Friday, June 28, 2013

A Pleasing Silhouette

Has your summer started oddly?  Ours has.  Normally we are at a sunny 90 degrees F by now, but we’ve rarely topped 70 and it’s been raining!  Now I’m told we’ll jump to the triple digits by Monday.  That’s not really conducive to summer activities either.  So what would a young lady do in the early nineteenth century to pass the time?  She might have drawn a silhouette.

There's something elegant about a silhouette, as if the person’s character shines through when details are kept simple. Creating a proper silhouette, an outline of a person’s head and perhaps shoulders, was both a pleasant evening activity for friends and family and a lucrative business for some talented artists.  The very best silhouette makers could look at a person and cut directly on black paper to match features.  Some silhouettes were incredibly detailed, showing curls within hairstyles and even eyelashes. 

For those more inclined to do it themselves, whether from limited funds or a spirit of adventure, silhouettes could be created at home.  All that was needed was a piece of pale paper either tacked to the wall or affixed in a screen and a source of light such as a candle or fire.  The subject sits between the light and the paper, and an enterprising friend or family member traces around the lines made by the shadow cast on the paper.  Once the shape was cut from the paper, you could either put the white silhouette on black paper, or trace around it on black paper and put the transferred silhouette on white paper.

While silhouettes are becoming a lost art, you can still find artists at country fairs, popular shopping malls, and entertainment venues.  This silhouette is of me when I was a baby. 

This one is of my husband when he was a boy. 

This is one of our youngest son, who is obviously a silhouette, er chip off the old block.

If you decide to try silhouettes this summer, be sure to let us know!  And Marissa and I would like to let you know that we are going to take a little vacation for a couple weeks.  Look for a short post on July 12 before we head for our annual girls week out, er I mean the Romance Writers of America National Conference.  This year we’ll be Southern peaches in Atlanta, and we promise to bring you all the news. Until then, enjoy your silhouette, and your summer!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema: Emma in July!

Ah, July...when a young lady's thoughts turn to parasols and lace fans, gardens in bloom and dancing until dawn.

So what better month for us all to watch and discuss the 1996 movie of Jane Austen's beloved novel Emma?  It has all of the above, plus:

The younger Obi Wan Kenobi -- that is, Ewan McGregor, in a top hat!   

(These are not the cravats you are looking for....)

Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow, and Golden-Globe winner Toni Collette, before they were quite so famous or award-winning!  Oh, and they have the loveliest gowns and hair.

Jeremy Northam -- he may not be immensely famous, but once you see Emma, you'll remember his name.

So do what you can to get your hands on the 1996 movie version (the one starring Paltrow -- be careful, because there was a television version the same year, starring brunette Kate Beckinsale!  We're doing the blonde version.)  It's available through Netflix (DVD or Blu-ray, not streaming), Amazon DVD or instant video, and quite possibly at your local library.

Then watch it, store up all your opinions, and stop back in here on Tuesday, July 23, when we'll put on our own lace gloves, sip our tea, and share what we all thought of this Emma!

Please join us!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Young Scientists: Humphry Davy, Laughing Himself into History

I have a thing for scientists and men with logical minds. I tend to prefer Spock over Kirk, Sherlock Holmes over Iron Man. The hero in my August release, The Courting Campaign, is a natural philosopher, what we would call a scientist today.  And in researching his background, I found that young, handsome scientists were not that uncommon in early nineteenth century England. 

Consider Humphry Davy, for instance.  Born in Cornwall into a woodcarver’s family, Davy did extremely well in school and even considered becoming a poet before developing a fascination for experiments.  That fascination nearly saw him blowing up his home several times as he was growing up.  An old family friend apprenticed him to a surgeon, but that connection led him to a variety of learned gentlemen who furthered his interests in chemistry.  One of these gentlemen, a Dr. Thomas Beddoes, was sufficiently impressed with young Davy that he offered him a position as his assistant at the Pneumatic Institution, a research facility for the study of the medical properties of gasses.  Davy started working there, overseeing experiments, when he was twenty.

It was there that Davy became acquainted with nitrous oxide or laughing gas.  He was convinced it could be efficacious for something, but many times he and his friends simply inhaled it for fun.  It was said the large chamber constructed for his experiments was really built for such inhalation parties.  On the other hand, he also conducted a number of experiments on galvanism, generating electric current through chemistry.  That also ended up also having a nice sideline as a parlor trick.

Between patrons of the institution and trips to London, his circle of influential friends continued to grow and soon included the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey.  Various friends brought him to the attention of the Royal Institution, that exalted haven of scientists.  He was soon assistant lecturer in chemistry there, where he also directed the chemistry laboratory and helped edit the Institute’s journal.

Perhaps it was the poet in him, perhaps it was the fact that he was kind on the eyes, but his lectures proved extremely popular, with scientists and the public alike. At times he packed 500 people, many of them women, in the lecture hall. He was full lecturer by the time he was 23 and knighted when he was 34.  Here's a satirical look at one such experiment, and it's rather rude results.  Davy is the energetic fellow with all the curls, pumping at the bellows. 
Shortly after his knighthood, he quit his position, married a widow of some means, and embarked on a Grand Tour, starting in France, where he was awarded a medal by Napoleon for his work in chemistry.  They then travelled to Florence, Rome, Naples, Milan, Munich, and Innsbruck before the return of Napoleon from Elba forced them back to England. 

More studies followed, including the invention of a lamp to aid coal miners (and a cameo appearance helping my hero in The Courting Campaign).  Davy is credited with discovering a number of elements, including sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, boron, barium, and chlorine as well as pioneering electro-chemistry.  For his body of work, he was ultimately granted a baronetcy, the highest honor given a natural philosopher at that time.   He eventually returned to Switzerland and died there of heart disease.  His last gift to the world was a book compiling his thoughts on science and philosophy, in which he spoke quite poetically and with touches of wry humor.

You might say he laughed all the way to the end. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lifestyles of the Rich and Royal

I recently acquired a charming fashion print from June 1816’s La Belle Assemblee (that’s it at right—“The Coburg Walking Dress” and wound up with an unexpected bonus along with it—accounts of part of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ wedding trousseau (remember poor Princess Charlotte and her short marriage?), and a detailed account of the Drawing Room, or royal reception, hosted by Queen Charlotte in honor of her grand-daughter’s wedding to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg...and when I say detailed, I mean detailed. It includes a list of the presentations made (how exciting for a young lady to have been presented to society on this occasion!) the nobility in attendance (from royal dukes and duchesses down to garden-variety misses), and most fascinating of all, accounts of the dresses worn by many of the royal and noble ladies. It reads like a who’s who of Regency society. I thought you might find a few extracts of interest...if only they included pictures of some of the dresses!


As we have been gratified with a sight of the wedding dresses of this amiable and illustrious female, a particular yet concise account of them cannot but be acceptable to our fair readers.

The Royal Bride, happy in obtaining him whom her heart had selected, and whom consenting friends approved, wore on her countenance that tranquil and chastened joy which a female so situated could not fail to experience. Her fine fair hair, elegantly yet simply arranged, owed more to its natural beautiful wave than to the art of the friseur; it was crowned with a most superb wreath of brilliants, forming rosebuds with their leaves.

Her dress was silver lama [lamé] on net, over a silver tissue slip, embroidered at the bottom with silver lama in shells and flower. Body and sleeves to correspond, elegantly trimmed with point Brussels lace. The manteau was of silver tissue lined with white satin, with a border of embroidery to answer that on the dress, and fastened in front with a splendid diamond ornament."

Charlotte’s dress budget was evidently a generous one. Among the ten other dresses described is "A superb Brussels point lace dress, trimmed with point lace over a slip of white satin. This dress alone cost eight hundred Guineas."

And as for the Drawing Room...

"A copious account of the splendid Drawing-Room held by her Majesty to receive the congratulations on the marriage of her Royal Grand-daughter with Prince Leopold, cannot fail of being interesting to our illustrious and numerous subscribers....

"A guard of honour marched into the court-yard, preceded by the band of the third regiment of Guards. The crowd collected around the Palace by eleven o’clock, and soon after twelve it was so great that the Palace was scarcely accessible, till a numerous assemblage of police officers arrived under the direction of Sir N. Conant, as well as the marshalmen, the porters, &c.....The distinguished characters who came to Court were kept in their carriages an uncommon time in the regular ranks; the carriages frequently reached to Oxford-street, and some who resided in St. James’s-square had to go as far as Oxford-street before they could get into the rank [line].... The grand object of attraction, the Princess Charlotte and the Prince of Saxe-Cobourg, arrived at a quarter before two in state; their carriage being preceded by three others in state....The Prince Regent, the Duke and Duchess of York, the Duke of Gloucester, accompanied by his Royal Sister, came in state with their full suites...The Duke of Sussex came with his full suite.

"A few minutes after two o’clock her Majesty, with her usual punctuality, entered the Drawing-Room with her numerous and illustrious family, all looking in extreme good health...."

There follows three and a half pages of text listing who was presented...and then an astounding six further pages of descriptions of dresses worn by the Queen and Royal Princesses and about a hundred of the other aristocratic ladies present. It makes for slightly tedious reading now (just in case you’re wondering, “rich white satin” appears in almost every description, and at least every other dress appeared to be in lilac) but can’t you just picture a young lady, perhaps not quite old enough to be Presented herself, reading such dress descriptions as this: "Peach satin petticoat, with silver lama draperies, drawn in festoons, and fastened with silver bullion and tassels; garniture of tissue and satin; rouleau of peach satin, trimmed with a superb border of silver lace; headdress, feathers, and diamonds", and dreaming about what her own presentation dress might look like some day? Or a provincial dressmaker consulting the article in order to be able to create “the latest London fashions” for her clients in York or Leeds? And don't forget--Queen Charlotte still favored the large hoopskirted dresses of her youth for appearances at Court. It must have been an amazing sight. No wonder there were crowds and even "several trees filled with persons, and the whole Park filled with people and carriages"!

Friday, June 14, 2013

All I Ask Is a Tall Ship and a Star to Steer Her By

I don’t know when I first fell in love with sailing ships. Maybe it was the sight of Peter Pan flying off to Neverland in the Disney version of the story.  Maybe it was the adventure in Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood or Frank Yerby’s The Golden Hawk. I was already far, far gone by the time the Black Pearl and the Interceptor sailed onto the scene. I’ve watched the parade of ships in Commencement Bay, toured the Constitution and Eagle in port, and crouched aboard the Hawaiian Chieftain while her cannons puffed smoke.  But last Friday, I fulfilled a dream I’ve had since 1989, when the Lady Washington was launched.

I spent 8 hours aboard our state’s tall ship.
I was what they call a transit passenger.  The Lady Washington and her companion ship the Hawaiian Chieftain have a number of ports of call along the West Coast, from the sunny beaches of San Diego to the crystal waters off British Columbia.  Every few years, she ventures inland up the mighty Columbia River.  You can make arrangements to sail with her from one port to another.  I embarked at the Port of Umatilla and sailed along the border between Washington and Oregon until the river curves and takes you north to Pasco, 38 miles in all.
Eight passengers shivered in the early morning light at the dock.  We were given the choice to sail on either ship.  But when the others saw that the only way aboard the Lady was a rope ladder hanging down her side (she was berthed in such a way she could not lower her gangplank), they opted for the more civilized stairs leading to the Chieftain.  Thus, I had the Lady, and her crew, all to myself.  Because that ladder was not going to stand between me and my dream, however, ungainly I might have appeared going up it!

We set out from the port and headed upriver.  The sails were all furled, and we were running on the Lady’s engine, but that didn’t mean the crew got to relax.  Our first challenge in making it to Pasco lay in the locks of McNary Dam.  The crew heaved on the ropes, canting the yards on the fore and main masts to bring them within the line of the ship’s hull.  That way, they couldn’t be damaged when we navigated the locks, which looked a bit like the gates of Mordor as we approached.
As we pulled into the black channel, the Chieftain right behind us, we could see people high on the walls.  Some of the employees of the dam had brought their children with them, and they waved pirate flags at us while their parents snapped pictures.  It’s not every day a sailing ship comes to town.
Once through the locks, it was clear sailing for a time, past the dusty hills and black basalt that makes up much of this part of Washington. Up into the rigging scrambled the crew, to hang high over my head as they unfurled the sails.  And out bellied the white from the yards.  It was an inspiring sight in the warm summer air on the peaceful river.  But I kept thinking how much harder it would have been in a driving rain on the Pacific!

At one point, the Chieftain cruised past us.  She has two engines to the Lady’s one; her foremast is a cleverly disguised smokestack.  The crew wanted to pelt her with pancakes left over from breakfast (no lie!).  They had the slingshot rigged and were taking aim, but the captain denied them permission to fire.  There were lady passengers on the other ship, after all. 

I was surprised and not a little pleased to find that of the 12 members of the crew, 7 were women, including the first mate, bosun, gunner’s mate, and purser.  I was also surprised to see so much rope!  Madam Bosun told me that Lady has over 6 miles of the stuff to manage her sails and hold her fast.  Then there’s the helm, only there’s no wheel.  The Lady is steered by tiller.  When you see a wheel on her in the movies, it’s been put on for show. 

We continued on north, the crew working at sanding and oiling woodwork such as belaying pins while I quizzed them unmercifully.  But it soon became apparent by the tight countenances of the captain and first mate that all was not right.  When the Lady Washington first sailed to Pasco 4 years ago, the crew discovered that the information they had on a railroad bridge near the town of Finley was incorrect.  The Lady could, in fact, not pass under her without removing about the top 10 feet of her mast.  You can imagine that was not an easy feat in the middle of the river.  Taking precautions, they had already removed the upper mast at a port downriver.  But information now indicated that the river was running high, and the bridge might be lower than expected.  It was, in fact, quite possible we wouldn’t fit, and we didn’t have any more mast to remove!
The engineer and a sailor ventured into the rigging to take measurements, and based on the information we’d been given, we either had 5 feet of clearance, or we would take off the top 2 feet of mast if we tried to go under!  We approached, once more on engine power and going very slowly.  The iron bridge, black with rust from years of use, stood in stark contrast to the graceful lines of the ship. 

The captain wanted to know exactly how much clearance he had, if any.  So the engineer climbed to the very top of the rigging and hung there with a long rod in his hand, with orders to poke the bridge as we passed under it and get a measurement of the difference. 

“Report!” the captain called up as we inched forward.

“I think we’ll make it,” the engineer replied.


Silence for a moment.  Then, “Yes.”

The engine purred.  And we were through with 5 feet to spare.  Phew!
We arrived in Pasco as planned.  All in all, it was an amazing adventure, and I have so much admiration for those who give up their lives to sail.  The bosun told me the ship is her home.  Her 12 square feet of bunk space and trunk is all the property she owns in the world.

All she wants is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fashion Forecast 1828, Part 1

What was the fashionable miss wearing in the first half of 1828?

This Ball Dress from January Ackermann’s Repository amuses me a little as the three large borders of the skirt feature ornaments that look like the “yo-yo” puffs that were once popular for quilts and other crafts. Though the illustration doesn’t quite do it justice, there’s a backing of black satin behind them according to the accompanying text, which must have made this dress quite striking. Also notable is the “zephyr” cape, a sort of flounce around the neckline, and the cone-shaped hairstyle: 

This is a very cozy-looking Promenade Dress, slightly military in appearance with the black trim and brass buttons at hem and cuffs, though the blue and red hat and pale green gloves don’t really seem to match. Note the leg-o-mutton sleeves (called in this period “gigot” sleeves) that we started seeing last year...and still those enormous muffs that we’ve seen for nearly twenty years now—some fashions never die! (February, Ackermann’s Repository):

Also from February’s Ackermann’s in this understated Evening Dress, with a white overskirt trimmed with two deep ruffles and red trim to match the deeply pointed bodice, gauze oversleeves covering the long sleeves as well as curious little shelf-like epaulettes at the shoulders. Her gloves appear to have red floral embroidery on the backs of the hands, and her headdress reminds me of a chef's toque, a tiara with a fabric pouf inside:

Another white dress, but this Dinner Dress is somewhat less restrained! The large bouffant ruffle at the hem is topped by a row of large bow encircling the skirt; there’s a belt of what looks like heavy embroidery, and sleeves and a zephyr cape similar to the first image. And that hat!—perhaps an overgrown turban in pink, trimmed with darker magenta ribbons. Striking, perhaps, but nothing I’d wish to wear for an entire evening! (March, Ackermann’s Repository):

I’m pleased that I have the complete description for this Ball Dress, as it refers back to an incident we already know: “White tulle dress over a Feodore blue satin slip; the waist is long, and pointed at the back and front, and bound with gold lace: the stomacher extends to the top of the shoulder, where it terminates in an obtuse angle, projecting over the sleeves, and united to an angular cape, that decorates the back: a branch of white Persian roses spreads over the front, and gives the stomacher an elegant appearance: it is terminated with a rosaceous ornament of rubies set in gold. The sleeves are short and full, and kept out by the stiffened sleeves of the slip. The skirt is made equally full all round, bound with white satin, open in front, but united at regular distances by five rosaceous ruby clasps set in gold: branches of white Persian roses form its rich and delicate border: it is a quarter of a yard shorter than the slip, which is terminated by a blue satin rouleau. The hair is parted in front, dressed in large bows,and adorned with papilionaceous bows of blue and gold tissue ribbon. White kid gloves: medallion bracelets outside. Ear-rings a la Flamande; gold necklace, with a diamond-shape locket in front; gauze scarf; white satin shoes." Note the reference to “Feodore blue”—Feodore being the older half-sister of Princess Victoria, who was of social prominence in 1827 and 1828. And the tongue-twister “papilionaceous” simply means “butterfly-shaped”! (March, Ackermann’s Repository):

Here’s a delightfully spring-like Carriage Costume from April Ackermann’s, in lilac with a profusion of trim—double flounces at the hem, sleeves en gigot with what looks like slashes and puffs of fabric drawn through (very Tudor!) and a deep double van dyke lace collar with a small, upstanding capelet collar. A lace headdress tied under the chin and an unusual wheel-shaped reticule decorated with gold tassels finish this outfit:

Well...this next Evening Dress leaves me at a little loss for words, though upholstery is what springs first to mind! Noteworthy, however, is the print fabric—not something we’ve seen very often in these fashion plates. Rosettes decorate the deep gathered hem and the gauze oversleeves, and the layered capelet over the shoulders echoes the ones in January and March’s dresses. Very--um...striking! (April, Ackermann’s Repository):

And to close with, we have a Morning Dress from June’s Ackermann’s with rather unusual sleeves: look closely, and you’ll see that there are sort of false sleeves lined in pink hanging from the shoulders behind the real (en gigot) ones, similar to the false sleeves that were all the rage in the medieval period! Asymmetrical ornamentation up the skirt, a deep pointed bodice, and broad lace collar make up the rest of this dress. The large hat almost deserves its own paragraph, with its broad brim and fancy ribbon trim:

What do you think of the fashions of the first half of 1828?

Friday, June 7, 2013

While I'm Sailing, Say Hello Again to Ada

Beep--you have reached the answering machine of historical author Regina Scott. Regina isn’t available right now. She’s sailing today on the Lady Washington from Umatilla, Oregon, to Pasco, Washington. Expect pictures and details next week. While she’s reliving history, she thought you might enjoy reliving this post from a few years ago about another lady who made history, in the sciences. Ahoy, matey!
We talked about Lord Byron, the famous poet, during our “Bad Boys” series a while back.  He sired one legitimate daughter, Augusta Ada Byron, who could have ended up just as tormented as her father, but instead turned out to be a true nineteenth century heroine.
Ada grew up knowing OF her father (he was one of the most noted figures of the time, after all), but not knowing him.  Her mother had separated from Bryon in January 1816, scarce a month after Ada was born.  He left England not long after and died in Europe when Ada was nine.  Her mother was determined that no taint of what she considered her husband’s madness should touch Ada, so she insisted that Ada be schooled in something foreign to poetry and fine literature:  mathematics and science. 
Ada had the best private tutors.  Her mother had been the favorite student of William Frend, the social reformer educated at Cambridge, who taught her astronomy, algebra, Latin, and geometry.  She made sure Ada had a similar education.  Unfortunately, Ada was ill much of her childhood.  By the time she was eight, she had developed terrible headaches.  At 14, she caught the measles and had to stay in bed for nearly a year.  Afterward, she had to walk crutches for awhile. 
When Ada was 17 (see the black-and-white drawing), she met Mary Somerville, a Scottish mathematician who had had to struggle for the right to obtain her own education.  They became great friends, and Mary encouraged Ada’s interest in mathematics.  Through Mary, Ada was introduced to Charles Babbage at a dinner party.  He had wild ideas of an Analytical Engine, a machine that would calculate the future.  Though others at the party found the idea too far-fetched, nineteen-year-old Ada was entranced. 
So was Babbage.  In Ada, he found an lifelong friend and pen pal.  He was so impressed with her abilities in mathematics that he called her “The Enchantress of Numbers.” 

But Society demanded a different life for Ada.  At 20, she married a baron who became the first Earl of Lovelace and promptly set about filling the nursery, with three children in four years.  Babbage, however, was also busy.  He’d developed a plan for his Analytical Engine and presented it at a scientific gathering in Italy.  Another scientist published a commentary on the idea in French.  Babbage turned to Ada to translate it into English.

She translated it, all right, but she more than tripled the article by adding her own “notes,” suggestions for how the engine might work on something practical.  She even developed an algorithm the engine might run.  She felt the engine could be used for such things as composing music, drawing pictures, and conducting scientific investigations. 
Ada died young, at 36 from uterine cancer.  Today, Babbage’s Analytical Engine is recognized as the first computer, and Ada is given the title of the first computer programmer.  March 24 is Augusta Ada Lovelace day, an international day of blogging in memory of the woman who helped pioneer the sciences and technology that drew the world through the industrial revolution and into the future.
Look for more posts on famous young (and handsome!) scientists of the early nineteenth century in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Prinny Gets Gas

In the first of my posts on lighting a couple of weeks ago, we saw how the world depended on candles and oil lamps...and as a result, was a dim, rather dirty place; after all, burning oil creates smoke, which stains ceilings and walls and curtains.

Starting around 1807, though, London became a slightly brighter, if still smoky, place, thanks to a new technology and its fashionable champion, the Prince of Wales (soon to be Prince Regent): gas lamps.

Early in the 18th century, amateur scientists observed that gases found in coal mines were extremely flammable and conducted laboratory experiments with them, but it wasn’t until late in the century that a Scottish engineer named William Murdoch paid serious attention to how flammable gases might be used commercially for lighting. In 1792 he fitted his own house with gas lights, and in 1798 outfitted the factory of his employer, the Soho Foundry steam engine works in Birmingham, with gas lighting. Notice was definitely taken and commercial attempts to utilize this new technology followed, along with engineering improvements, and at last in 1807 a German entrepreneur named Friedrich Winzer, who patented a coal-gas lighting system in 1804, arranged for a section of Pall Mall, one of the most fashionable streets of London, to have its oil lamps replaced with gas lights.

The public was delighted with the new brighter lighting, which made being out at night a much safer prospect. So was the Prince Regent, who immediately commissioned Winzer to illuminate the façade of his London home, Carlton House, in 1808...and in 1810 Rudolph Ackermann's print shop, (ah, my dear Ackermann!) was lit by gas. One of William Murdoch’s colleagues at the Soho Foundry, Samuel Clegg, had also been inspired by Murdoch’s work and started the Gas Light & Coke Company, which in 1812 received a charter from Parliament (at Prinny’s urging) to provide gas lighting for the rest of London.

Soon, the new gas lights were everywhere: by 1813, Westminster Bridge had been fitted with gaslights. By 1815 there were 28 miles of gas piping under the streets of London, and Prinny had had gaslights installed in Brighton to illuminate the exterior of his beloved Pavilion (and had the interior gas-lit six years later). By 1817, the first theatres were lit by gas. Elegant lamp posts were created from the melted-down cannons used in the Napoleonic Wars to adorn the streets of the fashionable west end, some of which can still be seen in Regent’s Park and St. James’s. The lights of London became something of a tourist attraction; no other city in Europe would have anything close for years. Crime rates dropped as criminals no longer had the shield of darkness to conceal them.

Not everyone, however, was thrilled with this new form of light. The whale oil trade was aghast at what it saw as its imminent demise and lobbied hard against it, putting out that the British Navy would be ruined if the whale fishery industry, from which the Navy recruited sailors, were curtailed.

No one listened; as of 1834, London had six hundred miles of gas lines for street lights alone, and gas lighting was fast spreading all over Britain. Gas was far cheaper than candles or oil lamps—as much as 75% cheaper—and soon factories were able to extend their working hours because of the cheap illumination provided by gas. The romantic—but dim—era of flickering candlelight was over.