Research can come in many forms, particularly when it’s for a historical novel. One of my shelves is heaving under the weight of the books I have covering my chosen period, Regency England. And those are just the research books. Another is overflowing with novels set in that era.
Unlike our predecessors, we also have access to a wealth of information on the Internet, so much that if we allowed ourselves to follow its pull we’d never get any words of our own written, so we have to be selective. All these sources have helped in bringing to the page my latest book, The Girl With Flaming Hair.
That said, there’s nothing like seeing real artefacts. Not so easy, you might think, living as we do two hundred years after the time in question. And here’s where I feel particularly lucky. I live in London with easy access to its plethora of galleries and museums. A while ago I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum and amongst its treasures I found things that not only helped with my work in progress at the time but which also affirmed why I love this period so much. One of my characters in another book is a keen artist, and this Watercolour Box circa 1820 is a particularly treasured image.
Women’s dress changed dramatically after 1785. The rich fabrics and complicated formal shapes of the late 18th century gave way to simple, lighter fabrics that draped easily. These new gowns achieved something of the effect of the simple tunics shown on classical Greek and Roman statues and vases. This beautifully elegant creation is muslin embroidered with cotton thread.
You can see how easy it is to get carried away by research when it can be so enjoyable. I’ll leave you with one more image before I tear myself away – I have another book to write!
This is an evening cap (1818-23) described as silk and net embroidery with silk thread; wired paper and muslin artificial flowers. I SO want one!