Page 51. " mending their nets, tinkering with crab and lobster-pots "

Nets would have been made by hand, by knotting rope.  Mending nets can be a reasonably simple operation or something much larger in scale, as seen below.

Lobster and crab traps are traditionally made from a wooden frame surrounded by rope mesh.  The lobster is lured in with bait and then prevented from exiting, as shown in this underwater video of a modern lobster trap in action.

Page 51. " canvas gaiters "

The gaiters worn by Charles would be much longer, reaching up to around the knee to meet his breeches (short trousers which finished with a cuff just below the knee).

Page 51. " wideawake hat "
Rembrandt self-portrait with wide-awake hat
Public DomainRembrandt self-portrait with wide-awake hat

A "wideawake" was a broad-brimmed hat, with the brim turned up at the front on both sides, as seen in this Rembrandt self-portrait.


Page 51. " early editions of Baedeker "

Founded in 1827, Baedeker was a publishing house which became famous for its guide books.  The first English edition (a guide to the area around the Rhine) was published in 1861 and the name Baedeker rapidly became a shorthand in English for any guide book.  More on the history of these books can be found at the Baedeker wiki.

The equipment advice in the 1898 Baedeker guide to Egypt begins with precise, nearly exhaustive detail:

"For all ordinary puposes a couple of light tweed suits, a few flannel and soft cotton shirts, a supply of thick woollen socks, one pair of light and easy boots, one of shoes and one of slippers, a moderately warm Ulster or long travelling cloak, a pith-helmet and soft felt hat [...]"

and continues in this vein for a further 21 lines.

Page 52. " quote George Eliot's favourite epigram "
George Eliot, painted in 1865 by Frederick William Burton
Public DomainGeorge Eliot, painted in 1865 by Frederick William Burton

George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Anne Evans (1819-1890). One of the great Victorian novelists, Eliot also completed the first English translation of David Strauss' Das Leben Jesu kritisch bearbeitet (The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined).  This book was highly controversial at the time of its publication due to its rejection of the divinity of Jesus and argument that the gospels should be interpreted as myths.

Fowles' quotation comes from a conversation between Eliot and F. W. H. Myers in 1873, which he recalled thus:

"Taking as her text the three words which have been used so often as the inspiring trumpet-calls of men--the words of God, Immorality, and Duty,--[she] pronounced, with terrible earnestness, how inconceivable was the first, how unbelievable the second, and yet how peremptory and absolute the third."

Page 52. " a line from Homer "
The British Museum's bust of Homer
Public DomainThe British Museum's bust of Homer

Homer is the ancient Greek epic poet who is believed to have written the Odyssey and the Iliad.  He has been lauded as one of the world's greatest writers for millenia but his biography is shrouded in mystery and scholars debate whether a single man wrote the work attributed to him and whether he existed at all.

The Odyssey on Book Drum

Page 53. " The Voyage of the Beagle "

A watercolour of the Beagle by the ship's artist.
Public DomainA watercolour of the Beagle by the ship's artist.

The Voyage of the Beagle is the name widely given to the book of travel notes and scientific observations gathered by Charles Darwin during his five year expedition aboard the eponymous ship.  A map of this voyage can be found here. It was published in 1839 as Journal and Remarks. Although Darwin was to become best known for his study of evolution, the content of this book spans biology, anthropology and geology. 

There was by the Victorian period a long tradition of scientific generalists joining expeditions whose main purpose was mapping or discovering new imperial territories. Another famous instance is Joseph Banks, whose part in an 18th century expeditionary survey around the Pacific and South America is recounted in The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes.


Page 53. " Linnaean Scala Naturae "

Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) was a Swedish scientist who is considered the father of modern taxonomy.  His major work was the Systema Naturae, which divided the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms into the structure of classes, orders, genera and species.  This system was the scientific standard by the end of the 18th century and is the foundation for modern systems of taxonomy.  Linnaeus did not, however, move beyond this taxonomy to theories of evolution: his views on the origin of species can be gathered from his repeated maxim "Deus creavit, Linnaeus disposuit" (God created, Linnaeus organised).

The Scala Natura is a conception of the ordering of all living creatures on a hierarchical scale from the most basic and base natural elements at the bottom to God at the very top.  The origin of this idea is often attributed to Aristotle, a Greek philosopher of the 4th century BCE.

Page 54. " general extinction was as absent a concept "

For many Victorians, the idea of the "general extinction" of whole species was one of the most frightening aspects of the theory of evolution.  In his poem "In Memoriam" (used frequently in this novel for chapter epigraphs), Tennyson observes that "so careful of the type she [nature] seems, so careless of the single life".  Later in the poem he corrects himself:

"'So careful of the type?' but no.

From scarped cliff and quarried stone

She cries, `A thousand types are gone:

I care for nothing, all shall go."

Page 56. " Mrs Sherwood's edifying tales "

Mary Martha Sherwood wrote many short didactic books and stories which aimed to provide children with a moral education.  To modern standards the content is often dark and macabre, focusing on the tragic or horrific ends of characters who stray from Sherwood's idea of moral behaviour.


Page 58. " the standards of Walter Scott "

Sir Walter Scott, by Sir Henry Raeburn
Public DomainSir Walter Scott, by Sir Henry Raeburn
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was a Scottish novelist and poet whose work was immensely popular in the 19th century.  He is best remembered for his work in the genre of historical fiction, which includes Waverley, Ivanhoe and Rob Roy.


Page 58. " the great Sir Francis "

Sir Francis Drake, by Nicholas Hilliard
Public DomainSir Francis Drake, by Nicholas Hilliard
  Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) was an English sailor, explorer and politician.  His daring exploits include circumnavigating the globe (the second man and first Englishman to do so), the pre-emptive strike on Cadiz harbour that delayed Spain's attempted invasion of England by a year, and leading the English to victory against the Spanish Armada.

Page 62. " alienation effect of the Brechtian kind "

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was a German playwright and theatre director who was instrumental in the development of a dramatic movement called Epic Theatre.  One aspect of this is Verfremdungseffekt (distancing or alienating effect), which involves devices such as actors directly addressing the audience and is intended to prevent the audience immersing themselves in the illusion that the play is in any way 'real'.

Page 62. " Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani "

The last words spoken by Jesus on the cross before his death: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Page 65. " as sensitive as a sea-anemone "

Sea anemones are very sensitive to being touched:

Page 66. " a drum of Blue Vinney "

Blue Vinney is a Dorset blue cheese.  Maggots are sometimes intentionally used in the production of blue cheese as flavour enhancers.

Page 70. " The Undercliff - for this land "

  This video of the Undercliff today shows some examples of the lush vegetation and the ruined buildings mentioned by Fowles.

Page 71. " with celandines and primroses "
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCelandines - Credit: amandabhslater
Creative Commons AttributionPrimroses - Credit: scoobygirl
Sloe blossom
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSloe blossom - Credit: Opioła Jerzy
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWoodsorrel - Credit: Jörg Hempel
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWoodsorrel - Credit: Jörg Hempel







Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeAnemone - Credit: scoobygirl
Creative Commons AttributionBluebell - Credit: daryl_mitchell


Page 72. " the ground that Botticelli's figures walk on "

Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) was an Italian painter of the early Renaissance.  His Primavera, below, is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance art.

Primavera, by Botticelli
Public DomainPrimavera, by Botticelli
Page 72. " the air that includes Ronsard's songs "

Pierre Ronsard, by François-Séraphin Delpech
Public DomainPierre Ronsard, by François-Séraphin Delpech

Pierre Ronsard (1524-1585) was a writer called "the prince of poets" by his contemporaries. His poems feature rich natural imagery and are frequently love poems addressed to women.  Examples of his verse can be found here.

Page 72. " to Rousseau, and the childish myths "
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, by Maurice Quentin de La Tour
Public DomainJean-Jacques Rousseau, by Maurice Quentin de La Tour

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was a Genevois philosopher who is credited with developing the highly-influential concept of the "noble savage" - the idea that humankind is innately good and moral outside of the malign influence of civilisation.