The Regency period is particularly ripe for that being so short — a decade, give or take. Given 20 years plus (the time I’ve been actively researching the period) you’d think we’d know it all, but no. There are the mysteries, such as exactly how a ball was organized and exactly how they did the waltz when, and then the things we stumble across that completely surprise us.
I have a blog where I toss down the strange things I come across while researching. A while ago I posted something a little unusual about coach travel, and someone left a detailed description along with a picture. You can read that here. Basically it’s a coach with compartments. Now this description is on the Continent, but Louis Simond records the same thing in England in the Regency period.
This is one of these huh? items, because that’s the only such record as best I know. I’ve read a lot of books on travel and visited museums of transportation etc and never seen such a vehicle in England. So, did Simond confuse England and France? Or have we just not found the corroborating evidence yet?
The picture of the sedan chair is just for the heck of it, but I do find them a neglected form of transport in novels. They could be very convenient in crowded city streets, and they also could be brought into the building at each end so the use was not exposed to the weather. My hero, Robin, in A Lady’s Secret, uses one a couple of times because he has a wounded leg, but it was the normal way to get to court because the chairmen would be armed and armed footmen would go as escort. All those jewels, you know.
Have you come across things in books that surprised you? (And that were true, of course.)
Have you stumbled across bit of research that surprised or startled you?
What about the strange bit here Casanova on highway robbery. It seems shooting a highwayman could get you hanged. Good job Vidal didn’t know that!
Or an early 19th century book on torpedo warfare. Torpedo War .
Or, look at this snippet view of trades in 18th century Sheffield. (Which I happened to be researching for the MIP.) Trades in Sheffield. Any there surprise or mystify you? I’m not entirely sure what a horn turner produced, but it’s nice to know there was a bowling green.
I’m just going over the copy edited manuscript of A Lady’s Secret and discovered there that Shanks’ pony is just that. I’d written Shank’s pony and the c-e corrected it. I checked, and there it is. But I don’t know yet who Shanks was.
Oh, and I did send a newsletter out recently. Some of the news is already old, but it does have a wonderful panorama photograph that my husband took recently.