Risky Regencies

Happy Birthday, Hogarth and Goldsmith!

Well, I’ve had a pretty good week! I wrote those wondrous words The End on my Sicilian WIP (it still needs some rough edges polished before it flies off, but the hardest part is done! No Hello Kitty whips needed, Megan). I started a new day job with more time for writing and more money (a winning combo, IMO). And I got a big box of new books from the Edward R. Hamilton catalog. Joy!

Now, after last week’s birthday post for Marie Antoinette, you might have noticed I’ve been spending some time on
historyorb.com This is a great site with info on historical birthdays and happenings for every day of the year. So, whenever I’m having a hard time coming up with topics for Saturdays, I can turn here. Like today!

There are two November 10 birthdays with significance for “our” period (it’s also the birthday of the Earl of Essex, but I stuck with the 18th century)–William Hogarth and Oliver Goldsmith. Hogarth was a painter, printmaker, satirist, and social critic born in 1697, living until 1764. The son of a poor school teacher, he was born in London and apprenticed to an engraver in Leicester Fields, London as a boy. He took an avid interest in sketching the street life of the city, and was well-acquainted with the seamier side of 18th century life (his own father was imprisoned in the Fleet for debt for five years, something Hogarth never talked about). In 1729, he married the daughter of a fellow artist. In 1757, he was appointed Serjeant Painter To The King.

In 1731, he completed the earliest of his famous series of moral works, The Harlot’s Progress (the paintings are now lost, but the engravings still exist). In six scenes, it shows the miserable fate of a country girl lured into prostitution. The next series, The Rake’s Progress, follows in eight paintings the reckless life of Tom Rakewell, the son of a rich merchant who wastes his money and dies in Bedlam. (These paintings are now in a gallery room at Sir John Soane’s Museum, where Diane and I actually got to see them!)

in 1743-45, he painted the six works of Marriage a la Mode, a skewering of upper-class society that warned of the miserable tragedy of marrying for money. It shows the fashionable marriage of the son of bankrupt Earl Squanderfield to the daughter of a rich merchant, and ends with murder and suicide. (If it was a romance novel, which the initial set-up suggests it could be, things would have ended far better…)

His later important cycle was Beer Street and Gin Lane, pieces I find endlessly fascinating in their details! Beer Street has happy occupants, drinking the good, healthy beverage of English beer, versus Gin Lane, which causes serious troubles (like babies tossed over railings!).

Hogarth died in London, and was buried in St. Nicholas’s Churchyard, Chiswick. His friend, the actor David Garrick, wrote the inscription.

Oliver Goldsmith, playwright, poet, and physician, was born in 1730 in Ireland, the son of an Anglican curate. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Trinity College in 1749, studying theology and law but never being ordained. He later studied medicine in Edinburgh, Leiden, and Padua, returning to London to work as an apothecary’s assistant. He earned extra money as a hack writer, but also worked on more serious poems and became friends with Samuel Johnson, with whom he was a founding member of the “The Club.” His great literary work combined with a dissolute lifestyle led to Horace Walpole nicknaming him “The Inspired Idiot” (not a nickname I covet…). He died in 1774 and was buried in Temple Church. There is also a memorial in Westminster Abbey with an epitaph written by Johnson.

His best known works include the novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), the pastoral poem The Deserted Village (1770), and his plays The Good Natur’d Man (1768) and She Stoops to Conquer (1771, first performed in 1773). I’m especially fond of She Stoops to Conquer, since I got to take part in a production when I was in college! It’s a farce and romantic comedy of errors, initially titled the appropriate Mistakes of a Night.

The central plot follows Charles Marlow, a wealthy young man being forced to marry a woman he’s never met. He’s very shy around women of his own class, but with females of the lower orders he suddenly turns into a lecherous rogue. He sets out to the lady’s family home, Hardcastle Manor, with his friend George Hastings, who is an admirer of Constance Neville, a relative of Kate, the bride-to-be. They get lost on the journey and stop at a tavern for directions. Tony Lumpkin (the bride’s kinsman) comes across them there, and decides to play a practical joke by telling them they are a long way from the Manor and must pass the night at an inn. The “inn” is really Hardcastle Manor, though the two men are too dumb to realize that and behave scandalously!

Kate, meanwhile, disguises herself as a maidservant in order to get to know her might-be fiance. Marlow, of course, falls in love with her, but because she seems to be a maid behaves in a very shocking manner around her. But all misunderstandings are resolved in the end, and everyone lives happily ever after. (I, btw, played Constance, a young lady who is heiress to a vast fortune in jewels. She loves George, who loves her in return, but she is promised to her cousin Tony. She attempts to elope with her true love in one of the many follies in the play!)

So, two more birthdays! Bring out the cake! What are your plans for the weekend (besides celebrating, of course?) I plan to start reading one of my new books as a reward for finishing my WIP, and for writing this post.

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Megan Frampton
15 years ago

Congratulations on finishing, Amanda!

Yes, I remember Goldsmith–I love She Stoops To Conquer, saw it performed when I was maybe 12 or something?

Today I am writing in my eternal quest to be More Like You, Amanda, and type “The End” myself soon.

Tracy Grant
15 years ago

Congrats on finishing, Amanda! And how cool that you played Constance! I read “She Stoops to Conquer” when I was quite young, at the same I was reading a lot of Georgette Heyer, and it seemed very like a Regency romance to me. I saw it on stage at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre a bit later, probably when I was twelve or so like Megan. Constance was always my favorite character, though I never got to play her. I also read “The Vicar of Wakefield” a bit later.

Amanda McCabe
15 years ago

“And how cool that you played Constance!”

It was the most fun! I also got to work on the sets, and recruited my mother to help with the costumes (my poor mom–she always got hauled in to help with costumes when I was dabbling in theater!). I also was in a production of Aphra Behn’s Restoration farce “The Rover,” and I enjoyed it a lot.

Maybe we need to get some RR amateur theatricals together 🙂

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
15 years ago

Congratulations Amanda. I also love She Stops the Concord as we in the theatrical world like to call She Stoops to Conquer. One of my good friends played Kate Hardcastle several years ago. And I went to Hogarth’s house in Chiswick about ten years ago.

Megan Frampton
15 years ago

RR amateur theatricals: Wasn’t that me at the last RWA I attended?!?

I did play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, mostly because I could sing.

Diane Gaston
15 years ago

I spent the day at a Michael Hauge workshop. He’s the fellow who wrote Writing Screenplays That Sell. It was very very good.

Keira Soleore
15 years ago

Christmas came early for you, Ammanda. A new job (that has fewer hours and pays more), finishing up your Sicilian oeuvre, and a box of new books.

I agree with Megan. I want to be YOU when I grow up.

Lay Heyer’s Cotillion is being reprinted and should go on sale later this month.

Speaking of birthdays… A very happy birthday to Martin Luther, Dostoyevsky, and Leo DiCaprio. 🙂

Keira Soleore
15 years ago

Oh and amateur theatricals… I’ve performed in the musicals Man of La Mancha and Auntie Mame and some straight drama in my younger days. The musicals were the most fun (dancing, speaking, singing).

Amanda McCabe
15 years ago

I can’t sing worth anything! I sound suspiciously like a frog with flu. 🙂 So Megan and Keira, you get to do the song bits in our play. What play should we do??

Keira Soleore
15 years ago

Perhaps Todd could write us one. What say you, Cara?

And my beau Bertie has to have a part in that play.

Amanda McCabe
15 years ago

“Perhaps Todd could write us one.”

Great idea, Keira! So–we have songs, Bertie, great costumes (natch). Maybe a dance or two. Could be very interesting. 🙂

Keira Soleore
15 years ago

Diane, I took Michael Hague’s workshops at National. He was amazing. Hope you can blog about your day-long workshop here.

15 years ago

I spent the weekend working and then coming home to write. Had a good day at it today as I was off today. Love She Stoops to Conquer. Never performed it myself. Now if Todd will write an opera for us I am game. Actually I did some musicals in college and grad school – Man of LaMancha, My Fair Lady, The Fantastiks. I even did Oklahoma but I will NEVER do it again as it was done in combo with the theater dept and was a total disaster. They cast a really hunky cowboy as Curly. Great to look at, but his singing voice was suspiciously like a cat in a blender. Trying singing a love duet with that!! Congrats on typing The End, Amanda!

Cara King
15 years ago

What a great week, Amanda!!!

I love “She Stoops to Conquer,” though I never had the chance to do it on stage. I did get to do Miss Hardcastle in a reading once, though — such fun!

Had a chance to see Hogarth’s house, too, and a variety of his paintings. They’re not the most interesting from an artistic point of view, but from a sociological or political (or historical) point of view, very rewarding, I think!

As to amateur theatricals… I never could sing myself, though I tried when I was young… I did some musicals, but I rarely got much above the chorus. In straight plays, though, I’ve had a lot more to do, and I still do them nowadays. (I definitely have the acting bug! When Todd writes that Risky play, we’ll all take the town by storm.) 🙂

Shakespeare and Wilde have given me my favorite roles so far… (And though I’ve never acted in any play that Todd wrote, I did once act in one he directed!) 🙂


15 years ago

Boy, go off the blog for a couple of days, and what do you get? You come back and find yourself volunteered to write a play, or worse, an opera!! (And believe me, if I wrote it, it would indeed be worse!) My only chance would be to claim that I was founding a new school of music…something beyond atonal. Maybe amusical. Or asonic. (Yes! Three hours of perfect silence! Move over, Cage, I’ve re-invented Mime!)

I should never have admitted to writing that play on the blog. Truthfully, it’s the only full-length play I’ve ever written. (I wrote a couple of one-acts, but only one of those was ever performed.) And I think I can reasonably claim to be, in all modesty, a musical idiot. Something along the lines of PDQ Bach, but with less talent. 🙂

There was one time, when I was part of an improv troupe, that we were asked to improvise an opera. That was…different. Yes. Different is an excellent word for it. If the word “excellent” can even be used in the same paragraph. We could actually hear the sound of Verdi rolling over in his grave. (Though unfortunately, the sound was not loud enough to drown us out.)

So, to summarize (and there will be a quiz after this):

1. No opera.

2. My last play was more than ten years ago, so I need at least a decade or two to warm up.

3. Did I mention “No opera?”

4. I think Mozart was rolling in his grave, too. Too bad no one knows where it is.

5. No. Opera. Nada. Rien. Niente. Keine. None.


15 years ago

So I take it you really don’t want to write an opera, Todd? Are you SURE? I know it is probably sacrilegious to say so but I cannot stand John Cage, nor his music. I actually told him that (about the music, not him and in really polite words, well polite for me.) I just didn’t get it. Stravinksy or Alban Berg are about as far out as I want to go to sing. So THAT’S what that rumbling was – Verdi and Mozart rolling over in their graves. Mystery solved! 🙂

Keira Soleore
15 years ago

So, Todd, no opera. But how about a musical? Perhaps Doglady can be roped into writing the songs, while you do the words for the play?

15 years ago

Keira wrote:

So, Todd, no opera. But how about a musical? Perhaps Doglady can be roped into writing the songs, while you do the words for the play?

Say, that’s an idea! And better yet–let’s make it sung through!!

Doglady wrote:

I know it is probably sacrilegious to say so but I cannot stand John Cage, nor his music.

Well, I don’t find it sacrilegious. 🙂 When I was an undergraduate, John Cage was named the Norton Professor of Poetry. This is a year-long post, in which one delivers a series of lectures. His lectures were all generated by combining random words and phrases from newspapers and magazines. Needless to say, attendance dropped off sharply after his first lecture. Frankly, if there is any message conveyed by such a lecture, I think you can get it in about 5 minutes; but I did have some friends who took it very seriously, and attended all of his lectures, and were outraged that he wasn’t treated with more respect. I suppose it takes all kinds…


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