Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2010


It’s snowing again today in Barnet; the sky is as grey as the plump breasts of the woodpigeons that strut about outside in the garden looking for their breakfast. Increasingly, I am reminded of Narnia, and C.S. Lewis’s magical, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and wonder if winter will be here forever. There are signs that spring is on its way, however, – there are tiny green shoots pushing their way up through the earth, despite the cold weather. At last, the snowdrops have made an appearance – aptly named, their delicate heads nodding as the snow falls down from the heavens.

I was reminded of this poem by William Cowper, one of Jane Austen’s favourite poets. I used a tiny portion of this poem in Willoughby’s Return – Marianne is feeling rather vulnerable and lonely when she receives a gift of Cowper’s poems. The volume falls open at this particular poem where she also finds a letter, which gives rise to feelings of mixed emotions.

Here is the poem in full – I think it is one of Cowper’s most beautiful poems.

The Winter Nosegay

What Nature, alas! has deni’d
To the delicate growth of our isle,
Art has in a measure suppli’d,
And winter is deck’d with a smile.
See, Mary, what beauties I bring
From the shelter of that sunny shed,
Where the flowers have the charms of the spring,
Though abroad they are frozen and dead.

‘Tis a bower of Arcadian sweets,
Where Flora is still in her prime;
A fortress to which she retreats,
From the cruel assaults of the clime.
While earth wears a mantle of snow,
These pinks are as fresh and as gay,
As the fairest and sweetest that blow
On the beautiful bosom of May.

See how they have safely surviv’d
The frowns of a sky so severe!
Such Mary’s true love that has liv’d
Through many a turbulent year.
The charms of the late-blowing rose,
Seem grac’d with a livelier hue,
And the winter of sorrow best shows
The truth of a friend, such as you.

William Cowper

Illustrations/photos

Daffodils at Chatsworth
Kate Greenaway
Jane Odiwe

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


It’s snowing again today in Barnet; the sky is as grey as the plump breasts of the woodpigeons that strut about outside in the garden looking for their breakfast. Increasingly, I am reminded of Narnia, and C.S. Lewis’s magical, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and wonder if winter will be here forever. There are signs that spring is on its way, however, – there are tiny green shoots pushing their way up through the earth, despite the cold weather. At last, the snowdrops have made an appearance – aptly named, their delicate heads nodding as the snow falls down from the heavens.

I was reminded of this poem by William Cowper, one of Jane Austen’s favourite poets. I used a tiny portion of this poem in Willoughby’s Return – Marianne is feeling rather vulnerable and lonely when she receives a gift of Cowper’s poems. The volume falls open at this particular poem where she also finds a letter, which gives rise to feelings of mixed emotions.

Here is the poem in full – I think it is one of Cowper’s most beautiful poems.

The Winter Nosegay

What Nature, alas! has deni’d
To the delicate growth of our isle,
Art has in a measure suppli’d,
And winter is deck’d with a smile.
See, Mary, what beauties I bring
From the shelter of that sunny shed,
Where the flowers have the charms of the spring,
Though abroad they are frozen and dead.

‘Tis a bower of Arcadian sweets,
Where Flora is still in her prime;
A fortress to which she retreats,
From the cruel assaults of the clime.
While earth wears a mantle of snow,
These pinks are as fresh and as gay,
As the fairest and sweetest that blow
On the beautiful bosom of May.

See how they have safely surviv’d
The frowns of a sky so severe!
Such Mary’s true love that has liv’d
Through many a turbulent year.
The charms of the late-blowing rose,
Seem grac’d with a livelier hue,
And the winter of sorrow best shows
The truth of a friend, such as you.

William Cowper

Illustrations/photos

Daffodils at Chatsworth
Kate Greenaway
Jane Odiwe

Read Full Post »

I love using pictures and prints for inspiration. When I was writing Lydia Bennet’s Story, I drew on many that I was able to find in museums and books. These prints of contemporary scenes in Brighton by the seaside helped me to write a scene where Lydia and her friend, Harriet Forster, are interrupted by the attentions of a certain gentleman.

The following afternoon found Harriet and Lydia taking a turn along the seafront. They were standing watching some ladies riding on donkeys when Lydia was startled by a voice in her ear which seemed to come from nowhere. “Mr Wickham,” she cried as she turned to face him, “whatever do you mean by pouncing on young women in such a manner?! You quite frightened the life out of me.”

“Forgive me, Mrs Forster, Miss Bennet, but you were so engrossed, I could not resist making you jump. I declare, Miss Bennet, that I never saw you in such studied contemplation since I saw you outside the milliner’s in Meryton!”

Lydia could not help herself; she struck him on the arm for his insolence. “As it happens, we are whiling away a pleasant afternoon by watching the fashionables on horseback. It is vastly entertaining. Look over there; that poor creature can hardly stand for the two comely dames he has on his back.”

“Ah, yes, that is most amusing, though for myself, there is nothing so delightful as a horseback ride for two in my opinion, especially if you can share a saddle. Now wouldn’t that be a prospect, Miss Bennet? I am sure you would enjoy a ride with me above all else!” Mr Wickham twirled his cane with a flick of his wrist. “However,” he went on, “press me not, I am unable to oblige today. I have important matters to attend, and in any case, I have promised Miss Westlake a turn in a donkey cart first.”

Lydia regarded Mr Wickham’s countenance, so smug and self-satisfied. He presumed too much if he thought that she would instantly say yes to his suggestion. She was most vexed to be considered only as an afterthought to Miss Westlake. He was full of his own importance, she decided, and determined right there and then that, if he ever should suggest they go out on horseback or in a donkey cart for two, she would refuse immediately. She was on the point of answering with a cutting retort when he started again, leaving her to gape with her mouth wide open.

“No, I must go,” he announced, clicking his heels. “I can spend no longer standing here in idle chatter; our Colonel awaits me! I look forward to tomorrow evening, and Miss Bennet, if you stop scowling and smile pleasantly at me, I shall engage you for the first two dances. Good day, Mrs Forster.” With a short bow he set off at a march along the promenade before Lydia had a chance to answer him. She left her friend in no doubt of what she thought of his behaviour.

“Well, of all the conceited, arrogant…good Lord! That man is the end! He thinks he has only to say the word and I shall jump. Well, I will not! I shall endeavour to dance all night with Denny and Chamberlayne or indeed anyone who might wish to partner me but Mr Wickham!”

Read Full Post »

I love using pictures and prints for inspiration. When I was writing Lydia Bennet’s Story, I drew on many that I was able to find in museums and books. These prints of contemporary scenes in Brighton by the seaside helped me to write a scene where Lydia and her friend, Harriet Forster, are interrupted by the attentions of a certain gentleman.

The following afternoon found Harriet and Lydia taking a turn along the seafront. They were standing watching some ladies riding on donkeys when Lydia was startled by a voice in her ear which seemed to come from nowhere. “Mr Wickham,” she cried as she turned to face him, “whatever do you mean by pouncing on young women in such a manner?! You quite frightened the life out of me.”

“Forgive me, Mrs Forster, Miss Bennet, but you were so engrossed, I could not resist making you jump. I declare, Miss Bennet, that I never saw you in such studied contemplation since I saw you outside the milliner’s in Meryton!”

Lydia could not help herself; she struck him on the arm for his insolence. “As it happens, we are whiling away a pleasant afternoon by watching the fashionables on horseback. It is vastly entertaining. Look over there; that poor creature can hardly stand for the two comely dames he has on his back.”

“Ah, yes, that is most amusing, though for myself, there is nothing so delightful as a horseback ride for two in my opinion, especially if you can share a saddle. Now wouldn’t that be a prospect, Miss Bennet? I am sure you would enjoy a ride with me above all else!” Mr Wickham twirled his cane with a flick of his wrist. “However,” he went on, “press me not, I am unable to oblige today. I have important matters to attend, and in any case, I have promised Miss Westlake a turn in a donkey cart first.”

Lydia regarded Mr Wickham’s countenance, so smug and self-satisfied. He presumed too much if he thought that she would instantly say yes to his suggestion. She was most vexed to be considered only as an afterthought to Miss Westlake. He was full of his own importance, she decided, and determined right there and then that, if he ever should suggest they go out on horseback or in a donkey cart for two, she would refuse immediately. She was on the point of answering with a cutting retort when he started again, leaving her to gape with her mouth wide open.

“No, I must go,” he announced, clicking his heels. “I can spend no longer standing here in idle chatter; our Colonel awaits me! I look forward to tomorrow evening, and Miss Bennet, if you stop scowling and smile pleasantly at me, I shall engage you for the first two dances. Good day, Mrs Forster.” With a short bow he set off at a march along the promenade before Lydia had a chance to answer him. She left her friend in no doubt of what she thought of his behaviour.

“Well, of all the conceited, arrogant…good Lord! That man is the end! He thinks he has only to say the word and I shall jump. Well, I will not! I shall endeavour to dance all night with Denny and Chamberlayne or indeed anyone who might wish to partner me but Mr Wickham!”

Read Full Post »

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, here is a snippet from Willoughby’s Return. I wanted this book to be as much Margaret’s story as Marianne’s and I thought it high time she started to enjoy herself by attending balls and meeting young men. Colonel Brandon’s sister and family have recently returned to Whitwell and his nephew, Henry Lawrence, back home from university, is introduced to Margaret for the first time at a ball at the Brandon’s home, Delaford.

The gong rang out, calling the weary dancers to rest awhile and replenish their energy. All the guests hurried off to the dining room, where tables were set, groaning under the weight of a magnificent spread. The musicians laid aside their instruments and dashed to the servant’s hall for a glass of negus and a bowl of soup. Colonel Brandon ushered his guests, Sir Edgar and Henry Lawrence, to his table, where much to her great delight, Margaret already sat, with her mother, the Middletons, and Mrs Jennings. There was such a hubbub and frenzied bustle about the room as people found their chairs and struck up conversation.

Every little party was talking nineteen to the dozen, piling plates with cold meat and hot pies, sweets and sorbets, filling glasses with ice cold wine. Everyone had so much to say and wanted to say it all at once. The sound of chattering, braying, prattling, and screeching, punctuated by howling laughter or tittering giggles, added to the delirious atmosphere.

Henry took his seat next to Margaret. “This evening is surpassing all my expectations,” he whispered, smiling into her eyes. “This is so much fun, do you not agree, Miss Dashwood?”

“I do, indeed, Mr Lawrence,” she replied. “I am enjoying myself very much, though I would more so if I felt we were not under so much scrutiny. Do not look now, but we are being observed.”

“Let me guess, Miss Dashwood,” he responded, “Lady Middleton and her sweet mother are watching us and, no doubt, trying to catch the essence of our conversation. Hmm, let me see. I must give them something on which to ponder and discuss.”

He selected a dish of pink, heart-shaped marchpane and, taking one between thumb and forefinger, proffered it toward her, proclaiming in an audible voice for all to hear, “Miss Dashwood, may I offer my heart? Pray, do not leave me in suspense, I beg you. Do not break it, but take it and devour it whole!”

Margaret felt mortified, especially when she saw Lady Middleton exchange knowing glances with Mrs Jennings. Everyone laughed when Margaret refused to take the heart and even more so when Henry begged again and it was only when Mrs Jennings spoke that the table fell silent.

“Colonel Brandon, where is your dear wife? Has she not come in to supper? I cannot think where she can be and for that matter, I cannot recall when I saw her last. I hope she is not ailing; she did look a trifle pale after the last dance. Bless my soul, but I must say it is probably wiser that she sit down more often.”

Margaret looked about the room and, in so doing, caught her sister Elinor’s solemn expression. They had each perceived the hints that Mrs Jennings was making and knew their sister would be far from pleased. But apart from that neither of them could see Marianne and both recognised the solicitous mien in the other.

Read Full Post »

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, here is a snippet from Willoughby’s Return. I wanted this book to be as much Margaret’s story as Marianne’s and I thought it high time she started to enjoy herself by attending balls and meeting young men. Colonel Brandon’s sister and family have recently returned to Whitwell and his nephew, Henry Lawrence, back home from university, is introduced to Margaret for the first time at a ball at the Brandon’s home, Delaford.

The gong rang out, calling the weary dancers to rest awhile and replenish their energy. All the guests hurried off to the dining room, where tables were set, groaning under the weight of a magnificent spread. The musicians laid aside their instruments and dashed to the servant’s hall for a glass of negus and a bowl of soup. Colonel Brandon ushered his guests, Sir Edgar and Henry Lawrence, to his table, where much to her great delight, Margaret already sat, with her mother, the Middletons, and Mrs
Jennings. There was such a hubbub and frenzied bustle about the room as people found their chairs and struck up conversation.

Every little party was talking nineteen to the dozen, piling plates with cold meat and hot pies, sweets and sorbets, filling glasses with ice cold wine. Everyone had so much to say and wanted to say it all at once. The sound of chattering, braying, prattling, and screeching, punctuated by howling laughter or tittering giggles, added to the delirious atmosphere.

Henry took his seat next to Margaret. “This evening is surpassing all my expectations,” he whispered, smiling into her
eyes. “This is so much fun, do you not agree, Miss Dashwood?”

“I do, indeed, Mr Lawrence,” she replied. “I am enjoying myself very much, though I would more so if I felt we were not under so much scrutiny. Do not look now, but we are being observed.”

“Let me guess, Miss Dashwood,” he responded, “Lady Middleton and her sweet mother are watching us and, no doubt,
trying to catch the essence of our conversation. Hmm, let me see. I must give them something on which to ponder and discuss.”

He selected a dish of pink, heart-shaped marchpane and, taking one between thumb and forefinger, proffered it toward her,
proclaiming in an audible voice for all to hear, “Miss Dashwood, may I offer my heart? Pray, do not leave me in suspense, I beg
you. Do not break it, but take it and devour it whole!”

Margaret felt mortified, especially when she saw Lady Middleton exchange knowing glances with Mrs Jennings. Everyone laughed when Margaret refused to take the heart and even more so when Henry begged again and it was only when
Mrs Jennings spoke that the table fell silent.

“Colonel Brandon, where is your dear wife? Has she not come in to supper? I cannot think where she can be and for that matter, I cannot recall when I saw her last. I hope she is not ailing; she did look a trifle pale after the last dance. Bless my soul, but I must say it is probably wiser that she sit down more often.”

Margaret looked about the room and, in so doing, caught her sister Elinor’s solemn expression. They had each perceived
the hints that Mrs Jennings was making and knew their sister would be far from pleased. But apart from that neither of them
could see Marianne and both recognised the solicitous mien in the other.

Read Full Post »

This is very tenuously linked from my last post, but one of the exhibitions they had on at Chatsworth featured the costumes from ‘The Duchess’ which starred Keira Knightley and Dominic Cooper who we also know as Mr Willoughby, of course. I think this era and the Regency period have to be my favourite for costume – I’m not sure I would have enjoyed being trussed up in all that stuff on a daily basis, though when I was much younger, I did dress up in similar costumes for Fancy Dress parties. I’ve always loved dressing up!
The paintings I’m posting today came about after a trip to the Lakes. We visited Beatrix Potter’s house at Hill Top and of course, I felt so inspired when I visited her husband’s office where so many of her exquisite paintings are kept. Whilst I could never hope to aspire to Mrs Heelis’s excellence with a brush, I hope you enjoy them. They are just a few of the paintings I did with a children’s book in mind – never finished, but as with so many things, I probably got side-tracked!




Read Full Post »

Older Posts »