‘Devil’s Breath’ Author Tessa Harris on The Deadly Fog of 1783



Tessa Harris, author of the Devil’s Breath, a Thomas Silkstone mystery, recently wrote about the killer fog of 1783 on my other blog, the Fiction Reboot. Tessa’s marvelous story-telling, coupled with her conscientious research into the 18th century, make for heart-pounding reading. The ‘year of awe’ is truly stranger than fiction, however! I have provided an excerpt of this post below… it resonates with me, as I was in England for the last Icelandic eruption ad a similar (though less dangerous) miasma. Chilling to think we are ever at the mercy of the earth and sky!

Excerpt: Year of Awe | Guest post by Tessa Harris

A deadly fog that killed both man and beast, a blood-red moon, savage thunderstorms and great meteors: no wonder most people in eastern England thought the world was about to end in 1783!

Sores and patches appeared on the skin of animals

By June 23 the highly toxic cloud of sulphur had reached Britain. On the east coast, in Lincoln, a visitor reported: “A thick hot vapour had for several days before filled up the valley, so that both the Sun and Moon appeared like heated brick-bars.” (Gentleman’s Magazine, July 1783.)

In Huntington, the poet William Cowper wrote of the ‘thickest fog’ he could remember. He went on: “We never see the sun but shorn of its beams, the trees are scarce discernable at a mile’s distance, he sets with the face of a hot salamander and rises with the same complexion.”