The Long Eighteenth Century

The Black Hole of Calcutta

March 18, 2014

In mid-eighteenth century India, power was up for grabs. The Mughal dynasty was in decay. Smaller regional powers flourished. European trading companies, which held their trading privileges at the discretion of Indian rulers, were constantly looking for a way to get an edge. The British and French East India Companies, in particular, maintained private armies […]

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Introducing Flat Arthur, aka His Grace the Duke of Wellington

March 12, 2014

Several weeks ago, fellow Historical Novel Society member Cora Lee shared an idea that she’d been having fun with for a few months and asked if any of us would like to play along. She took the idea of “Flat Stanley” and gave it a historical twist, creating “Flat Arthur”– a two dimensional version of […]

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The Profligate Son

September 3, 2013

From Jane Austen’s Wickham through Charles Dicken’s array of extravagant cads to the latest Regency romance, the dissipated wastrel who throws away his family fortune, or at least his good name, is a familiar character to anyone who reads novels written (or set) in Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century. They drink, […]

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Jane Austen’s England

August 30, 2013

Even if you’ve never read Jane Austen’s novels you probably have a clear image of what life was like for her characters thanks to excellent adaptations for film and television.  Women wore white muslin dresses. Gentlemen wore precisely tied cravats and really tight pants.  Red-coats wore, well, red-coats. People went to dances, visited great houses, […]

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Shin-Kickers From History: William Wilberforce and the Abolition of the British Slave Trade

August 13, 2013

Unlike many other shin-kickers from history, William Wilberforce was a card-carrying member of the privileged classes–wealthy, educated, male, white. Born in 1759 to a wealthy merchant family in the Yorkshire port of Hull, Wilberforce spent his teen years and early adult life in what he later described as “utter idleness and dissipation”. While a student […]

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Pontiac’s War

August 6, 2013

Two hundred and fifty years ago, the French and Indian Wars in North America came to an end. The Treaty of Paris redefined British, French, and Spanish colonial territories. France ceded Canada and the French territories east of the Mississippi to Britain and the Louisiana territory west of the Mississippi to Spain. Spain relinquished Florida […]

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Erasmus Darwin Is Tracking Me Down

July 26, 2013

One of the weird facts about historical research (or maybe just about life in general) is that once a person or idea has come to your attention you find references to him/it/them everywhere. In a footnote. As a tangential character is a study of something else. The subject of a new book sitting on the […]

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Words With a Past: Strike While The Iron Is Hot

July 23, 2013

I’ve always assumed that the phrase “strike while the iron is hot” was simply a term derived from blacksmithing. I recently learned that the phrase has a history beyond the making of horseshoes and sword blades. Who would have thought it was linked to marriage? Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1754 changed the laws governing […]

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The Ancient Order of Free and Accepted Masons

July 19, 2013

If you spend much time hanging out in the eighteenth century, you are forced to consider the question of Freemasonry. * Everywhere you turn, you find a major historical figure up to his Whig in Masonic craft. Today Masonic lodges don’t look that different from the various fraternal orders that appeared in America’s Gilded Age […]

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Madeleine Caulier Goes to War

July 12, 2013

I’ve been fascinated for a long time by real-life stories of women who disguised themselves as men and went to war at times when women didn’t go to war. * About ten years ago, I began to collect examples, thinking I could write a book, or at least an article, about the subject. I quickly […]

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