Anne here, and today I'm talking about the rabbit holes of research — you know, those endless branching warrens of internet fascination.
They start in a completely innocuous fashion — well, all cunning traps do, don't they? — as a simple quick look-up. But you end up surfacing several hours later, blinking stupidly at the clock, unable to fathom where the time went. But it was all so fascinating . . .
In my rough drafts, I will often insert XXXX for something I need to look up later, some detail which will be necessary eventually, but is not vital to the story now, so I type XXXX and keep writing.
My heroes and heroines for instance will, in an early draft, often enter a room dressed in "XXXX Regency-era clothes 1818" — and the story continues. They often live in XXXX street and drive around in XXXX's, too, and in some cases they even eat XXXX. There's no end to the versatile XXXXs.
Later I will come back to those XXXXs, either when I'm stopping to have a little think (procrastination), or I'm easing my way back into the story (procrastination), or when I've finished the full draft and am adding in the missing details (deadline panic) — the clothes or the street or the kind of carriage or the food that is in season in England at the time or whatever.
Theoretically each XXXX will take a mere few minutes, but for me, those times are rare. It's just too interesting. And there is invariably a temptation to click on that drug of choice, further links.
For instance the other day my hero handed my heroine a small tin containing his own personal soap, infinitely finer than the gloopy, strong smelling soap available at the inn. And the soap smelled . . . well, what did it smell like? Delicious, obviously, carrying essence of hero, but exactly what did this hero smell like (when clean)?
So it was off down the rabbit hole to investigate the soaps available to Regency—era heroes. Crazy really — I could just XXXX it, or make it up. But no, I wanted to get just the right fragranced soap. Perfectionism or procrastination — you decide.
And so down the rabbit warren I went.
Want to know all about soap-making in the regency era? That it came soft or hard, and only the rich used the hard.
By the beginning of the Regency it was possible to buy bar soaps scented with rosemary, wintergreen, caraway, lemon, nutmeg, almond, orange, cinnamon, marjoram, neroli, lavender, anise, bergamot, cassia, jasmine, clove, sassafras, violet, myrtle and rose. Click here for more info.
Want some recipes for various kinds of soap, also pomade, toothpowder and cold cream that were used in the late 18th century? Receipts for Perfumery, &c. in The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse (1784)
Click here for more recipes.
Want to know what a modern soap maker/perfumer thought a 19th century gentleman's soap might be like?
We asked our perfumer to create a scent that reminded us of the Gentlemen’s clubs of the 18th century. Tobacco and black tea are the dominate notes with hints of fruit and spice. This fragrance is heady, masculine and evokes images of the classic well dressed gentleman, Beau Brummel. Click here for the source.
Did you know that Pears soap — yes the same Pears soap you can buy today — was in use during the Regency? And that it was hugely popular with the rich. The full story is here.
Want a complete rabbit warren of links to all kinds of fascinating sites about soap history? Click here, but make yourself a cuppa first. You're going to be lost for a good long while. On second thoughts make up a thermos and a packed lunch.
And you know what? I still haven't finally decided on my hero-scented soap. Any suggestions? What kind of scent do you think a hero's soap should smell like?