Meandering through Cyberspace in February 2020

The internet has dramatically enlarged our access to a wealth of information. Most days I spend some time online looking for items related to those things the interest me most – reading, writing and history. Without fail, every time, I find something new and interesting. So, here, I’d like to share a few of the finds I have had over the last month.

Don’t tell me that working-class people can’t be articulate
Lisa McInerney, author of the brilliant novels The Glorious Heresies and The Blood Miracles, answers the misconception that ‘a working-class story should be told through simple prose and working-class characters should have a limited vocabulary, or else they are not authentic’.

The Wellcome Collection
The books, artworks, and images in the Wellcome Collection were acquired between 1890 and 1936 by Sir Henry Wellcome and his agents around the world. They were intended to form ‘a documentary resource that reflects the cultural and historical contexts of health and medicine’.
The digital images in the collection are freely licensed provided they are appropriately attributed.

‘But a fable agreed upon’
This is a speech given by Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society, to the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2000.
‘And this is what all historical fiction does. It makes us feel, as a protagonist, what otherwise would be dead and lost to us. It transports us into the past. And the very best historical fiction presents to us a TRUTH of the past that is NOT the truth of the history books, but a bigger truth, a more important truth – a truth of the HEART.’

The Bawdy Courts of Litchfield is an excellent blog which presents the human stories that have emerged from archival work of the papers of the Church Courts of the Diocese of Litchfield from 1534 to the 20th century. The courts judgements on ‘moral matters, including fornication, defamation and clergy discipline, led to them gaining notoriety in the 17th century. The salacious nature of the cases and the statements of witnesses earned them the moniker bawdy and the practice of the courts’ clerks of recording verbatim (in English) the alleged slanderous statements has helped the courts to retain this reputation through the centuries.’

And, lastly, the most enjoyable video I have seen lately – the wonderful Lucy Worsley being dressed up as Elizabeth I. Thinking about the arrangement of petticoats, bumroll and farthingale, it would be quite possible to sit comfortably without too much trouble and, even better, there would be no room for anyone to invade you personal space on whatever seat you took.

From the excellent Tales from the Royal Wardrobe with Lucy Worsley(2014)

2 thoughts on “Meandering through Cyberspace in February 2020

  1. Love the Lee comment. Going to tack that up to my writing desk!

    I’m happy to read about the working class. Here in the States, I’m writing about an 1860’s farming family. They use common language but the characters have deep thoughts and feelings so I allow for that even in their dialogue. I come from “working class” and though my father occasionally slipped into his childhood vernacular, he was a very intelligent man with a depth of feelings and insights. I enjoyed this list very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Adrienne. My background is similar. Both my parents were intelligent but left school at fourteen and never had educational opportunities but they read widely. Mum said that with her first pay she subscribed to the local library (they weren’t free then). Reading helps in so many ways. But even before widespread literacy, some people were just more thoughtful than others regardless of background. I suspect that those who believe that the ‘working class’ speak and act in a certain way are actually quite classist. All that matters in fiction is that a character is internally consistent – you could even have an illiterate person recite Homer. All he would need is a great memory and the opportunity to hear Homer earlier.


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