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Electrocuting African Tribal Hosts January 3, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Electrocuting African Tribal Hosts

One of the great challenges of any nineteenth-century explorers was to make friends with the ‘primitives’ in such out of the way places as an equatorial rain forest, the upper peaks of the Andes and through much of Darkest Africa. And, of course, to do so they brought gifts along with them: a sensible enough […]

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 […]

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 […]

Fairy Death Bed Conversion December 15, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Fairy Death Bed Conversion

Beachcombing’s fairy year continues. In his grazing through the accounts of the fairy faith on the western and northern fringe of Europe one of the things that has most fascinated him is the belief of the connection between Catholicism and things fairy. There is a famous early modern comment – irritatingly Beach can’t remember by […]

Female Flyting in the Raj? August 17, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern

It has been a long day and Beach has not had time to look for this in all the normal works of reference. However, this story (or fiction?) rang no bells and as Beach has – disgrace upon disgrace – never had a Pakistani story before he thought he’d take a risk. A curious custom, […]

Changelings and the Law August 11, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Changelings and the Law

‘Changeling’, as noted in a recent post, was the name given by country folk on the Celtic fringe prior to children who were bewitched (i.e. ill): they were called ‘changelings’ because it was believed that fairies had come and had exchanged the child with a fairy. Parents’ reactions on having their children spirited away and […]

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 […]

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 […]

Lancashire Kick Boxing March 20, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Lancashire Kick Boxing

  Old time readers of this blog will know that Beachcombing once expressed an interest in ‘purring’ or ‘clog fighting’ when in the nineteenth century the natives of Manchester, Preston and Liverpool in the north-west of Britain were alleged to settle their disputes through kicking contests. Back when he wrote this post Beachcombing expressed some […]

The Werewolf Faith in Nineteenth-Century France January 28, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Werewolf Faith in Nineteenth-Century France

  Since beginning this blog eight months ago Beachcombing has had various itches including elephants, Atlantis (to be continued), birds and lightning. But none has bitten so deeply as the werewolf. Indeed, Beachcombing has sketched out another ten posts on the men and women who were furry on the inside. He even, damn it, started vaguely jotting […]

Changing Sex in Victorian England November 22, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Changing Sex in Victorian England

Disaster in the Beachcombing household tonight. Little Miss B – at least that is who Beachcombing is blaming – left on the car reading light, allowing the battery to run down. The family is thus stranded in the middle of the Italian countryside in monsoon weather wondering whether a car that doesn’t start will serve as a […]

Tennyson Loses Poland November 12, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Tennyson Loses Poland

In the encylopedia of burning libraries Alfred Tennyson’s lost long poem Poland is a minor entry, but it is still one that deserves to be written and perhaps even to be read about. It also brings together three of Beachcombing’s favourite themes: Poland and Tennyson – obviously - but also the incomparable William Allingham whose diary is the […]

The mystery of the hibernating hirundines October 31, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The mystery of the hibernating hirundines

Humans create ideas to explain natural phenomenon. Most of these explanations are worth little more than the cinders that Beachcombing nightly sweeps up from the fire. These explanations are then superseded by other explanations – that typically bear as little relation to truth – and so knowledge marches heroically on… Inevitably, though some branches of […]

Elizabeth Siddal: poets behaving badly October 19, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Elizabeth Siddal: poets behaving badly

Beachcombing has a distant day almost constantly in mind - one that he fears tremendously - when little Miss B will arrive home from school prom or a disco or a walk in a wood with an ear-ringed possibly nose-ringed man on her arm, only to announce in dulcet tones: ‘Mum, Dad this is John, he is a poet’. For […]

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