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  • Burning Bluecoat Memoirs December 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Burning Bluecoat Memoirs

    Exam grading and sadness at leaving a much loved job continues. In this melancholic frame here is some more missing manuscripts. These stories are often, as the distance of a more than a century, quite amusing. But there is no question that, at the time, they must have been horrifically painful for those involved. A […]

    Dumb Duels #4: Cigarette Duel December 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dumb Duels #4: Cigarette Duel

    A nice story from the British press about a duel  at Casale (not clear where this is other than northern Italy) from a great Italian actor, Ernesto Rossi (obit 1897): a cigarette duel. A strange duel is related to have been fought by the celebrated tragedian Signor Rossi. The latter, during a farewell performance of […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: the Expensive Manuscript December 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: the Expensive Manuscript

    Beach now has a couple of difficult days as he leaves his old university and says goodbye to a particularly fine cohort of students. Here is some more manuscript nonsense to keep him and you distracted. Is this urban legend? Probably but pleasing. A celebrated authoress wrote a drama, which she committed to the manager […]

    Lost Manuscripts: The Perils of Public and Private Transport December 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Lost Manuscripts: The Perils of Public and Private Transport

    Some years before Bach was born, Beach pater left a manuscript for his first book on a tube train. Of course, back then, if you lost a manuscript it was over. Photocopies were practically unheard of and expensive and computers were but a gleam in Turing’s eye. The manuscript was happily retrieved some hours later, […]

    Queen Victoria, Baby-Killer! December 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Queen Victoria, Baby-Killer!

    Beach has to satisfy himself with a very short post today, not because he doesn’t have time but because he has not the slightest idea how to deal with the material at hand. Great consternation, says the Bedford Times [unable to get the original], has prevailed amongst certain classes at Luton, from rumour that the […]

    Misruled by the Planets and Unfound by Bread December 7, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Misruled by the Planets and Unfound by Bread

    This is the kind of tragic little story that is worth absorbing, because it shows how certain superstitions survived deep into the nineteenth century in the UK and the strange mélange of learned with popular superstition. Let us start with Sarah Evelyn Walker, 24 and a governess, daughter of a farmer from Everdon (Northamptonshire) the […]

    Beware the Shutterkin! December 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Beware the Shutterkin!

    Beach has previously given examples of bosom serpents, the idea that animals, particularly snakes can live within the human body. But consider the following freaky description. What is this thing? The quotation comes from the Athenian Oracle (II, 380) where reader’s questions were answered. Whence proceeds the Shutterkin? Physicians have imputed this Shutterkin (which resembles […]

    Murder Will Out: Unusual Bleeding Corpses December 4, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Murder Will Out: Unusual Bleeding Corpses

    This passage comes from one of Beach’s recent favourites (for which he must thank Mike G), the Athenian Mercury. The AM was a late seventeenth-century journal that has been described as the first advice column in history. Readers would write in questions and the editors, a cabal of level-headed Londoners, would then do their best to […]

    Salamander Experiments in Rome December 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Salamander Experiments in Rome

    A short note today from a curious book entitled Salamandrologia published in 1683 in Nuremberg, about, of course, Salamanders, p. 116, the mythical fire dwelling lizard: it is a surprisingly long work and worth browsing through. Here is one fragment. It would be good to trace the original down in Italian, German or Latin. It […]

    Child Murder in a London Church? December 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Child Murder in a London Church?

    This is an extraordinary story about child murder in a London church. In fact, the real story here – thinking of this site’s interest in urban legend and rumour – is the power of a freak event involving bodies to whip a working class area into a frenzy, but we’ll get to that…. In August […]

    Index Biography #36: Prize a book November 30, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Index Biography #36: Prize a book

    ***Melissa got this, scroll down for the result*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography 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 […]

    Immortal Meals #31: Avendaño’s Anxious Banquet November 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #31: Avendaño's Anxious Banquet

    Imagine going to a banquet and not being sure if you are to eat or be eaten. Welcome to the world of Andrés de Avendaño y Loyola, a seventeenth-century Franciscan who walked into the territory of the Itza (a forgotten kingdom previously celebrated on this blog) in 1696. Avendaño was brave. Many other missionaries had […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: Pickpocket Death November 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: Pickpocket Death

    Beach has taken great joy over the years in celebrating the Victorian pickpocket. This figure, a positive urban legend magnet, offers a lot of fun to the casual reader. Here is a particularly nice story, the hero (or antagonist?) is Mr White a good and honest preacher. He has been told that a man is dying […]

    The Ghost in a Tree November 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ghost in a Tree

    This little account appeared in Wilkinson and Harland, Lancashire Folk-lore (1867), 164. But they were quoting a story that had appeared in a newspaper in 1856. Beachcombing has been unable to trace the original, but honestly he didn’t try that hard. Will it be credited that thousands of people have, during the past week, crowded […]

    The Cuckold, the Painted Belly and the Lusty Merchant November 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Cuckold, the Painted Belly and the Lusty Merchant

    This is a weird sixteenth-century story/anecdote/joke about marital infidelity. It is also, frustratingly, only 95% complete. The punch line is missing. Beach has ‘translated’ the text into modern English. The original text though is in the screen capture below. Please email any serious mistakes. A cunning painter was living in London, and he had a […]

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