Aharon Appelfeld, Holocaust survivor who chronicled its traumas, dies at 85 – The Washington Post

Aharon Appelfeld, who leaped out a window, embedded with a criminal gang and found refuge with a prostitute to survive the Holocaust — all before turning 14 — and who later drew on his childhood experiences to craft lean, dreamlike novels that made him one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers, died Jan. 4 at a…

via Aharon Appelfeld, Holocaust survivor who chronicled its traumas, dies at 85 – The Washington Post

July 4, 1826 – The Death of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson | toritto

“On this day in 1826, former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who were once fellow Patriots and then adversaries, die on the same day within five hours of each other.Thomas Jeffers…

Source: July 4, 1826 – The Death of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson | toritto

Death at the Needle: The Tragedy of Victorian Seamstress Mary Walkley – Mimi Matthews

The Seamstress by Josef Gisela, 1897

“Sir,—I am a dressmaker, living in a large West-end house of business. I work in a crowded room with twenty-eight others. This morning one of my companions was found dead in her bed, and we all of …

Source: Death at the Needle: The Tragedy of Victorian Seamstress Mary Walkley – Mimi Matthews

Volunteer Nurses in the Great War: 1914 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

The fashionable women of England are very anxious to help. At least they say they are, and never would we doubt a lady’s word. But their good intentions are thwarted on every side. Lord Kitch…

Source: Volunteer Nurses in the Great War: 1914 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

The Death of Rome’s Greatest Orator

December 7th, 43 BC

Marcus Jullis Cicero was the greatest orator of the late Roman Republic. In his capacity, as a statesman, lawyer, scholar and writer, he tried desperately to champion Republican principles and justice in the final civil wars of the Republican period. He exposed much corruption, earning him the scorn of Sulla, which caused him to flee Rome for the safety of Athens. He eventually returned to Rome, after Sulla’s death, and a decade or so later in the year 66 B.C, he would viciously denounce the decadent Catiline, who aimed to overthrow the government. With his own self-importance growing, he alienated important figures in the Senate, which resulted in charges raised against him for ordering the killing of Roman citizens during these turbulent years. He was exiled and eventually invited back by…

Source: What happened this month in history?

The Shocking Death of Victorian Servant Eliza Bollends

Mimi Matthews

A Scullery Maid at Work by Charles Joseph Grips, 1866.A Scullery Maid at Work by Charles Joseph Grips, 1866.

Many historical novels feature a serving girl who has gotten herself into “trouble.”  In fiction, the understanding mistress of the house is quick to intervene and, in short order, the serving girl’s future is secured to everyone’s satisfaction.  In reality, female servants of the 19th century were expected to preserve their reputations in order to maintain genteel employment.  The character of one’s servants was a reflection on the house as a whole.  To that end, no respectable Victorian lady wanted a light-skirt for a housemaid or a wanton for a cook, and many mistresses strictly forbade male callers or “hangers on.” 

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Death of a Playboy | toritto

Originally posted on toritto.

She wasn’t a teen beauty but she had a personality to make up for it.

She was bold and confident. She looked directly into men’s eyes when she spoke with them. She was one of the first women in Italy to drive a car, wear make-up and trousers, skimpy bathing attire at the shore.

She was very different from most of the women of her country and her era and for this reason men found her enchanting. And she was old enough to date.

Her father was a very prominent man, well known and feared. He was determined to keep a close eye on her. He ordered his security to monitor her activities and to report on her relationships directly to him. Whenever she began seeing someone he considered “unsuitable” he would bring an end to the affair. What made it worse was that she liked to flirt which could hurt her father’s position.

He decided she should get married. She was first engaged to Pier Francesco Orsi Mangelli, the young son of an industrialist nobleman. The couple seemed happy at first but it was soon apparent to both they were not…

via Death of a Playboy | toritto.

Fancy going to the empire of death on your next holiday? | Lindsey Fitzharris

‘ Photograph: Paul Koudounaris

Modern society is ever more distant from the old rituals surrounding death and mourning – so it’s no wonder that ‘dark tourism’ to catacombs and cemeteries is flourishing.

As I descend into the Parisian catacombs, my companion, Max, lets out a groan behind me. He has followed me warily down into the tunnels that form a honeycomb under the bustling streets of Paris’s 14th arrondissement, after I promised him that we would follow up the experience with a stiff drink. We pass under the entrance to the ossuary – with its somewhat unsettling inscription “Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la mort” (Stop! This is the empire of death) – and are instantly confronted by the bones of six million people.

Paris’s population nearly doubled in the 17th and 18th centuries. As it did so, disposing of the dead became increasingly problematic. Burial grounds were bursting at the seams with human remains, presenting huge threats to public health. In cemeteries dotted around the city, it was…

Source: Fancy going to the empire of death on your next holiday? | Lindsey Fitzharris

The Embalmed Soldiers of the American Civil War

The Chirurgeon's Apprentice

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Thomas Holmes—the “Father of Modern Embalming”—had an unusual way of advertising his services throughout the American Civil War. During one of his many excursions to the front, the surgeon plucked the body of an unknown soldier from the battlefield and brought it back to Washington D.C. There, he washed the corpse and injected it with his patented “safe” embalming fluid, which he claimed was free from toxins. He then dressed the soldier in a fine set of clothes and put him on display in his shop window for all to see.

Prior to the mid-19th century, embalming was used chiefly to preserve specimens after dissection. Surgeons and anatomists often used arsenic when creating dry mount displays from cadaverous remains. Mixtures of arsenic and soap…

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Return to Trenches at Death – Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog

Originally posted on Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog.

There follows a very fine ghost story from the British press.

At the beginning of the war a famous regiment left England for France. The colonel that regiment was a man beloved of all his men, idolised by his young subalterns, and highly thought of his brigadier. For a year the colonel led his regiment through the campaign in Flanders, until one misty morning a hand grenade deprived him of an arm. The colonel left for England on the first hospital ship, and his regiment knew him no more. The colonel, after months, was fitted with an artificial arm, but he was not satisfied. He wanted above all things to get back to his regiment. He moved heaven and earth to get back there with his men, but that, he was informed, was impossible. If he liked, however, he could have the command of a garrison battalion shortly leaving for the Dardanelles. Not being of an idle disposition, he took it. After landing one of the first to fall ill with dysentery was the Colonel, He had sufficient strength to warrant his being taken to a hospital ship, however, and so for the second time, he returned to England under the Red Cross. The hospital ship docked in England on a Tuesday, and midday on Wednesday the colonel was carried into the train which was leaving for London. He never reached that city, for he died at 12.30, just half an hour after the train had left.

So far another WW1 tragedy, there are many. Here things get spooky, though.

Now the extraordinary part of this story is that at the exact moment that the Colonel died on the hospital train a company of his old regiment saw him in their trench in Flanders. There was nothing out of the ordinary happening at the time, and…

via Return to Trenches at Death – Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog.

Sir Nicholas Winton honoured: Extraordinary story of the ‘British Schindler’ who rescued 669 children from Nazis in occupied Czechoslovakia – Home News – UK – The Independent

I am reblogging this post to honour Sir Nicholas Winton who has died at the age of 106. As a tribute, a steam locomotive – Tornado – stopped at Maidenhead on Wednesday night alongside the statue of Sir Nicholas. (BBC News)

First Night History

Sir Nicholas Winton was just 29 when he saved 669 children, most of them Jews, from the Nazis in occupied Czechoslovakia, in an extraordinary act of kindness and bravery that saw him nicknamed ‘The British Schindler’.

The story of Sir Nicholas’ remarkable rescue began shortly before Christmas 1938 when the former stockbroker from Hampstead, who was planning a holiday to Switzerland at the time, heard of the plight of child refugees in besieged Czechoslovakia.

Cancelling his holiday, he visited a friend in Prague to see the situation for himself.

While there he single-handedly masterminded the transportation of children from the Nazi-occupied country to Britain, saving them from the concentration camps, and in many cases certain death.

During 1939 he organised eight evacuations of the children on the Czech ‘Kindertransport’ train. He arranged foster homes, acquired the necessary travel permits for the children and persuaded…

via Sir Nicholas Winton honoured: Extraordinary…

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Mark Twain Called by Death (1910) | The Yesteryear Gazette

Originally posted on The Yesteryear Gazette.

(An excerpt from the San Francisco Call – April 22, 1910)

Tragic End of Daughter Jeane Has Fatal Effect on King of Humor


Samuel Langhorn Clemens Passes Away after Long Siege of Angina Pectoris


REDDING, Conn. – Samuel Langhorn Clemens (“Mark Twain“) died painlessly at 6:30 tonight of angina pectoris. He lapsed into coma at 3 o’clock this afternoon and never recovered consciousness. It was the end of a man worn out by grief and acute agony of body.

Yesterday was a bad day for the little lot of anxious watchers at the bedside. For long hours the gray, aquiline features lay molded in the incretia of death, while the pulse sank steadily, but late at night Mark Twain passed from stupor into the first natural sleep he had known since he returned from Bermuda, and this morning he woke refreshed, even faintly cheerful, and in full possession of his faculties.

Unequal to Conversation

He recognized his daughter, Clara (Mrs. Ossip Gabrilowitsch), spoke a rational word or two and, feeling himself unequal to conversation, wrote out in pencil…

via Mark Twain Called by Death (1910) | The Yesteryear Gazette.