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In the first-class dining room, dinners were elaborate multi-course meals based on French cuisine with concessions to hearty English fare. Waiters brought the food to the table on silver platters, offered guests a portion of every dish, and suggested a wine to pair with the food. We have no way of knowing how much of this meat-heavy feast the passengers consumed. No recipes survive from the Titanic's kitchen, but recipes from that era tend to use butter and cream liberally.
The cards chided women for looking and dressing too well, or for not paying enough attention to their appearance. They were criticized for frowning too much or smiling too broadly. Women who campaigned for the right to vote were prime targets.
Men were also the butt of vinegar valentines, criticized for drunkenness, vanity, stinginess, and stupidity.
Nasty valentines poked fun at people’s physical traits or misfortunes: their age, excessive weight, or widowed status. The worst cards suggested suicide.
The image on one of them depicts an oncoming train with the verse: Oh miserable lonely wretch! / Despised by all who know you; / Haste, haste, your days to end – this sketch / The quickest way will show you!
View more examples of vinegar valentines and read how they became popular and eventually died out in my article in CrimeReads.
Aside from looking like a Sherlock Holmes actor, the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh was a man of mystery and many talents.
1. He wrote a detective novel often included in lists of the best crime books of the 20th century. The Red House Mystery, published in 1922, is still in print and available as a free ebook through Project Gutenberg. The novel is a classic whodunit featuring an English country house setting, an amateur sleuth with a sidekick, a locked-room puzzle, and enough clues for the reader to solve the case.
2. He wrote dozens of plays and screenplays. His drama, The Fourth Wall, was staged in the U.S. as The Perfect Alibi. It was an early, possibly the first, play to use the inverted form of detective fiction, with the murder shown to the audience in the first act followed by the investigation. The play's popularity resulted in its adaptation as a movie, Birds of Prey (1930), for which Milne shares the screenplay credit.
3. He was the first author to sell merchandising rights to a character. In 1930 Milne sold Winnie-the-Pooh rights to an agent who earned $50 million within a year for a doll, radio program, board game, and other paraphernalia. The mystery, at least to copywriters, is whether to hyphenate Winnie-the-Pooh. Milne did. The Disney Company, which acquired Pooh rights in the 1960s, dropped the hyphens.
4. He played cricket with the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Besides A.A. Milne and Arthur Conan Doyle, the amateur athletic team included J.M. Barrie and P.G. Wodehouse. The team formed as an offshoot of the Authors’ Club, founded in 1891. The authors played matches against teams of publishers, actors, and artists.
5. He had a secret job in British Military Intelligence. After being wounded in World War I, Milne worked as a propagandist. Though records of his MI7b unit were ordered destroyed, some mysteriously survived. Saved from a dump in 2013, the papers include his satirical poems, one about a Captain William Shakespeare, who is assigned to a propaganda unit.
Happy birthday to Alan Alexander Milton. Born on January 18, 1882, he was at the center of English literary life in the early 20th century—a gifted novelist, poet, dramatist, and children's author.
I enjoy visiting book clubs because ...
I like visiting book clubs even if they don't feed me and even if I do it remotely by Skype or FaceTime. Check out my Book Club page for topics of discussion about the Five-Ingredient Mysteries.
Turkey is the classic Thanksgiving dish, but you cannot live by turkey alone. What's your favorite holiday side dish? Comment for a chance to win a free book. Below you'll find two reader-favorite recipes from the first Five-Ingredient Mystery, By Cook or by Crook. The dishes are suitable for Thanksgiving and other holiday dinners. I'm also sharing a simple herb stuffing recipe. To view the recipes, click Read More below.
Leave a comment about your favorite holiday side dish to enter a drawing for the Five-Ingredient Mystery of your choice or an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of the upcoming sixth book in the series. To comment, click on the word Comments in the column to the left of this post.
Last day to enter: Sunday, December 16, 2018. The winner is Kay from Arkansas. Thank you to everyone who shared their favorite side dish. Stuffing seemed to get the most votes, followed by yams or sweet potatoes.
Today is the 106th anniversary of the day when the Titanic hit an iceberg. When I started researching S'more Murders, my Titanic-themed culinary mystery, I was surprised to find dozens of nonfiction titles about the disaster at my local library, a small subset of the books on the subject. A Google search of Titanic brings up 28 million hits. A rare copy of a menu from the first meal served aboard the Titanic is slated for auction later this month, expected to sell for 100,000 British pounds (140,000 U.S. dollars).
What explains this fascination with a disaster that claimed 1500+ victims more than a century ago? Comment with your thoughts for a chance to win an Advanced Reader Edition of S'more Murders. Note: The contest ended May 1, and the winner is K.G. from Arkansas.
To comment, click on the word "Comments" in the column to the left of this post.
Edgar Allan Poe’s spirit hovers over the Mid-Atlantic. If you fly over the region at night, you can see a string of lights connecting places where Poe lived and worked: Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York. Each has a Poe museum. Looking forward to the publication of my Poe-themed mystery, The Tell-Tale Tarte, I visited the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond last weekend. What a treasure trove!
This blog, like the books and stories I write, combines mysteries, food, trivia, and a bit of humor to leaven the grim subject of crime. Sometimes random subjects intrude here .