Image of the Week: A beautiful fiend

This week’s image is inspired by an early scene in M.E Braddon’s huge sensational hit Lady Audley’s Secret 1862. While the duplicitous Lady Audley is out and about, George Talboys and Robert Audley enter her private boudoir to look at the impressive collection of paintings stored there. The lads take a look around the “glittering toilette”…

Dowries and Dowagers; or, Conjectures on Why Lady Catherine de Bourgh is So Rude

It’s one of Pride and Prejudice‘s pivotal and iconic scenes.  Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who’s incensed at “an alarming report” about her nephew’s likelihood of marrying “a young woman without family, connections, or fortune”, travels to Longbourn to confront Elizabeth, confident of being able to persuade or bully her into dropping any matrimonial ambitions in…

Caturday, vol. III: the cattening

  Today’s Caturday collection has been compiled with the assistance of my own two felines, who have been industriously wrecking the place while I work.  Thank you, Kaylee and River! Previous Caturday posts can be found here.    

Image of the Week: A slice of Mrs. Weston’s wedding-cake

This weeks image is inspired by a short scene in Jane Austen’s Emma. Concerned for the digestive health of the guests at Miss Taylor’s wedding, Mr. Woodhouse tries to dissuade them from eating the wedding-cake… There was no recovering Miss Taylor—nor much likelihood of ceasing to pity her; but a few weeks brought some alleviation…

Visual tropes collection of the week: Fainting and Swooning

You know, if my extensive education in feminism and gender issues has taught me anything, it’s that women of all walks of life have one thing in common: fainting at the slightest provocation.  Amirite, ladies? Of course, it’s not unheard of for a gentleman to indulge in a swoon, too – and who’s to judge? …

Insult of the Week: this inquisitive hag – damn her gooseberry wig

In chapter 61 of Waverley, our misfortunate hero finds himself sharing a conveyance – “the northern diligence”, described as “a huge old-fashioned tub” – with a companion he would really rather avoid, if at all possible. Mrs. Nosebag is … the lady of Lieutenant Nosebag, adjutant and riding-master of the — dragoons, a jolly woman…

The Six Most Impertinent Things Ever Said By Elizabeth Bennet

Elizabeth is one of the truly great heroines of English literature.  She has fine eyes; she’ll walk three miles of muddy countryside without fear of censure or ruined hemlines; she has tremendous chemistry with Colin Firth, and these days she’ll even put down a zombie uprising for you.  But there’s one thing that really keeps…

Image of the Week: “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two”

This week’s image is taken from Thomas Hood’s “Hood’s Own: or, Laughter from Year to Year” (1855) and aptly depicts the shenanigans of Fagin’s gang in Dickens’ Oliver Twist (1838). In a humorous vignette in Chapter 10, The Artful Dodger and Charley Bates show off their pickpocketing prowess to an amused but naive  Oliver… “When the breakfast was…

Puzzling racial humour from the 1890s

The Irish Tourist Development guidebook Visit Ireland, compiled in 1892 by F. X. Crossley and available in scanned form from the British Library Labs, contains a variety of useful information for the traveller of the 1890s, including timetables for railway, trams and steamer sailings, seasonal dates for game, estimates for how much you might expect…

Warning! Women on bikes

This week’s image collection is inspired by Kate Beaton’s fabulous cartoons riffing on vintage cautionary literature for ladies, although these velocipedestriennes don’t seem too concerned about The Dangers of Cycling… I think this last image is my favourite, though…  

Image of the Week: Clongowes College in 1898

In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Stephen Dedalus recalls his schooldays, spent at the boarding school Clongowes Wood College: It would be better to be in the study hall than out there in the cold. The sky was pale and cold but there were lights in the castle. He wondered from…

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…