Historical Reads: Dando, The Celebrated Gormandizing Oyster Eater


All Things Georgian remembers Edward Dando, an infamous oyster eater. To quote:

He was also known by the appellation of the ‘celebrated oyster eater.’ For Dando, although not a thief (by his own reckoning) did not see why he should not have plenty of everything, even though he had no money to pay for it, when his betters relied constantly on credit to fund their lifestyles. He was determined to live as they did.

Trained as a hatter, Edward Dando, when in his early twenties, embarked on his career as an oyster eater, devouring up to thirty dozen large oysters in a sitting, with bread and butter, washed down with quantities of porter or brandy and water, before informing the keeper of the oyster house that he could not pay for his fare, with the usual results of a beating or a spell in gaol, or sometimes both. Although his dish of choice seems to have been oysters, he was not above devouring other fare too.


To read the entire article, click here.

Madness And Revolution: The Sad Life Of Théroigne De Méricourt


One of the most fascinating and sad figures of the French Revolution, Théroigne de Méricourt was born Anne-Josèphe Terwagne in 1762 near Liège. Her mother died when she was five, so Anne-Josèphe was sent to live with an aunt, who didn't really want her. First, she sent the little girl to a convent, but later, perhaps to save money, she changed her mind and brought her back to live with her. But rather than giving her a loving home, Anne-Josèphe was treated like a maid.

When her father remarried, he welcome her back home. His new wife didn't. Too busy taking care of her own children, she didn't care much for Anne-Josèphe. So, desperate for affection and a real home, she went to live with her maternal grandparents. But things didn't work out there either. As a last resort, she returned to her aunt. Needless to say, the arrangement was a disaster. Anne-Josèphe then decided to face the world on her own, and took any job she could to support herself.

Eventually, she was hired by a certain Madame Colbert as her companion. Madame Colbert taught her to read, write, play the piano, and sing. Anne-Josèphe now dreamed of becoming a singer. She certainly had the talent for it. But, her dreams were dashed by a man, the first of many who would use her and leave her. He was an English army officer who seduced her and brought her to Paris with promises of marriage he had no intention to ever keep.


During this time, she was also kept by the old and unpleasant marquis de Persan, who showered her with expensive gifts and money (although she insisted she had evaded his advances). Her reputation in tatters and any hope of a respectable life gone, Anne-Josèphe become a courtesan and called herself Mlle Campinado. Her affair with the Englishman continued and resulted in a child who died, probably to the relief of his father who had refused to acknowledged her, of smallpox.

After a brief affair with an Italian tenor, she fell for the castrato Tenducci and, in 1788, followed him to Genoa, hoping to start a musical career there, but she only gave a few concerts. After a year, she returned to Paris, alone, disappointed, and hurt. All her dreams, both professional and romantic, were shattered. Her hopes vanished. Or so she thought until she set foot in the city. Paris was on the verge of revolution. It was an exciting time that seemed to promise her a better, more just, world, and the opportunity to take control of her destiny and rescue her from the life of unhappiness and abuse she had so far known.

That summer, Anne-Josèphe transformed herself. She ditched her gowns in favour of a white riding habit called amazone, and a round-brimmed hat, an eccentric outfit that made her stand out from the crowd. She wanted to "play the role of a man’, she later explained, because I had always been extremely humiliated by the servitude and prejudices, under which the pride of men holds my oppressed sex’". She also gave up her job as a courtesan, and pawned her jewels to support herself.

After the storming of the Bastille, she became involved in revolutionary activities. She attended the meetings of the National Assembly every day. She was the first to arrive and the last to leave, and met many influential figures of the Revolution, such as Pétion, the Abbé Sieyès, and Desmoulins. Anne-Josèphe played a big role too. She sometimes spoke at the Cordeliers Club, founded her own club, and ran her own saloon. Soon, she was a celebrity. It's at this time that she became to be known as Théroigne de Méricourt.


Although Théroigne believed in the ideals of the Revolution, it soon became clear that most of its supporters were only interested in the rights of men, not of women. The press, scared of emancipated women, started portraying her as a whore, heaping all sorts of insults, accusations, and obscenities at her. In disgust, in the summer of 1790, Théroigne left Paris and returned to Liège.

If she hoped for some peace and quiet, she was bitterly disappointed. Liège was then under the control of the Austrian Empire, not a safe place for such a prominent and famous figure of the Revolution. She was kidnapped by mercenaries and taken to Austria. The journey lasted 10 days and was harrowing. The three French emigrés insulted, harassed, and even tried, luckily unsuccessfully, to rape her.

Once in Austria, Théroigne was interrogated, over the course of a month, by François de Blanc. Hoping to discover important information about the French Revolutionaries, de Blanc, who believed all the nasty rumours about her prisoner, spent many hours talking to her and examining the papers that were found on her when she was caught. But he soon realised she knew nothing important. More surprisingly, he began to like her. Worried about her health - Théroigne suffered from depression and splitting headaches, coughed up blood and had trouble sleeping - he helped secure her release.


At the beginning of 1792, Théroigne was back in Paris. She now supported Brissot, a Girondin, against Robespierre, and gave many an inflammatory speeches in the Jacobin Club in which she called for the liberation of women from oppression. But this time, she didn't just fight with words. She recruited an army of female warriors, and took part in the storming of the Tuileries on 10th August. It is said that she wounded a royalist journalist who had insulted her in the press. He was then killed by the mob.

But she didn't support the September Massacres, believing all this unnecessary violence was hurting the cause of the Revolution. She wanted it to stop. It didn't. Things got worse for Théroigne. In May 1793, a bunch of Jacobin women who hated the supporters of Brissot and the Girondin, attacked Théroigne in the gardens of the Tuileries. They stripped her naked and flogged her publicly. Only the intervention of Marat saved her.

Théroigne's mental health had always been fragile. Now, she descended into madness. In the spring of 1794, she was arrested. She became obsessed with Saint-Just, thinking of him as her saviour, but he did nothing to help her. She was eventually released from prison after the fall of Robespierre, but never recovered her sanity.

That year, she was officially declared insane. She spent the rest of her life in various asylums, and was ultimately sent to La Salpêtrière Hospital, where she lived for twenty years. All she spoke about was the Revolution. She still clang to her revolutionary ideals, even though everyone else had abandoned them. Théroigne died, following a short illness, on 9 June 1817.

Further reading:
Book Review: Liberty: The Lives Of Six Women In Revolutionary France

Fashions For 1842

What did fashionable ladies wear in 1842? Here are a few examples:


EVENING DRESS

Pekin dress. The corsage is made to fit closely to the shape, with a slight slope at the ceinture; the corsage is also embellished at the upper part with a berthe of point lace. The sleeves are laid in close gathers at the upper part, rather full thence to a little below the elbow, whence it terminates in a frill. The skirt is ornamented in the tablier form with a lace volan, and a spirally twisted ornament of the same material as the dress, terminating in a noeud with ends. The coiffeur is ornamented with bijouterie.

WALKING DRESS

Pelisse of velours epingles. The upper part made to fit tightly to the shape; the sleeves also tight, a series of ornaments of the same material as the dress, is added to the corsage as well as the front of the skirt, encreasing gradually from the centre to each end; the ornaments have the addition of a lace border: similar decorations on a smaller scale, commensurate with the size of the sleeve, are also added to the latter. The bonnet is of satin ornamented with feathers which droop over one side.

EVENING DRESS

Mousseline de laine dress. The corsage is ornamented with a volan of old lace embroidered, it is divided in the middle and fixed by a broach; the corsage is terminated by a long peak. The sleeves are made tight fitting, and terminate between the elbow and wrist in a full frilling. The skirt is ample hut without the addition of any flounce or other ornament, a small lace cap is decorated with a few delicate flowers.


The bonnets are in velvet, in satin, and in pekin; feathers prevail as ornaments, ribbon noeuds are also added, and decorations of he same material as the bonnets, particularly those in velvet.


PROMENADE DRESS

Mousseline de laine dress. The corsage cut rather high, except in the upper part of the bust, where it is cut in a slope, the border is composed of a double ruche, terminated by a tassel. A cordon with double tassels at regular intervals is placed as an ornament down the front. The skirt is disposed in ample folds. The sleeves are somewhat full, but graduate to the wrist, lessening downwards. The bonnet of the same materials is ornamented with feathers.

FANCY COSTUME

Transylvanian costume. The tunic and hat of velvet, the former faced with satin, ornamented with ribbon noeuds.

EVENING DRESS

Satin dress. The upper part of the corsage is laid in large drupes, with rosettes down the centre and at the termination of the sleeve, which is extremely short and close to the arm. Rosettes are disposed on the front of the skirt in a manner resembling the tablier shape. The coiffure as well as the arms is decorated with roses.


The first half figure is in satin with lace berthe, close waisted, and sleeves to the elhow with sabots.

The second half figure is in the same material, with a double berthe. Short sleeves, with bouffant ornaments terminating them.

Muslin capotes, drawn and satin bonnet trimmed with lace, ribbons, and flowers. Caps in the same and also in tulle, with blond and ribbon ornament.

Do you like these dresses and accessories?

Further reading:
The Magazine of the beau monde

Book Review: The Real Lives Of Roman Britain By Guy De La Bedoyere


The Britain of the Roman Occupation is little known to us. Archaeology has turned up the remnants of cities and villages, with their monuments and temples, tools and vases, and all the small bits and bobs that their inhabitants daily used. But, when skilfully and arduously put together, they provide only fragmented insights into a long gone era and reveal only the smallest glimpses, the briefest moments, into the lives of individuals.

It's these glimpses that Guy De La Bedoyere has painstakingly researched in every document, artefact, and traces left by the inhabitants of Roman Britain. He's not interested in the kings and queens (they take a backseat here), but in the soldiers, workers, slaves, fathers, wives, daughters, children, lovers, and all the common people who lived at the time. Its' their personal stories, or better, the tiny fragments of them that have survived to our time, that make history (and this book) come alive.

Most of these people were Roman immigrants (natives never seemed to be able to climb up the social ladder, although some may have, and we simply have no record of them). They did business, looked for spiritual comfort in an uncertain and cruel world, grieved for their lost children, fought battles, hid their possessions underground, married their slaves, and scrambled for power.

Because we have so little information about each individual, De La Bedoyere tends to jump from one to another really quickly. This, paired with the sometimes dry nature of the text, doesn't always make for easy reading. Despite this, I happily carried on. De La Bedoyere may not be the most engaging writer, but he manages to paint quite a vivid and colourful picture of life in Roman Britain.

If you are tired of reading always about kings and queens, the battles they fought and the lands they conquered, and would like to know more about the usually forgotten common people and how they lived, I recommend you pick up this book. You'll enjoy it.

Summary:
Although the execution leaves something to be desired, The Lives Of Roman Britain paints a vivid picture of the life of the real people - the workers, slaves, husband, wives, and children - that inhabited that long gone era.

Available at: Amazon

Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: this book was sent by PR for consideration. In addition, this post contains affiliate links.

The Wedding Of Princess Mary & William, Duke Of Gloucester


George III loved his children dearly. But, like most parents, he didn't like how quickly they grew up. He would probably have liked them to remain little forever, and he always treated them like they were. He made sure his heir stayed well away from all political affairs, refusing to teach him the job and give him the practical training a good king badly needs.

His six daughters didn't fare better. They lived a secluded, quite life they knew would end only with marriage. Problem was, their father didn't seem keen to arrange any union for them. To start with, he limited their choice of potential husbands. Anyone who was a Catholic or of an inferior rank was excluded.

Then he decided that younger daughters couldn't marry until the elders were settled. But, really, he just didn't want to let them go. And when he went mad, all talk of marriages was put off while doctors tried to cure him.

And so princess Mary, his fourth daughter, waited and waited. No doubt, over the years, she had started to believe her time would never come. But it did, eventually. Mary was 40 when she finally married her cousin, Prince William Frederick, the Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh.

The 40 year old prince, regarded as a tiresome fool by most of the family, had been on hold to marry Princess Charlotte, the heir to the throne, should no other suitable candidate be found. But she had just married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, leaving William Gloucester to marry Mary. The speed at which the marriage took place suggests the couple was fond of each other and already had some sort of longlasting understanding.

On 22 July 1816, Mary and William tied the knot in a private ceremony in the grand saloon at St. James’s Palace. It had been draped in crimson velvet and gold lace for the happy occasion. When all the guests were assembled in the saloon, her brothers, the Dukes of Cambridge and Clarence handed her in. The Princess looked modest and overcome.

According to the Ladies Monthly Museum: "Her Royal Highness was dressed with her usual beautiful simplicity; she wore no feathers, but a bandeau of white roses fastened together by light sprigs of pearls. Her neck was ornamented with a brilliant fringe necklace: her arms with bracelets of brilliants formed into flowers, and her waist with a girdle to correspond with her bandeau. Her whole appearance was very lovely. The ladies present were also most splendidly dressed: the prevailing color was blue." The groom was dressed in his uniform of a field-marshal and wore the Order of the Garter.

The Prince Regent, who had rejected the Duke of Gloucester as a suitor for his daughter Charlotte and only reluctantly gave him permission to marry his sister, gave Mary away. Lady Albinia Cumberland, a guest to the wedding, described the event thus:

"The Prince Regent stood at the other end to the Duke of Gloucester. She [Mary] stood alone to the former, quite leaning against him. Indeed she needed support. I pitied the Duke of Gloucester, for he stood a long time at the altar waiting till she came into the room, giving cakes, carrying wine, etc... She then went to the Queen and her sisters, and was quite overcome, and obliged to sit down, and nearly fainted.."

Eventually, it was time to leave for their honeymoon, as the Belle Assemblee reported: "At a quarter before ten o’clock the bride took off her nuptial ornaments, and arrayed in a white satin pelisse, with a white satin French bonnet, she set off with her royal husband to Bagshot, amidst the blessings and good wishes of her family, and the loud huzzas of the multitude assembled on the happy occasion."

Further reading:
Nineteen Teen
Regency History
Princesses: The Six Daughters Of George III By Flora Fraser

The Tudor Wife


Was George and Jane Boleyn's marriage really unhappy? Danielle Marchant, author of Tourmens de Mariage, the second book in The Lady Rochford Saga (out on 19th May), dispells the myths:

My new novella “Tourmens de Mariage” – which in French means “The Torments of Marriage” - is Part 2 of “The Lady Rochford Saga”, telling the life story of Jane Boleyn (née Parker), Lady Rochford. Marriage is a huge theme in this book. It was central to the society that Jane lived in. It was used for political alliances and to unite important families. Marrying Jane into a good family would have been expected of her father. However, the subject of George Boleyn’s wedding gift “Tourmens de Mariage”, a book which was a satire on marriage, has been often referred to as being proof that Jane and George had an unhappy marriage.

This was because George later on gave the book to court musician Mark Smeaton, leading to conclusions being made by historians such as Retha Warnicke that George and Mark were lovers. As a result, historical novelists and scriptwriters have embraced this idea of George and Jane having an unhappy marriage and in addition have even gone further to show him as violent and cruel to Jane. However, when looking at the facts, the fictional representation of Jane and George’s marriage couldn’t be further away from the truth.

One of the reasons why their marriage is viewed as an unhappy one is due to the lack of children produced. Jane and George were married for over ten years, but didn’t have children of their own. It would have been Jane’s duty to produce an “heir”, so this does suggest that one or both may have been infertile and this alone could have caused some strain and friction in their marriage. The difficulty Jane faces in conceiving is one of the areas that gets focussed on in my book. To be married to George for that long and still not have at least one child would have been very odd by 16th century standards. Unfortunately, there are no records of miscarriages. So, we can’t rule out the possibility that maybe Jane did suffer from fertility problems.

Of course, it is also equally possible that George may have had fertility problems. However, we can’t rule out the idea that George may have had children with another woman. George has been linked to being the father of another George Boleyn, who was the Dean of Lichfield in the reign of Elizabeth I. He also has been referred to as the great-grandfather of Elizabeth and Mary Boleyn of Clonony Castle, Ireland. However, these are still areas of debate. Therefore, the lack of children in George and Jane’s marriage does not necessarily mean they had an unhappy marriage.

Another myth about their marriage is that they hated each other. In the 16th century, it is true that marriage was not about love; it was about business, uniting families of the nobility together. Jane was married into what her father Henry Parker, Lord Morley, believed was a rising family - the Boleyn family. A match with George Boleyn would have been perfect for his daughter. However, even though Jane and George would not have been forced together either – the couple did have to at least like each other in the first place. Therefore, I do believe that they did genuinely like each other before deciding to marry.

Another reason why Jane and George’s marriage is viewed as an unhappy one is because of the much publicised – and false – belief that it was Jane that accused George and Anne Boleyn of incest. It was viewed as an act of revenge against him as a result of violence he used towards her, being homosexual and also out of jealousy towards how close he was to Anne. Allegedly, she was given reason to hate him so much that she wanted to put him on the scaffold. However, there is no evidence to suggest that he was particularly violent to Jane, nor that he was homosexual.

In addition, it is a fact that the accusation of incest may have come from another lady-in-waiting, Elizabeth Browne, Lady Worcester. Lady Worcester has been described as the “first accuser of the Queen”. When her brother, Anthony Browne, who was one of the King’s privy councillors, reprimanded Lady Worcester over her loose, promiscuous behaviour - she had also fallen pregnant at the time with a child that was believed to be not her husband’s, Henry Somerset, but may have even allegedly belonged to Thomas Cromwell - she replied to her brother that she wasn’t really that bad.

She replied “But you see a small fault in me, while overlooking a much higher fault that is much more damaging. If you do not believe me, find out from Mark Smeaton. I must not forget to tell you what seems to me to be the worst thing, which that often her brother has carnal knowledge of her in bed”. From here Anthony had no choice, but to follow up his sister’s accusations discreetly as withholding such accusations would have meant terrible consequences for himself. Therefore, it is possible that somewhere along the line, historians have simply confused Lady Rochford with Lady Worcester over the incest accusation.

In fact, the main reason for interrogating Jane was not because of alleged incest, but due to a delicate conversation that she had had with Anne over the King’s impotence. Ironically, this in itself shows that Jane and Anne were actually very close, close enough for Anne to confide in her about the King. This also dispels another popular myth about Jane – that she hated and was envious of Anne. Anne had told her “le Roy n’estoit habile en cas de soy copuler avec femme et qu’il n’avoit ne vertu ne puissance”. Jane then went on to to repeat this conversation with George. Withholding this information would have been treasonous for Jane, so when she was interrogated, unless she wanted to join Anne and George in the Tower, she had absolutely no choice, but to give this information to Cromwell.



On the 4th May 1536, Jane sent a message to her husband, George, who was now in the Tower of London. He had been taken to the Tower on the 2nd May, on the same day as Anne. Jane was not allowed to send to him a personal letter, or even visit him, so instead had to send a message for Sir William Kingston, the constable of the Tower, to give to George. We know what her message was because Kingston reported this in a letter to Cromwell. The letter was found in a collection of damaged documents that had been thankfully saved from a fire at Ashburnham House, Westminster in 1731.

In the letter, it says that Kingston reported to Cromwell that Jane asked how George was and promised that she would “humbly (make) suit onto the King’s highness” for him. George was very grateful for the message and his response was he wanted to “give her thanks”. The possibility of Jane petitioning the King and the Council, would have brought George some comfort. With his trial looming which eventually took place on the 15th May, George asked Kingston when he would see the Council.

He then broke down and then said “for I think I (may not) come forth till I come to my judgement”. This has been interpreted as meaning that if it wasn’t for Jane’s help, he knew that no one would listen to his side of the story before his trial; not even George’s own uncle, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and own father-in-law, Henry Parker, Lord Morley, who were both amongst the Judges at George’s trial. Also, in reality, Jane, no matter how much she would have wanted, would have not been able to have petitioned on George’s behalf to the King at this stage.

The information in this letter is quite extraordinary. The information in this letter gives a different image of Jane and George’s marriage. Unlike George’s parents, Jane did not abandon him when he was in the Tower. Likewise, in response to her message, he acknowledged it – he did not ignore it, or insult her in response, he was grateful and thanked her for it. I think this alone speaks volumes about their marriage and suggests that it may not have been the hateful union that it has often been portrayed as.

Another important area to consider is what George said at his trial. On the 15th May, George went to his trial in the Tower. Jane would not have been there, but her father Lord Morley was one of the peers chosen along with George’s uncle, the Duke of Norfolk. Jane was not called upon to give evidence in person and no other witnesses were called. George’s sister, Anne, had had her trial earlier and was sentenced to either being burned or beheaded on Tower Green, so this was already looking ominous for George. Despite this, however, George defended himself with great conviction. According to those present, George “had no difficulty in waging two to one that he would be acquitted”.

The evidence against him for committing incest was not convincing as it seemed to be based solely upon George spending a bit too long in Anne’s bedchamber. He condemned them for judging him also, as a result of the evidence of “one woman”. It is interesting how he says “one woman”. As we know, the accusation of incest has often been attributed to Jane herself. However, for him to say “one woman” indicates that it was someone else that had made the accusation, to be more specific, Lady Worcester. After all, if the accusation had come from Jane, would George have not have said as a result of the evidence of “my wife” instead of “one woman”?

One more fact that helps to dispel the myths about Jane and George is Jane’s execution speech. On the 13th February 1542, according to popular myth, Jane made references to Anne and George Boleyn in her final speech, indicating guilt in the alleged part she had played in their downfall. This is not true, however. According to an eyewitness Ottwell Johnson at her execution, these were her actual words:

"I have committed many sins against God from my youth upwards and have offended the King's royal majesty very dangerously, so my punishment is just and deserved. I am justly condemmed by the laws of this realm and by Parliament. All of you who watch me die should learn from my example and change your own lives. You must gladly obey the King in all things, for he is a just and godly prince. I pray for his preservation and beseech you all to do the same. I now entrust my soul to God and pray for his mercy" (Julia Fox, 2007)

There is not one mention of Anne and George. Despite this, however, the treatment towards Jane at the time of her husband’s execution on the 17th May 1536 was appalling; not only was Jane was not allowed to send to George a personal letter, or even visit him, but she would also have had very little advance warning - or even no possible warning at all - of George’s execution because contacting the wife of a “traitor” was not considered important. In addition, William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower, would have told George the night before, but only confirmed the actual hour with George early in the morning of the day.

Therefore, I believe that the alleged meaning behind George giving the book “Tourmens de Mariage” to Mark has been drastically blown out of proportion and the portrayals of Jane and George’s marriage in historical fiction are very inaccurate. I believe in reality that their marriage would have been no different to any other marriage in this period. Jane may have been at first offended by George possessing a book that could be construed as mocking their marriage, but then again, she may have also seen the funny side of it too. Their marriage was just another typical Tudor marriage – and Jane was just another Tudor wife.

About Danielle Marchant And Her Book, Tourmens De Mariage

Danielle Marchant is an Independent Author from London, UK. She published her first historical novella "The Lady Rochford Saga Part 1: Into the Ranks of the Deceived" in October 2013. "The Lady Rochford Saga Part 2: Tourmens de Mariage" will be released on the 19th May 2015 and is now available to pre-order. To keep up with Danielle, visit her website and her Facebook page.

Sources and suggested further reading:
"Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford" - Julia Fox, 2007, Orion Books Ltd.
"Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions" - G.W. Bernard, 2010, Yale University Press.
"George Boleyn – Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat" – Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway, MadeGlobal Publishing, 2014.
"The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn" – Eric Ives, Blackwell Publishing, 2005.

Image:
George and Jane looking like a not-so-happy couple on their wedding. In addition, George is being reprimanded by Thomas Boleyn (as portrayed in “The Tudors”, played by Nick Dunning, Padraic Delaney and Joanne King).

Caroline Herschel, Astronomer & Comet Huntress


Caroline Lucretia Herschel was the first woman to discover a comet, to receive a salary for her services to science, to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, and to be named an Honorary Member of that same association! Yet, when she was little, it seemed all she was destined to be was a house servant.

Born at Hanover on 16 March 1750, Caroline was the eight child of Isaac Herschel, a bandmaster in the Guards, and his wife Anna Ilse Moritzen. When she was 10, she contracted typhus. Although she recovered, she never grew past four-foot three. Her mother, sure that house service was now the only choice left to Caroline, opposed her husband's wish to educate her.

The young girl was taught only millinery and dressmaking, arts that could have allowed her to support herself one day. But, when Anna was away, Isaac took the opportunity to teach Caroline much more. Sometimes, her brother William joined them. Some of these lessons were about astronomy, a discipline both Isaac and William loved.


When William moved to England in 1757 to teach music, he spent his evenings studying the stars. One night in 1781 he discovered the planet Uranus, which earned him the title of King's Astronomer, a knighthood, and even a pension of 200 pounds per year! But all that was still far away when, in 1772, his father died. William now proposed to his sister to come and live with him. To support herself, she sang in his choir (William was now a choir master in Bath) five times a week.

Although William was very busy with his musical career, he still loved astronomy. He became more and more immersed in it, especially after he was knighted. Caroline would help him there too. She became his assistant and, in the process, learned a lot about astronomy. And she loved it. Although she always did what William told her to do, it wasn't long before she started making her own discoveries.

Among them were three nebulae ad several comets, including one named after her (35P/Herschel-Rigollet). Her work attracted the attention of the King, who gave her a salary of 50 pounds a year to officially work as William's assistant. She then went on to correct the many errors found in England’s star catalogue published by John Flamsteed.


Sister and brother had always got along well until, in 1788, William, at the ripe old age of 51, married a rich widow, Mary Pitt. Although Caroline was accused of jealousy, the tensions were caused by the changes a marriage implied. Not only Caroline wasn't in charge of all household matters anymore, but she had to move out of the house she had lived in for so long. Even worse for her, she had to give back the keys to the observatory and workroom, where she had worked with passion for years.

However, she was able to move back in when William and his family were away, and his marriage didn't seem to have affected their working relationships. They were still a great team. But William's marriage also had another effect. Caroline became more independent and made more discoveries on her own. In her old age she was even able to set aside her differences with her sister-in-law, with whom she corresponded, and became close to her nephew, the astronomer John Herschel.

When her brother died in 1822, Caroline returned home to Hanover, where she continued her astronomical studies. Six years, the Royal Astronomical Society presented her with their Gold Medal for a catalogue of nebulae she had created to assist her nephew's work. She also got another gold medal, in 1846, this time from the King of Prussia. In 1835, she was elected honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society and, in 1838, honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. Caroline died at Hanover on 9 January 1848.

Further reading:
Memoir and correspondence of Caroline Herschel by Mary Cornwallis Herschel and Caroline Lucretia Herschel
Nineteen Teen
The Comet Sweeper: Caroline Herschel's Astronomical Ambition by Claire Brock