Thursday, 10 December 2009

I'm now on Twitter

Hi there. Just wanted to let you know I am now on Twitter. I'll be trying to twitter interesting facts about London so stay tuned.

Monday, 7 December 2009

'Another death last night, I hear,’ mumbles Mrs Malik, pointing at The Monument.
'Jumped right off the top she did. Suitor ran away with another. Always the same old story.'

The Monument to the Great Fire of London was built between 1671 and 1677, to commemorate the fire that broke out in a bakery in Pudding Lane just after midnight on 2nd September 1666. The flames spread throughout London over four days, finally ending on the fifth. By then many houses, streets, and even churches had been destroyed.

As the capital was rebuilt, it was important to commemorate the memory of those who lost their lives. Sir Christopher Wren (talented architect, astronomer, and mathematician) and colleague Robert Hooke (another architect and all-round intellectual whose revolutionary work had a big impact in mathematics, chemistry and physics) provided a design for a column to be built in the middle of London. Thus The Monument was placed at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, towering over London at 202 feet.

Overall, six people committed suicide by jumping off the top of The Monument. If you look at the official website for The Monument you will see they included two bakers, a diamond merchant and a servant girl.

It was not until the sixth death that the tower was closed to visitors while a gate was built around the top so that no more of these incidents took place. As Picky quite rightly noted, "The whole thing is closed in now, so there is no way you can leap off in my London."

The Monument was not all doom and gloom however.

During the 17th Century, the world was enjoying a scientific revolution, which had begun hundreds of years previously. Religion and faith were being replaced by the reason and proof of science. Great strides in maths, physics, chemistry, medicine, astronomy were being made. It was a very exciting time in history.

Because The Monument was built by Hooke and Wren, it was only natural that it would be used for scientific purposes as well, or more specifically, astronomy. Hooke and Wren were both members of the Royal Society so needed somewhere to perform experiments for which a great height was required, and 202 feet worked perfectly. Scientists had discovered that we were not the centre of the universe, so astronomers wanted to see what else was out there. The Monument worked as a giant telescope so astronomers could use it to observe the skies directly above them – this type of telescope is known as a 'Zenith Telescope'. A laboratory was also set up at the bottom of the tower where experiments took place.

So all in all, The Monument is a much more interesting site than even Picky could have imagined, suicides and all.

Monday, 30 November 2009

The Big Day has Finally Arrived

My debut novel The Dresskeeper has been released today.

If you would like to order your copy of my wonderful book then please visit Prospera Publishing where you can get it straight from the publisher.

Pass the news on.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

"Carrying a large box, Mrs Malik appears at the top of the stairs. 'I hope your Mama will adore the thread. It cost near a King's ransom'.
Nice to hear the cliché is alive and well here. On second thoughts, maybe it is just colloquial here?"

This may be a cliché, but let me tell you something, I have spent a very long time trying to track down the origin of this phrase. Some people believe that it can be traced back to Richard I of England, also known as Richard the Lionheart, when he was captured in 1192. Around 500 years before the setting of The Dresskeeper. This is one where you will need to pay attention.

Richard the Lionheart had spent some time fighting the Third Crusade (for more information on The Crusades go to your local library, how many times have you visited that dusty old building in the last year?).

On his way back he was hit by terrible weather and had to find a new route to return home to England. He ended up in Austria, land of Duke Leopold V. He had problems with Leopold during the Crusade because Richard had asked his men to tear down Leopold's flag and throw it into the moat surrounding Acre, Northern Israel, where they had been fighting. The angry Duke left shortly afterwards.

When in Austria he was captured by Leopold. Germany paid 75,000 marks to keep King Richard in their custody.

Now this is the important bit...
News had spread that the King had been captured and a ransom was demanded for the Kings return. Even his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, had contacted the Pope for help. The people of England had been taxed to the limit for the return of their King who was never present to rule over them in the first place - he had gone off to fight. The price of the king had risen to 150,000 marks, which accoring to this website, amounted to three years of annual income and weighing at three tons in silver.

And finally...
Do you know the legend of Robin Hood? While King Richard was away, his brother Prince John had been scheming to take the throne away from him and was unofficially ruling the land while his brother was in captivity. According to legend, Robin Hood was trying to uphold justice in the name of the real King during this time.
Hi there, I thought that I would post you another interview that I did at the 'Tales of Whimsy' blog .

Also ... the big day will be here soon
The Dresskeeper will be released on 30th November. Tell everyone you know.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

"She's kidding right? She wants me to go in what looks like a casserole dish Mum serves the Sunday veg in, with her actually holding the thing. Must be some sort of mad joke."

I am fully aware that our second Dresskeeper entry is once again about bowel movements, but those are the things that catch Picky’s attention when she is transported back in time. So let’s move on to our friend the Chamber pot.

When Picky is first introduced to the chamber pot, her maid is the one who brings it out to her and offers to hold up her skirts for her while she ... does what she needs to do. All of a sudden Picky realises that she no longer needs to go.

Chamber pots were kept under the bed so that it can be used quickly to answer that urgent call of nature. Many of them would also have a lid on them to keep everything inside. And if Picky thought just using it was “repulsive” then spare a thought for her poor maid, who would have had to empty out and clean up her mess after her every morning. Don’t you just love the class system?

Chamber pots were in use up until the 19th Century when the water closet was introduced. They are still used in some rural areas around the world. And you may be more familiar with its modern cousin – the hospital bedpan.

And finally ...
Contrary to popular belief, the appropriately named Thomas Crapper was not the inventor of the toilet. He was a plumber. The flush lavatory was invented in 1596 by John Harrington. The first practical W.C., one that was not prone to water freezes in the winter, was patented by Joseph Bramah in 1778.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Review by The Bookette

I thought it would be a nice gesture in this blog to link to all the reviews that my book has been receiving, and what better way to start this than to link to the lucky reviewer who is on the front cover.

The Bookette wrote some wonderful things and was the first person to 'follow' this blog, so here you are dear. Thank you very much for your review. I am glad I was able to change your mind about time-travel books.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

"The woman, apparently my mother, orders the girl to open the door. As she does, the most disgusting waft hits me, and I think I am going to throw up ... It is like 5000 of Ollie's pooey night-nappies, festering right at the front door"

Unfortunately for Picky, this problem was not dealt with properly for another hundred years. London residents quite often had to deal with anything and everything being thrown into the streets. That included human waste, rubbish and old food - and this was not helped by cattle, pigs, and other animals just roaming around and leaving their business out in the streets for passers-by to just go ahead and step in. Everyone was responsible for clearing out whatever was in front of their property - regardless of who had (literally) dropped it there - and move it into the River Thames.

Picky may have done more than just throw up however. The stench from these odours was deadly. Debates took place in Parliament that said many children died because of the horrible conditions in which they lived, and a large portion of the blame went on the lack of sanitation. In fact, during the affectionately titled 'Great Stink' of 1858, the smell was so bad that even Parliament had to close. Two weeks later, laws were finally passed to improve sanitation and introduce better sewage systems in the country.

Edwin Chadwick was very important during this time. It was his report into the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population (1854) that showed the link between poor sanitation and bad health. He believed that the bad air was the cause of disease. Although it wasn't until much later that we found out about germs and bacteria, the health of the people improved, as did their life expectancy, when the cause of all those bad smells were removed. He was not a popular man though. An article was written in The Times in 1854 accusing him of "bullying" people into health. They said that they would much rather face cholera than take his advice because "there is nothing a man so much hates as being cleaned against his will". It was honestly believed that people had died of a good washing because their skin was no longer protected by dirt. No. Seriously.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Hello everyone, my name is Mary Naylus and this is my new blog. I am the author of the forthcoming title 'The Dresskeeper'.

My book is a time travelling book aimed at the Young Adult audience. I am a forty... something year old writer (a lady never tells her real age) and I really wanted to write a book which will help readers understand history a bit better.

This is also why I wanted to start this blog. My main character, Penelope 'Picky' Robinson, has been made to take care of her sick grandmother every weekend for the foreseeable future. While exploring her gran's attic she finds and tries on a very old dress found in a dusty chest. She is then transported back in time to 17th century London where she meets a weirdo in a wig who, mistaking her for a girl called Amelia, tries to kill her.

Picky now needs to find out just who this girl Amelia is, and try to change the course of time in order to save a young girl's life.

As Picky is sent back and forth through time, she realises that she has never paid attention to history lessons at school and is very confused by her 'new' surroundings.

This blog will go through the book and explore the history behind Picky's many questions in short and easy to read entries.

The Dresskeeper (published by Prospera) has already received great reviews from many YA bloggers - whom I wish to thank here - and so I will also post links to some of those reviews on this blog. If you have any comments, I also highly welcome feedback and questions. Let the blogging begin!