Turkish baths in fiction:
notes on some of the baths that are imaginary,
and on some of the ones that are real

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Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline
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Adams, Nene - The Madonna of the Sorrows     Saki - The Chronicles of Clovis
Bartlett, Neil - Mr Clive and Mr Page     Thorne, Guy - When it was dark
You are here     Waugh, Alec - Kept
Ibbotson, Eva - Morning gift     Wentworth-James, G - A Mental marriage
Moore, George - Esther Waters     Wilson, AN - Daughters of Albion
Rita - The mystery of a Turkish bath    
Doyle, Arthur Conan - Sherlock Holmes     Trollope, Anthony - The Turkish bath
Hornung, EW - The chest of silver     Woodhouse, PG - Psmith in the City
Joyce, James - Ulysses    



In Chancery  

In chanceryJohn Galsworthy is one of several writers who take their characters to the Turkish bath in order to relax when under pressure. In Chancery, the second volume of his Forsyte Saga, includes one such occasion, when a stressed Soames Forsyte redirects his cabdriver to return to the West End so he can visit the Jermyn Street Hammam:

The scene he had passed through had gone from him already, what was before him would not materialize, he could catch on to nothing, and he felt frightened, as if he had been hanging over the edge of a precipice, as if with another turn of the screw sanity would have failed him. 'I'm not fit for it,' he thought; 'I mustn't—I'm not fit for it.' The cab sped on, and in mechanical procession trees, houses, people passed, but had no significance. 'I feel very queer,' he thought; 'I'll take a Turkish bath. I—I've been very near to something. It won't do.' The cab whirred its way back over the bridge, up the Fulham Road, along the Park.

'To the Hammam,' said Soames.

Curious that on so warm a summer day, heat should be so comforting! Crossing into the hot room he met George Forsyte coming out, red and glistening.

'Hallo!' said George; 'what are you training for? You've not got much superfluous.'

Buffoon! Soames passed him with his sideway smile. Lying back, rubbing his skin uneasily for the first signs of perspiration, he thought: 'Let them laugh! I won't feel anything! I can't stand violence! It's not good for me!'

In Chancery John Galsworthy (Heinemann, 1920)

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