Literary Links

March /April 2002


Good News and Announcements

Chicago-North Fire & Ice Contest--Chicago-North RWA is sponsoring their 4th annual Fire & Ice Contest.  Enter your first chapter in one of three categories--Contemporary, Historical or Eclectic.  Top prize in each category is $50.  Acquiring editors will read finalist entries.  For more information, visit the Chicago-North web site.

The Golden Network Golden Pen Contest--The Golden Network Chapter of RWA is sponsoring its 5th annual Contest--The Golden Pen.  Enter the first 25 pages of your manuscript in one of four categories--Contemporary, Historical, Single Title/Romantic Suspense and Other.  Winners in each category will receive a gold pen engraved with their manuscript title, and a $25 cash prize.  Acquiring editors will judge the finalists. For more information, Contact Contest Coordinator, Liz Hunter, by e-mail at: 

RWA National Conference--July 17-20, 2002--Denver--Romance Writers of America will hold its annual conference at the Adam's Mark Denver.  See the RWA website for more information.


New On Literary Liaisons

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




New titles by New York Times Best-selling author Julie Beard




The History of the Countryside: The Classic History of Britain's Landscape, Flora and Fauna by Oliver Rackham  

Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers

Principles of Victorian Decorative Design by Christopher Dresser

Someone Has Blundered: Calamities of the British Army in the Victorian Age by Denis Judd
The Young Elizabeth: The First Twenty-Five Years of Elizabeth I by Alison Plowden

Featured Title

Personal Beauty by D.G. Brinton M.D. and G.H. Napheys M.D.

The Video Library

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Little Lord Fauntleroy



RWA Chapters Online


Mid-Willamette Valley (Salem, OR)

Romance Writers of Southern Connecticut and Lower New York (CoLoNY)



Researching the Romance


The History of the Countryside: The Classic History of Britain's Landscape, Flora and Fauna by Oliver Rackham  

Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers

Nineteenth-Century Railway History through the Illustrated London News by Anthony J. Lambert 

Principles of Victorian Decorative Design by Christopher Dresser

Someone Has Blundered: Calamities of the British Army in the Victorian Age by Denis Judd
The Young Elizabeth: The First Twenty-Five Years of Elizabeth I by Alison Plowden



Writers' Resources Online


The American-British Dictionary

The Falcon's Pen

The Regency Collection

The RoMANtic's Guide

The Victorian House

Victorian London


Feature Article 


By Michelle J. Hoppe


Whether it is the crocus poking its way through the snow, or the bloom of the peach tree, spring signifies the end of barren winter months--months of dormant grasses and brown twigs.  Slumber cedes to the sun, the warmth and the greenery of life.

With this re-birth comes celebrations and renewed hope.  Below are the American customs that celebrate spring.


MARDI GRAS or CARNIVAL (January 6 to Shrove Tuesday)

Mardi Gras in America had its beginnings in 19th century Mobile, Alabama.  It started out as a New Year's celebration, but eventually moved to begin on January 6, the Epiphany, or end of the Christmas season.  Revelers would then have an excuse to party until Shrove Tuesday, which signaled the beginning of Lent and fasting.

At first, Mardi Gras, or Carnival as it is also known, was celebrated mostly in the Deep South, in cities like Mobile and New Orleans.  It eventually spread across the United States, adopting elements from many different cultures--African, Caribbean, French, and Spanish, for example.  But with the advent of World Wars and the new working classes, few people could party from January 6 through Shrove Tuesday.  So now, in places like New Orleans, only small parades take place during that period of time.  The ultimate celebration comes during the long weekend of partying immediately preceding Ash Wednesday.  Parades, masks, street parties, and musicians have always been part of the Mardi Gras ritual, along with elegant costume balls at the hotels, the King of the Carnival, and his queens and their courts, and they still do. 

At the stroke of midnight on Shrove Tuesday, all revelry must cease, however, as it is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.


ST. PATRICK'S DAY (March 17)

Not just for the Irish, most Americans now join in the annual St. Patrick's Day celebrations in their town or city.  This American holiday dates from the 18th century when the day's festivities were more observances than celebrations.  Then the Great Famine hit Ireland, driving many families to the States.  With them, came their culture and beliefs.  Because of the influx of immigrants, the 1840s saw a dramatic increase in the participants and size of the St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

The day was unique in that it combined religious and political sentiments, along with the conviviality of good fellowship.  Local churches and cathedrals started the day with a Mass honoring the saint who drove both Druids and snakes from Ireland.  A parade down Main Street, U.S.A. followed.  The sizes of the parades grew in the 1850s and 1860s to include regiments, Societies, politicians and bands comprised mainly of Irish descendants.  They marched, proudly displaying the shamrock, a symbol of the church's Trinity. 

After the parade, toasts of whisky or beer were drunk to Ireland, and by the end of the day, everyone involved in the celebration could boast that they were just a wee bit Irish.


PASSOVER (date varies from year to year)

Passover is a commemoration of the escape of the Jews from bondage in Egypt.  It recalls the night the angel of the Lord traveled through Egypt, slaying the first-born of every family not displaying lamb's blood on its doorpost.  The angel was said to "pass over" these houses.  Passover reminds Jews of God's powerful presence, and that God rules the earth and His people.

At the center of the celebration is the Seder, or Passover meal.  The family gathers at the dinner table to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt.  The foods they eat symbolize the experiences of the Israelites in Egypt--lamb for the paschal sacrifice, unleavened bread because they did not have time to prepare with leaven, bitter herbs to commemorate the bitterness of slavery, haroset to represent the mortar with which they had to make bricks, parsley and a roasted egg to represent the renewal of life at Springtime, and salt water to represent the tears of the Israelite slaves. 

Passover is also observed at synagogue with prayers, psalms, readings and litanies.  It is a celebration of re-birth of a nation.


EASTER (date varies from year to year)

Because America is a country diverse in its people, so too, are its customs.  Yet amazingly, one regularly sees the same rites practiced from church to church, from people to people, from culture to culture.  Easter is no exception.  A symbol of re-birth, it celebrates the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. 

If one item could be chosen as a symbol of this re-birth, it is the egg.  Universal in its meaning, it signifies, like spring, the beginning of new life. 

Easter is preceded by a forty-day period of fast known as Lent.  Begun on Ash Wednesday, the fasting lasts through Holy Saturday.  Collectively, the week preceding Easter is known as Holy Week.  These are the days and what they signify--Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, observes Jesus' ride into Jerusalem before his crucifixion.  Maundy, or Holy, Thursday is the day of the Last Supper when Jesus ate with his disciples.  Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified.  It is traditional to bake Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday, as they are marked with the cross upon which Jesus died.

Holy Saturday includes the blessing and lighting of the tall paschal candle.  It symbolizes Christ's triumph over death.  Holy Saturday is also the traditional day for the baptism of new church members.

Easter Sunday is the celebration of the Resurrection, and is the most important of all Christian holidays.  Easter Sunday has not always been widely celebrated in America.  Early Puritans and Protestants had little use for celebrations.  In Massachusetts, the Puritans outlawed the celebration of Christmas, and played down Easter as much as possible. 

It wasn't until after the Civil War when the nation needed to look forward to renewal and hope that Easter began to be celebrated in the European tradition.  It remains a major religious and secular celebration.

Other customs associated with Easter include the egg--a symbol of re-birth, the Easter rabbit (originally the Easter hare from Europe), new clothing, and the eating of ham. 


ARBOR DAY  (Date varies from state to state)

Arbor Day is a relatively new holiday, having first begun in Nebraska in April, 1872.  Its main purpose is conservation.  It is a day dedicated to trees and their usefulness.  J. Sterling Morton, originator of Arbor Day, believed in looking to the future of the nation.  He proposed the planting of trees for special occasions such as visiting dignitaries and the construction of new buildings.  In 1872, he suggested an annual tree-planting day, with prizes given to the individuals and counties responsible for planting the most tress on that day.  Thus began Arbor Day, that first year recording over one million trees planted in Nebraska.

Nebraska proclaimed the first official Arbor Day, which would be recognized on the second Wednesday of April.  Kansas, Tennessee, Minnesota and Ohio soon followed Nebraska's example.  School children, civic organizations and state agencies joined in the efforts. 

Arbor Day eventually became a national holiday, and is celebrated in every state except Alaska.  The dates of observation differ between states, West Virginia unique in that it has two dates--one in the spring and another in the fall.  Their doctrines remain the same, however, the conservation of the land through the planting of trees. 


MAY DAY (May 1)

May Day, a celebration of love and romance, was practiced more widely in the South than it was in the Puritan North.  It signified the coming of spring, and therefore flowers figured into its rites.  Villages erected Maypoles and decorated them with blossoms and ribbons.  There would then be dancing and singing around the Maypole. 

Throughout the day, girls would breathlessly await the arrival of a flower-filled basket on their porch.  Secret admirers would deliver them while nobody was looking, knock on the door, and then run away.  The girls were left wondering as to whom her gift-giver may have been.

The day would end with a community dance, where the May Day Queen and her court presided over the festivities.


MOTHER'S DAY (Second Sunday in May)

Mother's Day was born of a dream.  Anna Jarvis had often heard her mother wishing for "someone, sometime, to establish a memorial mother's day for mothers living and dead." 

Ann Reeves Jarvis had herself been an exemplary role model.  She organized Friendship Clubs to combat the perils of rural life, nursed Union troops during the Civil War, and organized community festivities.

The first Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia on May 12, 1907 as a memorial service for Ann Reeves Jarvis.  It was a day to "revive the dormant love and filial gratitude we owe to those who gave us birth."

Throughout the following year, Anna Jarvis campaigned for national observance of the day.  While she wasn't immediately successful, by 1910, forty-five states had joined in recognizing the holiday.  Then, in 1914, Congress passed a joint resolution to set aside the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.  To this day, we observe this celebration of life.


Of all the holidays in the spring season, one theme keeps recurring above all others--that of life.  Whether it be renewal, new lives, or re-birth, Spring is a celebration of beginnings, just as Spring is the season of beginnings.



The Book of American Traditions by Emyl Jenkins, Crown Publishers, Inc., 1996

Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays by Robert J. Myers, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1972


Similar 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 we're already three months into the new year.  I hope you have been able to maintain your writing goals, balancing your personal life with your professional one.  It's not an easy task.  Especially when you're a professional procrastinator like me.  I can get the job done, but usually under pressure.  I often ask myself why I just don't do it in the first place, to avoid the last-minute rush.  And often, the answer is fear of rejection or fear of failure.  With the help of others, I am slowly beginning to realize that these failures aren't really mine.  They are failures I project upon myself.  And viewed differently, they would be accomplishments.  Perhaps not with the best results, but results don't always have to be perfect.  There are trials and steps in every journey.  Some steps take you further on the journey.  Others take you back.  But either way, you learn from your process.  You learn what works, and what doesn't.  And that is your most important lesson of all--to learn from your mistakes.  For only then can you truly continue on the journey we call life.

---Michelle Hoppe

Q&A Column

Q:  Can you tell me how fast a horse drawn coach would travel in the 1860's. I am writing about a coach ride (2 women and a man) who travel from Richmond, VA to Washington DC in 1861. Thanks, for any help you can offer.

---C. Clayton

A:  First of all, this was indeed a difficult topic to research. Perhaps that is because by 1861, most travel was done by train. I'm assuming here that your characters are not traveling by train because of the war? 
Travel speeds varied with the type of conveyance and purpose of the trip. Mail coaches were fastest, averaging 14 miles per hour. Stages were slowest because they changed horses frequently and made stops to pick up passengers, averaging about 7 miles per hour. Private coaches fell somewhere in between. Factors to take into consideration are: 

1) the weather
2) the number of passengers
3) the condition of the horses
4) how often horses were changed
5) the condition of the roads
6) the condition of the coach
7) the weight of the luggage/passengers

The distance between Richmond and Washington DC is a little over 100 miles, so the trip could take about 10 hours, give or take an hour or two depending on the above conditions. For example, if the coachman drove the horses to their fullest potential and stopped only briefly to change them, the trip could be done in 8-9 hours. If they stopped often because of rutted roads or heavy rains, the trip could take 12 hours. I guess it al depends on what is happening in your story at the time, and what direction you want the plot to go.

Michelle Hoppe
President, Literary Liaisons

Historical Calendar of Events


Jacinto Benavente, Spanish dramatist and Nobel Prize winner

Romain Rolland, French author and Nobel Prize winner

Marie Tempest, English actress

H.G. Wells, English author

Roger Fry, English artist and art critic

Vassili Kandinsky, Russian painter

Ferruccio Busoni, Italian pianist and composer

T.H. Morgan, American scientist and Nobel Prize winner

Charles Nicolle, French bacteriologist and Nobel Prize winner

Alfred Werner, Swiss chemist and Nobel Proze winner

James Ramsay MacDonald, British statesman

Sun Yet-sen, Chinese statesman



Thomas Love Peacock, English novelist



Alexander Cuza, Prince of Rumania, dethroned.  He is succeeded by Karl, Prince of Hohenzollern, as King Carol I.

A Prussian-Italian alliance is formed against Austria, and Europe goes to war for seven weeks beginning in June.

The Treaty of Prague August 23 ends the European war, terminates the Germanic Confederation of 1815, and incorporates Hanover, Electoral Hesse, Frankfurt, and Nassau into Prussia, which excludes Austria from territory north of the Main. 

Ismail, Khedive of Egypt, is granted rights of primogeniture by the Sultan of Turkey.

The United States Supreme Court sets limits to the authority of martial law.

April 9--U.S. Congress passes a Civil Rights Act to secure for former slaves all the rights of citizenship intended by the 13th Amendment, ruling over President Johnson’s veto.

Reconstruction begins in the South, accompanied by racial conflicts. A race riot breaks out in New Orleans after efforts to introduce black suffrage into the Louisiana Constitution, resulting in 200 casualties.

The Ku Klux Klan is formed secretly in South to terrorize blacks who voted.

February 12--Washington demands removal of French forces from Mexico.

Coalition forces devastate Paraguay, slaughtering much of her army.

Japan’s shogun Iemochi dies in August at age 20. His kinsman Keiki will reign briefly as Yoshinobu, the last Tokugawa shogun.



The Arts

"Camille" by Monet

"The Fifer" by Eduoard Manet

"Sleep" by Gustave Courbet

"A Storm in the Rocky Mountains" by Albert Bierstadt


Grand Dictionnaire Universal du XIX Siecle by Pierre Larousse


Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky

First installment of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Brand by Isben

Hereward the Wake by Kingsley

Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo

Felix Holt the Radical by George Eliot

"Poems and Ballads" by Algernon Charles Swinburne

"Thyrsis" by Matthew Arnold

"Snow-bound" by John Greenleaf Whittier

"O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman

The Stage:

"The Black Crook" by Charles M. Barras, the first true Broadway musical opens at Niblo's Garden in New York


"La Vie Parisienne" by Offenbach opens in Paris

"The Bartered Bride" by Bedrich Smetana opens in Prague

"Mignon" by Ambriose Thomas opens in Paris

"The Brandenburgers in Bohemia" by Bedrich Smetana opens in Prague

Popular songs:

"Come Back to Erin" by Claribel 

"When You and I Were Young, Maggie" by J. A. Butterfield and George Washington Johnson

"We Parted the River" by William Shakespeare Hays


Daily Life

Henry Irving makes his London debut.

Degas begins to paint his ballet scenes.

The American Evangelical Alliance is founded.

The Aeronautical Society of Great Britain is founded.

Dr. T.J. Barnardo opens his first home for destitute children at Stepney, London.

"Black Friday" occurs on 11 May on the London Stock Exchange

Tom Morris of St. Andrews wins his first professional golf championship.

June 17--The New York Athletic Club is founded by John G. Babcock, Henry E. Buermeyer, and William B. Curtis.  

The Hartford Courant begins publication on a daily basis to succeed the weekly Connecticut Courant that began 73 years ago.

Postwar economic depression begins in the United States as prices begin a rapid decline following the Civil War’s inflation.

Beirut’s American University is founded under the name Syrian Protestant College. 

Drew University is founded at Madison, New Jersey.

The University of Ottawa is founded in Ontario.

Cattle from Texas are driven north for the first time on the Chisholm Trail, named after the scout Jesse Chisholm. The cattle arrive at Abilene, Kan., for shipment by rail to points east 

Sperm oil for lighting and lubrication sells for $2.25 per gallon, up from 43¢ in 1823.

British imports of tinned meat total 16,000 pounds.

More than 90 percent of Britain’s tea still comes from China.

Cadbury’s Cocoa Essence is the first pure cocoa to be sold in Britain. 

August 20--The National Labor Congress convenes at Baltimore and forms the National Labor Union. 

May 10--The American Equal Rights Association is founded at New York as an outgrowth of the Woman’s Rights Society.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is founded by New York shipbuilder’s son Henry Bergh.

A cholera epidemic takes 120,000 lives in Prussia and 110,000 in Austria.  Cholera also strikes London and an epidemic at Bristol is checked through measures instituted by physician William Budd, who also stamps out an epizootic of rinderpest in British livestock.

Cholera kills 50,000 Americans. New York, which has 2,000 fatalities, creates the first U.S. municipal board of health.

A London dispensary for women opens under the direction of local physician Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, 31, who pioneers the admission of women to the professions, including medicine.

Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes enters the convent of Saint Gildard at Nevers where she will die of tuberculosis in 1879 despite administration of water from the grotto at Lourdes. Reports of cures from the grotto will nevertheless continue to attract sick, blind, and infirm visitors.  

The Western Health Reform Institute is founded at Battle Creek, Michigan, by Seventh Day Adventist prophet Ellen G. White whose sanitorium treatment combines vegetarian diet and hydrotherapy with some accepted medical methods.  

Cincinnati’s Plum Street Temple is completed for the city’s B’nai Yeshurun congregation, whose Austrian-American rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise, is pioneering a reform movement in U.S. Judaism by abandoning dietary laws and other orthodox practices.

Thomas Cook initiates a system for providing hotel accommodations to implement the Cook’s Tours he began in 1856.



Alfred Nobel invents dynamite.   

Robert Whitehead, English engineer, invents the underwater torpedo.

The Morris chair, a reclining chair that folds flat to ship, is introduced by English craftsman-poet-wallpaper designer William Morris. 

July 27--A new Atlantic Cable between Britain and the United States is completed.

Western Union Telegraph absorbs two smaller telegraph companies, thus gaining control of 75,000 miles of wire to become the first great U.S. industrial monopoly.

Telegraph pioneer Werner von Siemens develops the first practical dynamo-electrical machine which permits production of electricity in great quantity.

Cologne engineer Nikolaus August Otto, along with his borther William, patents a crude internal combustion engine that will sell by the thousands in the German states and in England in the next 10 years.

The first U.S. oil pipeline is completed to connect Pithole, Pennsylvania, with a railroad 5 miles away.

A U.S. patent is issued for a tin can with a key opener.

Henri Nestlé formulates a combination of farinaceous pap and milk for infants who cannot take mother’s milk and starts a firm under his own name to produce the new infant formula.

Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Co. is founded at Cham, Switzerland, by U.S. entrepreneurs Charles and George Page.

Gail Borden adopts the trademark Eagle Brand to protect his condensed milk from competitors who have appropriated the name Borden. Borden has supplied the Union Army with his product, producing at a rate of 300,000 gallons per year.

Washburn, Crosby Co. erects its first flour mill on the Mississippi in Wisconsin.

A salmon cannery opens on the Columbia River.  Canneries at the mouth of almost every river north to Alaska follow.

Thomas Clifford Allbut, English physician, invents the clinical thermometer. 

The chassepot musket, developed by gunsmith Antoine Alphonse Chassepot, is adopted by the French army.

The Skoda works that will supply European armaments for future wars is founded by Czech engineer Emil von Skoda.

The Great Tea Race from Foochow to London pits 11 clipper ships who race to minimize spoilage of the China tea in their hot holds. The voyage still takes close to 3 months.


To The Top | Newsletter Home Page | Request Newsletter via e-mail  

About Literary Liaisons | Author Links | Bookstore Index | Fiction | Non-Fiction | Feature Title | Video Library | Research Articles | Reference Books | On-line Resources | RWAChapters | Contact | Home  

Copyright 2002, Literary Liaisons. Ltd.