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Behind the Scenes of A Wisp of Faith: Mysterious Rappings, Magic Pills, and Missing Persons

I have for you this week another potpourri of articles from the 1850's. If this is your first time joining us, this blog post is part of a series about the journey behind writing A Wisp of Faith. Next week we will travel a bit closer to the present, but for now I hope you enjoy!


First of all, can we stop and just discuss the language used in the 1850's. I'm totally loving it. I challenge you to use consummate humbuggary this week in conversation!

Who would think, then, that such fine ladies and gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale! Yet so it is. By some, ambergris is supposed to be the cause, and by others the effect, of the dyspepsia in the whale. How to cure such a dyspepsia it were hard to say, unless by administering three or four boat loads of Brandreth’s pills, and then running out of harm’s way, as laborers do in blasting rocks.

If you've never read Moby Dick before, now you can say you have! Brandreth pills were so well known they received mention in Herman Melville's classic Moby-Dick.

They were also mentioned by Edgar Allen Poe- Take a dose of Brandreth’s pills, and then give us your sensations. Since Poe went on about misfortunes, I'm going to infer that the after math of these pills were unpleasant.

The 1850's were probably not a time period in which you would want to go missing. Detective units were not established in the police departments of many American cities until around 1857. I never did find out if she ever found her brother. . .