I will admit to scanning online sites every spring and fall to discover the latest fashions trends. My heroine Beth Wallin in Frontier Matchmaker Bride has a greater passion for fashion, even on the frontier of 1875 Washington Territory. Her go-to source, pictured on the cover of her story, is Godey’s Lady’s Book.
Godey’s was the brainchild of Louis A. Godey, who saw the growing need for a magazine tailored specifically to the lady of the house. He hired a female editor, Sarah J. Hale, herself an author (often remembered for writing “Mary Had a Little Lamb”), who also ensured the rest of the staff was predominantly female. In fact, Godey boasted at having a corps of 150 female colorers who hand-tinted the fashion plates that started every issue.
The early issues of Godey’s carried articles taken from British women’s magazines. The magazine even had its own reporter simply to chronicle royal activities across the Pond. Though Sarah Hale was purportedly a huge fan of Queen Victoria, she wanted more of an American angle for the magazine. She was also a staunch supporter of women’s rights, believing that women needed to be redeemed from their “inferior” position and placed as an equal helpmate to man in every way.
She therefore commissioned articles, essays, stories, and poetry from American writers including Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frances Hodgson Burnett. Male luminaries Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allen Poe, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also contributed. Articles covered health and science, crafts, dancing, horseback riding, home decorating, and recipes. Every issue included two pages of new sheet music for the pianoforte.
And women paid for the privilege of reading it. Subscriptions ran three dollars a year when other popular magazines of the time were only two dollars. The magazine was delivered by post all over the United States, from the gilded mansions on Boston’s Beacon Hill to the rustic ranches of the Texas Hill Country and the log cabins of Seattle.
Despite its broad coverage, Godey’s steered clear of politics. The Civil War was never mentioned in its pages. One source I consulted claimed that readership was cut by a third from its high of 150,000 subscribers during the war, implying that it was because of Godey’s non-political stance. I’m more inclined to believe that the magazine’s subscriptions fell during that time because women were counting pennies as husbands and fathers went off to war.
Regardless, Godey’s popularity led it to become a major force in America. The magazine is credited with popularizing a white wedding gown (after Victoria wore one in England), the use of a Christmas tree to crown that celebration, and the creation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
It even inspired Beth Wallin to create gowns far above those usually found on the frontier, thanks to a sister-in-law who is a seamstress and her own good taste. This is one of the gowns I pictured for her.
So, do you consider yourself a fashionista? What’s your go-to source?
Answer in the comments to be entered into a drawing for an autographed copy of Beth’s story, Frontier Matchmaker Bride.
The Lawman Meets His Match
Spunky Beth Wallin is determined to find a bride for Deputy Hart McCormick, the man who once spurned her affections.
After tragically losing his sweetheart, Hart vowed never to love again. He might be Beth’s first matchmaking miss, unless they can both admit that she would be his perfect match.
You can find the book on Amazon today: https://www.amazon.com/Frontier-Matchmaker-Bride-Bachelors-ebook/dp/B073B2NKQ3/a?tag=pettpist-20
About the Author
Regina Scott started writing novels in the third grade. Thankfully for literature as we know it, she didn’t actually sell her first Regency romance novel until she had learned a bit more about writing such as vocabulary, sentence structure, and plot. After numerous short stories and articles in magazines and trade journals, she got serious about her novel writing. The Regency romance The Unflappable Miss Fairchild was her first novel to be published (March 1998). In 2011, she was delighted to move into Christian romance with the publication of The Irresistible Earl. Her novels have been translated into Dutch, German, Italian, and Portuguese; and a large number have been issued in hardcover, large print editions. She has twice won the prestigious RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice award for best historical Christian romance of its type, for The Heiress’s Homecoming in 2013 and Would-Be Wilderness Wife in 2015.