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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?

Some things on my mind today, mainly that I should be writing, but I’ve spent most of the day so far running around and buying xmas gift wrap (no presents as yet but it’s a start) and in a little while I’ll be going out to rake leaves, my last chance before the town picks them up tomorrow.

First, some news–Mr Bishop and the Actress is coming out early, in February 2011, and is available for preorder at (free shipping worldwide). And if you’re on my mailing list you’ll see the cover early and get word of the next contest (a twinkle in my eye at the moment–sign up on my website).

A week today is a very special day, the birthday of Jane Austen, born December 16, 1775, which we’re celebrating all week. On the day itself a whole bunch of blogs, including the Riskies, will have a party, offering, naturally, valuable prizes. In fact our party begins on Monday and runs all week, but on The Day itself, next Thursday, we’re participating in a group blog party.

Masterminded by Maria Grazi (who designed the wonderful graphic) at My Jane Austen Book Club, the following gracious hostesses will be blogging about Austen on December 16:

Jane Austen World
November’s Autumn
Karen Wasylowski
Jane Austen Addict Blog
Lynn Shepherd
Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
Jane Austen Sequels
First Impressions
Regina Jeffers
Cindy Jones

The following prizes will be offered:

Signed Books:
Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd
Intimations of Austen by Jane Greensmith
Darcy’s Passions: Fitzwilliam Darcy’s Story by Regina Jeffers
First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice by Alexa Adams
Jane and the Damned by Janet Mullany
Bespelling Jane Austen by Janet Mullany & co.

Other prizes:
Austen bag offered by Karen Wasylowski
DVD Pride & Prejudice 2005 offered by Regina Jeffers
Package of Bingley’s Tea (flavor “Marianne’s Wild Abandon” ) offered by Cindy Jones
DVD Jane Austen in Manhattan offered by Maria Grazia
3 issues of Jane Austen Regency World offered by Maria Grazia

I’ll link back to this post on The Day so you know who to visit. You don’t have to buy Miss Austen a present, you don’t have to dress up–just plan to have some blogging fun!

In the meantime, let’s talk about our holiday preparations–how are they going or are you pretending it’s just not going to happen?

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