Thursday, November 27, 2008


My favorite part of writing, beside the actual writing I suppose, is research. But it can also be a huge time devil. What I enjoy the most is creating a character, moulded and shaped by social and historical context. Then there is the puzzle; the character needs to curl themselves around the world within the book, and with the creation of their world, or the world that the invade, comes the research of places; times, ideas, whatever is relevant. What bar was the most popular for the men during the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge? What do squashed bees smell like? How did women in the 1700 hundreds go to the toilet with those huge dresses on? ........

1700's Court Dress

(image from )


Anonymous said...

You know if you want someone to proof read I am always ready and willing. (And very close to drop off the next chapter as you finish it).

The Scarlet Tree said...

Thanks Donni, I will be sure to take you up on that!

oh said...

ST, the questions you ask for doing your research are interesting in and of themselves! the smell of squashed bees? the most popular bar during the bridge's building? and the peeing thing - indeed, how did they? I have the feeling we might be shocked by some of their habits ... or not.

Thanks for cheering during nano and hugs to the baby, the best story any mom could possibly create!

Anonymous said...

Scarlet - your research questions are interesting on their own - the smell of squashed bees? wonderful. How did those women pee in those dresses (which is possibly what they DID do!) and the most popular bar during the building of the bridge? Your story has gotta be rich based on such excellent ponderings.

BTW, thanks for your cheering along the way during nano. Honestly, I might have quit except for some very supportive bloggers - whom I've never even met!

Gail Kellogg Hope said...

I ran across your blog searching for dress inspirations.

To answer your question about peeing in these gowns... it's not as difficult as you would imagine. The hoops & paniers collapse easily, you just have to keep the skirts out of the way. Ladies of the 1700's rarely wore underwear on their legs, so they didn't have to pull down and hold up at the same time.

The first thing one has to do is find a modern bathroom one can fit in. This is a major consideration when scoping out locations for reenactments & balls. For us modern ladies, we simply hike up the dress, carefully arrange the fabric so it doesn't touch the back of the toilet and proceed as usual.
Stays (corsets) have to be modified so one can wipe, historic stays are too ridged to allow for enough torso movement to take care of that.
Historically, ladies didn't worry about the whole wiping thing. If things got messy, damp cloths were used (with help). There were assistants in the powder room to help ladies rearrange themselves while taking care of business, and before returning to their event.

If one were outside, one would just squat & go. People weren't so worried about being clean & sanitary as we are today.

I hope that answered your question, if not, you can check out my blog: art beauty and well-ordered chaos, or my web site: oakhill clothiers.