As a writer of Regency romances, I have to deal with a certain amount of history. Some Regency writers are history nuts--or, I should say, history enthusiasts. Not me--though in my defense, back when I was in school, history was mostly about white men and battles. Not the interesting stuff, IMHO, of course.
But now that I'm writing books set in 1816-1821 (the novella I'm currently working on is actually set in 1785), I need to think about things like...bathrooms! Did they have anything beyond chamber pots, and if so, what? (But chamber pots are sort of funny--I've used them to bash villains over the head.)
Anyway, if you've been keeping track of me over the last few months and aren't here just to see if I have a decent Bookmas clue (and yes, you might want to move along if that's your goal), you know I went to England in the fall for fun and research. And poor Mr. MacKenzie got dragged along. After we got back home, we--actually, I think it was Mr. MacKenzie's fault--realized we live on the east coast of the US where there are a lot of historic houses built in the time period of my interest. So we visited Homewood House in Baltimore--I blogged about our visit.
The docent was very patient. We were her last tour and I wanted the full show. It was very near closing time, but she seemed to enjoy taking us around--she gave me a high five when I recognized an Argand lamp. Even though Homewood House is on Johns Hopkins' campus, I guess not so many history buffs go through it. And then I was delighted to see a sort of fancy night convenience like one I'd seen in England. After the tour, I had to buy the big illustrated book Homewood House by Catherine Rogers Arthur and Cindy Kelly because I like to look at pictures of objects that my characters might use or see when I'm trying to picture scenes. And then Mr. MacKenzie found Temples of Convenience & Chambers of Delight by Lucinda Lambton that's mostly about bathrooms and I had to have that, too.
So, no, Jessica didn't come up with a series about historical bathrooms of New York City--but, hey, maybe that's an idea! But the title of the series she did develop has something to do with public utilities. My 1785 novella, which I am not setting in London partly because I want to finesse the whole late 18th century Georgian powder and patch thing which has never been a real romantic idea for me, would probably not be able to have this utility in the book; by 1816, yes, probably I could have this as part of the London streets in my stories.