Rudyard Kipling’s “Stiff Upper Lip”: From Empire to Tragedy

Rudyard Kipling, born in India in 1865, embodied the spirit of British Imperialism during its peak. His life was a journey of incredible success and unimaginable sorrow, forever marked by the “stiff upper lip” of Victorian stoicism.

Early Years

Growing up in Bombay, Kipling was surrounded by the grandeur and diversity of the British Raj.

 Girgaum Road, Bombay, India c.1895
Girgaum Road, Bombay, India c.1895
Pydownee Street, Bombay, India c1895
Pydownee Street, Bombay, India c1895
Harbour with arriving mail, Bombay, India, c. 1895
Harbour with arriving mail, Bombay, India, c. 1895
Statue of Queen Victoria (Empress of India, 1 May 1876 – 22 January 1901) in front of Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata (calcutta). Credit Karthiknanda
Statue of Queen Victoria (Empress of India, 1 May 1876 – 22 January 1901) in front of Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata (calcutta). Credit Karthiknanda

Yet, his idyllic childhood was shattered at the age of five when he and his sister were sent to a cruel boarding house in England. For six years they suffered cruelty and neglect at the hands of the evil Mrs Holloway of Lorne Lodge.

Badly-treated children have a clear notion of what they are likely to get if they betray the secrets of a prison-house before they are clear of it.Rudyard Kipling.

Relief came for one month every year when he and his sister visited their maternal Aunt in London. It was a paradise compared to Lorne Lodge.

A paradise which I verily believe saved me.Rudyard Kipling.

When at last his mother returned from India to remove the children from Lorne Lodge, he was able to tell the story.

The experience instilled in him the importance of emotional control, a trait that would remain with him throughout his life.

Around the World

After a brief stint at school, Kipling returned to India to pursue his passion for writing. By the age of 24, he had already published several successful stories and embarked on a breathtaking journey around the world.

Steamboats revolutionized international travel in the late Victorian era

Kipling left India in March 1889, traveling to San Francisco via Rangoon (a region of Myanmar), Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan.

After falling in love with a Geisha in Tokyo, he continued his journey through the United States, arriving first in San Francisco and traveling on to Portland OR, Seattle, Vancouver, Alberta, Yellowstone National Park, Salt Lake City, Omaha, Chicago, Beaver PA, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Washington D. C., New York, and Boston.

He stopped along the way to visit Mark Twain, arriving unannounced, but being fortunate enough to find Mr Twain at home and happy to put the world to rights over a few whiskeys.

‘Drop by any time’. Mark Twain pondering the world.

Travelling inspired Kipling’s boundless imagination and laid the foundation for his future literary achievements.

Bliss and Tragedy

In Vermont, Kipling found his haven, building a home he called “Bliss Cottage.” Here, surrounded by his wife and daughters, he penned his most beloved works, including the Jungle Books. However, tragedy struck when his young daughter, Josephine, passed away from pneumonia.

This devastating loss left a permanent scar on Kipling’s soul, forcing him to confront the limitations of the “stiff upper lip.”

Poet of the Empire

As Kipling’s fame grew, so did his association with British Imperialism. He became known as the “Poet of the Empire,” writing poems like “The White Man’s Burden” that reflected the ideals and anxieties of the time. His unwavering support for the British cause during the Boer War further cemented this image.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.Rudyard Kipling.

Dreams and Nightmares

In 1902, Kipling purchased a 17th-century mansion called Bateman’s, a place he cherished for its peace and beauty. Here, he continued to write prolifically, achieving the pinnacle of his career.

Bateman's. Credit Tony Grist
Bateman’s. Credit Tony Grist

However, tragedy struck once again with the loss of his son, John, in the First World War. This profound loss left Kipling heartbroken and disillusioned.

John Kipling, 1915

The Scars of War

During the war, Kipling used his powerful pen to write propaganda for the British government.

He held a particularly strong contempt for any man who reneged on his duty to serve his country, calling them outcasts and a disgrace to their family’s name.

What of his family, and, above all, what of his descendants, when the books have been closed and the last balance struck of sacrifice and sorrow in every hamlet, village, parish, suburb, city, shire, district, province, and Dominion throughout the Empire?Rudyard Kipling.
Troops going “over the top”, i.e. emerging from their trenches and charging into “no man’s land” towards enemy lines, often leading to massive casualties.

He viewed the war as a battle between good and evil, civilization and barbarity.

There was no crime, no cruelty, no abomination that the mind of men can conceive of which the German has not perpetrated, is not perpetrating, and will not perpetrate if he is allowed to go on…Today, there are only two divisions in the world…human beings and Germans.Rudyard Kipling.

However, the loss of his son exposed the hollowness of jingoism and forced him to confront the true cost of war.

If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied.Rudyard Kipling.
“My Boy Jack” by Rudyard Kipling… (Click to View)

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

The Stiff Upper Lip and Its Limits

Kipling’s life was a testament to the complexities of the “stiff upper lip.” While it undoubtedly helped him navigate the trials of his life, it also prevented him from fully expressing his grief and reconciling with his losses. However, his poems like “If—” continue to inspire generations with their message of courage and resilience, even in the face of unimaginable hardship.

“If” by Rudyard Kipling… (click to view)

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
and treat those two impostors just the same
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

A Legacy of Triumph and Tragedy

Rudyard Kipling was a man of contradictions: a champion of empire and a critic of its injustices, a master storyteller and a grieving father. His life and work serve as a reminder of the human capacity for both extraordinary achievements and profound suffering. Through his words, he continues to challenge us to confront the complexities of history, the limitations of stoicism, and the enduring power of love and loss.

5 Historical Figures Feeling the Blues

Feeling down in the dumps? Got a case of the Mondays?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Take solace in these melancholy moments from history.

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Dante Alighieri

Considered to have written the most important poem of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language, at first glance, it may seem like a complete mystery why Dante would be pictured as grossly miserable in most portraits.

But not many people get to see Hell as vividly as Dante.

Dante Alighieri portrait. c. 1500s.
Dante Alighieri portrait. c. 1500s.

Paradoxically called the “Divine Comedy”, the poem is a narrative of Dante’s travels through Hell, followed by a stay in Purgatory to endure some further suffering and torment before, at last, reaching the Paradise of Heaven.

“Comedy” in the classical sense meant a Providential will that ordered the universe; thus the pilgrimage from Hell to Heaven is the archetypal expression of “comedy”.

Dante's Inferno depicted in wall frescos by Joseph Anton Koch. Credit Sailko
Dante’s Inferno depicted in wall frescos by Joseph Anton Koch. Credit Sailko

When he was just nine years old, Dante fell in love.

That same year, his mother died.

And his love would go unrequited because he was promised in marriage to the daughter of a powerful Florentine family at age 12.

Channeling his emotional pain into poetry, he depicted his lost love, Beatrice, as semi-divine, watching over him constantly and providing spiritual instruction.

This theme would recur in the Divine Comedy as Dante is guided by the Roman poet Virgil through Hell and Purgatory, and then by Beatrice herself, who guides him through Heaven—one of the few times Dante looks the least bit happy.

Dante in Heaven by William Cave Thomas
Dante in Heaven by William Cave Thomas

Influencing many parts of the Comedy was Dante’s bitterness at being exiled from his beloved Florence simply for being on the wrong side of the ideological war between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire.

Still, with the eternal damnation to which he condemned his opponents in the Divine Comedy, perhaps Dante had the last laugh.

Andrew Jackson

Serving as the seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837, Andrew Jackson is best remembered for his triumphal victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 .

Lauded as an American hero, one may be forgiven for wondering why Andrew Jackson looks so sad in many portraits.

But there is a darker side to his past.

Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States
Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States

Prospering as a cotton planter, Jackson may have owned as many as 300 slaves throughout his lifetime.

Permitting slaves to be whipped to increase productivity, his sweeping plantation, the Hermitage in Tennessee, grew to 1,050 acres, while slaves lived in 20 sq ft cabins.

Andrew Jackson's plantation, The Hermitage in Tennessee
Andrew Jackson’s plantation, The Hermitage in Tennessee

In 1838, as many as 4,000 Cherokees died on the “Trail of Tears”—Andrew Jackson’s forced removal of Native American nations from their ancestral homelands in the Southeastern United States to designated territory west of the Mississippi River.

Trail of Tears mural at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Cherokee, NC. Credit Nick Chapman, flickr
Trail of Tears mural at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Cherokee, NC. Credit Nick Chapman, flickr

Maybe Jackson felt remorse over some of these actions.

But his own life had not been easy by any means.

At the age of 14, he was captured by the British during the Revolutionary War, along with his brother.

When he refused to clean the boots of a British officer, the officer slashed at him with a sword, leaving scars on his left hand and head.

While held prisoner, the two brothers contracted smallpox and nearly starved to death.

Securing their release, his mother walked them home, but his brother died along the way.

Volunteering to help prisoners of war recover from cholera, his mother died after contracting the disease and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Andrew Jackson, age 78. Daguerreotype, 1845
Andrew Jackson, age 78. Daguerreotype, 1845

Later in Jackson’s traumatic life, he dueled with American lawyer Charles Dickinson and was struck in the chest near his heart.

Remaining lodged in his lung, the bullet would never be removed and caused a hacking cough that often brought up blood, sometimes making his whole body shake.

Jackson got his revenge by shooting the man stone cold dead, but chronic headaches and abdominal pains plagued him for the rest of his life.

Observers likened him to a volcano, and only the most intrepid or recklessly curious cared to see it erupt.Biographer H. W. Brands

Napoleon Bonaparte

Rising to prominence during the French Revolution, Napoleon went on to dominate Europe and global affairs as Emperor of the French.

Celebrated as one of the greatest commanders in history, what could possibly cause him to look so down in the dumps?

Answer: defeat.

Napoleon I at Fontainebleau by Paul Delaroche
Napoleon I at Fontainebleau by Paul Delaroche

Winning was everything to Napoleon.

Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.Napoleon Bonaparte

Early signs of Napoleon’s sadness are revealed in an oft-cited letter of 1795 to his brother Joseph, revealing that he felt “little attached to life”, finding himself as though “constantly on the eve of battle.”

He despaired that he would end up “by not moving aside when a carriage goes by”.

His incapacity for pleasure, his all-pervading sadness, his suicidal thoughts, his despair of finding his place in the world were, to some extent, a part of the Romantic era of Byron and Shelley.

But finding action in the field of battle would be all the medicine Napoleon needed.

'Long live the Emperor!' Napoleon on the battlefield
‘Long live the Emperor!’ Napoleon on the battlefield

As long as he was moving forward, taking action, strategizing, he was in his element.

Nothing could stop him.

Even the failed invasion of Russia in 1812 was just a setback to Napoleon.

But after Waterloo, everything changed.

Exiled on Saint Helena, 1,162 miles from the west coast of Africa, Napoleon fell into deep depression and ill health.

Describing St Helena as “this accursed”, “frightful”, “vile”, and “miserable” rock, Napoleon suffered from nervous headaches, a shooting pain in his shoulder blade and down his right side, stomach pains, swollen cheeks and ankles, and bleeding gums.

Talking of suicide by charcoal fumes, he wrote, “death is nothing but a sleep without dreams”.

Napoleon on Saint Helena
Napoleon on Saint Helena

Napoleon died on 5 May 1821.

But he really died six years earlier when he stepped foot on St Helena and no longer had control over an army.

Napoleon had lost his purpose in life.

His last words were, “France, l’armée, tête d’armée, Joséphine” (“France, army, head of the army, Joséphine”).

Napoleon on his deathbed by Horace Vernet, 1826
Napoleon on his deathbed by Horace Vernet, 1826

Queen Victoria

Known as the “the grandmother of Europe”, her nine children married into European royalty and nobility, giving her 42 grandchildren.

Queen Victoria reigned for 63 years and seven months—longer than any of her predecessors.

Marked by industrial, cultural, political, and scientific advancement, one could be forgiven for wondering what on earth could make the Queen so miserable?

In a word, Albert.

Queen Victoria, by Bertha Müller, 1899
Queen Victoria, by Bertha Müller, 1899

Not that there was anything wrong with her husband Albert, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, quite the opposite.

After 21 years of blissful married life, Albert contracted cholera and died an early death, plunging her into a deep depression.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1854
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1854

She wrote to her daughter in Germany,

How I, who leant on him for all and everything—without whom I did nothing, moved not a finger, arranged not a print or photograph, didn’t put on a gown or bonnet if he didn’t approve it shall go on, to live, to move, to help myself in difficult moments?Queen Victoria

Victorian-era widows were expected to wear black for the mourning period of up to four years.

Women who mourned in black for longer periods were accorded great respect in public for their devotion to the departed.

Queen Victoria mourned for 40 years.

Queen Victoria and Prince Leopold, 1862
Queen Victoria and Prince Leopold, 1862

Finding solace in unexpected places is a part of the grieving process.

Queen Victoria developed a curious relationship with John Brown, a Scottish horse attendant in her household.

Proud of his heritage, his brusque manner was the bane of her ministers and family.

But she adored him.

John Brown and Queen Victoria, 1868
John Brown and Queen Victoria, 1868

Vincent van Gogh

Struggling with poverty and mental illness for most of his life, Van Gogh is perhaps the most famous tortured artist of all time.

Considered a madman and a failure, his fame grew only after his suicide, with several paintings he couldn’t sell now worth over $100 million each.

No wonder he looked miserable in his numerous self-portraits.

Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh, 1887
Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh, 1887

Quiet and thoughtful as a child, Van Gogh first began to feel depressed when he moved to London as a young art dealer.

Turning to religion and spending some time as a missionary in Belgium, he drifted into ill health and solitude.

Moving back with his parents in the Netherlands, he took up painting.

But as his talent grew, there was only one place to be for an aspiring artist in the late 19th century—Paris.

Le Moulin de la Galette by Vincent van Gogh, 1886
Le Moulin de la Galette by Vincent van Gogh, 1886

Falling in with the avant-garde, he became friends with Paul Gauguin and painted some of his best-loved scenes of Montmartre.

But delusional episodes, poor health, and heavy drinking led to a confrontation with Gauguin that ended their friendship and cost Van Gogh an ear.

Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe by Vincent van Gogh, 1889
Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe by Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Brandishing a cut-throat razor at Gauguin and later cutting off part of his own ear was enough to see him institutionalized.

When you paint your own doctor in a way that suggests he was either deeply depressed himself or powerless to help you, then you know things are pretty dire.

Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Vincent van Gogh
Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh shot himself in the chest on 27 July 1890.

But look on the bright side—it’s possible that our minds are at their most creative when we’re at least a little sad.

The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, 1889
The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, 1889

A Five-Minute Guide to Waistcoats and Vests

Today, waistcoats, or vests, are the essential third piece in the traditional three-piece male business suit.

Historians can precisely date their origin to King Charles II of England (1630 – 1685), who introduced the vest to the English court as part of correct dress.

Diarist and civil servant Samuel Pepys wrote:

the King hath yesterday in council declared his resolution of setting a fashion for clothes which he will never alter. It will be a vest, I know not well how

The King of England was essentially trying to outdo the French King Louis XIV—a tall order indeed.

Portrait of King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland by Thomas Hawker, 1660
Portrait of King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland by Thomas Hawker, 1660

Charles II had borrowed the idea from English traveler and adventurer Sir Robert Shirley (1581 – 1628), who in turn had borrowed it from the Persian court of Shah Abbas the Great (1571 – 1629).

Sir Robert Shirley and Lady Shirley by Anthony van Dyck, 1622
Sir Robert Shirley and Lady Shirley by Anthony van Dyck, 1622

Originally a longer coat, the “vest” as it was initially called, later became the “waistcoat” as fashion demanded a shorter waist-level cut.

c1710. British. Linen, silk, metallic thread. metmuseum
c1710. British. Linen, silk, metallic thread. metmuseum

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, men often wore elaborate and brightly-coloured waistcoats.

But changing fashions in the nineteenth century demanded a more subdued palette to match the new lounge suits.

1730. Italian. Silk twill and plain weave (gros de tours) with silk- and metallic-thread discontinuous supplementary-weft patterning bound in twill (lampas). LACMA
1730. Italian. Silk twill and plain weave (gros de tours) with silk- and metallic-thread discontinuous supplementary-weft patterning bound in twill (lampas). LACMA

As the eighteenth century progressed, waistcoat skirts became shorter and eventually disappeared.

Complementing the coat and breeches, luxurious fabrics and decoration were emphasized for the visible areas, while those unseen were made of cheaper fabrics like linen or wool.

1740. British. Silk, linen and possibly horsehair, hand woven and hand sewn, silver. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
1740. British. Silk, linen and possibly horsehair, hand woven and hand sewn, silver. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
1750. French. Silk cut, uncut, and voided velvet (ciselé) on satin foundation. LACMA
1750. French. Silk cut, uncut, and voided velvet (ciselé) on satin foundation. LACMA

Reserved for the most formal occasions, the shimmering waistcoat below would have been used for court appearances or high ceremonies.

Woven entirely out of metallic threads which were difficult and costly to work with, it would have been a very expensive purchase.

1750. British. silk, metal, linen. metmuseum
1750. British. silk, metal, linen. metmuseum

Troops of the regular army would wear waistcoats made from old worn-out overcoats turned inside-out so that the reverse-colored lining was on the outside.

Regular British Soldiers and an Officer. Credit Tommc73
Regular British Soldiers and an Officer. Credit Tommc73
1760. British. Cotton plain weave with cotton corded quilting. LACMA
1760. British. Cotton plain weave with cotton corded quilting. LACMA

From the inventive floral sprigs composed of different flowers, down to the bull’s-eye motif of the buttons, the embroidery on this vest is a particularly noteworthy remnant of 18th-century men’s wear.

1760. French. silk, cotton. metmuseum
1760. French. silk, cotton. metmuseum
1765. British. Brocaded silk. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
1765. British. Brocaded silk. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Outstanding naturalistic leaves and petals and intricate floral motifs on this vest show the refinement of 18th-century embroidery.

1780. French. Silk, metmuseum
1780. French. Silk, metmuseum

Depicting Aesop’s (620-560 BC) tale of “The Wolf and the Crane”, the embroidery motifs on this vest show a crane removing a bone from a wolf’s throat.

Indicative of the status of the waistcoat as decoration was a playful style to the beautiful embroidery work.

1780. French silk, cotton. metmuseum
1780. French silk, cotton. metmuseum
1780. French. Silk. metmusem
1780. French. Silk. metmusem
1785. French. Silk satin with silk embroidery and silk grosgrain ribbon. LACMA
1785. French. Silk satin with silk embroidery and silk grosgrain ribbon. LACMA
1790. Europe. Silk satin with silver-metallic and polychrome-silk thread and silver sequins. LACMA
1790. Europe. Silk satin with silver-metallic and polychrome-silk thread and silver sequins. LACMA
1800. French. silk, linen, metal, cotton. metmuseum
1800. French. silk, linen, metal, cotton. metmuseum
1810. American. Silk, linen. metmuseum
1810. American. Silk, linen. metmuseum

Beginning in the 1820s, elite gentlemen of the more fashionable set—particularly the younger crowd and the military—wore corsets.

Emphasizing the masculine body shape for men, waistcoats became skin-tight and cut to give a broad-shouldered look, with pouting chest, and nipped-in waist.

1830. American. silk, cotton. metmuseum
1830. American. silk, cotton. metmuseum

If no corset was worn, then the fashionable male silhouette could be still be maintained with whalebone stiffeners and reinforced buttons up the front.

To help mold the waistline, the lacings in the back could be pulled tight.

1835. American. wool, cotton. metmuseum
1835. American. wool, cotton. metmuseum

Shawl collars and patterned textiles were a prominent feature of vests in the 1820s and 30s.

Vividly contrasted glass buttons and wool pile embroidery set against glossy velvet lend a unique touch to this vest.

1838. American. Silk, cotton, wool, leather, glass. metmuseum
1838. American. Silk, cotton, wool, leather, glass. metmuseum
1840. French. Silk, cotton. metmuseum
1840. French. Silk, cotton. metmuseum

Popular throughout the middle of the 19th century, a padded chest and nipped in waist helped achieve the expected male body shape.

Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, was known for wearing tight corsets sporting a tiny waist—a style that many men followed.

1845. American. Silk, cotton, leather. metmuseum
1845. American. Silk, cotton, leather. metmuseum
1845. British. silk. metmuseum
1845. British. silk. metmuseum

Although vests of the second half of the 19th century were more somber, the elaborate texture of this vest harks back to a more decadent era.

1850. American. Silk, cotton. metmuseum
1850. American. Silk, cotton. metmuseum
1855. French. Silk. metmuseum
1855. French. Silk. metmuseum
1858. American. Red and black striped wool lampas, silk twill. philamuseum.org
1858. American. Red and black striped wool lampas, silk twill. philamuseum.org

Inspired by French paisley shawls, the patterning of this vest proved very popular in the 1860s.

Adapted by Europeans from the Indian boteh form, goods featuring the paisley motif were imported from India by the East India Trading Companies in the 17th century.

Paisley has since become one of the most popular designs in fashion history.

1860. American. Cotton, mother-of-pearl. metmuseum
1860. American. Cotton, mother-of-pearl. metmuseum

Paired with a black evening suit, this vest made for a very elegant appearance, with intricate details such as the curve of the pocket mimicing the textile pattern and the embroidery detail.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the Edwardian look made a larger physique more popular.

King Edward VII is said to have started a trend to leave the bottom button undone to accommodate his expanding waistline.

1885. American. silk, cotton. metmuseum
1885. American. silk, cotton. metmuseum

Exquisite Pocket Watches of a Bygone Time

Designed to slip into the pocket of the new waistcoats introduced by King Charles II of England, pocket watches became a luxurious accessory for correct dress after the Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660.

Prior to this, they had been heavy, drum-shaped cylinders fastened to clothing or worn on a chain around the neck.

17th Century

The French, Swiss, Dutch and Germans were the main artisans producing these beautiful watches that were essentially items of jewelry that incidentally told the time.

It wasn’t until 1680 that pocket watches introduced the minute hand and another 10 years before the second hand made an appearance.

Adorning the elaborately jeweled pocket watch below is a depiction of the young Louis XIV (1638 – 1715) on horseback.

One of the most important surviving watches of its period, it is thought to have been made as a gift for the young king.

1645. Watch. Jacques Goullons. Case and dial of enameled gold; hand of steel; movement of brass, partly gilded, and steel. metmuseum
1645. Watch. Jacques Goullons. Case and dial of enameled gold; hand of steel; movement of brass, partly gilded, and steel. metmuseum

It includes a miniature with the arms of France and Navarre and the Orders of Saint Michael and the Holy Spirit.

1645. Watch. Jacques Goullons. Case and dial of enameled gold; hand of steel; movement of brass, partly gilded, and steel. metmuseum
1645. Watch. Jacques Goullons. Case and dial of enameled gold; hand of steel; movement of brass, partly gilded, and steel. metmuseum
1645. Watch. Jacques Goullons. Case and dial of enameled gold; hand of steel; movement of brass, partly gilded, and steel. metmuseum
1645. Watch. Jacques Goullons. Case and dial of enameled gold; hand of steel; movement of brass, partly gilded, and steel. metmuseum
1645. Watch. Jacques Goullons. Case and dial of enameled gold; hand of steel; movement of brass, partly gilded, and steel. metmuseum2
1645. Watch. Jacques Goullons. Case and dial of enameled gold; hand of steel; movement of brass, partly gilded, and steel. metmuseum
1645. Watch. Jacques Goullons. Case and dial of enameled gold; hand of steel; movement of brass, partly gilded, and steel. metmuseum
1645. Watch. Jacques Goullons. Case and dial of enameled gold; hand of steel; movement of brass, partly gilded, and steel. metmuseum
1645. Watch. French, probably Paris case with Dutch, The Hague watch. Case and dial enameled gold; Movement gilded brass and steel, partly blued. metmuseum
1645. Watch. French, probably Paris case with Dutch, The Hague watch. Case and dial enameled gold; Movement gilded brass and steel, partly blued. metmuseum
1645. Case and dial painted enamel on gold with brass hand; Movement gilded brass and partly blued steel. metmuseumFrench, probably Paris
1645. Case and dial painted enamel on gold with brass hand; Movement gilded brass and partly blued steel. metmuseumFrench, probably Paris
1640. Watch. British, London. Silver gilt. metmuseum
1640. Watch. British, London. Silver gilt. metmuseum
1640. Watch. British, London. Silver gilt. metmuseum
1640. Watch. British, London. Silver gilt. metmuseum

18th Century

Britain was at the forefront of watch making in the 18th century.

Not only were half of the world’s watches made in Britain, but probably 70% of the innovation in a modern mechanical watch came from Britain.

Verge escapement in motion. Credit AlienAtSystem

Originally developed for large clocks like those of the town hall, the earlier watch mechanisms used the verge escapementverge being derived from the Latin virga for stick or rod.

An escapement is a device that transfers energy to the watch’s timekeeping element, allowing the number of oscillations to be counted.

Inherent with the verge escapement design was a high degree of friction, with no jewelling to protect the contacting surfaces from wear.

As a result, a verge watch could rarely achieve any high standard of accuracy.

How goes your watches ladies? What’s o’clock now?
First Lady: By mine full nine.
Second Lady: By mine a quarter past.

These three lines by the Jacobean playwright Thomas Middleton (d. 1627) sum up the unreliability of watches, which for the most part were more useful as jewelry than as timekeepers.

But with time came improvements.

Lever escapement. Credit Mario Frasca
Lever escapement. Credit Mario Frasca

The cylinder escapement invented by English clockmaker Thomas Tompion in 1695 and perfected by another English clockmaker, George Graham, in 1726, was much thinner allowing for very slim watch designs, which became the height of fashion.

But the cylinder escapement didn’t significantly improve accuracy.

Then in 1759, along came another Englishman, Thomas Mudge, with his invention of the lever escapement—the greatest single improvement ever applied to pocket watches.

With the lever escapement, watches could keep time to within a minute a day.

1720. Watch. British, London. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1720. Watch. British, London. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1740. Watch. British, London. Enamel, silver. metmuseum
1740. Watch. British, London. Enamel, silver. metmuseum
1740. Watch. British, London. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1740. Watch. British, London. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1740. Watch. British, London. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1740. Watch. British, London. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1740. Watch. British, London. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1740. Watch. British, London. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1740. Watch. British, London. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1740. Watch. British, London. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1770. Watch. German, Dresden. Case gold, inlaid with hardstones. metmuseum
1770. Watch. German, Dresden. Case gold, inlaid with hardstones. metmuseum
1770. Watch. German, Dresden. Case gold, inlaid with hardstones. metmuseum
1770. Watch. German, Dresden. Case gold, inlaid with hardstones. metmuseum

19th  and early 20th Centuries

Although the exquisite craftsmanship of British and Swiss watchmakers dominated the first half of the 19th century, it was the Second Industrial Revolution in the latter third that catapulted America to center-stage of watch manufacturing.

1810. Watch. Swiss, La Chaux-de-Fonds. Gold, glass. metmuseum
1810. Watch. Swiss, La Chaux-de-Fonds. Gold, glass. metmuseum
1819. Watch. British, London. Case of gold, enamel, and pearls, with floral design; jeweled movement, with ruby cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1819. Watch. British, London. Case of gold, enamel, and pearls, with floral design; jeweled movement, with ruby cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Gold, enamel, silver. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Gold, enamel, silver. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Gold, enamel, silver. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Gold, enamel, silver. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss. Case of gold and enamel, with chronoscope dial; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss. Case of gold and enamel, with chronoscope dial; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss. Case of gold and enamel, with chronoscope dial; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1820. Watch. Swiss. Case of gold and enamel, with chronoscope dial; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1822. Watch. French, Lyon. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1822. Watch. French, Lyon. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1822. Watch. French, Lyon. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1822. Watch. French, Lyon. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1825. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1825. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1825. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1825. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1830. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1830. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1830. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1830. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case of gold and enamel, with floral design; jeweled movement, with cylinder escapement. metmuseum
1830. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1830. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1830. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1830. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Gold, enamel. metmuseum
1832. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly gold, enamel, and silver; Movement brass and steel with ruby. metmuseum
1832. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly gold, enamel, and silver; Movement brass and steel with ruby. metmuseum
1832. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly gold, enamel, and silver; Movement brass and steel with ruby. metmuseum
1832. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly gold, enamel, and silver; Movement brass and steel with ruby. metmuseum
1832. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly gold, enamel, and silver; Movement brass and steel with ruby. metmuseum
1832. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly gold, enamel, and silver; Movement brass and steel with ruby. metmuseum
1835. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Gold, enamel, silver. metmuseum
1835. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Gold, enamel, silver. metmuseum
1850. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly enameled gold; Dial white enamel with gold hands; Movement gilded brass and steel. metmuseum
1850. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly enameled gold; Dial white enamel with gold hands; Movement gilded brass and steel. metmuseum
1850. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly enameled gold; Dial white enamel with gold hands; Movement gilded brass and steel. metmuseum
1850. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly enameled gold; Dial white enamel with gold hands; Movement gilded brass and steel. metmuseum
1850. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly enameled gold; Dial white enamel with gold hands; Movement gilded brass and steel. metmuseum
1850. Watch. Swiss, Geneva. Case partly enameled gold; Dial white enamel with gold hands; Movement gilded brass and steel. metmuseum

Demand for pocket watches rose dramatically in the late 19th century, but Britain and Switzerland were ill-equipped to seize the opportunity.

World leadership changed hands to America, with Waltham, Massachusetts and Elgin, Illinois becoming centers of mass manufacturing using standardized parts and the latest machine tools.

The rise of railroads also spread the popularity of pocket watches and helped improve their reliability.

Attributed to one of the engineer’s watches running four minutes behind, a deadly train disaster in Kipton, Ohio in 1891, in which two trains collided at full speed, prompted new precision standards and safety inspections for Railroad pocket watches.

Colloquially called “railroad-grade pocket watches”, these precision timepieces had to meet the General Railroad Timepiece Standards adopted in 1893 by almost all railroads.

Interior of Burlington Bulldog railroad watch. Credit Kevin Trotman
Interior of Burlington Bulldog railroad watch. Credit Kevin Trotman
Vintage Elgin National Watch Co. Pocket Watch with Hunter Case and Gold Chain, Circa 1901. Credit Joe Haupt
Vintage Elgin National Watch Co. Pocket Watch with Hunter Case and Gold Chain, Circa 1901. Credit Joe Haupt
Vintage Elgin National Watch Company Pocket Watch, 17 Jewels, Lever Set, 10 K Gold Filled Open Face Case Marked 'Hamilton Keystone Watchcase, J. Boss, Railroad Model', Circa 1918. Credit Joe Haupt
Vintage Elgin National Watch Company Pocket Watch, 17 Jewels, Lever Set, 10 K Gold Filled Open Face Case Marked ‘Hamilton Keystone Watchcase, J. Boss, Railroad Model’, Circa 1918. Credit Joe Haupt

Pocket watches remained popular until World War I when officers in the field discovered that wristwatches were easier and quicker to use.

Waltham pocket watch once owned by a World War I veteran.. Credit Ross Dunn
Waltham pocket watch once owned by a World War I veteran.. Credit Ross Dunn

A Brief History of Fairies

Do you believe in fairies?

As a child, my parents told me that when a tooth fell out, I should place it under the pillow and the tooth fairy would come and take it away.

Not only that, the fairy would leave a shiny five-penny piece in exchange.

How exciting!

That night I dreamt of little people with wings, scampering about and annoying the cat.

Cat among the Fairies by John Anster Christian Fitzgerald (1819 - 1906)
Cat among the Fairies by John Anster Christian Fitzgerald (1819 – 1906)

Lo and behold, the next morning the tooth had gone and there was a shiny five-pence coin in its place.

I felt like Peter Pan: “I do believe in fairies! I do! I do!”

The word “fairy” derives from the Latin fata, meaning “fate”, and Old French faerie, meaning “enchantment”.

No wonder Cinderella is such an enduring and popular story. With a magical spell, her Fairy Godmother transforms Cinderella’s fate from one of drudgery to one of enchantment.

Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother by William Henry Margetson (1861 - 1940)
Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother by William Henry Margetson (1861 – 1940)

Originating in English folklore, the earliest mentions of fairies are in the writings of Gervase of Tilbury, a 12th-century English scholar and canon lawyer.

During his many travels to different kingdoms and provinces, Gervase compiled a compendium of hundreds of stories about the unexplained marvels of the natural world.

Called Recreation for an Emperor (Otia Imperialia), many of the stories had moral lessons about being a good Christian and a good king.

He wrote about enchanted places with animals that had human characteristics, and spirits that were both good and evil—like fairies.

Fairy Twilight by John Anster Christian Fitzgerald, (1819 - 1906)
Fairy Twilight by John Anster Christian Fitzgerald, (1819 – 1906)

When we think of fairies, most of us probably think of the good fairies like those featured in Walt Disney movies.

But there was a time when people genuinely feared fairies.

The Fairy Court by Robert Huskisson (1820 - 1861)
The Fairy Court by Robert Huskisson (1820 – 1861)

Much of the folklore of fairies revolves around protection from their malice.

Back in a time when the world was a much more mysterious place, people feared offending fairies who could cast evil spells or curses on a whim.

In Ireland in particular, such was the fear of upsetting the fairies, that instead of referring to them by name, they were euphemistically called the Little People, the Gentry, or the Neighbors.

Fairy Hordes Attacking a Bat by John Anster Christian Fitzgerald (1819 - 1906)
Fairy Hordes Attacking a Bat by John Anster Christian Fitzgerald (1819 – 1906)

C. S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, knew of a haunted cottage that was feared more for its reported fairies than its ghosts.

Fairy paths were avoided and digging in fairy hills forbidden. Some homes even had corners removed for fear of blocking the fairy path.

Cottages were sometimes built with the back door directly aligned with the front, both being left open at night whenever it was deemed necessary to let the fairies pass through.

Irish Cottage by Helen Allingham
Irish Cottage by Helen Allingham

In traditional stories and legends, fairies didn’t have wings. Flying varieties grew in popularity much later.

Pixies, Elves, Goblins, Trolls, and Leprechauns were the most common species of folklore.

The Fairy Tree by Richard Doyle, 1865
The Fairy Tree by Richard Doyle, 1865

Most of us can’t see fairies. They live in a parallel universe called the “realm of the fey.”

According to legend, fairies went into hiding to avoid us because … well, we invaded their lands, so what else could they do?

As we modernized the world with electricity, built roads and cities, and cut down trees, the fairies were forced to “go underground” and hide in caves, burrows, underwater fortresses, and finally into the spirit world.

Fairy Glen, Betws-y-Coed by Reginald Aspinwall, 1876
Fairy Glen, Betws-y-Coed by Reginald Aspinwall, 1876
Fairy Arch, Mackinac Island by Henry Chapman Ford, 1874
Fairy Arch, Mackinac Island by Henry Chapman Ford, 1874
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understandWilliam Butler Yeats, 'The Stolen Child'
The Fairy That Disappeared by Theodor Kittelsen, 1857 - 1914)
The Fairy That Disappeared by Theodor Kittelsen, 1857 – 1914)

Shakespeare knew all too well that the best time to see fairies is Midsummer’s Eve.

This is when the invisible veil that separates us from the fairies is thin enough to allow people to see and interact with them.

Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Midsummer Eve by Edward Robert Hughes, 1908Midsummer Eve by Edward Robert Hughes, 1908

You might even be lucky enough to watch them dancing. But be patient—you could be waiting hours just for one glimpse.

We the Fairies, blithe and antic,
Of dimensions not gigantic,
Though the moonshine mostly keep us,
Oft in orchards frisk and peep us.Thomas Randolph
Fairy Dance by Hans Zatzka (1859 - 1945)
Fairy Dance by Hans Zatzka (1859 – 1945)

In 1917, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths—two young cousins from Cottingley in West Yorkshire, England—caught some fairies on camera.

Literary giant Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—creator of Sherlock Holmes—believed they were clear evidence of psychic phenomena, setting the public imagination alight.

Here at last, was clear evidence of the existence of fairies.

Cottingley Fairies by Elsie Wright, 1917
Cottingley Fairies by Elsie Wright, 1917

Some 63 years later, Elsie and Frances admitted to using cardboard cutouts copied from a popular children’s book of the time.

But there was a twist to the tale.

Altogether, they had taken five photographs, admitting the first four were fake, but insisting the fifth was real.

Fairies and Their Sun-Bath, the fifth and last photograph taken of the Cottingley Fairies, the one that Frances Griffiths insisted was genuine.
Fairies and Their Sun-Bath, the fifth and last photograph taken of the Cottingley Fairies, the one that Frances Griffiths insisted was genuine.

It was the Victorians and Edwardians who made the present-day notion of flying fairies so popular.

Scottish Novelist James. M. Barrie (1860 – 1937) lost an older brother, David, in an ice-skating accident when he was just 6 years old.

David was his mother’s favorite and James tried to comfort her by pretending to take his brother’s place.

The comfort it gave his mother inspired James to go on to write his most famous work about a free-spirited young boy who could fly, lived on a mystical island called Neverland, and never had to grow up.

hen the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be one fairy for every boy or girl.James Matthew Barrie, Peter Pan

Peter Pan has spawned blockbuster movies from Disney to Spielberg, and it’s even been speculated that Barrie’s creation inspired J. R. R. Tolkien’s Elves of Middle Earth.

Take the Fair Face of Woman, and Gently Suspending, With Butterflies, Flowers, and Jewels Attending, Thus Your Fairy is Made of Most Beautiful Things by Sophie Gengembre Anderson (1823 - 1903)
Take the Fair Face of Woman, and Gently Suspending, With Butterflies, Flowers, and Jewels Attending, Thus Your Fairy is Made of Most Beautiful Things by Sophie Gengembre Anderson (1823 – 1903)
And you may lead a thousand men
Nor ever draw the rein,
But before you lead the Fairy Queen
‘Twill burst your heart in twain.
Rudyard Kipling
The Fairy King and Queen (Artist Unknown)
The Fairy King and Queen (Artist Unknown)
The Realms of Fairydom by John Anster Christian Fitzgerald, (1819 - 1906)
The Realms of Fairydom by John Anster Christian Fitzgerald, (1819 – 1906)
The Enchanted Forest by John Anster Christian Fitzgerald, (1819 - 1906)
The Enchanted Forest by John Anster Christian Fitzgerald, (1819 – 1906)

So why are we still fascinated with fairies in our modern age?

Could it be we cling to the fairy stories our parents read to us before bed?

The Fairy Tale by James Sant, R.A. (1820 - 1916)
The Fairy Tale by James Sant, R.A. (1820 – 1916)
The fairy tale by Walther Firle, 1929
The fairy tale by Walther Firle, 1929

Or could it be that fairies are real and they steal away our imaginations to a magical place—one that we rather enjoy. A land of adventure, of mystique, of enchantment. A land where we struggle to overcome evil, yet prevail.

And that could be their greatest appeal, for fairy stories usually have a happy ending.

Do you believe in fairies?

The Fairytale Forest by Edvard Munch, 1902
The Fairytale Forest by Edvard Munch, 1902
Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.William Butler Yeats, 'The Land of Heart's Desire,' 1894
The Fairy Tale by William Merritt Chase, 1892
The Fairy Tale by William Merritt Chase, 1892

References
Fairies: The Myths, Legends, & Lore by Skye Alexander
Wikipedia

The Tale o’ Jack-o’-Lantern

It was a cold, dark night as they crossed the moors on All Hallows’ Eve.

The folk at the village had said not to venture off the beaten path … but it was too late now.

“Look!” cried one of the travelers, pointing to a ghostly light on the horizon.

They stopped and stared in the direction of the light, mesmerized by two dancing figures that seemed to beckon them closer.

Will-o'-the-wisp
Will-o’-the-wisp

According to legend, travelers sometimes saw a strange light at night, especially over swamps, bogs, and marshes.

The light was said to hold power over people, drawing them closer, but, like a mirage, fading away as they approached.

Known as ignis fatuus in latin, meaning “foolish fire”, anyone who was lured off the trail by the light would surely lose his way.

The phenomenon became known by other names, most commonly will-o’-the-wisp, jack-o’-lantern, or friar’s lantern and was thought to be the devil’s work, the pranks of fairies, or even an omen of death.

Halloween by James Elder Christie
Halloween by James Elder Christie

The term will-o’-the-wisp dates from 1660’s England and means “Will-of-the-torch”, where “Will” was a given name and a “wisp” was a bundle of sticks or paper used as a torch for illumination.

Jack-o’-lantern has the same meaning, but using the name “Jack” and a lantern in place of a torch (wisp).

Jack-o’-lanterns were traditionally used to protect homes against the undead or to ward off evil spirits and vampires. It was also thought that the jack-o’-lantern’s light would identify a vampire and that they would then leave people alone.

Vintage Halloween Postcard. Credit Dave, flickr
Vintage Halloween Postcard. Credit Dave, flickr

Thought to have originated during the Dark Ages in Ireland, the custom of making jack-o’-lanterns involved carving out the middle portion of large turnips, rutabagas (swedes), or even potatoes.

Children would draw grotesque faces on them and set a candle inside, believing it to represent an old drunkard named Irish Jack.

Hallowe'en by William Stewart MacGeorge, c.1911
Hallowe’en by William Stewart MacGeorge, c.1911

In Irish folklore, there is a story of how Jack became intoxicated on All Hallows Eve. So close to death was he that the devil came to claim his soul. But he begged the Devil for one last drink. The Devil agreed but said Jack must pay. Jack had no money and asked the Devil to change into the shape of sixpence so that he could pay. The Devil could change into any shape he wanted, and so agreed. But instead of paying, Jack put the sixpence next to a cross he kept in his pocket, entrapping the Devil. Now Jack could bargain for his soul and made the Devil promise never to come after him again. The Devil agreed and let Jack live.

For a while, Jack reformed his ways, attending church and giving to the poor instead of squandering his money on drink. But he soon fell back into his old ways. When death finally came knocking, the Devil kept his promise not to take his soul. But neither was Jack’s soul worthy of a place in heaven. So the Devil tossed him a burning coal from hell, which Jack placed inside a carved-out turnip to use as a lantern while he wandered the earth—a tortured soul looking for a place to rest.

Original Irish Turnip Jack-o'-Lantern. Credit rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid
Original Irish Turnip Jack-o’-Lantern. Credit rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid

In Celtic-speaking regions, the Gaelic festival Samhain “Summer’s End” was a time when people believed supernatural beings and the souls of the dead roamed the earth—just like Irish Jack.

Samhain became Halloween, and even today, most Jack-o’-lanterns share a frightening, tormented expression and we leave them in a prominent position to ward off evil spirits.

A Jack o Lantern guards a village against evil spirits
A Jack-o’-lantern guards a village against evil spirits

Jack-o’-lanterns have featured prominently in the Halloween celebration through the centuries, as shown by these delightful Victorian and Edwardian Halloween postcards.

Happy Halloween!

Postcard BRundage c1910
Hallowe'en
What the boys did to the cow
Halloween 1912 Card

References:
Wikipedia.
Halloween, Hallowed is Thy Name: How to Scripturally and Theologically Justify Christian Halloween Haunted Houses and Other Evangelistic Events for Christian Fellowship, Fun, and Prophet by Rev. Dr. Eddie J. Smith.

Knock Knock: A Brief History of Door Knockers

For anyone living in the United Kingdom, there is one door knocker that is the most powerful in the land.

A lion’s head door knocker sits firmly affixed—as if keeping watch—to the shiny black door of 10 Downing Street, home to the Prime Minister.

Front door, 10 Downing Street with lion door knocker
Front door, 10 Downing Street with lion door knocker

Door knockers are more popular in England than in any other country and can be found everywhere, even in the most remote locations.

But the history of door knockers begins several thousand years ago in Ancient Greece.

Greeks were a bit picky about unannounced visits to their dwellings, and it was considered a breach of etiquette to enter without warning.

Where Spartans would simply shout their arrival, the more sophisticated Athenians preferred to use a door knocker.

Doors had replaced hangings to provide better safety and privacy, and upper class Greeks had slaves whose sole purpose was to answer the door.

It’s a bit like having a butler, but one that was chained to the door to prevent them wandering off. If they didn’t die of boredom, they’d fall asleep, and so to wake them up, visitors rapped the door with a short bar of iron attached to a chain.

It wasn’t long before some Greeks realized the short bar made a good weapon with which to attack the householder. So property owners fought back with new technology.

The knocker evolved into a heavy ring fastened to the door by a plate—dual purpose knocker and handle!

Ring and Plat Door Knocker. Albania. Credit Wolfgang Sauber
Ring and Plat Door Knocker. Albania. Credit Wolfgang Sauber

Adopting the Greek custom, the Romans spread the use of door knockers to the farthest reaches of their empire.

While the heavy ring remained until around the 15th century, blacksmiths became adept at working various forms onto the back plate.

Ancient Roman door knocker
Ancient Roman door knocker

And along with the Renaissance came the greatest embellishments to design of the hammer—as craftsmen saw the artistic possibilities beyond mere utility.

Some of the most elaborate examples can be found in Italy, England, and Germany.

1530. Italian. Bronze, with dark brown patina. metmuseum
1530. Italian. Bronze, with dark brown patina. metmuseum
Late 16th century. Venice. Bronze. metmuseum
Late 16th century. Venice. Bronze. metmuseum
Late 16th century. Venice. Bronze. metmuseum
Late 16th century. Venice. Bronze. metmuseum
16th century door knocer. Venice. Bronze. metmuseum
16th century door knocer. Venice. Bronze. metmuseum
Early 1600s Bronze door knockers from Northern Italy featuring leaping lions and leonine mask backplates. metmuseum
Early 1600s Bronze door knockers from Northern Italy featuring leaping lions and leonine mask backplates. metmuseum

Sanctuary Knockers

Dating from the 11th century, the knocker at Durham Cathedral holds a special significance under English common law.

As far back as 740,  Cynewulf, the Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Lindisfarne, offered sanctuary to any criminal who could reach the White Church at Durham—later replaced by Durham Cathedral—and strike the knocker.

Housed, fed, and kept safe from capture for 37 days, the criminal was either pardoned or taken to a place of refuge far from the scene of the crime.

Door knocker at Durham Cathedral. Credit Michael Beckwith
Door knocker at Durham Cathedral. Credit Michael Beckwith

This practice was lawful for hundreds of years until it was overturned by parliament in 1623.

Lion’s Head Knockers

One of the most enduring themes for knockers has been the lion’s head.

Traditionally regarded as the king of beasts, the lion’s head symbolizes bravery, nobility, strength, and valor.

Lion door knocker at Lazienka Palace, Warsaw, Poland
Lion door knocker at Lazienka Palace, Warsaw, Poland
Lion head door knocker, Black Forest, Germany
Lion head door knocker, Black Forest, Germany
Lion head at the outer portal of Seckau Basilica, Austria, 1164
Lion head at the outer portal of Seckau Basilica, Austria, 1164
Lion's head door knocker in Beacon Hill, Boston
Lion’s head door knocker in Beacon Hill, Boston

Lion’s head knockers were popular in the American colonies up until the revolution when the Eagle took precedence.

Eagle Door Knocker, 1800. Cast iron. metmuseum
Eagle Door Knocker, 1800. Cast iron. metmuseum

Hand Door Knockers

Thought to originate from the Hand of Fatima—a palm-shaped amulet used to protect against evil—hand-shaped knockers are common in countries bordering the Mediterranean whence they spread to neighboring countries.

Hand door knocker, Trujillo, Spain. Credit Julius Eugen
Hand door knocker, Trujillo, Spain. Credit Julius Eugen
Hand door knocker from Jaén, Spain. Credit Zarateman
Hand door knocker from Jaén, Spain. Credit Zarateman
Door knocker in Orleans, France
Door knocker in Orleans, France
Hand knocker from Bort-les-Orgues, France. Credit OliBac
Hand knocker from Bort-les-Orgues, France. Credit OliBac

Door Knockers in Literature

Shakespeare may have been the inspiration for the “knock knock” joke craze that swept America and England in 1936 with the famous “porter scene” in Macbeth, in which Macduff and Lennox knock at the castle gate:

Here’s a knocking indeed! If a man were porter of Hell Gate, he should have old turning the key. Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’ th’ name of Belzebub? . . . Knock, knock! Who’s there, in th’ other devil’s name?Porter

That was some scary knocking! What must the door knocker have looked like? One of these designs from European castles, perhaps?

Door knocker at the Orava Castle, Slovakia. Credit Janos Korom
Door knocker at the Orava Castle, Slovakia. Credit Janos Korom
Lion head door knocker at the main entrance of Burg Neulengbach Castle, Lower Austria
Lion head door knocker at the main entrance of Burg Neulengbach Castle, Lower Austria

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And who can forget the haunting scene in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in which Scrooge’s door knocker morphs into an apparition of Jacob Marley?

Jacob Marley Knocker
Jacob Marley Knocker

How about ending with a knock knock joke? Groan …

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Theodore!
Theodore who?
Theodore wasn’t open, so I knocked.

Royal Carriages: Traveling in Splendor

Electric windows, heating, and hydraulic stabilizers: these are the accouterments afforded a modern royal carriage fit for the longest reigning monarch in British history—Queen Elizabeth II.

Atop the roof sits a crown carved from timber from HMS Victory—Lord Nelson’s flagship.

Other timber segments from the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace, and a long list of historically significant buildings are inlaid into the interior lining of the coach.

Segments related to Shakespeare, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, and others are also included.

The Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Credit Grahamedown
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Credit Grahamedown

It is, quite simply, a museum on wheels.

Taking around 10 years to build, the Diamond Jubilee State Coach is now part of the Royal Collection and has been officially put to use.

In June 2014, it was used for the first time at the State Opening of Parliament.

It is the latest in a long line of royal carriages going back several hundred years.

What’s the Difference between a Carriage and a Coach?

Just in case you’re wondering—the two terms are often used interchangeably.

The word carriage is from Old Northern French cariage, meaning to carry in a vehicle.

Horsecarts showing signs of an early type of suspension have been found in Celtic graves from the Iron Age.

Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese used chariots and wagons for warfare and transport.

In the middle ages, carriages suspended with leather or chains were largely used by royalty and aristocrats and were often elaborately decorated and gilded—and also heavy and slow.

King Mathias Coribus (1458 – 90), King of Hungary and Croatia, wanted a faster way to travel about his Kingdom.

So the wheelwrights of the small post-town of Kocs began to build a horse-drawn vehicle with steel-spring suspension that was lighter, faster and could be towed by a single horse.

Kocs is pronounced “kotch” which is how we derive the English word coach.

This more comfortable carriage became popular among wealthy European nobility.

When one looks at the variety of royal carriages throughout history, a number of adjectives spring to mind: magnificent, spectacular, sumptuous, resplendent. These are palaces on wheels—symbols of majesty and power—and perfect for making a grand entrance.

Entrance of the Emperor Franz I. Stephan and his son Joseph (II.) into Frankfurt on March 29, 1764 by Johann Dallinger von Dalling, 1767
Entrance of the Emperor Franz I. Stephan and his son Joseph (II.) into Frankfurt on March 29, 1764 by Johann Dallinger von Dalling, 1767

Pick your favorite(s) royal carriage from our shortlist of the grandest and enjoy the extended gallery of carriages.

Gallery

Queen Brysselska carriage. The Royal Armoury, Stockholm
Queen Brysselska carriage. The Royal Armoury, Stockholm
1761 Rococo state carriage used by Gustav III and Sophia Magdalena of Sweden
1761 Rococo state carriage used by Gustav III and Sophia Magdalena of Sweden
Royal Carriage. at Buckingham Palace. Credit eltpics
Royal Carriage. at Buckingham Palace. Credit eltpics
Royal Carriage. at Buckingham Palace. Credit eltpics
Royal Carriage. at Buckingham Palace. Credit eltpics
A Gala Coupé, 18th century, Brussels. Credit Carolus
A Gala Coupé, 18th century, Brussels. Credit Carolus
Charles X of France (1824 - 1830), carriage, Versailles, France, 1895
Charles X of France (1824 – 1830), carriage, Versailles, France, 1895
The Imperial Coach of the court of Vienna. Credit Vladimir Tkalčić
The Imperial Coach of the court of Vienna. Credit Vladimir Tkalčić
Grand Cornationa Carriage. Early 1720s. Hermitage
Grand Cornationa Carriage. Early 1720s. Hermitage
Gold state coach of the Royal Mews. Credit Crochet.david
Gold state coach of the Royal Mews. Credit Crochet.david
The Irish State Coach at the Royal Mews. Credit Steve F-E-Cameron
The Irish State Coach at the Royal Mews. Credit Steve F-E-Cameron
Her Majesty The Queen traveling for the State Opening of Parliament.. Credit Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Her Majesty The Queen travelling for the State Opening of Parliament.. Credit Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The carriage carrying the parents of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton from the marriage ceremony.. Credit John Pannell
The carriage carrying the parents of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton from the marriage ceremony.. Credit John Pannell
The Queen, along with the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, rides in the 1902 State Landau during a procession as part of the celebrations of her Diamond Jubilee, 2012. Credit Ben
The Queen, along with the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, rides in the 1902 State Landau during a procession as part of the celebrations of her Diamond Jubilee, 2012. Credit Ben
Landau Carriage with Figures, 1849
Landau Carriage with Figures, 1849
Gold State Coach. Credit Ibagli
Gold State Coach. Credit Ibagli
The Gold Coach with Prince Willem-Alexander, Queen Beatrix, and Princess Máxima. Credit Toni
The Gold Coach with Prince Willem-Alexander, Queen Beatrix, and Princess Máxima. Credit Toni
Golden Coach (Netherlands). Credit GALERIEopWEG
Golden Coach (Netherlands). Credit GALERIEopWEG
Gold state coach de la Royal Mews. Credit Crochet.david
Gold state coach de la Royal Mews. Credit Crochet.david
Detail of a coach at the National Coach Museum, Portugal. Credit Ricardo Tulio Gandelman
Detail of a coach at the National Coach Museum, Portugal. Credit Ricardo Tulio Gandelman
Catherine the Great's Coronation Coach
Catherine the Great’s Coronation Coach
Coronation carriage of King Max I
Coronation carriage of King Max I
Crown Prince Carriage of King Gustav III of Sweden 1763 to 1768. Credit Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armoury, Sweden)
Crown Prince Carriage of King Gustav III of Sweden 1763 to 1768. Credit Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armoury, Sweden)

Trivia

Rig—a carriage and horse.
Equipage—an elegant horse-drawn carriage with its retinue of servants.
Turnout (or setout)—a carriage together with horses, harness, and attendants.
Cavalcade—a procession of carriages.

Suggested Reading & Gift Ideas

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16 of the Best Authors in History—vote for your favorite

Whether you love the Regency romances of Jane Austen, the fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien, the science fiction of Jules Verne, the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie, or the plays of the Bard himself, there’s something for everyone in our list of 16 of the best-known and most lauded authors from history.

Vote for your favorites!

The Top 3 Most Beautiful Cathedrals Built in Honor of St Patrick

Saint Patrick was a 5th-century Christian missionary from a Romano-British family.

Ireland’s primary patron saint, St Patrick spent most of his life dedicated to teaching Christianity across Ireland.

Known as the “Apostle of Ireland”, to help teach Christianity to his pagan followers, he combined the sun cross with the Christian cross to form the Celtic Cross and used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity.

His life is honored every year on March 17.

Saint Patrick Catholic Church, stained glass, Junction City, Ohio. Credit Nheyob
Saint Patrick Catholic Church, stained glass, Junction City, Ohio. Credit Nheyob
St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magicAdrienne Cook

Church buildings around the world are named after St Patrick. Here are three of the most beautiful.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland

The choir of St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. Credit David Iliff
The choir of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. Credit David Iliff

Founded in 1191, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin is the largest church in Ireland.

St Patrick's Cathedral Lady Chapel, Dublin, Ireland. Credit David Iliff
St Patrick’s Cathedral Lady Chapel, Dublin, Ireland. Credit David Iliff

From humble beginnings as a Celtic parish church, in 1192 Dublin’s first Anglo-Norman Archbishop raised its status to a collegiate church devoted to both worship and learning.

St Patrick's Cathedral Nave, Dublin, Ireland. Credit David Iliff
St Patrick’s Cathedral Nave, Dublin, Ireland. Credit David Iliff

With donations collected across Ireland, reconstruction began on the glorious English Gothic style cathedral.

St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. Credit Miguel Mendez
St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. Credit Miguel Mendez

The author Jonathan Swift, who wrote Gulliver’s Travels, was Dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745.

St. Patrick's Cathedral Choir as seen from the Nave. Credit Andreas F. Borchert
St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir as seen from the Nave. Credit Andreas F. Borchert
Lady Chapel St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. Credit Adrian Grycuk
Lady Chapel St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. Credit Adrian Grycuk
St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. Credit Tony Webster
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. Credit Tony Webster
St Patricks Cathedral Dublin. Credit Suzanne de Gunst
St Patricks Cathedral Dublin. Credit Suzanne de Gunst

The Cathedral of St. Patrick, Manhattan, New York City

Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Credit Steve Kelley
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Credit Steve Kelley

A prominent landmark of New York City, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a Neo-Gothic Roman Catholic cathedral church in Midtown Manhattan.

St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York. Credit Ingfbruno
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York. Credit Ingfbruno

Designed by James Renwick, Jr., work began on August 15, 1858, but was halted during the civil war, and later completed in 1878.

St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City. Credit slack12, flickr
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City. Credit slack12, flickr

Accommodating 3,000 people, the cathedral spans a whole city block, between 50th and 51st streets, Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue.

St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City. Credit Bryce Edwards, flickr
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City. Credit Bryce Edwards, flickr
St Patrick's Cathedral, New York. Credit Carmelo Bayarcal
St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York. Credit Carmelo Bayarcal

Rising 330 feet (101 meters), the twin spires were a later addition in 1888.

St Patrick's Cathedral, New York, viewed from the Rockefeller Center. Credit J.M. Luijt
St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, viewed from the Rockefeller Center. Credit J.M. Luijt

St Patrick’s cathedral became a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Credit Jean-Christophe Benoist
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Credit Jean-Christophe Benoist

Among many notable people, St Patrick’s held requiem masses for Babe Ruth, Vince Lombardi, Ed Sullivan, and Robert F. Kennedy.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral, New York City, Credit Sracer357
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City, Credit Sracer357

Cathedral of Saint Patrick (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)

Nave, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian
Nave, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian

The Cathedral of Saint Patrick in downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is part of the Harrisburg Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Crossing and Dome of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian
Crossing and Dome of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian

Completed in 1907, the Baroque- and Renaissance-Revival cathedral is capped with a classically influenced dome. Granite from North Carolina covers the exterior.

The Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Credit Farragutful
The Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Credit Farragutful

The interior features oriental marble wainscoting, topped with Connemara marble.

The original altar was styled after the Bernini altar at the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome.

Chancel, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian
Chancel, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian

The main nave is flanked by granite columns that support a vaulted ceiling.

St. Patrick's Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian

The forty-four stained glass windows in the nave were imported from Munich, Germany.

Nave window, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian
Nave window, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian
Cathedral of Saint Patrick - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Credit Farragutful
Cathedral of Saint Patrick – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Credit Farragutful

The original pulpit featured carved figures of four evangelists with the Lamb of God standing on the Mystic mount and styled after a fresco found in the Roman Catacombs.

St. Joseph Altar, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian
St. Joseph Altar, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Harrisburg Historic District. Credit Bestbudbrian

Sources
wikipedia.org
biography.com
stpatrickscathedral.ie

A Brief History of Cats—and why we love them

It’s official—we’re crazy about cats!

According to the ASPCA, Americans own 85.8 million cats. And in Europe, it’s the same story, with an estimated 127 million cats.

They’re our cuddly companions, helping to calm our anxieties, console our afflictions, and even provide us with hours of entertainment.

Sleeping Girl (also known as Girl with a Cat) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, c.1880
Sleeping Girl (also known as Girl with a Cat) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, c.1880
Time spent with cats is never wasted.Sigmund Freud

A 20-year study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that owners of cats were 40% less likely to die from a heart attack. Furthermore, just 15-30 minutes of quality time with a cat can boost our body’s serotonin levels—a naturally occurring chemical in the brain (a neurotransmitter) that helps regulate our mood, appetite, sleep, and memory.

Even so, our relationship with cats has had its ups and downs through history.

9,500 years ago in Cyprus, a cat was laid to rest in a grave next to a human, along with seashells, polished stones, and other decoration. This recent discovery tells us that our relationship with cats predates Ancient Egypt—originally thought to be the origin of cat domestication—by 4000 years!

Left: Bronze statue of the cat goddess Bastet. Credit Guillaume Blanchard. Center: the Goddess Wadjet. Right: seated cat with golden earrings.
Left: Bronze statue of the cat goddess Bastet. Credit Guillaume Blanchard. Center: the Goddess Wadjet. Right: seated cat with golden earrings

Cats’ ability to kill cobras and control vermin made them sacred  animals in Ancient Egypt. Bastet was the goddess of cats, protection, joy, dance, music, family and love. As such, she was often depicted in cat form.

In hieroglyphics, cats were drawn as wearing jewelry and were even mummified after death. Households losing a cat often shaved their eyebrows to signify they were in mourning.

The Obsequies of an Egyptian Cat by John Weguelin, 1886
The Obsequies of an Egyptian Cat by John Weguelin, 1886

These graceful creatures were so revered that killing one, even accidentally, meant the death penalty.

Cats might have been present in Britain in the Iron Age, but it is thought Romans introduced them to Europe from Egypt.

During the Age of Discovery, cats spread around the globe thanks to their usefulness for controlling rodents on board ship. They were also seen as good-luck charms.

I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.Jules Verne

In the medieval period, the cat’s luck ran out. In an era of plague, people wanted scapegoats and turned to superstition for the answers. Although cats were still seen as valuable mice and rat catchers, it was their independence and tendency to “play” with their prey that made some observers think they were in league with the devil.

To this day, the expression to play cat and mouse with someone means to heartlessly toy with or torment them.

Mass graves for plague victims in London
Mass graves for plague victims in London

Edward, Duke of York, summed up the public fervor in the early 15th century:

… their falseness and malice are well known. But one thing I dare well say that if any beast has the devil’s spirit in him, without a doubt, it is the cat, both the wild and the tame..

In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII declared:

…the cat is the devil’s favorite animal and idol of witches.

Cats were killed en masse. Little did people realize that cats were actually helping to control the spread of plague by killing rats that hosted disease-ridden fleas.

It took fairy tales to recast cats in a good light. The 17th-century “Puss in Boots” (affiliate link) tells the tale of a cat that single-handedly wins its low-born master the hand in marriage of a princess in a wealthy kingdom.

Illustrations from the book 'Puss in Boots' by Artur Oppman (1867-1931)
Illustrations from the book ‘Puss in Boots’ by Artur Oppman (1867-1931)

“Puss in Boots” not only changed his master’s fortunes but that of cats in general.

So too did the work of Louis Pasteur in the 19th century. His germ theory popularized the notion that a clean home was a germ-free home. Since they spent so much time grooming themselves, cats were seen as clean animals to have in the home.

Cat Washing Its Coat by Arthur Heyer, c.1915
Cat Washing Its Coat by Arthur Heyer, c.1915

Queen Victoria’s relatively isolated childhood helped mold her passion for animals. In addition to her many dogs, she had two blue Persian cats. That was all it took to ignite a groundswell of interest in cat ownership across Europe.

And so began a Victorian love affair with cats.

Young Woman with Cat by Cecilia Beaux, c.1893
Young Woman with Cat by Cecilia Beaux, c.1893
What greater gift than the love of a cat?Charles Dickens

The first National Cat Show was organized by Harrison Weir (1824 – 1906) at the Crystal Palace in London. Known as “The Father of the Cat Fancy”, Weir was an experienced cat breeder and wrote (and illustrated) several books, including the first pedigree cat book Our Cats and All About Them (Amazon affiliate link).

Miss Mary Gresham's Persian Kitten "Lambkin". An illustration from Harrison Weir's book Our Cats and All About Them
Miss Mary Gresham’s Persian Kitten “Lambkin”. An illustration from Harrison Weir’s book Our Cats and All About Them
A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.Ernest Hemingway

Today, our love affair with cats continues unabated, and we often use phrases reflecting our perception of cats as animals of good fortune:

  • to be the cat’s whiskers (or meow, or pajamas) means to be better than everyone else
  • fat cats are wealthy and powerful people, typically involved in business or politics
  • the cat that ate the canary is a person who appears self-satisfied

We see cats as beautiful animals with poise and style. Describing someone as feline means that they resemble a cat’s sleek gracefulness.

Cats are very inquisitive, often leading them into trouble. Curiosity killed the cat is one of the most commonly-used cat expressions, warning  of the dangers of unnecessary investigation.

We’ve selected some popular GIFs of cats that are not lacking in the curiosity department. Vote for your favorites.

Sources

Valentine Moments in Time

What is love?

Philosophers have debated this question for eons.

They divide love into three forms: eros, the passionate, intense desire; philia, a fondness and appreciation for others; and agape, the love of God and humanity.

Even scientists can’t explain Love.

You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.

—Albert Einstein.

On Valentine’s Day, many thoughts turn to romance.

Historians believe “romance” referred to the artistic expressions of elite classes—in particular, their style of speech, writing, and art.

In French, it means “verse narrative”, and in Latin, “of the Roman style.”

We think of it today as a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.

La Belle Dame sans Merci by John William Waterhouse, 1893.
La Belle Dame sans Merci by John William Waterhouse, 1893.

There’s a reason we associate medieval chivalry with romance. Chivalric romance is a type of prose used in European aristocratic circles during the middle ages. It featured the adventures of heroic knights with an emphasis on courtly love.

A highly ritualized, non-physical bond formed between a knight and the lady he served. It was part of a complex moral code of conduct that guided knights as champions of the oppressed, and loyal subjects of their Lord.

Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine.

—Thomas Hood.
Hellelil and Hildebrand, The Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton (1816-1900).
Hellelil and Hildebrand, The Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton (1816-1900).

Today, even the word medieval evokes romantic images of knights, fair maidens, and dragons.

British sociologist and author Anthony Giddens thinks that the rise of romantic love coincided with the advent of the novel. It began to make its presence felt from around the late 18th century.

In a world where elite classes entered into contracts of marriage for economic and social reasons, the idea of romantic love, of the freedom to fall in love as we do today, was for many, just a dream … but a dream that could be brought to life through novels.

You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

—Mr Darcy.
Scene from Jane Austen's Pride and prejudice.
A scene from Jane Austen’s Pride and prejudice.

An admiring glance, a stolen kiss, a walk by the river, the first embrace. Romantic love abounds in the art of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Enjoy these paintings to Henri Mancini’s Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet parting on the balcony in Act III by Ford Maddox Brown, 1866.
Romeo and Juliet parting on the balcony in Act III by Ford Maddox Brown, 1866.

Soul meets soul on lovers’ lips.

—Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Romeo and Juliet by Frank Dicksee, 1884.
Romeo and Juliet by Frank Dicksee, 1884.
The Kiss by Francois Brunery (Italian, 1849 - 1926).
The Kiss by Francois Brunery (Italian, 1849 – 1926).
The Stolen Kiss by Jean-Honore Fragonard - c.1789.
The Stolen Kiss by Jean-Honore Fragonard – c.1789.
Federico Andreotti by Federico Andreotti (Italian, 1847 - 1930).
Federico Andreotti by Federico Andreotti (Italian, 1847 – 1930).
The Lovers by Marie-Francois Firmin-Girard, 1878.
The Lovers by Marie-Francois Firmin-Girard, 1878.
The Lovers by Karl Schweninger Jr. (Austrian, 1854 - 1903).
The Lovers by Karl Schweninger Jr. (Austrian, 1854 – 1903).
The Lovers by Cesare Augusto Detti (Italian, 1847 - 1914).
The Lovers by Cesare Augusto Detti (Italian, 1847 – 1914).
The Happy Lovers by Jean-Honore Fragonard, 1765.
The Happy Lovers by Jean-Honore Fragonard, 1765.
The Fairy Lovers by Theodore Von Holst, c.1840.
The Fairy Lovers by Theodore Von Holst, c.1840.
Lovers in a Garden by Charles Edward Perugini (Italian, 1839 - 1918).
Lovers in a Garden by Charles Edward Perugini (Italian, 1839 – 1918).
Lovers' Meeting by William Powell Frith (English, 1819 - 1909).
Lovers’ Meeting by William Powell Frith (English, 1819 – 1909).
Lovers by Pal Szinyei-Merse, 1870.
Lovers by Pal Szinyei-Merse, 1870.
Lovers under a Blossom Tree by John Callcott Horsley (English, 1817 - 1903).
Lovers under a Blossom Tree by John Callcott Horsley (English, 1817 – 1903).
The Lovers by Charles Webster Hawthorne (American, 1872 - 1930).
The Lovers by Charles Webster Hawthorne (American, 1872 – 1930).
The Lovers of Spring by Henri Martin (French, 1860 - 1943).
The Lovers of Spring by Henri Martin (French, 1860 – 1943).
The Lovers by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1875.
The Lovers by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1875.
The Lovers by Henri Martin (French, 1860 - 1943).
The Lovers by Henri Martin (French, 1860 – 1943).
The Lovers by Henri Martin (French, 1860 - 1943).
The Lovers by Henri Martin (French, 1860 – 1943).
In the Garden by Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1885.
In the Garden by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1885.
Lovers Walking by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, 1901.
Lovers Walking by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, 1901.
In Fairy Land A series of pictures from the elf-world by Richard Doyle With a poem by W Allingham - caption: 'An elf and a fairy kissing'.
An elf and a fairy kissing by Richard Doyle.

Now a soft kiss – Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss.

—John Keats.
The Kiss by Konstantin Somov, 1906.
The Kiss by Konstantin Somov, 1906.

For Your Listening Pleasure

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Henri Mancini
Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet
by André Rieu.

The World’s Libraries — beautiful buildings for all to enjoy

Libraries have been around since antiquity. Their emergence marks the end of prehistory and the dawn of history.

The Sumerians stored records of commercial transactions and inventories in Cuneiform script on clay tablets, some dating as far back as 2600 BCE.

Tablet from the Library of Ashurbanipal containing part of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Credit Fae
Tablet from the Library of Ashurbanipal containing part of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Credit Fae

Over 30,000 tablets were found in Nineveh, the ancient capital of Assyria, containing stories about creation, and omens about the moon and sun. And we thought tablets were a relatively recent innovation!

Written books first appeared in Classical Greece in the 5th century BCE. By the end of the 6th century BCE, the great libraries of the world were in Alexandria, Egypt, and Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzantine Empire.

The Great Library of Alexandria.
The Great Library of Alexandria.

While most Greek libraries were private, the Romans built public libraries, with successive emperors striving to outshine their forebears.

Gaius Asinius Pollio, lieutenant under Julius Caesar, built the first public library in Rome—the Anla Libertatis. Works of Greek and Latin were kept separately, and he adorned it with statues of the most celebrated heroes.

Emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Vespasian, and Trajan would build more libraries along the same lines. Trajan’s Ulpian Library was 50 ft high, reaching to 70 ft at the peak.

And so began a tradition of building libraries as grand monuments to learning.

Many libraries are beautiful works of art in and of themselves.

Join us as we travel inside some of the world’s greatest libraries.

Main Hall at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow, Scotland. Image credit innoxiuss.
Main Hall at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow, Scotland. Image credit innoxiuss.

“Is there anything so delicious as the first exploration of a great library – alone – unwatched?”

—Richard Jefferies.
Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress in the Thomas Jefferson Building.
Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress in the Thomas Jefferson Building.

“Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.”

—Lady Bird Johnson.
Melk Benedictine Abbey Library, Austria.
Melk Benedictine Abbey Library, Austria.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

—Marcus Tullius Cicero.
National Art Library, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England.
National Art Library, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England.

“I go into my library and all history unrolls before me.”

—Alexander Smith.
Strahov Library showing Baroque Cabinets, Prague, Czech Republic. Image credit Jorge Royan.
Strahov Library showing Baroque Cabinets, Prague, Czech Republic. Image credit Jorge Royan.

“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.”

—Henry Ward Beecher.
The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester, England. Image credit Mdbeckwith.
The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester, England. Image credit Mdbeckwith.

“The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history.”

—Carl T. Rowan.
The Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library, Vatican City, Italy. Image credit russavia.
The Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library, Vatican City, Italy. Image credit russavia.

“Everything you need for better future and success has already been written. And guess what? All you have to do is go to the library.”

—Henri Frederic Amiel.
Interior of Harper Memorial Library at University of Chicago. Image credit Rick Seidel.
Interior of Harper Memorial Library at University of Chicago. Image credit Rick Seidel.

“A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas – a place where history comes to life.”

—Norman Cousins.
Interior of Hornby Library part of Liverpool Central library, England. Image credit Liverpool Libraries.
Interior of Hornby Library part of Liverpool Central library, England. Image credit Liverpool Libraries.

“London has fine museums, the British Library is one of the greatest library institutions in the world… It’s got everything you want, really.”

—David Attenborough.
The British Museum Reading Room, London, England. Image credit Diliff.
The British Museum Reading Room, London, England. Image credit Diliff.

“One of the most constant and sustaining truths of my life has been this: I love the library.”

—Deb Caletti.
Grand Study Hall, New York Public Library. Image credit Alex Proimos.
Grand Study Hall, New York Public Library. Image credit Alex Proimos.

“I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”

—Ray Bradbury.
Interior of the main branch of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, a public library in Pittsburgh. The main library opened in 1895 and was funded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.
Interior of the main branch of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, a public library in Pittsburgh. The main library opened in 1895 and was funded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.

“I was born an only child in Vienna, Austria. My father found hours to sit by me by the library fire and tell fairy stories.”

—Hedy Lamarr.
State Hall of the Austrian National Library, Austria. Image credit Richard Hopkins.
State Hall of the Austrian National Library, Austria. Image credit Richard Hopkins.

“I’m really a library man, or second-hand book man.”

—John le Carre.
Reading room of the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris, France. Image credit Marie-Lan Nguyen.
Reading room of the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris, France. Image credit Marie-Lan Nguyen.

“I spent many hours ensconced in the local library, reading – nay, devouring – book after book after book. Books were my soul’s delight.”

—Nikki Grimes.
Reading Room at McKim Building, Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Image credit Brian Johnson.
Reading Room at McKim Building, Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Image credit Brian Johnson.

“When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.”

—Isaac Asimov.
Interior of the George Peabody Library in Baltimore. Image credit Matthew Petroff.
Interior of the George Peabody Library in Baltimore. Image credit Matthew Petroff.

“I’ve got a vendetta to destroy the Net, to make everyone go to the library. I love the organic thing of pen and paper, ink on canvas. I love going down to the library, the feel and smell of books.”

—Joseph Fiennes.
Library of the National Assembly, located in the Palais Bourbon, Paris, France. Image credit NonOmnisMoriar.
Library of the National Assembly, located in the Palais Bourbon, Paris, France. Image credit NonOmnisMoriar.

“An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.”

—Stephen Fry.
The interior of St John's College, Cambridge, England. Image credit CharlieRCD.
The interior of St John’s College, Cambridge, England. Image credit CharlieRCD.

“I remember going to a monastery library when I was very young and being surrounded by ancient books. I fell in love.”

—Hans-Ulrich Obrist.
Admont Abbey Library, Austria. Image credit Jorge Royan.
Admont Abbey Library, Austria. Image credit Jorge Royan.

The often palatial libraries of the past are wonderful environments to read, study, or just gaze in awe at such magnificent interiors.

Can modern libraries continue to provide enjoyable spaces for study and pleasure? You decide.

Vancouver Public Library's central branch, Vancouver, Canada. Image credit Darren Stone.
Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, Vancouver, Canada. Image credit Darren Stone.

“If we can put a man on the moon and sequence the human genome, we should be able to devise something close to a universal digital public library.”

—Peter Singer.
Seattle Public Library, Main Branch, Reading Room. Seattle, Washington, USA. Image credit Eric Hunt.
Seattle Public Library, Main Branch, Reading Room. Seattle, Washington, USA. Image credit Eric Hunt.

“There is that romanticized idea of what a bookstore can be, what a library can be, what a shop can be. And to me, they are that. These are places that open doors into other worlds if only you’re open to them.”

—Ruth Reichl.
Main hallway of the Salt Lake City Public Library, Utah. Image Bobjgalindo.
Main hallway of the Salt Lake City Public Library, Utah. Image Bobjgalindo.

“The public library system of the United States is worth preserving.”

—Henry Rollins.
Indianapolis public library, Indianapolis, USA. Image credit Serge Melki.
Indianapolis public library, Indianapolis, USA. Image credit Serge Melki.

Happy New Year!

“Auld Lang Syne” means “old long since”, “long long ago”, “days gone by”, or “old times”.

Written by Robert Burns in 1788, it is a Scots poem set to folk music and traditionally sung at the conclusion of New Year gatherings in Scotland and around the world.

Let us contemplate the “old times” together with a hauntingly beautiful version of Auld Lang Syne and a collection of historical paintings and drawings.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?
CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
Robert Burns

John Masey Wright and John Rogers' c. 1841 illustration of Auld Lang Syne.
John Masey Wright and John Rogers’ c. 1841 illustration of Auld Lang Syne.
The Auld Farmer's New Year's Gift to His Auld Mare Maggie by Richard Ansdell - 1851.
The Auld Farmer’s New Year’s Gift to His Auld Mare Maggie by Richard Ansdell – 1851.
New Year's Eve at Grandfather's by Friedrich Ortlieb - 1873
New Year’s Eve at Grandfather’s by Friedrich Ortlieb – 1873
Auld Lang Syne by Sir John Watson Gordon, 1851
Auld Lang Syne by Sir John Watson Gordon, 1851
New Year's Eve at the Savoy Restaurant in the Savoy Hotel. Scene from The Illustrated London News, 1907.
New Year’s Eve at the Savoy Restaurant in the Savoy Hotel. Scene from The Illustrated London News, 1907.
New Year's Day in New Amsterdam by George Henry Boughton - 1870
New Year’s Day in New Amsterdam by George Henry Boughton – 1870
Toasting the New Year in Germany, 1885
Toasting the New Year in Germany, 1885
Waiting for Calls on New-Year's Day by Winslow Homer, 1869.
Waiting for Calls on New-Year’s Day by Winslow Homer, 1869.
The New Year's Day Parade by Cornelius Krieghoff - 1871
The New Year’s Day Parade by Cornelius Krieghoff – 1871
New Year's Morning by Henry Mosler, 1888
New Year’s Morning by Henry Mosler, 1888
A New Year's Nocturne, New York by Frederick Childe Hassam - 1892
A New Year’s Nocturne, New York by Frederick Childe Hassam – 1892
Old and New Year. Cover of the Calendar for 1905 by Konstantin Somov - 1904
Old and New Year. Cover of the Calendar for 1905 by Konstantin Somov – 1904

A New Year. A fresh start. New Beginnings.

Make history this new year.

Happy New Year!

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season!

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautifulNorman Vincent Peale

Beneath The Snow Encumbered Branches by Joseph Farquharson, 1903
Beneath The Snow Encumbered Branches by Joseph Farquharson, 1903
Be merry all, be merry all,
With holly dress the festive hall;
Prepare the song, the feast, the ball,
To welcome merry Christmas.
William Robert Spencer
Christmas Market by Heinrich Maniser (Russian, 1847 - 1925)
Christmas Market by Heinrich Maniser (Russian, 1847 – 1925)
Christmas is coming; it is almost here! With Santa and presents, good will and cheer!Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, 'Christmas' (1940s)
Christmas market in Berlin by Franz Skarbina - 1892
Christmas market in Berlin by Franz Skarbina – 1892
I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.Charles Dickens
Christmas On Fifth Avenue by Alice Barber Stephens (American, 1858 - 1932)
Christmas On Fifth Avenue by Alice Barber Stephens (American, 1858 – 1932)
Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love Divine; Love was born at Christmas; Star and angels gave the sign.Christina Rossetti
Porte St Martin At Christmas Time In Paris by Luigi Loir - circa 1890
Porte St Martin At Christmas Time In Paris by Luigi Loir – circa 1890
For the spirit of Christmas fulfils the greatest hunger of mankind.Loring A. Schuler
Christmas Time by Nikolai Pimonenko (Ukrainian, 1862 - 1912)
Christmas Time by Nikolai Pimonenko (Ukrainian, 1862 – 1912)
  Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.Winston Churchill
Christmas market by Franz Skarbina - circa 1900
Christmas market by Franz Skarbina – circa 1900
I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men!Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Twas the Night Before Christmas by Henry John Yeend King (English, 1855 - 1924)
Twas the Night Before Christmas by Henry John Yeend King (English, 1855 – 1924)
  At Christmas, all roads lead home.Marjorie Holmes
A Christmas Party by George Henry Durrie - 1852
A Christmas Party by George Henry Durrie – 1852
At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.Thomas Tusser
Christmas Celebrations in Ukraine by Konstantin Trutovsky, (Russian, 1826 - 1893)
Christmas Celebrations in Ukraine by Konstantin Trutovsky, (Russian, 1826 – 1893)
Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.Washington Irving
Christmas Morning, Hotel de Cluny by Edwin Deakin (American, 1838 - 1923)
Christmas Morning, Hotel de Cluny by Edwin Deakin (American, 1838 – 1923)
Sprinkled with brandy in flames, and decorated with a sprig of holly stuck in the centre. Oh! The marvelous pudding!A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
A Christmas Dole by Joseph Clark, (United Kingdom, 1834 - 1926)
A Christmas Dole by Joseph Clark, (United Kingdom, 1834 – 1926)
For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home.W.J. Ronald Tucker
Christmas Day by George Goodwin Kilburne, (English, 1839 - 1924)
Christmas Day by George Goodwin Kilburne, (English, 1839 – 1924)
It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.Charles Dickens
Christmas Morning by Henry Mosler - circa 1916
Christmas Morning by Henry Mosler – circa 1916
The smell of pine needles, spruce and the smell of a Christmas tree – those to me, are the scents of the holidays.Blake Lively
Silent Night by Viggo Johansen, 1891
Silent Night by Viggo Johansen, 1891
The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.Burton Hillis
The Christmas Tree by Albert Chevallier Tayler - 1911
The Christmas Tree by Albert Chevallier Tayler – 1911
Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.J.L.W. Brooks
Christmas presents by Hugo Oehmichen - 1882
Christmas presents by Hugo Oehmichen – 1882
I was lucky enough to grow up in a home where I woke up Christmas morning and had toys. I know that’s not the case with all people and I don’t think kids should go without experiencing that sort of joy.Lucy Hale
Christmas by Felix Ehrlich, (German, 1866 - 1931)
Christmas by Felix Ehrlich, (German, 1866 – 1931)
Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys, showing that nothing else in life need to be taken seriously, and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one of the few occasions on which men become entirely alive.Robert Lynd
Christmas Time by Eastman Johnson - 1864
Christmas Time by Eastman Johnson – 1864
A Christmas candle is a lovely thing; It makes no noise at all, But softly gives itself away.Eva Logue
The Christmas Tree by Julian Alden Weir - 1890
The Christmas Tree by Julian Alden Weir – 1890

Celebrating Christmas in World War 2 – Keep Calm and Carry On

The war years made celebrating the tradition of Christmas very difficult. But people found ways to make the most of it. There was a spirit of camaraderie and a willingness to “mend and make do”.

Being apart from loved ones at Christmas was a strain on families. Husbands and fathers were away at war; wives and mothers were either serving in the military or working in munitions factories for the war effort; children were often evacuated to the countryside, far from home.

But people put their best foot forward. They kept calm and carried on.

Listen to “I’ll be Home for Christmas” as you read along. The song was originally written to honor soldiers overseas who longed to be home at Christmas time.

The National Savings Committee in wartime Britain issued posters to encourage saving, discourage frivolous spending and promote investment in the war effort.

World War 2 poster issued by the National Savings Committee, London.
World War 2 poster issued by the National Savings Committee, London.

Similar posters were issued in the United States.

World War II Posters, US Office of War Information
World War II Posters, US Office of War Information

Fewer men at home meant fewer men available to dress up and play Santa Claus. Mothers dressed up as Santa for Christmas parties, and women served as substitute Santas at department stores.

Father Christmas presents Winston Churchill Jr., the Prime Minister's grandson, with a gift at a Christmas party at Admiralty House in London, 17 December 1942
Father Christmas presents Winston Churchill Jr., the Prime Minister’s grandson, with a gift at a Christmas party at Admiralty House in London, 17 December 1942
Father Christmas lifts a young girl up to look at a toy soldier on a highly-decorated Christmas tree at a home for evacuees in Henley-on-Thames. It is interesting to note that this Father Christmas is actually being played by a woman
Father Christmas lifts a young girl up to look at a toy soldier on a highly-decorated Christmas tree at a home for evacuees in Henley-on-Thames. It is interesting to note that this Father Christmas is actually being played by a woman
Father Christmas hands out toys and games, including a set of building bricks, to children at a home for evacuees in Henley-on-Thames, 1941
Father Christmas hands out toys and games, including a set of building bricks, to children at a home for evacuees in Henley-on-Thames, 1941

Christmas trees were in short supply in Britain and America because the men who would normally cut them down were away at war. Rail and road transportation was largely used for the war effort, leaving little room for luxuries like Christmas trees.

Britain had a program through the YMCA called “Gifts to Home League” whereby those serving abroad could purchase gifts and have them delivered. The following three images show how the YMCA’s program brought Christmas cheer to the Devereaux family in Middlesex, England in 1944.

Outside the main entrance to Selfridge's department store on Oxford Street, representatives of the YMCA load the Christmas tree they have just purchased into their van
Outside the main entrance to Selfridge’s department store on Oxford Street, representatives of the YMCA load the Christmas tree they have just purchased into their van
Trooper Devereux, whose photograph can be seen on the Christmas tree, is serving in Italy and bought the tree as a present for 12 year old Jean under a YMCA scheme
Trooper Devereux, whose photograph can be seen on the Christmas tree, is serving in Italy and bought the tree as a present for 12 year old Jean under a YMCA scheme
Jean Devereux cuts the cake in her house in Pinner, Middlesex, on Christmas Day 1944
Jean Devereux cuts the cake in her house in Pinner, Middlesex, on Christmas Day 1944
Children visiting Santa Claus, Eaton's department store, St. Catherine Street, Montreal, Canada, 1941
Children visiting Santa Claus, Eaton’s department store, St. Catherine Street, Montreal, Canada, 1941
Christmas Eve in Stockholm, Sweden, 1941
Christmas Eve in Stockholm, Sweden, 1941
A Christmas party held at Admiralty House, London, 17 December 1942
A Christmas party held at Admiralty House, London, 17 December 1942
Leading Aircraftman Fred Fazan dressed as Santa Claus hands out presents to Dutch children at No. 122 Wing's airfield at Volkel, Holland, 13 December 1944
Leading Aircraftman Fred Fazan dressed as Santa Claus hands out presents to Dutch children at No. 122 Wing’s airfield at Volkel, Holland, 13 December 1944

During respites from fighting, there were a few chances to sample the local beverage. Here, British troops celebrate Christmas cheer with the help of Italy’s fine wine offerings.

The British Army in Italy 1943. The Queen's Regiment celebrate Christmas, 25 December 1943
The British Army in Italy 1943. The Queen’s Regiment celebrate Christmas, 25 December 1943
Royal Artillery cooks preparing Christmas dinner near Geilenkirchen, Germany, 25 December 1944
Royal Artillery cooks preparing Christmas dinner near Geilenkirchen, Germany, 25 December 1944

Singing songs and carols were rituals of Christmas at war—a way to keep memories of Christmases at home alive.

The ground crew of No. 122 Wing singing Christmas carols by a Hawker Tempest in a dispersal at Volkel airfield (B80), Holland 1944
The ground crew of No. 122 Wing singing Christmas carols by a Hawker Tempest in a dispersal at Volkel airfield (B80), Holland 1944
In the ward room that has been decorated with balloons and streamers, the First Lieutenant carves the joint during Christmas celebrations on board HMS WESTMINSTER at Rosyth
In the ward room that has been decorated with balloons and streamers, the First Lieutenant carves the joint during Christmas celebrations on board HMS WESTMINSTER at Rosyth
Christmas dinner in the wardroom of HMS MALAYA at Scapa Flow, 25 December 1942
Christmas dinner in the wardroom of HMS MALAYA at Scapa Flow, 25 December 1942
A nurse feeds a patient with a spoonful of Christmas pudding at a naval hospital at Kingseat in Scotland, December 1941
A nurse feeds a patient with a spoonful of Christmas pudding at a naval hospital at Kingseat in Scotland, December 1941
A youngster, clutching his soldier father, gazes upward while the latter lifts his wife from the ground to wish her a Merry Christmas
A youngster, clutching his soldier father, gazes upward while the latter lifts his wife from the ground to wish her a Merry Christmas

Home-made presents were popular. Dads made ships and dolls’ houses, whilst moms made sweets (candies) and knitted with spare bits of wool. Children’s gifts were often donated from other countries and charities.

Petty Officer H Bell, of Shotts, Lanarkshire, a member of the Home Fleet, constructs model ships and aircraft to be given as presents for Christmas
Petty Officer H Bell, of Shotts, Lanarkshire, a member of the Home Fleet, constructs model ships and aircraft to be given as presents for Christmas
On the foc'sle of a battleship, in the shadow of the guns, a Royal Marine, J Lynch of Newport, Monmouthshire is putting the finishing touches to a large dolls house, complete with furniture, 1943
On the foc’sle of a battleship, in the shadow of the guns, a Royal Marine, J Lynch of Newport, Monmouthshire is putting the finishing touches to a large dolls house, complete with furniture, 1943
Make-do Dolls For Christmas- Wartime Recycling, 1943 A portrait of a home-made stuffed cloth 'Mrs Brer Rabbit' and baby. According to the original caption, the apron of this children's toy was made from part of an old net curtain
Make-do Dolls For Christmas- Wartime Recycling, 1943 A portrait of a home-made stuffed cloth ‘Mrs Brer Rabbit’ and baby. According to the original caption, the apron of this children’s toy was made from part of an old net curtain
A group of young children at Junior School design and make their own Christmas decorations in Cambridgeshire, England, 1944
A group of young children at Junior School design and make their own Christmas decorations in Cambridgeshire, England, 1944

To help conserve paper, wrapping of Christmas presents was prohibited, making it difficult to keep Christmas presents a surprise. But whatever children received for Christmas during World War II, it was a treat and a sight for their sore little eyes.

Look what Santa brought you
Look what Santa brought you

Suggested Reading

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What’s Your Favorite Christmas Movie?

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful. And since we’ve got no place to go, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!Written by Sammy Cahn and composed by Jule Styne, July 1945.

The log fire is crackling away nicely. You’ve made a hot cup of cocoa. You check outside again. Yes—it’s still snowing in large, fluffy flakes.

You have the house to yourself.

Perfect.

Now, at last, the time has come. The time to relax and watch your favorite Christmas movies!

Which one to watch first? Decisions, decisions.

But wait a second. What is it about Christmas movies that we love so much? Is it the warm, comforting feeling we get from uplifting stories that offer hope? Is it the inspiration we find in the life lessons of the classics?

In a world that often seems full of turmoil, perhaps we just like to know that the perennial favorites help keep alive the values and traditions that we hold dear.

Which one to watch first …? Here’s a few ideas—peruse the movie clips and then vote for your favorite.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) is a classic Christmas drama directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve until an angel shows him how different the world would be if he had never been born. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards and is considered one of the greatest films of all time.

Home Alone (1990) is a comedy film directed by Chris Columbus and written by John Hughes, starring Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old boy who is accidentally left behind when his family goes on a Christmas vacation to Paris. He has to defend his home from two burglars, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, using various booby traps. The film was a huge box office success and spawned four sequels.

Elf (2003) is a fantasy comedy film directed by Jon Favreau and starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human who was raised by elves at the North Pole. He travels to New York City to find his biological father, played by James Caan, and experiences the joys and challenges of the human world. The film also features Zooey Deschanel, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, and Peter Dinklage. It was well received by critics and audiences and became a Christmas staple.

The Santa Clause (1994) is a fantasy comedy film directed by John Pasquin and starring Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, a divorced father who accidentally causes Santa Claus to fall from his roof and die on Christmas Eve. He puts on Santa’s suit and finishes his deliveries, only to find out that he has to become the new Santa and convince his family and friends of his new identity. The film was a hit and spawned two sequels.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) is a live-action adaptation of the 1957 Dr. Seuss book of the same name, directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch, a green creature who hates Christmas and plans to ruin it for the people of Whoville. He is challenged by a young girl named Cindy Lou Who, played by Taylor Momsen, who tries to befriend him and show him the true meaning of Christmas. The film was a commercial success and won an Oscar for Best Makeup.

The Polar Express (2004) is an animated film based on the 1985 children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg, directed by Robert Zemeckis and featuring the voice of Tom Hanks in multiple roles. It tells the story of a young boy who boards a magical train on Christmas Eve that takes him and other children to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. The film was the first to use performance capture technology for all the human characters and was nominated for three Oscars.

White Christmas (1954) is a musical film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. It follows two former army buddies who team up with a sister act to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commander. The film features the songs of Irving Berlin, including the title song, which Crosby had previously introduced in the 1942 film Holiday Inn. The film was a box office hit and received a nomination for Best Original Song.

A Christmas Story (1983) is a comedy film based on the semi-autobiographical stories of Jean Shepherd, directed by Bob Clark and narrated by Shepherd himself. It depicts the childhood memories of Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsley, who desperately wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas in the 1940s. The film also stars Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, and Ian Petrella as Ralphie’s family. The film has become a cult classic and is shown on television every Christmas.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) is a Christmas comedy-drama film directed by George Seaton and starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, and Edmund Gwenn. It tells the story of a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real Santa and has to prove his identity in court. The film was released in June but became a holiday favorite and won three Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor for Gwenn. It has been remade several times, most notably in 1994 with Richard Attenborough as Santa.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) is a comedy film directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik and written by John Hughes, starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, a father who wants to have a perfect Christmas with his family and relatives. However, his plans are constantly ruined by various mishaps and disasters, such as a malfunctioning Christmas lights display, a kidnapped boss, and a squirrel-infested Christmas tree. The film is the third installment of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series and is widely regarded as the best one.

A Christmas Carol (1951) is a British film adaptation of the 1843 novella by Charles Dickens, directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly businessman who is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve who show him the error of his ways. The film is also known as Scrooge in the United Kingdom and is considered one of the best versions of the classic story. It features a faithful script by Noel Langley and a memorable performance by Sim.

The Holiday (2006) is a romantic comedy film written, produced, and directed by Nancy Meyers, starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as Amanda and Iris, two women who swap homes for the holidays to escape their love problems. Amanda travels to Iris’ cottage in Surrey, England, where she meets Iris’ brother Graham, played by Jude Law, while Iris stays in Amanda’s house in Los Angeles, where she befriends an elderly screenwriter named Arthur, played by Eli Wallach, and a film composer named Miles, played by Jack Black. The film was a box office success and received positive reviews.

Scrooged (1988) is a comedy film directed by Richard Donner and starring Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a cynical and selfish television executive who is haunted by three spirits on Christmas Eve who teach him the true meaning of Christmas. The film is a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, with references to the original story and other pop culture elements. The film also features Karen Allen, John Forsythe, Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, and David Johansen. The film was a hit and has become a cult classic.

The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) is a drama film directed by Leo McCarey and starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman as Father Chuck O’Malley and Sister Mary Benedict, who work together at a Catholic school in financial trouble. The film is a sequel to the 1944 film Going My Way, which also starred Crosby as Father O’Malley. The film features the song “Aren’t You Glad You’re You?” by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, and was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture.

Trading Places (1983) is a comedy film directed by John Landis and starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy as Louis Winthorpe III and Billy Ray Valentine, two men from opposite social backgrounds who unknowingly switch places as part of a bet by two wealthy brothers, played by Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche. The film is a satire of social class and race relations in America, and features Jamie Lee Curtis, Denholm Elliott, and Paul Gleason in supporting roles. The film was a critical and commercial success and is considered one of the best comedies of the 1980s.

2
Vote for your favorite Christmas Movie

References:
wikipedia.com, imdb.com, universalstudios.fandom.com, boxofficemojo.com, disney.fandom.com, wikiwand.com, filmaffinity.com, rogerebert.com, britannica.com, archive.org, catalog.afi.com, movies.fandom.com, justwatch.com, countdownuntilchristmas.com, cmomngsoon.net, rottentomatoes.com, themoviedb.org

Dance Hall Days

The word “Ballroom” is derived from the word ball, which in turn originates from the Latin word ballare, meaning ‘to dance’.

In times past, ballroom dancing was social dancing for the privileged, leaving folk dancing for the lower classes at dance halls.

Court Ball in Vienna by Wilhelm Gause, 1900
Court Ball in Vienna by Wilhelm Gause, 1900
Dance Hall by F. Famos, 1900
Dance Hall by F. Famos, 1900

From the late 19th century until the early 1960s, the dance hall was the popular forerunner of the discothèque or nightclub.

dance pavilion on Cedar Point, Ohio, built in 1882
Dance pavilion on Cedar Point, Ohio, built in 1882

Sometimes you had to start small … 

Klondyke Dance Hall and saloon, Pay Streak, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 1909.
Klondyke Dance Hall and saloon, Pay Streak, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 1909.
Balroom dancing hall of 'Bal Bullier', Paris
Balroom dancing hall of ‘Bal Bullier’, Paris
Miami University Junior Prom, 1912
Miami University Junior Prom, 1912

Financed by Henry Ford, the dance hall at Boblo Island Amusement Park in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada was the largest in North America at the time of its completion in 1913.

Designed by Detroit architect Albert Khan, and constructed of steel and stone, the east side of the building featured a tall cathedral-like glass wall.

Holding 5,000 dancers at full capacity, it featured one of the world’s largest “orchestrions” from the Welte company—a self-playing orchestra 16 ft tall and 14 ft wide, with 419 pipes and percussion section.

Dancing pavilion at Bo-Lo, Bois Blanc Island, Detroit River, 1913
Dancing pavilion at Bo-Lo, Bois Blanc Island, Detroit River, 1913

By the 1940’s, most towns and cities in the United States had at least one dance hall, with live musicians playing a range of music from strict ballroom to big band, swing and jazz. Glenn Miller was one of the most famous dance hall musicians of the period.

Olympic Gardens Dance Hall, Hunter Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, ca. 1948
Olympic Gardens Dance Hall, Hunter Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1948

In Britain during the late Victorian period, dance halls for the general populace were still referred to as ballrooms.

Tower Ballroom at Blackpool, in the north-west county of Lancashire, was one of the most famous ballrooms of the late 19th century and is still in use today.

Its 120 ft by 120 ft dance floor is made up of 30,602 blocks of mahogany, oak and walnut. Above the stage is an inscription from the poem Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare:

“Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear.”

View of the whole of the dance floor in the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool, England
View of the whole of the dance floor in the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool, England
Spanish Hall inside the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Spanish Hall inside the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, Lancashire, England

After World War 2, it was time to start having fun again. British couples cautiously transitioned from traditional ballroom to more adventurous forms of dancing like Jive.

A couple at a British dance hall try out the new 'jive' steps, whilst the rest of the hall continue with 'old-style' ballroom dancing, 1945.
A couple at a British dance hall try out the new ‘jive’ steps, whilst the rest of the hall continue with ‘old-style’ ballroom dancing, 1945.

In North America, Square Dancing became ever more popular. Brought over with European settlers, it traditionally involved four couples (eight dancers) arranged in a square, with one couple on each side, facing the middle of the square.

Square Dancing at North Branch Y.M.C.A., Montreal, Canada
Square Dancing at North Branch Y.M.C.A., Montreal, Canada

From the grandest of the grand ballrooms to the humble town dance hall, we all love to dance, don’t we?

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in the entrance hall at the White House
Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in the entrance hall at the White House

We’re going to journey back to the Victorian era again, and imagine that we’re working-class folk living in Paris who can’t go to a really posh ball. We make do with Sunday afternoons at Moulin de la Galette in the Montmartre district, where we dress up and enjoy dancing, drinking, and eating galettes into the evening.

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1876
Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1876

When we get home though, we can dance into the night inside our imagination … with a little help from our new toy from England—the phenakistoscope.

This was an early animation device that uses a spinning disc attached to a handle. Arrayed around the disc’s center is a series of drawings, and cut through it are equally spaced radial slits.

When we spin the disc and look through the moving slits into a mirror, we’re magically transported back to the dancehall …

Press play and dance the night away …

Images on a disc which when spun gives the illusion of a couple dancing.
Images on a disc which when spun gives the illusion of a couple dancing.
This is what we see reflected in the mirror.


If You Could be Princess for a Day, Which Princess Would you be?

The term “Princess” is most often used as the regal rank of a daughter or granddaughter of a king or queen, or the wife of a prince.

It is the feminine form of prince, derived from Old French meaning “noble lord” and from Latin princeps, meaning “first man, chief leader; ruler, sovereign”.

I knew what my job was; it was to go out and meet the people and love them.Princess Diana

Old English had no female equivalent of “Prince”, “Earl”, or any royal or noble title aside from Queen.

A monarch’s daughter would be called “the Lady” followed by her first name. For example, the Lady Elizabeth or the Lady Mary—both daughters of King Henry VIII.

The term Princess started to become popular in Britain in the 18th century.

I don’t want to be a princess who sits on the sidelines; I want to be present and actively involved. It’s a life with a purpose.Charlene, Princess of Monaco

George I’s children, grandchildren, and male-line great-grandchildren were automatically titled “Prince or Princess of Great Britain and Ireland” and styled “Royal Highness” (in the case of children and grandchildren) or “Highness” (in the case of male-line great-grandchildren).

In European countries, a woman who marries a prince will almost always become a princess, but a man who marries a princess will almost never become a prince.

Vote for your favorite Princess.

Anyone for Tennis?

French Monastery
Credit: Fr Maxim Massalitin (Click to Enlarge).

“Advantage Brother Egbert.”

During the 12th century, in monasteries across Northern France, there were some very strange goings on.

The sound of a ball being struck by hand, of laughter, shouting, and clapping. How could this be?

The game was afoot … or more precisely, at hand. Monks were playing jeu de paume—“game of the palm”—where the ball was struck with the palm of the hand in a closed courtyard.

Today, we call it “tennis”.

The Sport of Kings

Real Tennis, aka “The Sport of Kings”, was the original racquet sport and precursor to the modern game. Its popularity grew quickly among the French nobility.

The French King, Francis I (1515-47), was an enthusiastic player and advocate, building many courts and bringing the sport to a broader populace.

Henry VIII (1509–47) of England enjoyed playing the game so much that he had a tennis court built at the Royal Palace of Hampton Court in 1530. It is still used in competition today.

Some historians believe that Anne Boleyn, his second wife, was watching him play when she was arrested. Legend has it that Henry was even engrossed in a game when news of her execution arrived.

Lawn Tennis

Walter Clopton Wingfield
Walter Clopton Wingfield

It was the Victorians who are widely credited with the development of the modern game.

Walter Clopton Wingfield was a Welsh army officer and inventor.

In the late 1860s Wingfield recognized that vulcanized bouncing rubber balls could transform real tennis from an indoor game to one played outdoors on modified croquet lawns.

Wingfield patented his court design and in 1874 began selling boxed sets including poles, court markers, racquets, balls, and instructions.

First Wimbledon Championships, 1877.
First Wimbledon Championships, 1877.

Tennis was growing in importance as a supplement to cricket and was even played at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The governing body for cricket decided to adopt and modify Wingfield’s system of rules, leading to the formation of a new club for tennis.

In 1877, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) launched the Wimbledon Championship.

Lawn tennis will never rank among our great games.

—Spencer Gore, first Wimbledon champion.

200 spectators watched Spencer William Gore beat William Marshall 6–1, 6–2, 6–4 on 19 July 1877 at a cost of one shilling. Today, tickets cost £2,667 (about $4200).

That first year at Wimbledon, when service was underarm, the champion Spencer Gore predicted that lawn tennis would never rank among the great games.

Tennis Terms

Tennis comes from the French tenez, meaning “hold!”, “receive!” or “take!”—a call from the server to tell the opponent that they’re about to serve.

Racket derives from the Arabic rakhat, meaning the palm of the hand.

Deuce comes from à deux le jeu, meaning “to both is the game” (both players have the same score).

The origin of the use of Love for zero is thought to derive from “l’oeuf”, the French word for “egg”, which is shaped like a “0”.

Alternatively, it could be from the Dutch saying “iets voor lof doen”, which means to do something for praise (for the love of it).

Ever wonder why scores are unevenly spaced as “15”, “30” and “40”? A popular theory is the quarters of a clock, but “45” was simplified over time.

Tennis Through the Centuries

First known depiction of a medieval tennis court. From a french translation of Valerius Maximus, original today in British Library.
First known depiction of a medieval tennis court. From a french translation of Valerius Maximus, original today in British Library.
Copper engraving of a game of Tennis in France, in the 16. century. From the series "Children games". Bibliothèque Nationale, Cabinet des Estampes, Paris.
Copper engraving of a game of Tennis in France, in the 16. century. From the series “Children games”. Bibliothèque Nationale, Cabinet des Estampes, Paris.
Medieval Tennis, France, c. 1510
Medieval Tennis, France, c. 1510
A Tennis game, one of the first depictions of a line in the middle (the predecessor of today's net).
A Tennis game, one of the first depictions of a line in the middle (the predecessor of today’s net).
Watercolor painting from an unknown German student who had studied in Italy (Padua or Siena), depicting an early form of Tennis
Watercolor painting from an unknown German student who had studied in Italy (Padua or Siena), depicting an early form of Tennis
Real Tennis (predecessor of modern tennis) in Germany, 17th century.
Real Tennis (predecessor of modern tennis) in Germany, 17th century.
Copper engraving of a tennis game at the College Illustre (university) of Tübingen, Germany
Copper engraving of a tennis game at the College Illustre (university) of Tübingen, Germany
Creation of a tennis racket in the 18th century
Creation of a tennis racket in the 18th century
Early advertisement for tennis equipment, from an English newspaper.
Early advertisement for tennis equipment, from an English newspaper.
Lawn Tennis in Bad Homburg, Germany, 1885
Lawn Tennis in Bad Homburg, Germany, 1885
Drawing of a Lawn Tennis court as originally designed by Walter Clopton Wingfield in 1874.
Drawing of a Lawn Tennis court as originally designed by Walter Clopton Wingfield in 1874.
Engraving of the first Wimbledon Championships 1877
Engraving of the first Wimbledon Championships 1877
First Official Tennis Tournament in the US, Staten Island Cricket Club, New York City, on September 1st, 1880.
First Official Tennis Tournament in the US, Staten Island Cricket Club, New York City, on September 1st, 1880.
William Renshaw and Herbert Lawford, playing a match at the Wimbledon Championships in the 1880s
William Renshaw and Herbert Lawford, playing a match at the Wimbledon Championships in the 1880s
"A Rally" painting by Sir John Lavery, Irish artist (1885); shows woman playing tennis with vigor, despite fashionable Victorian clothing.
“A Rally” painting by Sir John Lavery, Irish artist (1885); shows woman playing tennis with vigor, despite fashionable Victorian clothing.
Two women dressed for a game of tennis, 1890-1900
Two women dressed for a game of tennis, 1890-1900
A. Gillou, French contestant, at the 1900 Olympic games Tennis tournament, at the Tennis court Cercles des Sports de l'Ile de Puteaux, Paris. Cover page of magazine La vie au grand air, No 97 from July 22nd, 1900.
A. Gillou, French contestant, at the 1900 Olympic games Tennis tournament, at the Tennis court Cercles des Sports de l’Ile de Puteaux, Paris. Cover page of magazine La vie au grand air, No 97 from July 22nd, 1900.
Three young women in light dresses holding tennis racquets, 1900
Three young women in light dresses holding tennis racquets, 1900
Walking home after an afternoon of tennis, Uppsala, Sweden in 1902.
Walking home after an afternoon of tennis, Uppsala, Sweden in 1902.
Dorothea Köring and Heinrich Schomburgk, German tennis players, gold medal winner in tennis mixed of the 1912 Olympics.
Dorothea Köring and Heinrich Schomburgk, German tennis players, gold medal winner in tennis mixed of the 1912 Olympics.
New Zealand tennis player Anthony Wilding in 1913
New Zealand tennis player Anthony Wilding in 1913
British tennis player Dorothy Holman, 1919
British tennis player Dorothy Holman, 1919
St. Anne's Union Lawn Tennis Club, Waterford, Ireland, 1924
St. Anne’s Union Lawn Tennis Club, Waterford, Ireland, 1924
Daphne Akhurst (1925) and Christian Boussus (1927)
Daphne Akhurst (1925) and Christian Boussus (1927)
Australian tennis player Jack Crawford (left) and British tennis player Fred Perry (right) at the White City Stadium in Sydney, Australia with a senior tennis offical (center) 1930s
Australian tennis player Jack Crawford (left) and British tennis player Fred Perry (right) at the White City Stadium in Sydney, Australia with a senior tennis offical (center) 1930s
American tennis player Don Budge at the White City Stadium, Sydney, 1937
American tennis player Don Budge at the White City Stadium, Sydney, 1937
Rosewall (right) and Hoad playing doubles at the Wimbledon Championships in the 1950s
Rosewall (right) and Hoad playing doubles at the Wimbledon Championships in the 1950s
Australian tennis player Evonne Goolagong at the 1971 Dutch Open tournament in Hilversum.
Australian tennis player Evonne Goolagong at the 1971 Dutch Open tournament in Hilversum.
Björn Borg (1979) and John McEnroe (1979)
Björn Borg (1979) and John McEnroe (1979)
Young Boris Becker playing at the Kitzbühel Tennis Tournament
Young Boris Becker playing at the Kitzbühel Tennis Tournament
Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams - highest Seeded Players in 2015 and 2016
Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams – highest Seeded Players in 2015 and 2016