|The New Monthly Belle Assemblée 1836|
One of the better known and longest-surviving early 19th century ladies magazines was La Belle Assemblée, or, Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine. While over the years the name changed slightly, it remained in print from 1806-1837. Mrs. Bell’s shop, the Magazin des Modes, changed addresses numerous times in the periods I’ve studied, but the magazine went on steadily.
Along with fashion, political news, reviews and other fact-based writing, La Belle Assemblée published poetry and fiction.
Most of the poetry is excruciating to read, and the fiction, often serialized interminably, would not appeal to modern tastes. I’ve only skimmed some of the serials (not sure I’d live long enough to read one from start to finish), but there seem to be an awful lot of tragic misunderstandings and people dying at the exact moment the lover/estranged parent/estranged child shows up and All Is Explained/Forgiven.
But when looking up dates for use of the term “modiste,” I happened on an interesting little exception. The Modiste in a Dilemma is short* and sweet—only two full pages altogether) and offers, I think, some insight into the world in which my fictional dressmakers were trying to make a name for themselves.
—The New Monthly Belle Assemblée, Volume 5, 1836
*Short but too long to post here. Please click on the title to read.