Sunday, March 7, 2010
Welcome, MC Halliday
MC Halliday: I’ve lived in the Victorian era!
Absurd, you say? In truth, yes but I was born in the UK and lived with Victorian grandparents in a Victorian row house midst Victorian furniture. The differences I experienced in that world are absolutely unlike most modern life in North America.
Heating was solely from coal burning fireplaces. And each room with a door had a fireplace, so if the fire was not lit in the winter (in my bedroom, say), frost was patterned on the inside of the windows and steam expelled with each exhale. The blackened coalman would arrive weekly to top up the shed, the coal dusted chimney sweeps would make regular stops: My world smelled of coal dust and soot.
There were no gaslights by the time I lived in the row house but the ‘electrics’ were precious. Money had to be collected in coin to feed the meter box for heating the water immersion tank and keeping the lamps on. We were very aware of each tick on the meter and maintained a strict Victorian roster of allowed days for bathing and clothes washing. Laundry was done in the kitchen by hand, using harsh soap flakes and then hanged there on clothes lines that were taken down when the linens were dry. I won’t mention the bathing routine, as you’ll all be aghast. My grandparents used chamber pots all their lives, and lived in that Victorian row house in the historic market town of Petersfield from the first day of their marriage until they passed in their late nineties.
Rugs and area carpets were beaten of dust in the tiny back area between the coal shed and the kitchen door. Outside the same door, tea residue and food remains were dropped into an open drain. The walls indoors were covered in floral paper, in each and every room, including the hall and stairwell. There was no telephone, no paper delivery. The postman came twice a day and the milkman stopped by early every morning.
Through my fraternal grandparents, I learned a great deal about Victorians. Queen Victoria reigned until my grandparents were into their late teens and during the latter years of the 19th century, she was very popular with the middle class and her morals were emulated. Protocol was as important as the social grace of not blowing tobacco smoke into the eye of your opponent whilst playing cards.
My grandfather revealed his secrets and history on many occasions when we alone together. I have used some of his insights in my writing, and from his intimate revelations of family and war, I became a huge history buff. It bears worth mentioning that I learned a great deal about class structure in Victorian England from my maternal grandmother, as she was in service for most of her life. From a very young age, she was sent off to work in order to provide for the family at home. Eventually, she had the privilege of a grounds cottage as manor house matron and my grandfather was the lowland gamekeeper.
From all this, conjuring the Victorian era came quite easily in writing, ‘I Came Up Stairs: A Victorian Courtesan’s Memoirs 1867~1871’. The variations from my own experiences were known to me by the chats with my elders and so I heavily researched every detail to get the book absolutely right. All the while, I could envision the cobbled streets I knew and see the Whitechapel district, of which I briefly write: Small dark streets that in the past contained the greatest misery, filth and peril imaginable.
But this tale moves quickly from that horror to a new life for heroine, known as Mae to her friends. Alas, her past never quite leaves her…if I may say, I took this aspect of her life from my own experience, for I must work and work at the challenges presented and seldom learn until up against a wall and forced to make a change. Without further ado:
The epic Victorian tale of love and lovers, war and heartbreak woven into the erotic memoirs of a courtesan unashamed of her amorous adventures, releases today at Eternal Press.
I Came Up Stairs: A Victorian Courtesan’s Memoirs 1867~1871, in pdf format
Word count: 88,550
Historical Erotica, 5 flames
Available soon in PRINT at Amazon, worldwide
~The erotic adventures of an enchanting seductress
Led from filth and poverty by a gentleman in the hopes of gaining coin for his purse, Mae is shaped into a lady and tutored in the arts of pleasure. With raw sensuality, she creates a seductive dance that entices the peerage in puritanical England, and she quickly becomes favored courtesan to Prince of Wales. Her renown and riches ever rising, she continues to romp with gamely men and women of both the nobility and the lower classes. Eventually, Mae’s bohemian ways cause suffering for those she loves and her own heartbreak. Must she conform to Victorian mores, or can she remain true to her sensual desires?
These intimate memoirs reveal a young woman’s journey from the slums of Whitechapel to celebrated dancer of the Victorian music hall, and courtesan to the highest peers of the British realm. From the years 1867 to 1871, Mae recounts her varied lovers and false loves, and her heartbreaking losses in a quest for happiness.
MC Halliday ~ deep, sometimes dark, always delicious tales of women
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