I write mysteries set in Elizabethan England featuring Francis Bacon as my primary sleuth. No one knows for sure — no love letter from Bacon to another person has survived. He isn’t likely to…
I write mysteries set in Elizabethan England featuring Francis Bacon as my primary sleuth. No one knows for sure — no love letter from Bacon to another person has survived. He isn’t likely to have written such things, in my opinion, because he was a courtier practically from birth and knew better than to write down anything that could be used against you later. But most historians believe he was a man who preferred men, sexually. The evidence is slender; such as there is I discussed on my blog.
Based on that slender evidence, my version of Francis Bacon is decidedly gay, to use the modern term. So I need to understand what that would have meant in his time. Toward that end, there is no better resource than Alan Bray’s excellent Homosexuality in Renaissance England (1996, Columbia University Press.)
This book is not only a clear-eyed, detailed resource…
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Spillikin~ The Oxford Living Dictionaries gives us: [treated as singular]A game played with a heap of small rods of wood, bone, or plastic, in which players try to remove one at a time without disturbing the others, while Wikitionary tells us that Spillikin is “One of the straws used in the game of Jackstraws (which ironically is also called spillikins. The word came into the language in the mid 18th Century. I always called the game “pick up sticks.” Wikipedia gives us this explanation: “Pick-up sticks or pick-a-stick is a game of physical and mental skill. A bundle of ‘sticks’, between 8 and 20 centimeters long, are held in a loose bunch and released on a table top, falling in random disarray. Each player, in turn, must remove a stick from the pile without disturbing the remaining ones. One root of the name “pick-up sticks” may be the…
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Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes John Timbs John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficiona…
Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes
John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.
This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.
Eccentricities of Lord Byron
Mr. Rogers, in his Table Talk, writes:—”Neither [Thomas] Moore nor myself had ever seen Byron, when it was settled that he should dine at my house to meet Moore; nor was…
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Yes. You did just read the words ‘medicinal masturbation’ although it certainly was never called that in the 19th century! But more of that later. To start this little article, I need to talk to you about first about ‘hysteria’, a medical condition which was recognised and widely believed for two thousand years. The condition was blamed for causing all manner of maladies in women from nervousness and stomach pain to lunacy.
It was probably the Egyptians who first believed it was a medical problem, but we have to blame the Ancient Greeks for all of the nonsense which came later. The term comes from hystera, the Greek word for uterus, and eminent Greek physicians who followed the teachings of Hippocrates had some funny ideas about this particular female organ.
Aretaeus of Cappodocia describes it thus:
“In the middle of the flanks of women lies…
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Saint Thais. Jusepe de Ribera
Between 303 and 311CE, the Roman Emperors Diocletian and Galerius masterminded the last Great Persecution, a final attempt to exterminate Christianity altogether. It failed. By 322, Christianity had successfully transitioned, thanks to the conversion of Constantine, from being a hunted sect to becoming the undisputed state religion of the Roman Empire. The dizzying speed of this change, of Christians moving from being hunted down and burned at the stake to being installed in the corridors of power, had a vast effect on the history of the Catholic Church, the history of Europe, and on the imagination of countless people.
As a persecuted people, Christians had developed a mythology where the martyr was the ultimate heroic figure. But now it was easy to be a Christian, and no more martyrs were appearing. In the Middle East, particularly, where Christians had always…
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Being a fan of both history and music, I’ve often wondered about the hypothesis presented by the great scholar, Boney M: Was Rasputin (Jan 21st 1869 – Dec. 30th, 1916) really Russia’s greatest love machine?
I’ve wondered about this for years. Over time, Rasputin’s life has become more legend than fact thanks to a campaign of propaganda so scathing that most people today have not only heard of him, but associate him with evil. Even now, his life is usually viewed through the lens of our own morality.
Rasputin’s views, like the man himself, are rather more complicated that you might expect, and cannot be reduced to simply good or evil. He was a monk with deeply held religious beliefs that developed out of Orthodox tradition as well as his experience with the Khlyst sect, a group that believed that true joy could only be achieved through forgiveness, and therefore…
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