Emily Brand invites you to meet the poetic Isabella Byron – great-aunt of the poet – who spent her life dancing in moonlit meadows & "racketing about" Europe in pursuit of true love
William, the ‘Wicked Lord’ Byron – actress abducter & cowardly killer?
Dearest readers, A new video is UP! See below for a quick intro to the angry, dissipated career of William, 5th Lord Byron – known to history as 'the Wicked Lord' or 'Devil Byron'/ Features actress abduction, a wolf, & a bit of heavy stabbing (..... also Jasper, obviously) #HouseofByron https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwGGcYl5Kzo *The Fall of... Continue Reading →
Meet the Byrons! A scandalous 18th-century dynasty
An introduction to historian Emily Brand's new book 'The Fall of the House of Byron'
A call to arms, for Mary Wollstonecraft!
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–97) was a pioneering figure in the fight for women's equality. So why no statue? She was a remarkable woman: a devoted friend and sister, a traveller, a single mother, a philosopher and a writer. She had groundbreaking ideas about the future of women's rights, why changes would be better for both sexes, and... 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 →
Miss Wish-Husband & The Old Maid’s Advice, 1748
Today it occurred to me that if I were living in the eighteenth century I would be quite firmly set in the realm of confirmed spinster. Setting any associated nervous breakdown aside for the moment, I feel compelled to console myself by sharing this (awful) advice of an Old Maid from the 1740s. The social position of... Continue Reading →
Beauty, Sex & Power at the Restoration Court
... Or, what not to read on a packed bus. I don't often harp on here about things written recently (or, you know, since the Crimean War), but I SO enjoyed this romp of a book that I thought I'd give a little sneak peek at it. It was published to accompany an exhibition on the... Continue Reading →
Don’t shake your noddle! How to keep her interested, 1680
So, you have finally found yourself a girlfriend. Congratulations! After the faintly traumatic experience of courtship - the dodgy chat up lines, the dangers of womanly wiles, the endless sighing - you might be forgiven for thinking that you are allowed a little bit of a rest. Oh, dear reader - It Is Not So.... Continue Reading →
Learning the Language of Love, 1777
Who hasn't made some embarrassing error in the realm of love? Misinterpreting a potential lover's intentions can be humiliating, painful – even fatal. Published in 1777, one DIctionary of Love aimed to set the record straight once and for all, amidst concern at the recent enthusiasm for 'stabbing, poisoning one's self, and the like' in the name of love. No... Continue Reading →
‘Hey Girl, your face looks like a giant plate’: Seduction tips from 1799
I just wanted to share my latest blog for the Washington Post, revealing the secrets of seduction to be found in a late-c18th American publication (plus a really brilliant pic of 1808). Enjoy! [you can find the original article here] *** It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a gaggle of girls on a night out... 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 →
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 →
Dealing with an unwanted Valentine, c18th style
I have to say, this was not a problem I ever had to deal with in my tender youth (weep, woe, &c). Oh no, I was far too busy watching Hornblower and/or wishing I was Lizzy Bennet to have much to do with boys. Presuming that most normal humans are less likely to shun The... Continue Reading →
Share your Fanciable Historical Figures (& win a book!)
Let's be honest. We all take a bit of a liking to the odd inappropriate person every now and again, and as anyone interested in historical research will (probably..?) testify, sometimes it just so happens that that person died hundreds of years before you were born. [You can't get much more inappropriate than two of the... Continue Reading →
How to bag a handsome man – some c18th advice
As the season of love and festivity is upon us, I thought I might offer a little c18th advice on how to bag the man of your dreams – even if you can't impress him with your inexhaustible fortune. "Good News for Maidens: Or, now or never for handsome Husbands, and the surest methods they... Continue Reading →
Stuck-up sweetheart? How to bring her down a peg or two
Many a hopeful suitor has been disappointed because he falls short of his beloved's ridiculously high expectations. For anyone who has experienced such a heart-breaking rebuff, why not follow this seventeenth-century advice for how to bring her down a peg or two? 1) Tell her she is not as attractive as she thinks. 2) Cast... 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 ‘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 →
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 →
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 →
Nottingham: overrun with giggling, gambling spinsters?
It is almost three years now since I bid a fond farewell to Nottinghamshire, in favour of what most would deem the more sophisticated climes of Oxford. [In defence of this statement I remind you that the county is possibly named after a Saxon leader named Snot. Sophisticated this is not]. There are many things that... Continue Reading →
Mr Darcy in the United States!
Just a little note to announce that my new book Mr Darcy's Guide to Courtship is released in the US today! Based on the advice of genuine eighteenth-century seduction manuals (with a bit of Jane Austen's most fancied hero thrown in), it is already getting some lovely reviews from Publishers Weekly, Book Page and the... Continue Reading →
Questionable Sex Advice for Newlyweds, 1786
"A NEW SONG, For a Wedding Night.How is that welcome night, When love and beauty make a feast Let not the Bridegroom be afraid Tho' he encounters with a Maid: She'll squeak, she'll cry, She'll faint, she'll die, She'll then begin to tremble: But take her, and rouze her, And mouze her, and rouze her,... Continue Reading →