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tablet size version of atmospheric landscape with oak trees and ruin
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dark Gothic style landscape with oak trees and ruined church tower
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ROBERT STEPHEN PARRY
Historical Fiction
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Glossary. Arts, literature and history, an explanation of terms

An illustrated, alphabetical list of expressions used on this website

Art Nouveau


A unique and beautiful movement in the arts that flourished from  about 1890 until the onset of the first world war in 1914. It was a  style of decorative art that was expressed not only in painting and  design, but also in architecture and furniture. Popular in western  Europe, Britain and the USA, it was characterized by flowing lines,  scrolls and curves - these often based on natural forms such as  foliage or flowers.
row of images showing fashion and styles from art nouveau era
Curvaceous and gorgeous art nouveau

Belle Époque


Belle Époque is a French term meaning 'the beautiful era'  coinciding with the final decades of the 19th century and the first 14  years of the 20th century (up to the start of the First World War). A  largely peaceful era in which the arts and sciences flourished and in  which the style and manners of previous years still remained, at  least among the well-to-do of society.
small composite illustration of belle epoque designs and clothing
A celebration of flamboyance - the glorious Belle Epoque

Elizabethan Era


Sometimes called England’s ‘Golden Age,’ this is a period of history  coinciding with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I - who succeeded to  the throne in 1558 and reigned until her death in 1603, at the age of  69.
3 small images of Elizabethans, including Elizabeth 1st
Faces of the Elizabethan age, including the Queen (right)

Epistolary Novel


A novel made up of letters and/or journals in which one is obliged  to ‘read between the lines’ and reach conclusions about what is  taking place, or has taken place. Although not always obvious, some  of the best-known classic novels of the past have been epistolary in  form. And the genre remains popular.
thumbnail image of book cover with black lace and gold lettering

Fin de Siècle


This is a French term meaning ‘the end or turn of the Century’ and  is usually applied to the closing years of the 19th Century and start  of the 20th. It is also a term that interprets the period as being  somewhat decadent and with a sense of foreboding - a kind of  doomed Gothic sentiment.
painting depicting gentlemen in cafe reading newspapers

Georgian Era


A period of history in Britain coinciding with the reigns of the
Hanoverian monarchs - George I, II, II and IV between the years
1714 and 1830. The Georgian era, which includes the Regency, is
also sometimes called ‘the long eighteenth century.
set of three images showing Georgian-era persons with long hair or wigs
Faces of the Georgian era
Café Griensteidl, Reinhold Völkel, 1896
3 small images together of Gothic revival interiors
The wonderful world of Gothic design

Jacobite


A term referring to those who, in the 17th and 18th centuries  supported the restoration of the Stuart royal line in England. The  last Stuart monarch was James II who was ousted from power in  1688. The nation at the time was uncomfortable with James’s Catholicism, and laws were enacted that prohibited any future  monarch of that persuasion from taking the throne regardless of  their rights by descent. The Jacobites, who had considerable  support in Europe and Britain, launched two invasions of Scotland  during the years 1715 and 1745 - known as the 1st and 2nd Jacobite  rebellion respectively. The 2nd is remembered fondly as the  campaign of the Young Pretender, or Bonnie Prince Charlie. The  Jacobite issue overshadowed the political landscape in Britain for  much of the 18th century.
portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the young pretender
Portrait of Charles Edward Stuart,
otherwise known as Bonnie Prince Charlie

Magical Realism


A genre of literature characterised by a sense of uncertainty - with  the occurrence of time-slips and spiritual visitations that blend with  normal, rational sequences of events in a seamless fashion.  Although a modern term, magical realism, is found throughout all  the history of the novel, in all cultures. It’s real, but magical at the  same time.
thumbnail image of book cover with Edwardian lady in large hat

Neo-Victorian (modern Victorian)

A genre, usually applied to literature, in which the novelist  endeavours to re-create the social and political landscape of the  19th century - and more often than not the fashions and manners of  speech that prevailed during the English Victorian era. Although  usually lacking in the lengthy prose of a typical Victorian writer, the  neo-Victorian novel will often emulate the characteristics and  manners of their predecessors, including melo-drama, dark Gothic  sentiments and mystery.
thumbnail of book cover shows woman in stormy landscape

Noir


A French term meaning ‘dark’ or ‘black’ and often applied to novels  and films with an element of crime that take place in bleak or  gloomy surroundings. It can also refer to plots and stories in which  passionate feelings remain hidden - simmering and smouldering  beneath the surface.
old Parisian poster with black cat on yellow background
1890’s Parisian cabaret poster

Pre-Raphaelite


This is a term applied to the work of a number of artists and poets  who flourished in England during the second half of the 19th  Century. When used in the plural (the Pre-Raphaelites) it refers to a  'brotherhood' of artists centred around the 3 founding members  John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman  Hunt. In practice, however, the term is usually applied to a whole  group of 19th century artists and poets, male and female, some  flourishing well into the early 20th century and whose work has a  strong Romantic and narrative quality
shows 3 Pre-Raphaelite female models
Pre-Raphaelite models, Fanny Cornforth, Elizabeth Siddal and  Alexa Wilding

Regency Era


The years 1811 to 1820 when George III was unable to rule due to  illness, and his son, the Prince of Wales, took power as Regent until  he, in time, succeeded to the throne to become George IV. It saw  some of the finest developments in architecture and fashion.
triple image of Regency characters and architecture
The elegance of Regency England

Romanticism - Romantic Era


A movement in the arts and literature characterised by a sense of  awe and wonder at the grand and sublime in nature and human  feelings. Although it can embrace traditional romantic love,  Romanticism also finds inspiration in things which are savage and  ungoverned. It has a strong affinity with the Gothic, therefore, and  flourished around the same time as the Gothic revivalism of  Victorian times.
3 images showing 19th century poets
Three great English Romantic poets: Keats, Browning and Shelley

The Lady of Shalott


An iconic Victorian poem written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson  (1809- 1892) - the 2nd version, published in 1842, being the more popular  and widely quoted. A great source of inspiration for the Pre- Raphaelite artists and poets, it concerns the plight of a lady  confined in a tower. Working at a loom, night and day, she is  obliged to view the outside world solely through a mirror until, one  day, she has occasion to glance down to the Grail-knight Lancelot  riding past - and then everything changes.
part of painting showing brunette woman seated at loom in Gothic setting
The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse
Listen to the poem here!

Tudor


A name given to the period of English history presided over by the  Tudor dynasty, which began with the crowning of Henry VII after  the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 and ended with the death of  Elizabeth Tudor (Queen Elizabeth I) in 1603.
set of various sketches by Tudor artist Hans Holbein of courtiers
The magical drawings of Hans Holbein bringing the Tudors to life
Watch a video of Holbein’s sketches here!

Victorian Era


A period of history coinciding with the reign of Queen Victoria -  who ascended the throne of Britain in 1837 and reigned until her  death in 1901, at the age of 81.
three black and white photos of prominent Victorians, 2 men one woman
Three Victorians who changed the world, Isambard Kingdom  Brunel, Florence Nightingale and Alexander Graham Bell
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Gothic - Gothic revivalism - neo-Gothic
Gothic usually describes the styles of architecture popular during
the Middle-Ages, characterised by tall, pointed arches and vaulted
ceilings. This style was revived during the Victorian era along with a widespread appreciation of other themes and customs of olden
times. The neo-Gothic, as it is called, was characterised by themes of melancholy and mystery, a sense of the dramatic or grotesque that permeated 19th-century literature, poetry and painting with gloomy motifs, fashions and settings. An atmosphere of mystery.