This book was first published in 1950, just after the Second World War. There are a few references to the past war, and one of the things the characters mention is the rationing of coal. The Fuel and Lighting (Coal) Order 1941 came into force in January 1942. Central heating was prohibited “in the summer months”. Domestic coal was rationed to 760 kg for those in London and the south of England. Some kinds of coal such as anthracite were not rationed, and in the coal-mining areas were eagerly gathered as they were in the Great Depression.
When Edmund tries to woo Phillipa, he mentions Tennyson’s Maud. Maud and other poems was Alfred Tennyson‘s first collection after becoming poet laureate in 1850, published in 1855. It was considered a disgrace to society in the early days of its release and was banned for eight and a half years, until popular demand made it available to read once more.
Charlotte had goitre for many years until she was operated on. A goitre or goiter is a swelling in the neck resulting from an enlarged thyroid gland. The term is also used to describe an enlarged thyroid.