Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard


Delve into the STYLE AND SUBSTANCE of Historical Fiction—
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Style & Substance

Odd Tidbits and Occasional Musings from Elizabeth

The Good, Bad & Ugly of Being a Published Author

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Many of us who write exist for the moment when we first hold in our hand an actual finished product—a novel, a volume of poetry, or some other so-very-long-in-the-making creation of our imagination. That moment means that we can finally call ourselves not just a “writer” but a “published author.” This upgraded designation, if you want to consider it that, most definitely represents a sea change.

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The Early Days of Women Doctors

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My historical suspense novel, The Beauty Doctor, is the story of a young woman who, in 1907, dreams of becoming a doctor. But what was the likelihood of a woman actually entering the medical profession back in the days of corsets and Merry Widow hats?

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The Colorful History of Cosmetic Surgery

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The possibility of physical transformation through cosmetic surgery first came to public attention during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, inspiring both curiosity and condemnation.  As the turn of the century approached, women were becoming weary of the restraints imposed by a society in which they lacked freedom of choice about even the simplest things, including how they looked. Enter The Beauty Doctor

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Joe’s Museum of “Human Oddities”

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In my historical mystery, The Beauty Doctor, the wealthy and eccentric Joe Radcliff is a collector of what he terms “human oddities”—unusual specimens of human heads, bodies or parts thereof, preserved as dried or skeletal remains or floating in bottles of alcohol or formalin. Sounds creepy, right? But actually our fascination with human malformations—the study of which is called teratology—dates back at least 5000 years to the Egyptians.

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The Allure of the “Gibson Girl”

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Who was the iconic Gibson Girl, making her debut at the turn of the nineteenth century, and what was her significance to Edwardian times? According to her creator, artist Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944), the Gibson Girl was not any one individual but, rather, a composite of the all-American girl/woman. Undeniably, her impact on society in the early 1900s was significant.

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Authors of a Favorite Era

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As an author of historical fiction, I love to read the work of other contemporary writers of historical novels—particularly those who have set their story in the Victorian or Edwardian eras, which happen to be my favorites. But I have found it perhaps even more enlightening to read the work of writers who actually lived in those eras. There is so much to be learned from the great classic authors whose work never goes out of style!

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About the Cover of The Beauty Doctor

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A number of people have asked about the portrait on the cover of my first work of historical fiction, The Beauty Doctor. When I discovered this painting, I knew immediately that this young woman was my Abigail! But, of course, she was someone else first.

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Those Marvelous Edwardian Hats!

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Hats were a big deal in the Edwardian era, often to the detriment of our innocent feathered friends. Merry Widow hats sometimes sported brims as wide as 18 inches and might well be crowned with whole stuffed birds.

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