Monday, November 18, 2013

TEACH ME: The Language of the Fan

By Cassandra Dean

It’s so much fun researching bits and pieces for my stories. I really enjoying throwing in the random little tidbit to add flavour and colour to a scene or a situation. Such happened in TEACH ME. The story of a curious widow who turns her curiosity to erotic pleasure and the cold, unemotional earl who teaches her, I thought it would be fun to include other things Malvern teaches Elizabeth, including erotic poetry, burlesque performances and fan language.

It’s a throwaway bit, less than a page. The first mention is a sentence or two and the second mention is a tiny bit longer. However, I really enjoyed discovering fan language. To begin, here’s the second mention of fan language in TEACH ME:

Deliberately, Elizabeth took the Venetian lace fan he’d purchased for her birthday in her right hand and raised it to obscure her features.

A faint smile touched Malvern's lips as he deciphered the message. Foolish woman. He would have followed her anyway. Had he not proven that by his very presence at this tedious ball?

As she departed, her fan rested lightly on her bare shoulder, and his fingers itched to stroke her ivory skin. […]Perspiration broke on his forehead and his hold on the façade of detachment slipped, his desire for her the only thing that could force such a reaction.

As she passed through the door, she glanced at him one final time. Her look promised all his fevered mind […]imagined and more, the fan’s handle resting lightly on her lips. Burning with the need to kiss her as she had invited, he cursed himself for ever teaching her that damned fan language.

Nifty as, hey? :)

Fan language developed due to the restrictions placed upon women during the Georgian era. Private communication wasn’t allowed between men and women, and so a language developed for furtive lovers. Being as fans were so prevalent, the language took the form of specific actions using the fan. Here are some examples:

Touching right cheek – yes
Touching left cheek – no
Twirling in left hand – we are watched
Twirling in right hand – I love another
Open and shut – you are cruel
Open wide – wait for me
With handle to lip – Kiss me
In right hand in front of face – Follow me
Drawing across the cheek – I love you

Further to the above, the wonderful television show, Horrible Histories, has a delightful video about fan language. If you haven’t watched Horrible Histories before, I highly recommend it. Developed for children, there are some amazing historical facts boiled down into succinct and informative facts, delivered tongue firmly in cheek. Check it out below:


And that’s it from me. I really enjoyed finding out about fan language, and I hope you have, too!


Ever curious, Elizabeth, Viscountess Rocksley, has turned her curiosity to erotic pleasure. Three years a widow, she boldly employs the madam of a brothel for guidance but never had she expected her education to be conducted by a coldly handsome peer of the realm.
To the Earl of Malvern, the erotic tutelage of a skittish widow is little more than sport, however the woman he teaches is far from the mouse he expects. With her sly humor and insistent joy, Elizabeth obliterates all his expectations and he, unwillingly fascinated, can’t prevent his fall.

Each more intrigued than they are willing to admit, Elizabeth and Malvern embark upon a tutelage that will challenge them, change them, come to mean everything to them…until a heartbreaking betrayal threatens to tear them apart forever.

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Cassandra grew up daydreaming, inventing fantastical worlds and marvelous adventures. Once she learned to read (First phrase – To the Beach. True story), she was never without a book, reading of other people’s fantastical worlds and marvelous adventures.

Fairy tales, Famous Fives, fantasies and fancies; horror stories, gumshoe detectives, science fiction; Cassandra read it all. Then she discovered Romance and a true passion was born.

So, once upon a time, after making a slight detour into the world of finance, Cassandra tried her hand at writing. After a brief foray into horror, she couldn’t discount her true passion. She started to write Romance and fell head over heels.

The love affair exists to this very day.

Cassandra lives in Adelaide, South Australia.

You can find Cassandra at: ~ Cassandra and Lucy ~ Facebook ~ Twitter


Teri Riggs said...

With handle to lip has to be my favorite! What a fun and interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

Cassandra Dean said...

My pleasure, Teri. Glad you enjoyed :)