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A Primer on Regency Era Doctors

 Regency Resource  Comments Off on A Primer on Regency Era Doctors
Oct 312016

In this entry of the Regency Primer Series, we’re going to take a look at the medical profession. Just as there are lawyers and barristers, there the different were different types of Regency Era doctors. These differences determined what they practiced and their place in society.


During the Regency, physicians occupied the highest rung on the social ladder. Because of their extra schooling and lack of apprenticeship, physicians were considered gentleman. These men did not practice a trade and the profession avoided manual labor. Physicians simply diagnosed patients and wrote prescriptions, but they didn’t dispense drugs.

Physicians often received social invitations from the families they treated. They would dine with the families or spend the night as a guest. Other practitioners ate with the servants, if required.

Although all three were doctors, surgeons and apothecaries were addressed as “Mister”, because only those who qualified as physicians could use the title of “Doctor”.


Surgeons learned their trade from an older doctor in a very hands on capacity. They treated common ailments of ordinary people. Thus, they occupied a lower rung on the social ladder. They did not always perform surgeries, but you could think of them as more general practitioners.


Thomas Rowlandson’s illustration entitled Death and the Apothecary or The Quack Doctor.

Thomas Rowlandson’s illustration aptly entitled Death and the Apothecary or The Quack Doctor.

Apothecaries (or what we’d call pharmacists) learned their profession through an apprenticeship and definitely considered to be in “trade”. They ranked even lower on the social scale. As a group they “seceded from the Worshipful Company of Grocers, and were incorporated as a separate city livery company in 1617, [and] were supposed to stay in their shops and dispense the prescriptions written by the physicians.”

In rural areas where few physicians lived, apothecaries often functioned as surgeons as well, making house calls and treating patients. But largely, they mixed drugs, dispensed them, and trained apprentices.

Alicia Rasley has a great post on Doctors in the Regency over at the Beau Monde’s Quizzing Glass blog with far more information.

Midwives / Accouchers

In the early nineteenth century mortality rates for both infants and mothers were high. Childbed fever was a significant risk, both from attending physicians and in maternity hospitals due to the lack of good hygiene practices at the time. Women who used midwives often had a higher survival rate simply because the women washed their hands between patients unlike the doctors and surgeons of the time. Remember, the discovery of germs and other microbes happened later in the 19th century.

In the late Georgian to Regency period, you also began to see the aristocracy employing accouchers or male doctors (whom we’d now call obstetricians) who specialized in the childbirth from conception to delivery. Accoucher is the French word for assisting with birth and accouchement is the process of giving birth.

Regency Romance Author Elena Green has an excellent article on Childbirth in the Regency and another on Childbirth for the Historical Author.

Barbers / Dentists

Until 1859 in the United Kingdom, there was no formal education or qualification for those who provided dental treatment. It wasn’t until after 1921 that the practice of dentistry required professional qualifications in order to practice.

Through out the 19th century, dentistry was not considered its own profession. Barbers or general physicians typically performed dental procedures. Barbers tended to limit their practice to extracting teeth, which alleviated pain, and associated chronic tooth infection.

Jane Austen’s World has a couple of great posts detailing 19th Century Dentistry and Dental Hygiene.

You may want to check out my Regency Resource page for more information regarding a variety of other Regency-themed topics. If you’d like more information on a specific place or topic, please let me know in the comments section below.

Sep 072016
Finalist Badge for 2016 Pages From The Heart Unpublished Author, Historical Category

JACK OF HEARTS by Kristen Koster
2016 Pages From The Heart Finalist
Unpublished Author, Historical Category

You know how they say you can’t win the lottery if you don’t play? That holds true for a whole lot of things in life. If you don’t put yourself or your work out there, how can you expect any recognition?

A couple of months ago, I submitted the first 25 pages of JACK OF HEARTS to two RWA Chapter contests. I got the scores back for one of them a while ago and had one really glowing set where the judge loved it. The other two judges were far more critical. So, I figured the other contest would come back with similar scores.

Surprise! It’s a finalist in the unpublished category for historical romance! The name of the game is subjective. But I’m still doing my happy dance over here. I have definitely realized a couple things based on the feedback. I can worry less about whether I have a “voice” or not (even if *I* can’t recognize it). And I still need to work on pacing issues.

One of the other things I’ve learned from contest feedback is that individual comments may or may not be accurate, but if several people say the same thing or question how you’ve worded or presented something… pay attention! It’s too easy to get wrapped up with the story you KNOW in your head and be unable to see what’s coming across from what’s on the page to brand new readers (who don’t already know and love you).

Anonymous judges are probably going to be kinder than random strangers reviewing your work on Amazon or GoodReads, so take a step out of your comfort zone. Take a chance on yourself and your work. Get some fresh eyes on that puppy — it might just open yours to what you need to tackle next to take your writing to the next level.

Keep your fingers crossed for me and JACK… the winners will be announced in early November!

Jul 032016
A widow's dress with shawl and mobcap for a Colonial Days presentation in 5th grade.

That was 8 years ago?!?

Once again, I’ve been scrambling to finish a dress and it managed to pull me away from both writing and social media for a while. Long-time readers of the blog may recall the purple widow’s dress I made for a 5th grade presentation… good gracious that was 8 years ago!

Anyway, this year, we needed a dress in time for Anime Expo in LA for a cosplay of Eliza Hamilton from the Broadway musical. Over the last few months, the cast album plays here non-stop.

18th Century Gown (Simplicity 4092) for Eliza Hamilton for Anime Expo 2016

Simplicity implies “easy”, right?!

Simplicity pattern 4092 18th Century DressWe ended up settling on Simplicity pattern 4092 (AMZ affiliate link) and decided on the larger pictured variation.

We didn’t find any mint green fabric we liked at our local Joann Fabrics store, so I asked my friend who does a fair amount of sewing and she recommended fabric.com. Lots of pretty fabrics there and all the types and colors we were looking for. And then some. They also have a nifty feature where you collect virtual fabric swatches and then arrange them on a project board. That was VERY handy!


Simplicity 4092: Fitted BodiceI’ll be honest. I haven’t really done much sewing in the past 8 years. And the pattern we chose looked the part but was a bit beyond anything I’d done before in terms of complexity. I’d never done a fitted bodice with boning before. I’d never done anything like panniers before. So I blindly followed the directions on the pattern as written. Turns out I probably could have saved myself a lot of time if I’d just sewn down the cover that came on the boning and used it as the channels instead of marking and sewing the channels in myself as they’re not seen on the outside at all.

Simplicity 4092: Fitted Bodice and overskirtBut, I like learning new things, so that was a bonus and it’s done. The pattern for the dress doesn’t show it well, but the bodice and the overskirt are one part, and the underskirt is a second separate piece. This considerably lightened the load of what we had to work with at any one time and meant it didn’t pull as much against where we were sewing. Working with multiple layers of 5-6 yards of fabric means you’ve got a lot of fabric to juggle!

Lessons Learned


Simplicity 4092: Back view with Panniers from View A underneath

• A new sharp seam ripper is your friend. One with an ergonomic handle is heaven. Did you know that your laptop screen can be used as back-lighting to see where the stitches are easier?

• Directions, as written, can be confusing and numbered steps bear no relation to actual time required to complete. The fitted bodice & panniers took forever!

• Do NOT ignore the diagram for laying out the pattern pieces to be cut. (I knew this and should have supervised closer. We ended up short one panel of the underskirt with no extra fabric. It worked.)

• Fabrics that fray easily are EVIL. Fabrics that are slick and slip and slide easily are EVIL. This means that pinning carefully and extensively is recommended. Finishing all raw edges as recommended is also a good plan.

Simplicity 4092: Complete with underskirt• Proper seam allowances and straight seams matter. Otherwise you might not end up with the size you need (good thing for corsets!) or you’ll miss catching something and end up with a hole where you don’t want one.

Lessons RE-Learned

• If things are going together too easily, stop, stop and check what you’re doing. There is a big problem. If you can’t find the dot that’s mentioned on the pattern piece, check to make sure you and the directions are talking about the SAME pattern piece. These were also supervision issues.

Simplicity 4092: Eliza Hamilton - Work!• Sleeves can be put on the correct sides, the first time! Ok, we had to fix one.

• I can do a nice neat neckline using bias tape and slip stitching by hand when I try. Glasses are helpful for close work too. Who knew!?

• Check your hems before you sew ’em. I was much happier with the results this time around!

• I still hate putting in zippers, so we avoided a zipper this time, but grommets for lacing can be a pain in the butt too.

Simplicity 4092: Detail of using grommets and ribbon lacing instead of a zipper
• I have far more patience than either of my children.

• I am so relieved that I live in a world where sewing machines exist and the whole thing did not have to be sewn by hand. I’m not sure I would have survived. My friend suggested that maybe I was taking my first hand modiste research a bit too seriously. Ha!

So, in the end and even a day before they left, the costume came together and seems to be a hit at Anime Expo (Eliza and Alexander got interviewed by Cosplay America on Friday night! Pretty cool!) although I’m glad the heat has been dialed back a notch from last week.

$5 Friday eReads

 Book Reviews  Comments Off on $5 Friday eReads
Mar 252016

$5 Friday eReads: What can I read for under $5 this week?$5 Friday E-Reads are my way of listing what I’ve been reading lately, sharing them with you as well as a few good deals to boot. Each week, I’ll either bundle a set of books that I know total $5 or less at the time of posting, or pick one book that’s $4.99 and see how that goes. I like the idea of 5 books for $5 or less too so expect some freebies thrown in like this week to make up the balance.

I found a lot of stuff on my iPad that I need to get to work on reading, so I have more to share with you in the coming weeks, but I’m always looking for good recommendations, so if you’ve read something fantastic lately, be sure to share it in the comments below!


$5 Friday eReads

What can I read for under $5 this week?”

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$5 Friday eReads

 Book Reviews  Comments Off on $5 Friday eReads
Mar 112016

$5 Friday eReads: What can I read for under $5 this week?$5 Friday E-Reads are my way of sharing some good deals on the great reads I’ve read fairly recently. I’m going to try to bundle a set of 5 books that I know total $5 or less at the time of posting. I kinda like the 5 books for $5 or less idea too, so if one book costs $4.99, expect to see 4 freebies too!

It’s Friday again! Let’s see what ebooks we can buy for $5 this week!

Another mixed bag here in that there’s an excellent craft book on sale in the kindle edition, some great Regency Romances — maybe a bit on the tame side this week– and one not so tame Contemporary Hockey Romance. I hope there’s something in there that catches your eye.

Have you found any great reads lately? Let me know in the comments below. I’m always looking for new stuff to read… I just need more time to read everything!


$5 Friday eReads

What can I read for under $5 this week?

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Mar 042016

$5 Friday eReads: What can I read for under $5 this week?$5 Friday E-Reads were conceived because I’ve been contemplating a new type of blog post that’s both relevant and recurring. I’d also been thinking about listing what I’ve been reading lately, and thought this would potentially kill two birds with one metaphorical stone. I’m thinking I’ll either bundle a set of books that I know total $5 or less at the time of posting, or pick one book that’s $4.99 and see how that goes. I kinda like the 5 books for $5 or less idea too.

I don’t read exclusively on my iPad these days, but I do read most things there lately. Craft of writing and research books are more likely to be physical books because I can picture WHERE on the page and how far through the book I read or saw something and the kindle zaps that to uselessness.

I also tend to read rather widely and rather eclectically, so please let me know if you’d prefer a mixed bag like I’ve included below, or to do do themed weeks or something different.

Lemme know what you think and what books you’re looking forward to their release!

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Dec 202015

Cover image for 3 YULETIDE WISHES, an anthology by Deneane Clark, Alanna Lucas and Charlotte RussellThere’s less than a week until Christmas Day and if you’re like me, you’re not done shopping yet! If you’ve got a reader of Regency Romance on your list, we’ve got something that might just be a perfect fit. Join us in celebrating the holiday release from Boroughs Publishing, 3 YULETIDE WISHES, an anthology by Deneane Clark, Alanna Lucas and Charlotte Russell. I know Charlotte and Alanna through The Beau Monde chapter of RWA® and I hope to get to know Deneane Clark better in the future. I’m looking forward to some holiday reading after downloading this to my e-reader and I hope you will too!

an anthology by Deneane Clark, Alanna Lucas and Charlotte Russell

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Nov 112015
Poppy Installation at the Tower of London, August 10th, 2014.

Poppy Installation commemorating the centenary of WWI at the Tower of London, August 10th, 2014.

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. Armistice Day. End of the war to end all wars.

Veteran’s Day.

My uncle turned 91 this fall and served as a WWII Marine. He’s always out every Memorial Day with the VFW selling poppies and impressing upon today’s youth (yup, that would be anyone younger than him!) the significance of the poppies and Flanders Fields. He’s genuinely disgusted when someone doesn’t know the importance of either. So if you’re asked to buy a poppy, be patient and appreciative for all the sacrifices our veterans have made over the years.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

–by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, May 3, 1915.

My uncle was just 18 when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. His brother (younger by almost two years) lied about his age and went into the Navy right after. My uncle refuses to go to DC through the Honor Flight program. I had to take photos of the WWII Memorial while there to send to him. He doesn’t want any thanks or special recognition for what he did (a sentiment many vets share, they were just doing their duty to their country), but he believes in not just marking the cost of freedom, but that the poppies serve as a reminder.

Lest we forget.


National WWII Memorial, Washington, D.C. April 2011.

#WhyIReadHistoricals and write them too!

 Thoughts  Comments Off on #WhyIReadHistoricals and write them too!
May 292015

Graphic: #WhyIReadHistoricals over images of an old print, an old clock face, and an old sailing ship.This post was originally published on Feb 10, 2012 as “Why I Love Historical Romance”, but I’m dragging it back out because the Historical Romance Network is celebrating all the sub-genres of Historical Romance today on social media with #WhyIReadHistoricals and #WhyIWriteHistoricals and these reasons are all still valid for me.

My accountability group was talking about why we write in a particular genre and what attracted us to it. Also, we were asked if we like to read any genres we don’t or can’t write? Why? And would we like to try a different genre? I’ve already answered the “Why Romance” question, but I’m not sure I’ve ever covered Why Write Historical Romance and Regency Romance in specific.

#WhyIReadHistoricals: How I found them & Why I stuck with them

I grew up reading a variety of historical romances pilfered from my mom’s stash: Kathleen Woodiwiss, Kat Martin, Rosemary Rogers, Shirlee Busbee, Virgina Henley, Johanna Lindsey, and many, many, more. I’ll freely admit I was looking for escapism and a bit of the bodice ripping excitement promised by the covers. It was a slightly different kind from what I was finding in Science Fiction and Fantasy in that this was real world stuff, not wholly made up! Westerns/Colonial American, Medievals, Regencies… all were fair game. I never read the contemporary romances then. Probably because they all had boring object-centric covers instead of those wildly passionate clinches.

#WhyIWriteHistoricals: Why settle into the Regency Era?

The romantic notions of titles and balls, the escapist fantasy, the slower/different pace of life, along with the layers and intrigue in the rules of society intrigued me. The descriptions of men’s fashions, especially the mysteries revealed when a man removes his cravat. While I love me some eye-candy, there’s something to be said for leaving things to your imagination too.

They’d also just done away with the powdered wigs, patches, and panniers of the Georgian Era. Not practical and not attractive, in my opinion. Medievals were too much fantasy compared to the historical reality of fleas, sandy grit in the bread, women being literal property. In the Regency that last hadn’t changed legally, but the authors were showing their heroines more as partners than dependents. Victorian Era was too hypocritical for me in many of its attitudes around sex. I never really got into Edwardian Era books because anytime they drive up in a car or the phone rings, my immersion is shattered. Yes, I love Downton Abbey, but yup, the phone and the cars were jarring at first there too. I suspect my problem is more with books where the setting isn’t firmly established in the beginning and those things sneak up on me.

What else do I read besides Historical Romance?

What don’t I read? The most represented genres on our shelves (well, the ones *I* read anyway) include Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, some Contemporary Romance, some Romantic suspense, historical time travel, a handful of chick lit mysteries, and a selection of urban fantasy. Again, it’s usually the escapist aspect that draws me to these genres, something removed from my ordinary world. But I always circle back to historical romance of one flavor or another.

If not Historical Romance, what else might I try to write?

Maybe contemporary romance, Urban Fantasy or some fantasy, but it’d probably be flavored in some way by the historical aspect and it’d likely still have lots of romantic elements. But for now, I’m focused on the current crop of characters in my head who all reside firmly in Regency London.

If you’d like to join the buzz please consider posting your reasons for reading or writing historical romance using either of the hashtags (#WhyIReadHistoricals and/or #WhyIWriteHistoricals) on your social media. The more the merrier!

Your Turn: What’s YOUR favorite genre of book to read and why?

Happy Easter, Everyone!

 The Writer  Comments Off on Happy Easter, Everyone!
Apr 052015

eggs2I realized this morning just how much I missed all the fun of holidays that comes with having younger kids now that mine are on the upper side of their teen years. The joy and wonder are not as easy to draw out these days. There’s nothing worse than a jaded teenager, right?

Does this mean I’m ready to be a grandmother?

Oh, hell no!


I’m happy to sit and look at old photos from when my kids got caught up in those moments of joy. Easter egg hunts used to be one of my favorite things about Easter at my grandparent’s with my cousins. There were so many great hiding places there. And I tried to continue that sense of fun and wonder for my kids often getting up at the crack of dawn to go hide eggs before they woke up and found their baskets. It was always a challenge to make sure there were enough easy to find ones, but not TOO many so they both had a chance.

Anyway, times change and I hope they’ll pass the magic along one day, but for now, I’m gonna go hug them and embarrass them with sloppy sentimental mom-kisses. =)