Page 206. " halfway through our game of Noah’s Ark "

Noah’s Ark appears in the Bible, (Genesis chapters 6-9) and the Qur’an. Noah was a patriarch with three sons, Shem, Ham and Japeth. When he was 600 years old, God informed him that he was going to send a great flood to cleanse the Earth of man’s wickedness. Noah was instructed to build a great boat, board it with his family and two of every animal under the sun, and they alone would be saved from the Flood.

The waters covered the mountains and the Ark came to rest on the top of Mount Ararat. After ten months, Noah sent out a raven and a dove to see if the waters had receded – the dove returned with an olive branch, indicating the lowering water levels. Once the Earth was dry, God told Noah to leave the Ark, whereupon he made a sacrifice for their safe deliverance, and God made a covenant with Noah, that he and his sons might eat animals but only those which had been drained of their sacred blood. A rainbow formed in the sky to seal the pact and Noah and his family, along with the animals, repopulated the Earth. The patriarch died at the great age of 950.

Noah's Ark is one of the most well-known Old Testament stories. Studied for centuries by scholars who look for both literal and figurative meanings, the story has also been re-written, filmed and painted in many variations. From time to time, claims surface that remnants of the Ark have been found in Turkey near Mount Ararat. Children’s toys of Noah’s Ark are very popular – the large sailing vessel and the pairs of animals have been played with by children throughout the ages.

Page 213. " a rescuer for Rapunzel "

Rapunzel is a German fairytale written by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. Their story is an adaptation of the 1698 story Persinette. In the story Rapunzel is the daughter of a poor couple who is taken away from her parents at birth by a wicked enchantress, as punishment for her mother stealing rapunzel plants from the witch’s garden during her pregnancy. The beautiful Rapunzel is imprisoned in a tall tower with no doors, and the enchantress gains access to her by climbing Rapunzel’s long golden hair to the window of her room. One day a prince riding through the forest hears Rapunzel singing. Enchanted by her beauty, he begins to visit her in secret, also climbing her hair, and they plan an escape together. But the witch discovers him, cuts off Rapunzel’s braid to lure him up and then throws him from the tower. The briars in which he lands blind him. Years later, whilst wandering the country, he hears the voice of his beloved again and they are reunited. Rapunzel’s tears of joy fall on his eyes and restore his sight, and the two marry and live happily ever after.

Read a full text of the story here, or more of the Grimm Brothers’ tales.

Page 216. " just entering Vauxhall Gardens "


Vauxhall Gardens was a privately-operated pleasure garden open between 1729 and 1859. Admission was charged and attractions included tightrope walkers, fireworks, hot air balloons and concerts. There were various pavilions and walkways, popular meeting points for romantic assignations. Food and drink were available, and crowds of 60,000 or more could be accommodated. The Gardens were popular amongst all classes.

The lease was eventually sold to developers and the land was divided into 300 building plots. However the site was cleared in the 20th century, and now holds a small park and a city farm.

Page 220. " Grey Eagle Street "

Grey Eagle Street is a street in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, East London. It begins in the north at Quaker Street and turns right into Jerome Street at its southern end.

Page 220. " watch the Houses of Parliament burn "

On the night of 16th October 1834 a fire broke out at the Houses of Parliament. It had begun earlier in the day when two workmen used the furnaces below the House of Lords to burn old accounts records. Huge crowds turned out to watch as both Houses of Parliament and much of the rest of the Palace of Westminster burned to the ground, and the scenes were captured by painter J.M.W. Turner. Construction of a new Parliament (the present building) began in 1840 and was finished in 1870.

Page 224. " The Hogarth print over my head was of St Giles "

 William Hogarth (1697-1764) was an English painter, engraver, printmaker and cartoonist. He is famed for his moralizing and satirical pictures of 'modern moral subjects' and credited as being the Western pioneer of the comic-strip. Many of his works were of political, social or moral commentary and were published in newspapers and magazines. Hogarth was also in demand as a portrait painter throughout his career.

St Giles is an area of London, at the southern end of the Borough of Camden. In the nineteenth century it was London’s worst and most notorious slum, known as The Rookery of St Giles. Hogarth featured it in three of his etchings: Gin Lane (1751), Noon From Four Times of Day and The First Stage of Cruelty (1751). Earlier in the novel, Catherine has referred to the Hogarth etching of Gin Lane which hangs in her uncle’s house.

Page 224. " put up curtains covered with lime "

Hydrated lime is an inorganic chemical compound of calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2). A white or colourless powder, it is formed by mixing calcium oxide (lime) with water. Mass-produced, cheap and easily handled, hydrated lime has a variety of uses. One of the most common is in water treatment or sewage plants, where it helps attract smaller particles and produces clearer water. It was also used as a disinfectant, especially in areas affected by diseases or where there was a high risk of infection from decomposing bodies (such as the trenches of World War I). Hanging the lime-soaked curtains would have been an attempt to protect the Members of Parliament from the feared cholera outbreak in London. Unprotected exposure, however, has its own health risks, including burning and lung damage, so today safer alternatives are used – not such a ‘wise’ idea as Catherine’s uncle observes.

Read more on the uses of lime in disinfection.