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,…

Reading Sherlock Holmes in Context

Today’s feature is a guest post on social networks in the Sherlock Holmes novella The Sign of the Four, by former student Helen Kirrane.  Helen studied English at University College Dublin. Her research interests are late Victorian gothic fiction, the literature of the fin de siècle, and the aesthetic movement. First published in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine…

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……

Cat got your collar?

Unsure of how to wear regurgitated lace? Well, Cranford’s Mrs Forrester has the answer. In Chapter 8 of Elizabeth Gaskell’s celebrated novel, Mrs Forrester advises us on how to retrieve a prized piece of lace from the belly of your pet. “Of course, your ladyship knows that such lace must never be starched or ironed. Some people wash…

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…

Quotation of the Week: Impressions of Ireland

This week’s quotation is provided by Sydney Owenson/Lady Morgan’s The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale  (1806). Fed up with his son Horatio’s  feckless behaviour, The Earl of M dispatches him to Connaught where he hopes he will focus on his legal studies. Upon his arrival in Dublin, Horatio writes a letter to a friend to share his initial impressions of Ireland… “…I feel the…

Images of the Week: “A Hymn to the Moon”

In honour of this week’s supermoon,  we have uncovered some beautiful moonscapes from the British library and the Internet Archive. They are reproduced below alongside Lady Wortley Montague’s (1689-1762) fitting poem “A Hymn to the Moon” from the 1805 collection, Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montague, written during her travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa. A HYMN TO THE…

Charlotte Riddell’s Weird Stories

Although the Halloween season on the blog is coming to a close, we couldn’t resist posting one more  19th-century ghost story – this time by Charlotte Riddell. Born in County Antrim in 1832, Charlotte Cowan moved to London with her mother after her father’s death. Much of her early work was published under the pseudonym F.G Trafford and…

A Thrilling Dublin Tale of Shapeless Terror

This week, we’ve decided to reproduce a tale of Dublin haunting from one of the best ghost-story writers of the Victorian era, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873). His tale of terror, An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street was originally published in Volume 42 of the Dublin University Magazine in December 1853. The version here comes from Project Gutenberg’s digitisation…

6 Vintage Halloween Costumes to Frighten and Confound

1. Bat-Woman: The creation of this costume involves some amateur taxidermy but the end result may (or may not) be worth it – just look at that headpiece. 2. Spring-heeled Jack: Impress your friends with a costume inspired by an obscure figure from English folklore and Victorian periodical culture! 3. Little Demon: This is a scaled-down version of…

John William Polidori’s The Vampire

John Polidori’s The Vampyre is often heralded as the first modern vampire story. It was written during the young doctor’s stay in a rented villa near Lake Geneva alongside Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary (Godwin) Shelley and Claire Clarmont in June of 1816, (during the year without a summer). While there, Byron challenged each of his guests to…