Podcast: C18th chat-up lines, with Dan Snow

Happy Valentine's Day! To celebrate, a look back at my chat with Dan Snow about love, romance and sex in the 18th century, including some of my favourite historical chat-up lines & a bit of a swoon over Sharpe and/or Mr Darcy. Podcast link below: History Hit Valentine's Day Special: Emily Brand on Love &... Continue Reading →

How to have a historically accurate lovers’ tiff

Some fiery couples just bloody love a good argument. In case you fall into this bracket, and want to get a bit creative while also appearing irresistibly historically accurate, look no further than this slang dictionary of the 1830s. Of course, it's always best to suit the intensity of the insult to your partner's thickness... Continue Reading →

Dating disasters of the Regency era

Confession: First Dates is my televisual jam. (For the uninitiated, in brief: strangers are set up on dates at a London restaurant by a suave Frenchman called Fred {above}, said date is filmed, & they are then subjected to having their dating style reviewed. It’s hugely high-brow.) From teenagers looking for their first love to... Continue Reading →

The Mighty Power of a Sigh, 1676

Let us take a moment to consider an important but lost art of love – the sigh. Nowadays, very few languishing lovers will attempt to seduce a lady by looking her square in the eyes and forcefully expelling the air from his lungs. In the late seventeenth century, however, this was considered a crucial tool in... Continue Reading →

Beware the wife who wears the breeches, 1682

Selecting a wife is a tricky business. The main concern of a merry young bachelor was often that, if he chose badly, he could end up chained to a woman intent on wearing the breeches. And let's face it, there could be little more embarrassing for our seventeenth-century gent than being ruled over by a woman (especially... Continue Reading →

How to be a Beauty, 1787

Being a 'beauty' in the eighteenth century was certainly a boon, and thankfully there were plenty of men around to inform the ladies exactly what was required of them. One such list, covering the 30 'capital points' of beauty, can be found in The Dictionary of Love (1787). Some are familiar, suggesting the abiding popularity... Continue Reading →

How to carouse like a proper Regency gent

Courtesy of the Chester Courant, below is a foolproof guide to the Regency rake's perfect night out... Ladies, if you're looking for Mr Darcy, you're in the wrong place. Gentlemen, if you fancy recreating such a 'glorious frolic' yourself: 1) Impress your friends by drinking too much, loudly singing rude songs and telling obscene stories 2) Impress the ladies by... Continue Reading →

Why you shouldn’t marry a lady of learning, 1708

This charming epistle on the horror that is a woman choosing to better herself through education comes from  The Modern World Disrob'd (1708), by satirical writer Ned Ward. I'm particularly taken with the idea that the more languages a lady speaks, the more varied the opportunities for scolding her husband with them. Her poor unfortunate husband will... Continue Reading →

Husband-Hunting in c18th India

As is perhaps inevitable for someone so interested in social history, I am also a keen genealogist – and so I was very excited last month when I was given exclusive access to the brand new 'British in India' collection over at findmypast.co.uk. Naturally I busied myself primarily with the marriage records, and over a... Continue Reading →

Can drinking tea turn you into a ‘harlot’?

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 →

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 →

Sex & The c17th City

The tendency of women to gossip about their sex lives with their friends has set men a-fretting for centuries. Far from being a phenomenon of the 'Sex & the City' era, women of the seventeenth century were just as likely to have intimate discussions about their man's skills and equipment, past experiences, how to keep... Continue Reading →

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