Mrs Duberley's War : Journal and Letters From the Crimea is back in print again for the first time since its publication in 1855 and you will want to read this in tandem with No Place For Ladies because I think the books complement each other perfectly.
In 1854, at the age of 25, Fanny Duberley accompanied her husband Henry to the Crimea in his role as non-combatant Paymaster to the 8th Royal Irish Hussars and kept a journal from the day she set off from Plymouth.
This edition also contains contemporaneous extracts from her letters alongside her diary entries plus a wealth of background information on how the whole debacle started in the first place.There are also helpful glossaries and biographies of key figures.
Thanks to Fanny Duberley we have a permanent record of some of the minutiae and deprivations of life right in the thick of battle. Fanny actually witnessed the battle of Balaklava and the charge of the Light Brigade.
In these politically correct times it's unthinkable to imagine some of the things that went on.Lady tourists travelling to the Front to watch the carnage through their opera glasses with a veritable out of town shopping centre set up to cope with shopping requirements. Even Fortnum and Mason's had a Crimean branch.
Poor Fanny was mocked and ridiculed mercilessly when the journal was first published and admittedly she was a bit quick off the mark in capturing the market, the dust had barely settled on Sebastopol. She read the market right though, there was an insatiable appetite for accounts like this back home and the first edition was a sensational sell out.
Interestingly the year 1855 coincides to the day and date with 2007 so we can share something of Fanny's life on a daily basis, expect some interesting extracts over the next few days.Bearing in mind also that calculating when Easter should fall is incredibly complex (Ecclesiastical full moons plus the vernal equinox multiplied by David Beckham's shirt number minus the sum total of your car number ) am I naive in being surprised that Easter 1855 also falls on exactly the same weekend?
I love to read diaries in this way, day by day as they were written, so today for example, amid preparations by 20,000 men for the Allied spring offensive on Balaclava, Fanny riding her beloved horse Bob,and husband Henry nip down to the shops.
Wednesday March 21st 1855
In our saddles by half-past-ten, riding towards Kamiesh...Here we made purchases of chickens, carrots, petit pois verts and various other necessaries of life...Henry decorated the pommel of his saddle with six fowls, slung three on each side, and Bob, who had never been turned into a market-horse before, was alike frightened at their screams, and disgusted at the way they scratched him with their claws; so he wisely took the shortest and quickest way home, hardly breaking from his hand gallop the whole way.Poor chickens!