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…

A Net of Influence: interreference between 18th and 19th-century novels

As a taster of the content that’s going up on our shiny new website, here’s an image that I put together earlier: This, as you can probably tell, is a draft version, but what it shows is a map of interreference between novels and novelists in our corpus. Writers, unsurprisingly, are generally people who enjoy…

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”…

A little light political commentary

  “How very suddenly you all quitted the European Union in June! It must have been a most agreeable surprise to Mr. Farage to see you all join him so unexpectedly; for, if I recollect right, he has been at odds with the EU for many a year. He and Mr. Johnson, and his fellows…

Insult of the Week: A “stiff-necked, arrogant imbecile, pig-headed numskull”

This week’s insult is brought to you by Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. During an ongoing feud between Mr Lawrence Boythorn and Sir Leicester Dedlock over “the green pathway by the old parsonage-house” (that neither man actually seems to want), Boythorn explains their exchanges on the subject “The fellow, by his agent, or secretary, or somebody,…

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…

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…

Insult of the week: a crop-eared English Whig

In chapter 11, we find young Englishman Edward Waverley enjoying – or trying to enjoy – a convivial evening with his host, Baron Bradwardine, and three other Scottish companions: bailiff Duncan MacWheeble, and the pugnacious young lairds of Balmawhapple and Killancureit.  Prodigious quantities of drink are consumed, and Waverley manfully does his best to keep…

Insult of the Week: an ass and her panniers

The terminally bored aristocrat Lady Delacour, of Maria Edgeworth’s 1800 novel Belinda, declares in chapter 4 that the only reason she has made it through the last few years is her cherished enmity with her foewoman, Mrs. Luttridge: I cannot count the number of extravagant things I have done on purpose to eclipse her. We…