I don’t see what all the fuss is about — the upset readers who want to know what on earth I’m doing, with my Victorian characters sending telegraphs and fastening zippers.
Considering DaVinci invented a machine gun, diving suit, and helicopter before Shakespeare wore diapers, you might not be impressed to hear vacuum cleaners were in use by 1899.
Perhaps we like to think of 19th-century England — the backdrop of beloved romantic stories by Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters — as a rustic, simple time. Truth be told, inventors were hard at work.
Here are a few inventions that came earlier than you might have guessed:
Coal-powered motorcycle, 1867
Riveted denim overalls by Levi Strauss, 1873
Subway train in London, called the “Tube,” 1870
Graphite Pencil, 1564
Did you know the Egyptians invented the marshmallow? And the Aztecs accidently invented chocolate in 1100 BC while trying to make beer. Batteries were developed since 1775. Carbonated beverage dates before the 1700s.
Louis Pasteur broke ground on Germ Theory in the 1860s, prompting the wild idea amongst the medical community that it might be a good idea to wash their hands before handling patients.
Then perhaps it’s no wonder that Andrew Tilmore, the financial prodigy in The King of Threadneedle Street uses a telegraph… which was invented in 1794, long before Samuel Morse’s electric system went online in 1844.
Inventors are truly a visionary bunch. Then why wasn’t toilet paper invented until 1857, I wonder? And what took the Married Women’s Property Act so long? England didn’t decide that a woman’s property was her own and not her husband’s until 1870. Probably for the same reason steam-powered elevators were in use in London by 1823, yet the elevator brake wasn’t invented until 1854. Go figure.