Beer, books, bosoms and Baltimore

So I was all set to do this stupendous post about my corset. I visited the staymaker last Saturday armed with my camera and found the batteries had died. So much for that, but my staymaker is indeed hard at work making me a front-lacing corset, and I should say that it is a garment made of stout cotton for my equally stout body, without any ooh la la factor at all, as is the linen shift that I will wear with it.

By one of those strange internet associations I went searching on google for the term “liberty bodice.” Bet you don’t know what a liberty bodice is. Aunt Ada Doom in Cold Comfort Farm sends Judith to find hers when she decides to make a family appearance (great book and excellent movie with a terrific cast including Rufus Sewell as the earthy stud Seth).

The Way to Healthy Development
Free and unrestricted exercise is necessary to healthy growth and development. That is why most mothers choose the “Liberty” Bodice for their children. It gives firm yet gentle support, allows perfect bodily freedom, and transfers the weight of underclothing and “pull” of suspenders to the shoulders. The most hygienic garment made. Wears well and washes splendidly.

Yes, it was the late 19th-early 20th century unisex equivalent of a training bra, probably a direct descendant of the stays that were worn by children in the Georgian period and possibly also worn by elderly women, like Aunt Ada Doom, who’d decided to give up the discomfort of a corset (and by this period they would be uncomfortable). This article about a museum exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of the garment, states the factory went out of business in the 1960s. Wow. You do have to wonder, though, about what sort of garments would be termed unhygienic.

Here’s a pair of children’s stays from the mid 18th-century, made of wool with boning and back lacing. Stand up straight, child! Yes, our manly heroes probably wore something like this (and a gown!).

So, tearing myself away from underwear reminiscences and explorations, let me move on to the beer. That, with books, is what the Baltimore Book Festival is all about, and it takes place this weekend. I’ll be there for a few hours beginning at noon on Saturday, reading from Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion, talking about historical romance (and serving tea!) and talking about Jane Austen. Stop by and say hello! I’ll also be raffling off this fine basket of Austen-vamp related items, which includes tea, a teapot, a gorgeous red and black silk scarf, and various other delectable odds and ends.

If you’re green with envy and hundreds of miles from Baltimore, I’m giving away very similar prizes in my most recent contest. If you receive my newsletter, you don’t need to do anything at all: you’re already entered for the drawing (you should have received an issue yesterday if all goes well). If you don’t yet receive my newsletter (and why not? It’s infrequent, mostly harmless, and occasionally amusing) sign up on my website and you’ll be entered for Austen-vamp prize #2. While you’re there you can also read an excerpt from Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion and check out my Blog Tour. I’ll do the contest drawing and announce the winners on October 27.

Do you have a book event in your town? What would your dream line up for a book event be?

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9 Responses to Beer, books, bosoms and Baltimore

  1. Artie Mesia says:

    We don’t really have book events in my small town. I am jealous I don’t get to go to Baltimore for its book event. In two weeks I will be in Annapolis for a job interview though and that is very exciting. It’s to be a programming librarian so I would get to design my own book events. We’ll have to see what I would do, but certainly having you and the other Riskies would be ideal for me. Also possibly plausible since I know two of you live nearby.

  2. Jane George says:

    There’s something nasty in the woodshed…

  3. Diane Gaston says:

    Umm. There’s the Library of Congress Book Festival on the Mall this weekend. So smart that Baltimore and DC have their book festivals on the same weekend. Since the festival rather pointedly ignores the Romance genre (but this year includes Graphic Novels and, of course, Mystery is a mainstay), I’ve never attended.

    Baltimore sounds like so much more fun! Because you will be there and there will be beer.

  4. Diane, BBF IS fun and I think it’s a grand gesture of thumb nosing defiance to hold the festival on the same weekend as the more grown up and stuffy big brother in DC.

    Artie Mesia–absolutely! Keep us posted on your job interview.

    Jane, when the sukebind flowers…

  5. Janet, this sounds smashing! Can’t be there tomorrow but hope to see you on Saturday. Cheers!

  6. Eliza Knight says:

    I can’t wait to serve tea with you this weekend Janet! It will be a blast 🙂

    If any Risky readers are interested in pirates or the Tudors, I’ll be giving away two themed baskets–one pirate, one Tudor, and there is alcohol involved!

    Books, beer, writers, I am so looking forward to this weekend!

    ~Eliza
    http://www.elizaknight.com

  7. Hmmm…now I think I need to re-watch “Cold Comfort Farm” 🙂 Love that movie!

    Wish I could be there this weekend

  8. Sounds like a fantastic event! I would LOVE to be there. SIGH. Loved Baltimore the few times I visited.

    There is a book fair in Montgomery, Alabama every year. It takes place in Olde Alabama Town, an area of the city with historic houses and an entire small town set up as a museum. There is open air story telling, readings by local authors, book sales, libraries, literary societies, you name it. Our RWA chapter had a booth for the first time last year and we all had a great time. We look forward to having a bigger presence next time.

    I wish more book fairs included romance and romance writers. We’ll keep working on them. Outside of romance I keep looking for Preston and Child to do an event close enough for me to attend. I LOVE their Pendergast series.

  9. I loved Cold Comfort Farm.

    My mum told me that when she was wee, they were stitched into their liberty bodices in November and didn’t come out of them until March! But then she also told me that her mum used to make a pot of porridge so big that they poured it into a drawer and cut off slices to fry up for breakfast for a week. They were poor but they were happy, she assures me!

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