Thursday, March 13, 2008

FOR WRITERS: Victorian Research Books

The great thing about mixing fantasy with history is that you can tweak whatever you want...but still, there has to be enough historical details and 'feel' of the time period to make your book believable. With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of the really helpful research books I used for ENCHANTING THE LADY.

INSIDE THE VICTORIAN HOME by Judith Flanders / Is a detailed look into every day Victorian life. Although it focuses on the middle class, it's a wonderfully comprehensive look into the entire era.

ENGLISH THROUGH THE AGES by William Brohaugh / Although this book isn't just for the Victorian era! It's a dictionary of the birth of words, so if you're wondering if one of your characters would use a certain word in your time period, you can look it up here, and it will tell you the first (known) recorded use of the word.

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE VICTORIAN WORLD by Melinda Corey and George Ochoa / Important events and people with dates and descriptions.

WHAT JANE AUSTEN ATE AND CHARLES DICKENS KNEW by Daniel Pool / I referenced this book a lot! It covers just about everything with pretty good depth.

TO MARRY AN ENGLISH LORD by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace / Wonderful descriptive photos of people and houses and castles. A great view into Prince Albert and his 'set'.

VICTORIAN LONDON The Tale of a City 1840-1870 by Liza Picard / Great detail on the streets, homes, theaters, etc. of London and more. I just picked up this book at Borders, and I think it will be another essential reference for me.

THE MACMILLAN DICTIONARY OF HISTORICAL SLANG by Eric Partridge / This is an old book that hasn’t been reprinted, so I only found it on Amazon used, for a chunk of change. It only has an alphabetical reference, so you have to know the word in order to look it up. I have been going through it when I have a few minutes, for Victorian slang (I get a little tired of using ‘bloody’, which was truly a nasty word at the time. And for some reason, I can’t see my hero using ‘blooming’ ;}.) So, if you’re looking for words or common phrases of the era, check back with this blog, I’m compiling a list to share.

I used several more books, and of course, some on-line research, but the ones listed above were generally helpful. For specific subjects, like clothing, I used my local library. And on a research note, I'm sure you probably have a good dictionary, thesaurus, Strunk & White's ELEMENTS OF STYLE, and a good grammar book. You may not have, however, a reverse dictionary, and it saved my brain more than once. I have the Reader's Digest ILLUSTRATED REVERSE DICTIONARY, and it works like this: Let's say you can't remember what that thing is called that's attached to the saddle and goes under the horse. So you looked up 'saddle' and wah lah! there's an illustrated picture of all the parts (and the strap is called a 'girth'). Here's one that I needed for ENCHANTING. I wanted to illustrate how wide my little dragonette opens her mouth, and thought if you could see that little skin that hangs down in the back of the throat it would be graphic enough:}. So, I looked up 'throat', which led me to 'mouth', and there it was, and it's called the 'uvula'.

Until Next Time,

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