29/07/2011

The Suffragettes: Votes for Women

Votes for Women

The Suffragettes were movements for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom. Suffrage means the right to vote. They wanted to be involved in the running of the country and they wanted to be treated as equals to men. At first the movements started with peaceful protests, but they progressed to acts of extreme civil disobedience.

26/07/2011

Anarchists: Terrorist Attacks in Victorian and Edwardian Britain

Winston Churchill at Sydney Street Siege
Winston Churchill (highlighted) at the Sydney Street Siege

In Victorian and Edwardian times there was another terrorist threat besides the Fenians - anarchists and revolutionaries.

In the 1840's movements for democracy swept Europe - Italy, France, and Poland stood on the brink of revolution and thinkers and activists encouraged uprisings. Many of Europe’s revolutionaries and anarchists ended up in exile in comparatively liberal Britain: it became the home for other people’s ‘terrorists’.

25/07/2011

The Fenians: Terrorist Attacks in Victorian and Edwardian Britain

Police inspect the scene of the Clerkenwell explosion (1867)
Police inspect the scene of the Clerkenwell explosion (1867)

Terrorist attacks are thought by many people to be a relatively recent phenomenon, however, this is not the case. In Victorian and Edwardian times there were two terrorist threats, the Fenians, and anarchists.

The Fenians were Irish Nationalists organised in 1858 as the Irish Republican Brotherhood in Ireland. They were supported, mainly financially, by the Clan na Gael (Fenian Brotherhood) which formed in 1867 in the United States. The Fenians conducted what became known as the Fenian Dynamite Campaign in the 1880's.

22/07/2011

Can you teach Creative Writing?

Can you teach Creative Writing?

Lately I noticed lots of people on Twitter talking about creative writing courses, so I decided to investigate. I tried to discover when creative writing courses started being taught, so I could rule out authors who lived before such courses were given. The answer was that creative writing courses were developed starting from the 1880's to the 1940's. Most of my favourite authors could potentially have attended such courses.

Next I tried to find out if the authors I admire ever attended such courses and what they thought of them. Several authors wrote tips for good writing for their fans, but I could only find two that definitely did attend a course themselves.

18/07/2011

Scotland Yard

London's Metropolitan Police Service Scotland Yard

Scotland Yard is the London Police elite investigation agency mentioned in Sherlock Holmes and other stories. But what is it really, and why is it called so?

16/07/2011

Frankenstein (1910)

Frankenstein (1910)

This is the very first motion picture adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, made by Thomas Edison's film company in 1910. It was written and directed by J. Searle Dawley, and filmed in three days at the Edison Studios in New York City.

Synopsis
Frankenstein goes to college to study medicine. He discovers the secret of life, and tries to create a perfect human being, however he ends up creating a monster. He runs away in horror, and the monster starts following him and becomes jealous of Frankenstein's bride.

11/07/2011

Amerigo Vespucci: The World’s Most Beautiful Ship

Amerigo Vespucci tall ship

I had the luck of visiting the Amerigo Vespucci, a tall ship of the Italian Marina Militare, named after the explorer of the same name. When I saw pictures of this ship I thought it was made of wood, so imagine my surprise when I saw it's made of riveted steel plates. It seems caught between two eras, the looks of an 18th century wooden ship, and the technology and materials of the 1920's (with small upgrades for the 21st century). Click on the pictures to see in more detail.

08/07/2011

Steampunk Figurines: Musicians and Angels

Steampunk Violinist

I noticed an deep interest in figurines and art created from recycled material in the Steampunk world. This got me thinking that I already own one myself, the Steampunk Violinist shown above. Below are some photos I took at the stall from which I bought my violinist. Click to enlarge.

07/07/2011

Mad as a Hatter? Millinery and Mercury

The Hatter character in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The Hatter character in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

In the late 14th and 15 centuries hats started to be worn regularly. During that period hats for men were considered an important fashion item, unlike women’s hats which only became considered as a fashion item in the 18th Century.

Millinery has existed in Britain since the 1700's.  In English courts the term milliner was used and this was derived from the term for travelling haberdashers from the Duchy of Milan in Italy.  These travelling sales people sold 'Millayne bonnets' and all the items necessary to dress, and were called millainers.

05/07/2011

Mechanical Singing Bird Automatons

Mechanical Singing Bird Automatons

Last Saturday an acquaintance showed me his antique mechanical birds in a cage. I was truly amazed when he wound up this gizmo and the two birds started moving their beaks, heads, and tails (see video below). He said it's around a hundred years old, and the birds probably should sing too.

03/07/2011

The British Parliament

The Crowned Portcullis
The crowned portcullis gained widespread use as the emblem of the Houses of Parliament in the 19th century.

This is a follow up to my Parliament vs Monarchy article, and it attempts to explain the British parliamentary system. The British legislative authority (known as the Crown-in-Parliament) has three separate elements: the Monarch, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons.

The House of Lords (also known as the Upper House) is made of two different types of members: the Lords Spiritual (senior bishops of the Church of England) and the Lords Temporal (members of the Peerage). Members of the House of Lords are not elected democratically, but are