Victorian Gamer archive – March 2000
It looks like I am falling into a pattern of putting this thing out every two months. Time just seems to get away from me.
I would like to thank contributers to this month’s issue: Mark Baker, Doug Anderson, and Eduardo Penna. Without them, this issue would not have been possible. These gentlemen demonstrate the global scope of interest in Victorian gaming and the power of the internet to bring us all together.
Victorian Gamer is a free e-zine devoted to the Victorian Era. Its purpose is to provide a variety of information on the culture, history, politics and technology of the Nineteenth Century. It is also intended to provide information to specific to the needs of Role-Playing Gamers and recreationists.
It is my intent to present accurate historical information about the Nineteenth Century. This information is based on a wide variety of presumably reliable resources. Game-related articles that present fictional inventions, alternative history and other works of fiction will be clearly labeled as such.
Although, to date, I have researched and written all the material presented, I welcome contributions from others. Those who do not have there own websites who would like to share the results of their research or imagination can donate material to be presented here. Send email to me.
From the Editor’s Desktop
The Future of Victorian Gamer
When I first started this project, I had no idea how time consuming it would be to maintain. Some wrote to me that I had undertaken a difficult and thankless task. He was only half right. It is difficult, but not thankless. I have got a lot of positive response.
Still, time seems to get away from me and I have not been able to get out an issue every month. Thanks to contributiond from Doug Anderson, Mark Baker and Eduardo Penna, I have been able to put together a decent issue for this month.
In order to make it easier for me to gather material for future issues, I am going to experiment with picking a theme for each issue and focusing my research in one particular area. This will not only help me work on topics, but may also give some of you ideas about areas you might want to research and write an article, biography or provide some other information on the subject.
Here then are the topics I plan on focusing on in the next few months:
I am sort of on a diet right now and the thing about diets is you miss flavor. The issue on food will cover aspects of food preparation, restaurants, dining customs, etc. I will also put together a couple of short biographies of a couple of famous chefs of the period.
Law and Crime
I will present information on the practice of law and the development of the Metropolitan Police. I have a couple of good books on crime and the Underworld that I will try to read and review. I think a good biography of Sherlock Holmes would be in order for this issue.
The Art of War
A history of Victorian wars and life in the military in general
Victorian characters cannot be working or adventuring all the time (or can they). This issue will look at what the Victorians did for fun.
That should get us into the summer and I will have thought of more ideas. Thanks for dropping by.
Link to My Site
Use this graphic to provide a link from your site to mine. http://home.netcom.com/~jskipper/victoria/images/vgb100.jpg
Link to http://home.netcom.com/~jskipper/victoria/VGIndex.html
Online Resources for the Victorian Gamer
by Eduardo Penna
The WWW is probably one of the best friends of your average Victorian Gamer. The Victorian Period hasn’t many role-playing games dedicated to it as the Middle Ages or the Far Future, so the Best Place to find Victorian RPGs and information about the Victorian Age specifically tailored for RPGs is the Web. Below I’ll list many Colourful and Interesting Sites related with the Fine Art of Victorian Gaming. Enjoy!
The Mana Bros. Steampunk Connection
Very Interesting site with lots of Good Stuff for many Famous Victorian RPGs. It’s Space: 1889 section is relatively small, but has a Good Conversion between Space: 1889 and West End Games’ D6 system, as well as a the Terrifying Shambleau Project on the Resources section and some Links for Space: 1889.
It’s Castle Falkenstein section is bigger than the Space: 1889 one, and has more Useful Information. It begins with a Who’s Who section, detailing Davide Mana’s current Entertainment Personas. Following this is a Steampunk Hardware page, which details two Interesting Inventions, the Grandis Tank (or Gratan), and Professor Von Trapp’s Wingpack. The page’s best feature is Campaigning South of the Alps, an Interesting Look on CF’s Italy, currently containing some General Stuff on Falkensteinian Italy and a more Detailed Look on the Savoia Coalition. The CF ends with an adaptation of the Shambleau for CF.
The Cthulhu by Gaslight and GURPS: Goblins are still under construction.
Heliograph Space:1889 WWW Site
I’m not a Space: 1889 Player, but, although this site doesn’t look Pretty, there is a Ton of Useful Stuff here. It has instructions on how to subscribe to the Space: 1889 Mailing List (and believe me, I’m subscribed to six RPG lists, and it’s the Best Place to get News and Opinions on any game), and some Stuff Edited from the List, including seven Adventure/Adventure Seeds, Information and Indexes for Space: 1889 and Associated Media, Rules Discussions, Modifications and Alternatives, Sources for Victorian Roleplaying and The Worlds of Space: 1889. If you’re lucky enough to own a Mac, there are some nice Character and Vehicle Creation Utilities. The page ends with some Space: 1889 Links.
The War of the Worlds: the RPG
Do you like H.G. Wells Wonderful Works? Check out this site! Easily one of the Best Sites in this list, it contains All Things Necessary to play a War of the Worlds campaign! The only Catch is that it doesn’t include a Game System, since it uses the Call of Cthulhu rules.
The Steampunk Saga
This one is for those who enjoy CRPG such as the Final Fantasy Series and Chrono Trigger. The authors of these site are designing a traditional CRPG which combines the Best Elements of Japanese Anime and Victorian Steampunk. If you’re a fan of both genres like I am, you should check out this site. You may even help in the Design Process by becoming a playtester and playing the Beta Version.
In this article for The Fantacie Update (a Dutch e-zine), Marijn van der Gaag and Johannes Rooseboom give us a Complete Review of 1876’s Netherlands for the Castle Falkenstein game. From Geography, Politics and Daily Life to Magical Societies, Military Life and Diplomacy, this is the Perfect Place to start a campaign set in the Victorian Netherlands. Particularly recommended for those tired of Castle Falkenstein usual Settings of Bayern, England and Prussia.
The Whitefriars Club
You should visit this page if you enjoy Freeform Roleplaying. It has various rooms dedicated to Freeform Victorian Roleplaying, as well as a Bulletin Board, some links to Complete Victorian Books and other Useful Things.
Phil Master’s Steampunk Links Page
Although the author is a Castle Falkenstein player, the Links on this Site are not dedicated solely to that Wonderful Game. The sections on Arts and Appearances, Science and Technology and People and Places have Useful Links for any Victorian Gamer.
Forgotten Futures, the Scientific Romance Role Playing Game
A shareware system with many different campaign settings, each one concentrating on a different aspect of Victorian Fiction. There’s a Ghost Stories campaign (“The Carnacki Cylinders”), a Space campaign (“The Log Of The Astonef”) and so on.Here’s a link to the Old Site to Satisfy your Curiosity.
A very simple and apparently still incomplete Steampunk RPG. I wouldn’t use it as a Stand Alone Game, but it is a good source of Ideas for those of you Designing Victorian Games.
This site has Completely Free E-Texts of Famous Books Whose Copyright Has Expired. Many, many of these books are Victorian Scientific Novels, Ghost Stories and Mystery Stories. Conan Doyle, Verne, H.G. Wells, and Stocker are just some of the authors whose works have been collected here. Don’t be fooled by the lack of RPG material: there isn’t a single ounce of RPG Stuff here, but this is easily The Best Site on the Whole List.
I hope that the information on the Above Sites improve your Victorian RPG Campaign. If you’re not satisfied with then try these:
The Falkenstein Babbage Authors League
Victorian Adventure Gaming
Colonial Wars Web Ring
The sites above should keep you busy for years.
Eduardo Penna, a.k.a. Mad Ed
The Nerve Centers of British Society
The British club was and is considered by many to be the bastion of British culture and refinement, the heart and soul of the world of politics, arts and sciences. At the beginning of Victoria’s reign, every man of society belonged to one of approximately 25 clubs mostly located in London’s West End.
The origin of the club is vague, but the seeds for the clubs were planted in the 17th century. Coffee houses began cropping up around London, the first one perhaps being at Oxford. At Cambridge, it was once said that “a man might pick up more useful knowledge in a coffee house than he would by applying himself to his books for a month.” One famous club, White’s, began as White’s Chocloate Shop.
These coffee and chocolate shops became regular meeting places for groups of friends and colleagues, often meeting together to discuss mutual interests away from work, school or home. In time, these meeting seem to have become formalized and meeting places set aside for the exclusive use of members of the club. The term “club” was apparently first used at Oxford to refer to those who regularly met at Tillyard’s.
By the nineteenth century, clubs had become formalized, with their own buildings, bylaws and staff. Clubs tended to organize around specific callings, such as the Athenaeum, whose members were “literary gents,” such as Dickens and Thackeray, or the Army and Navy Club, which drew its membership from military officers.
Membership in a club was by invitation only and determined by a vote of the members. Votes were yeah or nay indicated by means of dropping a white or black ball into a recepticle, hence the term “blackballing.” In some clubs, a single black ball was sufficient to prevent membership. Some clubs went to some effor to be exclusive, having extensive, sometimes vague guidelines for who were acceptable as members. White’s was so exclusive that neither Louis Napoleon nor Count D’Orsay were ever able to be elected as members.
As the great men of society were associates in their clubs, it was in clubs than many great decisions were made. Matters of state might be discussed more openly in a club than in Parliament. One’s contact with a club was sure to be helpful in one’s advances in politics and society, although, to some degree, one already had to be noted in politics or society to be accepted to a club.
The clubhouse was typically a grand structure, with many of the great clubs built on or near Pall Mall. The basic clubhouse consisted of a foyer, a library, a dining room, a smoking room, game room (cards and/or billiards), a stranger’s room to host guests, and bedrooms to provide temporary or permanent lodging for members. Some more “modern” clubs reserved separate portions of the club for the entertaining of ladies, usually accessible by a separate entrance.
Clubs were often the sole social life of some members, usually bachelor’s who were comfortably well-off, typically men with incomes of not more than 1000 pounds annually. Such a bachelor mighr rise late in the morning for a stroll, arriving at the club in time for lunch. After lunching, he might whil away the afternoon reading the papers or browsing the library. In the evening, he would return home to dress for dinner, taken at the club, and afterward play cards and drink brandy until late. Ah, the life of leisure. Phileus Fogg, from Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days is just this sort of bachelor, a noted member of the Reform Club. Another noted literary club member was Mycroft Holmes, brother to Sherlock, whose life outside of work revolved around the Diogenes Club.
In game terms, the Game Master should decide if the player’s characters are suited to be members of one of the various clubs. It may be useful to invent a club suited to the characters (an example is given below). In GURPS terms, membership in a club conveys the Claim to Hospitality advantage, from 2 to 5 points, depending on the club. The character will always be welcome at his clubhouse and may have opportunity to call on other members whom he might have the good fortune to encounter in his travels. By the same token, the character may be called upon by other members for some small aid.
The Melange Club
Regents Street near Charles Street
The Melange Club is a club well-suited for Victorian characters who are at least middle class. It is a very modern club, devoting a large portion of the house to rooms wherein ladies and guests may be entertained. The founder of the club is Sir Edwerd Huntington, an eccentric gentleman of means who enjoys extensive travel around the globe and dabbles in science. He formed the club as a haven for those like himself who have a thirst for adventure and knowledge.
To be eligible for membership, a man must have travelled to an exotic location or had some remarkable adventure, which must be told before a quorum of the members, or must have invented a remarkable device or made an important scietific discovery.
Women are not eligible to become members, but may be “associates” of the club. The Ladies’ Entrance is on Charles Street and leads to a suite of rooms on the second floor.
The club house has a grand foyer, a main dining room and a Strangers’ Dining Room, a library decorated with artifacts from around the globe, a game room with card tables on one half of the room and billiard tables in the other half. There is also a Quiet Room. The third floor consists of bedrooms, many of which are permanently alloted to members whose frequent travels leave them little need for permanent house.
A Selection of Actual Clubs of the Victorian Era
The Travellers’ Club
Members were required to have travelled out of the British Isles to a distance of 500 miles from London. It is an austere club whose members are given to reading, meditation and dozing, but little conversation.
The Oriental Club
16 Lower Grosvenor St.
Members of this club had dealings with the East, particularly India, and usually had lived there for some time. The members were known to be eccentric. The club had a no smoking policy until 1864.
The St. James Club
This club catered to diplomats and in 1860 became the permanent residence of the French ambassador. The clubhouse had two dining rooms, bedrooms for the members and teo octagonal rooms – one on the first floor noted for being decorated in lavish 18th century style.
This club was founded as a place were members would have no restrictions as to the use of tobacco, unlike other clubs that had no smoking rules, or that limited smoking to a special room.
A club primarily for public-school men, nicknamed the Creche. Members tended to be younger than the typical club population. A portion of the club was set aside for ladies, via a private entrance on Brick Street.
11 St. James Square
A pleasnt social club with bedrooms for members.
The Bachelors’ Club
Picadilly at Park Lane
A young man’s club limited to bachelors. Ladies could be introduced as visitors, but only if they were eligible for introduction at court.
A politcal club for Conservatives, founded by the Duke of Wellington.
The Reform Club
Took its name from the Reform Movement in opposition to the members of the Carlton.
The Army and Navy Club
Pall Mall and St. James Square
One of the finest club houses in the world, built in 1851. It spanned 80 feet on Pall Mall and 100 feet on St. James Square. Originally an Army only club, it began accepting Navy officers at the request of the Iron Duke.
||Jules Verne wanted to be a playwright and a poet. His father wanted him to be a lawyer. Instead, he became the father of science fiction by, unintentionally, developing a new style of story-telling that captured the imagination of Victorian readers in France and the world who were developing a keen interest in science.
Jules Gabriel Verne was born on February 8, 1828 in Nantes, France, a seaport town of merchants where Verne was introduced to the wonders of sea voyages. Verne’s father was a lawyer and his grandfather was a judge, so as the first-born, it was destined that Jules study law, and at the age of twenty, he was sent to Paris to study.
But young Verne had other ambitions, ideas also seeded in his youth in Nantes. Poetry was a hobby among the Verne family. They exchanged poetry as greetings and gifts during family gatherings. Verne was interested in literature and literary figures, especially Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, both of whom were quite popular at the time. In Paris, Verne became acquainted with literary circles, much to the dismay of his father. Verne met the younger Alexandre Dumas, who introduced him to his famous father who had just built his own theater in Paris.
Verne saw some of his plays produced, but also published stories and articles in magazines to make ends meet. Though completing his law education, he managed to avoid actually practicing it, much to his father’s dismay, yet his father continued to support him.
In addition to literary figures, Verne began to meet others who would influence his later style of writing, like Jacque Arago, a noted explorer and Felix Tournachon, a renowned photographer and baloonist, also known as Nadar. Nadar’s inlfuence would be memorialized in the character, Michael Ardan (an anagram of Nadar).
At some point, Verne decided to combine his scientific research with his fiction to produce what he referred to as “a novel of science.” His first attempt, Five Weeks in a Balloon was published by Pierre-Jules Hetzel. These two men would form a close and successful business relationship that would produce Verne’s most famous novels. The pattern of these successful novels included remarkable scientific detail based on current trends in science, adventure in an exotic locations and well-defined, interesting characters.
Although Jules Verne had a keen interest in science and technology, his true attitude toward was more pessimistic than is conveyed in his most popular novels. It is generally accepted that it was Hetzel’s influence that kept Verne’s adventures positive and optimistic. But some of Verne’s true feelings began to slip into his writings. In Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the technological genius, Captain Nemo, uses his knowledge for destructive ends. In the novel, Nemo’s purpose is never clearly explained, the bowdlerizations, such as the Disney movie, make his intent more noble.
In 1879, The Begum’s Fortune was published. In this story, two men receive inheritances with which they are to build ideal cities in the American Northwest. Dr. Sarrasin, a Frenchman, builds a utopian community, but Herr Schultze, a German, builds a fortified industrial city for the manufacture of armaments. In part, this is a political novel reflecting feelings following the Franco-Prussian war, but it also shows Verne’s recognition of the growingly frequent development of technology in support of war.
||Later novels dealt with a variety of social abuses and environmental issues. The Floating City briefly discusses how western culture had supplanted the native culture in the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii) and how technology has become the plaything of the wealthy. Others discuss the extinction of whales, and hunting of elephants for ivory. But these more pessimistic novels never sold as well as his earlier work.
Paris in the Twentieth Century is Verne’s “lost novel,” found locked in a safe by his great-grandson in 1989. This novel was written in 1860 and was Verne’s first, and in many ways most prophetic “novel of science.” It is the story of an idealistic, young poet trying to find his identity and place in dystopian world overwhelmed by materialism and technology. Verne portrays Paris in 1960 as place of electric lights and skyscrapers connected to the world by a global communications network and high speed trains. Gas-powered cars race through the streets and people live at the pace of technology. It is a place much like the modern world. It is this lost novel that made critics re-examine Verne’s work to identify the dark streak of technologies stain on life.
||As a famous writer, Verne was able to travel and see some of the exciting places about which he wrote. He married and raised a family until March 24, 1905, when, at the age of 78, he died quietly with has family gathered around him. He was buried near his home in Amiens. Two years later, a sculpture depicting Verne reaching to te stars was placed over his grave. About twenty years later, Hugo Gernsbacks would use a stylized version of the memorial as the logo for his new magazine devoted exclusively to stories of scietific adventures, “scientifiction” as Gernsback called it. This was Amazing Stories
Jules Verne will long be remembered for his Extraordinary Voyages and remarkable characters, but he should also be remembered as a visionary who saw the dangers of rapid technological advances. Victorian society was driven by its need to reconcile tradition with the cultural changes that was being brought about by science and technology. It is this element that makes the Victorian era well-suited for Steampunk literature and gaming.
The two modes by which Man has been able to break the bonds of gravity, lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air flight, were invented before and after the nineteenth century. Nonetheless, there were several innovations that are worth examining. The modes of flight available to the Victorians were surprisingly sophisticated.
In 1783, the Montgolfier brothers launched their “aerostat,” a large envelope of fabric, lined with paper and held together by buttons. The air inside was heated by burning a combination of straw and wool. This unmanned balloon rose 6500 feet before drifting back to the ground. From this modest, even crude, beginning, Man’s conquest of the air had truly begun.
There were two basic types of balloons, hot air and hydrogen. Both types were developed at the same time. Later balloons made use of coal gas, which provided better lift than hot air, but not as much as hydrogen. The United States was the main supplier of hydrogen and thus hydrogen balloons were rather rare in England and Europe.
In 1844, Edgar Allen Poe wrote a fictitious account of an Atlantic crossing by balloon that was published in an American newspaper. The newspaper was quite embarrassed to discover it was a hoax. A successful crossing of the Atlantic by balloon was made in 1919, taking four minutes less than the time Poe had predicted.
In 1849, the first flight across the Alps was made from France to Italy by Francois Arban. In 1858, Gaspard-Felix Tournachon, better known as Nadar (and a friend of Jules Verne), built an enormous balloon with a two story gondola that could hold 50 men and housed a photographic darkroom. Nadar used his balloon to photograph Paris from the air. In 1859, John Wise flew from Missouri to New York, a distance of over 800 miles, in less than twenty hours. In 1890, Edward Schweiser, aka Captain Spelterini, photographed the Great Pyramids from a balloon.
Balloons, like most technology, also found use in the military. In 1849, Austria used unmanned balloons to bomb Venice. Balloons were used extensively in the American Civil War as observation platforms. Balloons were used for communication during the Franco-Prussian war.
Jules Verne published his first novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon in 1862, telling the adventures of a scientist and his two assistants travelling in a hot air balloon.
The first dirigible, a true propelled, steerable airship, was invented in 1852 by Henri Giffard. In 1865, Solomon Andrews formed the first American airline, based on an airship he had patented. Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin completed the first rigid framed dirigible in 1900 and launched a colorful, romantic era of leisurely air travel.
Peterson’s Aerial Warship
Sir George Cayley was a gentleman inventor who was interested in human flight. in his laboratory in his ancestral home of Brompton Hall, he perfected the airfoil and built several model gliders, along with plans to build a human-sized glider. His dream was to achieve a means of powered-flight, but the engines available at the time were too heavy. He gave up his dream and went into politics. Later, however, in 1853 at the age of 80, he finally built a full-sized glider and order his coachman to test it. Launched by an enthusiastic crew, the glider flew down a hill and landed safely. It was the first and only flight. The coachman was terrified by the experience and resigned immediately.
Others, like Jean-Marie Le Bris and Louis Mouillar in France and Otto Lilienthal of Germany also built gliders that made successful short flights. The Wright Brother built their first unmanned glider in 1896 and from 1900 to 1902 built a series of manned gliders.
The Wright Brothers, a pair of young men with a bicycle shop, finally achieved heavier-than-air, powered flight in 1903. The Wright Flyer was a fabric-covered, wooden-framed biplane, propelled by two chain-driven propellers run by a 12 horsepower engine of their own design.
Flight in Games
Giving characters the ability to fly in any Victorian campaign, be it strictly historical, alternative history or fantastic, should be a dangerous endeavor, an adventure in itself. Balloons can be used to convey characters to isolated locations never before visited by Westerners. Hot air balloons are probably the most useful, since they could be fueled by any combustible material scrounged up by the party. Hydrogen would be almost impossible to replace.
In general, balloons are unguided craft, subject to the whims of the breeze, although several means of propelling balloons were designed, including bicycle-driven propellers and hand-controled rudders. Gliders were mere novelties, with little practical value as transportation. Dirigibles, however, grew into an excellent means of transportation and were reliable if slow.
Rules System: Homegrown
Sebastian Gray, A Mystic/Magician
Annie Bull, A Wild West Show Sharpshooter/Trick Rider
Lt. Edward West, A Soldier
Miss Jane Braithwaite, A Lady and Magician
Time: Late Regency/Early Victorian
Setting & Background:
Approximately thirty years previous, a group of Oxford scholars discovered a portal to another world — a place rife with monsters, magic, and danger. Since that momentous time, the British Empire has opened this strange world to exploration, conquest, and colonization. It is an uphill struggle, for the kingdoms of this Neverland are mighty in magic, and ruled by distant, godlike beings who seek to drive the British (and various other upstart European powers) back through their portals and reverse the tide of invasion. The wonders of modern science — steam power, explosives, and so forth — work only sporadically according to the odd physical laws of this place, and the further one travels into the mysterious western lands of the continent, the less reliable the weapons and engines of the invaders become.
Miss Jane Braithwaite arrives in Neverland, in the British colonial capital of Periopolis, to settle the inheritance of her late father, a Col Braithwaite, assigned to frontier duty to the west. The rumor is that the Colonel took his own life for reasons unknown, perhaps because of mounting personal debts. Indeed, his creditors have arrived before his daughter, and have picked his estate clean, leaving Jane only the deed to a remote villa in the west, outside of British jurisdiction. Penurious, Jane decides to travel west and see if the villa is fit for resale. She is also curious to learn more about the circumstances of her father’s death.
At her rooming house, she meets Annie Bull, whose cattle-baron father has sent her on a Grand Tour of Europe and Neverland. Eager to see “the real Neverland”, Annie agrees to become Jane’s travelling companion. The two ladies set off by train westward.
Along the way, at a remote mountain outpost, they meet an old friend of the Colonel, who casts doubt on the circumstances of his death, and encourages Jane to travel on to the villa. He assigns them an officer, Lt. West, as added protection.
Upon arriving in Ringtong, Jane finds the villa is occupied by a gaunt aesthete named Sebastian Gray, who claims to have been in her father’s service. After Jane discovers a secret lab in the basement, Gray is forced to admit that the Colonel is not dead, but has gone missing, part of a nefarious plot by a secret society of which Gray and the Colonel are both members. Jane picks up her father’s trail and plunges westward into the jungle with her companions, in search of her missing father…
The subsequent adventure has involved hot air balloons, floating cities, and evil fire priests, not to mention battles against strange monsters and treks through steaming swamps. For those who want more info, I’ll try to make some of it available on the web.
This is a distinctive little recipe from the early 19th century. It calls for mushroom ketchup, a very common sauce throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the recipe for which appears below.
4 chicken gizzards
6 chicken hearts
3 chicken livers
1/2 cup fresh clary or sage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp mace
6 hard-boiled egg yolks
1 large chicken
1/4 lb butter
1 large tbs mushroom ketchup
The gizzards and hearts should be boiled for 1 hour prior to starting this dish and the hearts should be boiled for 10 minutes.
Trim the hard skin off the gizzards and chop them with the hearts and liver finely. Chop the clary (or sage) finely and mix with the mashed anchovies, onions, mace and mashed egg yolks in a bowl.
Season the inside of the bird with salt and pepper. Sew up one end with heavy thread. Fill the bird with the stuffing and sew up completely. Bring to boil enough stock to cover the bird, put the bird into the stock then bring to boil again. Simmer, covered for about 1 hour or until tender.
Remove the bird, drain it and pat dry. Rub it with butter then place in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes, until brown. Meanwhile, melt the butter over low heat in a saucepan and add the mushroom ketchup.
Carve the bird and arrange on a serving dish. Pile the stuffing into a neat mound in the center. Pour the mushroom ketchup and butter mixture over it and serve.
Mushroom ketchup is a sauce unlike ketchup as Americans normally think of it. It was a very common sauce for the Victorians and is still tasty over a variety of meats. This requires about three days to prepare and the sauce can be bottled and stored until needed.
8 cups onions
3 tbs salt
1 cup port
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp pepper 1/2 tsp mace
1/2 tsp ground allspice
Mash the mushrooms and mix them with the salt. Leave them in a bowl in the refrigerator for two days, or until the juice has been pulled out. Stir occasionally. Strain the juice through a fine sieve or cloth, producing about 2 cups. Put the juice in a saucepan and add the port and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool then pour into a bottle.
by Mark Baker
I have a great distrust of modern authors who use a Victorian setting for their novels, particularly where science and technology is involved. It is too easy to use to make twentieth-century knowledge critical to the plot. And even when the science is accurate (or at least unobtrusive) twentieth-century wording or political correctness can totally destroy the Victorian atmosphere. So I was wary when I picked up Michael Kurland’s ‘The Infernal Device’, but he fell into none of these traps and I soon found myself engrossed in the story.
Set in 1885, and told from the perspective of a young American journalist, ‘The Infernal Device’ sees Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes joining forces to track down an anarchist intent on striking a devastating blow against Great Britain.
Despite having Holmes and Moriarty as his central characters, Kurland still can’t resist further name-dropping on occasion, but it’s more rather more subtle than in the Castle Falkenstein novels. We have a brief, passing reference to Oscar Wilde for example: but perhaps the most grating such allusion is to Henry Higgins (of My Fair Lady fame) because it actually intrudes on the plot to a degree, fortunately not excessively.
All the main characters are rather cold and distant: Moriarty is aloof in his intellectual superiority, Holmes in his single-minded determination to expose Moriarty as a criminal; and the villain Trepoff is rarely encountered. Conversely the journalist, Benjamin Barnett, is likeable and very human, while there is a warmth and a depth to the minor characters with their quirks and foibles that brings the story to life.
Exotic locations, secret agents, a diabolical villain, death-traps, and the infernal device of the title provide all the staples of dramatic fiction. There are plot holes to be sure, but the story gallops along giving the reader little time to notice the flaws. The action is fast-paced, and moves from the palaces (and prisons) of Constantinople to the underlife of London to the Queen’s Cup Regatta at Portsmouth. Despite some of the settings, the novel reveals little about 19th Century high society; but there’s plenty of underworld colour. The frequent use of underworld jargon adds to the picture of the dark underbelly of Victorian society that Kurland portrays.
Kurland is the winner of an Edgar Allan Poe fiction award, so I would expect something better than average from him; and he doesn’t fail to produce the goods.
Rating : 4 out of 5
by Jim Skipper
Pygmalion and My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady is a screen version of Lerner and Loewe’s musical adaption of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. The play and the movie can both serve as entertaining resources for understanding a little about Victorian culture in London.
The Legend of Pygmalion and Galatea
The title of Shaw’s play, Pygmalion, refers to the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. Pygmalion was a sculptor living in Cyprus. Unmarried, he became disgusted with the women of Cyprus and swore himself to celibacy. Being a sculptor, he decided to sculpt the perfect woman, carved from ivory. The resulting statue was of surpassing beauty and extremely life-like, so much so that Pygmalian named the statue Galatea and fell in love with it.
On the feast day of Aphrodite, Pygmalion made sacrifices and prayed for a wife. Aphrodite answered his prayers by bringing the statue to life. Pygmalion and Galatea were married and bore a son.
George Bernard Shaw took this story and translated it into the Victorian world. Henry Higgins is the Pygmalion character. He is a linguist, fairly well-to-do. He is arrogant and a confirmed bachelor, having little use for women in general. He has a close associate, Colonel Pickering. I have always felt that Higgins and Pickering were either a parody or homage to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Higgins knowledge of language is unsurpassed. He can determine a great deal about the people he encounters merely by listening to them talk. He has much of the obsessiveness of Holmes, as well as the attention to detail. His boon companion, Col. Pickering, is a retired military officer, who, like Watson, serves as the straight man. His manners are impeccable and he has a clear fondness for women.
The Galatea character is Eliza Doolittle, a young woman who sells flowers in the street. Higgins makes a bet with Pickering that he can teach Eliza to speak and act like a “real” woman and pass her off in Society. The story recounts Higgins efforts to train her, pass her off in society and then what happens when you take a “gutter snipe,” give her all the qualities of a lady, without the means to support such a life.
Shaw has much to say about the English language and society, particularly how dialect and accent was a basis for identification and discrimination. A close reading of the play can provide a good insight into Victorian Society.
Directed by: George Cukor
My Fair lady is a fun movie. Colorful, light and full of great music, it is a very accessible version of Pygmalion. Given that it is a “Hollywood” version of Victorian life, one should not expect too much in the way of authenticity, although the costumes and sets are beautiful and reasonably true to period.
Performances by Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn are brilliant. They are a wonderful screen couple. The late Jeremy Brett (known for the most authentic portrayal of Sherlock Holmes) has a small, but well-performed part.
Overall, My Fair Lady is an entertaining way to give players a look at Society life in the Victorian era. From introductions at court to outings at the races, it gives hints at how the better half lived. At the same time, the portrayal of Eliza Doolittle as flower girl and her father, Alfred Doolittle, gives a rosy glimpse into the life of the working class, possibly useful for a more upbeat sort of Victorian setting . I recommend this movie to everyone.