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 →


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 →

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 →


In love with Lord Byron

On My Thirty-Third Birthday JANUARY 22 1821  Through life’s dull road, so dim and dirty, I have dragg’d to three-and-thirty. What have these years left to me? Nothing – except thirty-three. Lord Byron did not like birthdays. He intentionally avoided his own 21st and 24th parties, and considering how miserable he was at the prospect... Continue Reading →


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 →


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 →


Eight reasons why a dog is the broken-hearted woman’s best friend

Any readers who also follow me on twitter will have guessed by now that I am also quite fond of the history of animals, and most especially that of dogs. They have been our loyal and loving companions for thousands of years, and in eighteenth-century art are frequently to be found playing a small (and so often neglected) role in human love... 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 →


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