Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Tuesday Night Club: Wimsey, Fashion, Bells



The Tuesday Night Club has devoted February to Dorothy L Sayers.

Sayers
In March we will move on to John Dickson Carr – new and casual members always welcome.


Last week’s Sayers links are here
Week two links are here
Week one  links are here.
(Thanks to Bev at My Reader’s Block, who took on co-ordination at the last minute.)


 
Vane Wardrobe 1

For this final Tuesday Night Club entry I have put together three different personal Sayers items:


FASHION: Blog reader Susan Daly emailed me after last week’s entry, wondering if I knew about the designs for Harriet’s wardrobe (and a few clothes for the Dowager Duchess and Miss Climpson) from the book Murderess Ink – well I did once, but I had completely forgotten about them until I saw her email. The book is a gigantic and rather wonderful anthology about female writers, detectives and characters in crime fiction, edited by Dilys Winn, first published in 1979. Crime writer Jane Langton wrote an article about Harriet D Vane’s appearance, and these pictures accompanied it.


Vane wardrobe 2

I am eternally grateful to Susan for the tipoff. I searched frantically for my own copy of Murderess Ink, and couldn’t find it – but found copies of the pictures at a rather wonderful blog called Mostly Paper Dolls, so thanks to them too.

 
Vane wardrobe 3


DEGREES OF SEPARATION: When I was in my first job, I was friendly with a much older colleague who amazed me by revealed that when HE was much younger he’d been an aspiring actor, and had known Dorothy L Sayers well. She had very much enjoyed the company of good-looking young men, he said (I believed him that he fell into this category), and loved being with actors and theatricals of any kind. He said that she wore quite extraordinary clothes… Few connections with the great and the good of this world have pleased me as much as knowing that I knew someone who knew her…


 
vane wardrobe 4
 
BELL-RINGING Last week I created an exam paper on Lord Peter Wimsey, and I was going to put a question in about bell-ringing, but in the end decided to save the idea for the final TNC entry.

The question would have been:
Name some bell-ringing errors in The Nine Tailors.
Allegedly there are an awful lot of them.  They start with her use of the word campanology: this is a dictionary word for the art and science of bell-ringing, but was never used by people who actually were serious about bell-ringing – they despised the word.

And, in the book, the vicar relieves the ringers in turn – this would never be allowed in a proper peal.

duchess 1climpson


I have knowledge/not knowledge in this area for personal reasons. I wouldn’t be sure of recognizing any errors, and certainly couldn’t adjudicate, but I married into a very strong bell-ringing family. When my father-in-law died I chose a passage from The Nine Tailors to be read out at his memorial service: my  view was that he would certainly have said it was full of errors, but he would appreciate the thought.

This came up when I did a recent post on Nine Tailors, and I was telling part of this story in response to a comment. As I was writing, my husband came in to tell me that there was a mistake in the short extract I had used in the post – ‘you don’t start a peal by saying “go!”’

So, maybe Sayers makes mistakes. But I make no apology for yet again reproducing this beautiful description of the bells ringing in the New Year in the Fens – my favourite passage in the whole of DLS:
Out over the flat, white wastes of fen, over the spear-straight, steel-dark dykes and the wind-bent, groaning poplar trees, bursting from the snow-choked louvres of the belfry, whirled away southward and westward in gusty blasts of clamour to the sleeping counties went the music of the bells. 

Little Gaude, silver Sabaoth, strong John and Jericho, glad Jubilee, sweet Dimity and old Batty Thomas, with great Tailor Paul bawling and striding like a giant in the midst of them. Up and down went the shadows of the ringers upon the walls, up and down went the scarlet sallies flickering roofwards and floorwards, and up and down, hunting in their courses, went the bells of Fenchurch St. Paul.






















22 comments:

  1. Oh, that's wonderful, Moira, that you have connection to Sayers! I love it! And that book Murderess Ink sounds terrific. Interesting you'd mention the errors in what Sayers wrote about bell-ringing. I'm usually one who likes accuracy; but still, she did describe the bells so well, didn't she? What a lovely passage that is!

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    1. Thank you Margot! If you ever see a copy of Murderess Ink, do snap it up - I think you will really enjoy it.
      And yes, I am so fussy about many things, but Sayers gets a pass on this one...

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  2. Love the Harriet cut-out dressing doll! There's the dress with the skirts that "waved tempestuously about her ankles". And Miss Climpson, who is modelling the higher-quality-than-she-usually-allows-herself underwear she bought to visit Yorkshire.

    Possible Miss Climpsons: http://www.bartoscollection.com/hairstylesbyera/hairstylesedwardian.html

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    1. Very splendid Edwardian ladies and hairstyles Lucy. I was so glad to find the paper dolls, which I had completely forgotten till reminded.

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  3. What a terrific post, Moira. I have a copy of Murderess Ink! The costumes are priceless. The Nine Tailors is, I think, my favourite Sawyers novel. She really could write . . .

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    1. I keep changing my mind about favourite, between Advertise and Tailors. But in the end probably Tailors because of that great picture of the year in the fens, the beauty of the writing. And the lovely vicar.

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  4. I used to have Murderess Ink or Murder Ink, or both, and maybe still have one of them. Those paper doll clothes are very nice.

    Very interesting about all the bell ringing errors. I never worry much about errors like that in fiction because it is fiction, but it is strange that she did not get more of it right when it was such a major point in the story. I would have assumed that anyone who would write such a story would have some background in bell ringing.

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    1. I've been checking up about this - because I would have expected her to check it out carefully. Apparently, she had done a lot of book research, but had literally never done any bell-ringing herself. So although she got a lot of the theory right, she had no experience of an actual peal, and so did not know eg how it was started.

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  5. Writing about a particular speciality must be the bane of the life of the average writer. However much you know, or research, there's always someone who knows more. I think that it was Doyle who said that he always tried to be 'masterful' about facts--or in other words, simply not be too bothered about getting the facts wrong!

    I have that book, too. Why don't they do stuff like that nowadays; lots of facts, but with tongue firmly in cheek?

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    1. Yes I always have a sneaking soft spot for writers who when asked about their research say 'I made it up.'
      And yes - that book. You can just get lost in it, lovely.

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  6. Just dropped by to see who I'll be ignoring in March - JDC - I think you sent me one of his!

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    1. But at least you don't have tub-loads of his books demanding to be read!

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  7. Oh, I'm glad you found them on line, Moira. I searched around for them, but they never popped up.

    For anyone who'd like to get their hands on Murderess Ink, there are multiple copies available quite reasonably (including shipping) at Abebooks.com. Tons of fun, even though the past 37 years of Women & Crime are absent.

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    1. I'm so glad you reminded me of both the fashion dolls and the book Susan - and I second your recommendation of Murderess Ink. Any golden age fan will very much enjoy it.

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  8. This is wonderful, as is the fact that you knew somebody who knew Dorothy L. Sayers!

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    1. Thank you Sara, and thank you for appreciating that I'm not name-dropping, but it still seems like magic to me that I knew someone who knew her!

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  9. Oh it's not a case of name-dropping at all! I completely understand what a strange thrill it is. I had a friend whose mother was pals with Daphne du Maurier. Magic!

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    1. Oh you understand completely - and Daphne du M would be just as good as DLS in those terms.

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  10. I have Murderess Ink - it's a lovely book and I was really happy when I found it, as I've had the companion volume Murder Ink for many years. I actually thought of you when I saw those pages but didn't get around to sharing at the time.

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    1. It is, isn't it? I just can't find my copy, annoyingly. I might even look for another one.

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  11. I must go read the wedding dress passage again, as my mental image has been "hideous brocade sofa" rather than "ooh, Worth". Fascinating piece.

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    1. I've loved everyone's input on the question of the wedding dress, so many different suggestions.

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