Fact to Fiction How authors are inspired by true events
It is estimated that anywhere from 1/4 to 2/3 of Europe’s population was wiped out by the Black Death. Around 4,200,000 people died in England alone.
The disease killed quickly. It was said that the victim would have breakfast with his children…. … and dinner with his ancestors.
The Black Plague was caused by bacteria transmitted by fleas on rats. A sign in Weymouth Harbor, England The rats stowed away on ships and spread the disease.
At the time, no one knew what caused the Black Death…. …and no one knew how to cure it.
Those who could, including politicians, lawyers, doctors and the wealthy, fled the city. King Charles II (who was nicknamed “The Merry Monarch”) and his courtiers left London to escape the plague.
Doctors thought they could protect themselves from catching the plague by dressing in heavy robes and wearing a cone-shaped masks filled with herbs and spices. "Doktor Schnabel von Rom" ("Doctor Beak from Rome") engraving, Rome 1656.
Burning of Jews during the Black Death- 1349 A History of the Jewish People by H.H. Ben-Sasson, ed. (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1976) p.564-565
Burning of Jews during the Black Death- 1493 Liber Chronicarum / Die Schedelsche Weltchronik by Hartmann Schedel
Danse Macabre Dodendans Dance of Death Dansa de la Mort Totentanz Danza Macabre Dança da Morte Danza de la Muerte
The Dance Macabre is an allegory of death as the ultimate equalizer. Emperor, your sword won’t help you out Sceptre and crown are worthless here I’ve taken you by the hand For you must come to my dance An excerpt from a German “Totentanz” Poem (1490)
“Triumph of Death” by Pieter Bruegel - 1562
The Sad, Short Life of Edgar Allan Poe 1842- Poe writes “The Masque of the Red Death” 1829- Mrs. Allan dies Of Tuberculosis. Poe joins the army at West Point. 1809- Edgar Poe Is born In Boston, Mass. 1835- Poe finally gets his first writing job. He marries his 13 year old cousin. 1849- Poe dies. 1823- Poe is 14, at William Burke Academy, succeeding in athletics. 1826- Poe attends University of Virginia. Runs out of money, Drops out. 1841- Poe writes the first detective novel, “The Murders In the Rue Morgue” 1811- Poe’s father abandons them. His mother dies of Tuberculosis. He is informally adopted by the Allans. 1847- Poe’s wife dies of Tuberculosis. 1831- Poe purposely gets kicked out of West Point.
Tuberculosis (also called TB or consumption) is caused by bacteria that is transmitted through coughing and sneezing, or even speaking. It usually becomes a lung infection, damaging the tissue of the lungs and causing internal bleeding. Victims will often cough up blood. Even today, untreated active TB is fatal of 50% of the time.