Inedible Newspaper Sins

25 Mar

Ah, the news. Newspapers, specifically, that 0ld standby of American existence. Wait, you’ll say, but don’t many peoples live and die by the news? Yes. However, back in the early 19th century, visitors from the UK and European continent were constantly commenting on how oddly attached their American cousins were to their papers.* How awfully middle class.

The main players in my upcoming novella, Inedible Sins, are predictably attached to their papers. Ashley Evans regales his sister Iris and our hero Jonesy nightly with the political gossip from the Evening Star, one of Washington City’s premier Democratic papers back in 1856. But it’s not all Congress and Democratic National Conventions and aborted duels–there’s also the odd column inch full of old-timey cleverness.

By which I of course mean misogyny. Oh my.

Evening Star Jul 5 1856


Transcription, since reading a photograph of a microfilm desk from the Library of Congress sucks hard:

-> Young Man, a private word. When you go courting, find out as soon as possible whether your affections are being planted more in a bundle of dry-goods and things generally, than a pulsating heart, hemmed in by warm ribs and all that. Many a fellow has laid himself out for a full made woman, and only found a very extensive assortment of cotton, whalebone and similar delusive institutions. Just look over the goods before going to the parson.

-> One thousand pounds of wafers are used by the United States House of Representatives in a single session.

-> “Charity covereth a multitude of sins”. So does calico.

Okay that last one is kinda funny, but not if you read it in a slut-shamey way. Still, the ridiculous things I found doing research for this book. Some of the most fun I ever had in a library. Which is saying quite a lot.

*The most famous being Fanny Trollope in her hilarious Domestic Manners of the Americans. Check the paragraph that begins with, “In truth, there are many reasons which render a very general diffusion of literature impossible in America. I can scarcely class the universal reading of newspapers as an exception to this remark ; if I could, my Statement  would be exactly the reverse, and I should say that America beat the world in letters.”

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