April 5, 2022
This one’s for everyone who watched Bridgerton and wondered: could I get it in Georgian England?! Dr. Sally Holloway joins Jonathan to discuss the ins and outs of love and courtship in this era, including gifts and letters people would exchange, 18th century contraception, and the historical equivalents of ghosting and catfishing.
Dr. Sally Holloway is a historian of gender, emotions, and visual and material culture over the long 18th and nineteenth centuries, and is a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes University. She is the author of The Game of Love in Georgian England: Courtship, Emotions, and Material Culture (Oxford, 2019), which will be published in paperback in June.
You can follow Dr. Holloway on Twitter @sally_holloway.
Here are some visual resources to pair with the episode:
The love letter from William Martin to Hannah Smith, sent on February 15, 1714, is from the Hampshire Record office in Winchester, ref. 3M51/684. You can find their contact details here.
Transcripts for each episode are available at JonathanVanNess.com.
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259 — What Was It Like To Get Loved Up In Georgian England? with Dr. Sally Holloway
Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness & Dr. Sally Holloway
JVN [00:00:00] Welcome to Getting Curious. I’m Jonathan Van Ness and every week I sit down for a gorgeous conversation with a brilliant expert to learn all about something that makes me curious. On today’s episode, I’m joined by Sally Holloway, where I ask her: What was it like to get loved up in Georgian England? Welcome to Getting Curious, this is Jonathan Van Ness. We have got such a gorgeous, scintillating, sexy history episode for you with none other than Dr. Sally Holloway, who is a historian of gender, emotions, and visual and material culture in Britain over the long 18th and 19th centuries. She is the author of the book “The Game of Love in Georgian England.” Welcome to the show, Dr. Sally Holloway. How are you?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:00:47] Thank you. What an introduction! I wish I could be introduced like that every time I do any sort of public event.
JVN [00:00:53] Oh my gosh. I am totally, you know, around for announcement jobs. So, let your people contact my people and we’ll get it all sorted out. So here’s the thing: I was minding my own business watching Bridgerton, completely obsessed along with the rest of the entire universe last Christmas holiday. Now, the new season is upon us, and I am candidly kind of a slut. And I just cannot imagine having all these rules and all of these, like, hierarchies around dating and, like, not being allowed to be a slut and you need to be, like, a covert slut. So I just have a lot of questions about what dating was like in Georgian England. And then we heard about you and we were, like, “Oh my God, you’re the perfect person to tell us about it.” I’m sorry I said slut three times already to, like, a British, like, doctor. And it’s, like, you know, barely even 11:00 in the morning. But yes, I know that you can answer these things for us.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:01:48] So what we’re looking at, broadly speaking, is the Georgian era, it’s running from the coronation of George I in 1714 right through to the death of George IV in 1830. And so Bridgerton is sort of at the tail end of that period. It’s what we call the Regency era. And it’s a time of massive social, political, economic, cultural change, you know, not least when it came to matters of sex and sexual morality and love and marriage.
JVN [00:02:14] Oh darling, Sally, can you please say those years again, I was so transfixed with your accent I could barely concentrate. And also I must, I also must confess. Why do we call it the long 18th and 19th centuries? Were they, like, longer than other centuries, like, was there more leap years that century or something? Like, why is it long?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:02:34] That’s a really good question. It’s just a way of studying social change for historians. So it’s not like everybody goes to bed on the last day of 1699 and they wake up in 1700 and suddenly everything is different. They’re in the 18th century, life as we know it is completely changed.
JVN [00:02:52] Well then those people obviously didn’t live through Y2K because we do know that everything on, you know, it is a completely different. I’m totally kidding, so, that’s so interesting! So could you be someone who studies, like, a long century of any century because that really just means, like, the time leading into it and that century and then, like, the time leading out of it? Is that what that means?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:03:15] Yeah, exactly. It’s just how do we study historical periods as historians that are actually meaningful in some way? So you can study the short 18th century if you want to. But I mean, the general consensus is that it’s part of this longer period of social and cultural change, you know, you take a little bit of the 17th century from about 1688 and a little bit of the 19th century till about 1830. So that is sort of a meaningful bloc for historians. So I mean, you know, if we’re thinking “The Georgians, that’s from 1714 to 1830,” well, is social change actually coinciding with when monarchs were crowned or not? You know, where, where do you start and end when you’re studying culture?
JVN [00:04:00] Oh my god, that’s so fascinating! OK, and then when we’re talking about the Regency, those, like, years that you were saying before…
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:04:06] So the Regency is the period where the prince regent, so the future George IV, is reigning on sort of, on behalf of George. That’s because he’d been declared unfit to rule. And so it’s a discrete period from 1811 to 1820. But culturally, you might describe a sort of Regency era, which is what Bridgerton is in.
JVN [00:04:31] Oh, so the Regency is just, like, a little part of the Georgian era. SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:04:35] Yeah, it’s the end. It’s the end bit.
JVN [00:04:38] So, and then so George III, that was the guy who, like, he’s, like, in Hamilton, too, right? Isn’t that that guy?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:04:43] He’s in Hamilton, yeah.
JVN [00:04:44] And so then he loses, and then him and that cute queen from Bridgerton, their
son was ruling on his behalf for, like, nine years?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:04:52] So, yeah, the future George IV was reigning as regent, while George III was unfit to rule, he was incapacitated.
JVN [00:05:02] Who ruled him unfit? The Supreme Court of England or something?! So when we think about the Georgian era in England, what are some of the defining features? Like, what’s happening in literature, the arts, philosophy? Like, what’s the tea, like, in those areas?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:05:23] OK, what’s the tea…a synopsis. So industrialization, urbanization. So people are moving from rural areas to live in towns and cities, as more towns and cities are getting much bigger. And that’s really important for how people conducted courtship and marriage because it meant that you were meeting a much wider range of people. There were all these new commercial venues for urban leisure springing up where you could visit and you might meet a potential romantic partner. So places like pleasure gardens, you know, in Bridgerton they all go to Vauxhall, right, to watch the fireworks. So you go to pleasure gardens, you’d eat and drink and listen to music and see and be seen and meet potential suitors. You might go to all these new commercial venues, places like assembly rooms, balls, masquerades, all these sort of new urban sort of commercial venues.
JVN [00:06:18] OK, wait, wait, I have a question, I have a question, I have a question. SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:06:20] Okay!
JVN [00:06:21] Was there, like, a “Women Are From Mars, Men Are From Venus” of the era. Like, was there like some, like, dating rule book or something of the time? Like, was there any, like, books about dating?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:06:31] I suppose if you were going to think of a sort of manual, it would be the novel. So the, the period saw a boom of what we call print culture. So more people could read, more people could write, and there were all these new forms of print that people were engaging with. So you had daily newspapers, you had magazines, pamphlets, political tracts, gossip rags like, you know, Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers. So you had sort of trashy things that people would read, highbrow things that people were reading. And then the novel was the most important sort of a guidebook of really how, what you might hope to find in marriage. So the novel emerged in the sort of form that we would understand it today. And some novels became massive bestsellers and, you know, young people engaging in courtship are reading these stories. And actually they were really important in raising people’s expectations and, you know, rhapsodizing about the brilliance of finding true love, you know, having your virtue rewarded by finding a brilliant husband and companion that you would love forever. So the novel was really important.
JVN [00:07:42] I’m obsessed. I can’t get enough. OK, wait, so then at this time, America’s kind of happening, like, over on the other side, you know? And then, like, they fucking, like, rebel in the middle of this, like, era. So religious practices, because, like, the United States was founded so much on, you know, in the day, on this idea of, like, religious freedom. So what were people from England, like, running from? Like, what were the religious practices and views that were dominant in, like, the 18th century?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:08:12] So society on the whole is getting a bit more secular. So people are getting their information, like I said, from this enormous booming new print culture. So you could get your ideas about marriage and sex and sexual morality from pamphlets and
magazines and newspapers and novels, as well as the teachings of the church. But it’s still a Christian society, so people’s beliefs about the purpose of marriage and why they should get married and what marriage was for was still very much influenced by the teachings of the church. So the church held that some marriage was the proper site for sex, for procreation, and for long term companionship. So marriage was still very much the building block of society. And that idea had, you know, a religious foundation. So people’s ideas about the sort of philosophy behind marriage was shaped by religion, and also in a practical sense. Because, you know, everyone’s going to church on Sundays, and the church is a good venue for meeting a potential spouse. So you might walk to the church with someone that you are interested in, you might sit in a pew nearby and then make plans, you know, to have tea with them and their families after. So the church was important both sort of philosophically and morally, but also in a practical sense because it was a meeting place between people in a community.
JVN [00:09:36] So, and because this is taking over, like, such a large time from like the 1680s to the 1830s. And I would imagine that as you get into like, you know, way before this with the 1400s and 1500s and like and you know, even earlier, it’s like harder to document because there’s probably, like, less surviving material around, like, courtship and love and stuff. But, like, what was the evolution of marriage just within, like the Georgian era, like, from, you know, 1680s? Like, does it become more solidified as issues of like like society become more important, like, you know, marrying or, like, you know, not marrying someone who was, like, not for, like, the same like social circles as you like giving kind artists, which, you know, not to switch continents but giving, like, the Gilded Age vibes, like, “Oh, it’s not the right society,” but whatever, like, you know, that accent was that America in the eighteen hundreds, you know?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:10:31] Well, the really, really important ideal was marrying for love. So everybody sort of in the Georgian era, they were influenced by this enormously important idea of marrying for love.
JVN [00:10:44] Cause what was it before that?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:10:46] So marriage was always associated with love in some way. But what was so different in the Georgian era was there was this sort of insistence on love before marriage. It couldn’t just be something that developed later. So writers like Rousseau were arguing that having love before marriage was the law of nature. It was. It was enormously important. And there was this sort of celebration, idealization, valorization, you know, love in marriage became, this hugely celebrated goal. It took on a brand new cultural importance, a cultural weight that hadn’t been there before. And so the novel, novels like Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, they presented this idealized view of, the full title is “Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded.” And so Pamela, the heroine, she fends off all of her master, Mr. B’s, attempts at seduction. And then at the end, she’s protected her virtue and she’s rewarded by a loving
companion at marriage. So having love in your marriage was an enormously important goal that was propagated through novels.
JVN [00:11:57] So basically, novels were kind of, like, the longform Twitter of 18th century and love was trending, like, marrying for love was really, really, really trending.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:12:08] It was really, really, really trending. Yeah, but in different, you know, all different genres as well. So that’s in the novel. But also love was really important in philosophy. Love in this period is not just a sort of fluffy ideal, and it’s also bound up in hierarchies of power. So men talked endlessly about the strength of their feeling. You know, it was men who had access to the language of love. There are enormous hierarchies involved here at every single stage. So women had to remain chaste and modest and virtuous, whereas it was men who wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote at enormous length about the strength of their love, and also their enormous hierarchies of, of race and of what country you are from. So Europeans were arguing that because they were marrying for love, that was a sign that they were a “polished nation.” It was a sign that they were a “civilized” society. So they’re using love as a philosophy to separate themselves from everybody else. They’re saying, “We’re marrying for love. It shows we’re civilized people, we’re people of feeling. Whereas, you know, other nations where men and women might be a bit more indifferent to one another after marriage, that is a sign of barbarism and savagery.” So love, you know, was as an important idea or philosophically as well and how they sort of exercised power. How men exercise power over women and Europeans, exercise power over everybody else.
JVN [00:13:39] And how cocky to think that other cultures weren’t marrying for love also, like, or that that was like an idea that was, like, exclusive to this, like, school of thought. So women must remain. I never know how to pronounce that, is it you, but you said che, chast, chaste, chaste?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:13:58] Chaste, chaste—
JVN [00:14:00] Chaste, I never know! In my head I always get to that, it’s like how I pronounce, like, Sirius Black “Sirus Black” but until I saw the movies, you know, I never knew how to pronounce it. But that’s, like, not being able to read versus not knowing how to sound something out. So, defending their virtue. Is that, like, defending their virginity, like, only ever sleeping with one person, was there, like, a really heavy emphasis on that?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:14:21] Yeah, enormously. So there was a very clear sexual double standard. So, you know, the 18th century is generally understood by historians as the first great sexual revolution. So sex was increasingly understood as something enjoyable and pleasurable. It was something natural. But there are clear hierarchies in that, because it’s men who are, you know, going around and sleeping with prostitutes and so on. But for women, you know, their virtue was absolutely everything and know you didn’t want to be courting someone for too long before marriage because you might find that your virtue was
compromised in the meantime, and it might ruin the match for you. So for women, you know, virtue was everything and you know, you see that in Bridgerton as well, you know the importance of resisting the danger of seduction.
JVN [00:15:10] And so does that mean that, like if you courted for too long and you did it, the guy might be, like, “Oh, she didn’t have virtues, so now I can’t be with her!” Then would she get like a scarlet letter? And then he wouldn’t, and then he could just move on and it was fine. But maybe he was, like, the guy who instigated it. And the lady was, like, “Now I don’t even really want to but okay, fine, I’ll S your D.” And then he was like, “Slut!” and then she didn’t even get to go like, S anyone else’s D?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:15:38] I mean, so what’s interesting is that we know that the population was growing enormously during this century, so more people were having more sex, they were having procreative, penetrative sex. The population is growing. So actually in the later stages of courtship, sort of “ordinary” women, once they felt secure, once a man had announced himself, he proposed, you considered yourself engaged to be married. A lot of people were having sex in the later stages of courtship. And we know that because up to as many as a third of brides were actually pregnant on their wedding day. I’ll show you actually, I have a really interesting print, which I’ll show you. I’ll share my screen. So this is a print. It’s called “The Unwilling Bridegroom, or Forc’d Meat will never digest.” Can you see that?
JVN [00:16:26] Yes.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:16:27] And it shows. So she’s pregnant and the groom is being shoved up the aisle by an usher being, like, “Well, you’ve impregnated her. Now you’ve got to marry her. You know, you can’t have men, you know, impregnating women and then and then leaving their illegitimate children, you know, the responsibility of the parish.” You know, that’s what it says “Forc’d Meat will never digest.” You know, now now they’ve had sex. Now she’s pregnant. It’s his responsibility to look after her, whether he wants to or not.
JVN [00:16:59] And ultimately, what we probably know is that people have always been doing it regardless. So it’s, like, how do you, how did they get away with it? How did they, like, you know, work with the consequences of, you know, what was going on? Which is so, that’s so much to, to kind of handle. So if, and some of that is like, you know, some of the consequences, like, we’re talking about, like, babies. So what, like, what could they do to prevent having babies? Like what contraception is available in, like the seventeen hundreds and eighteen hundreds?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:17:37] Well, I’ll show you. So these, on your screen now. Can you see that? They’re 18th century condoms!
JVN [00:17:47] Okay! Sustainable. Reusable. They’re still intact.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:17:51] know, I know, reuse and recycle, right? So these are 18th century condoms. They were reusable. And so men would tie them on at the base with a ribbon. And then you’d use it, empty it, wash it, and then just go use it again. And you know, it was reusable. And we know that men used them. They described it as their “armor to protect their machine.”
JVN [00:18:16] Armor, to protect their– I wonder how effective they were. SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:18:19] I mean, not very effective. I don’t know. JVN [00:18:22] Like, was there anything else that they could do?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:18:26] Withdrawal.
JVN [00:18:28] Oh, yeah, that method. Wow, that old chestnut, as my husband would say. OK, so because love is so important in this time and also, I just got to–, what about gay stuff? I mean, I can’t, what about gay sex? What do we know about gay sex in the times, were there any, like, hot gay stories?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:18:52] So a a lot of historians argue that the news of sexual freedom of the 18th century, it extended to some extent to gay couples.
JVN [00:19:01] Was there gay couples, that were out?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:19:403 Yeah, yeah, yeah. There were loads of gay couples. But not, I mean, I wouldn’t say “out” in that way. You know, being gay wasn’t an identity category in the way that it is now. It was more about behavior.
JVN [00:19:15] But people kind of knew, like, on the, like, they’re, like, “Oh, like those people living on that corner street house together, like, they’re probably, you know, that aren’t married….” Like, there was some, like, people who are assumed to be in queer couples at the time.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:19:27] Yeah. So what’s interesting is that we know about, you know, some romantic relationships, say between two women. And interestingly, they sort of navigated their relationships using a lot of the same rituals that the straight couples were using. So they sort of appropriated these rituals from the church, rituals of marrying, and applied them to their own relationships, even though that didn’t give them any sort of legal basis. So we know of some couples of women, who one of the women would buy the other a ring and they’d turn it on one of their fingers and make a pledge, you know, to be together forever. You know, even if it wasn’t in front of the church and they’d still, you know, refer to one another, you know, as a “help meet.” And, you know, they, they did have long term partnerships, but it wasn’t open and public in the same way, obviously, and it wasn’t
recognized by the church. Of course, you know, that there had to be much greater secrecy and much greater care involved. But we, but we do have some evidence, of women especially, conducting these romantic partnerships and engaging in these same sorts of rituals. And, you know, for men as well, there was, there was a thriving gay subculture in 18th century London. So men could go to these places called molly houses, that were in taverns or private rooms, and they would have these ceremonies called marrying ceremonies where they would dress in drag and then have a sort of mock marrying ceremony, like, sending up the customs of the church before having sex. And so you would, so you can say to some extent, yeah, there is, you know, the freer sexual license for this thriving, urban gay subculture. But also there was a big police crackdown on molly houses during the same period.
JVN [00:21:21] Oh yeah, tell me what happened.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:21:23] Yeah, the most famous one is Mother Clap’s Molly House. But there were, there were raids on it, you know, in the 18th century and Mother Clap was, you know, put in the pillory.
JVN [00:21:33] What’s the pillory?!
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:21:35] When you’re sort of publicly shamed in front of the whole
JVN [00:21:38] OK, so because love is such a, you know, confounding thing, how did people understand love at the time. Like, was it all defined as, like, a religious-based love or were there–, obviously, we were just talking about queer loves that were defined outside of a religious sense that, you know, mirrored it in certain ways, made it their own. How was love defined at this time?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:22:03] So love was understood as a long lasting, powerful passion of the soul. So people thought love was so formidable in its power, you know, it was almost impossible to capture in words. And it was definitely shaped by religious maxims, like I said. It was shaped by couples in the Bible like Adam and Eve, and Rebecca and Isaac, and Ruth and Boaz. One of the men I studied in my book, he described love as “an inexpressible power that moves all the faculties of the soul. It’s a celestial spark. The finishing stroke of heaven, the polish of existence.” So it has an almost religious importance, love in this era.
JVN [00:22:45] And then what about like the physical understandings, like, was sex so closely associated with love here, too?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:22:55] Yes. So, you know, the church held that marriage was the proper site of sex, procreation, and long term companionship, and the absolute pinnacle of married love was was to produce children. But I mean, love itself, you know, you even, before having sex, you showed you were in love with another person through all these different
physical symptoms. Okay, so you showed you’re in love through the body. So a person in love with someone who was sighing, blushing, swooning, you know, in Bridgerton, Cressida Cowper swoons? So you see, the swoon as a powerful sort of act for women showing their sensitivity, that their capacity for feelings. So they’re sort of swooning and dreaming of loved ones and sighing. But it wasn’t enough to just do it on your own. You know, you have to communicate that with whoever you were dating. So people would write letters saying, “Oh, you know, I’m sighing.” You know, just doing, you know, doing their sigh in writing, it’s a sort of sign that they were in love, you know, so “I’ve got the physical symptoms,” displaying them through the body to show people know that you are in love.
JVN [00:24:08] Ah, I love that. How does, like, love in this era, in the seventeen hundreds apply across classes? Like, if you were seen as someone who had less resources, if you didn’t have, your family didn’t come from, you know, money or the aristocracy, were you kind of, like, more allowed to be a slut or, like, more allowed to be more–, excuse me, not a slut. But were you allowed to like, be more free and not like, you know, restrained to those rules so much as people that were, like, in the upper classes or, like, Royal Society?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:24:40] Yeah, I mean, as always, you know, it was a really good time to be a rich, straight white man. So the rules really, you know, you have so much freer sexual license if you were a member of the aristocracy, if you were enormously wealthy, you had much greater freedom to to do what you wanted.
JVN [00:25:01] Oh, I thought, maybe if you, like, didn’t have all those people watching you? What if you wanted to be or, what if you were, like, gay. Was it better if you were, like, not in the aristocracy. So you could kind of just like, go like, fine, like your perfect, like, boyfriend and then you could just like, go save up for like a farmhouse somewhere?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:25:18] No, I mean, people, people had much greater sexual freedom if they were, members of the nobility.
JVN [00:25:24] Interest. So, OK, so then at the beginning of this era, what did romantic love look like? Like, how was, the beginning of the 1700s kind of different from the beginning of the 1800s?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:25:39] So at the beginning of the 18th century, the most influential model for expressing romantic love was courtly love. And so under the culture of courtly love, a man would present himself as a sort of, like, a knight. It’s also known as heroic love. He’s sort of a suffering, dashing knight who is pained by trying to win the hand of a fair lady. I can read you actually, I have a letter here, I’ll show you. Can you see that?
JVN [00:26:09] I still only see condoms. I just see varying sizes of 1700s condoms.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:26:15] I’ve had these condoms on my screen for, like, the last 20 minutes! So what I’ve got here is, this is a real love letter that was written from a man to woman in 1714. And so this is the language of courtly love. So, he says, “But sure, my charming conquest cannot be so cruel, were she but sensible, what an unusual disorder she had occasioned.” So that’s love, the unusual disorder. “Sure, she would have some tender thoughts to allay it. I languish by an intolerable and yet pleasing wound.” So that’s love. Love is the intolerable and yet pleasing wound. It’s something that, that’s wounded as him that he’s suffering from. So that, that is the culture of courtly love.
JVN [00:26:55] He has great handwriting.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:26:57] Yes. Yeah, it’s very flowery. And you can see his signature as
well. At the bottom, it’s all sort of swirly.
JVN [00:27:04] Yeah, he’s really, like, no typos. He has really had to be like, you know, intentional. What about, like, being able to, like, marry for love outside of your social class, like what if there is someone who is from, like, the aristocracy, like, a man who fell in love with, like, a woman who was? I don’t know, like, someone who worked within the house, or someone who was, like, a lady’s maid or was that ever allowed? Was that seen as, like, a cool thing if, like, a woman was able to like, move up socially? Or was that just completely impossible?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:27:39] It wasn’t impossible but it was, it definitely wasn’t a cool thing. So I think one historian described it really well. She described it as a sort of “willing drift” into a suitable alliance. You only met sort of broadly sort of “suitable” people, so you were sort of shepherded through social events as a courting man or woman. So all the different people you were meeting with sort of broadly suitable. And so people are marrying people from their own social bracket. So gentlemen are marrying gentleman’s daughters, manufacturers are marrying manufacturer’s daughters. You know, you don’t typically have massive class disparities in the making of marriages. And so, you know, people are, people are marrying within their lane very much.
JVN [00:28:24] Because there just wasn’t even a place for social interaction between them? Because you were either going to take nice ass masquerades that, like, big, nice places or, like, more, like, taverny, like, local places that just depend on, like, what your family did for a living?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:28:37] Yeah. I mean, it’s this sort of the same as today, really. I mean, you don’t get, you know, enormous examples where everybody who’s super rich is marrying people herself or poor because, you know, you’re not moving in the same social circles. So people are generally expecting to marry someone of a similar social class. And, you know, you might think, “Oh, today we live completely outside of all of those rules.” But if you actually look at most people’s relationships, you’re, you’re typically sort of following your own class, broadly speaking, although, you know, some very, very, very wealthy men, did you know, did marry their, you know, their servants. But I mean, it definitely wasn’t the norm.
JVN [00:29:12] And then how does it start to shift as we approach the 1800s, like, what starts to change?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:29:19] The key shift here is the culture of sensibility. So it’s enormously important in shaping how people approach their romantic relationships. And it was a movement across sort of culture and philosophy, and art and music and literature. So to be a person of sensibility, you were in touch with your feelings. It was to be a man of feeling or a woman of feeling to be in touch with your emotions, to be someone who was sensitive, who could display their feelings through, you know, blushing and sighing and so on. I can show you, actually, I have a great print. Can you see? Can you see this?
JVN [00:29:56] Yes.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:29:57] So this is, this is a picture of two lovers, sort of influenced by sensibility. So you can see they’re crying because they’re so emotional, because they have so many feelings and they’re showing them through weeping. So it’s a picture of a man and a woman. They’re both holding massive, oversized handkerchiefs to their eyes. They’re dabbing their eyes, and it’s called “Sympathetic Lovers.” It says “The Sorrows of Werther I’ve read.” So that’s, that was a really important bestselling novel. He says, “Miss Sukey, believe what I say. I’ll never get him out of my head. I’ve cried like a child all day.” So it’s this emotional excess, this sort of over the top feeling. And she says, “Oh Tommy, you know, my poor heart is by sympathy rendered so fine his name does such feelings impart, I must mingle my sorrows with thine.” They’re crying. They’re weeping. They’re so sensitive. They’re so emotional. And so they’re showing in a theatrical, over-the-top way, because it was a satire, it’s showing the fact that they’re people are feeling and therefore they’re in touch with their feelings. They’re emotional, they’re virtuous and morally upright, sensitive individuals.
JVN [00:31:01] And what kind of ushers in this, like, more and more over the top, like, must find love. We’ve mentioned a little bit before, but I know there’s, like, more there. There was, is it more people are, like, learning to read? Is that why, it’s coming, like, because people are really wanting it, because it’s like going viral? It’s, like, the whole trending thing?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:31:24] Yeah. Yeah, it’s, it’s a really popular social movement, so, yeah more people can read more. People can write. If you couldn’t read or write, you know you could go to a scribe and pay them and they would write a letter for you in this style. So even if you couldn’t read or write for yourself, you could get someone else to do it, so you still might have access to their sort of culture in a different sense. But yeah, more people are reading, more people are writing and actually writing letters becomes essential in how people form relationships. So courtship letters became a really, really important way that people navigated their relationships in this era. And you were, women didn’t just correspond with anybody in this way. It was a really big deal. You know, if a man wrote to her and said, “Oh, please, can we enter into a correspondence?” If she said yes, that signified that they might soon be engaged.
So the letter is a really, really, really important space where people expressed intimate emotions.
So people are, it’s encouraging them to express sort of their deepest feelings. It was this sort of revelatory genre. You couldn’t be very businesslike in your love letters. You couldn’t just write anything. You know, the expectation was one of sort of self-revelation and bonding by sort of talking about your feelings and your character and what you hoped to, hoped to find from a spouse, what you hoped to get from marriage. And, like, in this print, the Sympathetic Lovers, is influenced by novels. So people sent novels to each other as a gift. The feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, she sent the novel Rousseau’s “Julie,” a massive bestseller. She sent it to her suitor, William Godwin, with a note that said, You know, “I want you to read this so you can learn to talk about your feelings a bit more,” you know, she said, “I want you to give me a bird’s eye view of your heart.” So it’s novels and it’s letters that’s really encouraging and feeding this culture. This, this whole all focus on, on revelation and sort of talking about your feelings so openly.
JVN [00:33:31] So they’re all relying on letters. So, like, how long did it take to get a letter in the 1700s and 1800s?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:33:38] So the post was getting much quicker, so there were several posts a day. Increasingly, they were going with much greater speed. You had mail coaches starting to be used. You had a much more reliable road network. So people knew when the post was due and they would write up to that second and knowing which post it was going into, then you could receive it the next day. And even, actually if people, even if people were going to see each other the same day, they could still write a letter and drop it off by hand, because I think there were things that you could write in a letter that you might not say in person.
JVN [00:34:14] Ah! So that’s when you’re, like, “I really fancy the pants off you,” like, you would say that in a letter, but you wouldn’t say it in real life.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:34:22] Well, a man might say it in a letter. A woman would never, ever have put something like that in writing because it might, if anyone else got hold of the letters. Well, if the relationship was then broken off, you know that would, you know, irreparably damage her virtue. So it was for men to make those over-the-top statements of love.
JVN [00:34:40] What about, like, marrying someone from a different city? What if you, like, were from Manchester, but you went to London for a summer to like, meet your cousin or something? Like, how long would that post take? But is it still like, not super common, like, marry someone, not from your city because of just the nature of communication and stuff?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:34:58] People were typically from similar areas because, yeah, that’s how you meet people. But people were traveling, you know, staying with family members in
different parts of the country. But yeah, broadly, you were courting people of your similar geographical area, similar class status.
JVN [00:35:16] Cause you were saying, like, industrialization earlier is happening a lot in, like, you know, late 1700s, 1800s. What does, like, trade and the economy have to do with this continued obsession with love?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:35:32] It meant that love was increasingly commercialized in the 18th century. So this is the period that saw the invention of the Valentine’s card as a commercial object. So increasingly, you could buy romantic gifts and tokens from a shop, so you didn’t have to make them yourself, and you could go shopping. So the verb “shopping,” “I’m going to go a-shopping,” was coined in this period. So you could go to shops, buy love tokens without having to make them yourself, and there was an increasing range of things you could buy. You know, people were sending, you know, wide collections of stuff to each other. You know, they were sending gifts like, you know, garters and gloves and jewelry and rings and perfume bottles and flowers and sweets, you know, so such a greater range of things that people were sending. And it led to the development of a whole economy of love, of a whole economy of courtship.
JVN [00:36:28] So capitalism has been driving this thing for a minute! So in your book “The Game of Love in Georgian England,” you focus on 60 couples, which it’s just so fascinating, you guys. So how did you land on these couples and, and what’s the range of lived experiences that they offer?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:36:50] So I traveled all across the country going to local record offices, and I collected letters that they’d written. So typically, lots more love letters survive by men. But I was trying to find collections where you’ve got both sides of a correspondence because women I think destroyed their letters much more, in a much more dedicated way. Because if, if a relationship ended before marriage, the ritual was for people to burn their letters. And that’s what makes it really difficult as a historian, because all the ones that didn’t go to plan. You know, you’ve got heavily redacted letters or the best ones have been taken out and torn up and thrown away or burned. So it’s a lot of work, you know, rustling through the archives, trying to find all these places where people have kept their correspondence because people did keep them, you know, love letters were really, really, really important emotional artifacts. If a relationship was going well, you know, you’d keep your letters to reread them and as a sort of memorial to a really important time in your life.
JVN [00:37:51] So kind of, like, the best kept logs were the ones that you focus more time on, right? Is that fair to say?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:38:58] Yeah. Although, and also, as the 18th century went on, more and more letters have survived. People are corresponding more, they’re writing at greater length, and saving their letters as, as treasured emotional objects.
JVN [00:38:09] And then what, like, what’s like the range, the lived experiences of the 60 couples? Like, is any of them, like, super royal or any of, like, like, what’s, like, the spectrum of people who you focus on?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:38:19] So broadly speaking, I’m looking at the middling sorts and the gentry. The middling sorts of people, like, you know, merchants, large-scale shopkeepers, manufacturers, lawyers, politicians, clergymen and then gentlemen and gentleman’s daughters. And at the lowest level, I’m looking at people like laborers and wheel rights; at the absolute highest level, it’s people, members of the nobility, you know, for whom it was really important that they made a good match with someone of the same social status, with their parents’ approval, in order to ensure the continuation of, you know, the family dynasty.
JVN [00:38:59] Did any, like, really salacious love letters of, like, a marriage or, like, an engagement gone wrong live on both sides? Like, did any lady, like, not get to the burning fast enough or did she keep them low key? And then they came out later? Like, was it, like, what was, like, the most salacious, like, letters that you found?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:39:15] I found some women, it just didn’t go right, you know, they got jilted and they just but they still couldn’t bear to destroy their letters. So they kept them, you know, and they, and they never married, you know, so they could reread them as a sort of sad memento of a time when they were, they nearly made it to the altar. If it all went completely, kind of disastrously, dreadfully wrong and you’re a woman, say you got jilted, you could sue the guy for breach of promise for damages to get money for your hurt feelings. And so in these cases, for breach of promise, we, people use their love letters as evidence, so we have letters that were read out in court. So that’s another way in which this sort of evidence survives. So if you were absolutely on the precipice of matrimony and then a guy upped and left and jilted you, you could sue him for damages for your lost virtue, your lost chastity.
JVN [00:40:10] How often were those won, by the female?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:40:13] They were won quite regularly by women, but if a man brought it, he won a lot less because men were not seen to suffer so much when a relationship ended. And it was a bit more sort of, you know, chin up and get over it, whereas women were seen to suffer so much more because their virtue had been compromised. And also because, you know, women were seen as a physically more tender, more sensitive, more emotional, you know, women were thought to feel much more than men.
JVN [00:40:43] And why was marriage just so important in the first place? Was it because syphilis was deadly? And if you were, like, too much of a ho, you could die? Like, why were they so obsessed with it?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:40:56] It was so important because it was the, the key building block of society. So to marry meant that you were an adult. It was a key marker of adulthood. You would marry. You’d leave your parental home upon marriage. You’d set up a new household, a new independent economic unit. And it was the proper site set for having children. And it was a marker of your financial independence and your maturity.
JVN [00:41:26] Oh, OK. So it’s really important. And then OK, and then, how did people like to show their affection other than like swooning and sighing, like what was, like, the impulse buy gift of like be here to show someone that you were just like super in love with them?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:41:43 Well, I’ll tell you, talk about impulse buy. This is really, I’ll show you. Can you still see my screen? Can you see this? [CROSSTALK] Over the 18th century, increasingly there are these newly fashionable, sort of, like you say, sort of impulse buy type gifts, things that there was a new vogue for and everyone, you know, suddenly starts buying these things. And then, you know, a few decades later, they fall out of fashion again. So between about 1780 and 1810, the thing that is all the rage is the eye miniature. So this is what you’ve got on your screen now. So it’s a painting that only shows someone’s eye. OK. And you would wear it, and you would be the only one who knew whose eye it was. So it’s sort of a secret. And, you know, even now, you know, we don’t know who this eye belongs to. But you know, the goal is now you have a miniature painting of your lover’s eye. You could wear it on your body. So symbolically, you’ve got something of their body on your body. So it’s bringing the two of you together, and you could gaze at it to create and deepen feelings of love. And the eye was particularly important because the eye was thought to be the window of the soul or the window to the heart. So you gaze at, you know, this painting in someone’s eye that no one else necessarily knew who it was and sort of renew your vows and you can see the eye here. Sometimes you get a bit of eyebrow or bit of their nose as well. But no, no more than that. The eye here is crying tears of diamonds. So it’s probably a woman’s eye, and she’s crying these diamond tears to show her virtue and her purity and sort of the sorrow of separation.
JVN [00:43:23] Ooh, I’m obsessed with her. OK, so back to the letters, like, how did they build an affection or like, how did the stakes grow over time? And what’s, like, the average length of a courtship in this time?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:43:38] So the average length of a courtship, I’d say, it’d be about two years. You didn’t want it to be too long because, you know, a woman had to protect her virtue in the meantime. I mean, the longest ones I’ve looked at went up to about four years, and that was if a, if a man, if they were separated for a long period of time. So sometimes, you know, if a man’s parents disapproved, they’d send him away to go on a Grand Tour of Europe, you know, and visit museums and look at ruins and paintings and so on. And then he’d come back. And if he was still really keen on her when he got back then alright, they could get married, or if a man was, you know, a soldier or a sailor or so on or was away on business for long periods
of time, then it might be a little bit longer. But the average time is between two and four years.
JVN [00:44:20] Did people ever, like, parallel path, as to say, like, did you ever find someone who was, like, sending multiple letters to different people?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:44:30] Oh no, no, no, no. You couldn’t do that. So even if you were, if you were corresponding with someone that meant that you were on the path to an engagement. You couldn’t, you couldn’t correspond with lots of people at once. And I studied one guy, actually, poor man, he was writing to his friends that this woman was sort of ghosting him. And he said, “Well, can I have my letters back then? You know, is it over?” But she wouldn’t commit to keeping them or sending them back at all. So then he didn’t really know whether they were courting anymore or not. So, you know, if you kept someone’s letters and you were still corresponding with them, the expectation was that eventually you would be engaged. But if, if it was all over, you had to return your letters and return your gifts to signify that that was it.
JVN [00:45:13] And what, she never responded?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:45:16] No, no. So we don’t know. She just sort of ghosted him.
JVN [00:45:21] What if she died! Maybe she got the Spanish flu or no, that was in the 1900s. Maybe she got something else, maybe she got smallpox.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:45:29] We don’t know, that’s the thing. It was just a glimpse of their relationship survives, in his friend’s diary, because the guy’s recording, you know, this poor man, he has no idea whether he’s even courting this woman anymore or not.
JVN [00:45:41] So that’s really the equivalent of ghosting in the time is just, like, you don’t respond anymore, which is really very much the same as what it is now.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:45:49] Yeah, but in many ways it was easier to ghost people, you know, without social media. If you stop writing and move away, then really, who’s to say where you’ve gone? Unless you’re going to track people through their friends and family.
JVN [00:46:00] What about, like, a catfishing incident?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:46:02] I mean, certainly there were occasions where, you know, women would marry someone and then you’d find out, well, the person you married wasn’t exactly who they presented themselves as being. You know, you might find after marriage that a man had, I don’t know, big debts or something that you had to, you had to pay off or that he had illegitimate children from before marriage or he was a massive rake or a gambler. So certainly,
yes, some wives did find out when it was too late that they’d married someone that wasn’t exactly as they presented themselves.
JVN [00:46:31] No! And then what would happen? Like, could you, like, divorce or annul? Like, what happened? Like what would happen?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:46:37] No. So I mean, that’s the thing, you know, what historians say is that marriage is actually pretty easy to get into, but impossible to get out of. And I said, once you know, that was it. So that the divorce– full legal divorce with the possibility to remarry– wasn’t really viable until the mid-19th century. So it’s the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857.
JVN [00:47:00] Was that the divorced beheaded died, divorced, beheaded, survived guy. Isn’t that, like, why they made the Church of England so he could get divorced or something?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:47:09] No. So that much earlier. So this is, Matrimonial Causes Act was Queen Victoria. It’s the Victorians, when it comes in. So it was in the 18th century that if you want to get divorced, it was more you would go through the church courts and have “separation from bed and board.” So you could separate, or a man could sue to separate, but you couldn’t then remarry. It was called separation without remarriage. And if you wanted to be able to remarry you, that required an act of parliament. So you needed the support of someone in parliament and actually had to pass as a bill. So there was an absolutely miniscule handful of people who managed to get divorced in this period.
JVN [00:47:50] Until the 1850s?!
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:47:52] Yeah, yeah. And then it was, it was still a small proportion of the population who got divorced then, but it was much higher than it was in the 18th century. So you can see why marriage is so important because once you’re in it, that’s it.
JVN [00:48:05] Damn, that’s intense. So you were just talking about like the diary that we found of the guy who was talking about his friend, whose, like, partner just stopped responding and he never knew if they were like, really over or not. So, like, how big of a role did, like, friends play in, like, vetting these people or, like, you know, like, because it’s so important, so, like, wouldn’t let your friends circle really like, be trying to look out for you?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:48:32] Yeah, friends had a really important role to play in making suitable courtships and breaking unsuitable ones. Courtship was definitely not something that was private. It was definitely not something that took place without the knowledge or consent of your friends and parents. So I studied one guy who he courted a woman for a while and then had to break it off, even though they were both completely in love and completely set on marriage because his father, said, you know, “You absolutely can’t do this. I forbid it.” He was then forced to break it off. So what people were supposed to do was do it with the sort of support and consent of everybody, so people would address their love letters to a woman and
they’d often talk about, you know, how brilliant her mum was in the letters, in the knowledge that her mum was probably going to read it.
JVN [00:49:19] Ah, yeah, you got to, like, get everybody on your side, honey.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:49:25] Exactly, exactly. And I’ve got a print, actually, that shows it here. It’s called “The Love Letter,” and it shows two fashionably dressed gentlewomen strolling in a garden. And one of them has got a love letter in her hand. So she is sort of discussing what it says with her friend, being, like, “Well, what do you think? You know, is this a good match? Is he a good suitor? What should I write back?” It was, it was collaborative. So people discuss their letters with friends. They discussed it with family. And actually, the men often sent their letters unsealed. So they didn’t have envelopes in this period, either. Envelopes are a mid-19th century thing. So you’d fold your letter up and seal it. But sometimes people sent them unsealed so that a woman’s parents could read it first. So it’s going through a lot of hands, a love letter. So you can see why there as well, a lot of them don’t survive, because they just fell to pieces because they’re being handed around so much.
JVN [00:50:16] Ah, I love that story. Do you ever research anybody who’s, like, a friend or confidant, like when they went in and broke up their relationship? And then, like, they, like, you know, like, a cheater cheater pumpkin eater and then they ended up, like, running off together?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:50:31] No, but I have read accounts of men who knew two sisters and parents would sort of offer a sister as a potential match and they pick one sister, then decide actually they preferred the other one and then go back and marry the original one. So sort of flicking their attention between siblings. And I, yeah, I studied one, the original sister who’d been rejected died, you know, and they said it was because of her broken heart, because of the slight that she’d received. So it was a serious, it was a serious business getting getting jilted, especially for a woman, because, you know, your virtue was damaged, your reputation was damaged and you know, you had such a deep capacity for feeling biologically.
JVN [00:51:12] Ah! Ah! So the perception of women’s chasteness or whatever or, like, fragility as compared to a man’s meant that if she was jilted since she was meant to just, like, wither away and be relegated to, like, pariah status because one guy was a dick?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:51:29] Yeah, so women were seen as sort of nervously more sensitive. So the nerves were a really important thing in terms of how people understood human bodies in this period. So women had “sensitive nerves that vibrated with feeling” and, you know, your nerves were so sensitive you could suffer from a nervous collapse if a man left you. And really, they were granted no sort of power over whether they died or not. You’d just sort of waste away. And so we see that in – I was talking about how important novels were – novels like Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa. It’s one of the longest novels in the English language. I don’t recommend reading it. I mean, I swear, most of it is just Clarissa dying really, really, really, really
slowly. So she sort of, she’s been seduced by a rake, and then she declines and declines and droops and droops and gets weaker and weaker, and her nerves are shot until she eventually dies. So it’s this sort of slow wasting away.
JVN [00:52:32] Was there ever a really strong or, like, like, accounts of, like, a woman who was, like, jilted and then was, like, “Fuck this guy!” And then, like, went and found, like, an even better guy.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:52:41] Yeah. So you know, you could sue him for breach of promise, get loads of money in damages and then, you know, marry someone else.
JVN [00:52:48] Is there any, like, cute stories that you research where that happened? I just love, like, a strong lead who has, like, a strong comeback story, you know?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:52:55] There’s this one woman as she’s called Anne Louisa Dalling, and she had been courting a man called Gilbert Stirling. So he disappeared hours before their wedding and so her brother wrote to him. He said, “In a moment, without a word, without a line, without a whisper in the ear of a friend to tell us any cause. Within a few hours of the appointed celebration, you disappear.” So he completely ghosted her. “And at six weeks end, we are still left the subject of town talk and the newspapers.” So you might think she’d have sort of withered away and, you know, fallen under the weight of her romantic pain. But actually, she did marry advantageously a few years later. So, I mean, it’s interesting you’ve got all these wider narratives about how it could be potentially fatal for a woman and how it might destroy her, her whole body, physically and emotionally and mentally. But actually, you know, women who were jilted could make these advantageous marriages. Still, you know, you weren’t, it wasn’t over for you forever. Even if culture, culturally, it might tell you that that was the case.
JVN [00:54:02] As we start to come out of the Georgian era and into the Victorian era, what practices do people kind of keep up and what starts to change as we get more into like the eighteen hundreds? Later eighteen hundreds?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:54:13] So people still found love to be an enormously influential ideal. It was still shaping people’s relationships to a large extent, people were still exchanging letters. They were still exchanging romantic gifts, but they had new models to look to, they had new ideals. And so a really important one was Victoria and Albert. So Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, they were married in 1840 and they had a big, white wedding. And so that is sort of the moment at which the white wedding dress becomes a big, really important tradition.
JVN [00:54:50] That was her first cousin, wasn’t it, Albert? SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:54:53] Yes.
JVN [00:54:54] Yes, fully first cousin love.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:54:56] I think, well, actually, people, people married their first cousins,
JVN [00:54:59] I know, but fuck me, I mean Jesus. But I mean, just I mean, you know, for all the people that call queer people this and that, and it’s, like, these fuckin’ straights were marrying their goddamn first cousins! Geez! So I’m just saying!
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:55:12] Yeah it, it was pretty normal in the period, you know, to marry your first cousin.
JVN [00:55:16] I just had to say it. I felt the need to express that. So what? What else starts to change?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:55:21] So the process of commercializing love is something that is really entrenched in the 18th century, and it’s in the 19th century again, as you know, the age of mass media, everything’s becoming much more commercial. You know, people are exchanging more commercial gifts and weddings are becoming a much bigger deal. You know, in the 18th century, the wedding itself was really no big deal. You know, it was, it was courtship that was important and your new status as a husband and wife. But the actual wedding really was neither here nor there. But it’s in the Victorian era, in the 19th century, that the, you know, the wealthiest couples were not marrying so much by a private license anymore. They were marrying in public. It was the age of the big white public wedding. But the other really important change, like I said before, is divorce. So marriage did become, for some people, slightly easier to get out of after the Divorce Act had passed in 1857.
JVN [00:56:22] So I mean, with all of your research and everything that you know about the Georgian era and Georgian England, honey, what do we take away about love and courtship and about romance and heartbreak from this era?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:56:37] I think the thing I’ve learned from, you know, after a decade or so of studying love is that just because something is formulaic, that doesn’t mean it’s not real. You know, people make their relationships using the particular cultural stories that they have available to them at a particular moment. So we still have readings at our weddings, you know, something from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin or from Shakespeare, you know, these sort of broader cultural tropes that are very influential. But, you know, when we apply it to our own lives, it’s somehow meaningful to us. You know, we use what we have at our disposal to make and break our relationships. And what I’ve learned is, you know, no one lives outside of culture. We use the cultural models that we have available to us to make sense of our own lives. And it’s no different today, in that sense, to how it was in the 18th century.
JVN [00:57:30] Wow, that’s really so interesting. We are so connected to our past, like, we’re, because, like, wherever you go, there you are, like as people. Because you have, I mean, you’re a literal historian of this period, what practices do you see that we’ve, like, that have remained from that period into today?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:57:53] A lot of the presents that we exchange are things that we’ve been exchanging since the 18th century. So things like bunches of flowers, chocolates, you know, we still exchange wedding rings that we wear on the, you know, fourth finger of the left hand. You know, a lot of these practices have, have a very long history. It’s not the case that everything now is, you know, entirely new and different.
JVN [00:58:13] Ah! And OK, and as we start to wrap up, what has been your journey as a historian of emotions? And what would you say to, to, to people that find this really fascinating and want to do more of this research in their lives?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:58:31] I say if you’re interested in the history of love and courtship in the 18th century, go and read Frances Burney’s novel Evelina. It was a massive bestseller at the time, and yet I think it’s pretty little known now compared to works like, say, Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, you know Jane Austen read Evelina. And you can see the influence that it had upon her later works. But to my knowledge scandalously, I don’t think there’s ever been any sort of TV adaptation of Evelina, like, is sort of disappeared culturally from the prominence that it had in the 18th century. So if you’re interested? Yeah, go and read Evelina. It’s a great novel.
JVN [00:59:10] OK, Shondaland! And then final question, what’s next for you and for your work?
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:59:15] So my next project is on the history of heartbreak. So my next book is looking at what happened when it all went wrong. So what were the physical and emotional and social and cultural consequences of unfulfilled love, unrequited love, and the broken heart?
JVN [00:59:33] Oh my god, I can’t wait to read that book! Dr. Sally Holloway, thank you so much for coming on Getting Curious. We appreciate you so much. I learned so much. We’ve got to have you back on as I think, after I fully binge season two, I’m going to have more questions.
SALLY HOLLOWAY [00:59:45] Of course, of course! Thank you for having me. It’s been super fun.
JVN [00:59:48] Thank you so much for your time. You’ve been listening to Getting Curious with me, Jonathan Van Ness. Our guest this week was Sally Holloway. You’ll find links to her work in the episode description of whatever you’re listening to the show on. Our theme music
is “Freak” by Quiñ – thank you so much to her for letting us use it. If you enjoyed our show, introduce a friend – show them how to subscribe if you please. Follow us on Instagram & Twitter @CuriousWithJVN if you want. Our socials are run and curated by Middle Seat Digital. Our editor is Andrew Carson. Getting Curious is produced by me, Erica Getto, and Zahra Crim. Thanks everyone and we’ll see you next time on Getting Curious.
May 31, 2023
Guest Melissa Murray
In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court of the United States will hand down decisions that could have major implications for LGBTQIA+ rights, racial justice, tribal sovereignty, and beyond.
May 24, 2023
We’re dripping in jewels this week on Getting Curious! What does it mean for a diamond to be “hard”? Are lab-grown gems made to perfection? What’s the difference between rubies and pink sapphires?
May 18, 2023
Guest Kathryn Olivarius
New Orleans was one of America’s most important cities in the early 1800s. It was also one of the most deadly. This week, to mark the new season of Queer Eye, we’re exploring New Orleans history with Dr. Kathryn Olivarius in a special two-part episode.