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A Literary Soiree, 1890 Giclee Print

A Literary Soiree by Maurice Leloir, 1890

In my new job position, I can flex my theatrical creativity. Now I am confronted with what many a good hostess is keenly aware of, the first major decision is settling on a day for my soiree. Not being a natural social butterfly; all the previous gatherings I hosted or assisted had pre-set dates, like national holidays and my birthday. How do I go about planning a spectacular soiree for the library?

One must think of the Grand Dames of Society on both sides of the pond. Throwing a party seems to rely on the availability of desired attendees. Thus begins the multitude of inquiries. . .

What do my coveted guests already have scheduled in their social planner that would render them unavailable to accept my invitations? Obviously, the larger the audience, the more problematic the scheduling becomes. Then, if that was not worrisome enough, every proper 19th century hostess must account for all the up coming religious observances, major holidays, and the Queen’s movement. Possible assembly days are consequently narrowed down.

But wait!–What of other organizational gatherings that might vie for the presence of my guests? The suffragists meeting? The local city picnic? An author signing at the local bookseller? The shoe sale at Harrod’s?

Regardless if the venue, whether indoors or out, weather has an enormous influence on the outcome of my planned assembly. Perhaps more so during the 19th century is this more capricious as meteorology was in its infancy and one could not predict the weather with any discernible accuracy; at least not in England. Let us suppose all these things considered, a particular Wednesday looks promising.

The enjoyable scheming moves forward and all the details are in place, when my most celebratory guest is run over by a hansom cab on his way departure from a house of ill repute in the wee hours of the morning and killed instantly on the very morning of your soiree. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!  Erm– I mean . . .*insert frustrated Lady-like noise here* At this rate I am suspicious selecting a date is no different than tilting at windmills. Perhaps “divining the date” should be the more appropriate title of this musing.

However, I could assume Lady Astor’s stance and choose a date which satisfies my own schedule. Any body who is any body, will know to clear their social calendars and attend forthwith and without question. Compromise, be darned! Or, I could go the Lady Vanderbilt route and schedule my soiree on the same day as my biggest rival and make do on the promises to outshine their fete. So many calculations! It is enough to make my eyes cross. At this rate, it might be simpler to flip through my date book and randomly stop; what day my finger falls on, then we should have the soiree. Alas! I shall have the date!

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