Victorian Cozy

IMG_2166Posting the images of the beautiful rooms at Les Charmettes, where Jean-Jacques Rousseau lived for awhile made me think of another set of  rooms to which I am similarly attracted, though they are cozy, dim Victorian rooms, a kind of dark Victorian yin in answer to the airy yang of the previous century. They were in the home of Jane and Thomas Carlyle, who moved into their Chelsea home in London in 1834. Thomas Carlyle was a roaring literary lion of his day, writing essays and books of history. He is most famous now for his The French Revolution: a History. Jane, who wrote a novel when she was 13, put aside her literary ambitions when she married, devoting herself to the great man’s comfort. Their marriage seemed to be a duel between two considerable egos. Jane lost the duel, and had at least one nervous breakdown, but her enjoyable  “Letters” are still read today. I came across a copy at a local antique store, and have found in them a vivid glimpse into Victorian life.  She was no angel, though. A commentator noted that “It was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle marry one another, and so make only two people miserable and not four.”

The books above are from my bookshelf; the images below are from Homes of the Great, by Claude Arthaud.

car1Here is the staircase up to Carlyle’s study.

car2This room was a lounge where Carlyle read aloud to his admirers. Sorry about the strange stripes that can be seen here–they seem to be an artifact of the scanning process. The building at top right is No. 5 Cheyne Row where they lived.

car3The study. The wallpaper looks like the William Morris willow design, though it was first made available in 1884, so perhaps it is a later addition. Also enjoy the Victorian needlepoint pillows, and the silk patchwork throw on the table. This was probably made by the paper piecing of many silk scraps.

car4Other half of the study. I love the elaborate crochet edging around the fireplace mantle, the decoupaged screen, the needlepoint firescreen, and the book rest fitted to the black leather chair.

In the course of their marriage, Jane and Thomas Carlyle wrote 9,000 letters to one another, and I can imagine them writing by candlelight in these rooms as dusk fell on a December evening.

Hope you have enjoyed this tour. Namaste. Fran

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2 thoughts on “Victorian Cozy

  1. Now I really want to read Jane Carlyles letters! So interesting – marriages between creative, but high-strung (or passionate, depending on perspective) people seem destined to either soar to the heavens or spiral into hell. I’d love to read Mr. Carlyles writings, too.

  2. Hi! To me, the interesting thing is that his reputation is in eclipse, and some modern scholars note that his ideas influenced fascists in the 20th century–not good! So his reputation really has suffered. But her letters are as lively and interesting as can be, and worth seeking out. Fran

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