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…

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…

Insult of the Week: Fops

From one gendered insult to another: this week we’re looking at literary fops, or gentlemen that are – in some way or another – a bit too concerned with manners of dress, elegance and fashion. Our featured image (by the wonderful C. E. Brock) comes from John Galt’s 1821 novel The Annals of the Parish…

Insult of the Week: inferior poets are absolutely fascinating

Ah, poetry.  One of the great literary forms, with a history stretching back as far as the earliest written word!  Beloved genre of such giants as Sappho, Homer, Chaucer, and the anonymous author of The Poetic Works of a Weird (1827).  Being writers themselves, surely our novelists must have a healthy respect for the poetical…

Discerning drinkers?

While the Temperance Movement gained ground in the nineteenth century, authors writing about Ireland were sure to include references to drinking. In The Nun’s Curse, however, one of Charlotte Riddell’s characters is disappointed with her Guinness, while the locals are disappointed with her disappointment. Great effects spring, we know, from little causes; and had Miss Dickson, mourning…

A disappointing lack of Easter eggs

In our novels, relatively little happens at Easter, although it’s mentioned incidentally quite a bit, generally as a marker of the passage of time – things are due to happen before or after Easter but rarely take place on the holiday itself. One of the few mentions of anything actually taking place during Easter is…

Out for a jaunt

Around the turn of the 19th century, if you wanted to get around in Ireland, it seems that a jaunting-car was the main way to go.  These light two-wheeled carriages (which come in “inside” and “outside” varieties) make a number of appearances in our novel collection, and can also be found illustrating a number of…