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…

Forgotten Fiction Friday: an escape from the guillotine

“Such was the substance of the gruesome tale which was poured into my astonished ears,” added the fair narratress, “a tale indeed all the more gruesome by its verisimilitude and air of truth.” This week’s neglected text comes from the anonymously authored collection The Haunted Manor House, published by Skeffington and Sons in 1896.  I…

Forgotten Fiction Friday: Flaxman Low and The Story of the Moor Road

“…I think I may say that I am the first student in this field of inquiry who has had the boldness to break free from the old and conventional methods, and to approach the elucidation of so-called supernatural problems on the lines of natural law.” Psychological detective and supernatural specialist Flaxman Low is the creation…

Visual Tropes Collection of the Week: Witches and brooms

For our first image collection of this Halloween season, we’re going with a classic and iconic figure: the witch, appropriately accessorised with her (or in some cases, his!) broomstick. Let’s see what’s happening in this scene! “Shall we go to Malkin Tower?” asked Mistress Nutter, shuddering. “No; to the summit of Pendle Hill,” rejoined Mother…

Hereditary ghosts: tales from The Night Side of Nature, 1848

  Catherine Crowe (1790-1872) was a noted Victorian author of fiction and folklore, with a strong interest in spiritual matters and the supernatural.  Her 1848 book The Night Side of Nature; Or, Ghosts and Ghost Seers is a massive collection of stories and anecdotes on the subject of ghosts and weird phenomena, and was wildly…

Nightmares, Ghosts and Ghouls: a spooky October on the blog

Happy 1st of October to all of our readers!  This month, we’ll be digging into the dusty digital vaults of the British Library Labs, in order to bring you some of the finest in obscure and forgotten spooky fiction, folklore, poetry, and pictures.  And believe me, there’s tons to be getting with – the Victorians…

Insult of the Week: he talked mere drivel

The preacher in residence at St. Hilda’s  Church in Donegal, Mr. Vivian, gets a poor review from Charlotte Riddell in her 1888 novel The Nun’s Curse.  Although his good qualities are many, and he does excellent work with the sinful and/or suffering members of his parish, his preaching abilities are, frankly, nil. Unlearned, unlettered, uncultured…

Image Collection of the Week: A Fleet of Sailing Ships

Today’s image collection comes in honour of that most solemn and dignified of annual celebrations: Talk Like A Pirate Day. And what better source of swashbuckling quotes is there than Robert Louis Stevenson’s formative pirate novel Treasure Island?  Not only has this work given us such celebrated tropes as “Shiver my timbers!”, “Yo-ho-ho and a…