‘A love sick fool no more’: the perils of the honey-moon

From Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language Ah, those heady days of blossoming love. Here we have two couples at either end of the 'honey-moon' period, giving some hints of how a relationship changes in its early season - and perhaps some signs of foreboding for the future too. According to the OED, the origin of... Continue Reading →

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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 →

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 →

Plan your own broom-stick marriage

Weddings today seem such a stressful, complicated affair. If you have cast off the misery of a single life and plunged into all the misery of someone in pursuit of the perfect day, why not follow this eighteenth-century model of the Broomstick Marriage? a) Get married with a number of other couples, ensuring reduced expense... Continue Reading →

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