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The Wenches


  • Mary Jo Putney

  • Patricia Rice

  • Susan Fraser King

  • Anne Gracie

  • Nicola Cornick

  • Andrea Penrose

  • Christina Courtenay

In Memoriam


  • Jo Beverley
    Word Wench 2006-2016

  • Edith Layton
    Word Wench 2006-2009

Word Wenches Staff

Wench Staff Emeritae

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FIND-A-WENCH

  • Want to read ALL the posts by a specific Wench? Just scroll down to the bottom of her post and click on her name!

June 2023

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Wenches Statistics

  • Years published: 164

    Novels published: 231

    Novellas published: 74

    Range of story dates: nine centuries (1026-present)


    Awards Won:

    • RWA RITA

    • RWA Honor Roll

    • RWA Top 10 Favorite

    • RT Lifetime Achievement

    • RT Living Legend

    • RT Reviewers Choice

    • Publishers Weekly Starred Reviews

    • Golden Leaf

    • Barclay Gold

    • ABA Notable Book

    • Historical Novels Review Editors Choice

    • AAR Best Romance

    • Smart Bitches Top 10

    Kirkus Reviews Top 21

    Library Journal Top 5

    Publishers Weekly Top 5

    Booklist Top 10

    • Booktopia Top 10

    • Golden Apple Award for Lifetime Achievement


    Bestseller Lists:

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    Chicago Tribune

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Books

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Comments

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liz m

Let me be the first to freak out. If this wasn't the most talented blog in all of romance land already, you've put it over the top. I'll come back rational later, I swear. At the moment I'm just a bit dazed.

(And congratulations on some epic reviews for TFR)

Barbara Monajem

Heh. Me, too, dazed but happy dancing even though it's the small hours. How super to see you here, Joanna. I didn't realize TFR was out, so yay! Something to run to the bookstore for tomorrow.

I think I would like a cane with a snarling leopard on the end of it. A few weeks ago I saw a leopardskin with the understandably angry head attached that was being used to decorate the back of a couch, and it really caught my imagination. And, to make it all pretty and proper, some decorative ribbons.

Jacquie Rogers

What an outstanding post, Joanna! I read every word and I have a very short attention span, so that's saying something. :) You're a fabulous demi-wench.

I think I'd keep faery dust inside my cane. You just never know when a pinch of faery dust might come in handy.

anne gracie

Joanna, welcome, welcome to the Word Wenches.
Fabulous blog — I've always loved walking sticks with wonderfully shaped heads. My grandfather had one he'd made himself -- he never used it, mind, but he'd spotted an interesting shaped branch and formed a stick out of it. Another friend made a wonderful snake snick from a twisted branch

And ever since the Duke of Avon (I think) produced a sword from his stick, I've thought that a marvelous thing. And I certainly wouldn't be averse to a tippling cane. But I suspect the only kind of stick I'll ever carry is an umbrella.

Sherrie Holmes

Wonderful debut post, Joanna! Like Jacquie, I read every word. I think walking sticks are pure sexy. I wonder why romance heroes don't use them as shamelessly as they use their snuff boxes?

If I used a walking stick, it would be something elegant and highly polished, with a carved horse head for the handle. And of course you could remove the handle and inside would be something useful: a water flask, or perhaps sunglasses. Or a place for your car/house keys or your credit cards or money. Or hey, an emergency stash of M&Ms!

I would probably have my horseshoer make it, as he carves shepherd's crooks that are works of art (he and his wife are into sheep trials). I think I would like the shaft to be in a spiral design, like a narwhal horn (which is actually a tooth).

Thanks for an enlightening history of walking sticks, Joanna. This was a fascinating post!

Cynthia Owens

What a wonderful first post, Joanna and what absolutely fascinating information!

In my debut novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, my hero, Rory O'Brien, was shot in the leg and needed a cane for practical purposes. He ended up collecting them, and by the beginning of the story, had 57 of them (I thought that might make him a little unique). A former gambler, one of his favorites canes was the "dicer cane," the one with the dice concealed in the top. Another favorite was a cane with a compass in the top.

Were I to carry a cane, it would probably have a carved head with the Claddagh, the Irish symbol of love, loyalty and friendship, and maybe incorporating a shamrock somewhere inside.

Patricia Rice

What a smashing blog for your debut, Joanna, thank you! I'm currently revising a book where the hero carries a knife in his cane, because I adore canes, always have. (although Cynthia, I love your idea of the hero collecting them!) I grew up in KY where cane carving was a popular craft, so Sherrie, I've bought canes with horse heads! They make excellent handles.

pjpuppymom

Hi Jo! How wonderful to welcome you to the Word Wenches! One more reason to visit one of my favorite blogs! :)

What a terrific topic! I'm always fascinated by the walking sticks men use, both in fiction and real life. Of course, all your Adrian has to do is stand there (walking stick or no) and I'm utterly fascinated. *grin*

If I had a walking stick of my own, it would have to be on the small side with highly polished dark wood and, like Cynthia, either a Claddagh or Shamrock on top. Of course, the top would come off so that I could easily access my hidden stash of chocolate whenever the need should arise. ;-)


Rachel Walsh

Congratulations on your elevation to Wench-hood, Jo!

And such an interesting post. I've just been researching savate (a French martial art, often employed in street fights in the past), and many of its nineteenth century practitioners also trained in cane fighting; the boulevards of Paris must have been violently elegant, back then!

As for my cane, it would be topped with a silver cat, and have a compartment for pen, paper and, of course, chocolate.

Nicola Cornick

Joanna, welcome and thank you for a wonderful blog post! I like the idea of carrying a slender cane to suit my every outfit. Mine would have a wooden carving of a dog on the handle. I’ve seen a commemorative cane that featured a carving in ivory of a West Highland Terrier and that was very cute. I've also seen a few sword canes and they are terrifying objects. I had no idea about the cane fighting techniques that developed though. Fascinating stuff.

Andrea Penrose

Joanna, you've really come out swinging with your first post. A fabulous debut, and I'll add my voice to the chorus of warm welcomes to Wenchdom!

I love your observation that canes were the male equivalent of a fan—I can just imagine natty gentlemen having their cane "wardrobe" and selecting a style to match their mood or outfit. (I can also picture them practicing those discreet little moves in front of a cheval glass.)

I would definitely choose some distinctive head on my cane--an exotic beast's head or some such thing. And somehow, the idea of a swordcane seems very rakish . . . but I'd probably stab myself in the foot. I think I'll go along with pipuppymom and choose a specially-designed chocolate stash!

Again, great to have you with us!

Linda Banche

Gushing fan here! I love your books! And it'll be great to read your posts here because I love this blog. Did I say I love your books? I love your books!

OK, now I have that out of my system. Please bear with me. If I ever saw you in person, I'd be too terrified to say a word.

As for walking sticks, I'd like to see more ladies with them. I'd like to think of a little lady with a cane. She carries the cane because she's so delicate, she needs the cane to hold her up. But it's all an act. Underneath that demure exterior, she's CANE-WOMAN, scourge of fortune hunters, predatory rakes and other baddies. I also like secret identity stories. How about one?

theo

Welcome and congrats at being a Wench! Even a demi-wench is a grand honor because the company is so full of awesome :o) And what a great post.

I have been looking for about two years for just the right sword cane. It must be rosewood or ebony with a silver wolf's head and a sword that runs the length of the shaft. Still haven't found it.

But did you know that at least in my state, if I were to carry a cane like that, I could be considered as carrying a concealed weapon without a permit? I think I'd take the chance...

maryjoputney

Welcome to Wenchdom, Joanna! Do sit down and join us in a glass of sherry. (And if you wish a stronger tipple, we'll never tell. *g*)

What a lovely debut post! I've heard of most of those uses of canse, but not the cane as musical instrument. I'm now envisioning a chorus of cane flutes.

I have a friend who uses a cane for real, and yes, when going on camping trips, he uses the one made out of a gnarly branch so people will know he's a woodsman. *g*

MJ

Welcome to the Wenches, Jo! And what a fabulous first post.

I've been to Malacca and seen some of the canes they still produce - beautiful. I think my cane would be of sleek, satiny rosewood with a keys to my house and car inside. I've locked myself out of the house twice this year!

Kat

Girl Squeal!!! Obviously a Huge fan… I cannot express my excitement adequately.
Let me get myself together here and say I enjoyed your debut post. Hmm...if I was going to design my own cane it would have to have a horse motif (I am crazy equine person). Maybe ebony with a beautiful silver horse head and flowy mane for a handle.

Sue

I have quite a few canes, mostly replicas. I have one with a test tube inside under a spring. It has a cork stopper and is, I presume, a holder for spirits but could easily be poison! It also has a gold knob top so could be a Dr's cane. Another has a pistol in the shaft - the cane handle is the pistol butt. Another is the hidden dagger.
We live in an old house with a hat stand in the hall it has cane/ umbrella holders on each side and so there they reside along with some old umbrellas. I have a beautiful old bowler hat on one of the hooks too.
Also on the subject of canes; my Mum is a physiotherapist and it bugs her to death when people use the cane in the wrong hand. If it is being used as a support it goes on the opposite side to the bad leg. Nearly every movie or TV show gets it wrong and it wreaks havoc on my mum's blood pressure!
Welcome and thanks for a great post.

Jo Beverley

Hi, Joanna. Great post!

I think I'd like to learn how to use a cane effectively. I've heard of classes for older people, teaching them how to use their cane in self-defense.

Would my nordic walking poles do?*G*

Jo

Jo Bourne

Hi Jo --

There's a whole school of Japanese martial arts devoted to this -- Kendo -- that dates back to the Twelfth Century.

Not to be confused with just knocking folks over the head with a big stick, Kendo is a Philosophy of Knocking Folks Over the Head. Both a science and an art.

I'm told it was a martial art much practiced by women of the Samurai class.

Jo Bourne

Hi Sue --

A cane that hid a small vial within would be a handy way to transport poison. No telltale clanking and clinking in the reticule.

And there are period 'cane racks' or 'cane holders', like umbrella holders, that might reside next to the door to receive the canes of guests.

Does 'House' get the use of the cane right? I'm trying to picture it.

Jo Bourne

Hi Kat --

Oh, grin . . .

D'you know -- they had horse head canes in the period.
Lookit here:

http://www.goantiques.com/scripts/images,id,2274938.html

Need I say there were lots of horse lovers.

That particular example is ivory, with a silver 'collar' to help attach it to the stick.

Jo Bourne

Hi MJ --

I envy you having seen Malacca. It was apparently a huge port in the Eighteenth Century.

I rather picture it with Tall Ships in the harbor. Not so much nowadays, I suppose.

Rosewood is lovely, is it not? The girl down the street whose mother taught piano had a rosewood piano.

Now this here:

http://www.goantiques.com/scripts/images,id,2265971.html

is a child's walking stick -- ivory handle and tip, rosewood cane. Early Twentieth Century.

Jo Bourne

Hi Mary Jo --

I suspect sherry is considered decorous because no one's tempted to drink very much.

I am swept away by the notion of a dozen ladies and gentlemen of the ton gathering in some parlour or fashionable bookstore and suddenly all lifting their walking sticks to play a tweetling melody.

Y'know how there's all this nifty stuff you wish you could put into a book . . . but the wiser sections of your brain stomp in saying, 'No WAY!'

Anyhow . . . here's a flute cane:

http://tradewindsantiques.com/cgi-bin/auction/auction.cgi?dispprev&50&0&live2&0

Jo Bourne

Hi Theo --

I am tickled all shades of pink to be a Demi-Wench.

A sword cane would seem to be a concealed weapon in my own state, falling in the same class as dirks and machetes and suchlike. The law, inexplicably, does not include sword canes in the list however.

I wonder if one could get a permit . . .?

Karenmc

Welcome, welcome! So glad you've joined the Wenches, Joanna.

On the tv western, Bat Masterson, the ever elegant Bat carried a silver-headed cane. I was so enamored of it when I was a pre-schooler that I received the el cheapo plastic version as a birthday gift.

As an adult, I've used a cane after hip surgery, and they're not all that much fun. But a walking stick, now that's different.

Janga

Jo, I think it's grand news that you are joining this superlative group of wise Wenches.

Your first blog fits right in with the fascinating, informative posts that are the rule here. I love the idea of musical canes. I use a cane myself--in the proper hand. :) My favorite, a gift, has an eagle head to remind me of Isaiah 40:31 which includes the phrase "rise up with wings as eagles."

Joanna Bourne

Hi Linda Blanche --

I love this blog, too. I am so happy to be here.

I am not the least intimidating in person. I look like an elementary school librarian -- the nice one who has pictures of her cat on her desk and recommends new authors to you, not the nasty one who scolds about not getting yer books back in a timely manner.

I have given a cane to Adrian and he wears it when he's in fashionable clothing. It's not a sword cane because Adrian would never have had the training to fight with a sword-type weapon. His cane is mostly club -- which is odd when you consider his light, agile, hit-and-run fighting style.

I imagine he picked up that part of his arsenal from Doyle.

Because Adrian carries a cane, I can't really give one to anybody else. He has dibs on it.

But oh, I love the picture of a demure young lady of the fashionable world batting somebody over the head, but good, with her walking stick . . . that little wrist cord all fringy and swinging.

Lovely.

I am not exactly doing a 'secret identity' story in the JUSTINE manuscript, but somebody is not what they seem. I'm hoping this will come as a surprise.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Andrea --

Joanna, you've really come out swinging with your first post.

Oh, *giggle*

I can see some fop practicing his 'cane dialog' in front of the mirror.
I bow, thus and so, thrusting the head at him directly. I flourish. Then I slowly lower the tip. As I touch down -- the merest flick to show contempt.

I am torn between a flask of brandy and stash of chocolates.
Decisions . . . decisions . . .

Joanna Bourne

Hi Nicola --

A dog, huh?
Have a look at this lovely fellow about halfway down the page here:

http://www.canenews.com/?p=711

I don't know if he'd be comfy to hold in the hand -- looks a little nobbly -- but isn't he cool?

There's a great appeal to some of the modern folk art canes. I'd be tempted by some of them. Yes.

Louis

Welcome Ms Joanna.

I've carried a now rather battered cane since my knee replacement. Frequently use it for swipping at weeds.

Excellent post.

Sherrie Holmes

Mary Jo, LOL re your friend's woodsman cane! Too funny!

And Sue, thank you for the tip on using a can for the opposite foot if used for support! I never knew that! What a fascinating bit of info. Our readers are so knowledgeable!

Joanna, your scenario of everyone suddenly twittering away on their flute canes had me laughing out loud. I would love to see that in a book!

Pat, a side of you I never knew--you have canes! How cool is that! Makes me want to run outside and scrounge around in the pasture for a nice walking stick I can polish up. If nothing else, it can be an aid for me to grab and haul myself upright with after kneeling to pick up a dropped item. Going down is easy. Getting back up is another situation entirely!

Sherrie, using up her quota of exclamation points today!

Joanna Bourne

Hi Rachel Walsh --

Savate. Way cool. I am absolutely fascinated by any details on the 1790-1820 forerunners of this fighting style.

My undercover spy folks do savate instead of the more typical English boxing that would give them away at once. Part of their 'spy training' is to stop fighting like a bunch of bloody Englishmen and start fighting like Frenchmen, or Germans, or Italians, or whatever they happen to be pretending to be.

I cheat by calling the French style of fighting, 'savate, in 1802. It's one of the anachronistic words I allow myself. I feel guilty about this when I have a few moments of leisure.

The word, 'savate', wasn't being used in this sense in my time period. By 1840 -- yes.

In 1840 folks could write of an athletic young Frenchman of quality training for a dozen years with des leçons de savate et de bâton.

But at the turn of the Nineteenth Century, the fighting style that would become savate was probably just called, 'Marseilles' fighting or 'Parisian street fighting'. I've seen it called the jeu marseillais, the 'Marseilles game', though I haven't found period refs for this.

Savate -- as you know -- grew up on the docks of Marseilles, a vicious street technique that used high kicks and stiff-handed jabs and grabbing up whatever was handy. Over the Nineteenth Century, influenced by la canne and Bartitsu, it became a competitive sport and an object of study and a military specialty.

I don't think anyone knows a lot about the particulars of the early quick-and-dirty form. That's one reason -- among many -- that I'm purposefully vague when I talk about my characters doing savate.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Sherrie --

your scenario of everyone suddenly twittering away on their flute canes had me laughing out loud.

I see this as a Regnecy flash mob.

Joanna Bourne

stupid fingers.

I see this as a Regency flash mob.

(bad fingers. Bad. Bad.)

Joanna Bourne

Hi Louis --

Frequently use it for swipping at weeds.

There may be an invitation to poke at vegetables just inherent in walking sticks. Our peripatetic, pre-societal ancestresses walked along carrying babies on one arm and a pointed stick in the other, ready to dig up useful roots along the path of march.

maryjoputney

Joanna, what a fabulous (and valuable!) flute cane. Seeing the picture made me realize the romantic possibilities of a young couple playing together. *g*

I rather like Nichola's cat cane, though it looks extremely un-usable. But that's a cat for you. Never helpful. *g*

theo

OMG! How could I forget Bat Masterson?? I was so enamored of him and he always looked so elegant with that cane. *sigh*

Jo, I'm guessing as long as we don't tell and don't have to stab anyone, no one would ever know about the secrets of our canes. ;o)

Joanna Bourne

Hi Janga --

I just touched on the symbolic and figurative meanings of canes. There's something totemic about them, isn't there?

Canes so frequently carry iconic images -- a favorite animal that speaks of affection and support, emblems of office, fantastical beasts.

When Adrian carries a skull-headed cane, I figger that's just the kind of thing he would do.

I could see a character's cane being one more object that reveals him to the reader.

Barbara Monajem

What a lovely bunch of canes in the Geoffrey Breeze article. I'm already planning what sort of cane I'll get for my old age. :)

I just put the picture of the Incroyables as my desktop background. What are they reading on the wall? Where does the picture come from?

Sherrie Holmes

Okay, I hope y'all will forgive me, but I just have to tell of a cartoon I saw years ago that had me howling with laughter. It's a stretch, but it's sort of related to walking sticks. Visit my blog to see the cartoon: http://newsfromtheholmestead.blogspot.com/

NinaP

Hello Joanna -- Welcome to Word Wenches! Great first post. I loved My Lord and Spymaster. Looking forward to seeing you around the Wenchly Kingdom.

:-)
Nina

Chelsea B.

This was such an interesting post!
'Something with an ipod hidden inside?' made me giggle. But then it made me think:that would be very, very cool. I bet a lot of people would start using them again :-) Or at least, not be so resistant ;-)

Joanna Bourne

Hi Liz M --

I am so very glad to be here. I'm still pinching myself.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Barbara Monajem --

I don't have one with a leopard handy -- but here's a cane with a silver jaguar.

http://www.canenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/jaguar.gif

You'll recognize the hood ornament. The article is here:

http://www.canenews.com/?p=1020

Elisa

Hurrah on you becoming a Word Wench! Most excellent company!

Fascinating post, too!

If I had a cane, it would have to be very gnarly and nobbly, of very hard dark wood...something vaguely witchy, with the suggestion of strange carved faces here and there. Not sure why. That's just what came into my head. (The truth is, I'm WAY too uncoordinated to be trusted with a cane. I talk with my hands, too--people would get hurt.)

Joanna Bourne

Hi Jacquie Rogers --

Oh. Oh. I want to keep faery dust, too. Why didn't I think of that?

Magical implements of all sorts just beg to be carried around in a fancy cane. Someone might carry a lucky piece around with them, secreted that way.

Sue

Wow you really got us talking today and that's good! And according to my mother House has his cane in the wrong hand! ( She says just like 90% of TV characters).

Joanna Bourne

Hi Anne --

What a wonderful memory from your grandfather.

I've never had a woodcarver in the family. Can't do it myself. But i feel a sort of atavistic respect when I see it done. It's the same way I feel when I see spinning or weaving. Comes in the blood, maybe.

I do not remember the scene where the Duke of Avon pulled a sword cane. Good for him, says I.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Sherrie --

I wonder why romance heroes don't use them as shamelessly as they use their snuff boxes?

I wonder also.
Here's all these genuine, historical Regency gentlemen running around with -- let us be frank here -- blunt weaponage.

Romancelandia doesn't seem to make much use of the opportunity, somehow.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Patricia Rice --

You're using a dagger cane?

That is wonderful. I am so looking forward to that.

As I said, I don't know how well sword canes worked as swords. But I think dagger canes worked just fine.
Very practical.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Cynthia --

I'm trying to remember if I have a hero who collects anything.

So far, they're all . . . I guess rootless is one way to put it. Might be interesting to give one of them a habit of collecting stuff. Small stuff, though.

I'll have to think about that.

Joanna Bourne

Hi pjpuppymom --

so that I could easily access my hidden stash of chocolate

Which begs the question -- dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

I'm a milk chocolate with chewy nutty centers, meself, because I am a simple creature of unsophisticated tastes.

Joanna Bourne

Hi karenmc

Bat Masterson

YES! I remember that.
And it was silver headed?

Now that I'm thinking about it, Bat used that cane to fight, didn't he?

*Sigh*
Gentleman fighting with a cane.

It just doesn't get any better than this.

Joanna Bourne

Hi theo --

Sword canes.

Still arguably less dangerous than spike heels.

Joanna Bourne

Barbara Monajem --

That's Louis Alexandre Eustache Loursay's, Les Incroyables

I can't make out what the posters say from the onscreen reproduction. Might be better viewing in the painting itself.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Sue --

according to my mother House has his cane in the wrong hand! ( She says just like 90% of TV characters).

Now I know. I shall proceed to tell EVERYONE. *g*

Joanna Bourne

Hi Elisa --

If I had a cane, it would have to be very gnarly and nobbly, of very hard dark wood...something vaguely witchy, with the suggestion of strange carved faces here and there. Not sure why. That's just what came into my head.

I'm thinking maybe blackthorn.

Daniel Pool's
What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew says:

Blackthorn had the merit of flourishing in harsh soil; its black berries -- the sloe that were cousins to the domesticated green-gages and damsons and plums -- also provided jam and sloe gin, and the tree could be made into a walking stick or, in Ireland, a shillelagh.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Chelsea --

'Something with an ipod hidden inside?' made me giggle. But then it made me think:that would be very, very cool. I bet a lot of people would start using them

Hmmm .... I'm not sure I trust Generation Y with blunted sticks.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Nina P --

Thank you so much for the warm welcome. I am so happy to be here.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Elisa again --

Something was tugging at the back of my mind about a cane with figures all over it.

Tom Deit Soulsmith is worked around a cane like that. An interesting book. Southern-set fantasy.

Susan

A most excellent debut, Joanna, and welcome to the Wenches! We're so happy to have you with us.

Fascinating post - I haven't thought much about walking canes since the days when I was very small and my grandfather used a pretty neat little number with a carved ivory handle. And as a writer, my usually-Scottish characters are more likely to employ the more gnarly and natural variety of walking stick while out in the hills. Now I can consider myself illumined and informed in the wonderful world of fancy canes. :)

Again, welcome!

Susan

Joanna Bourne

Hi Susan --

Most glad to be here.

I could see some Victorian English visitor to the hills of Scotland arriving for a walking holiday with his fancy stick and a telescope hidden inside. Sort of Lord Peter Wimsey in Five Red Herrings.

Pam Rosenthal

What a spectacular post, Jo. All that smarts and talent, erudition and niceness in the service of such big brainy fun. Wow.

And what a treat to have more to look forward to from you.

And thanks especially for the pic of the incroyables. Wow again. Subtext indeed.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Pam --

Oh, *blush*. Thank you.

Incroyables . . . sexy young Frenchmen in punk clothes, swaggering about town, taking back the streets from the bloody-handed Jacobins.

What's not to like?

librarypat

I think I would like one with a carved ivory handle. We have one with a carved and painted duck head at the top and painted design down the shaft. We also have another plain one with a brass deer as the head. It would make a good weapon.

Joanna Bourne

Hi librarypat --

I'm seeing any kind of solid metal head -- a brass head like your deer -- as packing a formidable clout.

Might be your fighting Regency gentleman would put some sort of subtle design on the shaft as well, so he'd be able to get a better grip on it. Not absolutely ordinary - that. But nobody seeing that idiosyncrasy would associate it with violence.

deniz

Congratulations on becoming a word wench Jo! What a delightful website this is. How I wish I had an excuse to carry a cane. Perhaps with a carved cat on the knob...

Joanna Bourne

Hi Deniz --

I'm trying to think when folks gave up carrying walking sticks as a fashion statement. Late Victorian? Did they go out when men stopped wearing hats? With the advent of the automobile?

That is, I know you see them from the 1600s onward. I know they'd pretty much disappeared -- as high fashion -- by WWI.

But when and why? I do wonder.

Danise

(Having finished your latest, I am rereading the series,something I rarely do! I love your storytelling. You are always one of my staff picks...) I have a beautiful, rough, wooden cane that my parents brought back from Scotland. I plan on using it when I am the elderly, eccentric matriarch of the family (as in "How to Marry a Marquis"). Can't wait!

Joanna Bourne

Hi Danise --

. . . always one of my staph picks . . .

Oh *g*.

A staff would be most useful for gaining the attention we all deserve. Tapping gently on the floor for the waiter's attention. Tapping gently on the waiter. Fighting Balrogs.

laura

Ah, remember they are properly walking sticks.
That is, not necessarily for the infirm, but rather a desirable aid to walking.
We are rather spoiled by sidewalks, and other civilized innovations.
On rugged terrain a stick is really helpful, just to keep your footing.
And even without the addition of a hidden pointy thing, a long stick is intrinsically threatening.
Anyone walking about in more deserted quarters might find a need to use it against the quite possible occasional stray animal or person.
And while your sword would, of course, pose more of a threat, it won't help you over a hedge, and never looks innocent.
And that it could be gorgeous as well, hey, total win.

Joanna Bourne

Hi Laura --

It's an interesting morph in the meaning of a the word. While 'cane' can mean the fashion accessory or walking stick for hiking or the medical device, nowadays, especially in the US, it tends to mean the medical device.

Maybe, when folks stopped carrying canes for fashion that meaning of the word slipped further and further away.

Segula

I remember reading years ago a romance novel that spoke of pre Victorian women of the Ton carrying ornate and especially designed sword-canes that were used as part of their wardrobe, and for protection against the riff-raff in the street and unwanted suitors or unwanted guests at their husbands homes while their Lords were off fighting whatever war the Kings were involved in. Good writing and good reading. Perhaps the use of them will come back - times are dangerous. LOL

Joanna Bourne

Hi Segula --

I haven't read of women carrying sword canes in the Regency -- which doesn't at all mean it didn't happen, just that there's not a lot of information on this.

Thinking along . . . it strikes me that an actual 'sword' might be a questionable weapon for a woman of the times. Very few women would have been trained to fight with swords. Without such training and hampered by long skirts, a sword might not have been very effective.

I'd be glad to hear the opinion of somebody who actually knows what they're talking about when it comes to martial arts though.

Now I do know that in the Twentieth Century, women who walked home through rough neighborhoods often armed themselves with icepicks or similar sharpie hand weapons. So if somebody said 'dagger cane' for lades of the Regency ton I'd buy it in a minute.

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