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February 2016



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The Incomparable Vesta Tilly ~ Victorian Actress

Vesta Tilley was an actress famous for her cross dressing stage performances during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.  She retired in 1920.

She performed before Queen Mary by Royal Command in 1912. The queen is reputed to have averted her eyes the entire time because she thought a woman in trousers was the height of indecency. I guess no one warned her that the 1920s were immanent.

I can't claim Vesta Tilly as inspiration for Madame Lefoux (that can be laid squarely at the door of George Sand). But I just discovered Vesta Tilley. I think she may be the inspiration for one of the characters in the movie Tipping the Velvet, which I recommend if you are interested at all in the subject of Toms in Victorian England. Highly fantasized, of course, but still fun.

 Publicity still from IMDB

Vesta was not alone in her daring stage exploits. A number of actresses pushed the bounds of propriety in a myriad of different ways. Although Vesta seems to have been one of the most famuous for cross dressing in particular.

It's a great sadness to me that I never had the page time or plot direction to elaborate on the character of Mabel Dair in my books. She's based, loosely, on the Jersey Lilly.

Lillie Langtree was, so far as I can guess, an absolute battleaxe of a female who blew through a cornucopia of rich and powerful male lovers, was friends with Oscar Wilde, and lived well into her seventies. There's an indifferent but absorbing mini-series from the late 1970s on her life,. If the actresses of the Victorian and Edwardian era interest you, it's worth a peek. The costumes are marvelous.

 If it's the cross dressing you're after (and really, who isn't?) there's the hilarious You Rang M'lord featuring one of the most iconic female cross dressing characters of the small screen, in the form of Sissy. And if you can tolerate Julie Andrews, there is always Victor Vitoria.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1862 Promenade Ensemble   The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Minoan, I think. Form the BM.


Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Forget steam: Some Victorian era machines were powered by dogs.

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .

A fun look at book cover art featuring THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NYC by Mur Lafferty



Prudence ~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Handed in to editor.

Curtsies & Conspiracies ~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Title changed. Release date November 2013. Working page proofs.

Manga ~ Soulless Vol. 2: (AKA Changeless) Out now!

Etiquette & Espionage ~ Finishing School Book the First: Release date Feb 5, 2013.



BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT on the Parasol Protectorate series! Really, DON'T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven't read the other books first!


The Omnibus hardback editions are limited run through the SciFi Bookclub only.


The manga editions, both now available in print.



Most short stories available in ebook form world wide!


The first Finishing School book ~ Out Feb. 5, 2013 

Book News:

I talk about nothing but tea on the Tea Rage podcast. Learn about what really gets my goat regarding tea.

Quote of the Day:

Testing a new widgit

Daisypath Wedding tickers


Just a note, due to some serious concerns with LJ I'm switching over to blogspot first and LJ second. This messes with the code slightly, as you can see there are more spaces and the widget at the bottom doesn't work. I'm afraid that's probubly how things will go from here on out. LJ is just too unstable and too prone to DNS attacks.

Vesta Tilly and co

I went to a really interesting evening's entertainment about these women who dressed as men on stage.

There's a book that goes with the show - http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Behind-Oberon-Modern-Plays/dp/1849431973/ - which I would hope contains much the same information.
I recall it was Maude Adams who started the trend of women playing Peter Pan though I don't know if she ever played any other male characters.

I thought of you today while organising prints to get framed. One of the ones I am getting framed is a female with foil from the London black and white supplement in 1902. Next to it is a letter from Alexander Crook to his niece talking about all sorts of things that a lady should and should not do. What made me giggle was the line which went something along the lines of "You say you do not want to get married. No one ever does. You need to look at marriage like a disease such as measles. You get it once, but then after that you are hopefully immune."
I *think* Julie Andrews did "Burlington Bertie" in the movie Victor, Victoria.

At least, I'm remembering bits of the chorus and it sounds like her voice singing it.
Not an Andrews fan, eh?
Nope. no idea why she's just always rubbed me the wrong way. Even when i was little with Mary P.
Just wanted to note, Tipping the Velvet is based on a book by the same name, by Sarah Waters. She has a few novels, but i've only read that one. i don't remember, but it might have a bit of a bibliography, as to where she did her research on this area:)
Thanks for the info!