18th-Century Public Service Announcement

On December 31, 1790, Captain Clement Lemon signed an unusual agreement with Boston merchant Thomas Ramsden. As a condition of captaining the Mary Ann on an upcoming voyage, the Revolutionary War veteran and—I like to believe—ancestor of the illustrious Liz Lemon promised: Be it Known; I Clement Lemon do hereby Agree to, and with, Thomas Read More

A Sampler of Courage: Part 3

Before reading, fortify yourself with Part 1 and Part 2. Already read them? En garde! After three free samples, if you don’t buy something, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. . . . Just kidding. According to my website stats, you’re the only ones here. Don’t move a muscle unless you’re scrolling Read More

A Sampler of Courage: Part 2

Before reading, fortify yourself with Part 1. Already read it? Full speed ahead! Whether you’re a roaring lion or a scaredy cat, welcome back to our survey of courageous people we admire and/or hope we don’t have to emulate anytime soon. Allow me to introduce you to a man who checks both of the above Read More

Summer of ’69

. . . 1769, that is. Sorry, Bryan Adams. If the Enlightenment-era botanist Sir Joseph Banks had a LinkedIn profile, he’d be the connection we’d block from our newsfeeds.  This distinguished-looking Englishman served as president of the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for over four decades, was an influential proponent of settlement in Australia, sailed the Read More

Nuggets from Norfolk

Back by unpopular demand! This week, in response to calls from absolutely no one, I present the long-awaited sequel to Insults from Ipswich: Nuggets from Norfolk. Like the Ipswich Journal, the Norfolk Chronicle covered daily life in eastern England, beginning in the late 18th century. And as in Ipswich, the city of Norwich had plenty Read More

Insults from Ipswich

These days, everyone from presidents and celebrities to CEOs and your cousin’s girlfriend’s ex-best friend can—and often do—trade barbs over social media in full view of their fans and detractors. However, my newly discovered favorite gossip rag shows that publicly airing grievances, dirty laundry and other entertaining unpleasantness isn’t a 21st century fad but rather Read More

Beginner’s Guide to Travel Writing

In her nearly fifteen years crisscrossing England on horseback, Celia had survived roadside accidents, lousy weather and overpriced meals at the 17th century version of a tourist trap—but highway men were a first. A few miles outside the town of Whitchurch in Shropshire, two men had burst from the dense woods and onto the road. Read More