c18th Hints for Halloween: How to avoid dancing with death

In the spirit of Halloween, I present a lovely (if slightly out-of-time) c17th drawing and a brilliant Cruikshank print of 1808, both of which illustrate the very last liaison any of us can look forward to – the dance with Death. Whatever your trade, age, sex or position in society, he catches up with you in... Continue Reading →


An c18th night out – the dreaded ‘before’ & ‘after’ pics

In the eighteenth century, one of the favoured methods of catching a potential suitor's eye was to head to a fashionable ball and astound the opposite sex with your sparkling wit and effortless mastery of the dancefloor [consider, if you will, the modern nightclub as the preferred venue for going out 'on the pull']. The anticipation... Continue Reading →

The Hasty Marriage, 1772

An ill-begotten child and an impudent wife. Poor old Dick. - From The Covent Garden Magazine, 1772 *** "The HASTY MARRIAGE. Scarce had five months expir'd, since Dick did wed, When lo! his fruitful wife was brought to bed; How now, cry'd Dick – this is too soon, my Kate; No, Dick, said she, you married... Continue Reading →


Is gin the answer to your matrimonial problems?

Are you plagued by a nagging wife? Driven to distraction by a drunken sot of a husband? If an extreme solution is required, look no further than this eighteenth-century relationship advice. The answer, of course, is gin. Just give them a gallon (or two) of the stuff first thing in the morning, and a peaceful existence... Continue Reading →


Advice during the student season: Lock up your daughters!

Detail from 'Bucks of the First Head' by Thomas Rowlandson (c.1785) The streets of Oxford are once again filling with swaggering youths. Around the country other university towns – left to their own devices during the summer – are already faced with the returning swarms of bright young things. Each year, the papers offer their wisdom... Continue Reading →


Can drinking tea turn you into a whore?

In eighteenth-century England, there were many reasons why families might have been torn apart, or why dutiful wives and hardworking husbands could suffer a fall from grace. Heart-rending tales of orphaned children, abandoned lovers and destitution fill the pages of contemporary newspaper columns and court records. For some, one of the prime suspects behind the... Continue Reading →


Thirty Marks of a Fine Woman, 1722

Fair readers, I present a rather-bawdier-than-I-expected poem of the early eighteenth century, revealing the author's idea of the perfect woman. Thirty sure Marks point out each beauteous Fair; Such as Helen had, as Histories declare: Three White, Three Black, Three Red, the Maid must have; Three Long, Three Short, if she'll her Credit save: Three... Continue Reading →


How to be Happy Though Married

Just a note to announce the publication of a lovely little gift-book compiled by yours truly, 'How to be Happy Though Married: Matrimonial Strife Through The Ages'. It collects together some of the best (and worst) marriage quotations and advice – including coping with a bad match and some rather questionable sex tips – from... Continue Reading →


The reluctant father: An c18th joke

'A girl big with child had two gallants, one with a wooden leg; the question was put, which, he who had the wooden leg, offered to decide it thus: "If the child (says he) comes into the world with a wooden leg, it is mine, if not it must be yours."'   - from 'The... Continue Reading →


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