Image of the Week: Summer bathing and sea air

In Chapter 12 of Austen’s Emma, Mr. Woodhouse questions his daughter Isabella’s decision to spend the autumn with her children at South End and adds sea air and swimming to his list of dangerous activities. “It was an awkward business, my dear, your spending the autumn at South End instead of coming here. I never had…

Insult of the Week: Deftly chosen expressions of contempt, the maid edition

From our corpus it seems that even maids were subject to snarky comments about their appearance, often made by their employers. In chapter 1 of H. G Wells’ The Invisible Man, the narrator describes Mrs. Halls’ servant Millie as “her lymphatic maid”: “Mrs. Hall lit the fire and left him there while she went to prepare…

What’s in a name? Waverley and The Sea of Books

The protagonist of Sir Walter Scott’s 1814 historical novel, Waverley, comes from a wealthy family and has the good fortune to be brought up with access to an enormous collection of books: The library at Waverley-Honour, a large Gothic room, with double arches and a gallery, contained such a miscellaneous and extensive collection of volumes…

Insult of the Week: Intolerably Stupid

We may be a little biased, but we feel there’s some truth in this pointed comment from Henry Tilney: The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. From chapter 14 of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, published 1817. Read the novel for free at Project Gutenberg!