D is for Divorce…and Dog-cart

April 4, 2016

D

This year for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m writing about the 1800s. In particular, I’ll be focusing on the events surrounding Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s race around the world in 1889. In celebration of my new novel based on this adventure, Liz and Nellie.

Divorce

 

Nellie Bly’s father died when she was six, leaving her mother near penniless with four young children to raise. He had been a wealthy man, but died with no will and so his estate was also divided amongst the adult children from his first marriage. Nellie’s mother married  again, but Nellie’s stepfather was an abusive drunk. It got so bad that he threatened to kill Nellie’s mother, so she went to court to divorce him; rare for the age.

At fourteen, Nellie testified against him “My stepfather has been generally drunk since he married my mother.” Thus, setting up Nellie to be a voice for the hurting and oppressed.

To learn more about Nellie Bly’s life, check out the extensive biography from Brooke Kroeger: Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist

 

Dog-cart

1024px-Dogcart_(PSF)During their race around the world, Nellie and Elizabeth both saw and rode on a variety of transportation pulled by various four and two-legged creatures. One vehicle they talked about was not what I first imagined. The dog-cart. It’s not pulled by dogs. It’s actually a smaller horse-drawn carriage originally built for sporting shooters with a place for their retriever dogs in the back. Here is the Wikipedia article for more photos. (The sketch here shows a later model.)

Apparently the dog-cart was mentioned often in the Sherlock Holmes stories, as well.