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  • Index Biography #37: Prize a book December 31, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Index Biography #37: Prize a book

    ***Matthew gets it…*** 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 offered up previously here Sheridan le […]

    Ghost Changes Will December 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ghost Changes Will

    This is one of those only in Ireland stories, which the British press loved in the nineteenth century. The tale originally came up in the Cork Examiner, but this text was taken from Bu He, 3 April 1869. An amusing instance of post mortem bequest and its consequences transpired at the Kanturk Petty Sessions on […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: The Cheese Thief December 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

    This tale appeared in a good Protestant paper in the six counties. It has a puritan twist and a capitalist ethic. The following story is told of Mr. Sheaf, a grocer in Portsmouth, New Hampshire: it appears that a man had purchased some wool of him. which had been weighed and paid for and Mr. […]

    Celia Alleyne: A Fairy Woman? December 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

    In 1920 the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research published a letter from Celia Alleyne. I like this letter because having been through tens of such cases from the twentieth century now this is (a) written by a person of above average intelligence and (b) average in terms of relations with the ‘fairies’ (or […]

    Creepy Christmas Fairy Tale December 21, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Creepy Christmas Fairy Tale

    Here is a remarkable fairy account from Newfoundland. We are in Canada and the report appeared in the Evening Telegraph 26 Dec 1900. This, then, is a creepy Christmas story. A resident of this city, who is subject to extraordinary hallucinations, was the other night, as he seriously states himself, ‘again carried off by fairies’. […]

    Fairy Wings: Bat, Bird or Insect? December 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Fairy Wings: Bat, Bird or Insect?

    Another fairy wings question thinking of the last two posts on the origins of fairy wings and on the production of fairy wings: what do fairy wings look like? Here Beach is going to start wide by looking at all winged flying supernatural creatures including angels, Cupid, putti (curse them), cherubs (curse them), Psyche and […]

    Making Fairy Wings December 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Making Fairy Wings

    After yesterday’s post on the origin of fairy wings, Beach now asks a parallel question. If from the later 19C children were wearing fairy wings at parties who actually made the damn things. Today there are special firms. What about in 1850 or 1890 or 27 October 1933. Here is a short article from that […]

    In Search of the Earliest Fairy Wings December 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Earliest Fairy Wings

    Next year Beach has to write an article on the history of fairy wings, something that he is greatly looking forward to: for absolute beginners fairies were not shown with wings until relatively recent times. There are three big historical questions: (i) when were fairies first portrayed in art or literature as wearing fairy wings; […]

    Priest as Cunning Man December 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Priest as Cunning Man

    This is an interesting case from 1867 recorded in a local newspaper. Readers might need to be reminded that Britain was an overwhelmingly Protestant country at this date; that the Protestant majority despised Catholicism and that Lancashire, in the North-West of England was one of the places where English Catholicism had survived best, albeit as […]

    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 […]

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