To Go Or Not To Go

It’s Sunday, and heeeeere’s Edith!
Outhouse_newsTalking ’bout toilets today.

We’ve been answering reader questions lately and I pounced on one that asked: “Why don’t characters go to the bathroom in Historical romances?”

Ha. My characters do. They certainly do go to the bathroom.

Strike that euphemism! They go to the toilet, wherever it may be, be it for male or female, or both, because that’s what real people do.

In fact, in a recent book, GYPSY LOVER, my lovers have a confrontation on the path from the Jericho to the Inn. No euphemisms! The Jericho= outhouse privy = outdoor toilet, in regency times.

I have included bedpans and under the bed basins in my novels; rural outhouses, stops along the road for a quickie behind a bush, and characters being really uncomfortable because they have to go.

I have detailed descriptions of the toilets in castles in the middle ages: they had cisterns on the roof that collected rain water, the person in the privy pulled a rope, down came the water and sluiced it into the moat, and presto! A form of flush toilet!

I’ve written about wealthy Regency noblepersons in London townhouses with lavish loos. (What a name for a new rock group: “The Lavish Loos!” )

In short, in fact, from the dawn of time until today, people go to the toilet, and so too, of course, do my characters. But, I do confess, that aside from an invalided hero or two, only my heroines make a fuss about it. That is easily understood. They need more privacy and have more to fear in an unguarded moment. (Is this where the concept of male supremacy started? I mean, a fellow can often relieve himself, sword in other hand, ready to spring into action… Uhm. I digress.)

I have not only written about toilets, I have researched them! A partial list of treasures in my library:

The Compleat Loo, a Lavatorial Miscellany, by Roger Kilroy

Flushed with Pride, The Story of Thomas Crapper, by Wallace Reyburn
(The wonderfully named Mr. C didn’t invent the flush toilet, btw. He merely refined it)

Clean and Decent, by Lawrence Wright (big concentration on the bath)

An Irreverent and Almost Complete Social History of the Bathroom, by Frank Muir

Now, lest you think I’m obsessed about the topic, let me assure you that I also have many books in my library that obsess on other arcane topics, such as: make-up through the ages, styles of hair, fashions, even games throughout the ages. I have books on the history of perfumes, and lots about herbs, foods, etc.

That’s because I believe that to know what your characters must do it daily life, whether they do it or not, is important.

So why not have a character duck away for a few minutes to answer the call of nature? I don’t think that makes them less romantic. Do you?

45 thoughts on “To Go Or Not To Go”

  1. Great subject, Edith. As you say, getting rid of waste products is an essential part of life, even for fictional characters.
    The euphemisms are fascinating, too, especially for what they imply. Restroom — that the woman needs a little nap.
    Toilet — that she needs to rearrange her hair.
    Ladies’ room — that she needs a private place to meet her friends.
    The British WC has confused many foreigners. It’s from Water Closet, but that’s pretty weird anyway.
    Somehow no one ever calls it a waste disposal area.:grin:
    I read once that shopping in the West End of London didn’t take off until one of the larger stores put in a ladies room. Before then, women from the outer areas of London couldn’t spend the day shopping without risking distress and embarrassment.
    Jo

    Reply
  2. Great subject, Edith. As you say, getting rid of waste products is an essential part of life, even for fictional characters.
    The euphemisms are fascinating, too, especially for what they imply. Restroom — that the woman needs a little nap.
    Toilet — that she needs to rearrange her hair.
    Ladies’ room — that she needs a private place to meet her friends.
    The British WC has confused many foreigners. It’s from Water Closet, but that’s pretty weird anyway.
    Somehow no one ever calls it a waste disposal area.:grin:
    I read once that shopping in the West End of London didn’t take off until one of the larger stores put in a ladies room. Before then, women from the outer areas of London couldn’t spend the day shopping without risking distress and embarrassment.
    Jo

    Reply
  3. Great subject, Edith. As you say, getting rid of waste products is an essential part of life, even for fictional characters.
    The euphemisms are fascinating, too, especially for what they imply. Restroom — that the woman needs a little nap.
    Toilet — that she needs to rearrange her hair.
    Ladies’ room — that she needs a private place to meet her friends.
    The British WC has confused many foreigners. It’s from Water Closet, but that’s pretty weird anyway.
    Somehow no one ever calls it a waste disposal area.:grin:
    I read once that shopping in the West End of London didn’t take off until one of the larger stores put in a ladies room. Before then, women from the outer areas of London couldn’t spend the day shopping without risking distress and embarrassment.
    Jo

    Reply
  4. Thank you, Edith, that was a marvelous post! I wish I had those books. I shall have to look for them. And thank you too, Jo. It’s wonderful to hear about history through the eyes of a novelist, especially a popular romantic novelist, because you all not only know this stuff cold, you talk about it in fun and fascinating ways. I learn a lot too – had not heard of (or connected) the Jericho as a privy.
    I don’t want the characters to be scatologically obsessed, but it makes the genre more real if at least some of them deal with it occasionally, in a discreet way, of course. It would naturally be more of an issue when they’re away from their fine homes. In the mansions and manors everything would be neat and well-hidden. Not so much out in the country away from the big houses.
    I suppose I am interested in it too because I grew up in a very rural section of the US – eastern Kentucky – where a lot of people, including one set of my grandparents, still had outhouses then. You make a lot of adjustments in how you go about your day when you worry about whether the weather or time of day is right for, um, waste disposal functions. The church I attended also did not have indoor facilities, and I always made sure I took care of things before going there because I was terrified of being bitten by a snake in… a vulnerable area. Not that I saw a snake around the ladies’ outhouse, ever, but it was a weedy snaky looking place. It’s also intriguing to me that it’s sophisticated and modern to dwell lovingly on certain formerly unmentionable areas and bodily fluids, but even oblique mentions of other still unmentionable ones would be seen as crass. I realize the context is crucial! I’m just… intrigued.

    Reply
  5. Thank you, Edith, that was a marvelous post! I wish I had those books. I shall have to look for them. And thank you too, Jo. It’s wonderful to hear about history through the eyes of a novelist, especially a popular romantic novelist, because you all not only know this stuff cold, you talk about it in fun and fascinating ways. I learn a lot too – had not heard of (or connected) the Jericho as a privy.
    I don’t want the characters to be scatologically obsessed, but it makes the genre more real if at least some of them deal with it occasionally, in a discreet way, of course. It would naturally be more of an issue when they’re away from their fine homes. In the mansions and manors everything would be neat and well-hidden. Not so much out in the country away from the big houses.
    I suppose I am interested in it too because I grew up in a very rural section of the US – eastern Kentucky – where a lot of people, including one set of my grandparents, still had outhouses then. You make a lot of adjustments in how you go about your day when you worry about whether the weather or time of day is right for, um, waste disposal functions. The church I attended also did not have indoor facilities, and I always made sure I took care of things before going there because I was terrified of being bitten by a snake in… a vulnerable area. Not that I saw a snake around the ladies’ outhouse, ever, but it was a weedy snaky looking place. It’s also intriguing to me that it’s sophisticated and modern to dwell lovingly on certain formerly unmentionable areas and bodily fluids, but even oblique mentions of other still unmentionable ones would be seen as crass. I realize the context is crucial! I’m just… intrigued.

    Reply
  6. Thank you, Edith, that was a marvelous post! I wish I had those books. I shall have to look for them. And thank you too, Jo. It’s wonderful to hear about history through the eyes of a novelist, especially a popular romantic novelist, because you all not only know this stuff cold, you talk about it in fun and fascinating ways. I learn a lot too – had not heard of (or connected) the Jericho as a privy.
    I don’t want the characters to be scatologically obsessed, but it makes the genre more real if at least some of them deal with it occasionally, in a discreet way, of course. It would naturally be more of an issue when they’re away from their fine homes. In the mansions and manors everything would be neat and well-hidden. Not so much out in the country away from the big houses.
    I suppose I am interested in it too because I grew up in a very rural section of the US – eastern Kentucky – where a lot of people, including one set of my grandparents, still had outhouses then. You make a lot of adjustments in how you go about your day when you worry about whether the weather or time of day is right for, um, waste disposal functions. The church I attended also did not have indoor facilities, and I always made sure I took care of things before going there because I was terrified of being bitten by a snake in… a vulnerable area. Not that I saw a snake around the ladies’ outhouse, ever, but it was a weedy snaky looking place. It’s also intriguing to me that it’s sophisticated and modern to dwell lovingly on certain formerly unmentionable areas and bodily fluids, but even oblique mentions of other still unmentionable ones would be seen as crass. I realize the context is crucial! I’m just… intrigued.

    Reply
  7. Hi Edith!
    Wow! Great post! I love that your characters use the loo. I think it makes them so much more real. And, it’s a fun way to create conflict (internal and external) for the characters. The idea of putting such ‘calls of nature’ into my work never really crossed my mind until one day, my heroine woke up from a fitful nap and announced (to me) that she had to go. So I wrote her a thin patch of woods which she wasn’t particularly happy about. She’s a fastidious little thing. But hey, when ya gotta go…
    Speaking of going… I didn’t know privies were once called Jerichos. One would think that after what happened about 3000 years ago, one would be leery of the sturdiness of such a named structure. Oh well. Perhaps those who named it as such did not read that particular passage of the Old Testament.
    Speaking of reading…and research… I would love a peak at your book(s) on games and makeup. In truth, I would just love a peak into your brain. My work is set in a midlevel type fantasy world where there are powers and the like, so I have some leeway. While no one will be flipping open a cell phone, turning on a light or shooting a rife, if I want my characters to wear a form of underwear under their longdresses or breaches, they can. But oh, how I love to pull a touch of unusual truth ‘out of my hat.’ Like toilets in a castle. Or the use of Jasmine by midwives.
    –the littlest wenchling, wishing she wasn’t so little (in brain, that is)

    Reply
  8. Hi Edith!
    Wow! Great post! I love that your characters use the loo. I think it makes them so much more real. And, it’s a fun way to create conflict (internal and external) for the characters. The idea of putting such ‘calls of nature’ into my work never really crossed my mind until one day, my heroine woke up from a fitful nap and announced (to me) that she had to go. So I wrote her a thin patch of woods which she wasn’t particularly happy about. She’s a fastidious little thing. But hey, when ya gotta go…
    Speaking of going… I didn’t know privies were once called Jerichos. One would think that after what happened about 3000 years ago, one would be leery of the sturdiness of such a named structure. Oh well. Perhaps those who named it as such did not read that particular passage of the Old Testament.
    Speaking of reading…and research… I would love a peak at your book(s) on games and makeup. In truth, I would just love a peak into your brain. My work is set in a midlevel type fantasy world where there are powers and the like, so I have some leeway. While no one will be flipping open a cell phone, turning on a light or shooting a rife, if I want my characters to wear a form of underwear under their longdresses or breaches, they can. But oh, how I love to pull a touch of unusual truth ‘out of my hat.’ Like toilets in a castle. Or the use of Jasmine by midwives.
    –the littlest wenchling, wishing she wasn’t so little (in brain, that is)

    Reply
  9. Hi Edith!
    Wow! Great post! I love that your characters use the loo. I think it makes them so much more real. And, it’s a fun way to create conflict (internal and external) for the characters. The idea of putting such ‘calls of nature’ into my work never really crossed my mind until one day, my heroine woke up from a fitful nap and announced (to me) that she had to go. So I wrote her a thin patch of woods which she wasn’t particularly happy about. She’s a fastidious little thing. But hey, when ya gotta go…
    Speaking of going… I didn’t know privies were once called Jerichos. One would think that after what happened about 3000 years ago, one would be leery of the sturdiness of such a named structure. Oh well. Perhaps those who named it as such did not read that particular passage of the Old Testament.
    Speaking of reading…and research… I would love a peak at your book(s) on games and makeup. In truth, I would just love a peak into your brain. My work is set in a midlevel type fantasy world where there are powers and the like, so I have some leeway. While no one will be flipping open a cell phone, turning on a light or shooting a rife, if I want my characters to wear a form of underwear under their longdresses or breaches, they can. But oh, how I love to pull a touch of unusual truth ‘out of my hat.’ Like toilets in a castle. Or the use of Jasmine by midwives.
    –the littlest wenchling, wishing she wasn’t so little (in brain, that is)

    Reply
  10. Oh I quite agree, Edith, it’s important to address these little details, and interesting too. I’ve done it often in my own books.
    In my very first book, set in 13th c. England, I had the heroine escape the castle down a privy shaft. OK, so it was abandoned, she wasn’t so desperate as to escape down a latrine shaft in current use, ecchh! But it gave me a chance to explain how privies and so forth worked in those days, without doing the dreaded expository thang.
    In STEALING SOPHIE, as the heroine is being dragged off into the Highland hills by the Jacobite rebel who has just kidnapped her (mistaking her for her sister, but anyway), they’ve been tromping the hills for hours…she has to GO. So she drops down behind a bush while he stands guard on the other side, and he tells her not to escape, while she tells him not to dare to look. He laughs and waits patiently. It shows another side to his character, early in the book when to her he’s just a scary Highland dude. It’s an odd but small way of giving them a bond. She learns to trust him through this and other ways. It’s a tiny scene, but it made the characters more real for me, added some humor, and I hope made the characters more real to readers too.
    Not only can we address privy matters and PMS and other things in romance, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t. People aren’t that squeamish, especially women, and these little details can help, as much as any other use of authenticity, to forward plot (the privy shaft escape), or develop character (the dropping behind the bushes thing). And can help the whole story to come alive, I think.
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  11. Oh I quite agree, Edith, it’s important to address these little details, and interesting too. I’ve done it often in my own books.
    In my very first book, set in 13th c. England, I had the heroine escape the castle down a privy shaft. OK, so it was abandoned, she wasn’t so desperate as to escape down a latrine shaft in current use, ecchh! But it gave me a chance to explain how privies and so forth worked in those days, without doing the dreaded expository thang.
    In STEALING SOPHIE, as the heroine is being dragged off into the Highland hills by the Jacobite rebel who has just kidnapped her (mistaking her for her sister, but anyway), they’ve been tromping the hills for hours…she has to GO. So she drops down behind a bush while he stands guard on the other side, and he tells her not to escape, while she tells him not to dare to look. He laughs and waits patiently. It shows another side to his character, early in the book when to her he’s just a scary Highland dude. It’s an odd but small way of giving them a bond. She learns to trust him through this and other ways. It’s a tiny scene, but it made the characters more real for me, added some humor, and I hope made the characters more real to readers too.
    Not only can we address privy matters and PMS and other things in romance, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t. People aren’t that squeamish, especially women, and these little details can help, as much as any other use of authenticity, to forward plot (the privy shaft escape), or develop character (the dropping behind the bushes thing). And can help the whole story to come alive, I think.
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  12. Oh I quite agree, Edith, it’s important to address these little details, and interesting too. I’ve done it often in my own books.
    In my very first book, set in 13th c. England, I had the heroine escape the castle down a privy shaft. OK, so it was abandoned, she wasn’t so desperate as to escape down a latrine shaft in current use, ecchh! But it gave me a chance to explain how privies and so forth worked in those days, without doing the dreaded expository thang.
    In STEALING SOPHIE, as the heroine is being dragged off into the Highland hills by the Jacobite rebel who has just kidnapped her (mistaking her for her sister, but anyway), they’ve been tromping the hills for hours…she has to GO. So she drops down behind a bush while he stands guard on the other side, and he tells her not to escape, while she tells him not to dare to look. He laughs and waits patiently. It shows another side to his character, early in the book when to her he’s just a scary Highland dude. It’s an odd but small way of giving them a bond. She learns to trust him through this and other ways. It’s a tiny scene, but it made the characters more real for me, added some humor, and I hope made the characters more real to readers too.
    Not only can we address privy matters and PMS and other things in romance, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t. People aren’t that squeamish, especially women, and these little details can help, as much as any other use of authenticity, to forward plot (the privy shaft escape), or develop character (the dropping behind the bushes thing). And can help the whole story to come alive, I think.
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  13. I understand that one of the best sellers in the children’s section is “Everybody Poops”. I suppose that it’s meant to encourage little ones who are learning to use the facilities.
    Re: the Jericho. I’ve never heard that term used for the privy. In some Regency romances when the heroine is cross with someone, she wishes that person in Jericho. Do you think that’s what she wants? For him to fall into the privy pit?

    Reply
  14. I understand that one of the best sellers in the children’s section is “Everybody Poops”. I suppose that it’s meant to encourage little ones who are learning to use the facilities.
    Re: the Jericho. I’ve never heard that term used for the privy. In some Regency romances when the heroine is cross with someone, she wishes that person in Jericho. Do you think that’s what she wants? For him to fall into the privy pit?

    Reply
  15. I understand that one of the best sellers in the children’s section is “Everybody Poops”. I suppose that it’s meant to encourage little ones who are learning to use the facilities.
    Re: the Jericho. I’ve never heard that term used for the privy. In some Regency romances when the heroine is cross with someone, she wishes that person in Jericho. Do you think that’s what she wants? For him to fall into the privy pit?

    Reply
  16. Great post, Edith. I’ll have to look out for those books. Never can get enough info about sanitation and such. I have not sent my characters to Jericho often, but in Lord of Scoundrels, they definitely go. At one point, after a jolting carriage journey, the heroine uses a privy, and comes back to find the hero timing her. A discussion ensues about why it takes women so long. Later in the story, following a deeply romantic moment, the hero reports that his bladder is about to explode. Yes, bathroom humor does have its place.

    Reply
  17. Great post, Edith. I’ll have to look out for those books. Never can get enough info about sanitation and such. I have not sent my characters to Jericho often, but in Lord of Scoundrels, they definitely go. At one point, after a jolting carriage journey, the heroine uses a privy, and comes back to find the hero timing her. A discussion ensues about why it takes women so long. Later in the story, following a deeply romantic moment, the hero reports that his bladder is about to explode. Yes, bathroom humor does have its place.

    Reply
  18. Great post, Edith. I’ll have to look out for those books. Never can get enough info about sanitation and such. I have not sent my characters to Jericho often, but in Lord of Scoundrels, they definitely go. At one point, after a jolting carriage journey, the heroine uses a privy, and comes back to find the hero timing her. A discussion ensues about why it takes women so long. Later in the story, following a deeply romantic moment, the hero reports that his bladder is about to explode. Yes, bathroom humor does have its place.

    Reply
  19. What a hoot, Edith! And all so interesting.
    IF there’s a rule of thumb about fictional references to body functions, it’s that using them is fine when it advances the story, and that includes character development.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  20. What a hoot, Edith! And all so interesting.
    IF there’s a rule of thumb about fictional references to body functions, it’s that using them is fine when it advances the story, and that includes character development.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  21. What a hoot, Edith! And all so interesting.
    IF there’s a rule of thumb about fictional references to body functions, it’s that using them is fine when it advances the story, and that includes character development.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  22. >>In some Regency romances when the heroine is cross with someone, she wishes that person in Jericho. Do you think that’s what she wants? For him to fall into the privy pit? >>
    Probably, Kathy.
    But I heard the phrase came into general use when Henry the often wed king wanted to be away from the castle and be with his mistress of the day/week/month. He’d leave London for his country estate, the ‘Deer Park’ where no one could reach him.
    His courtiers in London told people he had “Gone to Jericho.”
    In time the phrase came to mean the privy.
    Go know!
    *g*
    best,
    Edith the suddenly erudite

    Reply
  23. >>In some Regency romances when the heroine is cross with someone, she wishes that person in Jericho. Do you think that’s what she wants? For him to fall into the privy pit? >>
    Probably, Kathy.
    But I heard the phrase came into general use when Henry the often wed king wanted to be away from the castle and be with his mistress of the day/week/month. He’d leave London for his country estate, the ‘Deer Park’ where no one could reach him.
    His courtiers in London told people he had “Gone to Jericho.”
    In time the phrase came to mean the privy.
    Go know!
    *g*
    best,
    Edith the suddenly erudite

    Reply
  24. >>In some Regency romances when the heroine is cross with someone, she wishes that person in Jericho. Do you think that’s what she wants? For him to fall into the privy pit? >>
    Probably, Kathy.
    But I heard the phrase came into general use when Henry the often wed king wanted to be away from the castle and be with his mistress of the day/week/month. He’d leave London for his country estate, the ‘Deer Park’ where no one could reach him.
    His courtiers in London told people he had “Gone to Jericho.”
    In time the phrase came to mean the privy.
    Go know!
    *g*
    best,
    Edith the suddenly erudite

    Reply
  25. Isn’t this what the King has a Privy Purse for?
    My grandfather, who began his career as a mining engineer in the remoter parts of the Pacific Northwest, referred to one of his dwellings as “two rooms and a path.”
    Edith: The Compleat Loo, a Lavatorial Miscellany, by Roger Kilroy
    Either you’re kidding, or he is!
    I tracked down the origin of “Jericho,” I believe:
    From a glossary to Georgette Heyer:
    From Nancy Mayer: “Historical Dictionary of Slang by Farmer and Henley vol 1 A-k. Jericho: 1. A place of concealment or banishment. Generically: Go to the Devil. 2. As a derivative of the above it was used for the watercloset or privy at the end of the garden.”
    18th century slang:
    Have been to Jericho – be tipsy
    Probert Dictionary of slang:
    JERICHO
    Jericho is London Cockney rhyming slang for a chamberpot (po).
    And from The Word Detective, explaining “po-faced”:
    What’s the “po”? No one knows, exactly. It may be a reference to “poh,” an expression of disdain evidently common at one time in England, presumably the sort of noise a butler makes when confronted by a small, dirty child. Or “po” might refer back to the old English slang term “po,” meaning “chamber pot” (from the French “pot de chambre”). I myself think this is a marvelous theory — who wouldn’t like to compare some supercilious twit to a chamber pot? Maybe that Brit-talk isn’t so bad after all — I wonder what’s on the telly tonight?

    Reply
  26. Isn’t this what the King has a Privy Purse for?
    My grandfather, who began his career as a mining engineer in the remoter parts of the Pacific Northwest, referred to one of his dwellings as “two rooms and a path.”
    Edith: The Compleat Loo, a Lavatorial Miscellany, by Roger Kilroy
    Either you’re kidding, or he is!
    I tracked down the origin of “Jericho,” I believe:
    From a glossary to Georgette Heyer:
    From Nancy Mayer: “Historical Dictionary of Slang by Farmer and Henley vol 1 A-k. Jericho: 1. A place of concealment or banishment. Generically: Go to the Devil. 2. As a derivative of the above it was used for the watercloset or privy at the end of the garden.”
    18th century slang:
    Have been to Jericho – be tipsy
    Probert Dictionary of slang:
    JERICHO
    Jericho is London Cockney rhyming slang for a chamberpot (po).
    And from The Word Detective, explaining “po-faced”:
    What’s the “po”? No one knows, exactly. It may be a reference to “poh,” an expression of disdain evidently common at one time in England, presumably the sort of noise a butler makes when confronted by a small, dirty child. Or “po” might refer back to the old English slang term “po,” meaning “chamber pot” (from the French “pot de chambre”). I myself think this is a marvelous theory — who wouldn’t like to compare some supercilious twit to a chamber pot? Maybe that Brit-talk isn’t so bad after all — I wonder what’s on the telly tonight?

    Reply
  27. Isn’t this what the King has a Privy Purse for?
    My grandfather, who began his career as a mining engineer in the remoter parts of the Pacific Northwest, referred to one of his dwellings as “two rooms and a path.”
    Edith: The Compleat Loo, a Lavatorial Miscellany, by Roger Kilroy
    Either you’re kidding, or he is!
    I tracked down the origin of “Jericho,” I believe:
    From a glossary to Georgette Heyer:
    From Nancy Mayer: “Historical Dictionary of Slang by Farmer and Henley vol 1 A-k. Jericho: 1. A place of concealment or banishment. Generically: Go to the Devil. 2. As a derivative of the above it was used for the watercloset or privy at the end of the garden.”
    18th century slang:
    Have been to Jericho – be tipsy
    Probert Dictionary of slang:
    JERICHO
    Jericho is London Cockney rhyming slang for a chamberpot (po).
    And from The Word Detective, explaining “po-faced”:
    What’s the “po”? No one knows, exactly. It may be a reference to “poh,” an expression of disdain evidently common at one time in England, presumably the sort of noise a butler makes when confronted by a small, dirty child. Or “po” might refer back to the old English slang term “po,” meaning “chamber pot” (from the French “pot de chambre”). I myself think this is a marvelous theory — who wouldn’t like to compare some supercilious twit to a chamber pot? Maybe that Brit-talk isn’t so bad after all — I wonder what’s on the telly tonight?

    Reply
  28. ‘Po’ was used to mean a chamber-pot, including a small child’s ‘potty’ certainly well into the 1960s in British English.
    Two more useful reference works that I can recommend on this subject are Lucinda Lambton’s ‘Temples of Convenience’ (London 1978), a slim, witty and basically scholarly volume with many splendid colour photographs of surviving lavatories from medieval to early 20th century, and Monroe Blair’s ‘Ceramic Water Closets’ (Princes Risborough, 2000). This latter is primarily a technical history, with diagrams of the evolving types of flush toilet – valve closets, wash-down and wash-down systems, and also some excellent photos of the lavishly decorated sanitary ware of the 19th century.
    Another rather attractive volume is K. Wedd, ‘The Victorian Bathroom catalogue’, (London 1996), which is literally a compilation of pages from 19th C. sanitary-ware catalogues.
    Lawrence Wright’s ‘Clean and Decent’ (1960), which Ms. Layton mentions, is still a great source: I seem to have lost my copy, and ought to replace it.

    Reply
  29. ‘Po’ was used to mean a chamber-pot, including a small child’s ‘potty’ certainly well into the 1960s in British English.
    Two more useful reference works that I can recommend on this subject are Lucinda Lambton’s ‘Temples of Convenience’ (London 1978), a slim, witty and basically scholarly volume with many splendid colour photographs of surviving lavatories from medieval to early 20th century, and Monroe Blair’s ‘Ceramic Water Closets’ (Princes Risborough, 2000). This latter is primarily a technical history, with diagrams of the evolving types of flush toilet – valve closets, wash-down and wash-down systems, and also some excellent photos of the lavishly decorated sanitary ware of the 19th century.
    Another rather attractive volume is K. Wedd, ‘The Victorian Bathroom catalogue’, (London 1996), which is literally a compilation of pages from 19th C. sanitary-ware catalogues.
    Lawrence Wright’s ‘Clean and Decent’ (1960), which Ms. Layton mentions, is still a great source: I seem to have lost my copy, and ought to replace it.

    Reply
  30. ‘Po’ was used to mean a chamber-pot, including a small child’s ‘potty’ certainly well into the 1960s in British English.
    Two more useful reference works that I can recommend on this subject are Lucinda Lambton’s ‘Temples of Convenience’ (London 1978), a slim, witty and basically scholarly volume with many splendid colour photographs of surviving lavatories from medieval to early 20th century, and Monroe Blair’s ‘Ceramic Water Closets’ (Princes Risborough, 2000). This latter is primarily a technical history, with diagrams of the evolving types of flush toilet – valve closets, wash-down and wash-down systems, and also some excellent photos of the lavishly decorated sanitary ware of the 19th century.
    Another rather attractive volume is K. Wedd, ‘The Victorian Bathroom catalogue’, (London 1996), which is literally a compilation of pages from 19th C. sanitary-ware catalogues.
    Lawrence Wright’s ‘Clean and Decent’ (1960), which Ms. Layton mentions, is still a great source: I seem to have lost my copy, and ought to replace it.

    Reply
  31. I wrote: ‘valve closets, wash-down and wash-down systems’: I meant, of course, ‘wash-out and wash-down’.
    Also, when I wrote ‘two more useful reference works…’ I did NOT mean ‘books more useful than those listed by Ms. Layton’. I meant ‘two books in addition to those listed by Ms. Layton’.
    Maybe I had better stop posting here till I get my proof-reading skills back to normal: there is a reason why my writing is a mess at the moment, but I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what I am saying. There is always a danger of that happening when writing in BE (British English) for mainly American readers, though the people contributing to this site are probably more familiar with the nuances of BE than most.
    🙂

    Reply
  32. I wrote: ‘valve closets, wash-down and wash-down systems’: I meant, of course, ‘wash-out and wash-down’.
    Also, when I wrote ‘two more useful reference works…’ I did NOT mean ‘books more useful than those listed by Ms. Layton’. I meant ‘two books in addition to those listed by Ms. Layton’.
    Maybe I had better stop posting here till I get my proof-reading skills back to normal: there is a reason why my writing is a mess at the moment, but I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what I am saying. There is always a danger of that happening when writing in BE (British English) for mainly American readers, though the people contributing to this site are probably more familiar with the nuances of BE than most.
    🙂

    Reply
  33. I wrote: ‘valve closets, wash-down and wash-down systems’: I meant, of course, ‘wash-out and wash-down’.
    Also, when I wrote ‘two more useful reference works…’ I did NOT mean ‘books more useful than those listed by Ms. Layton’. I meant ‘two books in addition to those listed by Ms. Layton’.
    Maybe I had better stop posting here till I get my proof-reading skills back to normal: there is a reason why my writing is a mess at the moment, but I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what I am saying. There is always a danger of that happening when writing in BE (British English) for mainly American readers, though the people contributing to this site are probably more familiar with the nuances of BE than most.
    🙂

    Reply
  34. Once upon a time I used to write various fun types of bathrooms into my material, including one with a snake (guess that’s my KY background coming out!), but after I ran out of ways to present them, I wandered off to the bedroom….and probably got lost. “g”

    Reply
  35. Once upon a time I used to write various fun types of bathrooms into my material, including one with a snake (guess that’s my KY background coming out!), but after I ran out of ways to present them, I wandered off to the bedroom….and probably got lost. “g”

    Reply
  36. Once upon a time I used to write various fun types of bathrooms into my material, including one with a snake (guess that’s my KY background coming out!), but after I ran out of ways to present them, I wandered off to the bedroom….and probably got lost. “g”

    Reply
  37. One of the most memorable aspects of your GYPSY LOVER, Edith, was the scene where Meg is faced with a choice – use the chamber pot, and have the room smell all night, or go outside in the dark to the privy. I always wondered about that aspect of chamber pots … and it made the story so much more real for me.
    Lynne,
    who doesn’t camp out now because she vividly remembers the horrors of trekking to outhouses in the middle of the night when she was younger

    Reply
  38. One of the most memorable aspects of your GYPSY LOVER, Edith, was the scene where Meg is faced with a choice – use the chamber pot, and have the room smell all night, or go outside in the dark to the privy. I always wondered about that aspect of chamber pots … and it made the story so much more real for me.
    Lynne,
    who doesn’t camp out now because she vividly remembers the horrors of trekking to outhouses in the middle of the night when she was younger

    Reply
  39. One of the most memorable aspects of your GYPSY LOVER, Edith, was the scene where Meg is faced with a choice – use the chamber pot, and have the room smell all night, or go outside in the dark to the privy. I always wondered about that aspect of chamber pots … and it made the story so much more real for me.
    Lynne,
    who doesn’t camp out now because she vividly remembers the horrors of trekking to outhouses in the middle of the night when she was younger

    Reply

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