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

Bram’s Buddy

Inspired by a recent weekend in Dublin, I’m digging deeper into the story of Bram Stoker. Get ready for vampires! Epic battles between good and evil! And copious amounts of garlic! Whoops, wrong book. Today, he’s renowned around the world as the author of the novel that spawned a thousand teenybopper vampire romances, but in 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

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

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