How to make sure you don’t give birth to a dog: sex, superstition, & the dangers of the female imagination

In the days before modern medicine – indeed, the days when sex was so fluid that girls could spontaneously turn into boys if they got too hot (more on that another time?) – starting a family was not only a dangerous, but a very mysterious business. In the news this week, a 'Georgian' sex manual... Continue Reading →


A New Sort of Holyday for Husbands, or a warning to troublesome wives, 1733

Here is a particularly heartwarming (*cough*) report of one man's enthusiastic embrace of widowhood in London in 1733. Yes folks, the 'new holyday for husbands' is to be enjoyed when your troublesome wife drops dead. Charming. (Although I do appreciate the tactful description of said wife. Next time anyone asks me about a break-up I am going to... Continue Reading →

What is revealed by the size of a man’s moustache?

And lo, Movember is upon us. As gents around the nation compete to cultivate the most fabulous whiskers, the question is, ladies: the moustachioed man, yea or nay? Between the meticulously sculpted facial decoration of the Restoration era and the bushy luxuriance of the nineteenth-century sideburn combo, facial hair was rather out of fashion. Contravening... Continue Reading →


The Tragic Ballad of Crazy Jane, c1800

On a visit to Scotland, a ‘Lady’ (recorded as being the renowned beauty and novelist Lady Charlotte Campbell) was startled by the appearance and conduct of a poor mad woman. This poem, published around 1800, tells the sad tale of heart-broken ‘Crazy Jane’, who lost her wits when she was deserted by her false lover,... Continue Reading →


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