First, I just want to thank Delilah for having me on her blog. I went to the RT Booklover’s Convention in May in Kansas City. Not only did I get to hear Delilah present on a panel, I got to eat some great BBQ.
My first three historical romances are about people in the 1880s. It just sort of happened that way. When I started writing, I didn’t find modern times to be all that romantic (I’ve changed my mind since then). However, in choosing a historical setting, I wanted a time period when folks were modern enough that I could identify with them, while getting to dress my characters in lovely and dashing clothing. Corsets, stockings, and waistcoats, oh my!
Then, I got to know Americans in the second half of the nineteenth century. Let me tell you, they were as nutty as peanut brittle, despite masquerading as genteel, thoughtful, refined Victorians. Their ideas on medicine and health would be funny if some of them hadn’t been so harmful. OK, they’re funny anyway. Let’s start with the truly clueless.
You’ve probably all heard about “female hysterics” and the weekly “pelvic massages” that doctors gave their patients. Haven’t you? Step right up and let the good doctor charge your husband his hard-earned money to bring you to hysterical paroxysm (orgasm). Dr. Swift in California made convenient home visits, rather than making suffering ladies take a trip to the office :
((This work has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights. Published in the US before 1923 and public domain in the US.)
For this affliction—classified by too many symptoms to note here—women could also be put away in a mental asylum against their will by well-meaning family members. I’d take the pelvic massages over the asylum. In 1883, British Dr. Granville developed the “perceteur” or mechanical vibrator, and the rest, as they say, is history.
For something more serious, take a look at these incredibly effective drops for instantly curing toothache:
(This work has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights. Published in the US before 1923 and public domain in the US.)
I bet people started having toothaches quite often and decided to skip a trip to the dentist in favor of a trip to the drug store, or “druggist.” Speaking of which, Bayer had a Heroin brand of cough medicine, containing diacetylmorphine as suppressant. By the turn of the century, Bayer was producing a ton of heroin per year, as well as a ton of heroin addicts. Those crazy fun nineteenth-century people! Read the rest of this entry »