Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Curious Profession of Dr. Craven is alive!

My latest book "The Curious Profession of Dr. Craven" is out.

I thought I'd add a few details of background that are too long for a footnote or to fit in the margins of the page. (Not that you have well-defined margins with a kindle.)

Disinfectants. Dr. Craven is a bit of a 'clean freak.'  There are good reasons for that - he lost his first wife to puerperal fever and he suspects he gave it to her. If he followed medical practices of the time, he probably did. This poses a bit of a problem for an author who is trying to be historically plausible. The first disinfectants, things like Phenol, weren't discovered until well after the book's time frame (The novel is set in 1810, phenol was first distilled from coal tar in the 1830's) and  so could not have been used. However, hypochlorites are widely used as fairly mild and highly effective disinfectants to this day. It's what they sprayed for Ebola. It turns out they're rather easy to make by electrolysis, so Dr. Craven has his 'electrified water.'

Ordinary License. Many romances have the characters purchasing a "Special License" so they can get married without posting the Bann's. In other words, right now and not in a month. Trouble is a special license allowed you to get married somewhere other than a church. An "Ordinary License" let you get married without the Banns. They were rather hard to get because the Banns served as protection for the happy couple. Since divorce was impossible, except for very very unusual cases, the Banns helped to make sure the decision to get married wasn't hasty or ill-considered.

Sexual More's of the Ton. Anything went in the 1780's - 1820's if you were in the upper class. Without being purulent, the good doctor's parents were an excellent example of this. His mother was so notorious - not for the sleeping around - but for not hiding it, that she left England in 1780. She had a long-time affair with a Margrave, and only was married when her husband died. Even the upper class couldn't get divorced easily. Dr. Craven's older brother, although a successful general, is best known from the introduction to Harriet Wilson's memoirs. He comes across as a bit of a dolt. By the way, one of the origins of the phrase "publish and be damned" is due to the Duke of Wellington's response to Ms. Wilson's offer to suppress her memoirs for a fee.