Friday, May 15, 2020

"A melancholy accident"

Please be warned--this is not a cheerful topic today! But it is, I think, quite fascinating. I have been looking at carriage accidents.

We might tend to think longingly of the quieter life of Regency England; the slower pace of everything, including horses and carriages. But as these newspaper clippings show, carriage, cart and coach traffic was as dangerous as your local freeway and accidents could be deadly.

Inattentive drivers, equipment failure, speed and impairment all caused accidents, then as now. And there was the additional wild card of the horse--a temperamental, easily startled, sensitive creature entrusted with lives.

These clips require no explanation; they offer an interesting perspective on day to day life in Regency England.

Leicester Chronicle - Saturday 15 November 1817
Cambridge Intelligencer - Saturday 15 November 1800

Gloucester Journal - Monday 23 November 1801

Morning Advertiser - Monday 20 March 1809

Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 10 June 1809

Oxford University and City Herald - Saturday 17 January 1807

Stamford Mercury - Friday 21 October 1814

Star (London) - Saturday 06 October 1804

Windsor and Eton Express - Sunday 04 February 1816
The facts speak for themselves--transportation traffic is dangerous and always has been. Although one hesitates to benefit from the tribulations of the people involved in these accidents, there is much material for story-telling in these newspaper clippings.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The "other" people - England 1812

Regency authors tend to write about the upper classes of British society--at least the gentry, if not the lesser nobility, and far too often, dukes. But there were many more people inhabiting the Regency world.

In October and November 1812, Ackermann's "Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions, Manufactures, etc.", itself a journal for the middle and upper classes, published a quantity of drawings for the following purpose:

As stated, these drawings were 'etched from the life', and so provide us with a fairly accurate portrait of the appearance of country people during the Regency period.

The following were described as 'cottagers':

Then there was a section of 'gleaners':

And finally a selection of 'shepherds':

This commoditization of the rural poor, treating them as no more than 'picturesque' adornments for the landscape drawings of the upper classes, is a shocking depersonalization.

The situations of these country folk are romanticized--their feet are shod and their clothing is not ragged. They were likely not so well off. They were suffering through the job losses caused by industrialization and the repercussions of the Peninsular War and the War of 1812. Work was hard, food was expensive.

 Nevertheless these representations give us a hint of the day-to-day life of many in the Regency era. Despite the somewhat cold-hearted reason for their creation, they are of benefit to us, two hundred years later, in understanding their time.

'Til next time,


Sunday, March 15, 2020

The World of "The Charming Devil"

My latest book "The Charming Devil" was published on February 15, and it has been a busy month since then.

The book is set in 1807, and at the beginning of each chapter I have included a newspaper clipping giving the flavour of the time. Most of the clips are from Wiltshire or Bath newspapers or journals.

I thought in this blog to give you a wider view of 1807 in England from books of the period as well as newspapers.

I hope you enjoy this look into the past.

Fashions, below, from Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London during the Eighteenth Century...with a Review of the State of Society in 1807 by James Peller Malcolm 
Off to the races, below, from Trewman's Exeter Flying Post July 2 1807

Frontispiece, below, from Trivia: or, The Art of Walking the Streets of London: a Descriptive Poem, by Gay
Royals in the news, below, from Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal Friday 5 June 1807
The news then, as now, was often bad:

below, from The Lady's Magazine February 1807
and below, from Oxford University and City Herald Saturday 5 December 1807
But business went on. Below from Trewman's Exeter Flying Post July 2 1807
Below, more finery, from La Belle Assemblee January 1807
And below, an advertisement later in the year from La Belle Assemblee May 1807

Charities were universal. Below a leaflet Members of a friendly society compensating one of its members for ill-health. Pen and ink and watercolour, c. 1807
from Wellcome Images
The theatres were ubiquitous. Below, from La Belle Assemblee January 1807
It was a busy world in 1807. The hero of "The Charming Devil" living in the isolated countryside of Wiltshire appreciated his newspapers. We appreciate his newspapers also, looking at them two hundred years later.

'Til next time,


Images, except where noted, from Google Books and British Newspaper Archive