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  • Review: Primates July 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Primates

    Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks, Primates This blog has a tradition of, from time to time, flagging up excellent children’s books on history and the supernatural. Primates, a 140-page comic, falls very much into the first of these two categories. It takes the lives of three biological anthropologists, only two of whom are still alive: […]

    Buckinghamshire Fairies and Little Witches July 12, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Buckinghamshire Fairies and Little Witches

    Fairy legends are common in the Celtic fringes and the north of Britain. They are to be found in northern England and south central England: they also occasionally crop up in the English Midlands. However, they were as rare as gold dust in south-eastern England and East Anglia by the time that folklore records were […]

    Operation Resurrection: British Folklore July 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Operation Resurrection: British Folklore

    British folklorists badly screwed up their own discipline in the late nineteenth century. When they should have been collecting the rich crops from the home counties and the north and midlands they, instead, indulged in premature comparative work, looking overseas for answers to stupidly ambitious questions. The comparison with some of Britain’s smaller European neighbours […]

    Index Biography #43 June 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Index Biography #43

    The Index Biography is a quiz pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the individual’s life. We offered up previously here Sheridan le Fanu and Joseph Stalin (he of ripe […]

    Council Séance Over Haunted House June 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Council Séance Over Haunted House

    Beach has only once been to Bedfordshire, a tiny English county near London. He got stuck in its chief town, Luton, took a room in a sordid pub (the bookshelf had a rack full of well-thumbed pornographic magazines – if only Tripadvisor had been around…) and missed his bus.* In any case, enough of Luton. […]

    Paul Stoller and Dongo June 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Paul Stoller and Dongo

    Paul Stoller was an American anthropologist who learnt sorcery among the Songhay people of Niger. After training, in the 1970s, with Adamu Jenitongo, ‘one of the most knowledgeable and arguably one of the most powerful Songhay sorcerers of his era’, he undertook a second apprenticeship with Hamidou Salou. Unfortunately in this apprenticeship the young American […]

    WW1 Rumours June 7, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    WW1 Rumours

    Here are some more in the rumours series. Tales of international and sometimes local politics that relate or that are easily connected to the events of WW1. Beach did these at the same time as rumours for WW2 (another post another day). No question, WW1 rumours or those that the press deign to publish are […]

    Woman to be Stoned and Blindfolded Priest June 4, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Woman to be Stoned and Blindfolded Priest

    Unpleasant story warning. This dates to 1834 and incredibly was given in a public talk at the Society for the Conversion of the Jews. It is clearly a legend (there are many European parallels): see below. But Beach is desperately looking for more of the same from fiction or from ‘fact’. A clergyman in London, […]

    Kitchener’s Sword June 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Kitchener's Sword

    Beach has previously celebrated the (entirely unrealistic) myths about Kitchener’s survival from a shipwreck in June 1916. There were a number of theories: namely that the Germans had got him; that Kitchener had been kidnapped in Russia or was secretly helping the Russian army reorganise (perhaps he was killed in the revolution?); or some version […]

    Review: Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox and Murder in Perugia May 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox and Murder in Perugia

    Nina Burleigh, The Fatal Gift of Beauty In 2007 a young British student Meredith Kercher was murdered in her flat in Perugia, Italy: she had possibly been raped before her death. The crime was a horrible one, but the victim was all too often forgotten in the events that followed. The prosecutors in Perugia decided […]

    Killing Baby Stalin or Hitler? May 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Killing Baby Stalin or Hitler?

    A longtime reader (CS) has written in with this question: if you could get rid of Hitler or Stalin in their youth, who would you choose for the butcher’s block? It is a really easy question and the answer is, of course, Hitler. There is no question that the Nazi and Soviet governments were two […]

    Kitchener Survives: Friend of a Friend May 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Kitchener Survives: Friend of a Friend

    One of the great British catastrophes of the Great War was the death of Lord Kitchener on the HMS Hampshire in the North Sea 5 June 1916, not a month before the Battle of the Somme began. Kitchener, famous  as British Secretary of War was a ruthless and effective warleader and understandably British public opinion […]

    Evans Wentz and Money May 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Evans Wentz and Money

    Regular readers will know that over the years Beach has confessed to a fascination for Walter Yeeling Evans Wentz, the American mystic and sometime fairy writer. Beach is interested, above all, in Walter and the fairies. However, there are a number of other aspects of Evans Wentz’s life that are intriguing and that help to […]

    The One Percent Victorian Style April 28, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    The One Percent Victorian Style

    A phrase that has recently gained more and more currency: even to the point where undergraduates shout it out in class discussion, is ‘the one percent’. It is an offhand, contemptuous way of referring to the internationally wealthy.* Beach was delighted, the other day, to come across, in a ghost story no less, to the […]

    Sampling the Supernatural April 25, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Sampling the Supernatural

    Anyone who has ever studied the supernatural will know that the way we look at the impossible changes from generation to generation and from place to place. For example, in the nineteenth century in the UK and in the US ghosts often dragged chains, as they had since antiquity: today they do not. In the […]

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