An idea on p. 57 of Rebecca Wragg Sykes' absorbing book, Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art, jumped out at me: The smell in the air when stone implements are knapped is like just the smell of the silica-rich powder blanketing the moon. A haiku followed whole, not a syllable needed changing:
Picturing a World
Just as appealing as Miereke Nelissen's animals are her illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—or more precisely for De tovenaar van Oz. Lisabeth Zwerger's version may have influenced Nelissen. Certainly Zwerger made clear that a modern sensibility can work wonders divorced from more traditional variations on W. W. Denslow's first-edition illustrations (see, for example, those of Scott Gustafson and Michael Hague and 25 more).
There's no real point to this post except to crow over the incredibly fancy costumes depicted in a mid-16th C book of coats of arms. No mere abstract designs, Jakob Koebel's pictures bring Renaissance élan to heraldry. As with Matthäus Schwarz's compilation of his own clothing (published as The First book of Fashion), it's a reminder that men's dress have at times been the object of as much display as any woman's clothing. I'm not sure how to use these images for either historical or fantasy fiction, but it sure was fun flipping through them. (The site is in German, and I haven't mastered it, but you can see thumbnails five at a time as here).
Blog post alert: My interest in gardening history keeps me on the lookout for humble gardens, flower boxes, and pots grown in windows. In this image, other writers might take note of the laundry, the broken window panes, the proximity of the ramshackle building to the wall. And this is just a detail! For the full image and many more, see John Thomas Smith's Antient Topography at the ever rich Spitalfields Life.
Poetry for public occasions is awfully hard to write without becoming too obvious or downright maudlin. Congratulations to Simon Armitage for hitting exactly the right note in his tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh: The Patriarchs: An Elegy. You can hear him read it if you scroll down through this coverage of the funeral at the BBC.
I keep an eye out for images of medieval scribes and artists. This one from Pierre Sala's emblematic Livre d'amour jumped out at me because the artist is painting a jester—yea! Oh, and wait a minute, look!—the jester is painting a portrait of the artist.
The British Library labels the artist and jester, wise man and fool; and the Livre d'amour certainly contains emblems. Could this one suggest that any persona we project is also a parody of ourselves? I can imagine having a writer or actor in a story pin it up as a reminder of that lesson.
Well, I've sent the manuscript of my fantasy novel to four writer friends. I expect encouragement (after all, they are my friends). What I hope for are probing questions, comments, and criticisms to guide me toward strengthening the story.
Of course, it's asking a big favor to request someone to read the manuscript for a whole novel, especially a first draft. Sometimes we're reluctant to make such a demand even for a shorter piece, especially since work never seems to live up to the excitement of first inspiration. That's where writing buddies come in: we read each other's work because we know that putting it out there is a necessary part of living in the arts. It's important to friendship, moreover, to keep up with what matters most to people dear to us. That's one reason I love this picture by Catherine Chaloux.
Inez Mulholland's spectacular appearance at the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., might seem merely a brilliant stroke of theatricality, but there really was a connection between saddles and suffragism. In 1910–1911, Nan Aspinwall rode coast to coast astride to show that women could (as they should: side saddles are more dangerous). Alberta Clare also rode coast to coast and made the connection to voting rights explicit. You can read more about them in an article, Sidesaddles and Suffragettes. And for a delicious vintage linen riding habit from the period when clothes were adapting to the new style of riding, click here.
This drawing of a priest looking at an album of pictures appears in Framing the drawing. an article about Renaissance artists who drew frames around drawings they collected. I found the whole thing interesting—more ways to frame! —but what electrified me was this particular image. It's so suggestive for a character in a story. Look at the man's concentration, the delicate tension in his extended finger. Connoisseur, scholar, merchant, alchemist? He seems to be pointing to something on the upper edge of the page. Why? Pick up clues where you find them, I say, and let your imagination run.