Duel at Chalk Farm Tavern: A Regency Tragedy

Duel from Mysteries of the Court of London

Guest post for Geri Walton's Blog: Unique Histories from the 18th and 19th Centuries... On the night of Friday, February 16, 1821, two men faced each other across the field of honour, a wooded knoll beyond the Chalk Farm Tavern near Primrose Hill, to the north of a great chase that had yet to become… Continue reading Duel at Chalk Farm Tavern: A Regency Tragedy

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Shark Alley

Copley, Watson and the Shark

THE MEMOIRS OF A PENNY-A-LINER James ‘Jack’ Vincent (1808 – c.1888) was a Chartist novelist and journalist whose name is now as obscure as it was once, briefly, famous, his popular fiction from the first half of the nineteenth century quickly eclipsed by the next generation of literary authors, a generation that seemed to proliferate… Continue reading Shark Alley

The Final Entry in the Journal of the Late Leviticus Lovecraft

Caspar David Friedrich

From the Jack Vincent Papers, Volume I, believed to have been written in 1820... October 31, 18— My reason fails me this night. Already, I have seen the shadows moving in the darkness beyond the glass. And yet, they tell me that I am ill. Ill I am, but I know that I be not… Continue reading The Final Entry in the Journal of the Late Leviticus Lovecraft

Pugin: The Mad Genius of the Gothic Revival

Palace of Westminster

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812 – 1852) was an English architect and propagandist. Although the Gothic Revival began before Pugin, no single person did more than he in accelerating its influence, progress and ascendancy as the National Style of Victorian Britain. Pugin’s father, Augustus Charles (1769 – 1832), was a refugee from France who came… Continue reading Pugin: The Mad Genius of the Gothic Revival

The Gothic Revival

Figures from the Main Portal of the West façade

During the Renaissance, ‘Gothic’ became a pejorative label for all things barbarous. In a model of history probably first posited by Petrach and developed and disseminated by Italian Renaissance Humanists, it was believed that there were two epochs of cultural excellence, the Classical and their own. These were separated by a terrible period of ignorance… Continue reading The Gothic Revival

John William Polidori: The Man Who Wrote ‘The Vampyre’

Bela Lugosi Dracula

John Polidori was a promising writer who died tragically young. His reputation has suffered at the pens of the Byron circle, of which he was briefly a member, and their biographers. He is best known for his story ‘The Vampyre’ (1819), which created the modern myth of the aristocratic undead that endures to this day.… Continue reading John William Polidori: The Man Who Wrote ‘The Vampyre’

William Harrison Ainsworth: A Contextual Chronology

1805 – William Harrison Ainsworth born in Manchester, February 4, the first child of Thomas Ainsworth, solicitor, and Ann Harrison. 1806 – Birth of brother, Thomas Gilbert Ainsworth, October 4 (destined for a long life of mental illness). 1807 – British slave trade abolished by Act of Parliament. 1812 – Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. 1814… Continue reading William Harrison Ainsworth: A Contextual Chronology

Tales of Terror from the House of Blackwood

Although any horror story might be designated a ‘Tale of Terror,’ this term has come to have a particular association with the short sharp shockers of Regency and early-Victorian monthly magazines – particularly Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine – a form most perfectly realised in the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Unlike the subtler phantasmagoria of eighteenth… Continue reading Tales of Terror from the House of Blackwood

De Quincey and The Gothic

Dore Ancient Mariner

Thomas De Quincey (1785 – 1859) was a prolific periodical writer. He is usually aligned historically with the early English Romantics, and is best known for his remarkable autobiography Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821), and the satirical treatise ‘On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts’ (1827). De Quincey rarely wrote gothic… Continue reading De Quincey and The Gothic

Drugs and Addiction in Romantic Literature

Opium Den

That drugs might be used to aid the creative process remains a contentious issue to this day, but during the period under consideration social attitudes towards narcotics were quite different. In 1790, for example, the clergyman and poet George Crabbe was plagued by vertigo and fearful of apoplexy; his physician prescribed opium, which the author… Continue reading Drugs and Addiction in Romantic Literature