In the course of researching Out of Time, I thought I ought to improve my philosophy knowledge, so I picked up A History of Western Philosophy. I'm still part way through. It reads well, makes sense of a lot that I kind of knew but didn't really understand and is an easy way into a big, and frequently mind-boggling subject.
I also got hold of A.N. Wilson's coffee table book, The Victorians. As I was writing about an alternative Victorian, 'Clockwork Empire', I thought I'd better find out a bit more about what the real one was like. It's easy to read and has a distinctive take on the period.
The book I enjoyed the most was probably The Birth of the Modern 1815-1830. At 1,000 pages it's a hefty tome. It covers a fifteen year time period in incredible detail, taking in all of Europe, Russia, America, South America, China, the pacific rim, art, music, literature, politics, science and just about anything else you can think of. This covers the time period the Professor begins his machinations.