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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:

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!


Margaret Tanner said...

Wow Linda,
The Book of Days sounds fascinating. Very helpful for an historical writer like myself. I will have to go check it out.



Linda Banche said...

Glad to help, Margaret.

gigi said...

I have been playing around with the online version finding out what happened on everybody's birthday.
Thanks for the heads up.

Linda Banche said...

Hi Gigi, glad you enjoyed it.

Michael Hillman said...

Thanks Guys!

I'm glad you all liked it ... I had a blast putting it online. I'm now taking excerpts out of it every month and have dedicated a full page in my local monthly community paper (which for some reason the town wanted me to be the editor of!)

I hope Robert Chambers would approve of me re-using his work for a whole new generation.

Mike Hillman