Category Archives: England

July Challenge Day 2: TUDOR

Here’s my post followed by some early entries to the Creative Challenge, day two…

[Background image: Pembroke Castle; courtesy: Wikimedia]

[My contribution to the Creative Challenge… a logo for a BBC style documentary on the family. Background image: Pembroke Castle; courtesy: Wikimedia]

I’m not a Tudor expert. Other people with a lot more knowledge of British History have written volumes and volumes on Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and the rest. Today’s blog doesn’t come close to telling the whole story of that family. But it is the birthday of Elizabeth Tudor, Henry the VIII’s little sister, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about her.

English: Portrait of the Royal Tudors. At left...

English: Portrait of the Royal Tudors. At left, Henry VII, with Prince Arthur behind him, then Prince Henry (later Henry VIII), and Prince Edmund, who did not survive early childhood. To the right is Elizabeth of York, with Princess Margaret, then Princess Elizabeth who didn’t survive childhood, Princess Mary, and Princess Katherine, who died shortly after her birth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She was born in 1492, one year after Henry. Although she was just three years old when she died she was already a pawn in the marriage game the Tudors were so very “good” at playing. She was to be wed to Prince Francis. Had she lived she would have become Queen of France to his King Francis I. Alas the little girl died of atrophy in 1495.

Elizabeth spent much of her short life at the royal nursery of Eltham Palace, Kent, with her brother Prince Henry (the future King Henry VIII) and her sister Princess Margaret (later Queen of Scotland) under the guidance of a Lady Mistress, presided over by her mother. Elizabeth’s oldest brother, Prince Arthur, as heir to the throne, was brought up separately in his own household. [Find a]

Her death, she was the first of the children to die young –Edmund and Katherine would also die in infancy — effected the family greatly. Her parents spent a lavish amount of money on her funeral and tomb. And Margaret and Henry were devastated by the loss of their little sister and play mate. (He was only 4 at the time.)

A decade later Arthur, the eldest and heir, would die too. Here is Henry with his surviving sisters Margaret and Mary.

English: Erasmus of Rotterdam visiting the chi...

English: Erasmus of Rotterdam visiting the children of Henry VII at Eltham Palace in 1499 and presenting Prince Henry (the future Henry VIII.) with a written tribute. Detail of oil painting in the Prince’s chamber in Westminster Hall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Court was sure that Arthur’s widow, Katherine of Aragon, was not with child,  Henry was made Prince of Wales and the heir apparent.  He also became betrothed to Arthur’s widow Katherine of Aragon to maintain the political alliance of the marriage brought with Spain. (He was 15, she was 21).

Here's my chart showing the marriages and offspring of the Tudors

Here’s my chart showing the marriages and offspring of the Tudors.

Henry VIII is, of course the central figure in this chart — I supposed that happens when you have six wives and change the church of a nation — but there are eight other heads of states on there (not including poor Jane Grey). That’s a lot of power in one family.

His older sister, Margaret, was married off to James IV of Scotland. She was the grandmother of  Mary Queen of Scots.

English: A picture of Margaret Tudor from &quo...

English: A picture of Margaret Tudor from “Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth” Deutsch: Ein Porträt Margaret Tudors aus “Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His younger sister, Mary, was married first to Louis XII of France, a man 30 years her senior. He died two months later and Mary married Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, in a secret ceremony, and with out Henry’s consent.  She was the grandmother of Lady Jane Grey.

Mary Tudor, Queen of France and subsequently w...

Mary Tudor, Queen of France and subsequently wife of Charles Brandon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Thanks to Bill and KL for playing along on the Creative challenge today… I like the way you think!

Please feel free to join them by commenting with your creative take on TUDOR or sending me an email.

Bill suggests a VW Beetle as our Tudor (or is it two door)…

[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]

KL sent in this gif for us. You have  to look closely at it to see why…


Liisa thought of a Tudor Rose — the rose that has red on the outside and a white center, the colors of the petals representing the joining of the York and Lancaster houses after the War of the Roses.

Tudor rose badge from the Pelican Portrait of ...

Tudor rose badge from the Pelican Portrait of Elizabeth I of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


George III 6.4.13 Thought of the Day

“Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Britain.”–George III

King George III (in coronation robes)

King George III (in coronation robes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

George William Frederick was born on this date in Norfolk House, St. James’s Square, London, England in 1738 . Today is the 275th anniversary of his birth.

The eldest of two sons born to Frederick, Prince of Wales and August of Saxe-Gotha, George was born two months early. The Royal family feared he wouldn’t survive infancy and he was quickly baptized. A month later he was presented publicly and formally baptized into the Anglican Church.

He was educated along with his brother, Prince Edward, Duke of York and Albany, by tutors. The boys learned to read and write English and German as well as the Romance Languages, Science, Math, History, Geography, Economics, Law, Music,  Dancing, Fencing, Riding and Sports.

 On his father’s death in 1751, the 12-year-old George became Prince of Wales. He was cared for in relative isolation by his mother and tutored by the Scottish nobleman Lord Bute. []

Nine years later he followed his grandfather to the Throne. Crowned in 1761 he reigned for 59 until his death in 1820. George III had the third longest reign of a British monarch (surpassed only by his granddaughter Victoria — 63 years — and the current queen — 61 years).

English: George III of the United Kingdom whil...

English: George III of the United Kingdom while Prince of Wales (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Positive things that happened while he was king…

  •  Ended the Seven Year’s War
  •  Democracy increased during his reign
  •  Britain Defeated Napoleon
  •  Enhanced the Royal Academy of Arts
  •  Opened the King’s Library to researchers and academics.

Neutral things that happened while he was king…

  • Survived an assassination attempt by James Hadfield
  • Had a planet named after him (It was later renamed Uranus)

Negative things related to his reign…

  • Suffered from madness as early at 1788 and spent much of the last decade of his reign in a fog.

“certainly as early as 1788. By 1810 his madness—now thought perhaps to be the result of a congenital disease called porphyria—had completely taken over his mind, and he was judged unfit to rule during the final decade of his reign” [Home At]

’’’Coat of arms of the Hanoverian Princes of W...

’’’Coat of arms of the Hanoverian Princes of Wales’’’ used by George II, Frederick and George III. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edward Elgar 6.2.13 Thought of the Day

“My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require.”–Edward Elgar

Elgar in 1919, by William Rothenstein

Elgar in 1919, by William Rothenstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edward William Elgar was born on this day in Broadheath, near Worcester, England in 1857.  Today is 156th anniversary of his birth.

He was the fourth child born to William and Ann Elgar. William Elgar ran a music shop and tuned pianos in Broadheath. A trained violinist, he taught all his children — The Elgars had a total of seven children — piano, violin and the basics of music theory. By  eight young Edward was tagging along with his father as William went to the richer houses of the county to tune their pianos. The little boy would play for the gentry while his father fixed the piano. He also started to compose at an early age.

It is a remarkable fact that Elgar was very largely self-taught as a composer – evidence of the strong determination behind his original and unique genius.[]

Although he wanted to go to Germany to study at the Leipzig Conservatory his family couldn’t afford it, so he  had no formal musical training. Instead, in 1872 he went to work as a clerk for a local solicitor.  He didn’t last long in the stifling office setting. He began to give lessons (piano and violin), sing in the town’s Glee Club, compose, conduct and play violin professionally. He became the conductor of the  County Lunatic Asylum (an unusual combination of instruments and talent levels) and worked with the Worcester College for the Blind Sons of Gentlemen.

Slowly, and through such early works as Froissart(1890), the Imperial March (1897) and the cantatas King Olaf (1896) and Caractacus (1898), his reputation began to spread beyond the area immediately around his native Worcestershire. His first big success came with the Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma) in 1899. [Ibid]

In 1900 he was awarded a Doctorate by Cambridge. Four years later he was Knighted.

Eventually Elgar was feted all over the world; he dined with royalty, was knighted and awarded the Order of Merit.  Yet he never forgot his roots, and when he became a Baronet in1931, he chose as his title First Baronet of Broadheath. [Elgar]

Edward Elgar died on February 23, 1934.

It is graduation season here in the US, and nary a matriculation takes place with out the school’s orchestra pulling out Elgar’s most famous piece Pomp and Circumstance. (The part every one recognizes comes at about the 2 minute mark.)

But might I suggest a listen to his Sea Pictures, OP. 37 with Contralto Linda Finnie and The London Philharmonic

Or the fabulously layered Symphony No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 55, Sir John Barbiolli conducting the Halle Orchestra

or his delightful Serenade for String Orchestra in E minor, Op. 20,  performed by the New Philharmonia Orchestra with Giuseppe Sinopoli  at the podium,

Helena Bonham Carter 5.26.13 Thought of the Day

“I should get a few ribs taken out, because I’ll be in a corset for the rest of my life.” —Helena Bonham Carter

Helena Bonham Carter at the press conference o...

Helena Bonham Carter at the press conference of “Toast”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Helena Bonham Carter was born on this day in London, England in 1966. She is 47 years old.

She is youngest of three children born to Elena and Raymond Bonham Carter. Her mother is a psychotherapist, her father was a banker. She went to South Hampstead High School  and Westminster School.  Although not formally trained as an actress Bonham Carter had plenty of gumption and talent. When she won second place in a national poetry writing competition she used the money she won to put her head shot in a casting directory. She started to get commercials and made a few television dramas.

Her first feature film was in 1985 with A Room with a View in which she played Lucy Honeychurch. The following year she nabbed the title role as Lady Jane Grey in Lady Jane. Period drama seemed in her blood and she was quickly dubbed the “Corset Queen” for her roles like:

  • Ophelia in Hamlet,
  • Caroline Abbott in Where Angels Fear to Tread,
  • Helen Schiegel in Howards End,
  • Elizabeth in Frankenstein,
  • Olivia in Twelfth Night and
  • Kate Croy in The Wings of the Dove.

But she could bring the drama (nd occasionally  a darkly comic sensibility) to more modern roles too, as she did in Fight Club, Live from Baghdad, and Terminator Salvation.

After 2001, when she played Ari, a sympathetic ape in Planet of the Apes, she seemed to take on a new type of typecasting and this beautiful actress was suddenly thrust into the role of the haggard witch…which is what she played in Big Fish and the Harry Potter. She also did  creepy variations on that genre with her roles as:

  • Mrs. Lovett in Sweeny Todd,
  • Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables
  • Miss Havisham in Great Expectations and
  • the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland.

Then she did a perfectly lovely, warm and very funny turn as the Queen Mom in the wonderful The King’s Speech. She earned an Academy Award nomination for the role.

Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter filming T...

Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter filming The King’s Speech at Queen Street Mill Textile Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Upcoming for films for Bonham Carter include:

  • The Lone Ranger
  • The Young and Prodigious Spivet and
  • Burton & Taylor (She plays Taylor to Dominic West’s Burton for the BBC biopic that promises to out act the Lifetime / Lindsay Lohan movie on the famous pair, Liz and Dick.)

John Phillip 4.19.13 Thought of the Day

John Phillip was born on this day in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1817. Today is the 196th anniversary of his birth.

Self Portrait Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections []

Self Portrait Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections []

His father was a former soldier and a shoe maker. The Phillip family was very poor. But John’s talents emerged when he was young and a patron made it possible for the boy to be educated at the Royal Academy of Arts in the Piccadilly area of London.

He was a member of The Clique, a group of artist started by Richard Dadd. The Clique eschewed high art in favor of genre painting (paintings of every day life).  The group, who were followers of Hogarth and Wilkie,  sketched a common subject and then critiqued each other’s work.

The Artist and His Wife (Maria Elizabeth Dadd) Aberdeen Art Gallery []

The Artist and His Wife (Maria Elizabeth Dadd) Aberdeen Art Gallery [] He married Richard Dadd’s sister Maria Eliabeth Dadd.

In 1857 he was made an associate of the Royal Academy, he earned full membership in 1859.

Disgorging the Fly (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []

Disgorging the Fly (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []

At first Phillip focused on scenes that idealized his Scottish past — simple, traditional, pious. In 1851 he took a trip to Spain for health reasons and shifted to painting shifted Spanish every day life. He made a total of three trips to Spain.

The Marriage of the Princess Royal (sketch) a painting commissioned by Queen Victoria to commemorate the marriage of her daughter. (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []

The Marriage of the Princess Royal (sketch) a painting commissioned by Queen Victoria to commemorate the marriage of her daughter. (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []

Queen Victoria, a fan of Phillip’s work –“who considered him to be Britain’s greatest portrait painter and entrusted him to paint the Royal Family portraits.  [About]– dubbed him “Spanish Phillip.”

The Spanish Flower Seller (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []
The Spanish Flower Seller (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []

Phillip was an immensely competent artist, his work distinguished by a boldness of handling and a strong sense of colour and chiaroscuro which seem typically Scottish. Spain bought out these characteristics, and the resulting paintings are dazzling evocations of Spanish life at its most picturesque and exotic, delighting in dramatic contrasts of light and shade and brilliant local colour illuminated by strong sunlight. [Golden Age Paintings.blogspot]

The Evil Eye (The Stirling Smith Art Gallery) []
The Evil Eye (The Stirling Smith Art Gallery) []

He died on February 27,  1867 in London.

Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part ONE

“I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.” — Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin The Tramp debuted in 1914 -- p...

Charlie Chaplin The Tramp debuted in 1914 — pre-1923 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on this day in 1889 in London, England. Today is the 124th anniversary of his birth.

He was practically born to the stage. Both his parents were musical hall entertainers. His father, Charles Chaplin, Sr.  was a singer and actor, his mother, Hannah Chaplin — her stage name was Lily Harley — sang light opera. The marriage didn’t last long, and Chaplin, Sr. abandoned the family when Charlie was an infant. He had two half brothers. Sydney Hill Chaplin was four years older than Charlie and was born to Hannah a year before she married Chaplin, Sr. (who was not his father.) Hannah had another baby, George Wheeler Dryden in 1892, by entertainer Leo Dryden. Sydney and Charlie hardly knew this brother, however, because Leo took the boy away when he was 6 months old. George didn’t resurface until his mid thirties.

Hannah continued her stage career for a few years, but…

in a performance that would introduce her youngest boy to the world of performance, Hannah inexplicably lost her voice in the middle of a show, prompting the stage manager to push the five-year-old Chaplin, whom he’d heard sing, onto the stage to replace her…[Biography]

The audience loved little Charlie, but it was a disaster for Hannah…

Her singing voice never returned and she eventually ran out of money. For a time, Charlie and Sydney had to make a new, temporary home for themselves in London’s tough workhouses. [Ibid]

Hannah was in and out of mental institutions until 1905 when she was committed permanently. With the exception of one disastrous stint with their alcoholic father, the boys were left to fend for themselves,  and, eventually, thrown into the workhouse. Sydney was trained as a seaman, but both boys wanted to act. Charlie charmed his way into a clog dancing group called the Eight Lancashire Lads in 1897.

It was a short stint, and not a terribly profitable one, forcing the go-getter Chaplin to make ends meet anyway he could…”I (was) newsvendor, printer, toymaker, doctor’s boy, etc., but during these occupational digressions, I never lost sight of my ultimate aim to become an actor,” Chaplin later recounted. “So, between jobs I would polish my shoes, brush my clothes, put on a clean collar and make periodic calls at a theatrical agency.” [Ibid]

His first play was  Jim, a Romance of Cockayne by H.A. Saintsbury in 1903.  Although the show closed after two weeks Chaplin’s comedic performance  as the newsboy received good reviews. Real stage experience came later that year with a 2.5 year run with  Sherlock Holmes in which Chaplin played the Page-boy.

He toured with a vaudeville outfit named Casey’s Court Circus and in 1908 teamed up with the Fred Karno pantomime troupe, where Chaplin became one of its stars as The Drunk in the comedic sketch, A Night in an English Music Hall. [Ibid]

Español: Esta es una fotografia del Sr. Charle...

Español: Esta es una fotografia del Sr. Charles Spencer Chaplin tomada en Estados Unidos, durante su juventud, en un momento en el que, como se aprecia, se encontraba al natural, tal como era, sin los clasicos caracteres que usaba para protagonizar a su recordado personaje de cine mudo Charlot. Français : Charles Chaplin, acteur américain, célèbre pour son personnage Charlot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He twice came to America on tour with the Karno troupe and film producer Mack Sennett promptly signed Chaplin to a contract for a $150 a week with Keystone Pictures. Chaplin didn’t like his first film, Making a Living, and it wasn’t a hit, but he was singled out for his comic timing and presence.

He wanted to create a persona that made him stand out from the crowd of comedic actors at Keystone, so he borrowed Fatty Arbuckle’s pants, Ford Sterling’s size 14 shoes and Arbuckle’s father-in-law’s bowler to invent the Little Tramp. The Tramp made his debut in  Kid Auto Races at Venice.

Chaplin with Edna Purviance in The Immigrant (...

Chaplin with Edna Purviance in The Immigrant (1917) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charlie yearned for more creative input in his film and finally got a chance to direct in 1914. With the caveat that Chaplin would return $1,500 to producer Sennett should the film fail, he helmed Caught in the Rain . (He did not have to return the money. )

When Keystone wouldn’t give him a raise (he wanted $1,000 a week)  he went to Essanay Film Manufacturing Company  (they gave him $1,250 a week.) He made 14 films with Essanay.

By the age of 26, Chaplin, just three years removed from his vaudeville days was a movie superstar. He’d moved over to the Mutual Company, which paid him a whopping $670,000 a year. The money made Chaplin a wealthy man, but it didn’t seem to derail his artistic drive. With Mutual, he made some of his best work, including One A.M. (1916), The Rink (1916), The Vagabond(1916), and Easy Street (1917). [Biography]

He got a million dollar deal with First National Exhibitors’ Circuit to make 8 films. (His brother Sydney was his financial manager by then, and he was instrumental in making the deal.) Two of the eight movies broke the old show business rule about not working with children and animals, and those films — The Kid and A Dog’s Life were two of Chaplin’s best.

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click HERE for Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part TWO

Leslie Howard 4.3.13 Thought of the Day

“I hate the damn part. I’m not nearly beautiful or young enough for Ashley, and it makes me sick being fixed up to look attractive.”–Leslie Howard

[Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

[Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

Leslie Howard Steiner was born on this day in Forest Hill, London, England in 1893. Today is the 120th anniversary of his birth.

Both his parents, Lilian and Ferdinand “Frank” Steiner, were of Jewish descent. Leslie’s father was from Hungary. His mother’s grandfather immigrated from East Prussia and married into well to do English society. She wanted the family to assimilate into English society as seamlessly as possible. She raised Leslie as a Christian, and when World War One broke out the family Anglicized their name from Steiner to Stainer. Leslie changed his name legally to Leslie Howard on February 24, 1920.

Although clearly bright, Howard’s sheltered upbringing and severe near-sightedness made him extremely self-conscious. Never a good student, the young Howard loathed his time at Alleyn’s School in Dulwich, London, preferring to lose himself in the comfort of books. Fiercely protective of her son, Lilian encouraged her boy’s participation in the arts, particularly theatre, as a means of improving his social and academic skills. []

The stage was good fit. By 14 he had written his first play and it wasn’t long before Lilian established the Upper Norwood Dramatic Club to showcase Leslie and his friends. His father, however, thought a more down to earth career was in Leslie’s future. At Frank’s insistence he took a job as a clerk at a London bank — which he hated. “When war finally did break out, Howard saw his chance to escape the monotony of his life and promptly enlisted with the British Cavalry.” [Ibid] He served on the front lines for a while before returning home in 1916 with a severe case of shell shock.

He returned to the theatre again as a kind of a therapy.

In a few years, his name was famous on the stages of London and New York. He made his first movie in 1914 (The Heroine of Mons (1914)). He became known as the perfect Englishman (slim, tall, intellectual and sensitive), a part that he played in many movies, and a part women would dream about. [IMDb]

He had a long career on stage and screen, with his top movies being:

Oh, Ashley! [Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

Oh, Ashley! [Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

  • Gone with the Wind, as Ashley Wilkes (a role he thought he was too old for — he was 46 at the time. He didn’t want to play another soft-spoken, dreamer. But the producer promised Leslie if he did the role he could co-produce Intermezzo  — a movie he’d been longing to make.)
  • Intermezzo, a Love Story , as Holger Brandt
Giving a smouldering look with Igrid Berman in Intermezzo [Image courtesy:]

Sharing a smouldering look with Igrid Berman in Intermezzo [Image courtesy:]

  • Pygmalion, as Professor Henry Higgins
In Pygmalion [Image couresty:]

In Pygmalion [Image couresty:]

Howard in Scarlet Pimpernel. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. [Image courtesy The Telegraph]

Howard in Scarlet Pimpernel. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. [Image courtesy The Telegraph]

He returned to England at the onset of WWII to help with the war effort. Leslie Howard died in 1943 when the plane he was flying in from Lisbon to England was shot down over the Bay of Biscay.

Secondary Character Saturday: Alan Rickman: Jamie (Truly Madly Deeply)

[Image courtesy MGM]

[Image courtesy MGM]

Who: Jamie Howe


From: Truly Madly Deeply


Once upon a time there were two people in love, their names were Nina and Jamie. They were even happy enough to be able to live happily ever after, (not often the case) and then Jamie died. Nina is left with a house full of rats and handymen, a job teaching foreigners English and an ache that fills the night sky. [IMDb]


You’ll have to wait until the 25 mark before he enters the movie properly, but it is worth the wait.


Stevenson and Rickman as Nina and Jamie in Truly Madly Deeply [Image courtesy: MGM]

Stevenson and Rickman as Nina and Jamie in Truly Madly Deeply [Image courtesy: MGM]

Written and Directed by: Anthony Minghella


Produced: 1990


Cover of "Truly Madly Deeply"


Pros: unconditional love, plays a mean cello, comes back from the dead to comfort his soul mate, handsome, fun.


Cons: annoying, cold (literally), selfish


Most Shining Moment: Since I think about 5 other people on the planet have seen this gem I wont spoil it. But I will say the real shining moment comes at the end. My favorite moment (probably my favorite Rickman moment of all film) is when he plucks at the cello and sings The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Any More.


Sing it, Jamie baby. [Image courtesy: MGM]

Sing it, Jamie baby. [Image courtesy: MGM]

Least Shining Moment: Letting his dead mates invade the flat so they can watch videos.


Warning: Juliette Stevenson brings some really raw emotion to this movie and the sound is uneven. So when she wails (or sings) it can be really loud and bit annoying. But, God bless her, she gives her performance 1000 %.


Why Rickman is so good: This is one of the few Alan Rickman roles where he’s playing an “everyday guy” (albeit a dead one). His performance is incredibly natural and believable and it is fun to watch him be so at ease with his co-star Juliette Stevenson. It’s nice to see him be happy too. Jamie is not a perfect boyfriend by any means (even when you take out the ghost thing), and Rickman hits all the varied notes of a real person in a real relationship with his nuanced performance.


[Image courtesy: MGM]

[Image courtesy: MGM]

I’m not sure why this movie isn’t more readily (or cheaply) available. It did very well with the critics and has a strong 72% Tomatorating / 82% Audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But I challenge you to find it at your local library (hint: not going to happen.) Amazon has it, but it’s $72! But, dear readers, fear not… I found it for you on Youtube …



Now once you watch it I’m sure you will all raise your voices and demand they re-release it at a reasonable price and buy the DVD so the proper parties get paid for their efforts. Yes?


[Image courtesy: MGM]

[Image courtesy: MGM]



So we’ve got ONE MORE Saturday in March, that means one more chance to celebrate Alan Rickman. Which movie role shall we feature? Get back to me and let me know which Rickman YOU think I should write about.


  • Comic Rickman?


  • Galaxy Quest

    Galaxy Quest

  • Villian Rickman?
  • hans_tal

    Die Hard

  • Robin Hood Prince of Theives

    Robin Hood Prince of Theives

  • Sensitive Rickman?
  • snow-cake
  • An Awfully Big Adventure

    An Awfully Big Adventure



Charlotte Bronte 4.21.13 ritaLOVEStoWRITE

Dear reader: Cut another piece of birthday cake for Charlotte Bronte. It seems I was a month early in celebrating (oops, sorry Char!) Today, April 21st is really her big day. Happy Birthday, girl! Cheers, Rita


“Better to be without logic than without feeling.” — Charlotte Bronte

Portrait of Charlotte Brontë

Portrait of Charlotte Brontë (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charlotte Bronte was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England in 1816. Today is the 197th anniversary of her birth. Charlotte Bronte was the third child born to Maria and Rev. Patrick Bronte. Brother Branwell joined his older sisters, Maria, Elizabeth and baby Charlotte in 1817. Emily came along the next year and Anne was born in 1820. The Brontes moved to Haworth parsonage in 1820.

The parsonage where they lived stood midway between natural beauty and human squalor. To the rear stretched clear, broad moorland. On the other side, the township sprawled up the hill like an ugly sore. Most families shared an outhouse with their neighbors, and the main street was awash with sewage. Disease lurked in every filthy corner. The average age of death was twenty-five. [Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre, by Stewart Ross, Viking Press, 1997]

It wasn’t long after the family settled at Haworth that Mrs. Bronte was diagnosed with incurable stomach cancer. After her mother’s death in 1821 Charlotte, her brother and sisters were raised by their father and her Aunt Elizabeth Branwell.  The family was squarely middle class (although Rev. Bronte insisted on referring to himself as a gentleman), so they neither fit in with their working class neighbors in town, nor did they mix with the local gentry. The children grew up isolated from everyone but their immediate family.

They loved to explore the wilds of moors. They made up stories and games and performed plays they had penned themselves.

In 1824 Rev. Bronte felt the older children needed to be formally educated. He chose for the girls a school called “Cowan Bridge, a boarding school for the daughters of clergymen… it was cheap and respectable and promised a good education.” [Ibid]  The brochure skipped the part about the cruel teachers and the Tuberculosis and Typhus.

Charlotte found the school to be a prison.

She had to wear a “charity girl” uniform and was allowed to write home only once every three months. The cook ruined the food. The dormitory was cold, the rules strict, the education narrow. [Ibid]

Her older sisters took ill. First Maria came down with TB and had to go home (she died in May of 1825) Then the school was hit with a typhus epidemic. 10-year-old Elizabeth was returned home “to Haworth where, on June 15, she, too died of tuberculosis. ” [Ibid]

That was enough, Charlotte and Emily were called home in the summer of 1825. Rev. Bronte and Aunt Branwell once again took over the children’s education. “They read widely and freely,” had private music and art lessons and some Latin and Greek , but no science and limited math, history and geography.


Brontë (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was plenty of time to play and explore as well. When Rev. Bronte gave Branwell a set of toy soldiers as a gift the four remaining children created a whole fantasy world called“ Glasstown.” Charlotte and Branwell  created “Angria” for the 12 wooden soldiers. (Emily and Anne made up “Gondal.”)

Unmarried middle class women of limited income in Victorian England had two choices in employment. They could become a teacher or a governess. But either profession would require more formal training. Charlotte was sent to Roe Head school in 1831. It was a much nicer institution than the dreaded Cowan Bridge, and Charlotte enjoyed her year and a half there. She returned home to help teach her brother and sister.  She went back to the school a few years later as a teacher, this time with Emily in tow.  (Emily didn’t take to the school. Anne replaced her after a few months.) After that, “She made two attempts at being a governess, first with a local family, then with a merchant in Bradford. Neither was a success. She found the children hard to control and her work humiliating and boring.” [Ibid]

In 1841, backed by Aunt Branwell, Charlotte, Emily and Anne decided to start their own school. But first the girls needed to be educated abroad. Charlotte went to Brussels to stay with her friend Mary Taylor.  Overseas travel changed her. The food, freedom and culture excited her. And in her teacher, Monsieur Heger, she had found her intellectual equal.  When their term ended Charlotte suggested she Emily stay on and pay their way by teaching. Slowly she fell in love with her  older, married teacher. But eventually she was forced to face reality and leave for home.

In 1845 Charlotte needed to regroup and focus on something positive.  She was  determined to get published. She convinced her sisters to publish some of their poems. They used the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (their initials) because they would be taken more seriously if readers thought they were men. Aylott and Jones published 62 of the sister’s poems in “Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.”  Although the collection received favorable reviews, it sold only 2 copies.

Their next literary projects, this time in prose, would fare much better. Emily penned Wuthering Heights, Anne, Agnes Gray and Charlotte wrote The Professor about her time with Monsieur Heger. Although the first two novels were published (after Emily and Anne put up 50 pounds to help with the printing costs) The Professor was not picked up.

Undaunted, Charlotte wrote her second novel, Jane Eyre while nursing her father after an operation to restore his eye sight. Smith, Elder & Co. published Jane Eyre for 100 pounds  in 1847. They optioned her next two novels for the same amount.  Charlotte began work on Shirley.

Emily and Anne were busy on new novels too. Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was published, but Emily was ill, TB again, and, although she may have finished the novel it never saw publication. Branwell was sick too, both physically and mentally.  He died in September of 1848, Emily passed away in December of the same year.  By spring of the  1849 Anne was showing “the familiar symptoms of tuberculosis.”  She died on May 23.

Charlotte Brontë Photography from 1854, free l...

Charlotte Brontë Photography from 1854, free licence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charlotte continued to write. The mysterious Currier Bell was by now revealed to be the shy, plain Charlotte Bronte to her publisher George Smith. Smith and his mother did what they could to bring her out into society. Charlotte met fellow writers Harriet Martineau and Elizabeth Gaskell both of whom she remained friends with for the rest of her life.

She wrote her fourth novel Villette.

Rev. Bronte’s curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls fell in love with Charlotte and he proposed to her. At first Charlotte didn’t take to the idea. She found him both dull-looking and narrow-minded. Her father objected to the union as well. Nicholls was socially (and financial) inferior to the Brontes. She turned him down. But Gaskell encouraged her in the match, and as Charlotte watched the younger man’s devotion to her father she reconsidered. (Gaskell also used her influence to improve Nicholl’s financial standing.) Rev. Bronte continued to object, but he finally gave in, and the couple were married in June of that year of 1854.

Charlotte was soon with child, suffered from constant morning sickness.

The strain of pregnancy at the age of thrity-nine taxed her strength to its limits. By February she had grown alarmingly thin and was vomiting blood… The wasting sickness dragged painfully on until, by mid-March , all hope was gone. [Ibid]

Bronte died on March 31, 1855. Her novel, The Professor was published two years later, the same year as Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography The Life of Charlotte Brontë.


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