[Historical Fiction Prompt] How To Protect Your Beard During The Night in 1890

 

Curated by Dr. Barbara Ellermeier, historian and author. I publish helpful resources for authors who want to write novels and non-fiction books with a historical setting. Want to receive prompts like this one once a week?

 

Beards are really hot right now. I can’t believe I am actually writing this down! Okay, so: Beards haven’t been fancy since about a hundred or 110 years ago. I NEVER believed this fashion would come back, EVER. But here it is. Amidst all this hipster hype of growing and caring for beards, I want to interrupt and suggest a very special writing prompt.

Did you know that during the 1890s in Germany, there was such a thing to protect your beard? In German, we say “Bartbinde”.  And I’ll tell you about its purpose in a second. Men were sick of having their beards crumpled while they slept! That’s why a neat person invented the “Bartbinde”. Loosely translated as “moustache guard”.

Write a scene about this: Describe how a married couple prepares for bed.

They each have a wash in the bathroom, use tooth powder to clean their teeth (very modern!! Toothbrushes weren’t common yet). They dress in their overlong nightgowns (no pyjamas for the guy, it’s a night GOWN, too!).

The woman covers her hair with her nightcap. And then, they crawl under their huge eiderdown.

Just before the man blows out the candle, he grabs something from his night stand.

The “Bartbinde”.

He fixes the strap around one ear, then the other strap around the other ear. And finally straightens out the piece of cloth so that it keeps his beard in shape! It must have looked something like this.

(If you want to see more “beard guards” in action, click here, here, here and here.)

 

Did you know that during the 1890s in Germany, there was such a thing to protect your beard? That's why a neat person invented the “Bartbinde”. Loosely translated as “moustache guard”. Write a scene about this: Describe how a married couple prepares for bed.

 

Write the scene from the perspective of his wife.

Make this scene a focal point describing the condition of their marriage.

Does she view the whole scene with irony, with distance, or something else?

How can you mirror all the hopes, the disappointments, the dreams of their young relationship in this short scene?

 

 

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