Five Things Marci Jefferson Didn’t Know She Needed to Know Before Writing her Novel

Posted by




The second author guest in my new series of posts telling us THINGS I DIDN’T KNOW I’D NEED TO KNOW BEFORE WRITING MY NOVEL is Marci Jefferson. Her novel GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN takes us to London in the Seventeenth Century.



Girl-coinStephanie, thank you for the opportunity to visit your blog today to talk about researching historical novels. Though I am a nurse by day, my love for history drove me to study it independently for many years. Nevertheless, when the idea for GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN struck me, I didn’t know I had years of research ahead of me! I set to work and, looking back, there were some surprises. Here are five of them:



(Click on the question to reveal the answer)


[expand title=”1) How did Londoners preserve severed heads on the spikes at London Bridge? “]Usually they lightly boiled the head, sometimes they dipped it in tar, and sometimes they packed it with preserving spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and cumin.[/expand]


[expand title=”2) How does small-pox feel?“]Very terribly unpleasant. It begins with fever, aching, and vomiting for four days, then a rash of open sores develops in your mouth. The rash spreads to your body and turns into painful raised bumps that feel like pebbles under the skin. They fill with fluid, and the fever returns. The sores eventually crust and form scabs. After these scab fall off, you are considered no longer contagious. If you live.[/expand]


[expand title=”3) Did they or did they not bathe in late seventeenth century London?“]The answer depends upon the rank of the person. Diarist Samuel Pepys was a British commoner, and was wary to wash lest he take a chill. But archaeological evidence shows that Whitehall Palace had bathing chambers with heated stoves, sunken tubs, and drainage pipes. The courtiers certainly bathed. Any maid of honor found to be stinky was made fun of in satirical poetry.[/expand]



Frances Stuart
[expand title=” 4) Did Frances Stuart eat with a fork? “]I found the use of forks throughout history to be more widespread than expected, mentioned in the Bible and referenced by Ovid. In England in 1653, the Ingenious Gentlewoman’s Delightful Companion published that “it will be comely and decent to use a fork.” [/expand]


[expand title=”5) Did the Restoration Court ever eat anything healthy?“]John Evelyn, another English diarist of the late seventeenth century, wrote a great deal about sallets. These dishes included a blend of crude and fresh herbs. He topped his with a mixture of oyl and wine vinegar infused with cloves, elder, roses, or rosemary. But he strictly prohibited the addition of garlic saying, “tis not for ladies palats, nor those who court them.” [/expand]
london coffee house 1668-cropped


MARCI JEFFERSON grew up in an Air Force family and so lived numerous places, including North Carolina, Georgia, and the Philippines. Her passion for history sparked while living in Yorktown, Virginia, where locals still share Revolutionary War tales. She lives in Indiana with her husband and children. This is her first novel. Visit her website at