Page 128. " in her enormous Bath chair "

Bath chair, St John's Museum Store, Bath
Creative Commons AttributionBath chair, St John's Museum Store, Bath - Credit: Rwendland
A bath chair is a light carriage, used especially by invalids.  It was invented by James Heath, of Bath, England.  The original version was mounted on four wheels and drawn by a horse or donkey.  It was later adapted to be more like a wheelchair, pushed by a person rather than pulled by an animal. In the 19th century bath chairs were common at spa resorts. 

Page 129. " the first chords of the Spohr symphony "
Louis Spohr self-portrait
Public DomainLouis Spohr self-portrait - Credit: Louis Spohr
Plaque commemorating Spohr's birthplace
GNU Free Documentation LicensePlaque commemorating Spohr's birthplace - Credit: Brunswyk

 Louis Spohr (1784-1859), sometimes known as Ludwig Spohr, was a prolific German composer, conductor and violinist. He produced a very varied body of work including concertos, operatic overtures, oratorios, and 10 symphonies, one of which was unfinished. He was married to the harpist Dorothea (Dorette) Scheidler and wrote several pieces for the harp and violin.

Although extremely well known during his lifetime, Spohr's music is not often performed today. There was, however, a resurgence of interest in his work during the late 20th century.


It is unclear which of his symphonies is referred to here by Edith Wharton.

Listen here to part of Spohr's Symphony No. 1

Page 130. " the Mendelssohn March "
The Portrait of Felix Mendelssohn 1829
Public DomainThe Portrait of Felix Mendelssohn 1829 - Credit: James Warren Childe

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) wrote incidental music for Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, including the famous Wedding March which is often played as the recessional tune at weddings. Mendelssohn wrote in the Classical Romantic style and began his career as a child prodigy. German by birth, he toured extensively in Europe and visited many countries including Britain, which inspired such famous works as The Scottish Symphony and the Hebrides Overture.

The wedding march became popular when it was performed for Victoria, The Princess Royal, at her marriage to Prince Frederick William of Prussia on 25 January 1858. Her mother, Queen Victoria, loved Mendelssohn's music and he often played for her.

Listen on Spotify

Page 134. " alighted at Brown's Hotel "

Brown's Hotel was founded on Albermarle Street in the Mayfair area of London in 1837.  It underwent modification in 1889, when it was amalgamated with St. George's Hotel, and remains in existence today as a five-star luxury establishment. The fictional hotel in Agatha Christie's At Bertram's Hotel (1965) is based on Brown's.


Brown's Hotel as it is today
Creative Commons AttributionBrown's Hotel as it is today - Credit: Matt from London


Page 138. " a scorn that Pocahontas might have resented "

Pocahontas (1595-1617) was a Native American princess who helped settlers in the US state of Virginia.  She converted to Christianity, took the name Rebecca, and eventually married one of the settlers, John Rolfe.

She is said to have saved the life of an English explorer, Captain John Smith, by intervening when her father was about to execute him.

Page 146. " The steam-yacht, built in the Clyde "
QE2 in John Browns shipyard
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeQE2 in John Browns shipyard - Credit:

The Clyde is the third longest river in Scotland, at 106 miles.  Historically it was of great economic importance, due to the industry situated along its banks in the lower sections, from the Cotton mills of Lanarkshire, upstream of Glasgow, to the ship building of Clydebank and Dumbarton towards the estuary.

Two of the world’s largest luxury liners of their time, the Queen Mary (1934) and Queen Elizabeth (1938) were launched from the John Brown shipyard in Clydebank. The Queen Mary is now moored on London’s Victoria Embankment, next to Waterloo Bridge, as a pub.

The Clyde shipyards were heavily bombed during World War II. One strategy for reducing the devestation was construction of false towns in the hills of the surrounding area. Black-out conditions, and the inaccuracies of navigation over such a long distance, not to mention anti-aircraft guns, made it possible to misdirect the German bombers with lights placed in prefab structures. The latter made for a diversion target, protecting the actual towns.

RMS Queen Mary arrives in New York 20 June 1945
Public DomainRMS Queen Mary arrives in New York 20 June 1945 - Credit: US Navy
Page 148. " a many-peaked and cross-beamed cottage-orné "
Cottage-orné architecture in Dorset, England
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCottage-orné architecture in Dorset, England - Credit: Chris Downer

The cottage-orné was an architectural style which was part of the Picturesque Movement. It developed in Britain during the late 18th and early 19th century, and later became popular in Europe and America.

Generally, the cottage-orné was a small house built in an artificial countrified manner (often using cob, thatch and wood) designed to convey the impression of idyllic rural domesticity. Buildings of the cottage-orné type were often constructed in the grounds of country estates and used as  summer-houses by the wealthy occupants of the main house.

Cottage-orné architecture in Nebraska, U.S.A.
Public DomainCottage-orné architecture in Nebraska, U.S.A. - Credit: Ammodramus
Cottage-orné architecture in Alabama, U.S.A
Public DomainCottage-orné architecture in Alabama, U.S.A - Credit: Altairisfar

 Click here to see a more elaborate form of cottage-orné architecture in Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A.