Exhibition: Love Bites – Caricatures by James Gillray

To mark 200 years since satirist James Gillray's death, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is currently holding an exhibition in his honour. During his lifetime he created over 1000 prints, and here on display is a group of 60 examples ostensibly held together by heartstrings – they explore the artist's often scathing view of love, sex. marriage, friendship... Continue Reading →

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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 →

The tale of Elizabeth Smith (and her second husband’s first wife’s first husband), 1766

Sometimes, when trawling through historical records, a researcher comes across personal stories that seem destined for Hollywood. Take this dramatic tale of romance triumphing against all the odds, featuring sexually-charged teenage servants, illegimate pregnancy, forced separation, triple bigamy, a few deaths, and a gouty clergyman in a sedan chair. All in that world-renowned town of passion and enchantment... Bicester. Before... 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 →

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 →

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