Saturday, 31 December 2011

Early Modern Alphabet: G

This week: A cheeky little G

This cheeky  little fella is having a fun time hiding behind a G, he doesn't realise the jokes on him! You should've hidden behind a B or something!!
Coo-eee! We can see you! Puh some people *sigh*

Every Saturday I post a letter from my Early Modern Alphabet, sometimes they're pretty and sometimes they're pretty strange, but all are undoubtedly little works of art in their own right.

Previous letters:

A   W      I     T       H    

Copyright © 2012 E.JH

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Early Modern Alphabet: N

Merry Christmas everyone!!! :)
Seeing today is Christmas Eve this week's letter is an N accompanied by what looks like a slightly disgruntled Jesus.....and no wonder with that annoying little dog jumping up at him! Plus his feet look like hands, I'd be pretty disgruntled too!

Copyright © 2011 E.JH

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Early Modern Alphabet: C

In a worrying turn of events a deer has attempted to eat my early modern alphabet. His head now hangs on my wall....ONLY JOKING! Mayhem!

Every Saturday I post a letter from my Early Modern Alphabet, sometimes they're pretty and sometimes they're pretty strange, but all are undoubtedly little works of art in their own right.

Previous letters:

A    W   I     T       H

Copyright © 2011 E.JH

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Early Modern Alphabet: H

Today's letter is H and it is a scary baby.
You do not want to mess with this baby, 
look at him goading you! this baby will take. you. down.

Every Saturday I post a letter from my Early Modern Alphabet, sometimes they're pretty and sometimes they're pretty strange, but all are undoubtedly little works of art in their own right.

Previous letters:

Friday, 2 December 2011

Happy recipient of a Liebster Blog ♥ Award

Last week I was pleased to discover that had given me a Liebster Blog ♥ award, so  thank you very much to Hobbinol!!! this is for you:

 Part of the fun of the award is getting to pass it on so, here are my 5 picks:

The Medieval World 
This is written by a good friend of mine (you may have noticed!) so I would like to nominate her first :) She does great posts about crazy cool medieval things (she can also be found lurking on twitter and facebook ) and in general is just a great person so you should check her out!

Beauty of Whatever Kind
I think I discovered this blog one day via twitter and I was really struck by how very pretty it is (it lives up to its name!). The author writes posts on a number of different things including poetry and history and more recently life after a History MA.

Ellimaanpaa Tale
I cant remember how I came across this blog! it is written by an artist and includes lots of posts about the fascinating things she has been creating.

Loyaulte Me Lie
This blog (also on facebook) came to my attention a few months ago (again through twitter I think!) it is pretty new but the author has been working really hard doing lots of great posts. She writes very enjoyable posts on a range of themes which mainly relate to 16th/17thc history, which (obviously) is just the kind of history I like :)

♥ his story, her story 
Another recent (twitter) discovery, this is a great new history blog which focuses (although not exclusively) on medieval and early modern women's history. It also encompasses themes around 19th and 20th century art, literature and culture.


         About the award 
Leibster is German & means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite’ The award is given to talented bloggers who have 200 followers or less, it is a way to show appreciation for other blogs, bring attention to their work and encourage new connections. 
         The Rules
  • Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  • Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Post the award on your blog.
  • Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the blogosphere – other bloggers.
  • And, best of all – have fun and spread the karma.

~ Hopefully you have enjoyed discovering great some new blogs today :)

Copyright © 2011 E.JH

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Early Modern Alphabet: T

Word up my friends, today's letter is T....

When people turned up to watch a naked mud wrestling competition
this is not what they had in mind, oooh fail!

Every Saturday I post a letter from my Early Modern Alphabet, sometimes they're pretty and sometimes they're pretty strange, but all are undoubtedly little works of art in their own right.

Copyright © 2011 E.JH

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Of Mermaids and Mermen

Eyes not look on the mermaids face,
and Ears forbear her song;
Her Face hath an alluring Grace,
more charming is her Tongue.

 ~ Anon. The Beginning, progress and end of man (1688)

I grew up by the sea and spent a lot of time playing on the beach, perhaps because of this I have always loved the legends and folk tales of mermaids (and mermen!) so I thought I would do a post on them.

It is difficult to trace exactly where the idea of mermaids originates from as they feature across a number of different cultures. It is likely that mermaids as we know them today are in part a mixture of Greek mythology and fokelore, In Greek mythology the sirens were half bird/half women temptresses whose enticing music and song lured saliors onto the rocks on the island where they lived. Later sirens became depicted as aquatic creatures and rather than living on an island they were depicted as lying in wait on rocks singing, gazing at their reflection in a mirror and combing their hair (as in the 17thc image above).  It is interesting that today a 'siren' is still used as a description for a woman who is seductive and beautiful.

By the 17th century the the terms mermaid, siren and seamaid were interchangable, in Blount's dictionary the definition the mermaid/siren is used as an allegory for unbridled passion:

Mermaid, Seamaid, or Siren, whereof the Poets had three, Parthenope, Leucosia and Ligea; the first used her voyce, the second a Citern, the third a Pipe; and so are said to entice Marrinersmusick, and then to destroy them. The upper part of their bodies, was like a beautiful Virgin, the neather was fishy. By these Syrens, pleasures are emblematically understood, from which unless a man abstain, or at least use moderately, he shall be devoured in their waves.
 ~ Thomas Blount, Glossographia or a Dictionary (1656)
Well nothing like the thought of an icy death to put you off sex for a while.

For mermen we again can look to Greek mythology for their inspiration; Poseidon and his son Triton are both typically presented as half fish half male creatures. In the early days of scientific discovery though, there was belief that such creatures could exist. Some male 'sea monsters' made an appearance in Ambroise Paré's 16th century book Monsters and Prodigies, which was his attempt to catalogue some of the many monsters believed to exist. In the text Paré explains how a male sea monster (pictured below) came out of the Illyrian (Adriatic) sea to snare a small child, but was repelled by fishermen with stones and later came ashore only to die. Paré gives no date for the incident but quotes Gesner for the tale, persumably he had read Conrad Gesner's Historiae Animalium (Zürich, 1551-1587) as the image is a direct copy of one Gesner used. Gesner himself was suspicious of the existence of such creatures but felt he had to include them as he could not disprove their existence.

Seemingly the question mark over whether or not such creatures existed continued into the 18th century as shown by this interesting artefact now held in the British Museum:

Although we now know that this merman was created out of the dried parts of a monkey and a fish tail, artefacts such as this one were used in 18th century curiosity collections and seemingly presented as examples of real creatures. This particular merman was gifted to HRH Prince Arthur of Connaught (the grandson of Queen Victoria) by Arisue Seijiro and was presented as a real merman which had been caught and mummified in Japan in the 18th century. Many similar creations which often originated  from Japan were used in western sideshows and curiosity collections throughout the 18th century. Even as late as the 19th century examples were exhibited, one famous hoax by P. T. Barnum in 1842 saw thousands of people in New York duped into paying to see a mermaid which was said to have been caught near the Fiji Islands. 

Copyright © 2011 E.JH

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Early Modern Alphabet: I

Eye eye! The look for this season is bearded centaur, don't be caught without one!

Every Saturday I post a letter from my Early Modern Alphabet, sometimes they're pretty and sometimes they're pretty wierd but all are undoubtedly little works of art in their own right!

The alphabet so far...


Copyright © 2011 E.JH

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Early Modern Alphabet: W

Today's letter is W and.....tis a wabbit? or maybe a hare? you decide!
 Either way it looks pretty shifty.....that grimace...those eyes! pure evil.

Every Saturday I post a letter from my Early Modern Alphabet, sometimes they're pretty and sometimes they're pretty wierd, but all are undoubtedly little works of art in their own right.

Copyright © 2011 El.JH

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Early Modern Alphabet: A

Every week, or maybe more, I will be showcasing a letter from the alphabet, not just any old letter though! it shall be one of the many lavishly illustrated letters which can be found in early modern books and pamphlets. I really enjoy these little works of art and think that they deserve to be viewed in their own in the style of Sesame's letter is A and....well thats it.

A bit of an aquatic theme to kick of my Early Modern Alphabet. These two figures are probably representatons of Triton and Scylla from Greek mythology. I like what looks like water gushing out the top of the A.

Friday, 4 November 2011

'Of the ranke savour of the arme-holes': A remedy for B.O

Oi! You! Step away from the garlic!!!

I came across this handy remedy for body odour while looking through a 17thc birth manual:

'This vice in many persons is very tedous and lothsome: the remedie whereof is, to purege first the chollericke and eagre humours, originall causers of the same, and afterwardes to wash the arme-holes oftentimes with the water wherein Wormewood hath beene sodden, together with Camomell, and a little quantitie of Alome.'
 '...the rootes of Artichaughes (the pith picked out) sodden n white Wine, and so drunke, doth avoid the stenche of the arme-holes, and other parts of the body'

So there you have it! wash in a bit of wormwood/chamomile water with some aloe vera to keep your 'arme-holes' smelling sweet. Alternatively you could just drink some white wine with a little artichoke root in it, great!. (A little more explanation surrounding the medieval medical theory of  the 'humours' of the body will be the topic of another post, another day!)

Common wormwood or Artemisia absinthium

Apparently the common wormwood can be found in many part of the world including the UK and the US and is often found growing in wasteland or by roads.



  • Top image: Theodor Rombouts, Allegory of the five senses from the wga
  • Image and information on 'Common Wormwood' at
  • Artichoke image from here
  • Quote from: Raynalde Thomas, The Birth of Mankinde, otherwise named The Womans Booke, (Thomas Adams: London, 1604), f. 204.

Copyright © 2011 E.JH

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Stephen Fry's 'Why does history matter?' speech

I decided to share this speech which was delivered by Stephen Fry in 2006 as part of the 'History Matters' campaign to encourage the study of history, I think it makes for a good read. It is interesting, healthy even, to question why we want or even need to study history at all. Stephen Fry is a clever and charismatic speaker and it is an awesome speech, a justification for the study of the past and great food for thought.
Why does history matter  ? A better man might be able to answer with far more questions than answers. Whenever the importance of history is discussed, epigrams and homilies come tripping easily off our tongues: How can we understand our present or glimpse our future if we cannot understand our past? How can we know who we are if we don't know who we were? While history may be condemned to repeat itself, historians are condemned to repeat themselves. History is bunk or possibly bunkum. History is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel. History is written by the victor. Historians are prophets looking backwards. Or we could paraphrase EM Forster on the novel. 'Does history tell a story? Oh, dear me yes, history tells a story.'
Historians, more than any other class, spend a great deal of time justifying their trade, defining it and aphorising it, seeming to lavish more attention on historiography than history. After all, is there such a thing as history or are there only histories? For all the oddities of some arcane scientific research, we all know that science eventually leads to making light bulbs work, car engines run and failed hearts pump again. Can we test the value of history in the same way? Can we prove that a politician, a financier or a spot-welder is better, happier or more fulfilled for possessing a feel for history?

But ... isn't history now just point of view, tribal assertion, cultural propaganda? After all, the days of Burke, Macaulay, Gibbon, Trevelyan and Froude are over. Historians are no longer grandees at the centre of a fixed civilisation; they are simply journalists writing about celebrities who haven't got the grace to be alive any more. Certainly, some people sense in our world, even if they can't prove it, a new and bewildering contempt for the past. In the high street of life, as it were, no one seems to look above the shop-line. Today's plastic signage at street level is the focus; yesterday's pilasters, corbels and pediments above are neither noticed nor considered, save by what some would call cranks and conservationists.

There are those who wonder if the whole of history is now valuable only as a politically correct lesson in the stupidity and cruelty of monarchs, aristocrats, industrialists and generals. Stern, loveless voices tell us that history as we know it is an irrelevance, with its obsession with dead white men, or with Judaeo-Christianity, or classical antiquity, or the West, or enlightenment, or wars, dynasties and treaties. Marxists, Althusserians, formalists, revisionists, historians of Empire or against Empire - forget them all. You don't even have to dignify it with ideological abstractions any more; history is really the story of a series of subjugations, oppressions, exploitations and abuses.

Or history is heritage studies: cotton mills, marshalling yards and collieries smartened up as 'resources' for school trips; take the kids into the kitchens and servants' quarters of the stately home and ignore the saloons and great rooms above stairs for fear of giving offence. British culture, besieged on all sides by guilt: guilt at empire, guilt at English domination of the United Kingdom, guilt at slavery, at industrial wage-slavery, at Boer Wars, Afghan Wars, mutinies, massacres and maladministrations.

History, then, as one long, grovelling apology or act of self-abasement and self-laceration. A history in which historians have to stand on one side of an argument or another, for, in between, they are nothing but dry-as-dust statisticians. Or we see historians as creepy hindsight critics who can, in the safety of their studies, point out to Alexander the Great and Napoleon where they went wrong and how they would have done it better.

And yet, against this, we measure the exponential growth in the public appetite for history. Has it ever been a better time to be a historian? In publishing and in broadcasting, history is a phenomenon that continues to exceed expectations. Enthusiasts bounding about from battlefield to palace and castle and back again, filling more air time then ever before. From Melvyn Bragg's matchless colloquies on Radio 4 to documentary series bearing the proud epithets 'landmark', 'flagship', 'prestige' 'must-see', 'event TV' and 'water-cooler moments'. Just recently, we've had themed evenings on BBC 4 on the 18th century as well as documentaries and big news items on the Somme. Certainly, history is popular in grand traditional forms, but new subgenres of history have, for the last 20 years, exploded in popularity, too. The history of science, philosophy and thought: sidelights are more popular than floodlights - small histories of the cod, tulips, salt, sugar or the pepper gardens of India, little books with names like 'Darwin's Walking Stick', Newton's Trousers' or 'Brahi's Nose'; whole genres on voyages of discovery, at least 10 books on Joseph Banks of the Endeavour and Captain Fitzroy of the Beagle, books on the transit of Venus and longitude and Sumerian counting systems all seem to be flying off the shelves.

Family history has exploded in popularity, too. I was involved in the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? programme and received more mail and feedback from that one programme than from anything else I've ever done. 'I never knew what the Holocaust meant until I saw your programme,' one viewer wrote to me. We might find this a little odd, but it tells us that many people cannot see links between facts and historical narratives, unless those facts are brought absolutely to life, mediated by personality. Is that cheap celebrity culture at work or is it the perfectly human truth that while the slaughter of a nameless six million is hard to fathom, the murder of a named and delineated family can move us inexpressibly?

After all, isn't that what poetry and novels show, that humanity is best comprehended by understanding humans rather than ideas? But for some, this leads to the worry that history can now only mean witness. And some of us fear that even the most respectable documentary programme now cannot get through two minutes of screen time without some preposterous reconstruction involving wigs, candles, actors, ponderous music, scratching quills and even more wigs, so afraid is television of telling without showing.
Might this lead us to suspect that the history phenomenon is akin to that of television cuisine? More and more of us watch cooking, yet fewer and fewer ever wield a skillet in anger. Such a suspicion doesn't really make sense. You can cook, but you can't history, can you? You can carry what you learn of history inside you, at least. You can connect. And that's the point. We can never measure how much history has penetrated the consciousness of the nation.
We all know the cliches; the middle-class man reads biography and history, especially military history; the wife carries on reading novels, because men 'get' abstraction, numbers and grand strategy and women 'get' relationships. Men do seem to like history; history becomes their bedtime reading, their sitting-down version of golf, dare one say?
For men, history can seem to be a kind of Higher Sport (no coincidence perhaps that we still talk of Waterloo being won on the playing fields of Eton and still describe the little 19th-century dance between Russia and imperial Britain over India as the Great Game. Napoleon should have played with two up front; we didn't win the war, but we saved the follow-on). At the dinner table, the wives break up the boy-girl, boy-girl placement and gather down at one end to talk about friendships and books, while the men stay up the other end to discourse on von Paulus's surrender or Clive at the Battle of Plassey. Very NW3, very dinner party, but, in the meantime, what about the young? Is history like Radio 4, something you only turn to when you are middle-aged and middle-class? Are the young too busy living to look back?
The biggest challenge facing the great teachers and communicators of history is not to teach history itself, nor even the lessons of history, but why history matters. How to ignite the first spark of the will o'the wisp, the Jack o'lantern, the ignis fatuus [foolish fire] beloved of poets, which lights up one source of history and then another, zigzagging across the marsh, connecting and linking and writing bright words across the dark face of the present. There's no phrase I can come up that will encapsulate in a winning sound-bite why history matters. We know that history matters, we know that it is thrilling, absorbing, fascinating, delightful and infuriating, that it is life. Yet I can't help wondering if it's a bit like being a Wagnerite; you just have to get used to the fact that some people are never going to listen.
No, it isn't exactly political correctness that dogs history; it's more a pernicious refusal to enter imaginatively the lives of our ancestors. Great and good men and women stirred sugar into their coffee knowing that it had been picked by slaves. Kind, good ancestors of all of us never questioned hangings, burnings, tortures, inequality, suffering and injustice that today revolt us. If we dare to presume to damn them with our fleeting ideas of morality, then we risk damnation from our descendants for whatever it is that we are doing that future history will judge as intolerable and wicked: eating meat, driving cars, appearing on TV, visiting zoos, who knows?
We haven't arrived at our own moral and ethical imperatives by each of us working them out from first principles; we have inherited them and they were born out of blood and suffering, as all human things and human beings are. This does not stop us from admiring and praising the progressive heroes who got there early and risked their lives to advance causes that we now take for granted.
In the end, I suppose history is all about imagination rather than facts. If you cannot imagine yourself wanting to riot against Catholic emancipation, say, or becoming an early Tory and signing up to fight with the Old Pretender, or cheering on Prynne as the theatres are closed and Puritanism holds sway ... knowing is not enough. If you cannot feel what our ancestors felt when they cried: 'Wilkes and Liberty!' or, indeed, cried: 'Death to Wilkes!', if you cannot feel with them, then all you can do is judge them and condemn them, or praise them and over-adulate them.
History is not the story of strangers, aliens from another realm; it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier. History is memory; we have to remember what it is like to be a Roman, or a Jacobite or a Chartist or even - if we dare, and we should dare - a Nazi. History is not abstraction, it is the enemy of abstraction.
The bizarre but wonderful William Gerhardi wrote a polemical introduction to his book, The Romanovs, a foreword he called a 'Historian's Credo', a series of furious and marvellously eccentric aphorisms. One paragraph reads: 'History must at last convince of the uselessness of insensate mass movements riding roughshod, now as ever, over anonymous suffering and claiming priority in the name of some newly clothed abstraction. If it does not teach that, it does not teach anything.'
It was appropriate to write that as he did in 1939, and it is appropriate for us all to remember it today.
This was first published in The Observer, July 9th 2006.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Vintage posters...Just for fun!

Just a random post today, I discovered these posters and wanted to share them with you because they amused me. They are available at (or .com if you are elsewhere)

I love them! They remind me of some card designs by Umpen Editions I picked up in Liverpool last year. I posted one on my Facebook page a while can see more of these 'Notable Gentlewomen' as well as some 'Magnificent Men' on Umpen's Flickr page

Thursday, 20 October 2011

More Chat up lines from the Seventeenth Century

A while ago I posted about 'The New Academy of Complements' written by Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset which was printed in 1669. (see my previous post Chat Up lines: Early Modern Style ) The text includes many suggestions for 'complemental expressions' to be used during courtship, they really amused me so I though that I would revisit the text and post some more, enjoy! oh and feel free to try any of these out, I would be very interested to know the results :)

Complemental Expressions towards Men
  • Sir, My zeal is so fervent towards you, that I am sick with passion.
  • Sir, I must blushing leave you, having nothing to requite you with but words.
  • Sir, You are the onely Anchor of my hopes.
  • Sir, I shall study to chronicle your Vertues.
  • Sir, Fear no dangers, my Arms shall be your Sanctuary.
  • Sir, I am a captive to your Honor, and your fair Example steers me.
  • Sir, Your excellent qualities might become the presence of a Prince.
  • Sir, It is by your contents or discontents, that I measure the necessities and fatalities of this world.
  • Sir, I prostrate my presumption at your feet, I shall lose happiness if you forsake me.
  • Sir, I am proud when a kinde opportunity makes me yours.
  • Sir, 'Tis your presence that compleats our joys.
  • Sir, May we from this day date our immortal friendship.
  • Complements towards Ladies, Gentlewomen, Maids
    • Madam, Since I want merits to equallize your Vertues, I will for ever mourn for my imperfections.
    • Fair Lady, My whole estate is summ'd up in your smiles.
    • Madam, What crime of mine hath raised your angry frowns? 
    • Fairest, It is now high time to cherish my desires, let them be no longer prisoners to the shades of silence.
    • Dear Madam, Your love is the perfection of my desires.
    • Fairest, Make me so happy, as to raise my affections to the honor of being yours.
    • Blush fair Creature, Blush, since to be coy, is to be cruel, and to be cruel, is to be otherwise than what you seem, a Beauty.
    • Madam, Be wise and dote not so much upon your own beauty, the man with the bald pate can so alter your physnomy, that in a short time it shall fright you more than a Judge doth a Thief.
    • Madam, 'Tis past your Art to shun me, I will put a Girdle round about the world but I will finde you

    • Madam, I am sick of love, be you my Physitian or I shall suddenly expire.

    • Excellent Beauty, Painters, Poets, nor Players were ever guilty of half so many cruelties, as you (by the darts of your eyes) do exercise on those that admire you most.
    • I faith Widdow, I am in love, and 'tis with you, the untoward boy Cupid has wounded me, 'tis such a busie Urchin no person can be quiet for him, He glides through the Isle of man in a minute, gets into Middlesex;  and keeps his Christmass there till he's fir'd out, with heat and flames.

    • Dear Madam, When I am absent from you, I am sick of love, but every visit gives somewhat of consolation to my passion.
    •  Glossary
      Physnomy: 'the feature of the face' Elisha Coles, An English Dictionary (1676) or
      'an Art, which discovers the dispositions of the minde by the Lineaments of the body.' Thomas Blount, Glossographia or a Dictionary (1656)
      My thanks to the LEME (a very useful reference site) for these definitions.
      Cover of The New Academy of Compliments, 1669, from EEBO
      Eglon vander Neer, Elegant Couple in an interior, 1678 from the Web Gallery of Art
      Jacob Jordaens, Portrait of a Young Married Couple, 1615-1620 from the Web Gallery of Art
       Copyright © 2011 Elaine Hunter

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Famous Speeches: Elizabeth I at West Tilbury 1588

Probably one of Elizabeth's best known speeches given on the eve of the Spanish Armarda in 1588 to her assembled troopes at West Tilbury:
My loving people, we have been persuaded by some, that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realms: to which, rather than any dishonor should grow by me, I myself will take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, by your forwardness, that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble and worthy subject; not doubting by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and by your valor in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Further Reading

I started my 'further reading' page a long time ago so today I decided it would be a good idea to add some more titles to it. I have done a whole lot more reading since I started this blog, mainly because of my dissertation. Check out the newly updated page:

Recently I have recently enjoyed a new book (well it was published in 2010) by Fumerton, Guerrini and Mcabee apart from the amusing cover (which was much appreciated) I found the chapter 'Advertising Monstrosity: Broadsides and Human Exhibition in Early Eighteenth-Century London' to be particularly interesting. It looks at human exhibition between 1660 and 1740, based on evidence from the Hans Sloane Collection of broadsides which are available at the British Library. It includes discussion of several human exhibitions in London such as a hermaphrodite girl, discussing the role of coffee shops in the exhibition of unusual human bodies and audiences for such shows.

 Patricia Fumerton, Anita Guerrini, Kris Mcabee (eds.), Ballads and Broadsides in Britain, 1500-1800 (Ashgate: Farnham, 2010).

At some point I really should create an annotated bibliography, but that will have to wait until I have more time! *sigh sigh*

Happy reading     (:

Image of medieval woman reading from
Book cover from Amazon
Glasses from here

Copyright © 2011 E.JH

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Happy belated birthday blog!: 1 year old :)

Ha so I just realised the other day that I have been writing this blog for over a year now- how time flies! I haven't managed to do as many posts as I would have liked (so many ideas- not enough time!!!) however I have enjoyed doing everything I have done so far, so anyway heres to many more posts in the future!

Over the past year both Twitter and Facebook have been really important in driving traffic to my blog as well as meeting others with the same interests and discovering new blogs and websites. For regular updates, pictures, discussion and general historical fun ;) follow me on twitter and facebook:

Click to follow on twitter and facebook!

Happy 1st Birthday!!!!!!!

Very cute birthday image from

Copyright © 2011 E.JH

The Ballad of the Midwife's Ghost

This ballad is a disturbing tale of a tortured ghost who after years of disposing of unwanted children decided to confess all in her death by haunting the inhabitants of her former home. Infanticide, particularly of bastard children was seen as a problem in the seventeenth century, the ballad's author describes how the midwife Mistris Atkins had been 'murthering Babes for Parents sake'. This ballad is set in Holbourn, London at a house in Rotten Row (an area which can still be seen it is now a track running along the south side of Hyde Park in leading from Hyde Park Corner to the west) The veracity of the tale is defended by its claim that the bones discovered by the maid were available to view at the Cheshire Cheese- a pub still in existence today. Whether or not any of the tale actually happened it is an interesting commentary on the contemporary importance of burial rights and the problem of bastard bearing in the seventeenth century.

 Let the world know my crime and that I am most sorry for’t

The Midwives Ghost:
Who appeared to several People in the House where she formerly lived in Rotten-Row in Holbourn, London, who were all afraid to speak unto her; but she grow-ing very Impetuous , on the 16th . of this Instant March, 1680, declarred her mind to the Maid of the said House, who with an Unanimous Spirit adhered to her, and afterwards told it to her Mistris, how that if they took up two Tiles by the Fire-side, they should find the Bones of Bastard-Children that the said Midwife had 15 years ago Murthered, and that she desired that her Kinswoman Mary should see them decently Buried; which accordingly they did, and found it as the Maid had said. The Bones are to be seen at the Cheshire-Cheese in said place at this very time, for the satisfaction of those that believes not this Relation.
To the Tune of, When Troy Town, etc.
MAn cornelis de 1670s WGA
T O speak of Murthers that have been
committed in our Sphear of late;
There's none like these I shall declare,
by monstrous hand, and cruel Fate:
Being acted by a Midwife fell,
Which in Scroop-Court of late did dwell.

Mistris Atkins she there was call'd,
of Reputation good alway;
Till Death did send his piercing Dart,
and told her that he could not stay:
But she must to the Stigion Lake,

For murthering Babes for Parents sake.
She seeing now her time was come,
most bitterly began to weep;
And lifting up her hands on high,
she took a short, not lasting sleep:
Six months ago, as I am told,
Before she did this same unfold.

Therefore not to detain you long
to this discourse, I now will press;
Which is a truth assuredly,
as many know, and you may guess:
When as 'tis plainly told herein,
Whereas their bones are to be seen.

The House whereas this Midwife liv'd,
hath very much disturbed been;
With Apparitions very strange,
the like whereof hath not been seen:
Sometimes resembling of her shape,

At other times Hells mouth to gape.
Which put the people in great fear,
that there had taken up abode,
Being loath for to disclose the same,
for fear expersions they should load
On her whom they really thought
Could never be to Lewdness brought.

...People they are apt of late, to condemn (most) strange things as lyes,To 'th Cheshire-Cheese you may repair, or this they will you satisfice: Having the Childrens Bones to show.... 
But still they daily was opprest,
with dismal shapes, and Lightings strange
That by no means they could not rest,
being very loath from thence to range:
They told some Neighbours secretly,
Desiring them their Faith to try.
To speak unto this Spirit strange,
if that occasion they saw;

But they thereby was daunted quite,
and very much was kept in awe:
The hair o'their heads standing on end,
To see their late Familiar Friend.

She finding none that would Reply,
importune at last did grow;
A'th 16th . of this Instant March ,
unto the Maid reveal'd her Woe:
Who then was by her Mistris sent,
To fetch Night-cloaths Incontinent.

pray Virgin stay, then quoth the [?],
for I to you will do no harm;
And tell Mary whom I love most,
that I hereby, her now do charm,
Two Tiles by 'th fire up to take,
A Board also, and then to make
A Burial of what she finds,

in decent and most handsome sort;
And let the World to know my Crime,
and that I am most sorry for't:
Desiring Midwives to take heed,
How they dispose their Bastard-breed.

She having now reveal'd her mind,
did vanish in a Flash away,
And none doth know where she's confin'd,
until the General judgement-day:
When as she shall the answer make,
For what she then did undertake.
The Maid at first astonish'd was,
at this which she her self did hear;

And to her Mistris did impart,
the same that now I do declare:
Concerning of the Murthers strange,
And did not seem at all to change.
Which being throughly searched out,
accordingly it did appear;

The Maid she spoke of is suppos'd,
to be her kind Kinswoman neer:
That will fulfill her will, 'tis said,
She being a Religious Maid.

Most People they are apt of late,
to condemn (most) strange things as lyes,
To 'th Cheshire-Cheese you may repair,
for this they will you satisfice:
Having the Childrens Bones to show,
In Holbourn if you do it know.

London, Printed for T. Vere , at the Sign of
the Angel in Guiltspur-Street. 1680.

Rotten Row as Seen today

Bones image from here
Cheshire cheese pub image from here 
Rotten Row image from here

Copyright © 2011 E.JH