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Epiphany Gift to Readers: Scary Fairies PDF January 6, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Epiphany Gift to Readers: Scary Fairies PDF

Scary Fairies… While Barrie, Nesbit and others were trying to anodize* and castrate fairies c. 1900 out in the wilds of Britain, Man and Ireland there will still those who were terrified of the elfen beggars. This terror finds a little known reflex in the literature of the time. Various authors including Buchan, Machen, Le […]

The Earliest Roman Ghost in Britain January 4, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Earliest Roman Ghost in Britain

Owen Davies in his fascinating The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts notes the way that strangely (or obviously if you are a sceptic like Beachcombing) ghosts follow the fashions and interests of their times. Take OD’s thoughts, for example, on Roman ghosts in the UK. The most recent addition to the corpus of heritage […]

A Surprise at Apple Down Cemetery January 2, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
A Surprise at Apple Down Cemetery

There is a cute game that academics play where the more exciting the results of your research the more boring your abstract must be. Take the following tedious example from the 2011 American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Read through the miasma of low-key, lead on sentences and consider what an extraordinary discovery has allegedly been […]

A Six Mile Stride December 30, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
A Six Mile Stride

A gentle post today as we near year’s end. Beachcombing has spent an unaccountable amount of time in Cornwall (south-west ‘England’) in the last week, looking at nineteenth-century infanticide (as you do). In his many wanderings through the meadows of Cornish books he stumbled upon the tale of the giant Bolster striding from St Agnes […]

The Future of English December 29, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
The Future of English

There have been various ‘world’ languages, beginning with Greek, moving on to Latin, and from there changing rapidly from Portuguese, to Spanish, to French and more recently to English. Beachcombing spent a lazy moment yesterday browsing a nineteenth-century essay on the ‘inevitable’ triumph of English, the author arguing that not only would English become the […]

Lancashire Voodoo c. 1850 December 26, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Lancashire Voodoo c. 1850

Beach promised no more fairy stories in 2011 but he thought he would go out with a witch tale from nineteenth-century Lancashire on the wrong side of the Pennines. There is something reminiscent of an earlier post from Hebden Bridge here and also of the curious case of the witch who suffered spontaneous combustion in […]

Highland Gladiators December 24, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Highland Gladiators

If Beachcombing had another ten years to add to his natural lifespan he would study duels: there is enough bizarre material there for at least a decade of honest work. As it is the years pass and there is little time. So he will offer up here, in passing, just one of those many collected […]

What do fairies smell of? December 23, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
What do fairies smell of?

Beachcombing knows that not everyone appreciates his endless posts on fairies, but here is – he promises – the last one for 2011. He might even wait a week before he starts again in 2012. Anyway, apologies apart, he recently stumbled on a rather beautiful book about Yorkshire in the late nineteenth century, one that […]

Review: Five Days in London December 19, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Review: Five Days in London

John Lukacs, Five Days in London, May 1940 (1999) has a simple thesis. The United Kingdom could not have defeated Hitler alone, but she could have lost the war before the Soviet Union and the USA entered as Allies. And she never came nearer to this, according to Lukacs, than 24-28 May 1940 – the […]

Dunkirk and Golden Bridges December 13, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary