Sunday, June 16, 2013

Regency Weather

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
MARK TWAIN, editorial in the Hartford Courant, Aug. 24, 1897

Whether or not this quote is accurate, and there’s some doubt about its validity, the weather confounds us all.

Love it or hate it, the weather is always with us. My Regency comedy novellas, An Inheritance for the Birds, A Similar Taste in Books and A Mutual Interest in Numbers are all set in 1818 England. Rainy, chilly England. Cold, damp England.

Well, not necessarily.

England's climate is both colder and warmer than that of the United States. The warm Gulf Stream crosses the Atlantic from North America to brush the southern and western coasts of the island, creating milder weather than in New England, where I live. Palm trees grow in Cornwall, England’s southwestern most county. According to Jen Black ( author of Fair Border Bride), who lives in Northumberland, the palm trees grow in protected areas. But I think that any palm tree that can survive outdoors at 50 degrees North latitude is doing pretty good.

Snow is rare in England, especially in the south, as are blazing hot temperatures. In 1818 London, according to the Royal Society’s Meteorological Journal, the temperature range for the year was 24 degrees F to 80 degrees F. Compare that to the Boston Massachusetts range of  4 F to 102 F from February 2012 through January 2013.

But where there is weather, there are extremes. The summer of 1818 in England was one of the hottest on record to that time, with June and July the warmest. According to the Royal Society’s observations, the average London temperature for June was 66.1F, with a high of 78 F and a low of 57 F. For July, the average was 68.9F (high 80 F, low 61 F). Compare those readings, again according to the Royal Society’s London records, to the more typical year of 1817: June range 81 F - 47 F, average 62.8 F, and July range 70 F - 54 F, average 60.8 F.

The summer of 1818 was not pleasant in London. The River Thames, which for all practical purposes was an open sewer, reeked more than usual. The streets, full of horses and their manure as well as other effluvia from man and beast, reeked as well. With no air-conditioning, deodorants or running water, the people, dressed in their year-round woolens, did, too. The ever-present pall of coal smoke from thousands of chimneys added to the miasma.

In An Inheritance for the Birds, my hero, Kit, abides in noxious London when he receives the letter from his late great aunt's solicitor informing him of a possible inheritance. In order to win her estate in Somersetshire, he must compete with her former companion. Their task: Make her pet ducks happy.

Idiotic the contest may be, but the prospect of a sizeable inheritance is enough to make him accept. Another lure is the trip to the country, where, although the temperatures may not be lower, at least the air will be cleaner.

A Similar Taste in Books and A Mutual Interest in Numbers (Books 1 and 2 of Love and the Library) both take place in London during the miserably hot summer of 1818. The characters don't escape to the country, but when you find your true love, why would you want to?

An Inheritance for the Birds, available from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance Ebooks and other places where ebooks are sold.

A Similar Taste in Books and A Mutual Interest in Numbers available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and other places where ebooks are sold.

Thank you all,

The painting is The Vale of Dedham (1828) by John Constable


Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

Lovely post, I tweeted.

We lived in East Anglia, and I always felt as if the clouds were pressing down on me. It was something to do with the fens.

Linda Banche said...

Thank you, Ella. I appreciate it.

Since you lived near water, you were bound to have clouds. Even more clouds that they expect in less humid parts of England.

Cassandra Samuels said...

Thanks for a wonderful post Linda. Weather affects everything we do and how we live and it would have been no different back in the 1800s. Only, as you said, there was no air con or deodrant. I live in Australia and last year we had weather that was well over 100 degrees every day (55 degrees celcius) at one point. Without air con many would have died from the extreme heat.

Grace Elliot said...

I cant imagine how people coped with hot weather in the days of a formal dress code, long skirts and gloves. It must have been so claustrophic to be encased in clothes on a hot day.
Grace x

Linda Banche said...

Thanks, Cassandra. Your weather in Australia is very much different from England, or even from New England where I live. But 80 degrees F is still quite hot, especially in 1818 London with no air conditioning.

You're certainly right, Grace. No wonder ladies would faint, laced up in their corsets as they were.