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Showing posts from February, 2009

Passionate Minds: Emilie du Chatelet and Voltaire

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T his post was suggested to me by one of my readers, Kenneth Campbell. I'm fudging a bit on the science stuff because even though I took 4 years of biology in high school, I still never managed how to figure out how to turn on the bunsen burner! She was one of the most beautiful and brilliant women of the Enlightenment age, and the lover of Voltaire. Her name should be on everyone's lips but due to the erasing of most women from history, Emilie du Chatelet is not as well known as she should be. Born in December of 1706 to a well-to-do family, Emilie was encouraged in her studies by her father. Louis Nicolas le Tonnelier de Breteuil was the Principal Secretary and Introducer of Ambassadors to Louis XIV. This gave him access to all the great thinkers of the day who came to court. Emilie's father would bring them home to meet Emilie like Fontenelle, who was the perpetual secretary of the Academie de Sciences. They talked astronomy together when Emilie was ten years old. Des

Flora Fraser Book Signing

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Historical biographer Flora Fraser will be discussing her new book tomorrow. Tuesday, February 24 12:30 pm -- Idlewild Books, 12 W. 19th Street (near 5th Ave.), New York, NY. Flora Fraser will discuss her new biography PAULINE BONAPARTE: Venus of Empire. I will definitely be there. I already have a copy of the book which I will be reviewing on Scandalous Women next week.

Hollywood's Golden Couple: Gable and Lombard

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It was only supposed to be a simple trip. Carole Lombard had been asked by the President to undertake a war bond drive starting in her home state of Indiana. Roosevelt had been inspired by the bond drive initiated during World War I and who successful stars like Mary Pickford, Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks had been in persuading the public to buy. Indiana had been one the biggest states in war bond sales and it seemed fitting that Carole Lombard should be asked to spearhead the drive. Actually her husband Clark Gable had been originally asked but Gable bowed out due to his fear of public speaking. Lombard willingly stepped up to the plate and Roosevelt thought it grand that a native of Indiana should take the reigns. On January 15, she arrived in the capital Indianapolis by train. Lombard's trip was a great success, she sold $2 million dollars worth of bonds in fifteen hours, and she was eager to get back to Hollywood and Gable. Despite her mother's pleas that the trip was un

Scandalous Movie Casting: Bonnie Parker

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Anyone who reads the tabloids or watches the infotainment shows has probably heard that Hilary Duff has been cast as Bonnie Parker in a new movie about Bonnie & Clyde. Well when Faye Dunaway, the star of the 60's classic Bonnie & Clyde, heard the news she told a reporter "Couldn't they have found a real actress?" Not to comment on Hilary Duff's acting chops but if you look at pictures of Bonnie Parker like the one on the left, she looks a lot more like Hilary Duff than Faye Dunaway. Bonnie Parker was tiny, barely five feet tall and skinny. And she was seriously young while she was robbing those banks. She died at the age of 24 in a hail of bullets. My concern is more about the director's comment that Bonnie Parker will never shoot a gun in her movie. Uh, seriously? What's that in her hand? It looks like a gun to me and she looks like she knows how to use it. Seriously, Bonnie wasn't just sitting in the car, doing her nails while Clyde and

Emma Hamilton and Lord Nelson

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I'm guest blogging today over at The Risky Regencies about the love affair of Emma Hamilton and Lord Nelson. Please stop by and join me! It's my first time guest blogging and I'm a little nervous.

Scandalous Women is 'Excessively Diverting'!

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Vic at Jane Austen's World just tagged me with The Excessively Diverting Blog Award. I'm so excited and pleased. Now it is my turn to share the love with some other worthy blogs. Recipients, please claim your award by copying the HTML code of the Excessively Diverting Blog Award badge, posting it on your blog, listing the name of the person who nominated you, and linking to their blog. Then nominate seven other blogs that you feel meet or exceed the standards set forth. Nominees may place the Excessively Diverting badge in their side bar and enjoy the appreciation of their fellow blogger for recognition of their talent. Okay, it was really hard to choose but these are my seven most diverting blogs on the Internet. Most of them are history heavy but I have a few that aren't. History Undressed - One of the most entertaining blogs on the net. Eliza Knight writes about a different aspect of history from clothing to enduring myths every week. Reading the Past - A blog

Catherine the Great and Potemkin

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SWF, 44, CEO of large multinational corporation, smart, witty, loves horseback riding, palace coups, and expanding into foreign territories, seeks SWM, must be fleshy, charismatic, and willing to take orders. War heroes always welcome. Applicant should have 'enormous assets.' Must like hot saunas, long walks, talking late into the night about rights of man, and the greatness of 'Mother Russia.' No puny weaklings or drunken sadists need apply. Successful applicant will receive many rewards, including thousands of rubles, country estates, and titles. By the time Catherine the Great (1729-1796) met Grigori Potemkin in 1772, she had been Empress of Russia for 9 years. Born Sophia Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst, Catherine had been chosen to be her cousin Karl Ulrich's (the future Peter III) bride at the age of 15 , probably because the Empress Elizabeth felt that she would be biddable and grateful for having been rescued from osbcurity. Married at 16, Catherin

Scandalous Movie Review: Impromptu

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Impromptu (1991), directed by James Lapine Judy Davis - George Sand Hugh Grant - Frédéric Chopin Mandy Patinkin - Alfred de Musset Bernadette Peters - Marie D'Agoult Julian Sands - Franz Liszt Ralph Brown - Eugène Delacroix Georges Corraface - Felicien Mallefille Anton Rodgers- Duke D'Antan Emma Thompson - Duchess D'Antan Anna Massey - George Sand's Mother Since getting divorced, the successful and notorious writer of sensational romance novels George Sand, has been working on her memoirs. On her way to visit her friend the Countess Marie d'Agoult and her lover Liszt, she hears Chopin's music and falls in love. In her romantic pursuit of the sensitive Chopin, George is advised by Marie that she must act like a man pursuing a woman, though she is also advised to avoid damaging his health by not pursuing him at all. With this advice Sand is betrayed by Marie who steals a letter that George writes to Chopin and signs her own name. Sand meets Chopin in the Fre

Love Gone Wrong: Butchery on Bond Street

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On the morning of January 31st, 1857, dentist Harvey Burdell was found brutally murdered in his surgery at his home at 31 Bond Street in New York City. The prime suspect was Emma Cunningham, a 39 year old widow with five children who had been serving as the landlady of the boarding house that Burdell ran out of his home. This is the basis for Benjamin Feldman's excellent book Butchery on Bond Street: Sexual Politics & The Burdell-Cunningham Case in Ante-Bellum New York. The case filled the newspapers throughout the inquest and the murder trial of Emma Cunningham for the murder of her lover. She was eventually acquitted but the case brought to light the unsavory underbelly of middle-class life in New York. Emma Cunningham had been born Emma Hempstead in Brooklyn, New York on August 15, 1818. Her father had a small business as a rope-maker for the shipyards. Emma was the oldest of three daughters, and she had ambitions far behind the little neighborhood in which she lived. Her

Great Historical Romance Month

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February means Romance with a capital R here on Scandalous Women. This month, I'll be taking a look at great historical romances that scandalized the world. Catherine the Great and Potemkin Emilie de Chatelet and Voltaire Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton Emma Hamilton and Lord Nelson George Sand and Chopin Plus Love Gone Wrong: The Butcher of Bond Street