Manhattan in the 1880s: A very big map

Primary Map smallClicking on the map to the left will download a very large jpg of the original:  4,798 x 12,960 pixels or  28.9 MB.  I am posting it for those ocd types (like me) who want a full sized, detailed map of the area relevant to The Gilded Hour.

Note that there is a legend, as well as notes in various spots. If you do download it, you may find it easiest to look at in a browser window (most browsers will allow you to open an image file) at full size. There are both real or historical and fictional locations on the map.

Tuesday 10. November 2015|Gilded Hour|1 Comment

Goodreads Best Historical Fiction

If you took the time to go over to Goodreads and vote for The Gilded Hour in the historical fiction category, many thanks. Looks like we made it through to the semifinals. It strikes me as a little odd that all the nominated novels got through to the semifinals, but what do I know? 

If you have a few minutes and are willing to pop over there again to vote, maybe The Gilded Hour can make it to the finals. 


Monday 9. November 2015|Gilded Hour|4 Comments

Newspapers & Racism in the 1880s

married-a-mulattoIt won’t come as a surprise that there was blatant racial discrimination in the 1880s, but once in a while I am still taken aback by things I come across in the newspapers of the times.

In this case (click for a larger image) on 23 December 1883, the New York Times reports (page 3) that  a woman is seeking a divorce because she came across evidence that her husband of a short while is part African American (the term used is  mulatto). She first claims she had never heard of such a thing, and then that the very idea gives her great distress. She sues for divorce.

Stories about mixed race marriages show up on a regular basis (He married a Mulatto!) and are generally short. Most of the feature outraged family.

What is surprising here is that the paper argues that if women were to ask for divorce solely because they find their in-laws objectionable in some way, things would quickly get out of hand.

I’m unclear on what to make of this: is it meant to hold her up for ridicule as ignorant, or prejudiced? 

Then weeks later there is a front page, two-column article also in the NYT with the provocative title “The Real Southern Darky: A He Coon, A She  Coon, and a Lively Young Coon” dated 3 February 1884.  It is as fine a crude and moronic piece of Amos-n-Andy or minstrel-show performance as you could find anywhere .

The final piece for comparison is from a Michigan newspaper and dated 1880. In Toronto a woman of mixed ancestry, someone hired to teach on a temporary basis (as a substitute, it seems from the wording) in a white school, faces but overcomes racism in […]

Saturday 7. November 2015|historical fiction, newspapers, research / resources|0 Comments

The Typewriter Girl: review

typewritergirl-coverThis is Alison Atlee’s first novel, a historical. And a romance. It came out in 2013 but just recently worked its way to the top of my tbr pile. The cover description:


When Betsey disembarks from the London train in the seaside resort of Idensea, all she owns is a small valise and a canary in a cage. After attempting to forge a letter of reference she knew would be denied her, Betsey has been fired from the typing pool of her previous employer. Her vigorous protest left one man wounded, another jilted, and her character permanently besmirched. Now, without money or a reference for her promised job, the future looks even bleaker than the debacle behind her. But her life is about to change . . . because a young Welshman on the railroad quay, waiting for another woman, is the one man willing to believe in her.

On the surface this looks like a fairly typical historical romance. Young woman at the end of her rope, handsome man gives her what she needs to get back on her feet, conflict, conflict, conflict, happy ending.

It always irritates me when a review starts with “predictable” because hey, if you pick up an espionage novel, you can predict who the main players and what the stakes will be; if you pick up a novel with a vampire on the cover, you can predict the nature of the beast within. If you’ve never read Jane Austen or Charles Dickens, let me […]

Friday 6. November 2015|cranky pants, fiction, reviews & reviewing|5 Comments

wise guys: words on writing and writers

wiseguysI used to have my collection of writing quotes on the right sidebar. They rotated, which jolted the page, which some people found irritating. So I took them off. But I still add to them now and then (I added one today, as a matter of fact) and I decided to put them here all at once. Do you have a favorite among these? Do any of them strike you as off? If you have a favorite that isn’t here, please put it in the comments.


Wednesday 4. November 2015|Words|9 Comments