplies its inhabitants, your characters, with their everyday needs.

Foreman, Amanda: Georgiana’s World: The Illustrated Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. London: HarperCollinsPublisher, 2001. This is an amazingly illustrated version of the famous biography of the infamous duchess. The text has been abridged, but you could spend hours pouring over this beautiful book.

Kloester, Jennifer. Georgette Heyer’s Regency World. London, William Heinemann, 2005. In the course of writing her Ph.D thesis on Heyer, the author also put together a summary of all the details that Heyer used to create her own marvelous Georgian and Regency world. Readers will enjoy finding the characters and events from Heyer’s books that have been interwoven in the factual material. Even the publisher, Heinemann, was Heyer’s longtime, long-suffering publisher.

Summerson, John. Georgian London. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1946. This traces the history of architecture, urban planning, and residential and commercial developments during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Need to find a fashionable new neighborhood for your hero to build his house? Need to find some architects to design and some entrepreneurs to finance new buildings? You’ll find it all here.

Vickery, Amanda. The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. With the title a nod to Jane Austen, this is another book to read straight through. The author concentrates on the lives of women in the gentry class, in the north of England, and, through the stories of their lives, looks at all the aspects of their world. Not everyone has an HEA, but their stories are more compelling for the honesty.

Now! Last chance to suggest any titles that you’ve found to be especially helpful in your research and writing.

Final Research Project

(These were initially posted on in Summer 2007.  I’m reposting them here, as they are no longer available there.)

Okay! All you nascent researchers are so clever that I’ll give you another project to research. And this time, I’ll give you No Clues!

So I found this fascinating story when I was researching horseracing for EJ’s Essex Sisters (a clue already!) It’s the account of the first sanctioned horse race between a female jockey and a professional male jockey. The woman wore skirts and rode sidesaddle, and won! (another clue!)

PM me for a clue, if you wish. You can ask one small thing: I may or may not answer you. PM your answer, too. It’s all on the net, in several places. I’ll give the full account sometime tomorrow. Perhaps.

Prizes, you say? Bragging Rights. And a great story to share.

Have fun.

Sending your characters out for coffee or a beer? No Starbucks, but ample other places for them to hang out.
Regarding earlier landscape project; definitive guide to native British trees; avoid non-indigenous plantings.
Best resource I’ve seen on British coins–what denominations were issued when, under whose reign, and what were they worth.

Favorite On-line Research Sites

(These were initially posted on in Summer 2007.  I’m reposting them here, as they are no longer available there.)

Hello again!

I bet everybody can help me out here. Let’s list some of our favorite online information sites. I’m picking these straight out of my favorites folder, so they won’t be in any order. At all.

Disclaimer: Like any source of information, the reader has to decide its correctness and suitability. I’ve had very good results from these sources, other than picking a small bone with the folks at the Georgian Index.
18th Century wine trade in France.
Regency lexicon; dictionary and thesaurus
Great background on the Great North Road, needed information for those trips to Gretna Green.
I’ve corresponded with the owner, and he’s been very helpful.
Bio of the Duke of Wellington
Titles and ranks for British nobility. I know, I recommended a book for titles; this works, too.
Concise history of the British newspaper, beginning in 1700.
Comes in very handy.
Current value of old money. Links to many sites with various types of financial information.
another gateway site to different aspects of 18th Century history
Information about corsets & 18th Century costumes. The illustrations, photos of authentic clothing, alone are worth a visit.
terms in fencing; a must-have for the duels in Desperate Duchesses
This was mentioned on Eloisa’s bb; shows the counties of Britain as they would have been, up to the 1970s. another fab gateway site.
I know. This isn’t the front door of the Georgian Index, but it’s the page I always end up at: I need to find a furniture-maker’s shop; I need a fancy address. I need this page of the Georgian Index. You can get there from here.
The Naval Re-enactors. Everything to do with the mighty British Navy, late 18th Century to early 19th. They’ve been very helpful with questions, too.
In case you need to find something for Georgian scientists to chat about.
Used much in the Essex Sisters. You enter any name you’ve selected for a horse, and it will tell you of any horse with that actual name, and its ancestry.
good for searching word and phrase origins, if you don’t have access to the OED.
You need to maneuver around a bit in this, but has great information about the regiments that conquered and made a mighty emperor. They much prefer you find the information yourself, rather than asking questions.
on-line version of Horwood’s famous 1800 map of London; extraordinary detail.
Information and maps of the famous Vauxhall Gardens.

Okay. List YOUR most useful sites here.
Thanks for your generosity in sharing such precious information.
I’m eager to see what you come up with.