At this point, it is not clear whether the choice of the name 'Mrs Martin' and the description of her clothes etc. is meant to have any particular significance for the reader.
If there is any significance, can anyone throw any light on what it might be?
... or maybe, 'Mrs Martin' is just the female equivalent of 'the man on the Clapham omnibus'?
The Cistercians are a Catholic order of monks and nuns, founded in France in 1098.
Their original purpose was to follow The Rule of St. Benedict, with great emphasis being placed on manual labour and self-sufficiency.
The Crusades were a series of military campaigns waged by European Christians against Muslims and other non-Christians, which took place mainly between 1095 and the 15th century.
Their original intention was to re-capture Jerusalem and the Holy Land after they had come under Muslim rule.
Both the House of Commons and the House of Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster, also known as The Houses of Parliament.
The Hundred Years' War refers to a series of wars which took place between 1337 and 1453.
The two contenders were the French House of Valois, which claimed the title of King of France, and the English House of Plantagenet (or Anjou) which claimed the title of King in both England and France.
The Wars of the Roses were fought in England mainly between 1455 and 1485. They involved two factions, the royal houses of Lancaster and York, both of whom were making claims to the English throne. One of the most notable battles was that of Bosworth Field (1485) where Henry Tudor (Henry Vll) defeated Richard lll.
The name is derived from the badges which represented the two sides, namely the White Rose of York, and the Red Rose of Lancaster.
The Renaissance is the name given to a cultural movement which existed in Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. It is characterised by a revival of interest in learning derived from classical (Ancient Greek and Roman) sources.
Important Renaissance figures include the Dutch theologian Erasmus (1466/69-1536); the Italian artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1536), and the English philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626).
'The Dissolution of the Monasteries' was the forcible closure of English monasteries, convents, priories and friaries during the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547).
The closures followed Henry's break with the Catholic Church in Rome, and allowed him to seize the considerable wealth that had accumulated in the religious institutions. The process began in the mid 1530s, and by 1540 over 800 monasteries had been dissolved.
It is thought that the line from Shakespeare's sonnet no. 73 which reads, 'Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang' may be a covert reference to the devastation caused by the Dissolution.
'The Armada' is also the name given to the English counterattack on Spain in 1589 when the English fleet sailed for Spain under the leadership of Sir Francis Drake. This event is sometimes known as the English Armada.
Both events form part of what is known as the Anglo-Spanish War (1585-1604).
John Aubrey (1626-1697) was the author of a collection of short biographical pieces known collectively as Brief Lives.
(*someone who studies relics and ancient works of art).
'A Biographical Notice of the Author', written by Jane Austen's brother Henry, which was included in the 1817 edition (in two volumes) of Persuasian and Northanger Abbey (published posthumously);
A Memoir of Jane Austen published by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh in 1869;
Jane Austen and her works by Sarah Tytler, published in 1880;
The Story of Jane Austen's Life by Oscar Fay Adams, published in 1891;
Jane Austen by Lady Margaret Sackville, published in 1912.
Further information about the author's life could also be gleaned from her letters to her sister Cassandra. The first edition of the letters, edited by Edward Hugessen Knatchbull-Hugessen (whose mother was Jane Austen's niece) was published in 1884.
EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849) was an American poet, short-story writer, critic and editor, particularly well known for his horror stories and tales of mystery and suspense. He is also credited with having created the first fictional detective - Auguste C. Dupin - in his story The Murders in the Rue Morgue.
His literary works include The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) and Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1839). He also published two volumes of poetry: Tamerlane and other poems (1827) and The Raven and other poems (1845).
JOANNA BAILLIE (1762-1851) was a Scottish poet and playwright, and one of the few women of her period to achieve literary success.
She published several volumes of poetry from 1789 onwards, including Fugitive Verses (1840), some of which are written in Scots dialect.
She also published several volumes of plays including Plays on the Passions, which was published in three volumes between 1798 and 1812, and Miscellaneous Plays (1836).
Some of her tragic plays (particularly De Monfort and Orra) are now viewed as early examples of Gothic fiction, and she is considered as having had an influence on Gothic writers such as Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte Dacre, and Charles Brockden Brown.
Quintus Horatius Flaccus, or HORACE (65 BC-8BC), was a Roman lyric poet during the reign of the Emperor Augustus.
Amongst his best known works are the Sermones (Satires) and the Ars Poetica.
Horace coined the phrase, 'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori' ('It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country') which is used to such striking effect in Wilfred Owen's poem whose title is the first part of the quotation.
Extract from 'Dulce et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen:
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Until the passing of the Suicide Act (1961), suicide and attempted suicide were criminal offences under English Law.
Traditionally, criminals (particularly those who committed suicide) were buried at crossroads.
The significance of this practice is not entirely clear. One suggestion is that it ensured that burial took place outside of consecrated ground whilst at the same time ensuring that the Christian cross was represented in some form.
The practice may also have been linked in the popular imagination to the idea that any 'evil spirits' present following the death would be disoriented by the crossroads formation.
The Elephant and Castle (known colloquially as 'The Elephant') is the name given to a road intersection in the London borough of Southwark. It is also the name given to the surrounding area.
They spoke a language called Brythonic from which the languages, Cumbric, Welsh, Cornish and Breton are derived.
THE SAXONS were originally members of Germanic tribes who started settling in Britain from the 5th century onwards. Other Germanic tribes known as Angles also started settling in Britain at about the same time, leading to the coining of the term Anglo-Saxon to describe both the incomers and the language that developed in the wake of their settlement.
Anglo-Saxon English is sometimes also known as Old English.
Robert Burns, sometimes known as Rabbie Burns (1759-1796), is one of Scotland's best known and best loved poets, and a world-wide symbol of Scottish literary culture.
Much of his poetry was written in the Scots language, although he also used standard English.
Another aspect of his work was his collection of Scottish folk songs which he revised and adapted.
Text of My Love is Like a Red Red Rose
Edward FitzGerald, sometimes Fitzgerald, (1809-1883) was an English writer and translator, best known for his translation into English (from the original Persian) of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight;
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.
CURRER BELL - the pen name of Charlotte Brontë.
GEORGE ELIOT - the pen name of Mary Ann (Marian) Evans.
GEORGE SAND was the pseudonym of the French writer, novelist, and playwright, Amantine (Amandine) Aurore Lucile Dupin (1804-1876).
She is renowned for her fondness for dressing as a man and for her relationship with the composer Frédéric Chopin.
Here the narrator is talking about what she perceives as the male instinct to overpower and possess.
Parliament Square, London, is the location of the statues of many well-known statesmen including Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.
The Sieges Allee, or Siegesallee (German for 'Victory Avenue') was a boulevard in Berlin. It was famous for its numerous white marble statues (commisioned by the Emperor William ll) of members of the Prussian royal family. The statues were moved during the period that Adolf Hitler was in power and many were subsequently damaged in World War ll.
Both Parliament Square and the Sieges Allee, therefore, are seen as symbols of male strength, supremacy, and boastfulness.
This is a reference to two tragedies by William Shakespeare, King Lear and Anthony and Cleopatra. Both are believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607, and are considered amongst his greatest achievements.
Jean Jacques Rousseau(1712-1778) was a Swiss philosopher and musical theorist whose ideas had a significant impact on politics, religion and education.
One of his better known concepts is that of the 'noble savage': the idea that mankind is born in a state of 'natural goodness' which is then corrupted by an individual's experiences in the world.
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was a Scottish satirical writer, essayist, and historian, renowned for his controversial views on the society of his period.
His three-volume work The French Revolution: A History was published in 1837.
John Keats(1795-1821) ranks with Wordsworth, Byron, and Shelley as one of the greatest English Romantic poets.
Amongst his most well-known, and most respected works are: The Eve of St. Agnes; Endymion; Ode on a Grecian Urn; and Ode to a Nightingale.
In 1820, Keats became seriously ill with consumption (tuberculosis) and left England for Italy. Much of his work is coloured by the knowledge of his illness and the premonition of his untimely death. He died in Rome in 1821, and is buried there in the Protestant Cemetry.
Extract from Ode to a Nightingale:
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
This is a quotation from a poem by William Wordsworth, published in 1807, entitled Resolution and Independence (or The Leech-gatherer). It describes the poet's meeting with a leech-gatherer on one of the Cumbrian fells.
My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;
And hope that is unwilling to be fed;
Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;
And mighty poets in their misery dead.
Oscar Browning (1837-1923) was a fellow of King's College, Cambridge and the co-founder of the Cambridge University Day Training College, where he served as principal between 1891 and 1909.
The narrator is probably quoting from a biography of Oscar Browning by his nephew, H.E. Wortham, entitled: Victorian Eton and Cambridge: being the life and times of Oscar Browning, which was first published in 1927. Alternatively she may be referring to one of two memoirs written by Browning himself: Memories of sixty years at Eton, Cambridge and Elsewhere (1909) and Memoirs of later years (1923).
The significance of the reference to the 'stable-boy lying on the sofa' etc. later on in the text is not made entirely clear, but it appears to be a derogatory reference to Browning's homosexuality.
William Rathbone Greg (1809-1881) was an essayist who wrote several books on political and social philosophy.
In his Life of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell reports telling Dr. Johnson that he had heard a woman preach at a Quaker meeting. According to Boswell, Johnson's reply was:
'Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all'.
As the narrator notes a little later in the text, Cecil Gray used the same quotation in relation to a woman composing music, specifically in relation to Germaine Tailleferre.
Cecil Gray was a Scottish composer and music critic.
Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983) was a French female composer, the only woman amongst the group of composers known as Les Six.
Listen on Spotify: Tailleferre's Concertino for Harp and Orchestra (1927)
Lady Bessborough (1761-1821) was born Henrietta Frances Spencer (known always as Harriet) and became Countess of Bessborough in 1780 when she married Frederick Ponsonby.
Lady Granville Leveson-Gower (1785-1862), the niece of Lady Bessborough, was born Lady Harriet Cavendish and became Countess Granville on her marriage to Lord Granville Leveson-Gower in 1809. On marrying, Lord Granville terminated his relationship with Lady Bessborough.
Countess Granville's letters, edited by her son, were published in 1894 under the title:
Letters of Harriet, Countess Granville (1810-1845) edited by Edward F. Leveson-Gower.
(* The footnote to this quote reads: 'See Cassandra, By Florence Nightingale, printed in The Cause, by R. Strachey').
Following her pioneering work in the Crimea (where she became known as 'The Lady with the Lamp'), she was responsible for establishing nursing as a professional career for women in Britain.
Between 1850 and 1852 she wrote, Suggestions for Thought to Searchers after Religious Truth', a work of self-exploration in three volumes. The work was never published, but part of it, entitled Cassandra, was printed in The Cause by Ray Strachey.
Cassandra may be viewed as a protest against the forced helplessness and dependence of women, and as such is an early example of feminist writing. It has been described by Elaine Showalter as a 'link between Wollstonecraft and Woolf'.
Keats himself chose the epitaph Here lies One whose Name was writ in Water for his gravestone.
... all your better deeds
Shall be in water writ, but this is marble
Friends of Keats, who felt that the poet had been badly treated during his lifetime, preceded the epitaph chosen by Keats with the following inscription:
This Grave contains all that was Mortal of a YOUNG ENGLISH POET, Who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart, at the Malicious Power of his Enemies, Desired these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone
His work is characterised by its sensuality and vibrancy of language, aspects which were somewhat atypical of his period.
Extract from The Ecstacy:
Where, like a pillow on a bed,
A pregnant bank, swell'd up, to rest
The violet's reclining head,
Sat we two, one another's best.
Anne Finch (née Kingsmill), Countess of Winchilsea (1661-1720), was of one the first English female poets to have her work published. As a child she lived for some time with her grandmother who, unusually for the period, ensured that she received some education in the classics, French, Italian, and the Scriptures.
Lady Winchilsea was happily married from 1684 onwards and wrote several love poems to her husband. However, she was also critical in her work of the social restrictions placed on women and the attitude of men towards women.
Extract from: A letter to Dafnis (1685)
This to the Crown, and blessing of my life,
The much lov'd husband of a happy wife.
To him, whose constant passion found the art
To win a stubborn and ungratefull heart;
His first wife was the short story writer Katherine Mansfield whose work he edited after her death.
He was also a friend of the novelist and poet D.H. Lawrence, and it has been suggested that the characters Gudrun Brangwen and Gerald Crich in Lawrence's novel Women in Love were based on Mansfield and Murry.
JOHN GAY (1685-1732) was an English poet and dramatist. He is best known for his good humoured satire The Beggar's Opera (1728), which included a number of digs at Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister of the time.
The reference to 'his Trivia' a few lines later refers to Gay's 1716 work Trivia, or the Art of Walking the Streets of London.
'A BLUE STOCKING' is a term for a bookish, educated, intellectual woman, with strong connotations of frumpiness or dowdiness.
The term is thought to derive from the mid-eighteenth century when Benjamin Stillingfleet attended the almost all-female literary meetings of Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu wearing grey (known as 'blue' at the time) worsted stockings instead of the more fashionable black stockings. As a result, the group became known as the 'Blue Stocking Society' and its members as 'blue stockings'.
Margaret Cavendish (née Lucas), Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1623-1673), was an English author and aristocrat. She published a selection of biographies, romances, essays, and plays under her own name at a time when most women writers shunned publicity. A women of extremely diverse interests, she was an early proponent of Animal Rights.
Charles Lamb wrote of her in one of the Essays of Elia (1823/33) entitled 'Mackery End, In Hertfordshire':
'a dear favourite of mine,of the last century but one - the thrice noble, chaste and virtuous - but again somewhat fantastical and original-brained generous Margaret Newcastle'.
His works include the ten-volume Censurai Literaria, Titles and Opinions of Old English Books, published between 1805 and 1809.
Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and a substantial re-building programme, it became the family seat of the Dukes of Newcastle. Subsequently, it passed through the female line to the Earls and Dukes of Portland.
Dorothy Osborne, Lady Temple (1627-1695), is the author of a series of letters which were first published in 1888.
They were sent to her husband, Sir William Temple, during the couple's seven-year courtship which was carried on against the wishes of both families.
Aphra Behn (1640-1689) (as noted in the text) was one of the first female English authors to write professionally. She was a playwright, novelist, and poet of the Restoration period whose most popular works include: The Rover; Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister; and Oroonoko.
The two works referred to a little later in the text, 'A Thousand Martyrs I have made' and 'Love in Fantastic Triumph sat', are poems. The second one referred to is not actually a title, but the first line of a poem entitled 'Love Armed'.
Extract from 'Love Armed':
Love in fantastic triumph sat,
Whilst bleeding hearts around him flowed,
For whom fresh pains he did create,
And strange tyrannic power he showed ...
William Ward, the 1st. Earl of Dudley (1817-1885), was a benefactor of Worcestor Cathedral where there is a monument in his memory.
The Charing Cross Road is a street in London where numerous bookshops, selling both new and second-hand books, may be found.
The 'fourpenny boxes' would have been those containing the cheapest books. Fourpence in pre-decimal coinage would be approximately 1.66 new pence in present-day coinage.
In the old coinage, fourpence could be made up of 4 separate pennies, 8 halfpennies, or a penny and a threepenny bit.
Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen;
Middlemarch is a novel by George Eliot;
Villette is a novel by Charlotte Brontë;
Wuthering Heights is a novel by Emily Brontë.