Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Robert Chambers's THE BOOK OF DAYS
I've always enjoyed the newspaper's This Day in History feature. Imagine my delight when I discovered Robert Chambers's The Book of Days.
The Book of Days: A Miscellany of popular antiquities in connection with the calendar, including anecdote, biography & history, curiosities of literature, and oddities of human life and character (now there's a TITLE) is This Day in History plus, a la 1864 England.
Organized by the days of the calendar, each entry provides multiple tidbits of information about events that occurred on that day. The two volumes of the book are available in Google books Volume 1 here and Volume 2 here, but an easier-to-read, online searchable version is here.
As an example, here's some information from the entry for today, October 13. Each article starts, as my newspaper feature does, with those who were born and died on this date. Then, because The Book of Days is Victorian, the Feast Days come next.
On October 13, 1630, Sophia, Electress of Hanover and mother of George I of England was born. Also on this day in 1815, of interest to Regency authors like me, Joachim Murat, Bonapartist king of Naples, was shot and killed. Saints Faustus, Januarius, and Martialis, martyrs who died in 304, celebrate their Feast Day today.
Three essays follow: First, NOTES FROM AUBREY: ON ENGLISH MANNERS IN OLD TIMES, where we learn "The use of 'Your humble servant,' [as a greeting] came first into England on the marriage of Queen Mary, daughter of Henry IV of France to King Charles I." This article also explains the origin of the boar's head custom at Christmas and why certain dishes are eaten on feast days.
Next is the TRAGEDY OF THE GALAS FAMILY, a sad tale of French justice gone wrong, followed by the story of Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, who improved conditions among the prisoners at Newgate prison in London.
Today's entire entry is here: http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/oct/13.htm
Too bad I didn't blog on October 14, because the Battle of Hastings, which changed England from Saxon to French, was fought on October 14, 1066.
You learn something new every day. Enjoy.
Thank you all,
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!