Literary birthdays in April

April was a busy month for 19th-century birthdays! Many happy returns are due to Katherine Cecil Thurston, author of Max, who celebrated her 141st birthday on April 18th! Congratulations also to the wonderful Charlotte Brontë, author of Jane Eyre, on April 21st – the 200th anniversary of her birth! Finally, we wish a very merry 201st…

Wot larx: men in ladies’ clothing edition

While characters in some of our novels adopt the typical clothing of the opposite sex for serious purposes (for example, the title character in Katherine Cecil Thurston’s Max), others – especially gentlemen – disguise themselves solely for the lolz. Jane Eyre‘s Mr. Rochester famously dresses up as a fortune-teller in order to spy on his…

Insult of the Week: Blockhead

It seems ‘blockhead’ was a popular insult in the nineteenth century. In our corpus Emma tops the league table of blockheads with three, but Austen also employs it in Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility, where the caddish Willoughby proclaims: though I have been always a blockhead, I have not been always a rascal So…