Friday, April 27, 2012

Research For My Senior Thesis Paper

Well it's over.  For those of you who don't know, I just finished my senior research paper!  The topic was New Rich Women and Women of the Nobility in Edwardian Era England.  I had to acquire quite a bit of resources, and because my topic is not wildly popular, there weren't too many scholarly articles out there (if you have stumbled upon any, please let me know because I'd actually like to think I missed something). There were however, a plethora of books, but you wouldn't believe how many books are in the Hatcher Graduate Library about the Edwardian Era, and how few there are about women specifically.  I found this to be the case across the board, though.  Maybe in a few years I'll publish something.  ;)  I did happen to find a few gems, which aided me quite a bit.  One of them, Juliet Nicolson's The Perfect Summer, I have on my book list already.  Others, such as The Edwardian Woman and Edwardian Promenade, are discoveries from when I started my research, some of them I found at the very end of my research, and a couple of them I just discovered that I want to read.  You know you picked the right research topic when you're not sick of your topic, you're just sick of writing!  

  • I'm beginning to think of Nicolson's The Perfect Summer as "old faithful" but a British "old faithful" because it aided me quite a bit in my research.  Nicolson is a journalist.  Sometimes it's debatable whether or not a book written by a journalist could be seen as academic, (which is not to say that jouralism is not academic), but in the eyes of many history professors, books written by journalists can either be solid or a complete toss-away.  The Perfect Summer is a keeper however because it's well researched, and let's face it: not too many Ph.D's out there are the great-grandaughter of the Hon. Vita Sackville-West, who herself came from the nobility, and a writer of one of the first books about the Edwardians.  As you can imagine, Nicolson has a lot of insider information about the Edwardian aristocrocy, ranging from such notable women as Lady Diana Manners, considered to be the most beautiful woman of her time (and a perfect example of how the upper class system worked), to Clementine Churchill, married to--well you know.  

  • This book took me by surprise.  I had flipped through it at the library thinking it would probably end up being of limited use to me. When I got it home, I couldn't stop reading it.  Jame's Laver's Edwardian Promenade is a pretty old book, but one of the best in terms of information it had about women in the Edwardian Era.  He gives a lot of examples through first hand accounts gathered from newspapers, magazines, journals and books written either during or not too long after the Edwardian Era.  If you're looking for solid information, don't let the fact that it has pictures fool you, it's a great source.

  • Duncan Crow's The Edwardian Woman was fantastic, if not solely for the fact that it's one of the few of its kind. It contains a wealth of information regarding everything concerning the era's social history in relationship to women. Topics ranged from the London "season", to the significance of the country house, to factory life and wage concerns. He also explains a bit about the influence Queen Alexandra had on women at the time. The only complaint I have is that I wish he covered more about the middle class-not that he never touched upon the subject, I just wish he had more pages devoted to it.

Lady Diana Manners was a popular subject throughout Juliet Nicolson's The Perfect Summer, and I found out she was both referenced and the inspiration for characters in Evelyn Waugh and F. Scott Fitzgerald's works. She wrote a biography that was pretty popular at her time called The Rainbow Comes and Goes.   

  •  Elizabeth and her German Garden is a novel, but I want to read it.  It was a best-seller at the time, and in my mind, reading popular novels from the past seems like a great way to get a good perception of what was going on in women's lives.  I want to read it.  Could be boring, it talks a lot about gardening, but I want to see what the hype was about.

 I found out about the book To Marry an English Lord just today from Evangeline Holland's fabulous website,, which is packed with GREAT resources.  I will definitely be reading it, along with her earlier suggestion to me, Twenty Shillings in the Pound, which is about the middle class.

And that's it! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Non-Serious, Non-History related post

  • I’m just putting this on my blog for the fun of it. It has next to ZERO historical value.  Well, it has ZERO.
  • But as an historian, I’m inclined to make observations and draw conclusions.
  • Here are observations I’ve made about (let’s face it, everyone who knows me well knows that this is one of my favorite shows) Downton Abbey. Here are the observations I’ve made about the fans…they seem to have multiple things in common. Why?  They blog about all the things they love and hate.  Oh, the irony in all of this!

This one is probably pretty obvious, but Downton Abbey fans all seem to love period pieces.  If you go on YouTube you can see the people who upload DA clips are the same people uploading North and South clips, Larkrise to Candleford clips, Persuasion clips, and Pride and Prejudice clips (but only the 1996 BBC version with Jennifer Ehle and pssssst…the real Mr. Darcy).
NO ONE can do what I do

Another unifying theme amongst Downton fans is their love of Meyers-Briggs typology.  One conversation on a message board went something like this: “Do you think Mary is INTJ? Another poster: “Well, she’s certainly a dominant extrovert, introverted thinking…so I believe she may be an ENTJ, given her goals for achievement and her ruthlessness”.  My personal theory…Mary is an extroverted feeler, with a melancholy-sanguine temperament.  But that’s just my opinion.

Downton Abbey fans love dogs.  Especially Labrador Retrievers.  I know this because when you go on IMDB’s Downton Abbey website, look under the question heading (and there are questions similar to this) “which of the characters should have an expanded story line?”…many people answer“Isis!” Yes, Isis, the adorable yellow lab on Downton.  People even joke that Isis should have a similar story to Branson and Sybil.  Isis gets impregnated by a campy dog and they have mutts, Irish-English mule children. 

Let’s face it, dog lovers usually either hate cats (they are rather bizarre animals), or just don’t like cats all that much. There are no cats on Downton Abbey. Well ok-there was one cat in series 1 and the maid, Gwen, told it to “get back to the stables!”  Okay, I retract my previous statement. There’s a possibility that there are indeed two cats on DA: the one that Gwen told off, and the mummified cat in Lord and Lady Carnarvon’s King Tut exhibit.  I’m sorry. The dark humor that I attribute to my Irish heritage is showing through. 

 Downton Abbey fans seem to have a fascination with Dame Maggie Smith.  Fans are either huge Harry Potter fans “It’s Professor McGonagall!” Or are just huge fans because #everythingshedoesisbrilliant:  A brief recap of my first impressions of her awesomeness as a kid.  Maggie Smith…


As Lady Hester Random in Tea with Musulinni

As Mrs. Madlock in The Secret Garden
As Granny Wendy in Hook
Oh man…all of those are Edwardian (or soon after) Era storylines.  Must be she’s the shizzz (or I’ve discovered a theme in my life).

It’s also a unifying belief for Downton Abbey fans, who are also inadvertently fans of Greek drama*, that you should have a Twitter account. (Because we ALL know the Dowager Countess referenced Mary/Matthew’s relationship being like a Greek drama for a reason…because Julian Fellows WRITES Downton Abbey itself like a Greek drama).  It’s important to have a Twitter account just so the actors can reassure you that the characters are going in a certain direction. Fact: so many Twitter accounts were made during the second series.

*for those of you who need a refresher have been living under a rock, a Greek Drama is a drama where half of the story takes place off-stage (or in this case off screen) and the audience is left to connect the dots.

Downton Abbey fans also love Sci Fi.  We’re talking Dr. Who, Torchwood, Firefly, Star Wars, Star loser Trek and of course, Tron Legacy. In case you had any doubts about DA fans being HUGE dorks, your suspicions have now been confirmed.  But as I said as a dorky little 19 year old, I will say again as a dorky little 24 year old…people love dorkiness because it’s real.

Most Downton Abbey fans wax sentimental that more people should watch Downton Abbey, because they don’t have enough people to talk about it with.   Hahaha!  I think these people coincidently, are American viewers. *Goes in a corner and sobs. *

We’re all fabulous.   And I should live in the UK now, bye!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Importance Of Submarines In World War I

German U-boat U-14
      The submarine  made its debut as a successful addition to the navy and became fully implemented in World War I.  No other war up until this point had been able to use the submarine to its best capacity and to as great a deal of success as it was in World War I.  The Civil War in America had been one of the first to use something like submarines, but it was to little if any advantage and these submarines were very primitive and quite dangerous.  During World War I, the submarine was a viable tool, and the Germans were the first to use it to their advantage starting in 1914. The German "U-boat" as it was called, shortened from the word Unterseeboot, was the finest example of submarines during this time and their primary use was to transport cargo. At the beginning of the war submarines were largely used near the shoreline, but the U-boat set the bar for submarines in warfare.  The U-boat was able to chart 12 knot speeds when surfaced and 7 knot speeds underwater, (close to 12 and 7 mph respectively). Submarines during this time operated by diesel when surfaced, and ran on electricity when submerged.

Germany had about 20 operational U-boats in 1914, and while submarines were seen simply as a cargo transport tool at the onset of the war, submarines were making their mark as an essential and permanent component to any well rounded navy.  During World War I, more than 5,000 allied ships were sunk by German U-boats and Germany also developed technology that enabled U-boats to lay mines on the ocean floor. At the outset of the war America was neutral but sending supplies to Great Britain.  When the Germans learned of this, their first reaction was sabotage; to completely disable their enemy, and this meant torpedoing any ship that was sending food, basic supplies, or arms equipment.  The bombing of American convoys to Great Britain by German submarines was one of the major factors, among others, that led to America joining the allied powers in World War I.   Germany declared unrestricted Submarine Warfare on January 9th, 1917. The English Channel and the Irish Sea were declared a month later to be a war zone. This declaration ensured America’s entrance into the war, and Germany knew that American entrance was likely to happen.  Prior to the declaration of 1917, America made it clear that Germany was responsible for any American casualties.  German Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg persuaded German generals to not sink any neutral ships. The sinking of any civilian passenger ships was also off limits.  This rule was followed unless neutral ships were carrying supplies to aid the Allies.  But the sinking of the British ships the Lusitania and the Arabic both in 1915, which carried American passengers, threatened American-German diplomacy.  It was the final straw when in 1916 the passenger ferry Sussex was torpedoed by a U-boat and outright unrestricted submarine warfare was declared by Germany in 1917 that America joined the Allied Forces. 

It is somewhat lost upon the general population the importance of  submarines in warfare other than for stealth, but the submarine did make a substantial mark upon the nature, and overall outcome of World War I.  We can conclude that the two most marked attributes of World War I were the introduction of trench warfare, and submarines.  As cliche as it sounds, the constitution of war was never the same after

Friday, June 17, 2011

Family Tree of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (later renamed House of Windsor)

-Basic family tree of the British Monarchy, pre-Edwardian and Edwardian.

Prince Edward Duke of Kent and Strathearn+ Princess Victoria of Saxe -Coburg- Saalfeld

Queen Victoria
+Prince Consort Albert of Saxe- Coburg-Gotha

Edward VII
+ Princess Alexandra of Denmark

George V
+ Princess Victoria Mary “May” of Teck