Writing historical fiction, or even alternate historical fiction (or is it alternate fictional history?) as I have been, requires lots of research. In order to create a believable world, you have to get the details right. Or at least make them sound plausible.
For those interested in the Victorian Era, and especially Victorian London, a great source of that kind of detailed information is the website of Lee Jackson, Victorian London, which comprise his Dictionary of Victorian London, his blog The Cat’s Meat Shop, links to purchase his ebooks on Victorian London, and his photography of bits of Victorian London that have somehow survived to the present.
I’ve used this website extensively in researching my book, and it has not failed yet to provide some insight on a specific tidbit I was curious about.
At the moment, Lee Jackson is in the midst of a blog countdown titled, “30 Days of Filth” , marking the publication of his book “Dirty Old London–The Victorian Fight Against Filth”. Today is Day 9 and the blog talked about “Climbing Boys” the youngsters “apprenticed” to chimney sweeps to climb up the chimney flues.
Previous days have included essays about such manner of things as the London sewer system and what it replaced, how to pack more dead bodies into overflowing churchyards, and nude bathing in Hyde Park. The series so far is deliciously filthy, sooty, and muddy, and reeks of sulphurous emanations. This blog (and the upcoming book) will disabuse you of any sunlit fantasies of “the Good Old Days”.