The Take-Away in Literature

It was a nice little dinner …being entirely furnished forth from the coffee-house 
(Great Expectations, Charles Dickens)

Until I visited Pompeii – during a holiday on the Amalfi coast a few years ago – I had always assumed take-aways were a recent invention.  But in the ancient Italian city devastated by the  volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD the streets were lined with thermopolia, service counters opening onto the street where people could buy food to take away.  There were more than 200 of these in Pompeii, and the remains of houses show few traces of kitchen and dining areas, suggesting that cooking at home was unusual. Continue reading “The Take-Away in Literature”

The Hungry Child

As we move into the 19th century, novels begin to take more of an interest in childhood. Whilst Jane Austen touches on the childhood of some of her protagonists (Emma Woodhouse, Catherine Morland and Fanny Price), novelists writing slightly later develop the childhood of their protagonists as a key element in their plots. Such writers include Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre (1847), and Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist (1837), David Copperfield (1850) and Great Expectations (1860).  Continue reading “The Hungry Child”