Page 201. " a small bowler hat and a herringbone-pattern shooting jacket "
Bowler hat and Herringbone jacket
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumBowler hat and Herringbone jacket - Credit: Kerri

Herringbone describes a distinctive V-shaped weave, named for the skeleton of a herring fish.  Herringbone-patterned fabric is usually wool, and is one of the most popular cloths used for suits and outerwear.  Tweed cloth is often woven with a herringbone pattern.

There are many varieties of shooting jackets.  An example is the Norfolk jacket, a loose, belted, single-breasted jacket, made fashionable from the 1860s in the sporting circle of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. 

Herringbone shooting jacket
Public DomainHerringbone shooting jacket

The bowler hat is a hard felt hat, designed in 1849 for British soldier and politician Edward Coke, by London hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler.  Coke desired a close-fitting, low-crowned hat to protect his gamekeepers’ heads from low-hanging branches while on horseback (top hats proved terribly impractical).  The bowler hat was popular with the working class during the Victorian era, and later became part of the official work uniform of bankers.  It was later adopted by the officers of the Queen's Guards.

Page 202. " My name is Dr Runcible Spoon "
Illustration for
Public DomainIllustration for "The Owl and the Pussycat" - Credit: Edward Lear

Runcible is a nonsense word invented by Edward Lear. He appears to have been very pleased with the word, and it appears in several of his works, describing various objects.  The Owl and the Pussycat eat “with a runcible spoon." So does the Dolomphious Duck, in alphabetical illustrations, Twenty-Six Nonsense Rhymes and Pictures.

The Dolomphious Duck
Public DomainThe Dolomphious Duck - Credit: Edward Lear

In The Self-Portrait of the Laureate of Nonsense, Lear states that "he weareth a runcible hat." In other poems he refers to a "runcible cat," a "runcible goose" (referring to a silly person), and a "runcible wall.”

Lear appears to have favoured the word for its sound, rather than for any imagined meaning.  Since the 1920s, however, dictionaries have determined that a "runcible spoon" is a fork with three broad curved prongs and a sharpened edge, used for pickles or hors d’oeuvres. Lear's own drawing of said spoon, however, looks more like a ladle.  And there is of course the cat, the goose, and wall….

Page 213. " This is Daisy Mutlar, darling, Landy's fiancee "

Caricature of Weedon Grossmith
Public DomainCaricature of Weedon Grossmith - Credit: Leslie Ward in Vanity Fair, 1905
The Diary of a Nobody is an English comic novel by brothers George and Weedon Grossmith, with illustrations by Weedon.  It first appeared in Punch magazine in 1888-89, and was printed in book form in 1892. It is the fictitious record of fifteen months in the life of Mr Charles Pooter, a middle aged city clerk of lower middle class status and high aspirations.  He is married to Carrie, and they have a son called Lupin.  Daisy Mutlar is Lupin's unsuitable fiancée. The Grossmiths provide an accurate and humorous record of the manners, customs and experiences of Londoners in the late Victorian era. 

Page 217. " The White Queen used to believe six impossible things before breakfast "
Alice dressing the White Queen
Public DomainAlice dressing the White Queen - Credit: John Tenniel

The White Queen is a character in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.  She is a chess piece, and Alice joins the chess game, taking the place of the Queen's young daughter Lily, to play a pawn.  The White Queen lives backwards in time.  She screams in pain until she pricks her thumb on her brooch, for example, or locking someone up for a crime they're still to commit.  She tells Alice that she is just over 101 years old, and that in her youth she could believe "six impossible things before breakfast." She recommends that Alice should do the same. 

Alice with the Red Queen and the White Queen
Public DomainAlice with the Red Queen and the White Queen - Credit: Sir John Tenniel

Page 217. " The Earl of Oxford was a writer, we can be sure of that "

Earl of Oxford Coat of Arms, 1574
Public DomainEarl of Oxford Coat of Arms, 1574 - Credit: George Baker
The title of Earl of Oxford, now dormant, was held for more than five and a half centuries by the de Vere family from 1141 until the death of the 20th Earl in 1703. The Earls of Oxford were also hereditary holders of the office of Lord Great Chamberlain from 1133 until 1625. Their primary seat was Castle Hedingham in Essex, but they owned land across England. 

Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl, has been identified as a possible author of the works of Shakespeare.  He was a ward and later son-in-law of Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth I’s Secretary of State.  He was noted in his time as a playwright, lyric poet and patron of the arts.

Page 217. " Meres, a critic of the time, mentioned as much in his Palladis Tamia of 1598 "
Palladis Tamia front page
Public DomainPalladis Tamia front page - Credit: Francis Meres, author, Peter Short, printer

Palladis Tamia: Wits Treasury, was written in 1598 by Minister Frances Meres.  It was the first critical account of the poems and early plays of William Shakespeare. It includes moral and critical reflections borrowed from various sources; sections on books, philosophy, music and painting; and a "Comparative Discourse of our English poets with the Greeke, Latin, and Italian poets."  The book was reissued in 1634 as a school book, and was partially reprinted in Joseph Haslewood’s Ancient Critical Essays (1811) and George Gregory Smith’s Elizabethan Critical Essays (1904).

Page 221. " I placed the Gladstone with the money on the parapet "

Gladstone Bag
Public DomainGladstone Bag - Credit: Darbyandjoan1
A Gladstone bag is a small suitcase built over a rigid frame, which could separate into two equal sections.  It is typically made of stiff leather, and often belted with lanyards.  The first Gladstone bag was designed and manufactured by J G Beard at his leather shop in the City of Westminster.  He named it a Gladstone in honour of the UK Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898).