Researching and writing about puritan poet Anne Bradstreet

Friday, September 14, 2012

Writing Pains #3

In making window glass in the 17th century,
you'd get a "bull's eye" in your glass sheets,
which would be used for  your less prominent
windows.  Nicer windows were only slightly wavy.
Thanks to b3tarev3 for this photo.
Yesterday I went to a writers' group in Winnetka, about half an hour away.  The first hour was devoted to a presentation by an author on incorporating memory into stories, and the second a reading of a manuscript from one of the group's members.  And a fine manuscript it was!  I didn't go crawling out vowing to forsake my inferior writing, but it showed me that I have a long way to go yet.  Well, never mind; at least I'm voyaging, and I've not been at this for very long yet.

In the meantime, I'm making sure I've got Stuart England firmly in my own head before I take Anne across the ocean.  To that end I have learned this about nobleman's houses in the early 17th century:

Carpets went on tables as well as floors.  You'd cover the carpet with a tablecloth if the table was to be used for eating.

In the best rooms, walls were paneled.  Ceilings were often painted.

You would share a goblet or cup at a meal with the person you were seated next to.  After you drank, the cup was wiped out with a cloth and your companion drank.

Women as a whole experienced a lessening of status after Queen Elizabeth died.

Window glass is a very difficult subject to find out anything about.

And here's a sampling of questions that I have:

What happens to that fancy carpet on the table if you spill the wine?  I'm dubious about the carpet on the table during mealtimes thing; it sounds to me like an historian somewhere along the line got a little crazy with his conclusions.  Wouldn't you protect your expensive, irreplaceable carpet by removing it during the meal?  How easily would a stemmed goblet balance on all that fabric?  Still, if the tablecloth covering it were a fine wool, or silk, I suppose that would provide more protection than a cotton one.  Still.

If a married man was seated next to a single woman, would they share a cup?  Doesn't sound right.

Who was the head housekeeper?  Was it a chick or a dude?  What were the expected duties of a steward's wife?

How could you have a house without hallways?  Because they didn't; they had common rooms (like a parlor or a dining room), and then you'd enter private rooms directly from there.  The hallway less than a century away, I think, but  in 1630, except for a long "gallery" on one side or on  the back of the house, they didn't exist.  And it is most inconvenient for this writer to visualize what the top of the stairs looked like, and how you'd get to that room under the eaves on the far side of the house.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on going to a writer's group! I've taken classes online which have helped my writing a TON. I've imporved so much over the years. Keep it up!