Fun Facts


Missing in Time is mostly set in 1912, at the end of the Edwardian era, in a time of exciting developments in technology such as movies, or moving pictures as they were called, though they had no sound. 
Other new technologies of the era include the telephone, the motorcar and electricity. Though electricity didn’t arrive in Robin Hood’s Bay, the novel's setting, until 1932!

In the Edwardian period, the horse and carriage shares the road with the motorcar. A unique time in history, never to happen again. Many people back then, though, thought the car was just a passing phase!

The first Top Gear Race
In 1911, a group of Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost car owners ran a race from London to Edinburgh in top gear only. One hundred years later, this race was re-enacted. For his second car, the master of the house, Mr Brumpton, owns a Silver Ghost.

Women’s Work
Sally lands in a time when there are no labor-saving devices: washing machines, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, microwaves, fridges or gas fires. Women had to do everything the hard way. But women with money shared their homes with servants who were cheap and – subservient (you can see where this word derives from!).

One of the first gas fires installed in homes was called the Silent Servant. The gas company, desperate to hang on to their technology and compete with the new energy, electricity, sent out lady demonstrators to show home owners how to use it. Using women for this position was forward thinking for the times.


After the industrial revolution, women wanted safe and fair working conditions. For years suffragettes and other women’s organizations tried to achieve this through calm negotiation with the government, but not many politicians were listening. The thinking was: Why listen to women when they had no power to put you in office?

So to gain real power, women needed the vote. By 1912, a branch of the suffragette movement was using any means necessary to get this, including violence. Women in Britain finally achieved the vote after they proved they were vital to the workforce during World War I, and also because the government were afraid of a revolution.

Crime Buster

Another new technology of the time was wireless telegraphy (machines that could transmit long-distance text messages using electrical signals) invented by an Italian, Guglielmo Marconi. 

Using Morse code, telegraph messages – or Marconigrams – were tapped out from ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore. The young men who operated them were the technology geeks of the day.

The public, who at first didn’t understand the importance of this new technology, really got behind it when it helped solve a murder case. This is the story of the first criminal ever to be caught by a ship’s wireless message and people followed the exciting events in the newspaper as the events unfolded...

The prime suspect, Dr. Crippen, murdered his wife, and then boarded a ship to Canada with his girlfriend (who bizarrely boarded the ship disguised as a man!). The ship’s captain recognized Dr. Crippen and suspected the “man”. So he sent a Marconigram to Scotland Yard detectives informing them of his suspicions. The detectives immediately boarded a faster ship. Their race was reported in the press, much to the excitement of the public. The detectives arrived first and were waiting to arrest Dr. Crippen at his ship’s destination. 

Of course, wireless messages went on to become crucial in the safety of passengers at sea. 

Why Edison?
I use an inventor of the day, Thomas Edison, for one of the characters. Writers often reference Albert Einstein in science-fiction books and films because of his time-travel theories. But I wanted to write about the first inventor to use a team of technologists – the first Bill Gates, if you like – Thomas Edison. (Hidden MIT fact: Edison does write to Einstein for advice, though. He’s the physicist mentioned in Edison’s notes.)

Titanic Research
Because of new technologies and inventions such as flying, electricity and telephones, to the western world of 1912, it seemed anything was possible and nothing could go wrong. That feeling of invincibility disappeared when the Titanic, a ship thought to be unsinkable, sunk. Two years later, World War I broke out, and life was never the same again.

For MIT research, I visited museums, watched film footage, wrote to the Titanic Historical Society, and read a ton of fascinating books. My favorite book is: Titanic Survivor by Violet Jessup. Violet was a beautiful, brave stewardess who survived two shipwrecks and whose story is unputadownable.

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