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The Accidental Archaeologist

If you come across a portrait or photograph of the famous archaeologist, author and politician Austen Henry Layard, it is most often of him as an old gentleman with an enormous white beard. That beard is so big and white that he seems to be all beard and no person. But long before that he was a young man working in an office and longing for something—anything—more exciting.

Pamper Me With Possets

Have you ever had a posset? It's a classic comfort food. Soft and gentle, like something that would pamper and console you. And we all have times when we need comfort food. (I certainly do.)

Of Safety and Snobbery

George Stephenson was an English engineer who has been called “The Father of the Railways” of the 19th century. He was a brilliant and visionary man, but success wasn’t easy for him.The scientific establishment of his day had difficulty believeing that anything good or important could come from a man who wasn't a "gentleman" and who didn't have the benefit of a univeristy education. 

Escape!

All is prepared for the execution. The blade of the guillotine has been sharpened, or the hangman’s noose is ready, or firing squad awaits, and then, at the last minute, it is discovered that the prisoner has escaped!

Scones and Jane Austen

Did Jane Austen enjoy an occasional scone with her tea? 

I seriously doubt it, for the simple reason that baking powder had not yet been invented.

A Romantic Tale and a Screwball Comedy

In the early 19th century there were four Tree sisters, all of whom went on the stage. (If there were three of them, one could probably create a nice tongue twister, but there were four.) Ellen Tree, who married the noted actor Charles Kean, was the only one who remained in the theater, performing with her husband as Mrs. Charles Kean until his death.

My Next Hero

Thank you for dropping by. I hope that last week you met Linda Ford's lonely cowboy hero, Blue Lyons. If you missed him, you can catch up at http://lindaford.org/blog/?p=2983. He will be appearing in one of Linda's Love Inspired historicals. And special thanks to Debora Dale (http://www.deboradale.com/) who organized this blog tour.

A Dickensian Childhood

A Dickensian childhood. The phrase conjures up images of small children working in coal mines or cotton mills, ragged urchins huddled in a doorway, Oliver Twist asking for more gruel. But you didn’t have to be poor to have a Dickensian childhood. Consider Augustus Hare.

Playing with Time

When I was a child, I was fascinated by cuckoo clocks. One of my aunts had one, and whenever we visited, I would sit there, waiting for the hour to strike so that the little bird would pop out and do its chirping.

There are less purely cheerful animated clocks, of course. Not long ago, Sotheby’s had an erotic 18th century clock. It looked quite innocent—the naughty bits were hidden behind a painting of a duck. (Don’t get your hopes up. It was more ludicrously comic than erotic.)

The Worth of Fashion

Since Fashion Week is almost here, thoughts turn to fabulous clothes and their designers, people with names like Balenciaga, Givenchy, Dior, Versace, Saint Laurent, Armani.

Do you notice anything odd about that list? They are all men. Well, all right, Chanel ought to be there too, but that doesn’t change the fact that for the past hundred years and more, the famous couturiers have been men.

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