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Love Tokens

tokenThis Valentine’s Day, the heroine in the novel you’re writing dutifully cut a lock of her hair and tied it in a bow for her beau. In return, he’s given her some token of his love, but did you know that means he might literally be giving her some token of his love?

Love tokens originated in the 1700s, but were very popular in this sentimental era – especially in the 1880s. The hero in your novel would visit a jeweller, or some other metal worker, and have the coin decorated at the one pictured above. On the reverse, Nellie might find her beau’s initials and the date. To make it more special, Nellie’s beau has included a picture. If he could afford it, he might have embellished her love token further with precious stones, raised enamel, or cut-out designs within the coin.

The tokens might be made of any metal and became souvenirs, or mementos, of a special time. They might be maid out of actual coins, like a nickel or a dime, and they might have a hole punched in them to allow Nellie to wear it on a chain around her neck. The great variety in Victorian love tokens illustrates how they could be given by a beau of any class. One might take a copper coin and engrave it themself.

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Nineteenth-century Nellie may have given a love token to her best friend, her sister, brother, or any other member of her family. They’re making a comeback and are a popular item on sites that sell handmade goods, like Etsy.

Are you giving someone you love a love token on Valentine’s Day?

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Writer’s Quote Wednesday: Love and Corelli

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It’s Wednesday again!

Marie Corelli was the best-selling novelist in the UK from 1886 until World War I. Her books sold more copies than Arthur Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, and Rudyard Kipling put together.

Because of her popularity, the literary community dubbed her work as too ‘householdy.’

householdy n. domestic; or feminine (pejorative).

As a person, Corelli was about as unconventional as a Victorian woman could be. She lived with her life-companion, Bertha Vyver, and fancied things like taking a gondola on the Avon, complete with a gondolier that she had brought over from Venice.

Her popularity dropped off quickly during World War I, when she was accused of hoarding rations.

I selected this quote from the preface to Wormwood: A Drama of Paris (1890) because it resonates with how I feel about my life and my own relationship. Falling in love with my husband has made me more me than I have ever been in my life. In my autobiography, everything that happened before will be pre-history.

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Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Welcome to my first Writer’s Quote Wednesday.

I encountered Wang’s site for the first time today, but those words just filled my heart, as I’ve been struggling with imposter syndrome lately. My advise to all the writers following the Dictionary Project: keep making what you’re making; it’s worth it.

Come back next Wednesday for more quotes.

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Five of the Best Short Antique Movies You’ll Ever See

It’s Friday, we all need a break. Here are my favourite short YouTube videos on the late-Victorian/Edwardian Era.

1. The Ballad of Bess Houdini by Paul Vickers and The Leg: a music video about the wife of Harry Houdini. This one is not an antique, but it is one of my favourites.

2. Vancouver Street Scenes, 1907. It’s like someone got hold of a smart phone in 1907, and hopped a street car.

3. The May-Irwin Kiss, 1896. This 21-second video was the first romantic movie ever made!

4. Eugen Sandow, 1894. If you don’t know who Eugen Sandow is, check him out on my other blog.

And finally,

5. The first American science-fiction movie, A Trip to Mars, 1910.

Have a great weekend!

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English is Strange

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English is strange. Communicating through letters on a screen is strange too. Eventually, if my words are lucky, they will make it to the printed page, where readers can be alone with them.

Reading other people’s words on this screen leads me to the bottom of the virtual page, where little white boxes tempt me to tell other writers what I think of their words. Today’s assignment was to give into temptation four times.

leave a thoughtful comment

This assignment took much longer than I expected.

I fell in love with a phrase:

the lexically luxuriant luminary – sesquiotica

In the end, I remembered that just because a comment is long and well-written doesn’t mean it was well-considered. My last comment was probably the most thoughtful, and it was only three sentences long. The original post reminded me of the members of my family who still struggle to conjugate sentences in English, though it was beautifully written.

My Dutch grandmother reads faster than I do and recreationally more often, but is reluctant to write a letter in English. Yet, she has uttered some of the wisest most beautiful strings of English words I have ever heard – all in an accent.

Past versions of English are strange, but I want them to be fun. That is why I write about making up your own Victorian colloquialisms. There’s playfulness in the art of writing Victorian dialogue in the twenty-first century. That’s why I am writing the dictionary. The more we understand the words, the stranger they become.

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