Let’s imagine you are a dealer of tea in London during the 18th century. Over the past decades, tea, once the luxury product for the super-rich, has reached the middle and lower classes. It is highly popular. This means a large target group for your product, but also a higher demand that must be met in times of war, trade embargos and economic depression. Tea leaves are expensive and there are heavy duties on it payable to government. In short: Times are rough, life is hard – it thus seems rather pardonable to find ways to enrich yourself by certain methods one might call imitating tea (‘counterfeit’ is such a harsh word). Nobody will ever find out, and of course, you don’t mean to harm anyone. Plus, you are doing a favour to the lower classes that would not be able to enjoy a nice cup of tea at all if they had to pay the prices for genuine tea. Right? Now, let’s see how tea was be imitated in the 18th century …
A secret submarine plot, death in the Royal family, and a method to signal extra-terrestrials are events of a year marked by political unrest and economic depression.
After the Napoleonic Wars the economy was still down, and important reforms had been delayed over the wars. The fear of Napoleon’s influence was still tangible, with rumours about his possible escape from St. Helena becoming stronger by the end of the year. Additionally, the monarchy was in a crisis, shaken by death and scandal.
Which political, scientific, social, and literary events and anniversaries are of interest to Regency Enthusiasts in 2020? Have a look at my list of 20 events of 1820 here: Continue reading →
If you were a time traveller in 1820 longing for a good read, what would be your options?
Check out the list of popular fiction releases, and the latest findings from science, travel, and philosophy on the non-fiction book shelf!
I have added links to online versions of each book, so you can actually read like its 1820:
Will there be rain, sun or snow within the next days? Should I plant my crops – or rather delay a journey? Predicting the weather was an art by itself in the 18th century. A scientific approach to weather forecasting started in earnest from the early 18th century, but progress was slow. So how did people like Jane Austen forecast the weather?
Brandy, tea, salt – these products are famed-famous as objects of smuggling in the 18th century. Did you know that Scottish whisky was an object of the illegal trade, especially between 1780 – 1823? Whisky was called ‘moonshine’ then, as it was illicitly produced at night in small cottages in the Highlands, and secretly transported by smugglers to harbours for further distribution.
Georg Forster was a central figure of the Enlightenment in Germany. He travelled with Captain James Cook on the second voyage (1772-1775), and was a member of the Royal Society. He also became known as the founder of modern travel writing. In 1790, the famous scientist chose England as his destination. Young Alexander von Humboldtaccompanied him, at that time a budding scientific talent. Forster turned the impression of the trip into a book titled “Views of the Lower Rhine, from Brabant, Flanders, Holland, England, and France in April, May and June 1790”. It was published from 1791–94.
Here are some observations on Georgian England meant to amuse readers on the Continent:
I have been honoured to join the performing authors at a public reading event from October 24 – 27, 2019. My historical novel “Von tadellosem Ruf” (”Of impeccable reputation”) took the audience back in time to the England of Jane Austen. I read together with big names of the German book scene, as Dorothée Kreusch-Jacob, a noted author and song writer for children, Quint Buchholz, a leading illustrator, and novelist and journalist Ruth Eder.
Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859) was the celebrated explorer of his generation. It is little known that he started his scientific career with a trip to England in 1790. He was 20 years old, and travelled with the famous Georg Forster, author of “A Voyage Round the World”, member of the Royal Society and of Captain James Cook’s crew on the second voyage (1772-1775). The experienced explorer and the young men had met in 1789 in Mainz / Germany. Alexander was fascinated by the lively and powerful Forster, his impressive career and exiting plans. He dedicated his first scientific thesis about mineralogical observations on basalts to Forster. It is no surprise that Alexander was delighted when Forster, recognizing the budding talent, asked the young man to join him on his next trip in 1790. Destination: England. Find out how the journey to England influenced the life of Alexander von Humboldt.
Around the turn of the 19th century, Joseph Mallord William Turner was a young, restless painter, always on the lookout for inspiration for his art. After having toured many parts of Britain, he planned to visit the Continent. He was especially interested in the awe-inspiring, romantic Swiss Alps – considered by many a rocky, dangerous wasteland. Thus, aged about 27, and still being an unknown artist, he decided to follow his plans through. Let’s accompany him on his first ever trip abroad.
Hand-held fans, previously reserved for royalty and aristocrats, become a
must-have accessory for every lady in high society at the end of the 17th
century. The trend to carry a fan spreads rapidly through society.
With this, the decoration of the fan leave becomes light-hearted: The
religious and classical motifs give way to pastoral scenes, al fresco
parties, and themes of love-and-courtship. Interestingly, fashion itself
also features on the fashionable accessories, serving as a fashion
plate and fashion statement.
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