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  • Invisible Library: Sherlock Holmes’ Publications January 11, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Invisible Library: Sherlock Holmes' Publications

    Beach once before ran a post on missing Sherlock Holmes stories in the Invisible Libraries series: books that do not exist save in the imagination. However, he missed a trick. There are not just missing Sherlock Holmes stories there are also missing Sherlock Holmes publications. On several occasions in the canon Sherlock refers, en passant, […]

    Wandering Jew Plays Roulette January 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Wandering Jew Plays Roulette

    There is a book, admittedly a very small book to be written about sightings of the wandering jew: the man cursed by Christ to walk all over the earth for refusing a drink on the road to crucifixion. Here is one of the most curious of these myths. This one was first attested 18 Jan 1902 and […]

    Fairy Vampires #1: Spence Speaks January 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Vampires #1: Spence Speaks

    Vampire legends arrived in Britain and Ireland from the east of Europe in the eighteenth century and were, then, celebrated in fiction in the early, mid nineteenth century (The Vampyre, 1819 and Varney the Vampire, 1847). Two of the great popularisers of vampires in, what was then, the UK were, of course, Irish: the brilliant […]

    Victorian Criminal Slang January 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Criminal Slang

    Beach has been enjoying Pickpockets, Beggars and Ratcatchers by Kellow Chesney on London’s underworld in the teeming, dirty and unmatchable nineteenth century: the illustrations are great too. One of the joys about entering this world is the lively slang used by the underclass. The following come from Pickpockets but also from one of the most […]

    Spoilt Royal Brats: Alexei Romanov January 7, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Spoilt Royal Brats: Alexei Romanov

    Royal parents have a unique problem. They have to bring up their children like anyone else (or, ok, pay others to do so), but they also have to convince their children that they are God’s anointed. Infants painfully learn that the world does not revolve around them: yet, in the case of royal children, particularly heirs […]

    Epiphany Gift: Superstitions of the Irish Peasantry January 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Epiphany Gift: Superstitions of the Irish Peasantry

    These nine stories were published in 1825, then somehow fell through the cracks of history. William Wilde (Oscar’s dad) claimed in 1852 that they were the best things out there on Irish folklore. Yeats later (from what Beach can see) pretended to have read them, but there is suggestive evidence that he had not. Here […]

    Fairy Armies: A Medical Explanation? January 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fairy Armies: A Medical Explanation?

    We have literally hundreds of British and Irish fairy sightings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and it is striking how often fairies are seen in battle garb: the fairy armies. Yes, there are important folklore traditions about fairies fighting each other: the hosts of Ulster against the host of Connaught, the host of Ireland […]

    In Defence of Fakelore January 4, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    In Defence of Fakelore

    ***dedicated to RJ*** Fakelore – fake folklore – is a term which we owe to Richard Dorson, who first employed the word in print in 1950. Beach recently followed suit in an article and was surprised at the howl of rage from several readers. It seems that fakelore is off-limits in decent society: whoops! Here is Francisco […]

    The Crowd Swindle January 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Crowd Swindle

    The originality of Victorian criminals is often breath-taking. Here is a particularly fine dodge and something that would have made a quite excellent Sherlock Holmes short story. A remarkable case of attempting to extort money is reported from New York. Some years ago, it may be remembered, a Mr Rosenbaum, in London, was annoyed in […]

    London Prostitutes, c. 1660 January 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    London Prostitutes, c. 1660

    The Wandring Whore was a mysterious late seventeenth-century English dialogue between a number of ladies of the night, which was published in five numbers 1660-1661. It is titillating stuff and, after some back and forth between these bawds, each edition included a list of London prostitutes. Of course the publisher did not approve. God forbid! […]

    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’. […]

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