Thursday, September 26, 2013

Writing Research

For those who have written anything, whether it be assignments for school, articles in the paper, or a simple blog post, there is a certain amount of research that goes into what you write. For me, writing a historical fiction set in nineteenth century England created a large amount of research. Books and the internet are still my best friends while writing. Reading books by Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Sarah Eden, and of course Julianne Donaldson helped in large amounts. Thanks to all you wonderful ladies (perhaps the two that have passed on will know of my gratitude. :)

I decided I wanted to share some of the things I've learned while researching. Some of them are off the wall weird. You might wonder why I'd need to know about such things, but just so you know, some of theses things I've learned by accident and won't use in my books. Most of my info comes from a book called What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool. I highly recommend purchasing this book if you're writing anything set in 1800 England.

A couple of my books are set in modern day England and in the year 1808. My character travels in time, and therefore I needed to study both time eras. This is what I've learned . . .

*In one year alone during the 1800's, close to 700 people were killed by simply getting lost in the London fog. It was so thick you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. The poor souls who'd find themselves alone and disoriented (I tend to believe alcohol was a factor in these numbers) ended up run over by carriages or had stumbled into the Thames and drown.

*If you wore white clothing during the thickest time of the fog, you'd come home from an outing and find your white turned to grey.

*In 1800, people didn't drink water, as it was riddled with diseases. That is why the British drank tea or alcohol on a daily bases.

*A common British saying, "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey" has nothing to do with what you might think. The brass triangles that supported stacks of iron cannon-balls on sailing ships were called monkeys and that in cold weather the metal contracted, causing the balls to fall off.

*Rucksack is what the British call a backpack.

*When a lady and gentleman ride together in a carriage, the gentleman will always ride facing backwards. Unless they are married or closely related, then they will never sit next to each other. When exiting the gentleman will always exit first and hand the lady down.

*"Mind the gap" is repeated several times over when exiting and entering the Tube (the subway) in London. (I didn't learn this in a book. I experienced it first hand.)

*They don't have Milky Ways in England. Only Mars Bars.

*In 1800's to make love means to flirt, or to have conversation, not what it means today.

*Chip and Pin is what the British call a number code for accessing your bank account. (Pin number)

*A lady doesn't wear diamonds or pearls in the morning or dances with a partner more than three times in one evening. If a gentleman were to dance with a lady three times, then it was as good as saying, "Hey, ya want to go steady?"

*Fairs and Markets were the best diversions for country folk during the spring and summer months in the 1800's.

*In grand houses in the country, the largest bedchambers had their own sitting rooms attached, along with a dressing room.

*The poorest of the poor in 1800's London would spend their time working the Thames. They would wade about in the shallowest parts of the river, looking for treasures to sell. Many times they found bodies stuck in the thick mud.

*In Edinburgh, Scotland, the hospitals would pay people for bodies. The fresher the bodies, the more money they received, the more decayed the less they were paid. In the underground (the vaults under the streets that were once used as storage units for merchants) was where the poor and/or criminals would reside. Two such criminals figured out that if they held the nose and mouth of their victim and sat on their chest, they could kill without detection and then sell the bodies to the hospital. Several people were killed from them before they were caught. Some say that the spirits of these criminals still reside in the vaults. After visiting there myself and experiencing how it felt in one particular room, I tend to believe them.

Well, that is all I can think of off the top of my head. I know there is lots more, but I might need to save it for another day. I hope you've enjoyed reading this post, and I hope you've learned something as well. Thanks for spending time on my blog and have a fabulous day.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Loved this!!! You know how I love England! Thanks for sharing!

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