The mail coach carried postal deliveries from location to location within England from 1728.
The carriage was drawn by four horses. The driver sat outside, and a postal worker would guard the box containing the mail at the rear.
Four passengers were able to travel inside the carriage. Travelling by the mail coach was faster and therefore more expensive than travelling by stagecoach, which made more stops and was often uncomfortable due to overcrowding.
During the 1840s and 1850s, the mail coach was gradually replaced by a rapidly expanding railway system.
It has been suggested that Emily was inspired by Charles Dickens’ childhood sweetheart, Lucy Stroughill.
In The Childhood and Youth of Charles Dickens (1883) by Robert Langton, the author suggests that Lucy’s older brother George possessed qualities which were similar to those of Steerforth.
The Book of Martyrs (1563) by John Foxe (1517-1587) recounts the stories of Christian martyrs from the first to the early sixteenth century. The work sought to affirm the Protestant Reformation, which had been undermined by the recently deceased Catholic Queen Mary I (1516-1558).