Author Sophie Barnes is taking over the blog today, and boy is it interesting!! If you’re a history buff like me and love to find out behind-the-scenes research information that an author may have to look up, then this is a post you won’t want to miss! Sophie shares some her ‘medical’ research that went into the making of some scenes in her latest release from Avon: THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT LADY MARY. And, this tour also comes with a chance to get your hands on a copy.
Researching for There’s Something About Lady Mary.
As you can probably imagine, a lot of research went into writing this book, and consequently, I learnt a lot. I was particularly surprised to discover that many medical practices such as surgeries, knowledge pertaining to hygiene & treatment methods in general have in many instances been used long before the people to whom they are attributed came up with them.
My favorite example is probably William Buchan (1729−1805), whom Mary refers to on numerous occasions throughout the novel. When I was trying to find out when people initially became aware of the importance of hand washing and other antiseptic procedures, Ignaz Semmelweis (1818−1865), a Hungarian physician who demonstrated that the contagion of puerperal fever could be drastically reduced by routine hand washing, kept popping up. He made this discovery in 1847, and even then he failed to convince the rest of the medical community of the importance of his findings. But since 1847 didn’t suit the period in which the story is set (namely, 1816), I decided to dig a little deeper until, lo and behold, William Buchan eventually surfaced, though he was by no means easy to find. His book Domestic Medicine was written in 1769, almost 100 years before Semmelweis made his claim, and in it he writes that “were every person, for example, after visiting the sick, handling a dead body, or touching anything that might convey infection, to wash before he went into company, or sat down to meat, he would run less hazard either of catching the infection himself, or of communicating it to others.”
In my opinion, this strongly suggests that the importance of cleanliness was known, even if the vast majority of people (including the medical community) were too stubborn to pay heed to the benefits.
When trying to think of an appropriate ailment for Mary’s uncle Alistair, I decided to look into tumors and whether or not treatment for them existed at this time. Based on my research, I eventually decided to give him a sarcoma on his leg (poor guy) – one which Mary hopes to cure by provoking an immune response to bacteria, a method she claims to have read about in her father’s notes. Spontaneous regression for the cure of tumors did grow in popularity toward the end of the eighteenth century, though with varied amounts of success. In 1783 a Czech physician by the name of Wenzel Trnka von Krzowitz (1739−1791) observed the complete remission of breast cancer in a patient after the patient developed tertian malaria. Other physicians around that time noted similar cases and began encouraging fevers and inflammations in their patients through a number of different methods, discovering that the cancers would often regress after a few weeks. An actual treatment plan was eventually developed by Dr. William Coley (1862−1936).
In addition to these interesting facts, I was surprised to learn that ether was discovered roughly 200 years before it was ever used during surgery, and that the famous surgeon Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (936−1013) not only performed operations for the removal of cataracts, but also invented a wide variety of surgical tools that have inspired many of the ones being used today – his book on surgical instruments also makes an appearance or two =)
In the author’s note that I wrote for this book, I neglected to mention something important, so I decided I’d bring it up here. There’s an incident where Mary and Ryan together save a young boy from drowning. The way in which they do so is based on a method applied by The Dutch Society For The Recovery Of Drowned Persons, formed in 1767. Their instructions included: Warmth for the victim, draining the water from head to chest by placing the head lower than the feet, applying manual pressure to the abdomen (not to be confused with chest compressions), and restoring breathing with the use of bellows. Other suggestions which I chose not to have Mary and Ryan apply were rectal fumigation and bloodletting, and since they didn’t have bellows handy and Mary is the practical sort, Ryan performs mouth to mouth instead.
While it may not be clear in the book, it is important to note the distinction between the pressure Mary & Ryan apply to the boy’s abdomen (since the boy’s heart had not stopped beating – they simply add abdominal pressure to get the water out of him) and chest compressions, since the first successful use of external chest compressions in humans was first performed in 1903 by Dr. George Crile. The following year, he performed closed-chest cardiac massage.
As with the Dutch Society, the Royal Humane Society was formed in England in 1774, also with the intention of creating an organized system for saving the drowned – their suggested treatment method was similar.
For more information about this and other historical facts pertaining to my novels, please feel free to visit my research page at www.sophiebarnes.com.
Thank you so much for stopping by today. I’ll be popping in throughout the day to chat with you and to answer any questions you might have.
You can also follow me on twitter at: @BarnesSophie
On Facebook at: www.facebook.com/AuthorSophieBarnes
And on Goodreads at: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5400052.Sophie_Barnes
Born in Denmark, Sophie has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian.
She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.
While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing.
When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.
Born in Denmark, Sophie has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian. She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses. While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing. When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.
Mary Croyden lives a simple life . . . and she likes it. But when she inherits a title and a large sum of money, everything changes. Forced to navigate high society, Mary finds herself relying on the help of one man—Ryan Summersby.
Determined not to lose her sense of self, she realizes that Ryan is the only person she can trust. But Mary’s hobbies are not exactly proper, and Ryan is starting to discover that this simple miss is not at all what he expected . . . but just might be exactly what he needs.
Lucy Blackwell is desperate, reckless, and maybe a little bit crazy. That’s the only possible explanation for tricking a man she doesn’t know into a dance, a kiss, and an engagement—all in the middle of the biggest ball of the year!
But Lord William Summersby is the final piece of her grand plan, and she’ll do what it takes to make this marriage of convenience work—as long as it’s convenient for her. She just never counted on falling in love . . .