I love the accidental meeting of a reader (yours truly) and a book. Most of the time I find a title I want to read from the usual sources, a book review, a friend’s recommendation, maybe a bookstore display, but every once in a while I find a great book from a more circuitous route, ‘The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman, the Life and Times of Richard Hall 1729-1801′, is that book.
One day I was doing an internet search for blogs about London and I stumbled upon The London Historians’ blog. If you enjoy history and London in particular you must check it out. In their right hand margin, they have a list of links to other history blogs, and one of them really struck my fancy, Georgian Gentleman.
The author of the blog and the book, Mike Rendell, inherited a treasure trove of papers, diaries and journals belonging to his ancestor Richard Hall, a hosiery merchant and farmer living during Great Britain’s Georgian era. I don’t know which was more fortuitous, the fact that Richard Hall wrote down numerous lists and notes on topics as varied as household inventories and prices, to recipes and the weather or that these papers were preserved by generations of his descendants. Truly incredible!
After enjoying Rendell’s posts I decided that I would really love to read the book that inspired the blog. Lucky for me he was traveling to the US and offered to bring some books with him and mail them to any American readers who wanted to purchase them. I was in on that offer and bought myself one for Christmas! I used my limited self-control and managed not to begin reading it until Christmas day, but it was hard not to pounce on it.
In the wrong hands this correlation of scraps of notes and jottings, journals and diaries might have been dry and boring, and only of interest to other ancestors of Richard Hall, but Rendell has managed to pull all of it together and give us a fascinating and entertaining glimpse into life in Georgian England.
I wish I hadn’t read it so quickly! I’m just glad that the Georgian Gentleman blog is updated frequently so I can keep reading and learning more about this great period of history.
I’m going to leave you with my one of my favorite passages. It’s interesting, repulsive and kind of funny all at the same time:
“One of the risks of eating undercooked pork was the risk of ingesting worms. Tape worms could spread to the brain, causing blackouts. The risk was to rich and poor alike, and so we see Richard (Hall) copying out the tale of the physician who prescribed a particular snuff to Princess Elizabeth – ‘the second day she voided a worm from the Nose, since which the complaint has totally ceased’.”