J.M. Barrie’s Birthday

J.M. BarrieToday’s post is in honor of J.M. Barrie (born: May 9, 1860  died: June 19, 1937) who was the famous author of the classic children’s story “Peter Pan”.  Growing up as a child my first exposure to the story was the 1953 animated Disney version of “Peter Pan” and over the years I have seen several productions of the wonderfully staged “Peter Pan” play.    I enjoy the story about Peter, the boy that never grew up, and his band of Lost Boys that lived far away in Neverland and I’m sure everyone also remembers the other wonderful characters, such as the sinister Captain Hook and his comical sidekick Smee, sweet Wendy Darling and her two brothers and of course the magical pixie named Tinkerbelle.

James Matthew Barrie was born in Kirriemuir, Angus in Scotland.  His father, David, was a local weaver and his mother, Margaret Ogilvy, had a large family of ten children.  Tragedy was to strike the family when Barrie’s brother, David, died in an ice skating accident just before his 14th birthday.  Barrie’s mother was devastated by the loss of her son but strangely she found comfort in the fact, that in her memories, David would remain a young boy forever and that he would never to grow up and leave her.

As a child, Barrie went to several different local schools and at the age of 14 he was sent away to the Dumfries Academy where his older brother and sister, Alexander and Mary Ann, were teachers.  During Barrie’s childhood he had developed a love of reading and he read everything from classic literature, such as “Robinson Crusoe”, to the inexpensive adventure stories of the time known as “penny dreadfuls”.  While Barrie was away at school, he enjoyed spending time with the other boys and one of their favorite games was playing swash-buckling pirates.

While in school, Barrie formed a drama club with his fellow students and he was very good at storytelling and even wrote several of the plays for them to perform.  As he grew older, Barrie knew he wanted have a career as a writer.  His family was unhappy with this decision and pressured Barrie to continue his education at university.  A compromise was reached and Barrie would enroll at the University of Edinburgh and he would study literature.  He went on to graduate and received his M.A. degree in 1882.

While at university, Barrie found work writing drama reviews for the Edinburgh Evening Courant and after graduating he became a journalist for the Nottingham Journal.  He worked there for almost two years and then returned to Kirriemuir to concentrate on writing original stories which were inspired by his mother’s childhood and set in a fictional town of Thrums, the stories also depicted the Auld Lichts, which was a strict religious sect that Barrie’s grandfather had belonged to.  Barrie submitted the stories to a London newspaper and they were published by the St. James Gazette.  Eventually these stories served as the basis for Barrie’s first novels, “Auld Licht Idylls” (1888) and “A Window in Thrums” (1890).  The stories proved to be popular, sold reasonably well and helped to established Barrie as a successful writer.

1904 newpaper Advertisment for the first Peter Pan playBarrie also wrote theatrical plays, the first few turned out to be critical failures but he continued to write.  His third play featured a young actress named Mary Ansell and Barrie quickly fell in love, proposed and they were married on July 9 1894.  Barrie bought Mary a Saint Bernard puppy and he wrote this furry character into one of his novels, “The Little White Bird”, later known as “Adventures in Kensington Gardens”.  “The Little White Bird” was published in 1902 and featured the memorable character of Peter Pan.  Eventually, this popular novel became such a critical and financial success for Barrie that it soon lead to the theatrical stage production of “Peter Pan” which premiered on December 27, 1904.

Unfortunately, during this time the Barrie’s marriage had proven to be an unhappy one and Mary had an affair.  To avoid the scandal of a divorce, Barrie offered her a legal separation if she agreed to sever ties with the other man.  Mary refused and Barrie sued for a divorce on the grounds of infidelity and it was granted in October 1909.

1911 Peter and Wendy bookBarrie found solace in his work and in 1911 he wrote another novel entitled “Peter and Wendy” that told the story of the “forever young” boy, the adventurous Peter, who meets Wendy Darling and her brothers.  Peter teaches the trio how to fly across the night sky of London to the island of Neverland where he lives with his band of Lost Boys, some of the other characters in the story include the fairy TinkerBelle and the pirate Captain Hook.

Barrie had created the story of Peter Pan for the sons of his close personal friend Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, who was a recent widow.  The name of the character of Peter Pan came from Peter for one of Llerelyn Davies’ sons and Pan was for the mischievous Greek God of the woodlands.  It has been said that the character of Peter Pan was also inspired by Barrie’s brother David who had died when he was a child and remained forever a young boy in the memory of his devastated mother.  Sadly, Mrs. Llewelyn Davies herself died a few years after meeting Barrie; he was named as one of the guardians of her boys and he unofficially adopted them.  Deeply affected by these personal events and his deep affection for children that he would never be able to have himself, in 1929 Barrie gave the copyright of the Peter Pan book and play to the Great Ormond Street Hospital, which is a children’s hospital located in London.

Throughout his life Barrie had many famous literary friends and acquaintances, such as H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling and he corresponded from several years with Robert Louis Stevenson although they never meet because Stevenson was living in Samoa at the time.  Barrie was also friends with the Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott; he was the godfather to Scott’s son, Peter.  In his final hours before he died during his South Pole expedition, Scott wrote several letters to his family and relatives, and Barrie considered his letter from Scott one of his most cherished personal mementos and carried it with him for the rest of his life.  One of Barrie also met and told stories to the young daughters of the Duke of York, who was the future King George VI and the father of Princess Margaret and the present Queen Elizabeth II.

Barrie died of pneumonia on June 19,1937 and is buried at Kirriemuir next to his parents and two of his siblings.  The birthplace and childhood home is now a museum maintained by the National Trust of Scotland.

Honors and awards

Over the years Barrie received many awards and honors.  In 1913 he was made a baronet by King George V and in 1922 he was made a member of the Order of Merit.  In 1919 he was elected Rector of the University of St Andrews for a three year term and several years later Barrie served as Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh from 1930 to 1937.

Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, LondonA lasting memorial to the character of Peter Pan stands in an area of London’s Kensington Gardens located near Hyde Park.  At the time, the character of Peter had appeared in his book, “The Little White Bird”, Barrie was living in London and used the location as the setting for his story.  He wrote that Peter flies out of his nursery, out into the city and he lands in the Long Water area.  Magically overnight and with no advanced publicity, a statue of Peter Pan appeared on the same exact spot on May 1, 1912.  Barrie had commissioned Sir George Frampton to create the bronze statue and he worked on it in secret until it suddenly appeared as a surprise for the children of London.  The almost 10 foot high statue features Peter standing at the top of a tree trunk with several fairies, squirrels, rabbits and mice gathered around.

Of course, throughout the years, the story of Peter Pan and the other wonderful characters of the enchanted Neverland have held the imagination of the public since the book and the first theatrical production was performed.  There have been several versions of the play performed around the world, one of the most famous actresses to play Peter was Mary Martin on Broadway.  Probably the version that most children have seen is the 1953 Walt Disney animated film which features a magical adaption of Barrie’s play.  In 1991, Steven Spielberg produced the movie “Hook” (starring Robin Williams as Peter and Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook) which tells the story of the older grown-up Peter who seems to have forgotten his childhood and his memories of living in Neverland.  Another great movie is the 2004 Warner Bros. film “Finding Neverland” (starring Johnny Depp playing J.M. Barrie and Kate Winslet playing his friend Sylvia Llewelyn Davies) which tells the story of how Barrie came to write the tale of Peter Pan.

Charm Bracelets

As a child I remember my Grandmother had a golden bracelet that was filled with charms that represented all of her children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.  All the links of the bracelet seemed to be filled and she would only wear it for special occasions, it would make a lovely “jingle” sound as she would move her arm.  My mother also had a similar bracelet but our family was much smaller and there were not quite so many charms.  I also received a golden charm bracelet as a present for my 16th birthday that I still have in my jewelry box.

The popularity of charms is not a new fashion trend and has been around for a very long time.  In fact, the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, Romans and the Medieval knights all wore charms as decorative pendants and amulets to ward off evil spirits or charms that were worn into battle for good luck or charms that were worn to signify a person’s heritage or their religious belief.

As she has influenced so much of our modern traditions, Queen Victoria wore a charm bracelet and started a popular fashion among the European royalty back in the late 1800s.  Sadly when Prince Albert died, the Queen made mourning charms popular and these charms were lockets containing the hair of a deceased loved one or a miniature portrait of the deceased and the bracelets were made of black jet which was a popular gemstone used during the traditional mourning period.

After World War II, charm bracelets became very popular with the American women and their daughters.  The custom of purchasing or receiving charms to mark special events is another lovely tradition.  Movie stars worn them in their films and they were also seen wearing them for photos shoots in the movie magazines and this is the trend that I remember from my childhood.

After my daughter was born I decided that I wanted to start collecting charms for her to remember special events of her life with the hope that it would become a wonderful keepsake for her as she grows older.  I actually started with charms for one bracelet and have now collected so many charms that there are enough for not just one bracelet but several more!

The first one is a traditional charm bracelet with charms that mark my daughter’s special events, hobbies or activities.  From left to right: a baby shoe, ballet and tap shoes, a little gymnast, a dog to represent our three rescue dogs, ice skates and a hula dancer for when she took lessons, skis and boots, High School Musical and Hannah Montana charms (I’ve got to find a One Direction charm!), a little girl praying on her knees for her first communion, a piano with a musical note added to mark her weekly piano lessons and also for her participation in the school choir.  As you can see from the photo shown below, there is a space left for the cheerleader charm that I recently ordered.  I hope that my daughter remembers all the fun things she did while growing up and I think the charm bracelet is also a wonderful way to remember those special events from her childhood.

Childhood charm bracelet

The next collection of charms was bought during our family vacations and trips around the United States that we have taken since my daughter was born.  I also found a great online source to purchase “state” charms to go with the other travel souvenirs, the web site is bluemud.com.  With such a large collection of travel charms there is no way they could all fit on a bracelet, so I have decided to attach them to a necklace that I have recently purchased but I have not got around to attaching the charms yet.  Below are two photos: one of the travel charms and the other the state charms.

travel charms    state charms

Another collection of charms were bought on our many visits to Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida.  As many of you know from previous posts, our family loves everything Disney!  In the photo shown below, I have collected quite a number of the Disney charms.  Once again there were so many charms to put on a bracelet, so I will be attaching them to the other necklace that I recently purchased.

Disney charms

Charms are not just for bracelets and necklaces and here is a story to tell of a great idea I had for an alternative way of displaying them.  When we lived in California, our family tried to visit all of the 21 Missions scattered across the state.  We had a great time exploring most of them during weekend trips or summer vacations and by the time we moved to the Midwest we had only three more to go!!  Each time we visited the Missions I would purchase one of the Mission medals so I had another collection of charms.  I didn’t want to display the medals on a bracelet so I came up with another idea.  During one of our visits I had purchased a small poster showing the California Missions.  I framed the poster and then hot glued the medals along the border and left space for the missing medals.  It looks great hanging in our home and next time we visit California we are going to visit the last remaining California Missions to get those missing medals!

California Mission print

Another idea for using charms that I saw when shopping in a gift store recently was charms attached to rubber and metal “hair ties” which were sold to be used as a “bracelet”.  These bracelets were priced at $5 and I thought I could make ones for my daughter for a much lower price.  I found similar rubber and metal hair ties at my local retail store and I used some ocean themed silver charms because we had a planned summer vacation to the North Carolina coast and my daughter loved them when she wore them during the trip.  As you can see from the photo below the bracelets were so easy to make and they look great!!

charms attached to hair ties

The last collection of charms is unusual and not the traditional metal ones but small resin charms that I found in our local craft store.  As you can see from the photo below, the charms are cute animal characters and my daughter absolutely loves them.  I am not sure if I will put them on a bracelet or a necklace, I haven’t decided yet!

Resin charms

So, in conclusion I hope you enjoy this post about charm bracelets.  If you collect charms, send me a picture because I would love to see your collection.

Johnny Carson’s Birthday

Johnny Carson 1  Carson

I enjoyed watching Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show”, I thought his monologues had clever jokes about current topics, I liked when he performed the Carnac the Magnificent skits and of course I loved when his guest was Joan Embery from the San Diego Zoo and she would bring interesting animals to the show.  In my personal option Johnny Carson was a one of a kind late night talk show host and nobody on television today even comes close to his talent except maybe Jimmy Fallon.

John “Johnny” William Carson (Born: October 23, 1925 Died: January 23, 2005) was an American talk show icon who hosted “The Tonight Show” from 1962 to 1992.  His casual manner and great conversational skills made him one of the most successful television hosts for thirty years.  During his long career Carson received six Emmy Awards and he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987.  In 1985 Carson received the Peabody Award, in 1992 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 1993 he received a Kennedy Center Honor.

Carson the amateur magicianCarson was born in Corning, Iowa and his family moved to Norfolk, Nebraska when he was eight years old.  At the age of twelve years old he was inspired by a book of magic that he had read and sent away for a mail-order magician’s kit.  He practiced constantly and performed for his family and friends.  When he was fourteen years old he started performing a local events and county fairs.

In 1943, after graduating from high school, Carson joined the U.S. Navy.  World War II was still being fought and after officer training Carson was assigned as an ensign aboard the USS Pennsylvania, he served as a communications officer in charge of decoding encrypted messages.

After the war, Carson returned to Nebraska and continued his college education at the University of Nebraska.  He graduated in 1949 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in radio & speech with a minor in physics.

In 1950, Carson took a job in Omaha hosting a morning program at the local radio station.  He continued to perform his magic act in the evenings at local events.  A year later, Carson decided he wanted to move to California to find work in the new entertainment field of television.  He found a job at a local Los Angeles television, it was a CBC low budget comedy show called “Carson’ Cellar which ran from 1951 to 1953.

In 1953, Red Skelton hired Carson to become a writer for his show.  A year later, just before show time Skelton had an accident and was unable to perform and Carson filled in for him and was a great success.  Then in 1955, Jack Benny invited Carson to appear on his show as a performer and was once again a huge success. Benny predicted that Carson would go on to have a great career as a comedian … I think he was right!

Carson went on to host other shows based in California and he was a regular on the original “To Tell The Trust” game show until 1962.  He then moved to New York City to take a job hosting the game show “Who Do You Trust?”  At this time Carson met Ed McMahon on this show when McMahon was hired as the show’s announcer, their friendship lasted 46 years.  Carson worked on the game show for five years and it was the first time he was able to use his clever on-camera wit to ad lib and interview guests, the show was a great daytime television hit.

In 1962, NBC invited Carson to fill in for the soon to be departing Jack Paar of “The Tonight Show”.  He originally declined the offer because he was fearful of the longer daily format.  Eventually he accepted the offer and he officially became the host on October 1, 1962.  The first year was very difficult as he tried to develop the show but the rating slowly began to improve.  Ed McMahon was brought in as the announcer and with his classic line, “Heeeer’s Johnny” he would introduce Carson who would open the show with a brief monologue filled with jokes and funny stories on the current topics of the day and he would always end the monologue with his icon golf swing as they would cut to the commercial.  After the commercial break, there would sometimes be a comedy sketch followed by guest interviews and sometimes a musical segment.

In 1972, “The Tonight Show” was moved from New York City to “beautiful downtown” Burbank, California.  Carson had stopped doing the show five days a week by this time and for the Monday night show there would a guest host.  In the 1980s the show format changed from 90 minutes to an hour program.  Although Carson work schedule was shorter his salary at NBC continued to rise and by the 1970s he had become the highest paid person on television.

“The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” launched the many careers and the list of comedian that got their start on the show is very impressive: David Letterman, Jay Leno, Joan Rivers, Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Rosanne Barr, Ellen DeGenneres and Drew Carey.  It was always the highlight of a comedian’s career when Carson liked their stand-up routine and invited them over for a chat afterwards, allowing them extra time to show their stuff!

Carson officially retired from show business and his final “Tonight Show” was May 22, 1992.  Prior to that final show and in the weeks leading up to the event, Carson invited some of his favorite guests from the last thirty years.  The night before the final show, his last two guests were Robin Williams and Bette Midler.  Williams gave one of his usual zany, high energy performances and Midler sang a few of Carson’s favorite songs.  The last song she sang was “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” and everyone was very emotional, even Johnny Carson!

The final show had no guests and it was a retrospective show with clips from some of his favorite moments over the last thirty years.  The studio audience that night was by invitation only and was “Tonight Show” family and friends.  More than fifty million people watched the finale and Johnny Carson ended the show with a heartfelt thank you to Ed McMahon, Doc Severinsen and the “Tonight Show” crew.  He also thanked the television viewers for inviting him into their homes and then he said good night.CARSON

Post retirement, Carson made occasional appearances.  Two special ones were the 1993 Bob Hope NBC Special and in 1994 he made a guest appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman”.  He also was seen at the Wimbledon Tennis Competitions, at his home in Malibu or in Marina del Ray on his 130 foot yacht, the “Serengeti”.

Throughout his life Carson was a very heavy smoker, in fact in the early days of the “Tonight Show” Carson would often smoke on camera.  In 1999, Carson suffered a severe heart attack and underwent a quadruple bypass surgery.  In 2002 it was publicly revealed that Carson had a terminal illness.  Carson died on January 23, 2005 from respiratory failure brought on from emphysema, he was 79 years old.  International tributes came from around the world but there was no public memorial service.

Interesting information and facts about Johnny Carson

  • Carson was married four times.  His first marriage was to Jody Wolcott, they married in 1948 and divorced in 1963.  In 1963, Carson married Joanne Copeland and they divorced in 1972.  In 1972, Carson married Joanna Holland and they divorced in 1983.  In 1987, Carson married Alexis Maas and they remained married until his death in 2005.  Carson always had a clever joke to say about his multiple marriages, divorces and high alimony payments.
  • Carson had three sons from his first marriage, Christopher, Cory and Richard.  Sadly Richard died in 1991 in a car accident.
  • In 1962, Carson replaced Jack Paar as the host of “The Tonight Show”.  Paar changed late night television when he always opened the show with a monologue about current events.  He hosted “The Tonight Show” from 1957 to 1962 and Hugh Downs was the show’s announcer.   Before Paar, Steve Allen hosted the show from 1954 to 1957.
  • Paul Anka wrote the theme song of “The Tonight Show”, he later called it “Johnny’s Theme”.  When he took over “The Tonight Show” in 1962 Carson wrote lyrics for the song and as a result he was able to claim 50% of the song royalties.  Interestingly, the lyrics were rarely heard during those 30 years that Carson hosted the late night show.
  • During Carson’s opening five minute monologue he made clever and funny jokes about politicians, celebrities and current events.  Occasionally, the monologue would bomb and the orchestra would start to play “Tea For Two” and Carson would do a little soft shoe dance.
  • In 1966, Carson did a segment on “The Tonight Show” with Eva Gabor and they played the Milton Bradley’s game Twister, after the show aired the sales of the game skyrocketed.
  • In 1973, Carson did a joke on “The Tonight Show” about an alleged shortage of toilet paper.  Afterwards, in a panic people began buying up large supplies of toilet paper, emptying the shelves of stores in the United States and causing a real shortage that lasted for weeks.  Stores and toilet paper manufacturers had to ration supplies until the panic ended; Carson later apologized for the incident.
  • Carson as CarnacCarson played many different characters in comedy skits on the show, but his most popular was Carnac the Magnificent.  The character of Carnac could see the future and Carson would wear a large turban and cape.  Ed McMahon would give Carnac a sealed envelope with a question written inside.  Carnac would touch the envelope to his forehead and magically reveal the answer to the unknown question.  Then he would open the envelope to reveal the question.  Answer – “To the Cleaners” Question – “Where are Johnny Carson’s ex-wives taking him?”  If the audience did not laugh, Carnac would cast a humorous curse.
  • Carson was an amateur astronomer and he owned several telescopes.  One of his close friends was famed writer and astronomer Carl Sagan, who was often a guest on “The Tonight Show”.
  • Carson hated disloyalty among friends and professional colleagues.  When former “Tonight Show” guest host Joan Rivers got her own talk show in 1986, which was in direct competition with his show, Carson was angered by her betrayal and he never spoke to her again.
  • Before Carson’s death, The New York Times published a story revealing that Carson, after his retirement from television, would occasionally send jokes to David Letterman, Carson enjoyed when Letterman used the jokes in his monologue.  Carson had always believed that Letterman, not Jay Leno, should have been the next host of “The Tonight Show”.
  • PBS American Masters series, aired a two-hour documentary about his Carson’s life, “Johnny Carson: King of Late Night”, in 2012.  It is narrated by Kevin Spacey and features interviews with many of Carson’s family, television associates and other comedians.

H. G. Wells’ Birthday


You may be noticing a theme here.  Barbara is letting me write another post about another science fiction author.  I think she will be surprised at some of the colorful aspects of H.G. Wells’ life I uncovered in my research on him!

Herbert George Wells (Born: September 21, 1866 – Died: August 13, 1946) was an English author known for his prophetic science fiction novels and in later life his comic portrayals of lower class society.  His parents were servants who had turned shopkeepers when they purchased a small store with an inheritance.   The shop was not particularly successful and his father supplemented their income as a professional cricket player.  When the shop failed and his father broke his thigh ending his career as a cricketer, his mother went back to work as a lady’s maid.  As part of the employment agreement the father and children were not allowed to live with her.  Herbert was placed as an apprentice to a draper.  Long days and poor working conditions made this one of the worst periods of his life, but provided experiences he later wrote about in The Wheels of Chance and Kipps.

Herbert’s education was erratic and broad.  He attended Thomas Morley’s Commercial Academy and then taught at the National School as a pupil-teacher (an advanced student who taught the younger children).  When his sponsor was dismissed he had a short, unsuccessful apprenticeship as a chemist and eventually wound up as a pupil-teacher at the Midhurst Grammar school where his Latin proficiency and science had been remembered from a short stay a few years earlier.  In 1884 he won a scholarship from the Normal School of Science (now part of the Imperial College London) where he studied biology and physics.  He studied teaching at the College of Preceptors (teachers) and eventually earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of London External Programme.

In 1891 Herbert married his cousin Isabel Mary Wells.  The marriage only lasted three years  and they separated when he fell in love with one of his students Amy Catherine Robbins (Jane) who he married in 1895.  He had two children with Jane, but with the full consent of Jane he preached and practiced a version of free love and fathered several other children with other women.  H. G. Wells in Love: Postscript to An Experiment in Autobiography chronicles this portion of his life.  At his request it was published 50 years after his death to protect the women in his life.

Politically Herbert was a socialist and who envisioned a classless world where everyone was judged by their merits, not their lineage.  Many of his writings, especially later in life, were devoted to political themes.  He was a strong proponent of the League of Nations (later the United Nations).  His impact on politics was marginal but he did co-found Diabetes UK which is now the leading diabetes charity in the UK.

H. G. Wells was a prolific writer publishing both fiction and non-fiction.  Few people know he wrote a biology textbook and eventually abandoned science fiction later in life for comic novels with discussions of social or political themes.  What he is primarily know for are his science fiction works which have landed him firmly in contention as the “Father of Science Fiction”.  He wrote many of these is a burst of energy between 1895 and 1904.  These works include one of my all-time favorites “The Time Machine” along with “The Invisible Man”, “The Island of Doctor Moreau”, the “First Men on the Moon” and “The War of The Worlds”.

One of his short stories, “The Country of the Blind” is a tale of a man who is stranded in a valley where everyone is blind.  Being able to see, he remembers the old adage “in the land of the blind the one eyed man will be king” and figures he has it made.  Eventually he falls in love with one of the locals, but his petition to marry her is denied because of his obsession with “sight” that the residents of the valley cannot understand or grasp.  They recommend having his eyes removed so he can become “normal”, but on the day of the operation he flees thinking it will be easy to avoid blind searchers, but it is not as easy as he thought.  He sees that the valley is about to be destroyed by a rock slide, but they do not believe him.  In the final version of the story rewritten in 1939 he escapes with the rock slide with his love.  This is a short read and is really worth the time!

H. G. Wells’ works have been made into many blockbuster movies and other productions, but the most memorable of them was the October 30, 1938 radio production of “War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles.  This was written as a newscast interrupting the regularly scheduled broadcast.  It caused widespread panic among listeners and mass hysteria.  You can see Herbert’s biology training showing through in that the world is saved not by military might, but by germs the Martians bodies cannot cope with.

I hope you have enjoyed this post.  It barely scratches the surface of H. G. Wells’ life.  Please comment if you would like to know more about this great science fiction author!

Jeff Jones

Crown Jewels of England (Part Two)

Last month I posted the Crown Jewels of England (Part One) that featured interesting information about the royal regalia that is used during the coronation ceremony of the British Monarch.  Today’s post will have detailed information about a few of the other items in the royal collection, such as the Imperial State Crown, the Imperial Crown of India, the   Queen Victoria’s small diamond crown and the Crown of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

The Imperial State Crown

Imperial State CrownOne of the most famous crowns in the royal collection is the Imperial State Crown.  The original crown was made for Queen Victoria in 1838, but when the crown became un-repairable an exact copy was made in 1937 for the coronation of King George VI.  Then in 1953, the crown was altered to fit the smaller head of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Imperial State Crown is made with a gold frame with four crosses, four fleurs-de-lis and two crossing arches that were lowered by about one inch to give the crown a more feminine appearance for Queen Elizabeth.  At the top of the arches is a cross pattee and the crown includes 2,868 diamonds, 272 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 5 rubies.  Several of the stones are historically famous; such as two of the four dangling pearls were once worn by Queen Elizabeth I, in addition there is the Black Prince’s Ruby, St. Edward’s Sapphire and the Stuart Sapphire.  The most famous gemstone in the Imperial State Crown is known as the Second Star of Africa which is the second largest stone cut from the world renowned Cullinan Diamond.

The Imperial State Crown is traditionally worn during the recessional of the Coronation ceremony when the monarch leaves Westminster Abbey.  The Crown is also worn by the monarch for the annual State Opening of Parliament.  Traditionally, the crown and other royal jewels worn for the occasion are transported to the Robing Room within the Parliament building and this is where the Crown, jewelry and royal robes are put on before the ceremony begins.

The Imperial Crown of India

Imperial Crown of IndiaThe Imperial Crown of India was created for George V as the Emperor of India to wear at the Delphi Durbar in 1911.  In theory, when the monarch is crowned during the coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey in London he becomes king or queen of England and all the Commonwealth countries.  But King George was advised by his ministers that his presence was need in India after the coronation and the Durbar was arranged but due to the tradition that the Crown Jewels are never to leave the United Kingdom this new crown was specially made for the occasion.   Due to the heavy weight the Imperial Crown of India was never worn again.

The crown has a silver frame laminated in gold and set with 6,100 diamonds.  The band is set with larger diamonds, emeralds and sapphires surrounded by more diamonds.  Above the band are four cross pattee set with rubies and four fleur-de-lis with emeralds surrounded with even more diamonds.  The eight half-arches are topped with a cross pattee with an emerald in the center, most British royal crowns traditionally have only four arches.

Queen Victoria’s Crown

Following the death of Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria left London for the seclusion of her other homes and withdrew from any public engagements.  Out of respect for her beloved husband, she wore mourning clothes for the rest of her life. Deciding that her elaborate jewels were not appropriate for her status as a widow, she had a smaller diamond crown made that was more suitable and usually wore it over a veil of Honiton lace.  This is the image of the older Queen Victoria that is depicted in portraits, sculptures, photographs, coins and currency in the last decades of her reign.

The small crown, less than 4 inches in diameter was made in 1870, has a silver frame laminated in gold and wet with 1,187 diamonds.  When Queen Victoria died in 1901, the crown was placed on her coffin as it traveled from Osborne House to the state funeral in London.  Subsequently, the crown was worn by Queen Alexandra who later gave it to Queen Mary.  In 1937, King George suggested that the crown should be added permanently to the display of Crown Jewels at the Tower of London and it has not been worn seen that time.

Queen Victoria crown 1 Queen Victoria wearing her crown
 The Crown of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother

For the coronation of King George VI in 1937, a special crown was made for the Queen Consort.  The crown is made of platinum with a band set with diamonds with four alternating cross pattee and fluer-de-lis of four each and features four arches that are detachable which allows it to be worn as a circlet.  This is how it was worn by the Queen Elizabeth for the State Openings of Parliament during the reign of George VI and also how it was worn in 1953 for the coronation of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

The crown is set with 2800 diamonds; the most notable one is the 105 carat Koh-I-Nor diamond displayed in the middle of the front cross.  The diamond was given to Queen Victoria in 1877 when she became Empress of India.  The crown also contains the almost 23 carat Lahore Diamond which was given to Queen Victoria by the East India Company in 1851 and a 17 carat diamond that was also given to Queen Victoria by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in 1856.

In 2002 when Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother died at the age of 101 the crown was set on her coffin during her state funeral.  The crown is now displayed with the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother crown Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother crown at funeral
 For more information about additional items in the royal collection, please check out last month’s post, The Crown Jewels of England (Part One).  In this post there is detailed information about the royal regalia used for the coronation ceremony of the English kings and queens since 1660.

Also, if you are interested in more information about the Royal Family and their jewels, please click on the links to the following posts:  The Queen’s Jewelry Collection (Part One and Part Two) and the Cambridge Emeralds.