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

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

The Prince and the Pilot

Loyal readers might recall the story of plant-eating, teetotaling, jiu-jitsu-demonstrating health nut and newspaper darling, Gladys Mason, who went missing somewhere between Chicago and San Francisco on a cross-country trek in 1913. Well, folks, we found her! It turns out, after leaving Chicago, she took a detour to Wisconsin, where she opened a popular burger 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