I found the idea of mouse-proof underwear mentioned in - of all things -
a cookery book: Elisabeth Luard's "European Peasant Cookery, The Rich
Tradition", (Transworld Publishers Ltd., London, 1986), page 478,
'Buffalo Milk (Hungary)'. It is the introduction to a long quotation
from Ellen Browning's "A Girl's Wanderings in Hungary", (London, 1896).
The quotation itself is about the uses of buffalo milk, especially
making cheese, and it contains nothing whatever about items of dress,
but it may be that the source book itself offers more.
"Ellen Browning, a clever young university graduate and kinswoman of
Robert Browning, travelled alone through late nineteenth-century
Hungary, trying to restore her health while recovering from her father's
death. She admitted fear of nothing except mice and wore long cloth
knickers under her gown as an anti-mouse device. She had constant
trouble with fleas, but was a very observant traveller."
As I'm an ardent medievalist, I've never paid much attention to the
sorts of things normally worn in Ellen's time, but this intrigued me;
I'd love to know more, and whether others also felt the need for such
garments, and whether they worked.
As I've been very ill lately, I haven't been able to pursue Ellen's
book, nor to look into the subject in general, but the subject has
haunted me. Help !
Catherine Walton - delighted to see so many people posting again.
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