The Fan Museum–and some news

I’m still talking about my trip–I blogged last week about visiting the Regency Town House in Brighton, but while I was in England I made two trips to London. On one, I took a guided tour of Mayfair, and blog about it today at the History Hoydens.

I also took a trip to Greenwich, traveling there on the river and it was freezing, but well worth it. For one, you really get an idea of how huge London is, and how impressive the Thames is, with its wonderful meandering curves. You travel past a lot of reclaimed and tarted up wharves (now owned by people who are probably deeply regretting the investment), and past the London Eye, the Globe and the replica of the Golden Hind.

And Greenwich itself is amazing. I visited the National Maritime Museum where you can see the coat Nelson wore when he died and the barge King George I rode in when Handel’s Water Music was performed.

But it was outside the Park that I discovered what has to be one of my favorite museums, the Fan Museum. Check out their site because it has some really wonderful images and information. The museum is in a gorgeous, impeccably restored Georgian house on a pretty, quiet street–quiet for London, that is! This isn’t actually a photo of the museum but of the street itself, and everything was green and lovely because it was raining. The houses are quite small and would probably have been occupied by merchants or retired Naval officers (I like to house mistresses in Greenwich but I’m not sure why).

It also has an award-winning bathroom and a lovely garden. Yes, the English give out awards for Best Loos, and it was really splendid. As were the contents of the museum and the wonderful, knowledgeable staff. One of the things I found fascinating about the fan industry was that women were featured very strongly in fan manufacturing. Another is that the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers, the guild established in 1709 and which sounds straight out of Terry Pratchett, is still going strong and has made a flawless transition into modern times with the adoption of air-conditioning, aviation, and aerospace industries. No kidding.

You can also see some great pictures of fans at Candice Hern’s fabulous collection.

If you fancy owning a fan yourself, here’s a gorgeous Regency one, with its original box, for sale at The Cupid and the Swan.

And, oh yes, the so-called secret language of the fan … well, if everyone can decipher it, it’s not much of a secret, is it? The staff of the museum assured me it was purely a Victorian marketing ploy.

And now for my big news: I have sold a two-book deal, Immortal Jane, to HarperCollins. The first one, coming out next summer, is about Jane Austen joining forces with sexy vampires to save the city of Bath from the dastardly French. My working title, which I hope I can keep, is Blood Bath (groan). Oh yes, I’m gonna have fun with this. I’m excited! I am, in fact, fanning myself even as I write… it’s almost as good as a cream tea (my brother had the coffee. For some reason, cream coffee just doesn’t sound as good).

Have you had any writing successes or read or eaten anything good recently?

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