HEATHER MOLL WRITES ROMANTIC VARIATIONS OF JANE AUSTEN’S CLASSIC NOVELS. SHE IS KNOWN FOR HER HISTORICAL DETAILS, UNIQUE PLOTS, AND CHARACTERS TRUE TO THE BELOVED ORIGINALS. SHE'S BACK TO MY JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB TO PRESENT HER 'MR DARCY'S VALENTINE'. LET'S WELCOME HER BACK! M.G.
Thank you for welcoming me back to the blog, Maria Grazia, to talk about Mr. Darcy’s Valentine. Some of you might think sending a valentine on February 14 is a modern concept. Buying a Hallmark card isn’t from the regency era, but they did mail valentines.
In February 1805, The Ipswich Journal said, “On Valentine’s Day, the General Two-penny Post Office received 80,000 letters—an increase from last year of 20,000. The amount of 80,000 letters is 686£ 13s 4d.” Even 200 years ago, Valentine’s Day was big business. Preprinted cards didn’t come into existence until the middle of the nineteenth century, but would-be sweethearts did exchange valentines. They just needed to put in more effort.
Some made their valentines with gilt-edged paper or paper trimmed with real lace, and they could even be embossed or have metal sequins sewn in. Othersused plain paper, but either way the valentines were decorated. Sometimes they bought letter sheets with images preprinted on them that the sender colored. For those who were more talented, flowers were the most common decoration, but they also drew hearts, birds, and cupids.
But the decorations were only one part of your valentine. What about the romantic words? That was up to the sender. This was an era where wit and word games went hand in hand, so maybe writing a few rhyming verses for your sweetheart wasn’t as difficult for them as it might seem to us. For those who needed a little inspiration, there was help available.
In 1797,The Young Man’s Valentine Writer was published. It was a booklet that listed romantic verses that could be copied. For a sixpence, a young woman seeking inspiration could purchase Every Lady’s Own Valentine Writer In Prose and Verse in1798. It contained “Humorous Dialogue: Witty Valentines, with Answers; Pleasant Sonnets, on Love, Courtship, Marriage, Beauty, &c”.Similar booklets were published throughout the nineteenth century.
Here’s one poem from “Cupid’s annual charter” published in 1805:
My name in this I shan’t express
But leave you fair one it to guess
Cannot you see when you are by
The fire sparkle in my eye
Will not my very look declare
The preference I give my fair
Reward these tokens with a smile
And shew you know me and beguile
The doubts to which I do incline
And take me for a Valentine
These booklets could be broken down by category, like valentines to a faithless lover or to a man poorer than you. Suggested positive and negative replies were given. It was a popular custom for all classes and for both genders to send romantic valentines, but sometimes friends sent fond valentines to one another.
Austen hints at sending tokens on Valentine’s Day. In Emma, Jane Fairfax’s inappropriate gift arrives on February 14. Frank says:
“The arrival of this pianoforte is decisive with me. I wanted to know a little more, and this tells me quite enough... now I can see it in no other light than as an offering of love.”
Of course, he’s hinting that it’s from someone other than him, but it’s still a Valentine’s Day present.
ABOUT THE BOOK
WILL AN EXCHANGE OF SECRET VALENTINES LEAD TO LOVE?
After her aunt notices her partiality for Mr Wickham, Elizabeth Bennet is invited to town for the winter along with her sister Jane, and February in London gives Elizabeth the chance to become better acquainted with the Gardiners’ friend Mr Elgin. When Mr Darcy and Elizabeth cross paths at a concert, Darcy must account for how Bingley left Hertfordshire as he considers his deepening feelings for Elizabeth. Bingley is determined to renew his attentions to Jane, and an evening’s diversion of writing valentines leads to disastrous results for Darcy. When Valentine’s Day arrives, who will Elizabeth want to receive a valentine from: the lively man she just met or the man whose proposal she already refused?
On sale Feb 1, 2023 by Excessively Diverted Press in ebook and paperback 160 pages. This is a 50,000 word kisses-only variation.
RAFFLECOPTER SWAG GIVEAWAY
The giveaway is open from 02/06/2023 12:00am EST through 02/15/2023 12:00am EST. Giveaway is open worldwide. One winner will be chosen at random and notified via email on February 15, 2023. Winner has 24 hours to reply and claim their prize or another winner will be drawn. Entrants must leave a comment on the blog or subscribe to Heather Moll's newsletter to enter. Entrants can leave a comment at every blog.
Thanks for hosting Mr. Darcy's Valentine today!
I have wonderful memories of Valentine exchange parties in elementary school
And received some special Valentines in HS. Then, I married my Valentine- he was born on February 14th! ❤️
love the history of Valentine's.
Really enjoyed reading about valentines. I like to create poems as well for friends on this special day. Nothing as grand as this one, but it’s fun!
Thank you for sharing a little bit of history and for the giveaway.
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