Modishness of Ladies – Literature of the English Country Rose

Literature of The English Country Rose


In the ‘good old days’  ladies would entertain and admit gentlemen into their bed chambers,which were grand affairs, with large sitting rooms. They might even wear glamorous negligees, whilst entertaining!  There is an old worldly charm in this. But I can’t see it catching on now!  Nowadays we tend to have smaller more functional bedrooms, that tend to be more personal affairs. We don’t share our teddies with everyone!  Oh, the exception here is most probably the family cat or dog. Lots of people share their bedroom with their pets. They’re cuddly too, so it figures!

The “Marriage A-la-Mode paintings link below illustrates this  entertaining well. Click on the link to see Hogarth’s painting.

Text taken from the National Gallery:

‘Marriage A-la-Mode’ was the first of Hogarth’s satirical moralising series of engravings that took the upper echelons of society as its subject. The paintings were models from which the engravings would be made. The engravings reverse the compositions.

After the death of the old Earl the wife is now the Countess, with a coronet above her bed and over the dressing table, where she sits. She has also become a mother, and a child’s teething coral hangs from her chair.

The lawyer Silvertongue invites her to a masquerade like the one to which he points, depicted on the screen. A group of visitors on the left listen to an opera singer, possibly a castrato, accompanied by a flautist.

An African page on the right unpacks a collection of curiosities bought at auction, including a figure of Actaeon. The paintings on the right wall show ‘Lot and his Daughters’ and ‘Jupiter and Io’ (after Correggio). On the left wall is a portrait of the lawyer and ‘Rape of Ganymede’ (after Michelangelo).

Getting back to the present day, I’ve just finished my Start writing Fiction course, woe is me! So I’ve started another Futurelearn course, The Literature of The English Country Rose.  I’ve been thinking about life in the past and how so many customs, manners, and niceties, have changed. In modern-day entertaining,  there does seem to be a trend for people to entertain in the kitchen. The dining room has become quite old-fashioned. The kitchen is friendly, a welcoming hubbub  of culinary activity with all those aromas, right there, right now, tingling your senses as you eat. It’s a less formal set up than most dining rooms. I know that we only tend to use our dining room on special occasions, Christmas, Birthdays, that sort of occasion. Is the good old dining room becoming redundant, a relic of the past?

Wherever you decide to eat and entertain make sure your chef is magnificent, a god of the kitchen! This fellow works for Poseidon! Oh and keep the fish away from the cat, if you are lucky enough to have one!



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Futurelearn – Free online courses.

[Alternative Text]

Futurelearn. Start Writing Fiction Course. I started this free on-line course at the end of April. There are a wide array of courses to choose from.

“At FutureLearn, we want to inspire learning for life. We offer a diverse selection of free, high quality online courses from some of the world’s leading universities and other outstanding cultural institutions.

Our aim is to connect learners from all over the globe with high quality educators, and with each other. We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, with plenty of opportunities to discuss what you’ve studied, in order to make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.

Courses are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life, rather than your life around learning.

We are a private company wholly owned by The Open University, with the benefit of over 40 years of their experience in distance learning and online education. Our partners include over 20 of the best UK and international universities, as well as institutions with a huge archive of cultural and educational material, including the British Council, the British Library, and the British Museum.

FutureLearn is in beta and the courses we’ll be running this year – there are many more on the way – are all pilot courses. This allows us to shape and refine how it all works, using feedback and ideas from our learners. It is important to us to craft a high quality product which is tailored specifically to our learners’ needs, so we want to spend the time listening.

What you’re seeing is the smallest number of features that can deliver our vision for a new form of education. Over the coming months, as we unveil new courses, we’ll be developing new features and evolving our offer.”


A page from Great Expectations by Dickens

I have also signed up for the Literature of The English Country Rose course which begins in June.

“On this course, we’ll be introducing you to literature from 450 years of English country-house history and we’ll be seeing together how that literature shapes our understanding of country houses. We’ll be joined on the way by guest experts from the University of Sheffield School of English and tapping into their specialist knowledge.

We’re going to travel on a historical journey through literature, visiting notable country houses around Yorkshire and Derbyshire. You’ll gain insight into life in these country houses and will learn about some common misconceptions. You will see the magnificent seventeenth-century wall paintings at Bolsover Castle, often held to be the best of their kind in England. You will visit Haddon Hall, a house frozen in the time of William Shakespeare and an inspiration for the great Gothic novelist, Ann Radcliffe.

We’ll be using a wide range of texts spanning the history of literature from Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ to Oscar Wilde’s ‘Canterville Ghost’. Along the way we will examine sections from a play by Shakespeare, poetry by Margaret Cavendish, and brief passages from novels by Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens. We will even look at fiction by a country house resident Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

During this course you’ll learn to analyse literature using a technique called ‘close reading’. It will help you to make your own connections between country-house literature and its historical backgrounds.”

Photos and Course Information via Futurelearn Website.

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