The pros & cons and ups & downs of OCR and Scrivener

The pros & cons and ups & downs of OCR and Scrivener

(Warning: tech talk ahead!)

I’ve been putting research documents into Scrivener, assuming that they were searchable. After all, one oft-stated advantage of using Scrivener is that you have all your documents in one place.

Dissertating with Scrivener « The Junto

It’s true that I can put everything and anything into Scrivener, but I also need to be able to search within those documents. I mistakenly assumed that one of Scrivener’s many superpowers was the ability to make all documents searchable. In other words, I assumed that Scrivener utilized OCR (Optical Character Recognition). Not so. :-(

Having searchable documents is important for my current WIP because it’s set in the 16th century, and a number of the resources are rare and/or ancient and only available on BooksGoogle or InternetArchive. I’ve taken to clipping relevant parts of such documents (shift-control-4 on a Mac) or exporting them whole as PDFs before sending them to Scrivener. The clips are a type of image, so they need OCR to be searched, and most PDFs are not searchable as well.

And so I began to look at ways to make documents searchable before putting them in Scrivener. In the process, I discovered that anything to do with OCR opened a bottomless pit. I will try to keep this simple.

Dedicated OCR software

One possibility would be to invest in a software programme dedicated to making documents OCR searchable. The highest-rated programme for Mac is ABBYY FineReader Pro, available on trial for 30 days. I tested it out on a clip (below), and in seconds had a searchable Word document that beautifully preserved the formatting of the original.

This is the original clip:

And this is the searchable Word document:

Wow.

Databases that make documents searchable

The other possibility would be to use a database that automatically makes documents OCR searchable. The advantage of using such a database is that it is—duh—a database, a logical place to store research documents. … which brings me to OneNote and EverNote.

evernote logo design | Flickr - Photo Sharing! Best 7 Evernote Alternatives: Try These Great Apps Like ...

Both EverNote and OneNote convert documents to OCR, so I decided to test them both using the test clip above.

It took well over an hour for OneNote to convert it to a searchable text, but EverNote has yet to do so even a day later!

Once made searchable, there is a way to create a copy in EverNote, a copy that can then be put in Scrivener, but it’s weird and basically unreadable, showing every word as a separate object.

In OneNote, once the document has gone through the OCR treatment, it’s possible to easily create a searchable text version. (Control-click the document and select “Copy text from picture.”)

This is what I got from my test clip:

Here comes old Woodcock, the Yeoman of Kent, that’s half Farmer and half Gentleman; his horses go to the plow all week, and are put into the coach o’ Sunday.

Tunbridge Walks or the Yeoman of Kent, act I, sc. 1

Not as pretty as ABBYY FineReader, but not at all bad. (I did clean it up a bit.) This text can now be copied and pasted into Scrivener or wherever I want it.

Note: It would have been nice to be able to send this searchable text directly to Scrivener. I passed on this recommendation to OneNote and discovered 1) that their help menu actually helps (EverNote Help is extremely basic), and 2) that they ask how to improve. What a concept! (But do they listen? That remains to be seen.)

A word about Web Clippers

One beautiful thing about EverNote is its Web Clipper. With it, I can send the contents of any webpage to EverNote and, at the same time, indicate which notebook it should be filed in and how it should be tagged.

Evernote Web Clipper 6 For Googles Chrome Browser Launches ...

OneNote’s Web Clipper is not functional on Safari right now due to recent OS changes at Apple. I trust that this will be solved. In any case, it is available on Chrome or FireFox.

It’s a good clipper, but it’s not as useful as EverNote’s. Although you can choose what OneNote notebook to file it in, you can’t specify beyond that with tags, and you can’t file it in more than one place.

OneNote Web Clipper updated with YouTube support, preview ...

Which brings me to Tags

Being able to add tags to a document in EverNote is great. For example, I’d be able to tag an 18th-century French recipe for roasted swans as 18th century, France, food, recipes and swans. This would allow me to narrow a search for a perfect detail regarding a roasted swan snack.

OneNote doesn’t have a tag function, alas—at least not that I can see.

What about cost?

I use EverNote heavily, so I need their Premium plan, which costs $5.83 US a month when paying annually. For that I get 10GB uploads per month, and am able to search PDFs. (For more information about Evernote pricing, click here.)

OneNote is included in an Office 365 subscription package. (Some claim it’s also now available as a free stand-alone, but I’ve not been able to confirm that.) Since I’m already subscribed to the Office 365 world, I can start using OneNote at no additional cost. With OneNote, I get unlimited uploads, so win-win.

Say what? A scanner app?

Scanning pages from books is too slow to be practical. I’m delighted with the Microsoft app Office Lens, which will send a image directly to OneNote. This will save me lots of time.

For example, I took the image below with Office Lens and sent it to OneNote at 10:30 am. In under 30 minutes, it was searchable and even the all-text extract was surprisingly good.

EverNote or OneNote or … ? My conclusion

I do need a database, but given the pros and cons of OneNote and Evernote, where do I stand?

Because of the expense and inconsistent, slow and inadequate OCR function of EverNote, I have decided to migrate my extensive EverNote database to OneNote.

I should mention, as well, that there are indications that EverNote might be heading into hard times, and I don’t want to be left in the lurch.

It’s possible to import EverNote documents into OneNote using their OneNote Importer app, but judging from this note—

The importer software described on this page is still available for you to download and use, but we’re no longer actively developing or supporting this tool.

—that may not always be possible, so migrating now is perhaps wise.

I’ve never been a Microsoft fan—Mac users aren’t their priority—but OneNote for Mac looks worthy, so I’m going to make the move.  I’ve also purchased ABBYY FineReader Pro, and given that I will be unsubscribing from EverNote, I’ll be coming out ahead in more ways than one.  :-)


The links below might be of interest.

Be aware that there are differences between OneNote for Mac and the mothership OneNote for PC users. Also, OneNote for Mac has been recently “updated”—but the changes have caused quite an uproar because it’s no longer possible to arrange tabs along the top, as in this example:

I would love to have such tabs back and I’m hoping the OneNote engineers succumb. Some long-time users are even advocating reverting to the 2016 version and vowing never again to upgrade.

Evernote vs OneNote: The Best Note-taking App in 2019

Top 10 things you didn’t know about OneNote

Using Onenote for your Novel I was excited about trying out this template but it’s for an old version of OneNote, and possibly not applicable to Mac.

Why OneNote is One-Derful for Writers. Inspiring!

The Game of Hope: a bibliography

The Game of Hope: a bibliography

This bibliography is the list of books and magazine articles I consulted in writing The Game of Hope. Some of them I consumed, others I simply scanned, looking for one particular fact. There are a number I’ve not listed — the annotated works of Jane Austen, for example, a number of which I consumed. Also, please note that I am not an academic, and have not used correct bibliographic style. Should you wish any further information about any of these references, please contact me.

  • —. De la naissance à la glorie: Louis XIV a Saint-Germain, 1638-1682. Musée des Antiquités Nationales; Saint-Germain-en-Laye; 1988.
  • — . A Guide to the Wrightman Galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art; NY; 1979.
  • — . Decorum; A Practical Treatise on Etiquette & Dress of the Best American Society 1879. Westvaco; 1979.
  • — . Eugène de Beauharnais; honneur & fidélité.
  • — . The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness. Hesperus Press Ltd.; London; 2014 (but first published in 1860).
  • — . The reign of terror: a collection of authentic narratives of the horrors committed by the revolutionary government of France under Marat and Robespierre, Volume 1. W. Simpkin and R. Marshall; place; January 1, 1826.
  • —. Joséphine et Napoléon; L’Hôtel de la Rue de la Victoire. Musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau; Paris; 2013.
  • —. La Reine Hortense; Une femme artiste. Malmaison; Paris?; May 27 – September 27 1993. —. Lucien Bonaparte et Ses Mémoires, 1775-1840. G. Charpentier; Paris; 1882.
  • —. Madame Campan (1752 – 1822). Château de Malmaison; Rueil-Malmaison; 1972. Catalog of an exhibition.
  • Abbott, John S. C. Hortense.
  • Al-Jabarti. Napoleon in Egypt. Translated by Shmuel Moreh. Markue Wiener Publishing; Princeton & NY; 1993.Alméras, Henri d’. La Vie parisienne sous le Consulat et l’Empire.  Cercle du Bibliophile. Albin Michel; Paris.
  • Anderson, James M. Daily Life during the French Revolution. Greenwood Press; Westport; 2007.
  • Atteridge, A. Hilliard. Joachim Murat, marshal of France and king of Naples. Brentanos; NY; 1911.
  • Aulard, A. Paris pendant la Réaction Thermidorienne et sous le Directoire. Tome V (July 21 ’98 to Nov. 10 ’99) Maison Quantin; Paris;1902.
  • Aulard, A. Paris sous le consulat. Vol. I. Maison Quantin, Paris; 1903.
  • Baldassarre, Antonio. Music, Painting, and Domestic Life: Hortense de Beauharnais in Arenenberg. An article published in Music in Art XXIII/1-2 (1998).
  • Bear, Joan. Caroline Murat. Collins; London; 1972.
  • Bergh, Anne de, and Joyce Briand. 100 Recipes from the Time of Louis XIV. Trans. by Regan Kramer. Archives & Culture; Paris; 2007.
  • Bertaud, Jean-Paul. Historie du Consulat et de l’Empire; Chronologie commentée 1799-1815. Perrin; Paris; 1992.
  • Bouissounouse, Janine. Julie: the life of Mlle de Lespinasse. Appleton-Century-Crofts; NY; 1962.
  • Branda, Pierre. Joséphine; Le paradoxe du cygne. Perrin; Paris; 2016.
  • Bretonne, Restif de la. Monsieur Nicolas; or The Human Heart Laid Bare. Translated, edited etc. by Robert Baldick. Barrie and Rockliff; London; 1966.
  • —. Sara. John Rodker, for subscribers; London; 1927.
  • Bruce, Evangeline. Napoleon and Josephine; The Improbable Marriage. A Lisa Drew Book. Scribner; New York; 1995.
  • Buchon, Jean Alexandre. Correspondance Inédite De Mme Campan Avec La Reine Hortense, Tome 1. (Replica.) Book Renaissance; 1835.
  • Burney, Fanny, edited by Joyce Hemlow. Fanny Burney; Selected Letters and Journals. Oxford Univ. Press; Oxford; 1987.
  • Burton, June K. Napoleon and the Woman Question; Discourses of the Other Sex in French Education, Medicine, and Medical Law 1799 – 1815. Texas Tech University Press; Texas; 2007.
  • Campan, Madame. Edited by M. Maigne. The Private Journal of Madame Campan, comprising original anecdotes of the French court; selections from the correspondence, thoughts on education, etc. etc. Nabu Public Domain Reprints of the book published by Abraham Small; Philadelphia; 1825.
  • Capellanus, Andreas. The Art of Courtly Love. Columbia Univ. Press; NY; 1960.
  • Carlton, W.N.C. Pauline, Favorite Sister of Napoleon.
  • Catinat, Maurice. Hortense chez Madame Campan (1795 – 1801), d’après des lettres inédites. Souvenir napoléonien; Paris; 1993.
  • —. Madame Campan ou l’éducation des nouvelles élites. An article in Napoléon 1er, #17. Napoléon 1er; France; Nov/Dec 2002.
  • Chevallier, Bernard. Malmaison en dates et en chiffres.
  • —. Vues du château et du parc de Malmaison. Perrin; Paris.
  • Clark, Anna. Desire; A History of European Sexuality. Routledge; NY & London; 2008.
  • Connelly, Owen. The Gentle Bonaparte.
  • Decker, Ronald; Depaulis, Thierry; Dummett, Michael. A Wicked Pack of Cards; The Origins of the Occult Tarot. Duckworth; London; 2002.
  • Delage, Irène, and Chantal Prevot. Atlas de Paris au Temps de Napoleon. Parigramme; Paris; 2014.
  • Desan, Suzanne. The Family on Trial in Revolutionary France. Univ. of Calif. Press; Berkeley; 2006.
  • Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. A Reader’s Companion; Annotated Edition, With 780 Notes. Preface, Annotations, & Appendices by Susanne Alleyn. Spyderwort Press; Albany, NY; 2014.
  • Ducrest, C. Mémoires sur L’Impératrice Joséphine; La Cour de Navarre & La Malmaison. Modern-Collection; Paris.
  • Duthuron, Gaston. La Révolution 1789-1799. Librairie Arthème Fayard; Paris; 1954.
  • Dwyer, Philip. Citizen Emperor; Napoleon in Power 1799-1815. Bloomsbury; London; 2013.
  • Eveleigh, David J. Privies and Water Closets. Shire Publications; UK; 2011.
  • Fain, Baron. Napoleon: How He Did It. Foreword by Jean Tulard. Proctor Jones Publishing Co.; SF, USA; 1998.
  • Feydeau, Elisabeth de. A Scented Palace; the Secret History of Marie Antoinette’s Perfumer. Translated by Jane Lizop. I.B. Tauris; London; 2006.
  • Fierro, Alfred. Dictionnaire du Paris disparu. Parigramme; 1998; Paris.
  • Flandrin, Jean-Louis. Translated by Julie E. Johnson. Arranging the Meal; A History of Table Service in France. Univ. of Calif. Press; Berkeley; 2007.
  • Fullerton, Susannah. A Dance with Jane Austen; How a Novelist and Her Characters Went to a Ball. Frances Lincoln Ltd; London; 2012.
  • Garros, Louis and Jean Tulard. Itinérire de Napoléon au jour le jour 1769-1821. Librairie Jules Tallandier; France; 1992.
  • Germann, Jennifer. Tracing Marie-Eléonore Godefroid; Women’s Artistic Networks in Early Nineteenth-Century Paris. The Johns Hopkins University Press; place; 2012.
  • Gershoy, Leo. The French Revolution and Napoleon. Appleton-Century-Crofts; New York; 1964.
  • Giovanangeli, Bernard. (Éditeur) Hortense de Beauharnais. Bernard Giovanangeli Éditeur; Paris; 2009.
  • Girardin, Stanislas de. Mémoires. Paris; 1834.
  • Goodman, Dena. Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters. Cornell University Press; Ithaca and London; 2009.
  • Gueniffey, Patrice. Bonaparte, 1769 – 1802. Trans. by Steven Rendall. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; Cambridge, Mass. & London; 2015.
  • Guerrini, Maurice. Napoleon and Paris; Thirty Years of History. Trans., abridged and edited by Margery Weiner. Walker and Company; New York; 1967.
  • Haig, Diana Reid. The Letters of Napoleon to Josephine. Ravenhall Books; UK; 2004.
  • Hibbert, Christopher. Napoleon: His Wives and Women. (On Google books.)
  • Hickman, Peggy. A Jane Austen Household Book. David & Charles; London etc.; 1977.
  • Hopkins, Tighe. The Women Napoleon Loved. Kessinger Pub Co; place; 2004.
  • Hortense. The Memoirs of Queen Hortense. Edited by Jean Hanoteau. Trans. by Arthur K. Griggs. Vol I & II.
  • Hubert, Gérard and Nicole Hubert. Châteaux de Malmaison et de Bois Préau. Ministère de la Culture; Paris; 1986.
  • Hubert, Gérard. Malmaison. Trans. by C. de Chabannes. Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris 1989.
  • Huggett, Jane, and Ninya Mikhaila. The Tudor Child; Clothing and Culture 1485 to 1625. Fat Goose Press; UK; 2013.
  • Jacobs, Diane. Her Own Woman; The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft. Simon & Schuster; NY; 2001.
  • Joannis, Claudette. Josephine Imperatrice de la Mode; L’élégance sous l’Empire.
  • Johnson, R. Brimley. Fanny Burney and the Burneys. Stanley Pau & Co. Ltd.; London; 1926.
  • Katz, Marcus, and Tali Goodwin. Learning Lenormand; Traditional Fortune Telling for Modern Life. Llewellyn Publications; Woodbury, Minnesota; 2013.
  • Knapton, Ernest John. Empress Josephine. Cabridge, Massachusetts, 1963. Harvard University Press.
  • Le Normand, Mlle. M. A. The Historical and Secret Memoirs of the Empress Josephine. Jacob M. Howard, translator. H. S. Nichols. London. 1895. Vol. I and II. Originally published in France 1820.
  • Lefébure, Amaury, and Bernard Chavallier. National Museum of the Châteaux de Malmaison et de Bois-Préau. Museum; Montgeron; 2013.
  • Lofts, Norah. A Rose for Virtue. (A novel.) Doubleday; NY; 1971.
  • Mali, Millicent S. Madame Campan: Educator of Women, Confidante of Queens. Univ. Press of America; Washington DC; 1979.
  • Mangan, J.J. The King’s favour; Three eighteenth-century monarchs and the favourites who ruled them. St. Martin’s Press; NY; 1991.
  • Mansel, Philip. The Eagle in Splendour; Napoleon I and His Court. George Philip; London; 1987
  • Marchand, Louis-Joseph. In Napoleon’s Shadow. (Marchand’s memoirs.) Preface by Jean Tulard. Proctor Jones; SF, Calif.; 1998.
  • Marsangy, L. Bonneville de. Mme Campan À Écouen. Champion; 1879.
  • Martineau, Gilbert. Caroline Bonaparte; Princess Murat, Reine de Naples. Éditions France-Empire; Paris; 1991.
  • Masson, Fredéric. Joséphine, impératrice et reine. Jean Boussod, Manzi, Joyant & C.; Paris; 1899. On Gallica.
  • Masson, Frédéric. La Société sous le consulat. Flammarion.
  • —. Mme Bonaparte (1796-1804). Deuxième Edition. Librairie Paul Ollendorff; Paris; 1920.
  • —.Napoléon et sa famille. Vol. I (1769-1802) Librairie Paul Ollendorff; Paris; 1897.
  • —. Napoléon et sa famille. Vol. VIII (1812-1813) Librairie Paul Ollendorff; Paris; 1907.
  • Mayeur, Françoise. L’´education des filles en France au XIXiem siècle. Perrin; place; 2008.
  • McCutcheon, Marc. The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s. Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1993.
  • McKee, Eric. Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz. Indiana Univ. Press; Bloomington & Indianapolis; 2012.
  • McPhee. Living the French Revolution, 1789-1799. Palgrave Macmillan; NY; 2009.
  • Millot, Michel. The school of Venus, or the ladies delight, Reduced into rules of Practice; Being the Translation of the French L’Escoles des filles ; in 2 Dialogues. 1680.
  • Mills, Joshua W. Imitatio Techniques from Classical Rhetorical Pedagogy. (A thesis) Johns Hopkins University; Baltimore; May 2010.
  • Montagu, Violette M. Eugène de Beauharnais; The Adopted Son of Napoleon. John Long, Limited; London; MCMXIII.
  • —. The Celebrated Madame Campan. Bibliolife, but originally published by Eveleigh Nash; 1914; London.
  • Montjouvent, Philippe de. Joséphine; Une impératrice de légendes. Timée Éditions; France; 2010.
  • Oman, Carola. Napoleon’s Viceroy; Eugène de Beauharnais. Hodder and Stoughton; London; 1966.
  • Osmond, Marion W. Jean Baptiste Isabey; The Fortunate Painter.
  • Pannelier, Alexandrine. Hortense et Eugène de Beauharnais à Saint-Germain. from her souvenirs. Bulletin 1981, Société des Amis de Malmaison.
  • Parkes, Mrs. William. Domestic Duties; or Instructions to Young Married Ladies on the management of their households, and the regulation of their conduct in the various relations and duties of Married Life. Pub; New York; 1829.
  • Pawl, Ronals. Napoleon’s Mounted Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard.
  • Pellapra, Emilie de, Comtesse de Brigode, Princess de Chimay. A Daughter of Napoleon; Memoirs of Emile de Pellapra, Comtesse de Brigode, Princess of Chimay. Introduction by Princess Bibesco. Preface by Frederic Masson. Translated by Katherine Miller. Charles Scribner’s Sons; New York; 1922.
  • Pitt, Leonard. Promenades dans le Paris Disparu. Parigramme; place; 2002.
  • Prod’homme, J.—G., and Frederick H. Martens. Napoleon, Music and Musicians. The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp 579-605, Oct. 1921.
  • Reichardt, J. -F. Un Hiver a Paris sous le Consulat. (1802-1803). Librairie Plox E. Plon; Paris; 1896.
  • Reval, Gabrielle. Madame Campan, Assistante de Napoléon. Albin Michel; Paris.
  • Richardson, Samuel. Letters written to and for particular friends, on the most important occasions. Directing not only the requisite style and forms to be observed in writing familiar letters; but how to think and act justly and prudently. (reprint by Gale ECCO Print Editions); originally London; originally 1741.
  • Robiquet, Jean. Daily Life in France Under Napoleon.
  • —. Daily Life in the French Revolution. James Kirkup, trans. The Macmillan Co. New York, 1965.
  • Rogers, Rebecca. From the Salon to the Schoolroom, Educating Bourgeois Girls in Nineteenth-Century France. Penn State Univ. Press; Univ. Park, Penn.; 2005.
  • Saint-Amand, Imbert de. The Wife of the First Consul. Trans. by T. S. Perry. Scribner’s; NY; 1890.
  • Sand, George. Lettres d’un Voyageur. Penguin; Englan; 1987 (from original 1837).
  • Savine, Albert. Les Jours de la Malmaison. Louis-Michaud; Paris; 1909.
  • Schama, Simon. Citizens, A Chronicle of the French Revolution. New York, 1989. Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Schlogel, Gilbert. Émilie de Lavalette; Une légende blessée. France Loisirs; Paris; 1999.
  • Seward, Desmond. Napoleon’s Family. Viking; New York; 1986.
  • Shields, Carol. Jane Austen. A Penguin Life. A Lipper/Viking Book; NY; 2001.
  • Steinbach, Sylvie. The Secrets of the Lenormand Oracle. Self-published; na; 2007.
  • Stuart, Andrea. The Rose of Martinique; a life of Napoleon’s Josephine.
  • Sullivan, Margaret C. The Jane Austen Handbook. Quirk books; Philadephia; 2007.
  • Tour, Jean de la. Duroc (1772-1813). Nouveau Monde Editions; Paris; 2004.
  • Turquan, Joseph. The Sisters of Napoleon; Elisa, Pauline and Caroline Bonaparte After The Testimony of Their Contemporaries. Isha Books; India; 1908 (2013).
  • Warner, Sylvia Townsend. Jane Austen. Longman Group Ltd.; 1964; 1970.
  • Weiner, Margery. The Parvenu Princesses. William Morrow & Co; NY; 1964.
  • Whatman, Susanna. The Housekeeping Book of Susanna Whatman (1776-1800). Century; London; 1987. Originally published in 1776.
  • Whitcomb, Edward A. Napoleon’s Diplomatic Service. Duke University Press; Durham, N.C.; 1979.
  • Williams, Kate. Josephine; Desire, Ambition, Napoleon. Hutchinson; London; 2013.
  • Winegarten, Renee. Germaine de Staël & Benjamin Constant; A Dual Biography. York University Press; New Haven and London;2008.
  • Wright, Constance. Daughter to Napoleon; a biography of Hortense, Queen of Holland. Holt, Rinehart and Winston; NY; 1961.

{Photo above by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash.}

Sweet as a … cow? Historical simile searches on Books Google

itwassweet

The “flowering” stage of the writing process is a pleasure. I love making historical simile searches on Google. Such a search can provide a sweet detail for a historical scene, that telling detail that reminds the reader that we’re in another world. 

1) Go to Google and type the lead-in to the simile in quotes. For example, “as sweet as a”.

2) Under More select “books.”

3) Click Search tools, and select the time period you want. I select “custom” and type in between 1600 and 1800. 

Here are the treasures that resulted, images that tell you quite a bit about daily life hundreds of years ago.

  • as sweet as a Parsnip
  • as sweet as a Nut
  • as sweet as a Cow (!)
  • as sweet as a Jordan almond
  •  as sweet as a Lark
  • as sweet as a Pistack Nut
  • (smelled) as sweet as a nosegay
  • (smelled) as sweet as a per- fum’d Spanish Glove
  • as sweet as a wild Fig
  • as sweet as a thin syrup
  • Her Breath is as sweet as a young Fawn’s
  • Her Breath is as sweet as a Grecian Captain. (?)

And, of course, a rose. 

Here are some more:

  • as slender as a Crow’s- quill
  • as hungry as a Church-mouse
  • as hungry as a hawk
  • as tall as a May-pole
  • as tall as a wild-Goat
  • as small as a cobweb
  • as big as a Goose’s egg

I find these simply delightful.


Some recent posts to Baroque Explorations, my research blog:

Happy 376th birthday, Louis XIV!

Honey, figs and red dove feet: cosmetic secrets of the Middle Ages

 

A treasury of information on daily life in 17th century Holland

A treasury of information on daily life in 17th century Holland

In researching 17th century maternity wear, I came upon a treasure-trove of information on 17th century daily life in Holland compiled by art historian Kees Kaldenbach. The facts of daily life were deducted in part from the detailed inventories of the Vermeer household and paintings.

Fascinating! Enjoy …

On courtship and making love

Childbirths, midwives, obstetricians

Maternity dress and trousseau

Children’s chair, potty chair

Baby child presented in a crisom

Feeding brest milk/mother’s milk

Vaginal syringe

Fire basket, fire holder

Mattress, bed, blanket. A bed was made of three layers:

  1. a flat mattress filled with bedstraw, horse hair or sea grass.
  2. a soft cover filled with feathers, down or “kapok” from silk-cotton trees. This is the layer a person would sleep on.
  3. sheets and blankets

Every day the sheets and blankets were folded so that the head-end and the foot-end did not touch. The pillows had to be shaken and aired for one hour, to dry the feathers, which tended to lump.

pillows (pillows, ear cushion, sit cushion, tapestry cushion — there were no chairs for the children. They were to use pillows when the adults used the chairs.); blanket,

bed cover: fascinating! The Vermeer household of 3 or 4 adults and 11 children had few blankets. People slept sitting up, two to a bedstead, propped up by pillows. The children slept in wheeled drawers which slid under the bed.

bedsheets, pillow cases, bed linen: 8 pairs of sheets were valued at 48 gilders — the equivalent of a workman’s wage for 24 to 48 days.

In the cooking kitchen

In the basement, or cellar

In the inner kitchen

Delft markets

Market bucket

Tables: fold-out table, pull-out table, round table, octagonal table, sideboard: This includes instructions on table manners. (“Do not propose to sing at the table oneself ; wait until one is invited repeatedly to do so and keep it short.”)

Trestle table

Foot stove: “One placed an earthenware container within the foot stove and filled it with glowing coals or charcoal. One then placed the feet on it. If a large dress was then lowered over it, or a chamber coat, it warmed both feet and legs.”

Tapestry table rug: “Only the most wealthy of Dutch households put Turkish rugs on the floor.”


Since I first posted this in 2012, the site moved and none of the links worked. I despaired! However, I emailed Drs Kees Kaldenbach and he kindly provided me with the new sites. Relief! This is one of the most illuminating accounts of daily life in the 17th century. For a historical novelist, it’s a gold-mine.

A tempting story about the “Black Nun of Moret”

BlackNunofMoret

I’ve been researching the rumor of the “Black Nun of Moret” — allegedly the Queen’s baby by Nabo, her African dwarf. You can read the results of my research here: “The Queen’s mystery daughter.

What struck me is that this would be a fine 2-week period in which to set a novel — there are a million dramas going on at this time:

Queen was expected to die: she begged the King to forsake his mistress, Louise de la Vallière.

Prayers and processions were ordered.

Meanwhile, former Minister Fouquet‘s trial was heating up. Fouquet’s wife provided the Queen with a secret remedy that in fact cured her — but does not, nonetheless, save Fouquet.

Fouquet is sentenced on December 20, but only condemned to perpetual banishment, which infuriates the King, who changes it to life imprisonment in Pignerol.

Meanwhile, a comet streaks across the night sky.

The Queen-mother collapses from breast cancer.

On December 26, the Queen’s “monster” baby dies at one month, and is buried at Saint Denis. The King is terribly grieved.

The offending (and suspected) dwarf Nabo, much beloved by the Queen, disappears — into the Bastille, some claim, to emerge as the Man in the Iron Mask.

Man In The Iron Mask

I love this last flight of fancy, but it is impossible, of course. If the Man in the Iron Mask were an African dwarf, we would have known.

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Link to my essay, “The Queen’s mystery daughter”
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