Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Victorian Age

Upcoming events:

3/30 – Bib & Tucker Sew Op, 6:30pm

4/9 – Local Author Stephen Russell, 2pm

4/13 – Neuroscience Café: Autism, 6:30pm

4/14 & 28 – Ages 21+ only and registration is required, $10 for the 2 sessions, Standing Room Only: Weaving with The Ivory Hand, 6:30pm

4/25 – next GRG, John Le Carré Author Study, 6:30pm

4/29 – An appraisal even benefitting the Friends of the Library, Antiques Roadshow appraiser John Jones and other guest appraisers available to value up to 3 items per ticket holder, no jewelry.  Tickets are $25 and available at the 2nd floor reference desk.  Tickets are for 30 minute increments 10am-noon and 2pm-4pm and times are nontransferable.

For more information about any of these programs, give us a call at 205-445-1121!

The Genre Reading Group met this week to discuss the Victorian Age.  April’s topic will be a John Le Carré author study.  Read/listen to/watch any John Le Carré book/audiobook/movie and come tell us about it!

Image result for victorian fashion in america kristina harris
Compelling pictorial archive of 264 vintage photographs, selected from rare tintypes and other authentic materials (1850s–1910), depict little girls in their mothers' hats and clothes, sisters wearing identical plaid dresses and button boots, a young man in an everyday suit and bowler hat, a boy dressed in Little Lord Fauntleroy style, and scores of others.

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Over 150 years after her death, a widely-used scientific computer program was named “Ada,” after Ada Lovelace, the only legitimate daughter of the eighteenth century’s version of a rock star, Lord Byron. Why?

Because, after computer pioneers such as Alan Turing began to rediscover her, it slowly became apparent that she had been a key but overlooked figure in the invention of the computer.

In Ada Lovelace, James Essinger makes the case that the computer age could have started two centuries ago if Lovelace’s contemporaries had recognized her research and fully grasped its implications.

It’s a remarkable tale, starting with the outrageous behavior of her father, which made Ada instantly famous upon birth. Ada would go on to overcome numerous obstacles to obtain a level of education typically forbidden to women of her day. She would eventually join forces with Charles Babbage, generally credited with inventing the computer, although as Essinger makes clear, Babbage couldn’t have done it without Lovelace. Indeed, Lovelace wrote what is today considered the world’s first computer program—despite opposition that the principles of science were “beyond the strength of a woman’s physical power of application.”

Based on ten years of research and filled with fascinating characters and observations of the period, not to mention numerous illustrations, Essinger tells Ada’s fascinating story in unprecedented detail to absorbing and inspiring effect.

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Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend star in the lavish historical drama, The Young Victoria. Resolved to establish her authority over those who rule in her stead, a young and inexperienced Queen Victoria (Blunt) draws strength from the love of Albert (Friend), the handsome prince who’s stolen her heart. Based on the courtship and early reign of England’s longest-serving monarch, The Young Victoria, is a majestic tale of romance, intrigue and power.

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Nine recipes serve as entry points for detailing the history of food production, cooking, and diet throughout Queen Victoria's reign in England. More than that, however, Broomfield offers an introduction to the world of everyday dining, food preparation, and nutrition during one of the most interesting periods of English history. Food procurement, kitchen duties, and dining conventions were almost always dictated by one's socioeconomic status and one's gender, but questions still remain. Who was most likely to dine out? Who was most likely to be in charge of the family flatware and fine china? Who washed the dishes? Who could afford a fine piece of meat once a week, once a month, or never? How much did one's profession dictate which meal times were observed and when? All these questions and more are answered in this illuminating history of food and cooking in Victorian England.

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Myers's discovery of a packet of letters in a rare books shop in London planted the seeds for this fascinating biography, which reconstructs the remarkable life of Sarah Forbes Bonetta. In 1850, orphaned and held as a captive by the Dahomans in West Africa, an Egbado princess faces imminent death as part of a Dahomian sacrificial rite. When Frederick E. Forbes, captain of the British ship Bonetta and a strong opponent to the slave trade, begs that she be spared, Dahomian King Gezo offers her as a gift to Queen Victoria. Under Forbes's protection, the princess is baptized Sarah Forbes Bonetta and escorted to England; Forbes presents her to the queen, who takes an avid interest in her and provides for her education and upbringing. From the princess's life in an England far from her native shores, filled with frequent visits to the queen and royal family, to her education as a young woman of privilege at a missionary school in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to her eventual arranged marriage and early death from consumption, Myers portrays a young woman who never truly belongs. Despite her celebrity, education and proximity to royalty, Sarah remains subject to the prescribed roles for women in her day and to the queen's will--even concerning her marriage--because she possesses no independent financial means; thus the title takes on a somber double entendre. Myers sets Sarah's story within the context of daily life and culture in England, Britain's attitudes toward Africa and slavery and the growing unrest across the Atlantic that would result in the Civil War. Period etchings and photographs, many from the author's own collection, contribute to this moving and very human portrait of a princess. Ages 9-12.

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A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert by Gertrude Bell, edited by Georgina Howell
A portrait in her own words of the female Lawrence of Arabia, the subject of the major motion picture Queen of the Desert, starring Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis, and Robert Pattinson and directed by Werner Herzog, and of the documentary Letters from Baghdad, voiced by Tilda Swinton

Gertrude Bell was leaning in 100 years before Sheryl Sandberg. One of the great woman adventurers of the twentieth century, she turned her back on Victorian society to study at Oxford and travel the world, and became the chief architect of British policy in the Middle East after World War I. Mountaineer, archaeologist, Arabist, writer, poet, linguist, and spy, she dedicated her life to championing the Arab cause and was instrumental in drawing the borders that define today’s Middle East.

As she wrote in one of her letters, “It’s a bore being a woman when you are in Arabia.” Forthright and spirited, opinionated and playful, and deeply instructive about the Arab world, this volume brings together Bell’s letters, military dispatches, diary entries, and travel writings to offer an intimate look at a woman who shaped nations.

Image result for peter ackroydwilkie collins
Short and oddly built, with a head too big for his body, extremely nearsighted, unable to stay still, dressed in colorful clothes, Wilkie Collins looked distinctly strange. But he was nonetheless a charmer, befriended by the great, loved by children, irresistibly attractive to women—and avidly read by generations of readers. Peter Ackroyd follows his hero, "the sweetest-tempered of all the Victorian novelists," from Collins' childhood as the son of a well-known artist to his struggling beginnings as a writer, his years of fame, and his lifelong friendship with that other great London chronicler, Charles Dickens. In addition to his enduring masterpieces, The Moonstone—often called the first true detective novel—and the sensational The Woman in White, he produced an intriguing array of lesser known works. Told with Ackroyd's inimitable verve, this is a ravishingly entertaining life of a great storyteller, full of surprises, rich in humor and sympathetic understanding.

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Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his "charming" friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons and poison.

Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

Image result for victoria and albert duchess of york book cover
The Duchess of York (Prince Andrew's wife, ``Fergie'') writes about England's 19th-century rulers not as historical figures but as a loving couple and caring parents. Aided by Stoney, a professional researcher, the author gleaned quotes from journals kept by Victoria during her long reign (1837-1901). Such excerpts strengthen this account of how the queen and her beloved consort created a vibrant family life for their nine children despite the pressures of their public roles. As in other vital areas, Albert took the lead here, finding Osborne House on the Isle of Wight which became the family home. There the royals spent as much time as possible, away from the strains of court, enjoying close companionship in the bracing bucolic air. This virtually ideal life was cut short in 1861 by Albert's death at age 41. Although devastated by her loss, Victoria continued to rule until her death 40 years later. This well-written book, telling us much more than has heretofore been known about Prince Albert and his many accomplishments, will have great appeal to a wide audience. 

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Learn the extraordinary story of how, against all odds, the famous literary trio had their genius for writing romantic novels recognized in a male-dominated 19th-century world.

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The Victorian Undertaker by Trevor May (not available in the PLJC system)

The Victorians were, were relatively at ease with death and there is much in this book to interest social historians, those interested in historical costume and transport enthusiasts, as there is a section on the development of the horse-drawn hearse.

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