I’m told that a golden rule of blogging is to update your blog frequently or people will stop visiting, or even worse, think you are dead. There are of course dead blogs out there, which become fossilized and form a sort of stone memorial. Some months ago I discovered an excellent blog on the craft of biography and enthusiastically sent an email to the blogger, only to have it returned. Further searches revealed that he had passed away a year before. However, it’s unhealthy to dwell too much on the subject. Without quoting Oscar Wilde I will state that this blog does not emanate from beyond the grave.
I have several excuses for not updating my few remaining readers over the last two months. One is just the demands of a full-time job and two part-time projects restoring old buildings. Another is that the book really is almost complete, so apart from ‘tweaking’ and a few little bits of information which I keep adding, there is less research to report on. However, here is some of the latest news.
My school friend Fiona Green kindly checked some manuscripts in the British Library for me. Amongst these were the accounts of Covent Garden Theatre. I wanted to confirm whether or not Louis was the tailor of this theatre, but his name doesn’t appear in these accounts for 1790-91 so this means it is less likely to be the case. There were some bonds and papers relating to Louis’ loans to Sir Penistone Lamb (1st Viscount Melbourne), which I did not know about, and Fiona gathered details of these. I’m therefore very grateful to her.
The other major piece of research outstanding was in France. I therefore have commissioned a researcher to look for a couple of things in the Lozere archives in Mende. I wanted to know if possible which house in Ispagnac the Bazalgette family lived in. I hope she can find it, and that it still exists. The other information she will be looking for is the family’s apprenticeship records, which should tell me much more about Louis’ early life. I’m waiting in hope for the results of this work.
I exchanged a few emails with the Paris tailor Paul Grassart [http://www.paulgrassart.com/] who has been very helpful about French tailoring history. He reinforced a thought that I already had festering in my mind – that to include my transcriptions of all of Louis’ tailoring accounts in an appendix would make the book unbalanced and too expensive. He pointed out that those people who wish to study these in detail would prefer to have them in digital form. So what I have decided to do is to append a couple of specimen years to the book. and to put the whole thing on to a CD, which I can sell separately. So, many thanks to Paul for his help and encouragement.
Many thanks also to Kathryn Kane of Regency Redingote [http://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/] for agreeing to read my draft, despite being a very busy lady. As well as being an expert on the Regency period she also used to be an editor, so her comments and suggestions were very useful. She pointed out several inaccuracies, and suggested I convert all the dates in the book to the same format. On her advice I have also removed, shortened or summarized many of the quotations. Although some other people had read early drafts, Kathryn was the first to give me really constructive criticism, so I am very grateful to her for taking the time to do this. The list of people who will receive free copies is growing!
The illustrations at the top and bottom of this blog are high-resolution close-ups of 18C embroidered waistcoats. They come from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s textile collection and they have posted many such images on their website, making them freely available for use in publications of up to 4,000 copies. I’m thinking that one of these images would make a great background for the book cover. If it starts to look as if sales of the book will exceed 4,000 (which I think extremely unlikely) I will have to ask them nicely if I can keep using the image. I’m not fretting too much about that yet.
So, to my readers, patient or otherwise, I offer these fragments of information, trusting that they will not abandon hope quite yet of seeing the book in print.