Writing Historical Fiction – Getting to Work in 19th Century London

It Wasn’t Easy

Here at Loony Literature, we love to get folks writing.

Writing historical fiction is a great way to learn something and transport yourself to another time and place. Your springboard for today is to imagine that you have an accident on the way to work. The only difference is that it happens in 19th century London. Think about who your character might be and what are the consequences of the accident are – do you get involved with someone you might never have met before? This could be to do with a romance or a crime.

London Bridge in the 19th century.

London Bridge in the 19th century.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled something for you to think about. For instance, you may be interested to know that if you had to travel across London in the 19th century, it was hard work even back then.

If you had an excellent job, you would navigate your way to work on horseback. However, this was indeed a costly business. We complain about the cost of parking these days but if you lived then and the horse was your mode of transport, you had to feed and stable the horse at home and also at a place which was near to where you worked. City livery rates were so exorbitant that many would ride half way on horseback and then the rest of the journey to work would be conducted by boat.

Getting Across The Thames

Of course, the Thames was a sort of highway for London but at the start of the 19th century there were only actually three fixed points to get across it. There was London Bridge which had been a crossing of some sort since Roman times or there was Blackfriars Bridge which was built in 1769 or Westminster Bridge which first came into being in 1750.

This meant that if you needed to travel across the river to get to work you would probably have used one of the 3,000 wherries or small boats which were available for hire. We can read about characters in books being rowed across the Thames, such as the dastardly Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens.

Happy writing.

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7 Comments

Filed under Creative Writing, History, Inspiration and Us

7 responses to “Writing Historical Fiction – Getting to Work in 19th Century London

  1. A very intetesting read. I commute into London for about an hour, and after reading your article I realise how easy people do have it today. On a different subject, I just finished reading the fiction book, The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton, and it was great to learn so much about 17th Century Amsterdam. It’s great to read a book with an historical side.

    • Hi, when I’m really blowing a gasket over how things are today, I read history books because it calms me down and shows me that things used to be much worse. I haven’t read The Miniaturist so now that you’ve recommended it I will give it a try. Thank you.

  2. I really enjoy reading your Writing Historical Fiction posts – they are both inspiring and entertaining 🙂

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