Royal Children and Their Toys: 1900

Mrs Daffodil is certain that the entire Empire joins her in wishing joy to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their new daughter. The infant princess will undoubtedly be showered with toys from well-wishers around the world, which, according to tradition, her elder brother will try to take away.  Mrs Daffodil thought it would be amusing to see what toys the royal children of the past enjoyed.

royal children and their toys

By F. Nevill L. Jackson

The child being father to the man, it is interesting to know the likes and dislikes, and the influences which are creating the minds and wills of the future men and women who will occupy the thrones of Europe, or stand close beside them. It may be said that toys are such unimportant matters that they are unworthy of the attention of the student of life and times; but to the little people chiefly concerned they are very important. Who would underrate the influence of the military surroundings and military toys provided from earliest childhood by the Kaiser for the Crown Prince of Prussia, in assisting the military training which has now begun in earnest? In the nursery he drilled his five brothers and baby sister with the severity of a martinet; though it is said that in disposition he resembles his gentle mother rather than his imperious father.

On his tenth birthday he became a real soldier, being made a lieutenant in his father’s Grenadier Regiment. The toy guns and miniature swords had well prepared him for the important moment when the regiment was drawn up in a hollow square in the Lustgarten. ‘Kronprinz Frederich Wilhelm,’ as he is called by his teachers and school-fellows, walked on to the parade-ground with the Kaiser, surrounded by all the Princes of the Imperial family. The Kaiser made a speech in which he dwelt on the importance of the discipline of the army; the young Prince then advanced with drawn sword, presented himself to the captain of the company, Von Plushow. In the march past that followed, some laughed to see the eager little boy running along to keep up with the huge strides of the big Grenadiers; others thought the sight somewhat pathetic. When the march past was over the young Prince was presented to the other officers as a young comrade; and he went back to his royal home in proud possession of a real sword. Such were the playfellows and the toys of Prince Wilhelm when he was ten years old.

German princes at tennis

There is a photo in this article showing the young Hohenzollerns after a game of tennis. To play tennis is not exactly to play with toys, but we give the photograph as it illustrates a distinct feature in the education of the Kaiser’s family. His first idea is to make good soldiers and sailors out of his children, his second, to make them as English as possible, so far as regards sport, games, and all manner of athletic exercises. Notice the tennis costume—English, and yet somehow one can see that the wearers are not of our nationality. Prince Eitel Fritz has been provided with toy ships, anchors, compasses, and when tired of such costly toys, passed many a happy half-hour with a piece of string in which such intricate knots were tied as would have puzzled Captain Kettle himself, who, we feel sure, was a past master in the art of rope knotting and splicing. Such were the toys meant to encourage the love for the naval career for which the lad is destined.

czar of russia in 1879

Very curious is our photo of that other lord of great armies, the Czar of all the Russians, when a little boy. His costume is that of a sailor, but observe the drum in the background. No less than the Kaiser’s children, those of the Russian Imperial family undergo a military education, and are from earliest years familiarised, through the medium of toys and picture-books, with the working of guns, the uniforms of various regiments, and the military history of their country. The little Czar does not look very happy; one is almost tempted to think that even at the early age when the photograph was taken, he felt a secret disgust of things military— vague foreshadowings, perhaps, of his famous disarmament project.

Our own Royal children are given toy guns and soldiers, flags, drums, and uniforms for the sake of keeping them amused, and for no other reason. We in England are happily not yet such slaves of the sword as to be under the necessity of training our children, whether royal or otherwise, from birth upwards to regard the military profession as the one profession worthy of a man. However, our young princes take quite as much de light in sham armies and battles as their Continental cousins. Little Prince Edward, especially, is great on flags and sabres. He delights in marching gravely about, the flag over his shoulder, the sabre dangling at his side, and every now and again stopping to shout “Hurrah!” as he heard the people shout after the relief of Mafeking…

The old custom of clearing out from nursery cupboards and drawers many of the toys of the past year before Father Christmas unloads his sack of new treasures still obtains in the Royal nurseries of the present generation; and many a hospital ward is brightened, and little sufferers forget for a moment their aches and pains as they play with the toys the chubby fingers of Royal babies have last caressed. This kindly plan might well be emulated by other little people who are lucky enough to have new toys long before the old ones are worn out.

Princess Alice of Albany and her doll

Princess Alice of Albany and her doll

It is an interesting fact that during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays at Osborne, the old toys which once belonged to the Queen’s children are brought down from those top shelves to which they were relegated long ago, and for as long as the holidays last the children of the younger generation are allowed to play with them. This is an anxious time for the nurses, for they are held responsible for the safety of the relics, and extreme care is taken in order to preserve the old toys; for the Queen is very fond of them, remembers each one, and asks for any which may not happen to appear. There is a fortress, which was an especial favourite with the Prince of Wales; it has been played with during the Christmas holidays many a time by the late Duke of Clarence and the Duke of York when they were boys, and is now looked at with intense interest by the baby blue eyes of the Duke of York’s children. The little brass guns of this fortress were mounted in their present position by the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, now a grandfather himself, whose clever, eager fingers were always apt at delicate work, from the driving of a screw to the wielding of a violin bow. Some of the mechanical animals, which were much rarer toys in the fifties than they are now, can still be made to work, and the little fat hands are clapped with joy in the Osborne nursery to-day when a woolly dog ambles along the floor with ungainly leaps, and the skin elephant moves his trunk up and down, while the mouth opens and shuts. These give as keen a sense of delight to the third or fourth generation as they did to the little ones in the Windsor nursery long ago. There is a certain bagatelle board which the Queen’s sons played with; it is often brought out for the children in the Christmas holidays.

Princess Margaret of Connaught and her doll.

Princess Margaret of Connaught and her doll.

To go further back still into the past, mention must certainly be made of the hundred and thirty-two dolls belonging to the Queen. These dolls are still preserved, together with a record of them found in a copybook yellow with age. On the inside of the cover is written in the clear text hand of childhood, “List of my dolls,” showing that little Princess Victoria was methodical in the care of her toys, for entries follow in which the name of the doll is given, by whom it was dressed, and the character it represents. The Queen herself dressed no fewer than thirty-two dolls, which, being all of the rag description, [incorrect—they are mostly penny-woodens] would be looked upon with contempt by the little misses of the present day, whose dolls are frequently made and dressed in Paris. Blots of red paint, unmistakeably from the Royal nursery paint-boxes, adorn the cheeks of some of the Court beauties, and it is noteworthy that the people of the great outside world were used as models by the little girl for her dolls. If any Court lady dressed in the extreme of the fashion of the period she was at once noted by Her Majesty’s quick eye, and a place was found for her in the collection; her dress being copied to a nicety, for the Queen was an expert needlewoman. Her Majesty was not one of those who soon outgrow dolls, she was devoted to them and played with them until she was fourteen years old—always loving the small ones best. The small wooden Dutch dolls which can be bought for a penny were largely used in her historical collection. The doll’s house which now stands in the Osborne nurseries for the use of the children of Princess Beatrice is a much grander affair than that which was the toy of the lonely little girl in Kensington Palace; but that is of no consequence, for the charm of a toy is, that its relative beauty and grandeur has nothing to do with the charm it exercises in the mind of its possessor; there is not the slightest doubt about this; as much happiness (perhaps more) was obtained by the past generation of children out of their simple toys as is got out of the elaborately dressed dolls and intricate mechanical toys which fill the nurseries of the present day.

Prince Albert of York and his toy carriage

Prince Albert of York and his toy carriage

The most popular toy with grown up people as with children, with Royal children as with ordinary children, is undeniably the bicycle. We pity people who lived in the days when bicycles were a rarity— indeed, it is almost impossible to imagine so primitive an age. Most of our children have these wonderful toys, and it may be safely affirmed that there is not a single Royal child, provided that the child is old enough to take care of itself, who is not the happy possessor of a bicycle or tricycle. I know for a certainty that the Emperor of Germany’s children may be seen almost every day cycling furiously about the grounds of Potsdam. They are great at cycling, as at all other sports. But it is extremely likely that these young people will have to content themselves with walking and riding in the near future. The Kaiser, it is said, has been converted by the anticyclists to the preposterous theory that bicycling is unhealthy, and all that relates in any way to the health is of extreme importance to His Majesty. A charming photograph accompanying this article shows the Ladies Duff mounted on their tricycles. They are very independent children, and are allowed to ride long distances without any escort.

duff cyclists royal children

The nurseries at Osborne are large rooms, comfortably and simply furnished; their outlook is across the Solent, and splendid views of the beautiful Osborne gardens are obtained. The papering is white, with large bouquets of rosebuds; the floor is carpeted all over; a paper scrap screen stands on one side of the fireplace. Flowered chintz is the covering of the chairs; skin horses, cows, bears, a pump—that joy of every child’s heart—and a few mechanical toys placed out of reach of little fingers, for these are always displayed by the nurses, as they are much used and well-beloved.

We must not omit to mention another Royal playroom, namely, the private sitting-room of Her Majesty the Queen; for here, early in the morning, before State papers have to be looked at, or at that cosy hour of dusk, which is essentially the children’s hour, the floor of the Queen’s sitting-room is often littered with toy dolls, picture-books, and treasured headless pets; for Her Majesty loves to hear the echo of pattering feet and the sound of children’s voices in laughter and play.

Alexander of Battenberg and his toy wheelbarrow

Alexander of Battenberg and his toy wheelbarrow

Perhaps of all the branches of the English Royal Family, the Battenberg is the most unassuming in tis manners, and the simplest in its way of living. The children of very many commoners’ families are brought up with infinitely more state than the Battenbergs, and in luxury that would open the eyes of these princes and princesses. Rare and valuable toys were never seen in the Battenberg nursery; the children have to content themselves with plain story-books, scrap-books, gardening utensils, cheap dolls, and such toys as all of us played with when we were young.

The favourite toys of the little Queen of Holland were always the dainty gardening implements with which she worked for an hour every day when at Het Loo, her simple home near the Hague. The love of things horticultural is almost a natural instinct with the Dutch, the nation of gardeners, and the tiny beds in the piece of ground set apart as the miniature real garden were raked, hoed, and planted by little Queen Wilhelmina herself, unassisted except in the  heavier work of digging

Military toys and military drill have always been the light of the little King of Spain. When he was seven years old the Royal corps was recruited with the sons of the Duke of Sotomayor, the Countess of Sartago, and the son of General Aquitte de Tejada. A special uniform was made, similar to that of the Infantry Cadets, and the joy of the boys when first this real play soldiering was commenced can be imagined. The drilling was, of course, done in strict privacy, at the royal estate of the Casa de Campo, about ten minutes’ walk from the Palace, The drilling, which was directed by one of the military tutors of Alfonzo XIII., was correct in every detail, and the lessons acquired unconsciously in play will stand the lads in good stead later on.

Julie of Battenberg and her toy horse.

Julie of Battenberg and her toy horse.

The Duchess of Albany has always had the strictest ideas with regard to toys for her children, and has specially directed their minds towards the animal world in choosing their playthings and playfellows. Christmas was a busy time at Claremont, as doubtless it will be in their new home. The pleasure in the toys given away to the children on the estate was always much enhanced by the fact that they were presented by the Duchess of Albany or by the young Duke. Strange to say, the latter’s sister takes more pleasure in her pony than she ever did in her dolls.

A very amusing photograph is that of Prince Arthur of Connaught, in the toy uniform of a grenadier. It was thus he appeared at Princess Beatrice’s wedding. The solemn, almost stern, expression on his fat little face is delightful. He fully appreciates the dignity his uniform imparts.

Prince Arthur of Connaut in toy uniform

In the last photograph illustrating this article little Prince Edward of York is to be seen holding the donkey quiet while the photographer takes an impression of the little toy chaise and its occupants. The photograph gives one the idea that Prince Edward is in charge. It goes without saying, however, that there is invariably a groom in attendance, as in the photograph that heads this article: Donkeys occasionally lose their tempers, and then even so puissant an individual as our future Sovereign might find it beyond his power to keep them from doing mischief.

york and fife children

The Royal Magazine, Volume 4, 1900

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has written several times on royal babies and their royal or imperial Mamas, as in this post on royal cradles, and this one on an amusing, if imaginary, nursery contretemps by Prince Albert. She has also told tales of some spoilt royal children, including the Kaiser’s eldest son, who had a complete collection of child-sized Prussian military uniforms bestowed by his doting parent, who so enjoyed the Rape of Belgium.

The dolls beloved of Queen Victoria still exist in the Royal Collection, but are not usually displayed since they are rather fragile. At least one is exhibited at the Museum of London. Here is an historic look at the dolls and here is an article with many excellent illustrations.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



How Hats are Sold in America and in Paris: 1909, 1922

A contrasting look at how hats are sold in the States and in Paris.

Hat by Joseph G. Darlington of Philadelphia, c. 1908|161

Hat by Joseph G. Darlington of Philadelphia, c. 1908|161

Art in Selling Hats.

“It makes you look small,” says the saleslady to the big woman who is trying on the hat. Sold.

“It makes you look plump,” she says to the slender woman. Sold.

“It makes you look young,” she says to the obviously middle-aged woman. Sold.

“It makes you look tall,” she says to the short woman. Sold.

“It makes you look short,” she says to the tall woman. Sold.

“It brightens your face,” she says to the dark woman. Sold.

“It brings out your color,” she says to the pale woman. Sold.

And all the hats were alike.

Woodbury [NJ] Daily Times 14 August 1909: p. 2

By Lanvin, c. 1920 ttp://|53

By Lanvin, c. 1920 ttp://|53

Buying a Hat In Paris

Paris, Dec. 2.

Buying a hat, for a French woman, is a very serious business, not lightly undertaken, but with consideration and great deliberation.

She takes stock of her wardrobe, for the hat must not alone suit her head, but it must suit her clothes. Madame does not buy one hat today and another one tomorrow. The best type of Frenchwoman has her hat fitted to her head, just as one has a coat fitted to the figure.

In other words, it is made for her, the shape is cut for her, it has to suit her face, her figure, her style.

A Frenchwoman is never satisfied with the front view, the profile is of the utmost importance to her, and also the back.

The French milliner is a real artist, not merely a saleswoman. She spends endless time shaping a brim. One side perhaps is charming—a la bonne bonheure; the other side has got to be made charming too, and the clever milliner will not be satisfied until it is made so. That is the origin of the high-priced French hat—it takes time and infinite labor.

The Frenchwoman, above all, wants her hat to be comfortable. Her hat is returned to the milliner time and time again until it is comfortable, and until the line is absolutely correct for nose, chin and shoulders.

Men say no one in the world can put on a hat or wear a hat like a Frenchwoman. But they little know the time, thought, care, and fittings that are expended in making the Frenchwoman’s hat. Even women of small means have their hats made. Some there are, of course, who buy a ready-made hat, but that hat will be pulled to pieces, changed, and more or less remade before Madame wears it. That is the secret of the Frenchwoman’s hat.

Trenton [NJ] Evening Times 3 December 1922: p. 10

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: This is the week-end of the Kentucky Derby, an American horse-racing contest known perhaps more widely for its liquid refreshments and, of course, for its hats, which, Mrs Daffodil must admit, begin to rival those worn at Cheltenham and Royal Ascot in their size and garishness. Mrs Daffodil (who had her fill of caps while working, early in her career, as various species of maid) has a wardrobe of only two hats, neither suitable for the race-track, but useful for days out and more formal events such as coroner’s inquests.

Mrs Daffodil has previously written of a strange way of collecting feathers for millinery, Parisian styles of hats for horses, a hoodoo hat, and a ghost who ordered a hat.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Encore: Embalming as a Fine Art Conspicuously Absent from The Great Exhibition: 1851

Queen Victoria opening the Great Exhibition, Louis Haghe

Queen Victoria opening the Great Exhibition, Louis Haghe

It was on this day in 1851 that Her Majesty Queen Victoria opened the Great Exhibition. Here is an encore post relating some of the delicate decisions taken and difficulties surmounted by the selection committee.


By Frederick Owen

The talk about the exhibition at Wembley, England, turns one’s mind to some of the big shows of the past, especially to that of 1851, which was held in Hyde Park, London, and to humourous recollection of a man who was at that time quite young, and served as secretary to the selection committee. He it was who, in faultless handwriting, “returned with thanks.” They were courteous little letters of course and showed no trace of the chuckles with which they were often punctuated.

   In his power to see the funny side of his job, he was quite alone. The hardworked committee unfortunately finding nothing to smile at in the thousand and one things sent by an enthusiastic public. They had entered upon their task with the consciousness that the exhibition was to be a vast educational force, and wore the proper looks of profundity in their faces. Unfortunately, the public had got the wrong idea. They thought an exhibition was a sort of magnified museum, and sent curiosities in van loads. The natural history specimens in themselves would have overcrowded an ordinary museum.

   There were stuffed dogs which had been born with eight legs, cats with four ears, calves with three heads, as well as the “gorilla shot by the uncle.”

A Thing of Terror.

The unusually monotonous task of unpacking parcels became in this instance a thing almost of terror. The removal of a sheet of paper might leave a hapless workman exposed to the glare of a four-eyed owl or a cat that “had killed fourteen shoats.”

   A stuffed tabby with tiger teeth, damaged ears, and fierce glass eyes to match bore the label, “A cat which killed 3,475 rats, ten shoats and would fetch a rabbit at any time.”

   The lady who received it back with “the committee’s regrets…many thanks,” was amazed that it should be refused by any educational agency.

   The committee was incurably serious. It failed to smile even over the little affair of the box of brown dust that came through the mail. It was the chairman himself who dealt with the innocent package and who stirred up the powder with his forefinger. Could it be snuff? He rather rashly sampled it. No, it had no odor. Another dip of the finger and a card was revealed.

   The burned remains of a large dog, which weighted quite 100 pounds and was reduced to six ounces of dust in three hours by W____’s cremating apparatus. No smell and only six pounds of charcoal required.

Remarks Omitted.

   The frenzied used of a pocket handkerchief and some remarks which would not look well in print closed the incident. No one dared to mention cremation again to the chairman. Thus early did the fog of prejudice gather and put intelligent selection out of the bounds of hope.

   It was hardly to be expected that embalming would be viewed imaginatively. The right atmosphere had not generated by the time the first sample came in. A zealous American called and unpacked his own parcel. It contained the body of Julia Pastrana. Julia had been exhibited for years as a half baboon and half woman. Now that she was dead she was obviously more valuable, because she was embalmed and was a fine example of this rare art. All her guileless owner asked was that she should be fixed up as a side show at so much a peep of which he was to receive half. He expected to receive a great welcome, not, perhaps, because of Julia’s beauty, but because she was the best embalmed thing outside of Egypt.

   If Julia was regarded as noneducational and noninteresting, not much was to be expected when it came to imperishable coffins. The earnest gentleman who had invented the coffin brought half a dozen as samples, and as they lay in the receiving room—delivered before breakfast—it looked as though one each had been provided for the committee. The chairman arrived first, tapped one of them with the toe of his boot and walked solemnly away. The clerk needed no other instruction. He wrote: “The committee regrets…with many thanks.”

Lids Not Even Removed.

   The would-be exhibitor almost broke into tears on discovering that the committee had not even removed the lids of his caskets. Inside two of his “indestructibles” he had placed two “indestructible corpses,” embalmed “by his own infallible methods, which were intended to prove convincingly to an intelligent public,” etc. But the “intelligent public” got no chance. This dim-eyed committee was supreme, and there was no appeal. The exhibition opened without a single corpse on view. Undertakers who paid to go in must surely have been found at the turnstiles demanding their money back. Embalming as a fine art was scotched for a generation.

   Another exhibit that might have advanced the study of embalming was an example of the art as practiced by one of the Indian tribes. The body was drawn up into a bundle and the dark face grinned over a pair of bony knees. As the corpse was shriveled by the application of hot sand it made a compact and handy bundle, and when trussed up and bound, occupied but little room. Indeed, it need have taken up no real space, for it was provided with a hook and rope, by which it could be slung from the roof. In the dim light and to unsuspecting visitors…but it did not come to that. The owner swallowed his disappointment and tried again at the exhibition of 1861, when after a second turn-down, he sold his treasure to a traveling menagerie.               

Did nobody get the bright idea of buying up the rejected stuff and running a rival show? It was fortunate for the committee that Barnum was young and his genius undeveloped.

   It is understood that Wembley has learned all there is to learn from the past and that nobody has been disappointed this time. But the selection committee may have had its worried moments all the same.

Indianapolis [IN] Star 8 June 1924: p. 53

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The Hyde Park exhibition was, of course, The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, opened by Her Majesty Queen Victoria in 1851. Wembley was the British Empire Exhibition held in 1924 and opened by His Majesty King George.  Queen Mary’s dolls house was on exhibit at Wembley and Mrs Daffodil remembers taking one or two hints on household arrangement from that admirably laid-out manor house in miniature.  You may see several reels of motion pictures from Wembley at British Pathe.  The corpse of the unfortunate Julia Pastrana was only recently given a proper burial.  The press maligns the poor creature when they call her “The Ugliest Woman in the World.” She had a very neat figure and was of an amiable and confiding disposition.

Cremation was quite outré at the time of the Great Exhibition, but there was a movement among the burial reformers to encourage it; hence the “cremating apparatus.”

For more on embalming, corpses, and cremation, see  The Victorian Book of the Dead, by Chris Woodyard, which can be purchased at Amazon and other online retailers. (Or ask your local bookstore or library to order it.) It is also available in a Kindle edition. For fresh daily posts on Victorian mourning and death, see The Victorian Book of the Dead Facebook page.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



Three Baths a Day to be Really Beautiful: 1896, 1910

A naughty French postcard showing a bathing beauty. From the Victoria & Albert Museum's collections.

A naughty French postcard showing a bathing beauty. From the Victoria & Albert Museum’s collections.

A few weeks ago an eminent physician–all physicians who write books are eminent —published a work that was mainly devoted to the extravagances of washing. Other physicians, equally eminent, tell us to take cold baths and plenty of them, not cold baths but hot baths, no baths at all, but a rub-down with wet towels. If we were to suggest that none of these wiseacres knows what he is talking about we should be placed in the seat of the scornful and accused of deriding the “marvelous advance of medical science,” so we may as well admit that all of them are right, including the first mentioned, who tells us bluntly that we wash a great deal too much and that we should be healthier and happier if we left the skin to clean itself, and this, we are assured, it will be very pleased to do.

And now comes another doctor who writes specially for women, and he tells his fair adherents that they should have three baths a day if they wish to be really beautiful. There must be a cold bath in the morning, a tepid one later in the day, and a “‘beauty bath” last of all. There is no need to bewilder ourselves with the composition of these baths. There are all the usual ingredients of alcohol, milk, oatmeal, rosemary, lavender, verbena, lemons and alder flowers. The combined forces of the grocer, the dairyman, and the druggist can fill the prescription and we are promised the usual results of a satin skin and a seraphic complexion.

We have read all this jargon before and have often wondered how the country miss who works on a ranch and whose complexion is admittedly unrivaled can spare the time from her many duties to compound all these baths and washes, as she evidently must do. But this particular doctor has something novel to suggest. Evidently he has been dabbling in mental medicine by way of being up to date, and so he tells the bath devotee that all her efforts will be of no avail unless all worries are excluded with the shutting of the bath-room door. Let there be a combination of imagination and water, visualization and soap. “Call up,” he tells us, “the beauties of Rembrandt and the shadings of Greuze,” and as the perfumed and medicated waters pass gently over the skin let the mind be filled with exquisite visions and gracious ideals. The results, we are assured, “will be at once apparent.”

In the course of a single chapter no less than thirty-eight ingredients of the bath are recommended, and if we count Rembrandt and Greuze there are forty. The idea is one that ought to be developed. Why not have a list of the sublime thoughts that may be advantageously combined respectively with the milk, the alcohol, the rosemary, and the oatmeal, such as alcohol and Turner, Burne-Jones and oatmeal, and so on ? Otherwise we may stumble upon natural antipathies that will do us more harm than good.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 8 January 1910

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Given these alarmingly exacting requirements for beauty, Mrs Daffodil wonders how the prettier parlour-maids have kept up their looks merely with a basin and jug and a weekly bath? Even ladies of leisure would surely undo any beneficient effects of bathing by the sheer quantity of their immersions, inevitably leading to the usual wrinkling of the fingertips, multiplied over the entire submersed epidermis in a very aging fashion.

And then there are the heavy attendant expenses:

Since Anna Held, the professional beauty, was sued by a New York dairyman for the cost of some three hundred quarts of milk she had ordered for bathing purposes, New York society has become convinced that the milk bath is a great beautifier, and now a philanthropist has come forward with a plan to establish a place where this luxury can be obtained by whomsoever has the price to play for it. He is a wealthy man, and is going to realize his plan on an elaborate scale. On the first floor of the building he has secured on Thirty-fourth street, the apartments for gentleman will be located. Just off form the entrance will be a smoking room, back of it will be a cafe, and in the extreme rear will be the baths. The two floors above will be devoted to ladies. The bath apartment will consist of two rooms. The rub alcove will be tiled and walled with the marble. Adjoining will be a cosy little sleeping room with luxurious divans, mirrors, and all the accessories of milady’s toilet. The ladies will also have their smoking room, where they can sit swathed in sheets and puff away at a fragrant Oriental cigarette. The luxury, however, will be only for the rich. The tubs will hold about seventy quarts of milk, and at the current price this item alone foots up to three dollars and fifty cents. Then there will be other incidentals which will run the bill up to very near the ten-dollar mark. For those who desire to spend even more money on this sybaritic luxury, the proprietor propose to construct on the second and third floors two large pools, with a capacity sufficient to permit swimming and floating. These tanks will be rented out to parties who series to give a social function in milk. Denver [CO] Post 26 November 1896: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil has also written about the taxing lives of society beauties here.

Apparently such things still go on to-day, as in this story of a British “playboy” who indulges his sweetheart in melted milk-chocolate baths.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


Theatrical Animals: 1890, 1904

Papier-mache animal heads in the theatrical workshop.

Papier-mache animal heads in the theatrical workshop.


How Ideas of Actors are Worked out by Men Who Use Papier Mache and Wires with Skill

With the increase of popular interest in musical extravaganzas on the stage an art unusual and almost uncanny has sprung into being. With costumers and decorators the stage folk have long collaborated, but with the artisans who now, with a few wires, some papier mache, much skill and more patience, convert a good looking actor, as actors go, into either a laughable parody of some well-known domestic animal or some beast truly hideous and repulsive the stage is yet not well acquainted.

“But they’ve got to have us; they can’t get along without us,” commented one of the foremost in this particular line of art the other day. And there was more truth than fiction in the remark. When shows such, for instance, the “Babes in Toyland,” now at the Majestic Theatre, come upon the stage, these men who work the seemingly impossible in wire and papier mache are almost as essential to success as the audiences themselves.

Probably not one in ten of those who have seen the “big black spider sit down beside her and drive Miss Muffet away” at the Majestic has sympathized with the spider, or even given a rap how he came to be a spider, anyway. Those overgrown frogs with their awkward hops have a wonderfully lifelike appearance, but they owe it all to the artist in wire and papier mache.

Persons witnessing a performance in which several of these extraordinary creations are produced together cannot realize the amount of study and work required to make each move as smoothly and naturally as it does.

“There’s an awful amount of detail in this work<” said an artist in an uptown shop the other afternoon, as he rested for a moment in his endeavors to make a huge donkey head as lifelike in every particular as possible. “That’s right,” agreed his assistant, as he straightened his back and shifted the close-fitting head he had been wearing while his chief adjusted it.

“Now, take this head for instance. It’s to be worn by—by—who’s this—why, that Jack in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’—you know who I mean.”

“Well, now, look here. See those strings?” and he pointed to two rows of thin, but very strong cord hanging at either side of the donkey’s neck.

“Now, watch them,” and he pulled first one and then another, until all of the twelve had been pulled. As each was worked the papier mache donkey did the unexpected. His lips rolled back in a broad grin, his mouth flew open in a hearty, “ha! Ha!” his ears turned in every conceivable position and entirely independent of each other, his eyelids blinked naturally, and he made “goo-goo” eyes, in response to the twitching of another string in a manner to excite the envy of the author of that art.

“Now, that was no fool of a job,” explained the chief, as he relieved his assistant of the cumbersome headgear, “to work out hat thing. Of course, this isn’t dressed up yet. This is just the foundation; just wire and papier mache. This has to be coated with hair and painted up to make it look natural.

“Took a whole lot of figuring to get that thing right. You see, the actor gets an idea; he comes to us and outlines what he wants. We get together on it. Of course, the actor generally has big ideas about what can be done. We know, however, and just do the best we can.

“Yes, it is pretty expensive work. For instance, that head there we’ve just been looking over is worth, roughly, about $50. These others,” and he pointed to the array of apes’ faces, lions, tigers, elephants, and other animals grinning down from the rafters and from nearly every side, “are also very expensive things, some of them costing more than this head and some of them less.

“Just before the theatrical season opens is our busy time. Then they come in on us with a flood of new ideas, and they are always in a great hurry for us to work them out.”

To many of the actors taking animal or kindred parts on the stage much credit is due for the ingenuity they display in devising and carrying out their parts. One of the most striking illustrations of the amount of study that can be put into such a part is afforded by the spider in the “Babes in Toyland.” Off the stage the spider is Robert Burns—“Bobbie” Burns his friends call him when in poetical mood. Unlike the poet, however, this Mr. Burns is an athlete. When Julian Mitchell conceived the idea of having a giant tarantula gyrating about the stage during the scene laid in the spider’s forest, Mr. Burns was called upon. His costume as first designed was two legs short, according to the fashions prevailing in the best tarantula society. Mr. Burns proved this by purchasing a tarantula brought from California. This tarantula he kept in a bottle in his room. To perfect his imitation of the insect’s movements he studied its motions closely. His imitation of the slow, hesitating movement of the insect is now said to be as near perfect as it is possible to get.Theoretically, the imitation of a huge spider is easy; in actual practice it is not so easy.

“It is a hard strain on a man’s arms and legs,” says Mr. Burns, “to move about supporting the weight of the body upon them, spread out as they must be to imitate the legs of a spider.”

While acting his part Mr. Burns wears a tight-fitting jersey suit, colored and posted to imitate the body of a spider. About his waist is strapped what may be styled an elongated bustle. This is colored and spotted to represent part of a spider’s body. Fastened to the sides of his suit are three long, padded legs or claws. These rest upon the floor as he crawls about upon his hands and feet and give him the appearance of a huge spider, having five legs on either side of the body. All of the legs on each side are made to move in union by means of rubber bands passing from the actor’s hands over and around the artificial legs back to his own legs. To the neck of the suit is fastened a hood, shaped and painted to imitate the head of a big spider, while a face mask of mosquito netting does away with the necessity for making up. In the dull green light which follows him about the stage, Mr. Burns looks extremely spiderlike, and the tropical growth of scenery overhanging the stage makes the little ones in the audience tremble in ecstasy of mingled fear and delight. A cross piece of tough wood, on which are fastened cleats two feet apart, furnishes the grasp needed by the athletic spider to suspend his weight aloft.

Hardly less interesting than the big spider are the ten frogs figuring in the show. When the curtain is up and the performance on, they are ten of the most sedate frogs to be encountered anywhere in New York City. When the curtain is down, however, they are just mischievous boys, glad of a chance to frolic after sitting froglike inside big papier mache cases, made in the shape of and painted to imitate a frog’s body. They wear tight-fitting jerseys, colored like a frog’s legs, and on their hands and feet are big webbed frog feet.

spider and frogs on stage

No self-respecting frog would act as these frogs at the majestic act at times. Their respect of the huge spider vanishes with the fall of the drop curtain, and they like nothing better than b out with him. It is a funny spectacle which is presented when three or four of the frogs, with their slim little legs, great green bodies and tea saucer  eyes, run about standing erect and pummeling the spider, with their webbed front feet in an extremely unfroglike manner. The spider, his head covering thrown back, his artificial legs flip-flopping back and forth, and his body bustle bobbing up and down in a laughable manner, is a sight to throw any well-ordered spider community into hysterics. Should a naturalist come along just at the moment one frog is hanging around the spider’s neck, another tangled up in his artificial legs and still another belaboring the bustle part of his anatomy, he might well be pardoned for thinking himself the victim of some terrible nightmare. Occasionally the big bear “butts in,” and then the whole order of natural history is indeed upset. The limit is reached when the bear or the spider “treats,” and the frogs are obliged to devised ways and means of getting chocolate drops safely through their yawning frog maws into their own personal mouths.

But though it may have some pleasant features, the task of those actors taking animal or insect parts on the stage is by no means easy.

“It’s no cinch,” admits the spider, as he sheds his belegged and padded suit.

“The song and dance for mine,” chimes in a precocious youth, as he wriggles clear of one of the big frog body cases.

While the comment of children in the audience is: “My, but wasn’t it fine!”

New York Daily Tribune 6 March 1904: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil understands that there was an American comic, one W.C. Fields, who declared that he would not work with children or animals. A sensible fellow! Leaving aside the question of finding, let alone training, a giant spider and life-sized frogs, animals, delightful though they may be in the wild at a shooting party, or on a silken cushion in the boudoir, pose certain difficulties on the stage. Mrs Daffodils offers a single, telling anecdote:

Someone connected with “The Soudan,” the English romantic drama which has already surpassed every theatrical record in Boston, thought that a live lion led on the stage among three other beasts of prey which are rolled on in cages in the wake of the British regiments, representing the return from the Soudan engagements, would be a strikingly effective addition to the play’s realistic features. It was soon discovered, however, that no lion could be found humble enough to submit to such an indignity. A way out of the dilemma quickly suggested itself and was quickly adopted. A big St. Bernard dog attached to the theater was pressed into service and a commission given to a celebrated taxidermist of the Hub to costume the dog in all the ferocity of a huge jawed lion .The taxidermist’s work was a masterpiece. When the St. Bernard issued from his dressing room preparatory to making his entrance on the stage he resembled a perfect specimen of the dread beast of the jungle. Nature was perfectly counterfeited. Everyone interested in the work fairly reveled in satisfaction at the great result. The play progressed and the time for the triumphal procession arrived. The procession started. The time came for the entrance of the unfettered lion. Success was sure. The lion started. Two steps more and he would be in full view of the audience—when lo, the bottom dropped completely out of the chimera. The fierce, fiery jawed king of the desert suddenly and altogether unexpectedly revealed a cruel flaw in his armor—he barked.  Plain Dealer [Cleveland, OH] 28 December 1890: p. 10

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The “lionne pauvre:” Domestic Tragedy on the Mall: 1892


A handsome woman sits in her carriage. She stops her coachman at the point where the Mall debouches into the regular drive, and there a friend accosts her. We may whisper that the lady who kindly sat as a model to our artist is Mrs. Frank W. Sanger, the manager’s wife. She chats gaily of books, and pictures, and plays, and fashions, and the races, and all the topics of a pretty woman’s talk.

The carriages flow by her as she chats. Where in the world could so miscellaneous a throng be seen? There are the old families in their staid vehicles; the newly rich in their sumptuous equipages; the people who merely drive to keep up appearances; the breeder of trotting horses; the riding-school master and his class, who are crossing from the bridle-path; the saloon-keeper and his “lady, ‘ attired in all the colors of the rainbow; the spendthrift driving tandem; the young clubman in his dog-cart; the floor-walker and the object of his affections. Who is not there that can hire, buy, or beg a carriage?

And the type of the Mall?

One would say that the dominant element in the drive was what the French call the “lionne pauvre.” The whole thing is essentially a woman’s show, and the most noticeable of the women who take part in it is the wife of the poor man, bent on making a brave show with the rich. She has been bred in luxury, and cannot give it up. She dares not say to her old companions: “My husband is poor,” or, “My husband is ruined”; and add, “We are going to give up our carriage, and live at Harlem.” Feminine vanity, the wretched competitions of “society,” impel her to keep up the fight. She has to appear in her carriage on the Mall, and bow recognitions right and left, though the butcher be clamoring with his bill at home, and the baker be threatening proceedings at law.

How many of these rich equipages have rich people for their occupants? How many are there, not to see, but to be seen?

Young Mrs. lmpecune is always in the throng. She wears the prettiest hats, the most dashing costumes. Her turn-out is faultless. The roadside reporters note her as she passes, and print her name conspicuously next morning in the papers.

Her husband never appears. That is the mark of the “lionnes pauvres.” You never see their husbands.

But one afternoon, when the wife is driving in the park, a friend calls on lmpecune at home, and says: “My boy, how do you manage to keep a carriage and pair?”

“Oh,” says lmpecune, carelessly, “my wife does it by saving in other directions.”

“But,” urges the obtrusive friend—who does not know the obtrusive friend? —”your wife has enormous bills at the dress-maker’s and milliner‘s.”

“They are all paid,” replies the husband, getting a little restive.

“Not by you,” blurts out this foolish visitor.

The husband considers the advisability of strangling his friend. He hesitates, and, hesitating, is lost. He goes to the milliner, the dress-maker, the carriage-maker. He finds that his wife’s bills are all sent to young Lawless, whose name is never linked with that of a woman without contaminating her; and it is not long before the lmpecunes appear in the divorce court.

Innumerable are the domestic tragedies of the Mall.

The Illustrated American 13 August 1892: p. 601-3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Lionne pauvres!  This tragedy could have been avoided had Mrs Impecune made a more prudent marriage with a weathier, more indulgent gentleman—one who would have been hard at work at the office or on a business trip abroad when that obtrusive friend came to call. One who would not have expected his wife to economise in any direction whatever. And one who would have laughed at the suggestion that he was not the one paying his pretty wife’s bills (in addition to bills for one or more other adorable creatures.)

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


Love and Dentistry: The Editor’s Lament: 1896


Floral Poetry and the Language of Flowers, 1877

Floral Poetry and the Language of Flowers, 1877


Perhaps it is a waste of time to go on threshing the same old straw, and trying to point out, even negatively, the A B C of the trade of letters. Such counsels reach many who might do without them; but those whom unregenerate nature prompts to write on both sides of the paper and roll their manuscripts will go on as before. Not that they are above receiving instruction—they desire it, and “all there is” of it; but they have no idea what or how much they want. They think they can acquire the art in two lessons, and become professional writers at good rates after a week’s practice. Here are two examples, which should be given verbatim et literatim:

“Messrs, I would like to become a contributor to your magazine. I write you asking “What kind of short stories or serials you except?

“What rules authors must comply with to have you except their MSS ?”

This deserves an explicit answer. “Authors” must learn to spell: after mastering the difficulties of orthography, they should spend five years—in some cases ten or even twenty—in reading, meditation, and converse with the world, before attempting to write for publication.

“Will you put these few lines in your magazine. It would please me very much to see them in print.”

(No doubt; but would it please other people? That is the question.)

“I am writing a book. When I have finished it, what must I do about it; that is, if you take it, what will you allow me on each book, that is, if the said book be worth a dollar each.”

It wouldn’t, you see: it would probably be dear at three cents.

We have here two distinct delusions, both wide-spread. One is that anybody, with or without brains, education, knowledge, or special preparation, can take up the writer’s trade; the other, that any editor or literary person can with a few strokes of his pen supply all necessary information and remove obstacles from the aspirant’s path.

Some of them begin young, as may be seen by this, enclosing “a few verses” :

“I am in the senior year in Blank University, seventeen years old, and editor of the college magazine. Of course this is the usual thing, college poetry. At the request of admiring friends and relatives I send a recent effusion.”

You have done very well to be at seventeen what you say you are. But don’t you know that between that and enlightening a larger audience there is a long step, or rather many steps? In all literature, very few things of the least value have been done at seventeen. Your admiring friends, as usual, are bad advisers. They should have told you to get your Bible and Concordance and look up the text about tarrying at Jericho.

Here is another such, with the added plea of poverty:

“I venture to send you my first attempt at writing for publication. I am anxious to help myself, as my father is a clergyman on a small salary and I am in my last year in college.”

Get papers to copy for a lawyer, or reporting for your local paper. Your circumstances and desires, while they might help you to find work about home, add nothing to the value of your literary efforts; and a “first attempt” can hardly by any possibility have any value.

“I hope you will give the story the most favorable hearing possible, for I am a poor woman, and can ill afford to lose the time I have put into it.”

Say that to those who advised you to this attempt: we didn’t. In all probability you might better have put your time into plain sewing, or preserving, or any form of useful labor.

Here is a case of another sort, and out of the common:

Please deal justly with me, as I have only a short time to live, and a great many stories to write.”

Why should you have a great many stories to write? Who expects it of you? Who imposes such a duty on you? Not the public, surely: the public gets more stories than it has time to read.

“I have a long poem, three thousand words, that I would like to submit to you for approval.”

Nobody wants poems of that length, or near it: nobody would read them if we were to print them. This is a cold, mechanical, materialistic age; “poetry is a drug,” and drugs are least objectionable in small doses.

There are many people who mistake an editorial office for a bureau of revision. One of these wants “a specific criticism, rather than the inevitable printed slip so discouraging to would-be writers.” If editors had single manuscripts to deal with, rather than scores and hundreds; if they and their publishers were philanthropists, with no living to make; if it didn’t matter whether the day’s work were finished with the day, or left over to week after next; then it might be possible to meet these demands. But, even then, an altruist of any prudence could hardly gratify this correspondent:

“If the accompanying manuscript is not wanted for publication, please mark with a cross in the list below, to indicate in which grade you honestly consider it belongs.





This is not an exhaustive classification by any means, and the criticism thus conveyed would be of small value. But imagine the writer’s wrath at getting back his (or her) commumcation marked “poor” or “middling”! An editor makes enemies enough by simply returning MSS. which the writers feel to be much better than most that he prints: why should he go out of his way to add insult (as it would be considered in many cases) to injury?

“I have convinced myself that there is some merit in the enclosed short story, otherwise I would not trouble you to examine it. If unavailable, I should esteem it most highly, in returning MS., if you would spare me a word saying whether or not you found the story entirely wanting in merit.”

These two sentences don’t seem to fit together. If you have formed a definite and positive opinion on a given subject, why ask for another fellow’s, unless to prove (what you may have already suspected) that he is an ass? It is a free country: nobody denies your right to believe, if you like, that your work is admirable, that you are an unappreciated genius, and that those who think otherwise are soulless numskulls. An editor, if he understands his business, does not pretend that his judgment of a MS. is final and infallible. It may contain beauties that escape his hasty glance: some one else may like it, if he does not. He has no desire whatever to offer an opinion on its merits or demerits: his concern is simply to determine whether he wants to use it or not. If he doesn’t, you can’t force him to buy it: it is a free country for him too, thus far at least. Yet many try to encroach on this moderate constitutional liberty of his. He is naturally a weak-minded person, they think: it takes so little brains to run a magazine—we could do it so much better! Conscious of his deficiencies, he will be open to influence, and grateful for guidance, even from an interested party. What else is the meaning of notes like this?

“I send you an original sonnet. My sister, whose literary taste is excellent, considers the lines possessed of unusual merit. I trust you also may regard them in the same favorable light.”

That is, you guarantee your sister’s judgment, and she stands sponsor for your verses. Such is the domestic point of view: here is that of the office. If your sister were conducting a publication and you offered the sonnet to her, her opinion would be important: otherwise it is irrelevant.

“What is the matter with the second stanza of enclosed? About up to some of Poe’s weird conceits, don’t you think?”

Suppose Poe’s ghost were to claim it, and bring action. Resemblance to a great author’s work is dangerous.

“Whether or not this proves available, I am sure you will grant that the plot is an original one.”

Original plots are rarer birds than you perhaps think. If you made the hero boil and eat his grandmother, that would seem to be an original situation, yet it might prove to have been conceived and delineated in all its awful details long ago. The novelists of all civilized lands have been racking their brains for plots for three generations now, and their name is legion. You never can tell, unless you have read all their books, what the French and Russians and Italians may have been up to, not to speak of romancers nearer home. Besides, a plot may be original, and yet too gruesome, painful, or horrifying; it may also (and easily) be too improbable. Originality is not the only requisite of a good story, long or short.

“I presume you are right as to the inharmonious blending of Love and Dentistry; but we have had the plots of love-stories laid on everything, from  ‘the soft divans in the shadowy recesses of the conservatory’ to ‘the cruel crest of the waves’ during shipwreck, and I hoped I might introduce a unique field for the little god.”

You did. It was unique, as far as we know; but, as you admit, the elements were incongruous; and it is not only in the older theology that “the grace of congruity” is important.

“As my stories are not in simple language, true to Nature, but figurative word-paintings, I fear they will not please you. Therefore I send you only one short sketch, so as not to take much of your time for the examination, yet give you an idea of my style of work.”

In one respect this writer’s head is level. Some buildings can be judged as well by a single specimen brick as by a ton of them. Yet he makes a serious admission, or rather two serious admissions. All art is supposed to aim at Nature; if a story, or a discourse, or any literary production, is not “true to Nature,” what is it worth? As to “simple language,” Bret Harte did not disdain to employ it in his most effective poems, nor have poets greater than he.

“Simple language” is the best for ninety-nine occasions out of a hundred; for practical purposes it leaves “ fine writing” far behind. Unless the work of genius or of talent near allied to genius, readers care very little for “figurative word-paintings”; and even genius needs to attempt them sparingly. We do not know any reputable periodical which is above using and preferring “simple language, true to Nature.”

“As most girls do, I have taken a notion that I can write poetry. Whether I can or not will be determined by the fate of the two poems I send you. If accepted, I will know that I can: if rejected, which ye gods forbid, I will give up in despair.”

Don’t you know that no stranger who has brains and a conscience, and uses them, would accept such a responsibility as you try to thrust upon one who never heard of you before—that of determining whether you are to go on writing or not? An editor, thus challenged, has no choice but to send your pieces back. The chance of discouraging a real talent is vastly less than that of inducing a girl to waste in scribbling time which should be better employed. If your verses were accepted, you would “know” that you can write, would you? Not at all: the acceptance might be due to weak soft-heartedness or to blundering ill-judgment. Editors are not gods: it is their business to make their magazines as readable as they can, not to direct the lives and fix the fates of would-be contributors. Most of the “poetry” that gets into print might as well have remained unwritten, for all the fame or fortune it brings its writers, or all the good it does its readers. “If rejected, I wiIl give up in despair.” Don’t you know that a magazine cannot use more than one “poem” out of ten, or twenty, or fifty that are offered? that a piece may come back nineteen times and be accepted at the twentieth place? that writers do not succeed at once, but (as a rule only by keeping on in the practice that tends toward perfection ?

This correspondent represents a numerous class. She is one of the many girls (we trust and believe she exaggerates in saying “most girls”) who think they can write poetry—it would be more modest to call it verse. Now it cannot be that all these girls are real poets, or have it in them to become such. They will find more commonplace destinies as “salesladies” and typewriters and clerks and nurses, and most of them ultimately as wives and mothers; every-day vocations, but much more useful than spoiling good paper to produce bad verses. Among the thousands of them there may be one or two who have real literary talent: if so, it will prove itself in time. But if Jane or Susan or Luella or Willametta wishes to learn whether she is one of these gifted few, she might as well use the old method of opening the Bible at random and expecting an answer from the first verse her eye falls on, as “put it to the touch” on the acceptance or rejection of her first efforts by the first editor she sends them to.

“Why is it that authors are really unable to obtain compensation of any kind for MS., although it is good?”

Are they? You must mean beginners, and that they think “it is good.” Real authors, who do really good work, “obtain compensation,”—though it is not a lucrative trade, except for a few, whose names are well before the public mind and eye.

“Would you please tell me some magazines that do pay contributors for suitable articles? Do magazines in England and other countries pay for MSS.? Is it worth sending them anything, or would the postage make it too expensive? If I wrote you a short novelette, would you publish it for me? What are the terms for publishing novels? I am trying to earn my living by my pen, but find it hard work. Do you know of anything else a girl staying at home could do? Have you anything I could do for you?”

A large and healthy force of philanthropists, working ten hours a day and three hundred and thirteen days in the year, might be able to answer all questions like the above. But what good would it do, unless they were prepared also to administer food to body, mind, and soul, to furnish a market for all these impossible wares, to find work for so many craving pens and fingers—and not only work, but instruction how to do it? The instruction, alas, would in many cases have to be from the ground up, to begin almost with A B C, and to include all known facts and principles connected, however remotely, with the Conduct of Life as well as with the Art of Writing. In Mr. Howells’s Altruria, perhaps, these cases are attended to.

Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, Volume 58, 1896

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The author certainly does not censor his opinions! Alas, editors are still tormented by these sorts of questions and submissions. An authoress of Mrs Daffodil’s acquaintance says that she receives several score of calls a year from people asking some of the very same questions delineated above or for advice on how to get published.  Many of these callers refuse to say what their book is about for fear she will steal their ideas, not realising that she has entirely too many ideas of her own. A goodly proportion are, sadly, poets. While Mrs Daffodil understands the popular appeal of baring one’s soul in rhyming couplets, there is, the authoress assures her, very little money in poetry. One wishes that all of this literary energy could somehow be harnessed to run the cars or industrial boilers.

Mrs Daffodil notes in to-day’s Telegraph, an article stating that, while 60% of persons surveyed thought being an author was their “dream job,” just one in ten  authors makes a full-time living from their writing.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.