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  • Women Warriors of Benin July 23, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Women Warriors of Benin

    Having tested the limits of masculinity yesterday Beach feels obliged to pay tribute, today, to the fairer sex. He will pass through time to the late nineteenth century and through space to Dahomey (today part of Benin) in Africa where several thousand women formed an important part of the royal army there. Now, of course, […]

    Self Castrators July 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Self Castrators

    Castration is everywhere in history. The Normans did it to the Sicilians, the Afghans to the British, the Italians to their future opera singers and Heloise’s family did it to Abelard: and, goodness, did Abelard have it coming – a father speaks. But there is a more refined category of testicle removal that is not […]

    Forgotten Anglo-Irish Inventor Anticipates the Modern Age July 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Forgotten Anglo-Irish Inventor Anticipates the Modern Age

    A remarkable piece of dream engineering from the latter half of the eighteenth century, the creation of the obscure but fascinating Richard Lovell Edgeworth (obit 1817), one of those men cursed to have ideas that his day could not possibly understand or produce: an Anglo-Irish Leonoardo da Vinci though with more circumspection.

    Dragons in Swtizerland July 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dragons in Swtizerland

    Dragons may be a thing of the past, but there are some surprisingly recent reports that seem to describe the fiery-breathed ones among us. Take this curious record from the works of Athanasius Kircher (obit 1680), Mundus subterraneus, quo universae denique naturae divitiae (Amsterdam 1664-1668). Where to even begin? In 1619 as I was contemplating […]

    The Kingdom of Yetholm July 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Kingdom of Yetholm

    Gypsy history provides a rich field for bizarrists: after all, here is a people from the Indian subcontinent who hiked half way across Eurasia for reasons that are completely mysterious to modern historians causing confusion and marvel wherever they went. Nevertheless, even in such a rich field Beachcombing has an easy favourite: the Gypsy Kingdom […]

    Strange Speeches July 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Strange Speeches

    Beachcombing got an email last night from inspired speeches, a new website [now defunct!] dedicated to gathering, well, inspired speeches. His correspondent asked for suggestions for notable discourses from the past. And Beachcombing made the terrible mistake of opening said email at midnight. The result? Beach did not sleep until dawn, tossing and turning, as […]

    The Midsummer Oak and its Skeletons July 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Midsummer Oak and its Skeletons

    **This post is dedicated to New Moon who sent the oak story in** Here is a little bit of Sussex folklore which manages to combine English zombies, the delicate whiff of cobblers and, best of all, a famous oak. The oak tree in question is the Midsummer Oak at Broadwater, Worthing and the legend in […]

    Fury and Cannibalism July 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Fury and Cannibalism

    Cannibalism for most of us took place on ‘less happy (is)lands’ in less happy times, when neurologically-challenged Pacific folk loped from side to side suffering from Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. Others might also recall occasional starving humans on boats, in plane wrecks or beseiged cities obliged to eat each other. But cannabilism does not, surely, figure in […]

    Missing Holmes July 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Missing Holmes

    Yesterday it was flogging, tomorrow Renaissance cannibalism, so Beachcombing thought that today he would indulge in something rather more cerebral and what better than a gentle Invisible Library post? Beachcombing has introduced readers to several Invisible Libraries over the months, books that never existed except as titles in their creator’s imagination. And tonight he thought […]

    Bringing Back Flogging? July 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Bringing Back Flogging?

    Beachcombing thought that he would give a little publicity to a ‘rogue researcher’ today: a tag that refers to those who, with often commendable eccentricity, step outside the bounds laid down by their profession – Beachcombing is always on the look out for these rare souls, drbeachcombing DOT yahoo AT com. The RR in question […]

    Beachcombing Beachcombs from Florida to Japan July 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Beachcombing Beachcombs from Florida to Japan

    **Beach dedicates this post to Ricardo R and Tokyobling who supplied all the material** One area of bizarre history that Beachcombing has so far steered clear of in this blog is, well, beachcombing. He was put off the subject in the mid 1990s when he stumbled on a story in The Sun (Irish edition) of […]

    Thomas Hood or Tom Hood’s Invisible Library June 30, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Thomas Hood or Tom Hood’s Invisible Library

    Tomorrow the monthly round up of interesting emails and communications – Beachcombing is slaving to get them ready in time. In the meantime,  a further Invisible Library to add to the one that Frank Buckland discovered in late nineteenth-century Reading and that was featured here a couple of days ago. The following list was created […]

    Invisible Library at Reading June 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Invisible Library at Reading

    Beachcombing pioneered, early in his blogging career, an invisible library tag for books that have never existed save in the imagination of bookophiles: Beachcombing has, in fact, been preparing his own list for the last year for a false door in the family mansion for which readers kindly offered various titles. To keep the tag […]

    The Were-Hyenas of Ethiopia June 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Were-Hyenas of Ethiopia

    In the winter of last year Beachcombing had the werewolf mania bad and before he got bored with the hairy-handed ones he started to make notes on the Buda of Abyssinia, a winsome African lycanthrope. The following text was published in the second quarter of the nineteenth century and was written by a one-time European […]

    Review: The Great Pretenders June 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: The Great Pretenders

    Don’t tell Mrs B but Beachcombing is presently suffering from a rather silly teenage crush. The subject of his desire is a Scandinavia rheumatologist named Jan Bondeson who writes books in his spare time about strange things. It all began last month. Beachcombing bought twenty odd different volumes from various online sources – several of […]

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