Myrtle’s grand tour of Germany continues! Following the success of the German editions of Premeditated Myrtle/Mord em Gewächshaus and How to Get Away with Myrtle/Mord em Handgepack, publisher Verlag Knesebeck has picked up Book 4, In Myrtle Peril! (Yes, Book 3, Cold-Blooded Myrtle/Das Geheimnis des Glockenturms is coming next year, too!) To celebrate, today we’re taking a look at some of Myrtle’s favorite German imports of the 19th century.
Read More: How to Get Away to Germany
First up, we have an item you’ll see on the US cover of In Myrtle Peril: the Bunsen Burner. This indispensable laboratory equipment was developed in an 1853 collaboration between German chemistry professor Robert Bunsen and Heidelberg University mechanic Peter Desaga, refining earlier laboratory burners into the device still used today.
Along with your Bunsen burner, you’ll likely find yourself reaching for another German lab essential, the Erlenmeyer flask. This is the one with the cool conical shape:
Developed in 1857 by Emil Erlenmeyer, this design allows a chemist to stir a solution by swirling the vessel, without the risk of spillage presented by earlier beakers. For more on Erlenmeyer, see here. Incidentally, tomorrow, June 28, is Erlenmeyer’s birthday—so be sure to lift a flask to the father of unspillable vessels!
Possibly the most celebrated German import of the Victorian age plays a supporting role in Book 3, Cold-Blooded Myrtle. And that would, of course, be the Christmas tree!
Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, was a German immigrant who brought many of his native traditions with him to Britain, although an earlier German-born English monarch is credited with England’s first Royal Christmas Tree.
In 1800 Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, created England’s first Christmas tree during a holiday party at Windsor Castle (footnote: this is typically described as “a party for local children,” which raises the unanswered question which children? This 2011 article clarifies things a bit with “children of leading families.” Yes, we rather thought as much.) Attendee Dr. John Watkins offers our best evidence of Her Majesty’s festive novelty:
In the middle of the room stood an immense tub with a yew tree placed in it, from the branches of which hung bunches of sweetmeats, almonds, and raisins in papers, fruits and toys, most tastefully arranged, and the whole illuminated by small wax candles. After the company had walked around and admired the tree, each child obtained a portion of the sweets which it bore together with a toy and then all returned home, quite delighted.
The Christmas tree caught on with those “leading families” but remained relatively unknown outside elite circles for the next few decades. It took the Royal Mania around Everything Victoria to bring the Christmas tree to the masses.
Speaking of German delicacies, what about pretzels? Oddly, this is one area where Americans were ahead of our British friends. German immigrants to the US brought this humble snack food with them, and pretzel vendors, factories, and technology proliferated. Ah, well. You can’t have everything, I suppose.
Watch for German editions of new Myrtle Hardcastle Krimi coming soon from Verlag Knesebeck!