Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: The Many Lives of Phoebe Hessel

Some lives were made for the silver screen. Phoebe Hessel (née Smith) is one of them. Spoiler alert: Her adventures as a British soldier in the 18th century took her to the West Indies and battlefields across Europe. However, her story doesn’t end there. After incomprehensible tragedy as a wife and mother, she went from Read More

How to Travel for Free

Travel has been around as long as we’ve had legs to walk on, but in the days before budget airlines and AirBnB, what was an impoverished, wannabe globetrotter to do? Glad you asked. If you’ve read Beginner’s Guide to Travel Writing, you’re ready for John Henry Richardson’s master class on maximizing your sightseeing while minimizing Read More

Even More Nuggets from Norfolk

Unless you literally live under a rock, you know there’s nothing remotely funny in the news these days. Fortunately, thanks to the digitization efforts of the fine folks at the Foxearth and District Local History Society, we can laugh at someone else’s. While no era has a monopoly on tragedy, the 18th century gives any Read More

Lost and Found

My terrible sense of direction reared its ugly head, and I got horribly lost. It’s hard to put into words how awful this makes me feel. It isn’t really that I’m afraid I’ll never find my way (although I suppose that’s a tiny, irrational part), but the sense of helplessness and frustration it evokes. I Read More

Too Much Time on Their Hands

♪ Yeah, I’m sitting by my computer, clicking like a damn fool, Got the 20th-century newspaper blues. And I’ve given up hope for an interesting headline And an amusing story. Is it any wonder I have eye strain? Is it any wonder I have carpal tunnel syndrome? ♪ Well, I’m so tired of reading—I got 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 the Read More

Beginner’s Guide to Travel Writing

In her nearly 15 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. Judging Read More