I’m reading Bill Bryson’s “At Home” which is all about how history made our homes the way they are (eg germs, telephones and electric lights all started drastically changing homes in the 1880s). Obviously, the Victorian bits are of particular interest. (And I can smugly note that he quotes Liza Picard’s “Victorian London” repeatedly – a book I’ve read from cover to cover.)
Here is, perhaps, my favourite part:
“Jane Webb [wrote] a potboiler in three volumes called The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-second Century, which she published anonymously in 1827, when she was just twenty years old. Her description of a steam lawnmower so excited (seriously) the gardening writer John Claudius Loudon that he sought her out for friendship, thinking she was a man. Loudon was even more excited when he discovered she was a woman and rather swiftly proposed marriage, even though he was at that point exactly twice her age.
Jane accepted. . .”
The two became incredibly famous horticulturalists, each in their own right. Jane’s book, Gardening for Ladies, gave women social permission to garden for the first time.
There is a postscript to this tale, which just adds to the wonder of it all.
Lawnmowers were invented several decades later, without much immediate success. At one stage, things got AWESOME:
“One enterprising manufacturer, the Leyland Steam Power Company, took up the idea first suggested by Jane Loudon in 1827 and built a steam-powered mower, but this proved so unwieldy and massive – it weighed over one and a half tons – that it was only ever barely under control and in constant danger of ploughing through fences and hedges.”
*Pause while Louise swoons delicately at the history of a genuine steam-powered mechanical killer monster*
Today’s awesomeness is Steff Metal’s # 37: Windchimes.
CJ and I have an especially awesome set of windchimes with a particularly piercing tone. We use them to call one another from opposite ends of the house.
I’ll be sharing more highlights from the Victorian era via Bill Bryson over the next few days.