language of flowers, victoriana
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VICTORIANA - Enjoy articles relating to the Victorian Era. A regular column in each issue of The Tea House Times. Written by Patrice LePera - Authority, Victorian Era, Historical Writing - www.afterimage-art.com

December 2011 Posts

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Victoriana
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The Victorian Language of the Flowers by Patrice LePera

posted by Tea Course Admin, Group AdministratorWednesday, December 28th 2011 @ 5:58 PM

Kate Greenaway became an unforgettable part of the Victorian world when she published, “The Language of the Flowers” in 1885.  It established meanings for each flower that would be delivered to a young Victorian hopeful… perhaps the debutante of the season, presented to Queen Victoria in the most magnificent court gown the family could afford.  The type of flowers she was sent by her suitors indicated his feelings for her.  She would be eagerly awaiting the bouquet, and knowledgeable about each of the flowers’ meanings. 

The original B. Delachenaye’s Abecedaire de Flore ou langage des fleurs, was published in 1810.  It was in French, and absolutely naughty!  The intensity of the colour indicated the depth of feeling:  pale flowers for admiration, deepest shades for deep emotion or passion.  The lists of the meanings were hand-written (collectible) and circulated among the families with hopeful daughters.

Kate Greenaway established the proper list, with beautifully painted watercolours, identifying each flower, and explaining its meaning.  A web link to the online original book is appended to this article.  Roses especially ranged in meaning, from white for “purity”, to red for “passion” (indeed, rather more…) and deepest burgundy for “deep shame.”  Each bouquet was received with great delight, or dashed hopes and a broken heart.

http://www.archive.org/stream/languageofflower00gree#page/n7/mode/2up 

(see photos in this issue in online version)

From left to right:
The Dahlia - “Instability” - A bouquet of Dahlias meant a hopeful future was off.
Geranium - “Gentility”     Carnation - “Fascination”     Forget-me Not - “Remembrance”

©2011 by Patrice LePera ~ Authority, Victorian Era, Historical Writing ~ www.afterimage-art.com

 

From the November/December 2011 issue of The Tea House Times.  To view the most recent issue, please register / log-in at http://www.theteahousetimes.com for free access.

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