Saturday, 21 January 2012

Up to 12,000 words

Having cobbled together some of the scenes I wrote to get into the story, I've got a nice start. Eight chapters, four contemporary and four short chapters from the historical strand. It's hard to balance family stuff with writing, but I got up before the kids and husband so I got a start. Then we spent the rest of the time moving bedrooms around, pulling up old carpets etc. Changing the rooms around shifts the energy around, but it freaks the cats out. This is one of them in my daughter's new room. I would have loved an attic bedroom as a kid! The cat appears to be a bit possessed, which is less funny if you actually know her.

I'm enjoying my research, looking into ledgers and legal papers from 1550-1590. Just trying to get an idea of the value of things, and the money. For example, what is an angel, a groat or a mark? They are all monetary units, a groat is four pence. (Old money, which I am old enough to remember. Pounds, shillings and pence, not groats). For example, clothing was astronomically expensive. Even a yard of cheap linen was pricey, and an Elizabethan ruff could take 6 yards of the finest. People used to leave clothes in their wills. 'To my brother Richard, my second best shirt with Venetian lace', an item which could cost several moths wages for a skilled craftsman like a smith or carpenter. One man, whose estate was valued at seven hundred pounds had a wardrobe valued at twice that - he was deep in debt because he had invested in clothes to impress the lower levels of the court.

Much has been said about the difficulties of giving birth and raising healthy children - one fifth of estates didn't pass to a direct heir. It's such an interesting motive which we don't have so much in our culture today. Producing a healthy child gave a woman much status and advantage. If her husband died, she could stay  in her home and administer her son's estate, but if she was childless or had daughters, she might not be so lucky. I'm finding Alison Sim's books very helpful, and where would be be without Wikipedia? (answer - probably further on with the book!)  

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