15. Apollinaris spring water in literature

There are several references to Apollinaris in literature written in English during the known period of importation of stoneware bottles into England and around the world.

The first two are American writers. In William Dean Howells' The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), the Laphams attend a dinner party at the Coreys. After dinner, the men remain in the dining room smoking cigars, and one of the guests ‘…reached him a bottle of Apollinaris, filling a glass for Silas. He drank a glass, and then went on smoking.’ The Susan Coolidge book Clover (1888), part of the Katy Series, mentions the water during a private train journey to Colorado: ‘The car seems paved with bottles of Apollinaris and with lemons,’ wrote Katy to her father….Just as surely as it grows warm and dusty, and we begin to remember that we are thirsty, a tinkle is heard, and Bayard appears with a tray,–iced lemonade, if you please, made with Apollinaris water with strawberries floating on top! What do you think of that at thirty miles an hour?’

In English literature Jerome K Jerome wrote in Three Men on the Bummel published in 1900: ‘There is Apollinaris water which, I believe, with a little lemon squeezed into it is practicaly harmless.’ The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1912) includes, in Chapter 9, the passage: ‘We supped and camped at the very edge of the cliff, quenching our thirst with two bottles of Apollinaris, which were in one of the cases.’ The water receives a brief mention in the short story Counterparts by James Joyce, included in his collection Dubliners (1914): ‘Farrington stood a drink all round. Weathers said he would take a small Irish and Apollinaris. Farrington, who had definite notions of what was what, asked the boys, would they have an Apollinaris too?’

There are more references in English literature to Apollinaris water after the First World War when it was imported into this country in glass bottles, which had been used on the Continent since the late 1870s. E.F. Benson writes in Lucia’s Progress (1935) of Lucia’s excitement when she finds a fragment of glass marked with the letters ‘Apol’, and concludes that the remains of a Roman temple to Apollo lie beneath her garden. She subsequently finds the rest of the bottle, which supplies the full inscription ‘Apollinaris’, and promptly ceased her excavations. The poem Sun and Fun by Sir John Betjeman, published in 1954, includes the stanza:

‘I pulled aside the thick magenta curtains
So Regency, so Regency, my dear
And a host of little spiders
Ran a race across the ciders
To a box of baby 'pollies by the beer.’

In those parts of the world at least Apollinaris was most certainly part of cultured life.