Literary Links

September/October 2003


Good News and Announcements

New Author added to our growing family--We recently designed pages for Louis Begley, literary author.  Learn about LB and his works at Check out more of our authors on our author page.

Victorian Research Guide--This 252-page guide, Researching the British Historical--The Victorian Era, is now available either in print format or CD-Rom.  For more information, click here

RWA National Elections--Elections are now under way for RWA board positions.  Votes must be in by October 1, 2003. See the RWA National web site for more information.

Favorite Book of the Year--Nominations are now being taken for RWA's Favorite Book of 2003.  If you are a member of RWA, nominate your favorite book on-line at the RWA National web site.

New On Literary Liaisons

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

Author Pages


Louis Begley






Various titles by Louis Begley




The Dimwit's Dictionary by Robert Hartwell Fiske

Fruitflesh by Gayle Brandeis

Really Useful: The Origins of Everyday Things by Joel Levy

Featured Title

Milord and Milady by Nina Epton



The Video Library


"The Way We Live Now"--BBC adaptation of this Anthony Trollope novel



Researching the Romance


The Dimwit's Dictionary by Robert Hartwell Fiske

Fruitflesh by Gayle Brandeis

Milord and Milady by Nina Epton

The Parliament Book by Guy Eden

Really Useful: The Origins of Everyday Things by Joel Levy



Writers' Resources Online


Historical Country Names

Historical Research in Europe

Mostly Medieval--Exploring the Middle Ages

Moving Here--200 years of migration to England

Victorian Popular Music



Feature Article 

Autumn Customs & Holidays

by Michelle Jean Hoppe

Some of my most treasured memories as a child were the family vacations we used to take.  Mom and Dad would load all of us--four, five six kids as the years went by--into the station wagon and take off for the farm in Wisconsin, or the West Coast, or Florida, and we'd drive for hours and days.  The countryside (what we saw of it when we weren't sleeping in the back seat) spread before us.  We met people who spoke differently, ate strange foods, and had odd customs (at least as far as we were concerned.)  Some customs were universal, however, and as a child, I innocently believed that the rest of the world carved pumpkins for Halloween, sat around the dinner table with the turkeys on Thanksgiving (which included half of our uncles and cousins,) and celebrated the end of summer with a Labor Day picnic before school started for the year.

As I grew older, I realized that not everyone celebrated the holidays the same way, nor did everyone celebrate the same holidays.  But it wasn't until I spent a semester in London my sophomore year in college that I had a real eye opener.  "What?!?  You don't carve pumpkins for Halloween?" I asked my host family, flabbergasted that they didn't even know what a jack-in-the-lantern was.  My roommate and I hopped on the tube, scoured Harrod's for the largest pumpkin we could find, then dragged it back home on the tube--all twenty pounds of it!  Making do with what tools they had, we carved the pumpkin with their three children, sharing what was an obviously American custom.  We passed the evening sharing stories of family customs and traditions, yet another memory to treasure forever.

And so I bring to you some of those English customs and holidays:

Michaelmas--September 29--The feast of St. Michael the Archangel.  It was a Quarter Day, on which rents were due and bills paid.  It also signaled the beginning of Michaelmas Term at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.  While not a holiday itself, many towns had fairs where masters went seeking new laborers for the term.

All Hallows or All Saints Day--November 1--Christianization of the Pagan All Hallow's Eve, this day became the feast of All Saints.

All Soul's Day--November 2--Like All Saint's Day, it is Christianization of All Hallow's Eve, when prayers are made for the departed.

Guy Fawkes Night--November 5--This is one of the most widespread and flourishing of all British customs.  The day was declared a holiday by decree of Parliament after Parliament was saved from being blown up by Guy Fawkes in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.  All parish churches, until 1859, were required to hold services this day.  Celebrations continued throughout the day, with bells ringing, cannons firing and beer flowing.  In the evening, effigies of Guy Fawkes are burned in large bonfires. Also in the evening are fireworks displays.  (I attended one of these displays the year I lived in London.  And being accustomed to fireworks on a warm July night, the idea of fireworks in weather where you could see your breath, was totally beyond my comprehension.  Why would anyone want to be outside on a cold autumn night, even if there were fireworks? Can you tell I'm not a cold-weather person? <G>)

Martinmas--November 11--Feast day of St. Martin of Tours, it was once a popular Quarter Day.  Until the 1920s, it was the high point of the farm-laborer's year, celebrated with great feasts and fairs.  Feasting was common throughout the countryside, as many of the animals were slaughtered and salted for the winter.

Also occurring at this time throughout the countryside were the Harvest Festivals. These festivals were at first eating and drinking celebrations, with food piled high round the altar as the congregation sang hymns of thanks.  By the time of Victoria's reign, however, the drinking festivals were replaced by more respectable and morally sound festivities.  After a blessing in the church, tea and cakes followed in the schoolroom.  

Although customs remain, times have changed, and sadly, my dad is no longer with us.  But I will always carry memories of my childhood trips in my heart.


The Customs and Ceremonies of Britain by Charles Kightly, Thames & Hudson, 1986.

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool, Simon & Schuster, 1993.

Customs & Traditions in Britain edited by Maggie O'Hanlon, A Pitkin Guide, 2000.


For more sources like these, visit our Research Page.


Editor's Note

These last two months have been particularly busy for me.  They started with the RWA conference in New York on July.  Rather than fly from Chicago, my fiancé and I decided to drive.  I'm glad we did.  For not only was the Pennsylvania countryside beautiful, the trip brought back memories of the station wagon summer vacations we used to take as children with my dad driving, his left arm out the window and tanner than the rest of him.  My dad passed away just before the conference, so the memories were even more precious.  This month's article brings back some of these memories also, focusing on customs and traditions.  Other features of particular note are the research books I've listed.  Always a fanatic for book stores, I found a wonderful used book store while in New York.  Hundreds of dollars later, I'd amassed quite a collection of books, all on English customs or Victorian England.  They are books I would not find in any library or book store near home, so I was thrilled to make the discovery.  One reference in particular held a special memory for me.  The book is Walter Besant's London in the Nineteenth Century. Mr. Besant plays an important role in my most current work of fiction, so it was exciting to find a book he'd published.  So, enjoy this issue.  It may be only words to you, but it is particularly poignant for me.

--Michelle Hoppe

President, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.

Q&A Column

Q:  Re: "The Gatling gun invented by U.S. engineer Richard Jordan Gatling, can fire hundreds of rounds per minute. It will see service in the Civil War beginning in 1864." (From May/June 2001 Literary Links newsletter)
Gatling was a southern physician, North Carolina. Not as picky a comment as it seems. Almost any Civil War buff would instantly pick up on this and have a story line ruined.

Lloyd E.

A:   Thank you for pointing out this discrepancy. However, after researching the topic and consulting a history professor, I discovered that both statements are in fact true. Richard Jordan Gatling was an engineer, if only by hobby, not necessarily profession. He would have been one in order to invent what he did to further the agricultural industry. He was also an educator, and even studied dentistry and medicine, although he reliazed once he practiced medicine/dentistry, he did not like it, so he never pursued it seriously.
Regarding the Gatling gun, I should clarify that while it saw use in the Civil War, it was minimal. Regular use of the Gatling gun did not occur until years after the Civil War ended.
Thank you again for bringing these matters to our attention.

Michelle Hoppe
President, Literary Liaisons

Historical Calendar of Events


Samuel Coleridge-Talyor--English composer

John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir--Scottish novelist

Thomas Mann--German novelist

C. G. Jung--Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher

Albert Schweitzer--philosopher, medical missionary and musician



Charles Kingsley--English author

Hans Christian Andersen--Danish author

J. P. C. Corot--French painter

Jean Francois Millet--French painter

Georges Bizet--French composer



The Prince of Wales visited India.

The Public Health Act was passed in Britain.

Britain bought Suez Canal shares from Khedive of Egypt, giving them control of the canal..

A British Trade Marks Act went into effect.  The first trademark registered was for Bass & Co. Pale Ale.

Tensions between Beijing and London increased following a British legation official's murder by native bandits February 21.

President Grant opened Oregon Territory, occupied  by the Nez Perce under an 1855 treaty, to white settlement. 

Comanche chief Quanah Parker ended his resistance to settlement of the Texas prairie by white ranchers. 

March 1--Congress passed a Civil Rights Act guaranteeing blacks equal rights in public places and a right to jury duty.

President Grant vetoed a bill that would protect the bison from extinction.

Tennessee enacted the first “Jim Crow” law, a measure prejudicial to blacks.

July 16 --A French republican constitution was finalized, providing for a bicameral legislature with a president to be elected for a 7-year term. 

Kwang Hsu became Emperor of China.

The Japanese courts of law were reformed.

Religious orders were abolished in Prussia. 


The Arts

"The Steel Mill" by Menzel

"Boating at Argenteuil" by Claude Monet

"The Agnew Clinic" by Thomas Eakins


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain


Troy and Its Remains by Heinrich Schliemann

The Jukes: A Study in Crime, Pauperism , Disease and Heredity by Richard Louis Dugdale



"Wolves and Sheep" by Aleksandr Ostrovsky premiered December 8 at St. Petersburg's Alexandrinsky Theater.


"Concerto No. 1, Op. 23" by Tchaikovsky debuted October 25 in Boston

"Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-Saens debuted January 24 in Paris


"Carmen" by Georges Bizet debuted March 3 in Paris

"Trial by Jury" an operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan debuted March 5 at London's Royalty Theatre 


Daily Life

The first American-made Christmas cards appeared at Boston. 

The London Medical School for Women was founded.

Wellesley College for Women, founded in 1870, began classes.

Smith College opened at Northampton, Massachusetts.

Brigham Young University was founded at Salt Lake City in Utah Territory.

Hebrew Union College was founded by Stephen M. Wise in Cincinnati.

The first roller-skating rink opened August 2 in Belgravia, London.

The first organized Canadian ice hockey match was played March 3 at Montreal’s Victoria Skating Rink .

May 17--The Kentucky Derby had its first running at Louisville’s new Churchill Downs.  A chestnut colt named Aristides won the 1.5-mile stakes race. 

The first Harvard-Yale football game was held November 12 at New Haven under “concessionary rules” that permitted running with the ball and tackling.

Captain Matthew Webb became the first to swim the English Channel, taking twenty-one hours and forty-five minutes.

European armies numbered 3,360,000 in Russia, 2,800,000 in Germany, 412,000 in France and 113,000 in Britain.

Former tobacco peddler Richard Joshua Reynolds opened.R. J. Reynolds Tobacco in a Winston, North Carolina factory.

Atlantic salmon were planted in inland lakes by the U.S. Fish Commission for game and food. 

British sugar consumption rose to 60 pounds per capita, up from 47 in 1872.

A new Vienna Opera House opened with a performance of the 1814 Beethoven opera Fidelio.

German-American conductor Bernhard Listemann founded the Boston Philharmonic Club, which would become the Boston Symphony.

The Fiji Islands lost 40,000 of their 150,000 inhabitants in a measles epidemic.

Agriculturist J. Sterling Morton instituted Arbor Day on April 22, encouraging Americans to plant trees on the open prairie. 

May 16--Earthquakes in Colombia and Venezuela took 16,000 lives. 

A Chinese orchardman in Oregon developed the Bing cherry.

Apples were grown for the first time in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

Navel oranges were produced at Riverside, California by Jonathan and Eliza C. Tibbetts. 

New York’s “Tweed” Courthouse was completed at a cost of $13 million, significantly over the $250,000 estimate.

A new Palmer House opened in Chicago to replace the hotel owned by merchant Potter Palmer that burned in the 1871 fire.

The United States Hotel opened at Saratoga Springs, New York, with nearly 1,000 rooms for the summer season, calling itself the world’s largest.

San Francisco’s Palace Hotel opened October 2 with 755 20-by-20-foot rooms, 437 baths, five elevators, seven iron stairways, and a crystal roof over its inner court.  

New York Condensed Milk Co. began selling fluid milk in addition to its condensed milk.

H.J. Heinz’s firm Heinz & Noble is forced into bankruptcy, but Heinz pays off the firm’s creditors with help from his wife.

The Paris Opéra was completed by French architect Jean Louis Charles Garnier.  It had the largest stage of its kind in the world.

Brooklyn Congregational minister Henry Ward Beecher, won acquittal July 2 when a 6-month adultery trial ended in a hung jury.

New York’s former political boss William “Boss” Tweed was released from prison after a brief term for larceny and forgery.

Prudential Insurance Co. of America was founded at Newark, New Jersey under the name Prudential Friendly Society.




London's main sewerage system was completed.

P. E. Lecoq discovered the element gallium.

The New York Central lowered its tracks down New York’s Fourth Avenue into a ditch after years of accidents.

American George F. Green patented an electric dental drill.

Physician Andrew Taylor Still of Kirksville, Missouri, founded the practice of osteopathy.

Vaseline petroleum jelly was introduced by Chesebrough Manufacturing Co.

London’s Liverpool Street Station was completed for the Great Eastern Railway.

Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel discovered blasting gelatin.

German embryologist Oscar Hertwig concluded that fertilization of the female egg is accomplished by a single male cell. 

Photographers David Bachrach, Jr. and Edward Levy patent a photoengraving process that will be the basis of an industry.

Ferdinand Schumacher introduced Steel Cut Oats, the product's flaky composition giving it a uniform taste and consistency.

Hires Rootbeer had its beginnings in a recipe for an herb tea discovered by Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Elmer Hires, who took his bride on a wedding trip to a New Jersey farm.

B&M Baked Beans, produced for use by men in the fishing fleet of Burnham & Morill Co. at Portland, Maine, are the world’s first canned baked beans.

Berlin chemist Ferdinand Tiemann, patented a process for making synthetic vanillin.

A machine was invented to strip the kernels from corn cobs, leading to wide-scale canning of sweet corn.

The first milk chocolate for eating is invented at Vevey by the Nestlé shopman in collaboration with the foreman of Daniel Peter’s chocolate factory.

Illinois promoter John Warne Gates demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of barbed wire in San Antonio.

Some U.S. wheat farms began using combines.

U.S. inventor E. Bean devised the orange crate. It weighs 15 pounds, but holds 90 pounds.

Alexander Graham Bell pioneered the electric telephone.

New York inventor Thomas Alva Edison, perfected the first duplicating process to employ a wax stencil.

Richard Hoe invented a high-speed newspaper folding apparatus.


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