Diary of a Not-Wimpy Ambassador

If you found a diary left open and unguarded, conveniently transcribed, digitized and text searchable, would you snoop? If you said “no,” you’re a better person than I am.   When it comes to gleaning insights about the days of yesteryear—to say nothing of tantalizing gossip—you can’t beat diaries and letters (along with certain newspapers). Read More

5 Ways to Break Your Lease

Have you just been offered a new job—in a city across the country? Maybe you moved in with your significant other after a few idyllic dates, and three months later, the honeymoon is over—but your lease isn’t. Or perhaps you’re haunted by your new wife’s deceased husband—when he tells you to vacate the premises, you Read More

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

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