Monday, February 28, 2011

Special Anniversary - Fort Meade Tea Party

Readers often ask me how I came to know many of their favorite authors.  It started with a tea party ....

... four years ago, I served as the luncheon coordinator for the spouses' club at Fort Meade.  Our February speaker cancelled and I scrambled to replace her.   We had just polished the club's vintage tea set for Fort Meade's 90th anniversary and a friend suggested we host an Old Fashioned Tea Party.  Another friend suggested I recruit members to sponsor individual tables with their own tea sets.   We ran with this idea and themed tables popped up:

- Balt-Tea-More Tea  Party (hosted by Baltimore native Wallis Simpson)
- Boston Tea Party
- Garden Tea Party
- Scotland Forever Tea Party
- Best Damn Scones (sponsored by a Canadian spouse ... and they were the best damn scones)
- Children's Tea Party

I was curious who "invented" tea parties.  A Google search provided the answer - from the Independent,

High tea, it seems, was invented in the early 19th century by the Duchess of Bedford as a way of getting around a mid-afternoon energy dip in an age when lunch was seldom eaten. She established the fashion for tea and sandwiches by asking aristocratic friends to her boudoir at Woburn for a nibble, before extending it in fine weather to include a stroll in the grounds.

I contacted the ancestral home of the Duke of Bedford, Woburn Abbey.  The curator provided more information about the Duchess, the Honorable Anna Maria Russell.

In 1841 she wrote a letter to her brother-in-law from Windsor Castle:

‘I forgot to mention my old friend Prince Esterhazy who drank tea with me the other evening at 5 o’clock or rather was my guest amongst eight ladies in the castle’.

Thus, I made the Duchess of Bedford the honorary hostess for our tea party.

I understood British titles from my extensive reading of historical romance, but would the other spouses attending the luncheon?   I took to Google again and found an informative article by legendary historical romance author Jo Beverley, English Titles in the 18th and 19th Century.  I sent an email to request her permission to reprint her article.  Not only did she give me permission, but she donated two books as door prizes.

Jo's generous offer inspired me to invite local romance authors to the tea party.  20 plus authors from the Washington Romance Authors and the Maryland Romance Writers.  You can imagine that I was in hog heaven!   I encouraged the spouses to dress in vintage clothes, including gloves, hats, and pearls.  We gave away "titles" for the day, including the Duchess of Delft, Marchioness of Murano, the Baronness of Boleslawiec (the corresponding prizes were Delft ceramics, Murano glass, and Polish pottery).  

Rebecca York (left) and Kathryn Falk

The grand dame of the Tea Party was Kathryn Falk, Lady of Barrow and Queen of Romance.  She is the founder and CEO of RT Book Reviews.  Kathryn is also the founder of SOS America Inc. - a military charity which hosts the SOS Military Mixer at the RT Booklovers' Convention each year.  

The Fort Meade Sound Off published a comprehensive article about this event. 

In honor of this special anniversary, I am giving away a Historical Romance Gift Pack, including:

- Jo Beverley's classic Regency, SKYLARK
- English tea
- Tea towel
- Tea Time recipe book

To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about a special event where you met someone you admire.

2. This giveaway is open only to US residents (sorry, postage!). Comments are open through Saturday, March 5, 10 pm in Hawaii. The winner will be announced on Sunday, March 6 during the Weekly Winners announcement post.

3. If you are new to SOS Aloha, please make sure I know how to contact you. If your Blogger profile does not provide your email address, please send it to (I have several unclaimed prizes because I do know how to contact the winner).


Kim in Hawaii

I leave you with images of current books from a sample of authors who attended the Tea Party:


  1. I have never met anyone famous or that I admire. That would be pretty cool though. I would love to a few of these authors you just listed though that would be awesome to have a tea part with them. Thanks for the great post today, I'm a tea drinker and thought it was very interesting!

  2. I was there!!!! I loved the Tea Party at Fort Meade. Being an Army Brat, I felt right at home on the post and in the Officers Club.

    Thanks for giving me some happy memories today, Kim!

  3. I was there, too, and military women like Kim throw a GREAT party!

  4. Never met anyone at a special event that I admire. But a day doesn't go by where I don't meet SOMEONE I admire :-)

  5. Kim,

    You never fail to inspire me with the information you provide. I always wondered how the afternoon tea came about.

    And you given me more fodder for the TBR.

  6. I was lucky enough to win a lunch date with author Jenna Petersen last year during the RWA conference in Orlando. I was so estactic and nervous. I can be very shy but Jenna was so sweet and nice. She is actually quite funny. Afterwards she took me up to her room and gave me a whole bunch of books. It's something I will never forget.

  7. When I was at a conference last semester, I met an English professor who teaches at Drexel. She was probably the most passionate, endearing teacher I've ever met!

  8. I have never met anyone at a special event---haven't even been to a special event.

    Your tea party sounds like it was awesome!

  9. Jane Porter invited me to lunch when she was touring but I couldn't attend, unfortunately. However, a few of my reading buddies and I gave her a call and we got to "meet" her that way! Jane is so beautiful, smart, and funny...and her books are the best! She is definitely one of those authors who I admire more than just for their writing.


  10. I remember when I attended the Chicago Spring Fling and got to met Eloisa James one of my all time favorite authors. For me this was special.

  11. Ooh, got distracted by all the lovely covers. Wish I were there and maybe I would have been present for the bestowing of titles. Can't say I've been to a special event and met a someone I've admired.

  12. I have not met anyone famous.
    I do remember when I first got to drink out of a china cup , It was at my Grandmother Henny( dad's mom)
    I had tea ( Colored milk) cucumber and cress finger sandwiches biscets
    & Scones.
    Every Sunday we visited at tea time I loved her china cant remember the name but it had Yellow roses in a band I have looked at all the Antique shops but have yet to find it.
    Great Blog today Kim
    Have a good one Ann/alba

  13. I have never met a life-altering person..but I meet wonderful people every day at work, school, and when i'm out with friends, and they all are admirable

  14. Kim enjoyed your blog today. I also have not met anyone famous that I admire. I do admire the spouses of police, fire and the military.I know that for some it is like being a single parent. JodiT

  15. Kim, thank you for a great walk down memory lane. I loved being part of this first old-fashioned tea party. It was particularly special for me since I was there signing my very first book, The Husband Trap. I hope we can do another old-fashioned tea party together one of these days!

  16. I've met Suzanne Brockmann a few times at book signings. But probably the most impressive "event" I've ever been to was back in the early 1990's, I went to an Irish American luncheon in Los Angeles and the newly elected and first woman "President" of Ireland was here and gave the key note address.