Old letters and new weather . . .

As part of my dual life – on the one hand, publisher at Fledgling Press and on the other, researcher for the Carlyle Letters – I read lots and lots of old letters. The Carlyle Letters project at Edinburgh University has been producing a volume of the letters of Jane and Thomas Carlyle for the past 40 years, and yesterday I was in the manuscript room at the NLS, reading and transcribing letters to Thomas and Jane, written in 1866, for possible use in a future volume of letters. One letter, from Thomas’s sister, Jean Aitken Carlyle, was written from Dumfries on 4th February 1866 and in it she says (and I paraphrase here), “The weather today was almost spring-like, but I suppose we can expect two months more of winter weather.” So, although we may think the weather we’re experiencing now is odd and unseasonal – it would appear not – 150 years ago, people expected winter to last as long as it has done in 2013. You live and learn, as they say! Written by Clare Cain    

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