Desperately Seeking E. Shoppee

When I’m not knitting or genealogy-ing, I like to fix up vintage sewing machines and sew with them.

I spent some time, earlier this year, fixing up Victorian/Edwardian hand crank machines; £11 – £15 car-boot bargains;  a Singer 28K and a couple of Jones Family C.S machines.

Singer 66K
My 1910 Singer 66K

Vintage, metal machines have none of the built-in obsolescence of modern, electronic machines with their dodgy plastic gears and starting-frying-the-day-you-pick-it-up circuitry. In fact, they were intended to be serviced and even fixed by the owners if anything dropped off or went wrong. Mechanically, they are so well built, there is very little to drop off or go wrong. Most I have seen have just needed a new needle, a clean and oiling. My own old treadle machine which was stored badly, was another story. That took 18 months of jiggling, threatening, and soaking in a rust-freeing agent, to bring it back to life.

Our car boot machines were pretty, had no sentimental value, so were good to learn on. Now they’re cleaned and fixed, I’ve passed them on to my adult sons and one of my son’s friends.

1956 Singer 221K
1956 Singer 221K

Once I got the hang of how to strip down, clean and fix up machines, I started looking round for an ‘interesting’ and older machine to play with. Funds are limited – that’s a polite way of putting it – but I sold a couple of things on eBay to finance it and the same week, along came a 1956 Singer 221K and a 1885 Singer 12K. Sewing machine afficionados will know a 221K (“Featherweight”) is a much prized thing. They were made in several Singer factories from the 1930s-1960s. British ones were made in Kilbowie, Scotland. As was my 1885 Singer 12K.

Sewing machines were developed from around 1851. But the first truly popular Singer was the 12. Those made in Scotland are designated “12K”; the “K” for “Kilbowie”.

The 12K was patented in 1861, so although mine dates from 1885 it is essentially the same as one made during the American Civil War.

1885 Singer 12K BEFORE
1885 Singer 12K BEFORE
IMAG1230
1885 Singer 12K AFTER

I got mine for a stupidly cheap price.

I thought if I could fix this machine up, I could even make some later 19thC living history kit, using it. Research online told me it took an unusual – and expensive at £5 a pop – needle. Also the shuttle is odd – you have to tension it by snaking the bobbin thread in and out through a series of holes and it’s very much trial and error which threading pattern works.

Manuals for old Singers can be downloaded online for free. The 12K manual is here.

The seller was not into sewing, so couldn’t even tell me if there was a bobbin in so he thought not. He said he couldn’t open the slide plates, to see. I just wanted a fiddle-base old sewing machine.   I knew a replacement shuttle and one bobbin might set me back almost as much as I paid for the machine, and the bobbin winder in the picture looked bizarre, so that might need replacing too… but I was happy with that bargain price.  It came in its original case with two rusty, ancient keys attached. The case alone is a piece of cabinet maker’s art; the machine, when it’s unlocked, slides out from the case. I was thrilled to get the case too, as research online told me it was original.

Mechanism inside face-plate

I expected this machine to have some bits missing and maybe the mechanics would be seized like this 12K’s. It looks distinctive compared to the later, more common vintage machines with its japanned face plate and balance wheel.

When it came, it took very little brute force to free up the throat plate and discover it not only had an immaculate shuttle inside, but one lone bobbin as well.  That was a few quid saved! I bought a spare needle and bobbin from Helen Howes , who sells old sewing machine parts at a very reasonable price and gives excellent advice, too.

All the bright-work was rusted – as you can see in the Before and After shots, I managed to get the worst of it off.

On the day the machine came, with a pair of keys tied to its rusty handle with a nasty piece of nylon twine, I wondered if the ancient lock would even work, and whether we’d even be able to get it out of the case. Even though the seller on eBay must have, as he’d photographed it. But with one turn of the key, it slid out of the box no problem.

Behind the faceplate...
Behind the faceplate…

Amazingly, the machine was not seized – just a bit sluggish. The feed dogs still moved; the presser bar still worked; the needlebar was not frozen in time like my own 66K had been. This is a machine so ‘obsolete’ – and ‘ugly’ by mid twentieth century standards if beautiful by our’s – that you can bet it has spent most of the past 70 years or so in an attic.  It was dirty, sure, and full of dusty cobwebs underneath – but the decals were in better condition than we’d expected, and a bit of mild, soapy water and some cotton wool buds followed by a gentle polish on the paintwork with sewing machine oil, soon had it looking clean again. I carefully dismantled enough of it to clean inside.

I always think of the people who used a machine decades ago, when I find the lint in the bobbin race, and the few remaining threads on the bobbin. In this case a rather fetching vivid purple silk seems to be the last thread ever used. I wonder what it made? This machine may have been quietly put aside as long ago as pre WW2.

I have cleaned up several old machines now and never had a receipt forgotten in a drawer, or any provenance so expected nothing to get my genealogical teeth into, with this.

But when we looked at the old case, with a view to cleaning up the wood, there was some writing, so heavily scored out we could barely decypher it, in black ink or paint on the back side of the case. It hadn’t shown up in the eBay photos. It appeared to be a name.

1885 case
1885 case

I used Maas metal polish on the machine’s bright-work and  Parker & Bailey’s Orange Oil Polish to clean up the wood. Both are US products, available for an arm and a leg at Lakeland, in the UK. I cleaned very gently over that writing, in case I damaged it. I didn’t. And out in the daylight there we saw, under all the crossing out, the name “E. SHOPPEE”. It took a while to figure it out. I wasn’t even sure “Shoppee” was a name.

“E. Shoppee”

Maybe s/he wasn’t the first owner, but the chances were, an “E Shoppee” owned the little 12K somewhere round the back end of the nineteenth century, as the machine was still new and valuable enough for her to want to emblazon her name all over it.  I will assume ‘her’ as professional tailors and seamstresses generally used other, more industrial machines like the Singer 13K: the 12K was the first big household sewing machine. The 12K remained in production for a long time, even though later, better machines superceded it. By 1910, a tailor  or seamstress might well want a Singer 66K with its larger harp space, but not the little 12K. So the chances are its earlier owner is likely to have been female, subsequent owners even more likely to have been women. The 12K was originally known as “The New Family” machine, because it was intended for domestic use.  Jones had the similarly named “Family C.S” (Cylindrical Shuttle) which was aimed at the same market.

A search of Ancestry brings up almost only one family group of people called “Shoppee” in and around London in the late 19thC. Thank the gods the owner wasn’t Elizabeth Smith! An obit in The Daily News for 1897, said that the family’s great grandfather was a Huguenot called “Chapuis”, which may explain the fact I could only find one family group with this name.

I can’t be sure which of the female Elizabeth, Emma or Emily Shoppees, over several generations, owned the 1885 Singer but there is a stronger candidate, given the ages and family occupations of some Shoppees, compared to others.  If I’m right she is unlikely to have been the first owner, but was an early one.

“My” E Shoppee could be a Shoppee by birth or by marriage.

Which begs the question – who would be likely to own a Singer 12K made in 1885?

The 12K hit the British market around 1866. It has been described as:

…the finest sewing machine the world had ever seen at the time and the pinnacle of inventive genius from the design team at Singers.

It became the world’s best selling sewing machine and kept that predominance til production ended in 1902.

In the early years, a 12K would cost an average year’s wages. Singer pioneered the Hire Purchase model of trading, so many people bought their 12K over a period of years. Which democratised the sewing machine as a household item but it still would have been out of the reach, financially, of many people.   A charwoman would have been less likely to own a sewing machine, in the early days, than a school teacher. For decades, the sewing machine was the single most expensive item in many a home. These old hand-cranks we can pick up for a tenner at a car boot were once someone’s most treasured possession – it’s easy to forget that. They revolutionised women’s lives, a bit like the washing machine was to do.

You can date your Singer machine using its serial number  here.   Singer numbered every part so if a part of your machine is shot, the chances are you will be able to replace it – and much more cheaply than a modern machine part would cost. The eBay seller had shown the serial number in close up, so I had known the date of the machine before I bought it. Mine has the most common Acanthus Leaves decals but some later ones have the spectacular, and more rare, Ottoman Carnations – which are probably my favourite Singer decals ever. There was also a gilt and mother of pearl  roses 12K. Identify your Singer decals here.

The Shoppees seem to have been exemplars of that mid nineteenth century urban phenomenon – social mobility. In the early part of the century, they were builders but by the latter end of the century, it was a family of architects and surveyors, doctors and other professionals. London offered more scope for this than most British cities.

My favourite candidate for “my” E Shoppee is Emma E. Shoppee, who on the 1901 Census was 26 and living in Hornsey, London with her husband, Joseph W. Shoppee, a London-born Commission Merchant’s Clerk.  As the machine dates to 1885, she would not be its first owner but maybe it was passed on to her. It may even have come from her family in York, or the Shoppees in London. As a hand-crank, she’d be able to travel with it. You would certainly want to pass on your sewing machine to a relative or friend. So this one may have come from either her York or her London family, if Emma was the owner.

Free BMD told me that Emma Elizabeth Hawkswell married Joseph W Shoppee in the second quarter of 1899 in York.

The 1881 Census found Emma E Hawkswell living down the road from me, at 19, Stonegate, York – somewhere in the centre of Stonegate – it must have been re-numbered since – as the Census enumerator veers off down Coffee Yard straight after visiting the Hawkswells’ house.  In 1881, Emma lived with her parents, Ralph and Emma. Ralph was a lithographic printer with 3 employees.  The Hawkswells, like the Shoppees, were firmly middle class. In 1891, she was still at 19, Stonegate and now a Pupil Teacher, aged 16.

Emma married Joseph Shoppee at the Salem Congregational Church in York, June 14th, 1899.

On the last available census, 1911, Emma had two children and was living at 38 Womersley Rd with Joseph and her younger brother, Stanley, a jeweller’s shop assistant; still in Hornsey. By 1911, Emma’s father, Ralph was now retired from lithography, now working as an Antiques Dealer, still at 19, Stonegate.

It might be that my machine had an early owner who was a York woman, and it has ended up, 130 years later, very close to York! She won’t have been its original owner, though, as the machine was already 14 years old by the time Emma Hawkswell was Emma Shoppee…

I did find several other possible E. Shoppees but they looked less likely than Emma; elderly by 1885, or too young, or had married and lost the Shoppee surname prior to 1885…  It is very likely the machine belonged to one of this family. One of the better bets was Elsie Shoppee, a doctor’s daughter, who married Stacey Hammond in 1895. Which would mean she had ten years as E Shoppee from 1885 on. But she was only 6 when the machine was made.  Other E Shoppees seem to have been out of the country in the 1880s/90s.  One Elizabeth Shoppee died in 1886 – a year after the machine was made – in Uxbridge, aged 63.  She was another possibility but a remote one.

The machine is almost restored. I really have to bite the bullet now and try and thread up the shuttle and get the needle in the right position. Both of these variables will throw a machine out, so it may need a few hours’ experimentation to get it right. But I will post pictures if and when  I get it sewing!

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This post is in memory of my very dear friend, the supreme living history needlewoman, and Dove Cottage’s own Dorothy Wordsworth,  Caro.  I never got to tell her the tale of E Shoppee and the Singer 12K. She’d have loved it, though, so this one is for you, Pretty Lady.

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Needled

Gansey needles, Filey Museum. CREDIT: David Hunt

From the Patients’ Disbursement Books, The Retreat, York. Ref: Ret  3/10/1/1  

Judith Robertson

1799 10 Sept, 1799

Knitting needle  3d

1800 8 June

Patent knitting needles  3d  Pasteboard 4d  – 7d

22 Sept

shrowd – 7-/ 6d coffin 42 -/

(Pasteboard = cardboard, used to make bonnet brims).

decmneed2
Straights. Dales Countryside Museum. CREDIT: Belinda May. CLICK on any of these to enlarge.

The casual – and all too frequent – “coffin” and “shrowd” at the end of the Retreat asylum patients’ accounts, gets me every time.

The patients’ private accounts for their personal, needful things,  are a brilliant resource for the clothing/textile historian. From them, we can see that ‘Patent’ (shiny steel?) needles cost 3d in 1799. This was probably a set of 4 or 5.

ycmneed1
Needles, curved and straight. Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes. CREDIT: Belinda May

What were nineteenth century needles like? Blunt? Pointy? Both? Neither? Or even – as has been mooted – “flat-ended”..? The answer is – knitters, as ever, had their personal preferences.

Surviving needles in museums across the North of England, show every variation; blunt and pointy, curved and straight. Although rarely, of course, flat ended.

In 1981, Kathleen Kinder interviewed Mrs Clara Sedgwick of Settle, who grew up in Dentdale; maiden name Clara Middleton. Aged 82 in 1981: “…. She still uses the steel needles, size 13, which she brought out of Dent…What is more, the Editor of The Dalesman and I were shown and allowed to handle the knitting stick, carved in the traditional goose-quill shape, which her grandfather, Thomas Allen, had made for her mother. The needles the Dales knitter used were often finer  than size 13. They were known as ‘wires’ and were frequently bent with usage…”

dcmneed5
Curved needles. Blunter and pointier. Dales Countryside Museum. CREDIT: Belinda May

Some were bent with usage and some deliberately bent by the knitters who preferred them like this. Betty Hartley told interviewer Maurice Colbeck: “…I used to wonder how they found needles fine enough to make them. [Dales gloves] Then somebody told me that they used to knit them on the old long hatpins!”

decm need3
Dales Countryside Museum. CREDIT: Belinda May

ycm1Knitting sticks were used by knitters of all social classes and backgrounds – witnessed by the sticks in the collection at the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth. A couple of years ago, we documented some of the sticks in their reserve collection, and saw two knitting needles from a “work-basket belonging to one of the Bronte sisters”. [Ref #: HAOBP: H176:2 and 3]. The needles I examined had fine gauges, around 1mm, and one had a slight curve which would suggest it was used with a knitting stick.

decmneed4
Dales Countryside Museum. CREDIT: Belinda May

Anyone who believes all needles used commercially – or by genteel ladies – were ‘blunt’ or, ‘flat ended’, only has to actually see the extant needles, to realise the error of their ways.

I leave you, Gentle reader, with these images of nineteenth century needles, to refute the bizarre theory that is playing out elsewhere on the internet.

dcmneed6
Straights – nothing ‘flat-ended’ but again, a mix of blunter and pointier; glove/stocking size. Dales Countryside Museum. CREDIT: Belinda May

Sarah Impey 31 March 1808 2/6 Lambswool Yarn for Stockings’ Needles and [fillet?] 8d, … 3/3 shifts making 2-/

[Patients’ Disbursements, 1807 -16] Various Patients’ Disbursement Books, The Retreat, The Borthwick Institute, University of York

Gran Taught Her To Knit at the Age of Three, Maurice Colbeck, The Dalesman, Vol. 57, January 1996.

Knitting in the Dales Way, Kathleen Kinder, The Dalesman, Vol 42, February 1981 p.908

The Old Hand Knitters of The Dales, Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby.

Mr Dick’s Kite

Morgaine le Fay’s Antique Textiles

“Is it a Memorial about his own history that he is writing, aunt?’

‘Yes, child,’ said my aunt, rubbing her nose again. ‘He is memorializing the Lord Chancellor, or the Lord Somebody or other—one of those people, at all events, who are paid to be memorialized—about his affairs. I suppose it will go in, one of these days. He hasn’t been able to draw it up yet, without introducing that mode of expressing himself; but it don’t signify; it keeps him employed.’

In fact, I found out afterwards that Mr. Dick had been for upwards of ten years endeavouring to keep King Charles the First out of the Memorial; but he had been constantly getting into it, and was there now.

‘I say again,’ said my aunt, ‘nobody knows what that man’s mind is except myself; and he’s the most amenable and friendly creature in existence. If he likes to fly a kite sometimes, what of that! Franklin used to fly a kite. He was a Quaker, or something of that sort, if I am not mistaken. And a Quaker flying a kite is a much more ridiculous object than anybody else.’

‘David Copperfield’, Charles Dickens.

Sometimes I feel like Dickens’ Mr Dick, writing a book that never seems to be quite finished, although I have only one appearance by Charles I in it…

People are asking me when The Book is out, and we have just had a bit of a delay as our wonderful tech editor has been very ill. In the way of Yorkshirewomen, she is fighting back and getting better now, and we’ll soon be on with the final stages. I have been test knitting the last two designs, whilst we have some wonderful sample knitters champing at the bit to get started, when the patterns have had the once-over.

The delay has has a good side-effect. It’s given me time to squeeze in one last flurry of research and adding in yet more info I have found.

I had an idea that the famous, humane, Quaker run 18thC lunatic asylum, The Retreat, here in York, might have used knitting or spinning as therapy for the patients. But the records were so extensive, I had no time to shoehorn this in to The Book originally. With our unexpected little bit of extra time, I managed to start trawling the thousands of documents deposited at the Borthwick Institute and yes – hit paydirt.

I will hold back the real seam of knitting history gold for The Book. But here, I will fly you a kite made from a patchwork of the records I will not be able to shoehorn in.

But, for your delectation, here are some of the items from the Patients’ Accounts (patients were charged for minor purchases, and a record was kept. As I suspected, yarn and knitting goodies, as well as clothing items, cropped up in these lists). For the knitters and spinners, hold on til later this year and all will be revealed.

The Retreat encouraged the men and “some of the women” to spin or knit. The stockings made would be sold on to other inmates, presumably those who were too ill to knit, or couldn’t knit.

I took detailed notes on the women’s fabric purchases/ haberdashery items from the late 18thC/early 19thC as I know a few living historians read this and so far as I am aware, this stuff is unpublished elsewhere.   For those not old enough to remember ‘old money’ – the day it happened, my 1 shilling bars of chocolate became a mighty 5p. So, below:

s = shilling

d = pence

It’s interesting to see the comparative cost of things in the 1790s. There are endless entries for shoe repair (which implies the patients were up, about, and wearing down shoe leather!), sometimes shoes are re-heeled, or the wales of the shoes repaired. I also found stay, stocking and other repairs  itemised.  Patient  Susan Reynolds paid 1s. 4d  on 20 Aug, 1799 for “A skirt dying over again”.  It was a make do and mend world. Patients seem to keep up with fashions, too, according to their resources. Most buy worsted stockings – but one or two ordered silk, or part silk. Around 1800, as the almost transparent, floaty fabrics came in, you have patients ordering dimity, “gauze” and cotton prints.

From the itemised lists, it’s possible to figure out the average amounts of yarn used for a pair of stockings. Ann Barrans on 2 May 1799, bought 4oz of “Stocking worsted” for a shilling and a penny. In 1796, Mary Pyle and Ann Noble Barrow both had paid 1 s 8d for a finished pair of stockings, each. Yet on 23rd March of the same year, Hannah Foster paid 3d for “stocking worsted”.  This smaller amount may have been for just enough worsted to darn stockings.  Other items refer to a few pence worth of worsted “for Darning”. Two pair of completed worsted stockings cost Elizabeth Thompson   4s. 6d, in 1797. Which means each pair came in at double the price paid by Mary and Ann. This implies different qualities of stocking.

In other words, in some circumstances, the yarn cost about 50% of the price of the finished item. In others, the yarn cost only pennies less than the finished stocking. There are variables at work, here.

On the 4 May of that year, Hannah Ponsonby was billed for “Worsted for stockings  paid H. Hull    3 s  8d”. H. Hull may well have been another inmate or it could be a supplier. But if just over a shilling bought you 4 oz of stocking worsted, then three-and-eight must have bought over 1lb of yarn. From other entries, Hannah Ponsonby seems to have been a keen needlewoman, so it’s likely she knitted four pairs of stockings for herself. Mary Pyle paid 2s 5d  in the summer of 1797,  for a pound of “wool for stockings”. (Bear in mind the UK fuzziness when it comes to using terms like ‘worsted’ and ‘wool’. Stocking yarn seems to have generally been worsted but, to the uninitiated, including men who write account books, it’s sometimes all just “wool”).  Notice too, yarn counts are never specified. (Nor were they in the detailed records of the Knitting and Spinning Schools – again, more in The Book!)

In 1797, Mary Pyle had something fancier than woollen stockings:  “1 Pr stockings  ¾ silk   3 s. 7d”

In March 1799, Hannah Foster  had bought “Knitting yarn” for  3s  – 7d. So the 3d for “worsted” possibly refers to a smaller quantity, used for darning and repair.  Interestingly, on the same day she had bought the knitting wool, Hannah also bought 1 1/2 d worth of “silk” and yet “Crewel” (which is woollen yarn) cost double that, at 3d.  We can’t know the quantities. In 1799, Mary Pyle  bought “10 oz of Knitting yarn of cotton thread  5 -/ 1d”. This is the first reference I know of, to date, of cotton knitting yarn. It seems Rowan Yarns weren’t the first in Yorkshire to have that idea.

Hannah Ponsonby in 1798,  was charged 10d for “shaving her head and postage”. A note said the postage was 7d of that. Inmates did not routinely have their hair shaved off as they did at the cruel and inhumane York Asylum, nearby. But it was a standard treatment if you had a fever, so maybe Hannah Ponsonby was ill. (And fired off a letter first!)

Some of the interesting flotsam and jetsam from the accounts, dates between 1796-1807:

spectacles ~3s

pumps ~ 4s.4d (the patients had regular dances)

thimble ~ 2d

silk handkerchief ~ 6s

sugarcandy – 6d

knitting needles – 3d  (most likely a set of four!)

“Patent” [shiny?]  knitting needles  3d

gloves ~ 1s. 8d

“shaving and gravedigging” ~ 1s.8d

2 cotton Caps ~ 2s

“shrowd” ~ 7s. 6d

coffin ~ 42s.

Fabrics mentioned

“7 yards raw linen”   ~ £16 9s 4d

“Thread, buttons, worsted” ~ 10d

“Cloth for waistcoat” ~ 4 -/ 2d

“Black worsted 6oz and white yarn 1 oz”   ~ 1s. 6 ½ d

“4 ½ yd check” ~   6-/ 4 ½ d

“10 yds worsted Crape” ~  11s. 8d

“Lining for gown” ~1s

“dimity for sleeve ” ~ 1s.1d

“2 check Aprons” ~ 6s.1d

“½ yd muslin” ~ 2s. 9d

“Callamanco” ~ 1s.4d

“Printed cotton  For yd 10d” ~     1s.4d

“Irish cloth  7 ½ d do. Gown-lining 1 -/ 10d ” ~  2 s.  5 ½ d

“E.Lister” is often mentioned as a dressmaker. It is likely she was an inmate (I can cross reference this with patient lists at a future date).

A typical entry from 1799:

“Gownmaking  E. Lister   1-/ 8d  [?]  3 ½ d  1s. 11 ½ d “

It seems Ms Lister made up the fabrics bought by the inmates. Many of the recovering inmates were allowed to visit town, and so could browse Regency York’s shops and indulge in a bit of retail therapy, although some will have made a selection, and sent out later. There also seems to have been a certain amount of cloth as well as yarn in stock, as this entry for the silk-clad Mary Pyle shows:

“31 Oct, 1797  Flannel 12 yd which belong’d Retreat   2-/ 6d”  [their underline].

We’re busy making 1800(ish) clothing for a ‘Terrible Knitters’ living history, this summer, so all references to this period’s costume are useful!  I hope you found this useful and or interesting, Gentle Reader.

And I will leave you with Mr Dick and David Copperfield. Flying kites made from words:

‘What do you think of that for a kite?’ he said.

I answered that it was a beautiful one. I should think it must have been as much as seven feet high.

‘I made it. We’ll go and fly it, you and I,’ said Mr. Dick. ‘Do you see this?’

He showed me that it was covered with manuscript, very closely and laboriously written; but so plainly, that as I looked along the lines, I thought I saw some allusion to King Charles the First’s head again, in one or two places.

‘There’s plenty of string,’ said Mr. Dick, ‘and when it flies high, it takes the facts a long way. That’s my manner of diffusing ’em. I don’t know where they may come down. It’s according to circumstances, and the wind, and so forth; but I take my chance of that.’

Items deposited at the Borthwick Institute, York University. Reference: Ret  3/10/1/1

Image: courtesy of Morgaine le Fay’s Antique Textiles. Quick! Go lust at the original 18thC and 19thC textiles! This site keeps me off the streets for hours…

Note on 2nd image: Richard Dadd, the artist, developed a psychosis and murdered his father, in 1843. He spent the rest of his life in first Bethlem, then Broadmoor Hospitals. He had been born at Chatham, Kent in 1817, incidentally where the 4 year old Dickens and his family had moved the year before. In ‘Crazy Jane’, Dadd painted Rochester Castle – deeply familiar to Dickens – in the background. He painted from memory. Dickens’ Mr Dick’s ‘full name’ was ‘Richard Babley’ which some commentators believe may echo ‘Richard Dadd’. Mr Dick also lives in Kent, and has been rescued from an Asylum – or the threat of being returned to it – by David Copperfield’s Aunt.

Morgaine le Fay’s Antique Textiles

Morgaine’s site is a great resource for re-enactors, as well as a place to look at amazing repro 18thC wooden dolls, etc. And yes – the actual textiles are actually for sale!

Morgaine le Fay’s Blog

Morgaine blogs here. Fascinating stuff.

William Booth, Draper

Based in Wisconsin, but ships to the UK, and competitive prices, too.

Project Gutenberg

Text of David Copperfield here.

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World, Simon Callow

We were at the launch of this, the day before Dickens’ bicentenary, at Pocklington Arts Centre, near York. Dickens was a great fan of York, as he visited his brother here, many times.  Marvellous book by one of the best actors of his generation. If you ever get a chance to see Mr.Callow reading Dickens – go go go!