October 30th, 2009

well stairs transition

Wandering the Web of History

Useful for writers: US inflation calculator from 1913 to now. If your character has $5 in his pocket, is he broke or doing well?

Unpublished letters by Lord Byron fetch a high price at auction. Naturally, the article quotes some of the outrageous bits. William Turdsworth? Is he the one who wrote "I wandered lonely as a White Cloud"?

Britain between 1801 and 2001. What do you want to know about the UK? This site features historic maps (including land-use maps, boundaries, and the insanely detailed Ordnance Survey maps), demographics (census results, churches and attendance, birth and death statistics, social class, labor, industry) election results, and excerpts from gazetteers. You can search by place or just wander through the offerings.

In addition, you can find full text of 800 years of travel writing about Britain from an amazing range of writers, from Gerald of Wales (1190s) to George Borrow (Wales in 1854). It includes, among others. Paul Hentzner on the England of Elizabeth I (1590s), William Camden (county-by-county survey in 1610), and the venturesome Celia Fiennes riding sidesaddle all over England (1690). (Do not miss her detailed descriptions of the clothing and customs of the baths at Bath -- quite different from the Bath Jane Austen recorded.) Many of these writers are well-known already, but the collection of travel writings by 19th-century labor agitators is not nearly so well-known, except to those of us who have a crush on the Chartists. And I hadn't heard of Edwin Russell, who was a labor organizer in the 1870s.