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 →


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