Here’s what I’ve been thinking.
1. It’s important, to me, to know a lot about the historical era I write about (The Regency).
2. Some things were invented/discovered/thought of AFTER the Regency
3. People haven’t changed all that much.
4. People today have been affected by things invented/discovered/thought of AFTER the Regency.
5. Because of No. 4, people in the Regency used/believed/needed things we don’t today.
So. If you’re going to write historical fiction, you should know about the things invented/discovered/thought of AFTER the Regency so you don’t have your hero driving a car a wee bit before Henry Ford started mass producing the automobile.
Number 5 is interesting, though. There’s all these things we know nothing about that people in the Regency used every day. And it shaped their world and their view of the world.
How you interact with the spaces around you is different if there’s no electricity. When you enter a darkened room, you don’t automatically reach for the light switch and speed along into the room on your merry way.
Instead you have to go a little slower, maybe. You, or your servant, might be carrying a light source already. But it’s not as bright as electric light, right?
And if you don’t have your light source with you, then there should be one by the door. Where else would you put it? It has to be by the door so you don’t kill yourself walking about in the dark.
Since the room is darkened (assuming you didn’t bring your light with you) you have to pause to light a candle or a a lamp or something else before you proceed.
Now you’re carrying something flammable…. I’m not aware of non-flammable light sources until electricty came along (no sun, doh, the room is darkened, besides, the sun IS a flammable object) you need to be paying at least a little bit of attention to how and where you’re walking.
Your light source is also unlikely to light the entire room the way turning on the electric light does. Again, you probably have to watch your step.
We know there were clever ways to increase the amount of light in a room, mirrors, for example.
I really do sometimes just sit and think about all the ways things were different and how that shaped what people did. In the dark I can proceed to the light switch and flick. Instantaneous light fills the room. Now I can walk quickly to my destination. Also, I am not wearing layers and layers of clothes…. I am less encumbered by my clothes, I’m pretty sure, than a Regency lady was by hers.
I do my thing and turn out the light on my way out.
The Regency woman is either still carrying her light source or still followed by the servant with the light or is headed where she won’t need the light. But the light needed in the darkened room can’t be disposed of with a flick. Someone has to deal with that.
That what I was thinking lately. About all those extra things people had to do or think about. More steps. More work. More time.
Thank you Mr. Edison. And Mr. Tesla.