Nineteenth Century Europe

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 Crystal Palace

January 28, 2014

Several weeks ago, My Own True Love and I ventured out into a frozen Chicago to attend an exhibition about the Columbian Exposition at the Field Museum.  A meta-exhibit if there ever was one, Wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair deals with the changing nature of how we think about the world around us and […]

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Victorian People

October 18, 2013

Victorian People first crossed my path again when A. Scott Berg unexpectedly quoted Briggs in his new biography of Woodrow Wilson.* (Coming soon to a blog post near you.) Soon I was stumbling over it everywhere–a phenomenon I’ve commented on before. When I needed to check a quick fact about the Crimean war and wanted […]

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Wastrels and Fallen Women

September 13, 2013

Last week I reviewed Nicola Phillips’ The Profligate Son. I immediately heard back from a regular reader of History in the Margins who likes to keep me on my toes.* He asked: “How comes it’s always a guy that is a wastrel? Are there no Regency or Victorian ‘ladies’ that are wastrels?” Not wanting to […]

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If You Love Jane Austen…

August 23, 2013

Allow me to introduce Emily Eden–aristocratic spinster, political hostess, accomplished painter, and talented novelist. I first discovered Emily Eden through her connection to India. Her brother George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, was appointed Governor-General of India in 1835. Emily accompanied him to India and served as his Burra Lady Sahib (the rough equivalent of […]

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Macaulay’s Education Minute

August 10, 2013

I often check in with My Own True Love when I’m unsure about a blog topic.* When I asked him what he knows about Thomas Babington Macaulay he said “He sounds very distinguished.” I explained that Macaulay is best known as the most important writer of Whig history,** but that I think his real importance […]

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History on Display: Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity

July 2, 2013

Last week, my writing pal Amy Sue Nathan and I headed off to the Art Institute of Chicago to see the hot new exhibit, Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity. * It wasn’t quite what I expected. I was looking for what the museum describes as “a la mode as the harbinger of la modernité“. I wanted […]

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Learning to Read Egypt: Hieroglyphics and the Rosetta Stone

April 4, 2013

As I believe I mentioned recently, European scholars at the time of the Renaissance rediscovered ancient Egypt in the writings of classical Greece.* Like the ancient Greeks before them, they believed Egypt was the source of art, religion, and science: a land of mystery and arcane knowledge. The belief in Egypt as a land of […]

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The Year Without Summer: “Eighteen hundred and froze to death”

March 11, 2013

Historian William K. Klingaman and meteorologist Nicholas P. Klingaman combine forces in The Year Without Summer: 1816 And The Volcano That Darkened The World And Changed History. Working in a vein similar to Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map, the Klingamans weave together modern scientific explanations, nineteenth-century scientific (and religious) speculations, and historical events into a […]

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La Folie Baudelaire

November 15, 2012

In La Folie Baudelaire Roberto Calasso describes the life, work, and world of symbolist poet Charles Baudelaire in terms of an image borrowed from nineteenth century French critic Charles Saint-Beuve: the “highly decorated, highly tormented but graceful” architectural extravagance known as a garden folly. Saint-Beuve used the image to disparage Baudelaire’s work.  In Calasso’s hands […]

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