German poet (later called ‘the pop-star of his time’), Schiller believed in the magical power of apples. AND, after he died, his mate kept his skull on his desk. Beat that!
Goethe popped round to Schiller’s one day while he was out and decided to wait in his office for him to return. A strange smell pervaded the room, and Goethe prowled, his nose in the air, looking for the source. It was stronger as he approached Schiller’s desk. He neared, sniffing, but could see nothing to cause the smell. He frowned and sniffed again, tentatively pulling open the desk drawer.
The sickly-sweet stench was so intense that Goethe staggered backwards, his head spinning, and made for the open window, gasping for breath. When he had recovered, he stuck his nose deep in his gentleman’s handkerchief and dared to look. The drawer was full of rotting apples.
Charlotte, Friedrich’s wife (and, by the way, he was also in love with her sister), shrugged when challenged by Goethe. “Them blinkin’ apples,” she said (but in perfect German*), “He says they ‘elp him concentrate, silly bugger!”
Goethe, like all good friends, kept Schiller’s skull on his own desk after he had died. (How lovely. I’m going to suggest that to my best friend.) Only it was later discovered that it wasn’t actually Schiller’s skull (how embarrassing!)
And, yes, science backs up the rotten apple effect. The scent can apparently lift the mood, stave off panic attacks, and give you the same wonderful feeling of dizziness you get from creative inspiration. Apparently it’s to do with the methane, so placing your typewriter next to a windy cow might have the same effect**
*Apologies: Any accent I attempt either ends up being Cockney or Yorkshire, so I’ve long since given up.
** Please do not come to me saying ‘Jo, you told me I’d be able to produce a bestselling novel if I sat next to a cow, but all I got was a pat on the head.’