Then and Now: A Lost Mansion in North Dublin

Today’s post brings us quite literally into my neck of the woods: Santry Demesne Park, which is beautiful, historical, and very conveniently located five minutes away from my house. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Santry Demesne belonged to the Barry family, and contained their stately home and extensive gardens. The house was first built…

Teaching A Neural Network to Write 19th-Century Book Titles

This post is inspired by one of my all-time favourite blogs, AI Weirdness, whose author Janelle Shane uses machine learning to develop new and strange approaches to familiar tasks. The blog showcases her experiments in training neural networks on large textual datasets, in order to create names for guinea pigs, generate new college courses, and…

Then and Now: Trinity College Gates

This view of the corner of College Green in Dublin comes from The Illustrated Dictionary of Dublin, a guidebook by Strangways and Cosgrave, and dates to around 1895. To the of the picture is the front entrance to Trinity College, and in among the throng of pedestrians and omnibuses you can also see a few…

Found: Two Unknown Letters by Thomas Moore, 1845

On Tuesday March 25th, 1845, the poet Thomas Moore sat down in his study at Sloperton, in Wiltshire, to write a short – and somewhat confused – thank-you note to an old friend. The letter’s recipient pinned it carefully into a collection of treasured documents, but apart from herself, a handful of library staff members,…

Then and Now: St. Stephen’s Green and the Shelbourne Hotel

Over the course of our work with the British Library Labs images collection, we’ve found that a significant portion of these digitized works are on travel: both traveller’s accounts of their journeys, and also many guidebooks.  Some of these books provide advice that would raise eyebrows nowadays; for example, Dignam’s Dublin Guide enthusiastically recommends Mountjoy…

Fun with Search Terms

Today, out of curiosity, I decided to take a peek at the search terms that people have found The Sea of Books with, over the year that our blog has been in existence. The results were intriguing, but suggest to me that I may want to think about doing some kind of search engine optimisation……

Jane Austen’s Social Networks

On July 18th two hundred years ago, at a house in Winchester, Jane Austen died at the relatively young age of 41.  She had laid down her pen twelve chapters into her final novel (The Brothers, later published as Sanditon) in March of 1817, due to her worsening health, and it would remain unfinished.  Her…

Image Gallery of the Week: Kisses

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of our readers!  We may have gone quiet for a while, but we’ve not been idle – just busy working on a few new projects. As an apology, please enjoy a selection of our favourite kisses from Flickr Commons!  Some of these are quite romantic… others, not so much.  (Perhaps…

Insult of the Week: I am often sorry to notice how unrefined your ideas are

In Mary Cholmondley’s 1893 novel Diana Tempest (vol I, vol II, vol III), our eponymous heroine has the doubtful pleasure of encountering a recently married friend, Madeleine Verelst, at a gathering at the home of Lord and Lady Hemsworth.   As is typical for this book, which is characterised by incisive and bleakly funny observations of…

Insult of the Week: You flaming floundering fool

Please excuse our lack of blogging lately!  We’ve had a remarkable number of back-to-back deadlines in the last couple of weeks, and are currently knee-deep in an exciting new project that’s due out before Christmas.  (I can’t give full details yet, but watch this space!) On a perhaps-not-entirely-unrelated note, our insult this week comes from…

Halloween Images Collection: strange and unsettling illustrations

We here on the blog, as you may have noticed, spend a lot of time trawling through the images on Flickr Commons, particularly the massive sets of public-domain book illustrations from the British Library Labs and the Internet Archive.  This is a fairly enjoyable pursuit most of the time, but over the past year we’ve…