Johann Struensee, the German doctor who ruled Denmark | Dance’s Historical Miscellany

For most people in the Anglo-Saxon world at least, Danish history is a blank, perhaps filled in only by vague memories of Hamlet’s line “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. I’m going to write about one of the most significant figures in 18th century Danish history and possibly one of the most intriguing political figures I have ever…

Source: Johann Struensee, the German doctor who ruled Denmark | Dance’s Historical Miscellany

Irish women had pelvic bones sawn in half during labour without consent | The Canary

(TRIGGER WARNING: Please be aware that some of the details in the following story are very harrowing.)
Between 1940 and 1984, about 1,500 women and girls, as young as 14, in the Republic of Ireland, underwent the procedure and are still fighting for justice.

Source: Irish women had pelvic bones sawn in half during labour without consent | The Canary

Jack the Ripper: has Bruce Robinson solved the world’s most famous crime?

Michael Maybrick, Robinson’s ‘candidate’ Photo: Courtesy of Fourth Estate

After 15 years of research, the director of Withnail and I believes he has cracked the most enduring mystery in British criminal history.

‘I honestly think,’ Bruce Robinson says, ‘I’ve nailed the horrible f***er.’ He points to the photograph on the desk. A Victorian gent. Moustachio’d, dressed in a black frock coat, silk trimming on the lapels; a black cravat with a decorative pin. A certain understated style. An artist of some sort, perhaps? The expression blandly neutral – although looking closely there is something a little unsettling in the gaze, a certain cold indifference. But perhaps that’s one’s own projection.

So that, I say, is Jack the Ripper.

Robinson nods. ‘It is.’

Robinson is probably best known for writing and directing the film Withnail and I – a black comedy about two impecunious actors who go…

Source: Jack the Ripper: has Bruce Robinson solved the world’s most famous crime?

Briey (2) The Scandal Of The Phantom Army

This article details an action that could have changed the entire course of the First World War but which was not taken.

First World War Hidden History

French iron ore mines in the Briey basinOn the outbreak of war no attempt was made by the French army to strike at the crucial Thionville area of Lorraine, a target so close to the border that it was almost part of an extended Briey, even although it produced the iron and steel that provided the bulk of Germany’s armaments. In addition, no attempt was made to defend Briey or destroy it before it fell into enemy hands. Such an incomprehensible decision should have merited a flurry of high level court martials, yet no-one accepted the blame.  At the post-war commission investigating the ‘catastrophe’ of Briey. [1] Joffre insisted that the Briey basin constituted a very small part of the overall defence strategy, which few could fully comprehend without all the facts at their fingertips. [2] It was a card often played in the aftermath of the war when difficult questions were raised by journalists or ex-servicemen…

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Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of Frida Strindberg

Re-blogged from Scandalous Women

“Life is a cruel banquet. You pay for food and board with your blood,” Frida Uhl Strindberg.

I was tweeting while watching the first episode of the new series Mr. Selfridge on PBS a few weeks, when Evangeline Holland from Edwardian Promenade mentioned that the character of Delphine Day might have been inspired by Frida Strindberg who opened the Cave of the Golden Calf in London in 1912.  I immediately looked Frida up on Wikipedia to see if she was one of the playwright August Strindberg’s wives. Bingo! So of course I went on a research binge to find out more about her. In the end, while I admired her courage and her intelligence, she must have been an incredibly difficult woman.

Her biographer, Monica Strauss, points out that Frida was ill-equipped for the life that she pursued. Higher education was not an option for her. While her father had set her up in a career in journalism, it was never meant to be a career. It was just a temporary measure until she eventually married and had children. He never realized that, in a sense, he’d opened Pandora ’s Box. Having tasted freedom and independence, Frida was reluctant to give it up. When Frida pursued the same sexual freedom as a man, she was condemned for it.

Frida Strindberg was born Frida Uhl on April 4th in 1872.  Her father, Friedrich Uhl, was the editor and drama critic of the Wiener Zeitung, one of the oldest, still published newspapers in the world, at the time it was the official government newspaper in Austria. Her father championed progressive ideas and writers, but not in his daughters. He expected them to live conventional, middle class lives, with no scandal. Frida came from a broken home. Her parents had an arranged marriage which broke up discretely when she was 7.  Her parents marriage had been an attempt to gloss over some of the more unsavory elements of their backgrounds. Although she converted when she got married, Friedrich’s mother was born Jewish. Frida’s mother Maria had been born illegitimate.

After the separation her mother moved back to the country, while her father lived in his office at his newspaper.  While her older sister was off at convent school, Frida spent two years living alone with a governess in Mondsee outside Vienna.  Left to her devices, she spent hours in the library, devouring books, developing a mind of her own.  She saw very little of either of her parents during her childhood. After leaving school, Friedrich arranged for her to have a job reviewing books and theatre in Munich. Although Frida lived with a family friend, she had been given a taste of freedom. Although it probably wasn’t in his plans, her father gave Frida a great gift, the ability to fend for herself. This knowledge made her stubborn, it gave her confidence, and it made her life difficult.  Soon Frida was off to Berlin in pursuit of the married playwright her father had introduced to her the previous summer. It was the beginning of her life long obsession with difficult geniuses. Starved of affection by both parents, Frida would often find herself attracted to older men.

It was in Berlin, that she met Strindberg. The playwright…

Read more: Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of Frida Strindberg.