Hopefully will make this a weekly event, words found whilst doing my writing and researching. Feel free to email me with any you’d like included.
June 14, 2012
April 16, 2012
I’m sorry that we are a bit late in announcing this, my fault entirely! Thank you to everyone who entered, there was a great response.
The winner of Ava March’s bundle is ELIN GREGORY
The winner of my bundle is KIRSTEN
(Here’s a screencap of my draw so you can see it’s all above board!)
Well done, both of you, Carina will be sending your prize very soon. (probably after they’ve recovered from RT….)
Thanks for playing and I hope you both enjoy all the books!
March 19, 2012
Thanks to The Macaronis for having me today to start off the Carina Press M/M Week Blog Tour. Today, Carina Press is releasing six wonderful M/M romances, (two of which are historicals) and in celebration, the authors are going on a blog tour. As part of the tour, each author is giving away an ebook bundle of all 6 book releases. Yes – all six! All you need to do is comment on this post to be entered into today’s giveaway.
To start things off, today we’re going to have some fun with Regency cant. Cant is slang, usually from an underground group. For the purpose of this post, the underground group is thieves. And why am I babbling on about thieves? Because I have a book releasing today from Carina Press titled Brook Street: Thief. The book tells the story of a romance between Lord Benjamin Parker (a younger son of a marquis) and Cavin Fox (the thief).
Cavin lives in a flash house on King Street, deep in the heart of the slums (or rookery) of Regency London. Not a pleasant place to live. Over-crowded conditions with many families living in one house, narrow and very dangerous alleys, buildings that were on the verge of collapse. The rookery was full of criminals of all sorts, including thieves.
Cavin is what we would term today as a hustler or con-artist. He picks up gentlemen from gambling hells with the express intent of having sex with them then robbing them afterwards. To put gentlemen at their ease, he’s learned to not sound like a lower-class thief. To Benjamin, he appears a friendly, lower/middleclass man. Even though Cavin’s speech isn’t littered with cant, some terms are deeply ingrained in him, such as terms associated with thieving.
So now that you have a bit of background, it’s time to have some fun. And fun means quiz time! Don’t worry, I’m an easy teacher. I give gold stars to everyone, and also provide the answers after the questions.
There are a few basic thieves’ terms in the following questions. See if you can pick out the terms that go with their definitions.
1. To steal on the sly (similar to shoplifting).
3. To pick a person’s pocket.
4. If someone cries beef, what are they doing?
A. Announcing they are in the mood for a hamburger.
B. Shouting, raising an alarm after someone.
C. Divulging a secret.
So how do you think you did? If you’re unsure, check the answer key below. And now you know a bit of Regency thieves cant.
Brook Street: Thief by Ava March – A lord intent on his first decadent night with a man finds love when he picks up a thief in a gambling hall.
Answer key: 1) B. 2) A. 3) C. 4) B.
A glance at the six books coming out from Carina this week makes me amazed at the scope of our corner of the romance world. The settings span centuries, from long ago in Ava March’s 1822 London story of class boundaries stretched and Erastes’s evocation of light and art in Florence in 1875, to not so long ago, with Larry Benjamin’s chronicle of young love in the 1970′s and 80′s and all the way to Kim Knox’s story of passion in dystopian 2050. Dev Bentham’s story is set in the present with love finally found, as is KC Burn’s tale of a relationship rekindled. Our protagonists are artists and aristocrats, pickpockets and soldiers, all steaming hot.
Just leave a comment on this post to enter to win an ebook bundle of all 6 releases in Carina’s M/M Week.
Check out the other stops along the tour. http://carinammweektour.blogspot.com/
19th March – Dev Bentham at Fiction Vixen http://www.fictionvixen.com
19th March – Ava March at The Macaronis http://historicromance.wordpress.com/
20th March – Larry Benjamin at Joyfully Jay http://joyfullyjay.blogspot.com/
21st March – Kim Knox at Rarely Dusty Books http://www.rarelydustybooks.com/
22nd March – Erastes at The Macaronis http://historicromance.wordpress.com/
23rd March – KC Burn at Babbling About Books, and More http://www.kbgbabbles.blogspot.com/
April 2, 2011
No – the title isn’t misspelled. (However – warnings for plot spoilers of Mere Mortals)
One of the things I wanted to explore in Mere Mortals was the sheer disposability of human life. I remember that Dickens’ expose of the terrible treatment of orphans in Oliver Twist helped to start the authorities to look at them, and to improve matters–and Kingsley’s Water Babies highlighted the plight of chimney sweeps, which again led to reform.
I’m a bit too late to reform the Victorian Age, though, but I did want to explore some aspects of life that make our modern hair stand on end.
Orphans were pretty much human detritus–we see that in Oliver Twist, of course. Boys from the orphanage are simply objects, not humans to be raised and cared for in the way they are today. When Oliver plays up, asking for more food (the cheek of it!) he’s sold off to a local tradesman–which would have been a step up, if he’d managed to keep the job. He certainly had more chance surviving out of the workhouse.
In Mere Mortals, the three young men, Crispin, Myles and Jude, are a little more fortunate, at least in some respects. They are obviously natural sons of well-to-do men, and better still, men who (in the absence of DNA testing and the authorities we have today such as the Child Support Agency) who feel that they should provide the minimum of decent education for those sons. But that’s as far as it went. Once those orphans left their preparatory schools, there would be no money for further education–or apprenticeships. One of them dreams of being a barrister, and that would have been impossible without funding. They might, if fortunate, be placed in an office somewhere as a clerk, or perhaps in a shop, or even–like Jane Eyre–as a tutor, but without more education than they have (two of them didn’t even take their final exams) even this last was an unlikely option.
Thing is, that orphanages and workhouses were good places to find workers for employers, scrupulous and otherwise. Today there would be a national/international uproar if you walked into a school or orphanage and said “I’ll have three, please,” and took them off, no questions asked, but back in 1847 it was a real possibility. Especially if the owner of the establishment was unscrupulous too. If he was being paid for a boy’s education–but no-one had ever checked on that boy–why not let him go, continue to take the education money and pocket the difference?
If they were taken away, no-one would bother to check up on them once they had gone. Perhaps a schoolfriend might write, if he knew where his friend was going, but the headmaster was unlikely–once rid of his responsibility–to ensure that his ex-charge was being treated well. Look at Becky Sharp, you can be sure that her headmistress, once having got shot of the acid-tongued girl, couldn’t have cared less if the girl ended up as a white slave or white slaver.
And then–if the person who HAD taken these orphans got tired of them? Or they didn’t work well at the job they were given? Or didn’t suit in some way? It’s quite likely that their future would become a little less than rosy–and if they did disappear–who’d care? Who’d check? All the employer/abductor had to say was “Oh, they ran away, ungrateful wretches, I’ll give another boy the opportunity he obviously didn’t want.”
and in the days before Social Services, phones, email, TV…Who’d know? Who’d care?
February 14, 2011
Marbodus (ca. 1035 – 11 September 1123) was archdeacon and schoolmaster at Angers, France, then Bishop of Rennes in Brittany. He was a respected poet, hagiographer, and hymnologist.
I have to smile wryly at the last instruction in the last two lines. But then if the young lover had kept these to himself, we’d never had seen them.
Horace composed an ode about a certain boy
Who could easily enough have been a pretty girl.
Over his ivory neck flowed hair
Brighter than yellow gold, the kind I have always loved.
His forehead was white as snow, his luminous eyes black as pitch
His unfledged cheeks full of pleasing sweetness
When they gleamed bright white and red.
His now was straight, lips blazing, teeth lovely,
Chin shaped after a perfectly proportioned model.
Anyone wondering about the body which lay hidden under his clothes
Would be gratified, for the boy’s body matched his face.
The sight of his face, radiant and full of beauty,
Kindled the observer’s heart with the torch of love.
But this boy – so beautiful, so extraordinary,
An enticement to anyone catching sight of him –
Nature had molded wild and stern:
He would sooner die than consent to love.
Rough and thankless, like a tiger cub,
He only laughed at the gentlest words of a suitor,
Laughed at a sighing lover’s tears,
He mocked those he himself caused to die.
Wicked indeed, this one, and as cruel as wicked,
Who with this vice in his character keeps his body from being his glory.
A handsome face demands a good mind, and a yielding one,
Not puffed up but ready for anything.
The little flower of youth is fleeting and too brief;
It soon witherws, falls, and knows not how to revive.
This flesh is now so smooth, so milky, so unblemished,
So good, so handsome, so slipper, so tender.
Yet the time will come when it will become ugly and rough,
When this flesh, dear boyish flesh, will become worthless.
Therefore, while you flower, take up riper practices.
While you are in demand and able, be not slow to yield to an eager lover.
For this you will be prized, not made lsss of.
These words of my reques, most beloved,
Are sent to you alone; do not show them to many others.
February 14, 2011
From David – to Jonathan (characters from Transgressions)
Disguised, his true form, home of subtle planes,
When draped in cloth, chameleon when dressed.
But bare his skin and verity remains,
True beauty glows when all his shields divest.
This skin, which sallow-shudders to my touch,
Throat’s hollow siren, calls my mouth to kiss,
Lips, hands, those guardians of much,
Cannot prevent the press of mine to his.
If I could give him these adoring eyes
So he could see the glory that I see;
Pride would battle shyness and he would
Believe the golden prize he is to me.
My Jonathan, your blackest scowl is mine.
Forget thy past, and be my Valentine
February 14, 2011
I think I may have posted this before, but some people may not have seen it, and its slightly amended to suit the sender.
Alvisi to Rafe (characters from Standish)
Thou ‘minds me, love, of nothing more than autumn;
a grey November dull with sullen mists.
That vacuum secret month, when senses grow numb,
but yet this taboo spark for thee exists.
When in thy presence something o’ertakes me,
an acid etchéd line ‘twixt want and hate;
compulsion both to hold thee and to kiss thee,
or strike thee down and take thee to my mate.
Greater men than thee have made me harden,
other lips than thine have touched this skin,
so why should I attempt to seek thy pardon,
when other lips fulfil what you begin?
So sneer sweet Rafe, and on with this vendetta,
It only serves to make me want thee better.
December 19, 2010
So, I thought that rather than struggling to find something to write about each month, such as a SUBJECT and be all professorial about the subject of writing and of writing and researching gay historical fiction, I’d just write about my month–and the general ups and downs of Being An Author.
Now, I’m lucky, in many ways. Some people would probably look at my house, my clothes, my lack of jobbiness, my life and they probably wouldn’t agree with me, but for me, having the luxury of Not Being a Wage Slave anymore and treating writing as a Job is a dream come true.
My routine, now I’m settling down to it, is to go to Dad’s, make him breakfast, tidy up etc then I settle down with a pot of coffee and write for an hour – make lunch – then write for an hour if I can in the afternoon.
Trouble is, Dad has no internet access. I was able to connect now and then using the BT Openzone, but even that seems to have disappeared. I could of course get him Broadband, although he has no use for it–but I could. I would feel a bit mean about it, spending his money on my work, and I know he wouldn’t mind. But I decided to try and manage without internet access – it only makes me procrastinate, I thought-so I’d be better off without it. I’m quite capable of spending all day refreshing my friends page, planting virtual vegetables and breeding virtual dragons, so it’s probably better if I don’t have it.
But the research is a pain. I find myself hitting brick walls and at first I got quite despondent about it–I felt i WANTED to know these facts NOW – I’d been writing like this for years and to suddenly change my whole way of doing things was quite hard, but gradually I’ve learned to work a way around it.
Firstly, to be a bit more confident about what I know.
Secondly, to consider whether the readers REALLY need the level of detail I am going to impart, and
Thirdly – if I still need to know that fact to WRITE IT IN BLOCKS, HIGHLIGHT IT and look it up when I get home. Or when I do a tidy up of the manuscript.
So far I’m doing all right. The cold turkey approach to research was hard to take at first, but it’s becoming easier and actually it makes me concentrate more on the story rather than obsessing over what kind of carpet is down, or whether there was a railing at Windsor Great Lawns in 1921. It can wait.
Have this cured my procrastination, though? Has it Buffalo. I just find other stuff to do, like staring out the window at the birds for hours.
Well, I suppose it beats planting virtual vegetables.
Erastes is the penname of a female author who lives on the Norfolk Broads in England. She likes cheese and cats, but only one of those are nice on toast.
November 2, 2010
Courtesy of Historic LOLs
August 2, 2010
Charles Dance stars as Jack Wolfenden in this drama by Julian Mitchell which tells the human story behind the so-called Wolfenden report.
Fifty years ago, a Home Office committee chaired by Wolfenden, then vice-chancellor of Reading University, recommended the decriminalization of homosexuality. But behind the scenes of what was to become a turning point in British social history, there was an even more extraordinary story. Jack’s son Jeremy, then a brilliant undergraduate at Oxford, was himself gay, something his father could not bring himself to acknowledge.
From the corridors of power in Whitehall to the squalid public toilets of a Reading park, this is a story of fathers and sons, ambition and prejudice, gentlemen and players. Also starring Sean Biggerstaff, Samantha Bond, Haydn Gwynne and Mel Smith.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b007y9gx/Consenting_Adults/ (sadly only available to the UK, but well worth seeking out on DVD.)
Consenting Adults is a BBC Production which was made in 2007, and for some reason I’ve completely missed until yesterday. Just over an hour long, it’s an absolute must for anyone who has any interest at all in gay history.
It’s a simple enough story–pretty much based entirely on true facts–which relates the reasons for the instigation of the famous “Wolfenden Report” (more correctly known as “Report of the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (1957″)
You’d think that a story of a dry committee, sitting for months and discussing this subject would be incredibly dry as televisual matter, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. As often happens, truth is stranger than fiction and the work done on the report is brought into sharp focus as we discover that Jeremy Wolfenden, the son of John Wolfenden who headed up the report, is homosexual. The relationship between father and son is hugely typical of that time and place – the young man much more confident and striding (or at least on the outside) and desperate for father’s approval and attention–and neither man able even to touch each other in friendship. Wolfenden senior tells Jeremy that he’d better stay away from home while the enquiry is on.
I learned something too–like many many people I’d been pronouncing it homo (as in go go) when it should be pronounced homo (to rhyme with dom-oh) because it’s from the greek which means “same” and not the latin which means “man.” Coo, the things you learn off the telly, eh?
The Report had been commissioned to see if any changes in the law were required, not only in homosexual cases, but in the matter of prostitution, as street prostitution was increasing, causing more people to be arrested, which hit the newspapers, creating moral outrage. With homosexuality, more and more men were being arrested for sodomy, attempted sodomy, public indecency and other acts under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 –which had not been altered since the infamous Labouchere Amendment of 1885–making every homosexual act illegal, in private or no. The Labouchere Amendment had created “A Blackmailers Charter” and because men were turning each other in through fear, or, when they were arrested themselves, their phone books were finding many other men of the same inclination.
It seemed to the public at large that homosexuality was increasing in huge leaps and bounds, whereas it was simply the law, and enthusiastic police regimes which were causing the perceived growth. More and more public figures were thrown into the spotlight, having been arrested for “public indecency.” Oscar Wilde was famously the first, but many others followed, and in the fifties, famous cases were splattered all over the headlines.
In 1953, Sir John Gielgud, was arrested after trying to pick up a man in a public toilet who turned out to be an undercover policeman. He was found guilty of “persistently importuning for immoral purposes.
In 1954, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, then a 28-year-old socialite and the youngest peer in the House of Lords, was jailed for a year, on a charge he has always denied. He was convicted along with the Daily Mail journalist Peter Wildeblood and the Dorset landowner Michael Pitt-Rivers in a sensational case that made headlines around the world. It is thought today that these three arrests, following on from Geilgud’s cottaging scandal,
brought about the instigation of the Report.
(For additional viewing, the tale of Peter Wildeblood and Lord Montagu’s trial is told in a 2007 Channel 4 drama-documentary, A Very British Sex Scandal.)
What I found fascinating was the people who were elected to be on the Report’s Committee. Certainly at first glance, these people seem to be the very worst of those that could have been chosen. MPs, the leader of the Girl Guides, Church leaders, psychiatrists and doctors. If you’d asked me to bet (were I to live in that time) I would certainly have said that the law would have been strengthened, not lessened, but perhaps it goes to show that even I shouldn’t take things on face value.
This committee, despite most of them being revolted by homosexuality, voted almost unanimously (James Adair, former Procurator-Fiscal for Glasgow being the only objectee) to change the law in England and Wales, that as long as homosexual behaviour was behind closed doors, between Consenting Adults (over 21 at the time, although the age of consent was eventually lowered to today’s 16) then it should not be an offence. The law did not take into account the Merchant Navy or the Armed Forces, an oversight that has caused much grief, and one that was only righted very recently.
Sadly, and Laird’s reaction was an omen of this, Scotland and Northern Ireland did not take the crime of homosexuality off their statute books until 1980 and 1982 respectively. And it has to be said – even England did not race to take on board the recommendations of the Report, and it took a good ten years for the recommendations in the Report to become law with the new Sexual Offences Act 1967.
Wolfenden’s son, Jeremy, was a startlingly intelligent young man and was approached for recruitment as a spy by the Secret Intelligence Service whilst he was doing his National Service. It is stated in the film that they knew he was “queer” – and it’s more than probable that they did. He eventually accepted their offer and went to Moscow, but his drinking eventually killed him. He was found dead in his bath at the age of 31. It is suspected that he died of suspicious causes, particularly as was playing a dangerous double game between MI6 and the KGB, that he became friends with Guy Burgess (infamous defector and fellow homosexual) whilst in Russia, and that he had been a victim of attempted blackmail after pictures were taken of him in bed with a Russian man.
What is particuarly poignant about the film is that it does not shy away from the fact that prosecutions continued vigourously up to and after the Report. Sodomy could result in life imprisonment, attempted sodomy in ten years. There are two particular stories in the film which show how sad and desperate men’s lives were in the era. Highly recommended.
July 14, 2010
Or – as some might say, not the Good Word.This post may be offensive to some, so don’t click below the link if a certain C word offends you.
There’s been an interesting discussion on one of the author’s groups I belong to. It’s about a well-oiled subject which is brought up from time to time and that’s the usage of slang/coarse/”insulting” words for genitalia to describe genitalia.
One of the words discussed was the big “C word”. Now, that’s not a word you’ll ever hear me say. I flinch when I hear someone say it, and I don’t know why exactly, conditioning, whatever. I don’t have a problem with many words, although I don’t swear a good deal unless very cross.
Here’s what they said. (more…)
May 22, 2010
Published 1821 (this version) I think there were earlier ones.
Be as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves.
This is a quite fascinating book -and I love the idea that a parent would buy their son this book, shove it into his hands and probably consider that was their responsibility dealt with.
Here’s the contents. I don’t even know what some of this stuff MEANS.
I took some time today and converted a few of the prices Kat shared with us from A Young Man’s Companion. I had to use 1830 values and a conversion date of 2008, but it still gives us an idea of the relative value of these items today. If I made any mistakes in the calculations, I apologize. I rechecked them before posting but I was never very good at math!
2 dozen of men’s 2-thread alted thread stockings…2. 8.0
£182.26/$338.02 or £7.60/$14.08 a pair
2 dozen of ditto 3-thread fine marble ditto… 4. 4.0
£318.95/$591.52 of £13.30/$24.65 a pair
9 six-thread superfine breeches, at 10s6d… 4.14.6
£358.82/$665.47 or approx £40/$74 a pair
6 four-thread superfine ditto, at 7s 6d…. 2. 5.0
£170.86/$316.88 or £28.48/$13.20 a pair
6 pair of silk ribbed stockings, stout at 14s… 4. 4.0
£318.95/$591.52 or £53.16/$98.59 a pair
6 pair of spun silk stockings at 5s6d…. 1.13
£125.30/$232.38 or £20.88/$38.73 a pair
15 yards of flowered ribband, at 2s…. 1.10.0
£113. 91/$211.26 or £7.59/$14.08 a yard
2 pair of chicken gloves, at 7s. 6d…. 0.15.0
£56.96/$105.64 or £28.48/$52.82 a pair
4 pair of fine lamb ditto, at 2s. 4d….. 0. 7.0
£26.58/$49.30 or £6.65/$12.33 a pair
2 fans, French mounts at 3s. 6d. …. 0. 7.0
£26.58/$49.30 or £13.29/$24.65 per fan
6 yards of Mechlin lace, at 12s …. 3.12.0
£273.38/$507.01 or £45.56/$84.50 per yard
1 Gauze cap and trimmings ….. 1. 2.0
May 21, 2010
Posted by Erastes
I’m proud to introduce you to Last Gasp – a four novella anthology of gay historical romance published by Noble Romance.
The book is available as an ebook at the moment, but will be out in print at some point, if not this year, definitely next.
When Noble Romance approached me about collating a gay historical anthology I was a little stumped, I knew I needed a theme but wasn’t sure what. Chris Smith suggested “civilisations on the brink of change–a last gasp kind of idea” which I knew was perfect.
The stories I had submitted — particularly the three I chose to accompany mine — surprised me. I was expecting the obvious “lost civilisations” like the Incas or the Deep South pre the American Civil War, but I didn’t get those. After all, I suppose all civilisations are lost, aren’t they?
Still, I think you will enjoy the stories–they are all from eras and places on the globe that haven’t been dealt with before: Syria in the Edwardian era, the Yukon Gold Rush in 1898, Hong Kong’s first Opium war in the 1830′s, and Italy between the two world wars.
Here’s the blurbs of the stories:
Tributary by Erastes
It’s 1936 and a generation of disaffected youth waits in the space between a war that destroyed many of their friends and family, and a war they know is bound to come. Guy Mason wanders through Italy, bored and restless for reasons he can’t even name, and stops at the Hotel Vista, high in the mountains of Lombardy. There, he meets scientist James Calloway and his secretary, Louis Chambers, and it’s there that the meandering stream of Guy’s life changes course forever.
The White Empire by Chris Smith
Edgar Vaughan sincerely believes that six-thousand miles is enough to give him a fresh start. Escaping in 1838 from the drawing rooms of Belgravia and the constraints of his landed family, he takes up missionary work in the trading post of Hong Kong. On arrival, he finds the region on the cusp of war; the Chinese Emperor has outlawed the importation of opium — the key link in the trade of the East India Company. Between Edgar’s sense of isolation, the sight of the puling opium addicts, and one memorable encounter with a man in a peacock waistcoat, Edgar finds himself embroiled in the very marrow of the British Empire’s machinations. He finds himself torn between espousing the expeditious whilst protecting his new acquaintance, and doing what is right and risking the wrath of the British Empire.
Sand by Charlie Cochrane
“Safe upon solid rock the ugly houses stand: Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand.”
People come to Syria for many reasons; tourism, archaeology, or because they need to leave Edwardian England to escape potential disgrace. Andrew Parks is one of those, burying past heartache and scandal among the tombs.
Charles Cusiter has travelled here as well, as chaperone to a friend whose fondness for the opposite sex gets him into too much trouble at home. Out in the desert there aren’t any women to turn Bernard’s head – just the ubiquitous sand.
The desert works its magic on Charles, softening his heart and drawing him towards Andrew. Not even a potentially fatal scorpion sting can overcome the power this strange land exerts.
The Ninth Language by Jordan Taylor
Thousands of outsiders descend on Canada’s Yukon Territory during the 1898 gold rush, wreaking havoc on the landscape and the indigenous people who live there. Amid the backdrop of this once pristine land, a man struggling against the destruction of his home and culture finds himself indebted to one of the men causing it. These two strangers discover solace and wholeness where they least expect it: each other.
Want to know more? All four authors will be over at the Speak Its Name yahoo group today, sharing excerpts doing giveaways, asking questions and answering any questions you may have! We’ll also be offering a giveaway of the anthology during the chat – but I’ll also offer one here, to one commenter. All you need to do is comment and I’ll announce the winner in 24 hours.
Hope to see you at the chat later – starts at 12 noon UK time!
May 13, 2010
* Sadly not yet published by Mills and Boon.
* Covers. Started naff – getting better all the time.
* There’s not enough of it, for a start.
* Some Gay Historicals address the very real problems of being gay in a time when it wasn’t just unacceptable, it was reviled and illegal. (Basically after Christianity kicked in) However, there were times when man on man love wasn’t just acceptable, it was a normal part of everyday life. (Οι Έλληνες είχαν μια λέξη για το έργο)
* Thankfully, due to pronouns they are not called things like “The Mediterranean Tycoon’s Depraved Heiress” (With thanks to the Random Romance Title Generator)
Not too different from the heroes in other historical romances. They are generally aristocratic (tall and handsome goes without saying – plus they are ALWAYS – always hung like horses, this is the law.)
THE, er, OTHER HEROES
Now here you can play around a little. You can either make your other hero a match for your arrogant alpha in every sense of the word (and sit back and watch those sparks fly and those buttons go flying (gotta have flying buttons, more later) OR you can create a sensitive little soul. A downtrodden artist, perhaps, or an impoverished tutor. A kidnapped sex slave or an abused and rescued young man. As long as you get a vast gulf between your alpha and your omega, it doesn’t really matter. Any excuse to make that boy cry his little heart out because the rough tough alpha doesn’t know how to handle him. Or rather – he doesn’t know how to handle his feelings – he knows how to handle him all right. (hur hur)
* UST. (No, no, not there, Unresolved Sexual Tension. Buckets and buckets of it. “I’m homosexual!++ Argh! God he’s pretty. I wonder if he’s homosexual too? How can I let him know? What if he’s not? All right… so he is – he’s sleeping with Lord [Whossit] – how can I get him?”A writer of gay historicals have immense fun torturing her characters – making every glance count, and when one’s passing the port (to the left, of course) at dinner, fingertips are just bound to brush against each other.
* It’s much easier to get men together on a day-to-day basis. Whereas a hetero historical writer will have to write about dances, and chaperones and perhaps elopements men can simply hang out with each other, ride in each other’s carriages (and no, that’s not a euphemism!) without anyone fainting or ruining anyone’s reputation. Of course it’s pretty difficult to get them into sexual situation, but that’s another post…
* Buttons! Ok, Is it just me and the buttons?
* Appreciating that the author knows exactly what the difference is between a sailor’s whipping and a double fisherman but that you don’t need to know anything as silly as long as the hero gets tied up.
* Sponge baths.
* Cocks! (sorry, but it did have to be said.) Lots of ‘em. Members, yards, rods, poles, perches, arbor vitae, gaying instrument. (yes, really.)
TOP TIP: beige…biscuit…blasé bleeding anachronisms
Check check check. You may think that it’s all right to say your hero’s breeches are beige but it wasn’t so and any eagle eyed reader will Mock You. They will, however realise if you are trying and make a small slip-up, but they won’t appreciate sloppy (or no) research, modern day speech patterns and contemporary men in fancy dress.
WHAT NOT TO SAY
* “Where’s the lube?”
* He climaxed, spunk spurting over his fingers.
* “I want to fuck his sweet hairy ass.”
WHAT TO SAY
* “Spit, and have done, man.” (other lubricants are available…)
* GOOD LORD, SHAG HIM ALREADY!
* I’m learning something! Oooo… cocks….
Over to you…
* What gay historicals would you like to see?
* What cliches are you sick of?
* Do you want better covers?
* Anything else?
(Previously published on Lust Bites)
April 13, 2010
I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently and one thing I’m beginning to notice more and more in the world of gay historicals is that some books are seeming very familiar.
It’s a bit of a worrying trend, and while it’s not “wrong” per se, it’s not exactly something I’m keen about, and something I really hope doesn’t continue.
What seems to be happening is, as writers think “what shall I write next?” or “I’d like to write gay historicals, but what about?” some are taking pre-existing ideas and simply converting it to “the gay.”
This impatience with this trend has been growing in me for a while, and it reached a head this week when I was reading “Checkmate” which is about gay musketeers. Now – if I had tackled this subject, I’d be very conscious of the huge fanbase of the Dumas books and the great (and the not so great films). I think I’d probably write about one musketeer, on the fringes perhaps, who meets someone in the course of his duties–defnitely being careful not to take more than “he’s a musketeer” from the era. But what the authors of this book have done is to have – no surprise – THREE musketeers who meet another man who (shock) isn’t a musketeer. The three amigos are hard drinking, hard shagging types too – and one of them has a Dark Past™. Sounds familiar?
Now, while I haven’t read further than that, and I’m pretty sure that the plot won’t include the Queen’s necklace, the Duke of Buckingham and a mysterious ex-boyfriend of the musketeer with a Dark Past™ with a fleur-de-lys tattoo, you can’t be too sure…
What I’m saying is that no book is original, unless you are some kind of mega genius, and within the Romance genre it’s pretty hard to do something that hasn’t been done before. If you are writing hetero-romance, particularly historical hetero-romance then it doesn’t matter what era you choose, Vikings, Romans, Pirates, Civil War – it’s all be done before. But it doesn’t mean that you take “Gone With The Wind” and make your book about a feisty southern anti-heroine who has a crush on a man she can never have and gets married a bazillion times before finding the man she truly loves only to lose him. Or in the case of gay historicals that you take GWTW and simply keep the main plot but make it gay.
I know that this sounds obvious, but as I say, I see more and more of it. Without naming more names and offending more people, I’ve seen almost direct copies of films and books galore (including The Gay Witness, a contemporary book I reviewed for Jessewave recently) and it makes me a little sad.
Look – I’m not saying that any of my books are original. Standish is probably stuffed full of images and tropes etc that have stuffed themselves into my head during my life. Every Gainsborough film, every Austen book, every historical mini series, I’ve probably taken aspects from them and put them into the book. There’s a duel in the Bois de Bologne, complete with a misty dawn and horses clinking their bits. There’s Venice and love in gondolas. Transgressions has star-crossed lovers who end up on different sides in a Civil War. Familiar aspects, yes – but the over-arching storyline is mine.
After all, people don’t write “The Straight Charioteer” do they?
March 29, 2010
It’s a problem that any historical author faces–or should do if they are doing their job and their research.
We all know that life wasn’t terribly political correct in times other than ours. I shall skirt around the fact that political correctness can be a) rather subjective and b) still a problem today.
But go back, even a very short time and you have to deal with all sorts of problems.
October 23, 2009
I’ve just been writing a review of “Fellow Travellers” by T.C. Worsley for Speak Its Name (review will go up on 25th, not there yet, I’m scheduling them for one a day, which is working out well, I think) and I was struck by the similarity to part of the plot (based on real people and real events) to David Leavitt’s While England Sleeps.
Worsley’s book is based on novelist Stephen Spender and his friends and lovers in the 1930′s.
With a little digging, I found out why it seemed so familiar, when I discovered this on Stephen Spender’s Wikipedia page:
Spender sued author David Leavitt for allegedly using his relationship with “Jimmy Younger” in Leavitt’s While England Sleeps in 1994. The case was settled out of court with Leavitt removing certain portions from his text.
I found this rather interesting, because it’s often a concern of mine about putting real facts about people (changed, obviously) into gay historical novels. In this case even though While England Sleeps was a work of fiction, no similarity to anyone living or dead, yadda yadda, the facts were similar enough for Spender to insist that the book was changed.
(It should be noted that Spender notoriously censored his own work, changing the line of one of his poems from:
- Whatever happens, I shall never be alone. I shall always have a boy, a railway fare, or a revolution.
- Whatever happens, I shall never be alone. I shall always have an affair, a railway fare, or a revolution.)
Which is rather sad.
But my point is that I’ve taken instances of real-life happenings and used them in my books, I’m sure we all have. I’ve seen other writers discuss the same, and I wonder whether this caution I’m now feeling should only extend to living people?
I personally think it was a bit cheeky of Leavitt to pinch the salient details of Spender’s affair with “Jimmy” (Tony Hyndham) as it wouldn’t have been at all difficult to mangle the facts sufficiently to avoid a court case.
I am gratified at least, that it was settled out of court–and I have no doubt that this was a deliberate move–because it would raise a dangerous precedent which could result in many people complaining that their life stories had been pilfered for fictional purposes.
What do you think? Is there any legal beagle out there who can define the law involved?
Should we all be a little careful when taking facts from life, especially within living memory?
October 19, 2009
While restructuring Speak Its Name, I found myself on a horns of a dilemma, and would like to throw the subject open to see what people think.
I was about to pull several books for not being “actual history” e.g. dealing with people who really didn’t exist e.g. 14th century Hollywood style King Arthurs or Robin Hood books, and then I noticed, that, with the upsurge of classical book fanfiction, this put characters like Mr Darcy (Pride/Prejudice) and James Fairfax (James Fairfax) in the same boat – that these are books are “historically famous people who don’t exist.”
So, what do you think? Where does one draw the line? When dealing with historical characters should they be in their correct time frame? Would you consider a book about Robin Hood to be history even though he didn’t exist? If the answer to that question is “no” then what about Mr Darcy? What about Hamlet?
Should these go into a separate category such as “Alternative History”? I know that the Historical Novel Society encompass A.U books such as the Novik Temeraire series, so perhaps I’m worrying too much, but it’s such a new genre, I’d like to get groundlines in place.
Additionally, what about real person slash? If a character is proven homosexual, such as Wilde, I’d say that that’s no problem, but what about if you speculate that someone is gay or bisexual where there isn’t any evidence?
August 26, 2009
I don’t mean the kind of fanfic that many of us have written in our time, the sort of fanfic in ‘zines and online where we aren’t making any money.
But the rash of fanfic that seems to be sprouting like mushrooms, particularly in the historical novel sections of bookshops.
Following successful sequels and prequels such as Scarlett and Wide Sargasso Sea, and the courts allowing sequels of Les Miserables, a bandwagon has been cobbled together, people have leapt on it, and now we have derivative works/pastiches/call them what you will, all over the place.
Just look at this list of Austen “inspired” fiction. It’s staggering. Now I know that Austen lovers hoover this kind of thing up, but what what do you think?
On a purely personal level, it gets me rather hot under the collar. Most of the writers I know are slaving away with their books, sweating over plot, screaming when their own original characters misbehave, tearing their hair out over locations. And then there’s THIS stuff. Which is a bit of a cheat, imho. Having written fanfic, I know how much easier it is. I used to write Harry Potter fanfic and compared with original fiction it’s so much easier. Want to know what your characters are wearing? No problems, JK Rowling has already given you the styles that were around. Want to know what your characters look like? No problems – the description is already there. Want your character to travel from A to B? No worries, there are many devices. Just choose one. Floo, broomstick, apparating, and so on. The writer doesn’t have to work a fraction as hard as the original writer because they are simply piggybacking on what’s already in place.
Now we have the Austen-horror sub-genre, which seemed to have started as a bit of a giggle, and now we have everyone writing it as fast as they can.
I can’t help but feel, why do I bother?
What inspired this rant?
THIS. James Fairfax by Jane Austen!!! and Adam Campan which is (as far as I know) the first gay Austen inspired novel.
Apparently, it has caused a bit of a flurry in the Austen plagiarist inspired writers’ camp because NO NO NO we can’t have homos in Austen-Land. I don’t know where this kerfuffle is occurring however. Hayden Thorne pointed the book out to me and said that there has been an adverse reaction to it. If it portrays gay marriage, then I’m not surprised, though.
I find myself very conflicted. On one hand of course I’m pleased that there’s another gay historical, but on the other (and this hand is weightier) I feel that – gah! – if you are going to the trouble of writing it – make it original.
Lots of people write fanfic of original works, and the classics are very popular. Here’s a few figures (courtesy of Tracey Pennington) to show how popular they are on FanFiction Net.
Jane Eyre 166.
Wuthering Heights– 59
Les Miserables –1,771
Count of Monte Cristo–24
Of Mice and Men–66
Hunchback of Notre Dame–239.
Fanfic is fine. Fanfic is great! I loved writing it. I’m not saying for one minute that fanfic can’t be creative, but the one tenet that was dinned into my head was “you don’t make a profit from fanfic. You do not make a profit from OTHER PEOPLE’S WORK.” The best place for fanfic is in fanfic forums. Not on Amazon.
For me, whether it’s in copyright or not doesn’t come into it. I had a great idea for one of Shakespeare’s plays and I really really wanted to write it, but I can’t now. I just can’t.
After all – Lord of the Rings is out of copyright in a year or two. There are over 40,000 stories on FFN for that fandom. What will we see in a couple of years? Aragorn, Legolas and the Zombies? The Haunted Hobbits?
Where does it end?
August 11, 2009
Join us starting Tuesday at Speak Its Name http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/SpeakItsN ame/ for a celebration of the relaunch of some popular m/m historical titles and a sneak preview of a new m/m historical anthology. We’ll have interviews, chats, excerpts, and prizes!
Cheyenne Publications, a small GLBT-oriented press helmed by publisher and author Mark Probst, will be publishing the print versions of Erastes’ Frost Fair, Lee Rowan’s own Royal Navy series (formerly the Articles of War series), and Speak its Name, a trilogy that includes Charlie Cochrane’s first published work, Aftermath, Erastes’ Hard and Fast and Lee Rowan’s Gentleman’s Gentleman.
Leslie Nichol, head of Bristlecone Pine Press, will handle the e-book editions. Frost Fair, Ransom and Winds of Change are available as ebook versions in all the normal places. Both publishers will be on hand to answer questions, so if you have questions about the nuts-and-bolts, here’s your chance!
Tuesday: Publisher interviews, Author chats with Erastes and Lee Rowan and excerpts from the three releases: Frost Fair, Ransom, and Winds of Change.
Wednesday: Spotlights on Eye of the Storm and Speak Its Name Trilogy, coming September 14 and October 26.
Friday: What else is coming from Cheyenne Publishing and Bristlecone Pine Press — Hidden Conflict: Tales of Lost Voices from Battle.
* * * *
The lineup from Cheyenne and BCPP (and yes, print and e-books on the same schedule!)
August 1, 2009: Frost Fair, Ransom and Winds of Change (Royal Navy series)
September 14, 2009 Eye of the Storm (Royal Navy series)
October 26 2009 Speak Its Name Trilogy
November 11: Hidden Conflict: Tales of Lost Voices from Battle
December 7, 2009 Walking Wounded
January 1, 2010 Home is the Sailor (NEW Royal Navy novel!)
March 1, 2010 Sail Away (anthology, Royal Navy series)
If you’re not a member of Speak Its Name, all you have to do is request membership – it’s invite-only to keep out the porno spammers. (And hey, how many of us really want or need to enhance our male members or look at grainy pictures of ‘slutty housewives’? )
See you there!
April 2, 2009
There’s a post over at Reading the Past which discusses the presence or absence of actual historical characters and events in historical fiction and whether the absence of them in books defines historical fiction or not.
I’m rather of the opinion that—going by the HNS definition—that it doesn’t make any difference whether there are any actual historical figures or notable events in the book or not. In fact—for every single historical book to have real life historical figures in it would actually be ludicrous, for it would mean if you were writing about ordinary people living their ordinary lives—say slaving away in the cane fields of America or grubbing a living in the sordid streets of the Potteries—to suddenly introduce a real historical person would be a huge jolt. I mean, look at even everyday lives today, how many people can say that they’ve met someone of note? (And I don’t mean a Big Brother Sleb, but someone that history will remember, such as Nelson Mandela or Mother Theresa?
Granted there is a real life person in Transgressions, the clever and charismatic Matthew Hopkins of Witchfinder fame. (Ignore the Vincent Price version puhleeze, that’s soft porn, just about) But that wasn’t exactly a conscious decision to include him, Jonathan just happened to be in the right place at the right time. And as for historical events, it would have been a little difficult to have two young men in 1642 NOT aware of the impending war. That being said, there is a true story which involves a farmer being asked if his land can be used for one of the battles and he said “Who’s fighting who, then?” (Communication not being a key aspect of the 17th century, and obviously not everyone knew about the war!)
But I don’t think it’s necessary at all to base your historical around real life events, or real life characters, and in fact its the stories that aren’t that I find most interesting. If anyone has read “The Boy I Love” by Marion Husband you’ll see that it’s just a story about people, living their lives. In the same gentle manner that many of A J Cronin’s books are written, or Cookson’s.
To expect every book to be set around a historical event is also ludicrous. People always pick the same events too. I’d like someone to make a study of books written about the Titanic and add up how many people to date have sailed on the ill-fated ship. I would bet that her complement of passengers has increased by at least three-fold. I’m surprised she managed to get out of the harbour without sinking!
That being said – It always surprises me, with the enormous wealth of GLBT characters in history, that there aren’t more books about real characters.
So what do you think? Should historical novels all include famous people? Famous events? Or do you think that the little stories are just as important as the big ones?
April 1, 2009
Like a gazelle in a field of ravening cheetahs, I am sticking my head above the wall as that rarest of rare things on the Macaronis, an unpublished author. Do not worry, Alex Beecroft has given permission for the tasty morsel to wander into your playing field.
See, I am about 5 days away from finishing my first draft of my first ever Historical Novel. Well, my first ever novel. And not being an historian, nor especially well versed in history, I thought it could be interesting for people to see how someone like me goes about writing a first draft, and how they envision the writing process.
The story I’m writing, with a working title of De Ruina Mundi (I was being clever and allegorical. Next time it will be called “Book about XXXXX” Much less hassle.) is set in late 15th Century Florence, and is a commentary about church vs. secularism, and how the two were in direct opposition at the time, much as they are today (up to and including problem teens lurking on corners! I’m not joking!). It is the story of a sculptor, a novice monk, and a young aristocrat and features Savonarola and Cosimo de Medici as what I call ‘mid level characters’
Now, when I started writing this, I had just got canned from the “I Do!” anthology for trying to tell a long story in less than 10,000 words.
Now, when I first started writing this, I had just got canned from the “I Do!” anthology for trying to tell a long story in less than 10,000 words.
Frankly, looking at it now, it was an unmitigated disaster., and would not have fit the anthology at all. So, I started De Ruina Mundi (DRM) pretty much from square one. I had three things on my side though, I’ve studied architectural history, I’m a highly theologically educated Roman Catholic, and I can read Italian.
Now, right at the beginning of DRM, I had to make a choice about how I was going to write it. I know that this has been brought up on Speak Its Name, actually in reference to DRM itself, so let me explain my
reasoning. As I read Italian, it means that I can read 15th Century Italian very easily, and not much has changed since then. Furthermore, Italian is written and spoken with a certain cadence and inflection that I can easily mimic in English. The thought of writing it in what I call “old-speake” seemed unnecessarily complex, and extremely anachronistic. Therefore, I decided to write it using Italian expressions and cadence, but in modern English.
So okay, now, I know that I want to write something about sculpture and art, and humanism versus the church, because I’ve always been very interested in the politics of art and architecture. But how best to showcase this? Well, how about an apprentice sculptor named Giuseppe Martedi (Johnny Tuesday! Hee!) and his friend Tomasino Rossi. They have grown up together, been friends since childhood, but now their
varying vocations are tearing them apart. They’ve always had a bit of a thing for the other, though Giuseppe is most definitely bisexual, while Tomasino pretty much only likes men. This book was supposed to be their story, a nice, 60k-ish novella about coming of age under two such defined institutions. It is not.
See, I had attempted to write the “I Do!” story with an outline, and got bored, so I figured I’d not try an outline for this one. And suddenly we had a the master-sculptor called Battista, his patron, Signor Agostino (vassal of the Medici), and his son Marco, and Signor Agostino’s brother, Fra. Benedetto, the novice master, and one of the few monks who were kept on at San Marco when Savonarola came to clear it up. And like Fleury in Standish by Erastes, the bloody buggers refused to go away! Okay, so reassess. Tie in Marco and Battista together, put some tension in between Benedetto, Signor Agostino, and Marco. Have Marco have a few horrible occurrences in his past. Suddenly, I’m 20k in, and completely confused as to where this was going.
I better interject here, that I write in a very amusing fashion for those reading along on etherpad. I do not stop writing to research. At all. So my text goes along the lines of…
“Marco and Tomasino stood at the end of the (road??? – what precisely was a road like! ) waiting for the (XXXX transport device). (Insert description of road here.) Marco turned to Tomasino and said (Foreshadow this!)… “
Which means that I kind of have a really really rough draft as I’m writing. (Note – that is a made-up example – there tend to be fewer comments per sentence). I figure that it should all be okay when I’m editing, but if you guys like this post, I’ll come back and tell you about how that all went.
Okay, sit back and reassess again. Luckily for me, my characters come with built in flaws – as a monk, Tomasino is the epitome of male Renaissance beauty. Which today would be called plump, rounded, fat.
Giuseppe is a little shit that is really up his own arse, and teases Tomasino about this continually. Ah, defensive men are amusing. And Marco is very impulsive, and very very “I look after me and mine. You are either for me or against me.” So, how to exploit those flaws?
Let’s ramp up the conflict, and introduce a nice Jesuit priest because the Dominicans were essentially founded to control the Jesuits. And boy do they hate each other. Move on from there…
At about 50k, I had a random panic. I thought I knew where the book was going to end, but how to get there and not blather on and on. (Rather like this post). I wrote an outline. It was a good outline.
Three days later I get smacked upside the head with a new ending.
Cue panic. Cue irritation. Cue new outline. Great. Ending sorted. HAH! No way. Seven chapters in, one of the characters refuses to behave himself (and it took Vashtan to remind me why). Cue soul searching. New ending appears. New ending is trite. More soul searching. New way to do that ending. Am I taking the easy way out? Am I playing to stereotype? Is the story consistent?
And so it goes. Endings have come and endings have gone. I am now about 27k away from the final word (taking a long weekend, so I can finish it off) and I am still a bit unsure of exactly how it is going to end. I have actually lost the time-line, and so my first edit is going to be retimelining the bloody thing.
There is much less sex in it than I originally thought there would be, and a lot less romance. Apparently my people never eat. Though they frequently have baths. This has ended up being a story of political intrigue, of people living and dying in one of the most volatile periods in European Catholic history. And I hope an entertaining read.
I know that I am going to have one hell of a job on my hands editing this. But it has been the most amazing four months of my life. I never thought I could do it. I have been supported by some fantastic people,new friends and old. It has been a fantastic journey, and now the finish line is in sight.
So if you’re thinking of thinking of writing something. Go ahead. Take the plunge. It is worth it.
So thank you Alex, and Erastes for letting me post this here. Will keep you updated.
November 13, 2008
A book that I’d bought for my Regency research, only to find that it is all about America in the 1800′s. However – it’s none the less fascinating for that!
1. Bang-up – An overcoat
1842: A gentleman dressed in a dark colored fashionable bang-up with a tight-bodied coat, neck-cloth, breast pin, hair and whiskers to match. Philadelphia Spirit of the Times, January 13 1842
“That gentlemanly looking man in the snuff-coloured bang-up: that’s Mayor Scott; he’s the very man.”
“How so?” cried a tall strapping fellow in in a white bang up. Philadelphia Spirit of the Times, January 28 1842
Not sure if this coat pictured is a “bang-up” but I’m guessing it’s close.
2. Turkey: eaten throughout the century.
1890: The turkey should be cooped up and fed sometime before Christmas. (Well, that would be useful..Erastes) Three days before it is slaughtered, it should have an English walnut forced down its throat three times a day, and a glass of sherry once a day. The meat will be deliciously tender, and have a fine nutty flavor. Mrs Stephen J Field, Statesman’s Dishes and How to Cook them.
What surprises me about this, is that to import English walnuts and real sherry would make this a really expensive dish. Apparently, the marinade had not yet caught on!
3. F.F.V. First Families of Virginia, of which many claimed to be members to gain special treatment, but eventually used in jest.
1850: He was the first of his race to acknowledge that he was not an FFV – Odd Leaves p178
1857: Mr Floyd, as everybody kows, as an FFV and the sould of honor accordingly. Harper’s Weekly.
1861: They must do better down in Virginia than they have done, or FFV., Instead of standing for First Families of Virginia, will get to mean the Fast Flying Virginians. Oregon Argus August 10.
Ah. Influence, it never changes…
5. Xs and Vs – Ten and Five dollar bills. Fives were also called V-spots.
1837:My wallet was distded with Vs and Xs to its utmost capacity. Knickerbocker Magazine. January 1837
6. Hard Times Tokens: a broad category that includes Civil War tokens (copperheads) Jackson cents, merchants’ tokens or storecards etc from around 1830-1845 and again during the American Civil War, from 1860-1865, by private individuals and busiensses to help make up for the severe coin shortage due to hoardings. Most tokens were about the size of a lardge cente (an oversixed copper cent) and made of copper. They largely served as cents, although they legally called not be so called.
7. Brogans: heavy ankle-high work shoes, available ready-made and mass produced from the 1830s on. Slave brogans were purchased by the barrelful by Southern plantations.
1860s: Experience soon demonstrated that boots were not agreeable on a long march. They were heavy and irksome…good strong brogues or brogans, with broad bottoms and big, flat heels, succeeded the boots, and were found much more comfortable and agreeable, easier put on and off, and altogether more sensible. Carlton McCarthy, Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life, p20
8. Squaw Horse: A cowboy term for a useless horse. (hey! UNPC Cowboys!!)
9. lamp posts: Civil War soldiers described artillery shells in flight as flying lamp posts because to the naked eye they looked like elongated blurs.
Yeah. I don’t get it, either.
10. Pea-jacket: a Short, heavy, seaman’s jacket. (that’s seaMAN’S). Also worn by boys from 1850 onwards.
This post has been brought to you by the useless information brigade!
November 4, 2008
Loincloths might still be around (roll on global warming) but they have been found in burial sites on the bodies of men living over 7000 years ago. Who knows what sparked man to start covering his bits – it would hardly be warmth, after all. It would offer some level of protection from thistles I suppose, but not if a sabre toothed-tiger was coming at you at groin level.
Tutankhamen was buried with 145 loincloths. This seems either a lot, or not enough, depending on your point of view of how long the afterlife is going to be. Of course by this time, the loincloth was worn under a skirt. Still – roll on global warming.
The Ancient Greeks obviously didn’t have to worry about sabre-toothed tigers, and consequently didn’t wear any underwear at all. Good for them! Φοβάμαι τους Έλληνες όταν είναι πηγαίνοντας καταδρομέας!**
The Romans did, though – big sissies. Possibly because their empire stretched into chillier areas. They’d wear something called a subligaculum, which in modern terms means a pair of shorts or a loincloth and was worn under a toga or tunic.
Pull on undergarments were invented around the 13th century, large baggy drawers called “braies” made from linen were worn by men under their clothes. This style of undergarment did not really change in design for 500 years, other than to be fashioned from better, finer fabrics and to have ornamentation.
They shrank considerable during the Renaissance as the familiar image of cod-piece and hose emerged. The hose themselves were an open garment – not like our tights or hose of today.
Tight on the legs and open at the front and back which could not be worn openly as the privities hung lose. As the doublet became shorter somthing else was needed! The braies shrank to show off the hose, and the codpiece was developed to protect the wearer’s modesty.
Or at least at first.
Gradually the codpiece evolved, became padded, shaped to fit and as some clearly showed were frankly showing off- and obviously exaggerating. Some of the most “impressive”are those belonging to Henry 8th and shown at the Tower of London, where other Crown Jewels are protected too!!
What is interesting is that the fashion of today – that of showing off one’s designer underwear, is not a new thing at all. The rich would commission the most exquisite undershirts,and underwear- fabulously expensive fabrics and meticulously embroidered. Why, they reasoned, am I paying for such incredible work that will never be seen? This led to the “slashing” fashions that we see in the Elizabethan period, where the overclothes had slits in- the better to show off the gorgeous clothes being worn beneath.
After these excesses calmed down, and waistcoat shirt and breeches took the place of doublet and hose, men returned to wearing braies or “strossers” – during the English Civil War the only difference between undergarments and overgarments were the weight of the wool they were made from.
**I fear the Greeks going commando
Next time – from 1700 to the mid 20th century.