Since I so often send my characters on the road, I spend a lot of time with maps and tourist guides of all kinds. My trusty Paterson’s Roads, which some describe as the AAA or AA guide of the late 18th & early 19th centuries became the model, apparently, for all road guides, well into the Victorian era and beyond. My 1874 copy of Black’s Picturesque Tourist follows the same format, though it includes railway travel and more extensive descriptions of the larger cities and towns.
But the most fun are the strip maps. I saw my first one in person many years ago at the Yale Center for British Art’s exhibition Roads to Rails: Revolution in British Transport, and was enchanted. They’re an early version of the TripTiks AAA provides. Though I’ve found only one edition of Bowles’s Post-Chaise Companion online, and it’s 1782, it can be more helpful than modern maps when I’m trying to follow a coaching route given in Paterson's. It helps me picture the hills and valleys and rivers my characters encounter, among other things. Also, in cases of extreme nerdiness, it’s fun to compare older routes with newer ones. But mainly, these painstakingly hand-drawn maps are just so interesting to look at.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.