Literary Links

January/February 2005


Good News and Announcements

NEW ADDITIONS--We've added several more titles to our Used Book Store, some still in shrink wrap from the store, but at bargain prices.  And don't forget, you can buy on-line through PayPal. Take a look, you may find something you like, and come back often, as we'll be keep adding to it over the months. 

Now Available--Just out this month, debut novel Stay With Me, a Berkley Sensation by Beverly Long.  "A delightful Time-Travel romance" says Harriet Klausner of The Best Reviews.  "A Perfect 10" adds Jani Brooks of Romance Reviews Today.  Also in her debut with Steeple Hill is Allie Pleiter with Bad Heiress Day.  "A heartwarming and soulful book..." says Romance Reviews Today.  Two great books to keep you warm on these cold winter nights.

NEW BUSINESS--Needless to say, it's been a busy year, both personally and professionally.  Michelle Prima, President of Literary Liaisons, is happy to announce the opening of her new business, Prima By Design, Inc., a Professional Organizing business for residential customers.

Chicago-North Fire & Ice Contest--Chicago-North RWA is sponsoring their 7th annual Fire & Ice Contest with new rules and new categories!  Enter your first 25 pages in one of four categories--Single Title Contemporary, Series Contemporary, Chick Lit or Historical.  Top prize in each category is $50.  Acquiring editors will read finalist entries.  For more information, visit the Chicago-North web site.

Victorian Research Guide--This 252-page guide, Researching the British Historical--The Victorian Era, is available either in print format or CD-Rom.  You can now order it on-line through PayPal.  For more information, click here


New On Literary Liaisons

There are many new additions to Literary Liaisons. After reading about them below, check them out on the web site.





Bad Heiress Day by Allie Pleiter




The Complete Idiot's Guide to Organizing Your Life by Georgene Lockwood

Kings & Queens of England: Murder, Mayhem and Scandal 1066 to Present Day by Brenda Ralph Lewis

Make Your Creative Dreams Real by SARK

The Savvy Author's Guide to Book Publicity by Lissa Warren

The Truth About History edited by Reader's Digest

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass


Feature Title:


Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass


The Video Library


The Red Violin


Researching the Romance


The Complete Idiot's Guide to Organizing Your Life by Georgene Lockwood

Kings & Queens of England: Murder, Mayhem and Scandal 1066 to Present Day by Brenda Ralph Lewis

Make Your Creative Dreams Real by SARK

The Savvy Author's Guide to Book Publicity by Lissa Warren

The Truth About History edited by Reader's Digest

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass


Writers' Resources Online


The Cost of Living in 1888

Lace-Paper Valentines

Lady Diane Hats

Time Traveller's Guide to Victorian Britain

Victorian Related Links

Feature Article 

A History of Valentine's Day

by Michelle Prima


The true origin of Valentine's Day may never by known, since it is only legend that tells of the Christian martyr, Valentinus, who sent a letter of affection to his jailer's daughter on the eve of his execution.  There is no historical evidence to back up the legend, as romantic as it is, but it seems the romanticism itself is enough to give credence to the origin of this holiday.  We do know, however, that the Romans celebrated the pagan festival of Lupercalia on February 14, commemorating the rural god Faunus, patron of husbandry and guardian of the secrets of nature. It is believed that birds chose their mates for the coming season on this day. 

Early History

The earliest known (proven) valentines are poems, composed for the Valentine's Day festivals for the courts of 14th-century England an France.  These poems celebrated 'joyous recreation and conversation about love'. It is believed that this is when the custom of drawing lots for valentines began.  Girls drew boys' names and boys drew girls' names so everyone had a pair of valentines to choose from.  Whether the drawing itself resulted in many love affairs, or the lotteries were fixed in advance (which was not uncommon,) we shall never know.

By the 17th Century, lotteries were less common, and selections more deliberate.  It also became customary to present a gift along with the valentine card.  These gifts ranged from love-knots of plaited straw to the opulent jewelry showered upon royal mistresses. 

By the mid-18th century, costly valentine gifts were being replaced by elaborate versions of written love messages.   Ideally, these were poetic compositions. But while the artistic embellished their poems with lace and drawings, the malicious embellished theirs with vulgar or cruel greetings which they sent to the ill-favored, long-unmarried or deformed.  Thus, valentines were usually sent anonymously.  Both to protect the giver and the receiver.

The Victorian Era

Valentine's Day reached its height of celebration in the Victorian Era. 

Valentine cards were more cherished that Christmas cards (which weren't printed commercially until 1846), perhaps because of the sentimentality attached to them.  Due to this popularity, designing cards became a highly competitive market, with a vast array of motifs and verses.  Suddenly, cards were being produced in tens of thousands, from whimsy and slightly vulgar, to truly sentimental, their designs included lace paper, embossed envelopes, glass or metal mirrors, ribbons, dried ferns and fake advertisements, bank notes and marriage licenses.

Valentine cards were so popular that their production became a flourishing trade amongst cheapjack printers in central London.  Commercially printed valentine cards quickly superseded home-made offerings of earlier times.  They reached the height of their popularity during the 1870s and 80s.  Yet even though they were mass-produced, they still featured birds with real feathers, posies of dried flowers and spun-glass hearts, all trimmed with ribbons and gold lace.

Some valentines were so thick with embellishments, they came in presentation boxes. Some unfolded like fans, while mechanical valentines had levers or disks which made figures dance, hands move and birds flutter their wings. 

The lyrics in these cards were as effusive as the decorations.  Whether sent by a steady beau or a secret admirer, these cards were unabashedly sentimental, pleading for affection and pledging undying devotion happily ever after.  Even men kept these tokens of affection hidden in their bureau drawers. 

But as times changed, so did customs.  And as less became more on the advent of World War I, valentine cards became a dying art. 


The Customs and Ceremonies of Britain by Charles Kightly, Thames & Hudson, Inc., London, 1986. ISBN#0500275378

English Custom and Usage by Christina Hole, B.T. Batsford, Ltd, London, 1950

Simple Social Graces by Linda S. Lichter, Regan Books, New York, 1998. ISBN#0060391707

Victorian Delights by John Hadfield, The Herbert Press, London, 1987. ISBN#0906969689

Some of these books are available for purchase in our on-line bookstore in the non-fiction section.

Also see the Researching the Romance page of Literary Liaisons for more suggestions.


Editor's Note

It's hard to believe it's another new year.  The time just seems to fly.  Hopefully you have reached your writing goals for 2004, now that it is time to set goals for 2005.  Set goals, you say?  That's easy--just give me a contract to sign.  That's my goal.  Actually, it's much more than that.  How will YOU achieve that goal?  What will YOU do to get yourself that contract to sign?  It won't appear magically in the mail one day.  You have to sit yourself down every month, or even every week, and write down what you will do to accomplish your goal?  Is it plotting the last few chapters?  Is it finishing the book?  Is it editing the finished manuscript?  Is it entering contests which will put you in front of an editor in the final round?  Is it researching the market to see which editors and publishing houses best suit your needs?  It might be all of these.  You need to write down your goals for the year, month, week, and even day.  Then evaluate your goals on a regular basis and revise if necessary.  I've been following this process for the last six months now, but not in the publishing arena.  Rather, I have been focusing on starting up a home-based business (while I wait for the lucrative contract <g>).  And I'm happy to say, that after months of planning and researching and studying, I am now a Professional Organizer, and owner of Prima By Design, Inc.  It's been hard work and plenty of hours, but only by perseverance and talent did I achieve my goal.  Just as you will achieve yours--of becoming published.  Good luck in 2005!


--Michelle Prima

President, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.

Q&A Column

Q: I don't know if your period specialisation covers the post-house, post-boy and post-horse system in England for it is a bit earlier, but as an avid reader of Georgette Heyer's  books I am fascinated by that period but can find no specific information as to how the system worked. Can you point me towards any references? Even Google hasn't helped.... Any information you can give me would be very pleasing.  Thanking you in anticipation,

Alison G.


A: Alison-

I, too, have enjoyed many a Geogette Heyer book.  They are simply charming.  As for your question, here are a few web sites that may help.  You're right.  There isn't much on the internet, but this may be a start. 
First is the Bath Postal Museum web site:
This site give a century-by-century brief overview of the post from B.C to the present.  They also have an online store with a few books for sale, including "Britain's Postal Heritage".
Another site is The Georgian Index:
If you scroll down the main page, you will see photos of the Royal Mail Coach. Click on the photo for a history of the Royal Post and Royal Mail.
Finally, there is the Postal Heritage Trust:
It is the online site for the museum for the Royal Mail collections.
As for books, one particularly interesting book is Cecil Aldin's "The Romance of the Road" which includes maps of various postal routes used during the Georgian Era.  He gives a history of each route, along with anecdotes.  Although out of print, you may be able to get your hands on a used copy through, or if your library doesn't have it, have them do a search for you of other area libraries (if you have an interloan system.) 
I hope this information is helpful!

Michelle Prima

President, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.


Historical Calendar of Events



Compton Mackenzie--English author

Franz Kafka--Austrian novelist

Benito Mussolini--Italian Fascist dictator



Edward Fitzgerald--English poet

Clement Attlee--British socialist politician

Sojourner Truth--American reformer

Gustave Dore--French artist

Edouard Manet--French artist

Richard Wagner--German opera composer

Ivan Turgenev--Russian novelist

Karl Marx--German political philosopher and socialist

Comte de Chambord--last male Bourbon



Britain evacuated Sudan.

The Fabian Society was founded in London.

Britain appointed Sir Evelyn Baring the new consul general at Cairo.
Paul Kruger became President of the South Africa Republic.

The French gained control of Tunis.

January 16--US Congress passed The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act.  It provided for competitive examinations for positions in the federal government and established a Civil Service Commission.
The Northern Pacific Railroad sent agents to the British Isles to encourage immigration to the U.S. Northwest.
The Southern Immigration Association was founded to encourage European immigration to the U.S. South.
The United States had her peak year of immigration from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and China.

The Arts

"Rocky Landscape" by Paul Cezanne

"Umbrellas" by Renoir

"The Swimming Hole" by Thomas Eakins


Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Une Vie by Guy de Maupassant

Au Bonheur des Dames by Emile Zola


The Expansion of England by J.R. Seely

The Principles of Logic by F.H. Bradley

Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain


"The Flemish" by Emile Verhaeren

"Poems of Passion" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

"The Old Swimmin' Hole and 'Leven More Poems" by James Whitcomb Riley


"The Accursed Huntsman" by Cesar Franck

"Espana" An orchestral rhapsody by Emmanual Chabrier


"When the Mists Have Rolled Away" by David Sankey and Annie Herbert

"Til We Meet Again" by William Tomer and Jeremiah Eames Rankin

Operas and Operettas:

"Lakme" by Delibes debuted in Paris on April 14


"Cordelia's Aspirations" A musical by Ned Harrigan and Tony Hart

"An Enemy of the People" by Henrik Ibsen

"The Tragedy of Man" by Imre Madach

"Lucky Per's Journey" by August Strindberg


Daily Life

The Royal College of Music was founded in London.

The University of North Dakota was founded at Grand Forks.

Forty-thousand tons of Jurgens Dutch margarine were shipped to Britain, which imports most of her margarine and butter.

Gold Flake cigarettes were introduced in London.
The Metropolitan Opera House opened in New York.

William F. Cody, American frontiersman, organized his "Wild West Show".

Keith & Batchelder's Dime Museum opened at 585 Washington Street, Boston, by former circus promoters Benjamin Franklin Keith and George H. Batchelder.

Fire gutted London's Harrod's store December 6, but proprietor C. D. Harrod ordered new stock and enjoyed record Christmas sales. (Harrod employed 100 clerks, bookkeepers, packers, etc. and fined latecomers a penny-halfpenny for every 15 minutes they were late.)

Joseph Pulitzer of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch acquired the New York World from Jay Gould.
Grit, a weekly for rural readers, began publication at Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
The Ladies' Home Journal began publication at Philadelphia under the name Ladies' Journal.
Life magazine began publication at New York.

Science magazine was founded by telephone pioneer Alexander Graham Bell and his father-in-law G. G. Hubbard.
William Renshaw won in singles at Wimbledon, Richard Sears at Newport.
Ediswan Co. was founded by Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison (who had beaten Swan to obtain English patent rights to the incandescent bulb.)

Claus Spreckels of San Francisco gained a monopoly on West Coast sugar refining and marketing.
John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust monopoly bought Tidewater Pipe.
Commercial Cable Co. was founded by Comstock Lode millionaire John W. Mackay, now 52, and New York Herald publisher James Gordon Bennett

Krakatoa erupted August 27 in the greatest volcanic explosion since Santorini in 1470 B.C.  Located in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, the explosion created a wave that wiped out 163 Indonesian villages, taking more than 36,000 lives.
White and Cree hunters in Dakota Territory discovered a herd of 10,000 buffalo on the Cannon Ball River and exterminated the animals.

U.S. railroads adopted standard time with four separate time zones: Eastern, Central, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific.

The World Exhibition opened in Amsterdam.

Otto Bismarck introduced sickness insurance in Germany.

A worldwide cholera pandemic began that will kill millions in the next 11 years.


Sir Joseph Swan, English scientist, developed a synthetic fiber.

The Northern Pacific Railroad line was completed.

The Brooklyn Bridge in New York opened to traffic.

Australians completed a rail link between Sydney in New South Wales and Melbourne in Victoria.
Norway completed the Oslo-Bergen railway across the Hardanger mountain range. The new rail link brought Bergen to within 8 hours of Norway's capital.
The Calais-Nice-Rome Express from Paris went into service. The run to Nice took 18 hours but will take only 14 by the end of the century.
The Orient Express-Paris-Istanbul made its first run.

Ferdinand de Lesseps of 1869 Suez fame began work on a Panama Canal.
Telegraph service began between the United States and Brazil.

The first skyscraper was built in Chicago; it was ten stories tall.

Washington's Pension building opened with a grand court enclosed by four levels of galleries. Designed by General Montgomery C. Meigs, it provided offices for the disbursement of pensions to war veterans and widows.
The Stoughton house at Cambridge, Massachusetts was completed by Henry Hobson Richardson.
Thomas Edison pioneered the radio tube with a method for passing electricity from a filament to a plate of metal inside an incandescent light globe.  He patented it the "Edison effect".
George Westinghouse pioneered control systems for long-distance natural gas pipelines and for town gas distribution networks.
An Owasco, New York cannery installed the first successful pea-podder machine, replacing 600 workers.
U.S. contraceptive production was pioneered by German-American entrepreneur Julius Schmid.
Robert Koch described a method of preventive inoculation against anthrax.

Robert Koch identified the comma bacillus that causes Asiatic cholera.
German pathologist Edwin Klebs described the diphtheria bacillus.
The first fully automatic machine gun was nvented by American-born English engineer Hiram Stevens Maxim.
Builders of the Canadian Pacific Railway discovered copper ore in the Sudbury Basin of northern Ontario.


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