Monday, March 13, 2006

Whores in History...and Validation

You know my favorite moment in writing historicals? When I'm doing further research on some topic I already wrote about, usually something where I just "guessed" how it was--and I find out that I was right on. To me it's validation that I've entered into the character as much as possible, that I've slipped into her skin enough to understand her world, at least a little. Sometimes it feels magical, like I secretly have pulled information from another realm.

I'm currently reading Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England by Ruth Mazo Karras, and I'm getting that feeling again and again. Several different situations I'd set up: Margaret's brothel; Papa's prosecution by the summoner, and his "shame" punishment; even the Duke and Godwina's nefarious dealings...they all are ringing true with historical data, and I'm thrilled. Of course I'm also learning more details that I can add in--I highly recommend this book for writers of medieval historicals.

In London in the 14th century, customary law decreed that on first offense a common whore would be paraded through the town in a striped hood, with a white rod in her hand, put in the pillory for a time, then escorted back to "Cock's Lane", where prostitutes plied their trade. On second offense, she'd be locked in the pillory all day. On the third offense, her hair would be cut or shaved, and she would be escorted and banished from the city. Whew! Of course that probably didn't happen too often in reality; easier and more profitable to fine the whore, or make her pay bribes to stay in business.

I love this blog idea. Now I can info-dump to my heart's delight, without ruining the pace of TMT. {g}


Anonymous said...

Hey, nice blog!


MyUtopia said...

My grandmother read that last spring and really liked it. I am putting in on my list of books to get. Cool blog, by the way.

Susan Adrian said...

Thanks, Daryl! Welcome! (and I'm still waiting for more comments... {g})

Susan Adrian said...

Thanks, myutopia!

Your grandmother read Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England? Rock. Your grandmother is ever so much cooler than mine.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
I'll have to check if I have this book. I do have a few on this you may guess. >g<
I actually have a hair cutting scene in my kind of hints at what you said above...>g<

Off to read about book 2.