A Thrilling Dublin Tale of Shapeless Terror

This week, we’ve decided to reproduce a tale of Dublin haunting from one of the best ghost-story writers of the Victorian era, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873). His tale of terror, An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street was originally published in Volume 42 of the Dublin University Magazine in December 1853. The version here comes from Project Gutenberg’s digitisation…

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: avaunt, Mephistopheles!

  This week’s insult is dedicated not to a person, but to the demon drink: specifically, a bowl of rum punch. Captain Devereaux, in The House by the Church-Yard, is enjoying a convivial evening in his Chapelizod lodgings with renowned local gossip Dr. Tom Toole: And the china bowl, with its silver ladle, and fine…

Visual Trope Gallery of the Week: Fisticuffs and skirmishes

The novels that have been indexed by the British Library Labs collection are typically embellished with illustrations featuring attractive scenery, frolicking cherubs, or decorous ladies making polite conversation in parlours.  However, a little rummaging turns up a wide variety of images on other themes, some of which are quite bizarre and occur more frequently than…

London language in 19th century novels

I pricked up my ears (figuratively speaking) at this intriguing post by Roger Pocock of the Windows into History blog, in which he discusses a list of local words from late 18th and early 19th-century London. This fascinating list was first published in 1803, in Samuel Pegge’s book Anecdotes of the English Language: Chiefly Regarding…

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…

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…