Monday, March 3, 2014
Death by the Book by Julianna Dearing Ends 3/9
There is something fascinating about hatpins. Of course, they are no longer a wardrobe essential, but from the middle ages through the early part of the twentieth century, hatpins were both a necessity and a fashion statement.
They were originally used to hold veils and wimples in place. They were handmade, a slow and laborious process that was unable to keep up with demand, so England eventually began importing them from France. In America in 1832, a machine was invented to manufacture hatpins, making them much more plentiful and affordable. When, in the 1880s, hats became more popular than bonnets and famous women like Lillian Russell and Lilly Langtree wore enormous hats without strings, the hatpin market boomed. In England, sales of hatpins were eventually restricted to only two days in January each year, and all year long women would save their "pin money" to buy them.
As most items of fashion do, the hatpin became more elaborate over time. By 1910, hatpins had grown from eight inches to ten or twelve inches in length and laws were passed requiring that the pin ends be covered to prevent accidental injuries. Though a poor woman probably had to settle for a simple black or white bead on the end of her hatpin, the wealthy sported pins made of precious metals with blown glass, rhinestones or even gemstones in abundance, pins designed by some of the great artists of their day such as Tiffany and Gebelein. Some elaborate hatpins even contained a small mirror and a powderpuff for the lady's convenience.
By World War I, the availability of precious metals was shrinking and hats got smaller and the day of the hatpin was ending. By World War II, with the entry of so many women into the workforce, their day was over. Now few women wear hats with any regularity, but hatpins are still items of beauty and elegant design sought after by many collectors. There are even hatpin societies who discuss the history, design and preservation of these antiques.
So, as a mystery writer, why am I telling you about hatpins?
Death by the Book is the second of my Drew Farthering mystery series. The series is set in Hampshire, England in the 1930s and is in the tradition of Agatha Christie and other writers from the
In Death by the Book, Drew and Madeline have to track down a killer who leaves cryptic clues attached to the victims' bodies by . . . antique hatpins. So, yes, hatpins have always fascinated me, but probably not for the right reasons. They are definitely beautiful and elegant. But being some sort of gewgaw attached to eight to twelve inches of sharply pointed metal, they are also lethal weapons. A curious blend of art and menace that's perfect for a mystery novel.
JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuted with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, 2013) and is followed by Death by the Book and Murder at the Mikado (Bethany House, 2014). Also, as DeAnna Julie Dodson, she has written a trilogy of medieval romances (In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered) and four contemporary mysteries for the Annie's Attic series. She is represented by Wendy Lawton of the Books & Such Literary Agency (www.booksandsuch.biz).
www.deannajuliedodson.com https://twitter.com/deannajuldodson https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJuliannaDeering
Picture from Wikicommons