Roll and fill with pippins and quinces and sweet spice and lemon peel as much as delights.
Close the pie and strew with sugar. Bake till well enough.
Georgian biscuits by Ivan Day www. Over time, biscuits became lighter as Elizabethan cooks sought to satisfy the taste for fashionable sweetstuffs. Made of whisked sugar, eggs and flour, these are the recognisable prototypes for sponge fingers, their preservative quality reduced in favour or lightness and flavour.
Naples biscuits long oval sponge fingers were developed, to dip into wine rather than tea, and to make desserts such as trifle. Biscuits have always been a vehicle for fashion. From Ivan Day at www.
To Make Knotted Biscuits of Apricots Take ripe Apricots, pare, stone and beat them small, then boil them till they are thick. Take them off the fire and beat them up with sifted Sugar and Aniseeds to make a pretty fine paste. Make into little rolls the thickness of straw and tye them in little Knots in what form you please; dry them in the Stove or in the Sun. Rebecca Mascull is the talented author of The Visitors, a poignant and lyrical novel about deaf blind Adeliza Golding and her coming of age at the time of the Boer war.
Here are the questions I asked Rebecca after reading her highly thought-provoking novel:. Do you have scientific interests yourself? Did you look at early experiments, fossils, and so on? How difficult was it to 'un-know' what we find self-evident today? I try to fathom scientific theories and I do my best with my arty-type brain! I have collected fossils myself on Charmouth beach and have had a great interest in Darwin for many years, largely due to my mum who is a bit of an expert on him.
Your third question is a brilliant thought and I know exactly what you mean.
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I found it quite difficult to discover research texts that would allow me to understand where the 18th-century mind was in relation to scientific endeavour. I read contemporary texts yet also I found a wonderful book by chance in a second-hand bookshop all about the history of the search for early human evidence; it went through all the theories people have come up with since ancient times about where we come from.
This gave me an excellent grounding in how my character Dawnay could have been educated and how her contemporary thinkers would have been discussing human origins. I learned so much! All of the theories and thinkers mentioned in the novel are real, early attempts to grope towards some kind of theory of evolution.
I was so surprised to find that people like Leonardo da Vinci had thought about the origin of fossils so long ago. Our study of human origins certainly did not begin with Charles Darwin! Fossils found on Charmouth Beach. There are aspects of the novel that made me wonder if it is speculative fiction, because it is more intentionally inventive with history for example the cave , than most historical fiction.
What do you think? Let me qualify that, but it will be tricky without using spoilers!
Of course, ancient finds have been lying around undiscovered for thousands if not millions of years until someone lucky enough stumbles across them. Dawnay was lucky, yet so were those in more recent times who have found fossils, bones and evidence of early human culture. Dawnay is a person like this, so if anyone was going to find such a thing, it would be her! What first interested you in foundlings? What research did you do into the institutions and their inmates?
I felt strongly from very early on in the writing of this book that Dawnay should come from the meanest of origins i. I wanted her to have to battle against not only prejudice against women but also against the poor. It really was felt by some of the gentry and aristocracy that the poor were a different species and that all of their misfortune was brought on their own heads by their own innate lowliness. I thought it would be doubly fascinating to follow a character who was as poor as poor could be, as well as being a girl, and see how she would fare in her aspiration to become a scientist, or a natural philosopher, in the parlance of the time.
And so she begins her story as an orphan living on the streets stealing pies! The orphanage she is taken to is very much based on asylums — as they were called — that sprang up all over London and further afield in the 18th-century, by benefactors wanting to improve the social and moral lot of the poor. I visited the Coram Foundling Museum and learnt a lot about the everyday life of the orphans there. Dawnay appears to have been born with a remarkable intellect. Can you tell us about any other people of the time on whom she was based?
She also loved her jewellery and fancy frocks! I remember reading a marvellous description of someone who visited her, to find her most dishevelled amidst piles of papers and crazy tangles of experimental equipment and yet decked out in all her finest jewels! I loved that image! Although my scientist has no interest in fashion, I certainly kept that dishevelment and enjoyed shocking her contemporaries by her plain and unruly dress sense! Sophie also took it upon herself, having been banned from attending lectures due to being female, to write to experts of the day and share ideas that way.
I have a huge respect for anyone who is determined enough to circumvent the pointless strictures of their own society and question every time somebody tells them No without a darned good reason for it! Sophie Germain. What are your thoughts? I do agree that this is true for the majority of poor women at that time. I just happen to be writing about one who escaped that trap. It was the age of the Enlightenment after all, and one in which benefactors did exist and did indeed save some children from a fate worse than death on the streets and in the workhouses.
Her life as told in the novel has some periods of easy living, yet I think these are balanced by other experiences she has that are very trying, difficult and at some points tragic. She has many losses to contend with throughout the story and one of my themes is the conflict between heart and mind. One of the things I wanted her to learn was that people need each other to survive and I think she goes through some tough times in learning that lesson. What was it that attracted you to that decade?
Firstly, I wanted to imagine a scientist working a good few generations before Darwin, in order to explore the idea of where scientific theories come from. It is sometimes assumed that there are these lone geniuses who have a stupendous lightbulb moment and come up with these brilliant theories out of nowhere. Beyond that, there was a mixture of reasons for choosing that period. Firstly, I knew I wanted one of the characters at least to be involved in a war around that time, and I noticed that there were already quite a few novels and films set in the late 18th and early 19th century i.
But readers will have to read the book itself to find out! Women's aspirations versus their biology seems to lie at the heart of the book. Is that an important theme for you? Anyone who has had young children to look after will know that feeling!
I love that image and I think for many it is still true today. Let me make it clear, I am absolutely not saying that it is easy for men to achieve their aspirations. Life is hard and full of traps for everyone, male or female, writer or scientist or otherwise. Dawnay has to grapple with this and I would say there are many places in the world where women have to face this on a daily basis, so we are not out of the woods yet…. Author Rebecca Mascull. A meeting over coffee in the historic county town of Chester was hastily arranged to compare notes on our shared sense of history and how we strive to bring the past to life in fiction.
Chester, county town of Cheshire. Cheshire is famed for its historic beauty, its leafy lanes and distinctive black and white buildings. Does Cheshire play any part in your writing? Cheshire's landscape is particularly soft and green and it's easy to half -close your eyes and imagine the past. In the village where I live nothing much has changed over the centuries; as I write I have a long view of the tower of Chester Cathedral over fields of dairy cattle, while to the south I can gaze at the distant Welsh hills. When I was living and writing in New Zealand and Australia, I discovered that the best account of the early European settlement was written by a Chester soldier named Watkins Tench.
He tells such a sympathetic and humane story about the early convicts, the aboriginal people and the desperate starvation years that I think there should be statue erected to him in Chester!