When first hearing about Elephants’ Milk sold as a medicine around 1815, several question marks at once flashed up in my mind. I simply had to follow it up. It must have been the same with Dr. Richard Reece (1775-1831), tireless author on domestic medicine, and member of the Royal College of surgeons. Being a rather entrepreneurial physician and no stranger to the criticism of quackery, he got to the bottom of things. Read more about an alleged miracle cure from around 1815 here.Continue reading
Before reading this post, please note that The Writer’s Travel Guide does not recommend travelling to Japan in the long 18th century. In all likelihood, you will not be allowed to enter the country. If you try anyway, you are committing a capital offence.
Having read this, you are still determined to give it a try? – excellent! You are of one mind with three British captains who each had an individual adventure with an island kingdom barring itself from foreign influences. And you might also find out that not all encounters have to be riddled with conflicts. Continue reading
On 25th September 1799, shortly before 5 o’clock in the morning, the Wickhams woke up by the sound of guns. Were the French marching against Zurich again? William Wickham (1761 – 1840), England’s leading spy on the Continent, placed his wife Eleonore (1763-1836) under the care of his private secretary, the Count of St. George. He himself rode out reconnoitring the situation. Continue reading
200 years ago, a computer was a professional making a living by computing figures for charts and tables.
Men were predominant in this job, but a small number of women joined them and made remarkable achievements. Read more about three extraordinary careers in this post.
The 18th century saw an increase in scientific knowledge and practical research. Many findings found their way into everyday life, craft and commerce. New technics allowed, e.g., to create new colours. Find out here what Napoleon’s Campaign in Egypt, the Prussians and an apothecary had to do with the various blue pigments created in the long 18th century.
Whist was one of the most popular card games in Georgian England. It began its career as a plain game for common men. With the rise of the coffee houses in London, the gentry picked up the game. Reputedly it was Lord Folkestone who brought the game into fashion in high society around 1728, when he adopted it as a challenging strategic card game requiring good memory, sympathetic partnering and psychological acumen.
The rules of Whist were written down in Edward Hoyle’s “ A short treatise on the game of whist” in 1742. As early as this, methods of cheating were discussed. While Hoyle advocated fair play, the stakes at Whist could be high, and thus tempt many to force luck their way. Besides, cheating at whist is very easy. Continue reading
George Bryan Brummell (1778 – 1840) is one of the most beloved persons of the Regency period. He was a celebrity in his time, and is famous even today, e.g., as the hero of a detective series. You do know him of course, as the arbiter of fashion, the personification of Regency dandyism. You know that he is credited with introducing the modern man’s suit, that he made daily bathing fashionable, and that it took him about five hours to get dressed and ready. But do you know these 10 facts about Beau Brummell? Continue reading
Fans are so much more than fashionable accessories: They are useful for flirting, can cool heated cheeks or hide an unladylike emotion. In the wake of the Napoleonic War, their usefulness was boosted beyond the known limit when fans were made for spying, i.e. discretely observing the surrounding or other persons. I found some examples of these extraordinary devices when I visited the exhibition “Waterloo: Life & Times” of the Fan Museum in Greenwich, UK.
Playing with a top and skittles was popular in the 18th century. Children and grown-ups alike tested their skills at a game called “The devil among the tailors”. The 18th-century game is different from today’s version that is still around in some pubs in Britain. It is much larger, and you need more skills to score points. How was it played? And what’s in a name?Continue reading
The bright yellow winter aconite provides welcome colour to British gardens early in the year. Winter aconite blooms as early as January, and grows en masse under trees. The 18th-century fashion for landscape gardens brought the little plant into fashion. Continue reading