I just joined this mailing list and as the netiquette requires, I wanted to introduce myself... and explain my presence here.
I'm a French writer and literary translator (English to French), living in Rennes, Brittany; I work in the science-fiction and fantasy field.
I came across this mailing list while doing research on the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg. I'm currently writing a short story (and I'm late on my deadline...!) featuring mirrors and the custom of covering them after the death of a family member. I read that there's a superstition in Oldenburg - that is, if someone sees his reflection in a mirror after the death of somebody in the family, she's likely to die as well.
I have my story outlined so far, now what I lack is a historical period in which to put it - the place being the Grand Duchy of Oldenbourg. As I guess there much be many people on this ML very knowledgeable in the history of the Duchy, I would have liked to ask some information about it in order to set my story with as much realism as possible.
For my story, I need to cast a noble family, with possible estates, secluded in a family residence far from developing cities, whose situation would be degrading for some time because of a latent madness (consanguinity?), leading to an economic downfall (of course, I'm not looking for true family stories! I'm just looking for a likely historical context). The house's paternal figure has died. Trying to hide the death of the father, the house gives a great ball in order to reassure potential economic partners - here comes my main character, an occultist trying to use the power of the mirrors for a s�ance involving the dead leader. Of course, he has his own agenda.
So... if it's possible, I'd like to know, in your opinion, what best historical period, and place in Oldenburg would suit such a story. After doing my research, I had thought of setting the story in the Wilhelmshaven area, circa 1875 - the family would have missed the investment opportunities brought in by the creation of the harbor, and thus slowly fading into oblivion. Would that be coherent with the local history? Did similar stories happen? How could I get more information about the history of Wilhelmshaven? (Unfortunately I don't read German!)
I'd be very interested as well in any information you could provide about the time and place (web sites?) that could help me get me "feeling" of the time for recreating a lively setting: any info is welcome.
Thank you for reading all this!
And thanks very, very much in advance for any help you can provide!