Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Peacock's Polite Repository

While researching other things recently I came across, quite by chance, "Peacock's Polite Repository or Pocket Companion".

I thought it was a charming and very handy book. It was also a very long-lived publication. Appearing yearly, from about 1788 to at least 1830, it was a small book (115 mm x 74 mm), often in a slip-case. It contained diary space and an almanac of all sorts of useful information. It was exactly the sort of thing that anyone new to the country, or desirous of exhaustive information about the country, would have owned. In my new book, the hero buys the heroine a copy; she is definitely in need of the information.

From 1790 to 1811 Humphrey Repton supplied the illustrations for the books, generally a frontispiece and headings for the diary pages. The copy I am using is from 1812, and I have not yet discovered the illustrator but the pictures are charming.

St. Bernad's Well near Edinburgh
The information that filled the pages--about 125 of them--was wide-ranging.

With the number of dukes appearing in Regency fiction these days, it is interesting to have the actual list of those peers. There weren't very many.
 Below is the type of calendar that appears for each month before the diary blanks.
Each month has an illustration in the diary.
The universities figure large in the plethora of information:
Holidays which seem to have been organized by major organizations or business were not neglected. A little more explanation of them would not come amiss. There are more than I would have expected.
It was not a completely insular book. Below is part of the list of foreign rulers:
Even the esoteric was covered by the Repository:
I wonder what were the duties of heralds in 1812? I can feel more research coming on!

'Til next time,


Sources: a Google search on Peacock's Polite Repository will bring myriad results. I used several of them, but cannot list one definitive source.

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