Object of Interest: The Devil Among the Tailors

Playing with a top and skittles was popular in the 18th century. Children and grown-ups alike tested their skills at a game called “The devil among the tailors”. The 18th-century game is different from today’s version that is still around in some pubs in Britain. It is much larger, and you need more skills to score points. How was it played? And what’s in a name?

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Read like it’s 1821: 10 books that hit the book market 200 years ago for you to enjoy

 If you were a time traveller in 1821 longing for a good read, what would be your options?
Check out my list of popular fiction and non-fiction releases. I have added links to online versions of each book, so you can actually read like its 1821!
Bonus feature: Suggestions for further reading on each topic from today’s experts on the 18th century.

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A Christmas Carol from 1816

The popular Christmas carol “Silent Night” (German: “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht”) is an Austrian carol from the years 1816 – 1818. The lyrics were written by Austrian assistant priest Josephus Franciscus Mohr, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. The music was composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber, an Austrian primary school teacher and church organist. Continue reading

As a time traveller to the Regency period, would you be able to enjoy coffee “to go”?

“Nobody, I fancy, can be fonder of Coffee than I am.”
– Count Rumford (inventor, soldier, statesman, spy, womanizer, and philanthropist)-

Today, we are used to enjoy coffee everywhere, and the caffeinated drink “to go” is an added delight to walking in the streets or riding on a train. In the late 18th century, there were, of course, coffee houses in the cities. But would you have been able to take coffee with you on a trip or on a campaign?

Thanks to Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (1753 – 1814), coffee could be prepared to be preserved for a considerable time, and you would have been able to reheat it, or to enjoy it cold wherever you wanted.  Find out here how one of the most eccentric and dazzling persons of the 18th century prepared his beloved coffee as a “to go” version. Continue reading

Don’t Expect Napkins at an Inn – A Continental Explorer’s View on Georgian England

Portrait of Georg Forster

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 Humboldt accompanied 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:

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Leech, Lavender and Laudanum: Medicine in the Romantic Age

06 Medizinkästchen

Medicine chest for travelling

In the Romantic Age modern medical treatment was still in the fledgling stages. The modern era of medicine began with Edward Jenner’s discovery of the smallpox vaccine at the end of the 18th century. It would take nearly another 100 years until Robert Koch discovered the transmission of diseases by bacteria. Penicillin and Aspirin became reliable drugs only in the early 20th century.

Medical treatment was based on herbalism or the ancient Greek theory of “humourism” of the body. Humourism proposed that a body was in good health when its four humours were in balance. These humours were blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. An imbalance of the humours would cause ill health.

If you fell ill in the Romantic Age, what medical treatment could you expect? Continue reading

From Noblemen to Servitors: the Student Body at the University of Oxford

Oxford Kreuzgang FensterIn the Romantic Age only men were allowed to study. But the all-male student body was amazingly diverse: The social structure at the University mirrored society and its class system.
Imagine a young man with a background in trade on his first day in Oxford. He finds himself in the same college with a first-year university student who is the son of a peer. Yet, these two undergraduates are worlds apart – in goals, living conditions, appearance and rules for behaviour. Continue reading

Adventures for Regency Enthusiasts: Handling a Bird of Prey

In my post “Falconry in the Romantic Age”, I described that falconry was still practiced in the Regency period by gentlemen and ladies alike. Just as scriptwriter Andrew Davies, who used falconry in the movie adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility” to characterize Colonel Brandon, you might want to include falconry in your novel. You could create a thrilling hunting scene or have your heroine impress your hero with her falconry skills.

In the Romantic Age, Falconry was called hawking. To get an idea of how a character of a Regency novel would experience hawking, I took a discovery course in this noble sport myself when I went to England last year. I had pre-booked a half-day experience at The Birds of Prey & Conservation Centre at Sion Hill Hall, near Thirsk, Yorkshire. There are of course many other falconry centers in the UK, and also some country hotels that have similar offers.

A Falconry Experience

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