“It is frequently alleged that women are less discreet than men, that they are ruled by their emotions, and not by their brains: that they rely on intuition rather than on reason; and that Sex will play an unsettling and dangerous role in their work. … it is curious that in the history of espionage and counter-espionage a very high percentage of the greatest coups have been brought off by women … this – if it proves anything – proves that the spymasters of the world are inclined to lay down hard and fast rules, which they subsequently find it impossible to keep to, and it is in their interests to break.”
I’m halfway through the book and it’s a riveting read. Sarah
Source: Maxwell Knight, MI5’s Greatest Spymaster BY Henry Hemmings
In a corner of a burial ground in the remote marshland town of Lydd in Kent is a lonely grave, set a little apart from the others. It is the final resting place of a soldier’s wife –…
Source: Romanov rumours and the lonely grave of a mysterious woman in Kent – Flickering Lamps
Émilie du Châtelet (Portrait by Maurice Quentin de La Tour)
A century before Ada Lovelace became the world’s first computer programmer, a century before the word “scientist” was coined for the Scottish polymath Mary Somerville, another woman of towering genius and determination subverted the limiting opportunities her era afforded her and transcended what…
Source: Trailblazing 18th-Century Mathematician Émilie du Châtelet, Who Popularized Newton, on Gender in Science and the Nature of Genius – Brain Pickings
According to Robert Graves, Isaac Rosenberg was one of the three poets of significance who died during the First World War. Although his reputation has been overshadowed by Wilfred Owen (who died in 1918, the same year as Rosenberg), he was an important voice during WWI, as his short poem ‘The Troop Ship’ demonstrates. Here is the poem, followed by a brief analysis of its features.
The Troop Ship
Grotesque and queerly huddled
Contortionists to twist…
Source: A Short Analysis of Isaac Rosenberg’s ‘The Troop Ship’ | Interesting Literature
The modern traveller is used to eating recognisable and safe food wherever he or she visits in the world. Even in the less visited countries no one is surprised to find there is a McDonalds or similar fast food outlet to feed them from more or less the same menu as in any British or North American city. Likewise the traveller expects clean hot and cold water and at least basic toilet facilities. Not so for the traveller in late Victorian and Edwardian times. Then, you needed a pretty strong constitution and accepted what sustenance and limited comforts were available.
One great traveller was C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne (1865-1944) who claimed to have travelled 400,000 miles. He struggled as a writer for some time, writing mainly…
Source: Dandyfunk and Slumgullion (Guest Post 9)
Black Bess or The Knight of the Road, featuring Dick Turpin, 1866-1868.
The 1840s ushered in an era of luridly illustrated gothic tales which were marketed to a working-class Victorian audience. These stories, told in installments and printed on inexpensive pulp paper, were originally only eight pages long and sold for just a penny – giving rise to the term “penny bloods” or “penny dreadfuls.” With titles such as Varney the Vampire and Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, these types of publications were wildly popular, especially with young male readers, and it was not long before the Victorian public began to make a connection between various juvenile crimes and misdemeanors and the consumption of this (allegedly) depraved material.
By the 1880s, concern over penny dreadfuls leading children into lives of crime and vice sparked what theLongman Companion to Victorian Fiction describes as a “middle-class moral panic.” Many urged that the publication and consumption of penny dreadfuls be…
Source: Penny Dreadfuls, Juvenile Crime, and Late-Victorian Moral Panic
Originally posted on Windows into History.
The Great Storm by JS Muller
One of the most severe disasters to ever occur in England was the Great Storm of 1703, which caused enormous structural damage, the loss of the entire Channel Squadron of ships, and thousands of lives lost. It was the subject of newspaper articles and books for many years, and towards the end of the 18th Century it was still being discussed, with particular reference to the religious implications. The church had announced shortly after the storm that it was a divine punishment.
The Seventh Day Baptist minister and writer of 39 hymns, Samuel Stennett, gave a sermon on the topic in 1788, which was published the same year, titled A Sermon in Commemoration of the Great Storm of Wind. He provided a useful summary of the…
Source: The Great Storm of 1703 (Snippets 33) | Windows into History
Originally posted on Two Nerdy History Girls.
In celebration of the audio release of Mr. Impossible, I offer an earlier post about one source of inspiration for the book. Sarah Belzoni is a great example of the resourceful women who visited and explored Egypt in the 19th century.
Here’s a glimpse of what Sarah Belzoni dealt with in Egypt, traveling with her explorer husband (and sometimes on her own) in the early 1800s. The excerpt is from Mrs. Belzoni’s Account of the Women of Egypt, Nubia, and Syria, which was appended to Belzoni’s Narrative of the operations and recent discoveries within the pyramids, temples, tombs, and excavations, in Egypt and Nubia (originally published in England in 1820).
After waiting two months in Cairo, and understanding it might be some time before Mr. B. could return, I determined on a third voyage to Thebes, taking the Mameluke before mentioned. I went to Boolak, and engaged a canja with two small cabins; one held my luggage, and the other my mattress, for which I paid 125 piastres. I left Cairo on November 27th, and arrived at Ackmeim on the 11th December, at night. A heavy rain, accompanied with thunder and lightning, commenced an hour after sunset, and continued the whole…
via Two Nerdy History Girls: Sarah Belzoni, an Intrepid Woman (from the archives).
Originally posted on Madame Guillotine
I’m so sorry about taking a month off from my blog but I hope you’ll all forgive me when I reveal that the reason for my absence was a brand new book about Marie Antoinette, based on decades of pretty obsessive research (both primary and secondary) and thoughts and questions from all of you.
A couple of years ago I threatened my poor, unfortunate blog readers with a light-hearted ‘pulp’ biography of Marie Antoinette, which at the time I intended to call ‘Teen Queen to Madame Guillotine’. However, other projects intervened and my plan was temporarily shelved as I worked on my historical fiction instead. I couldn’t stay away forever though as although my blog covers all sorts of different periods and people, Marie Antoinette is a subject that I often return to and one that I have always really enjoyed writing about as evidenced by the fact that my university dissertation was on the topic of different representations of her both before and after the revolution.
This book was originally intended as an extremely short biography (longer than a pamphlet but shorter than a novella) giving a basic précis of the doomed Queen’s life for readers who perhaps don’t know all that much about her (the better known biographies can be a bit impenetrable to beginners) and maybe answering some of the most commonly asked questions about her along the way. I envisioned it as a sort of ‘beach read biography’ – in other words, an entertaining and not at all weighty read that could be dipped in and out of at leisure and didn’t require a massive background knowledge of the period to be enjoyed. I wanted to convey something of Marie Antoinette’s life and times without getting too bogged down in the politics of the era, although naturally they can’t help but intrude, especially from 1789 onwards.
However, as the project developed…
via Marie Antoinette: An Intimate History | Madame Guillotine