10 patents for mad Victorian inventions

Yes – these are real Victorian design patents. We might laugh at some of them now, but they represent the hopes and dreams of a previous age. A design patent is a form of legal protection granted to the ornamental design of a functional item. But enough of that, here are ten of my favourites: (i)  A ‘Flying Machine’! Never mind if it works, you’ll … Continue reading 10 patents for mad Victorian inventions

The peculiar life & times of Flaming June: “The most wonderful painting in existence”

The peculiar life & times of Flaming June: “The most wonderful painting in existence”. A world renown Pre-Raphaelite piece of art – that will take us from Clapham Common to Puerto Rico, but carefully avoiding Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lefty granny. Continue reading The peculiar life & times of Flaming June: “The most wonderful painting in existence”

Happy 150th birthday, H. G. Wells!

Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of H G Wells!  To celebrate here are four classic illustrations from his 1897 “scientific romance” War of the Worlds (see below). H.G. didn’t like the original drawings, so these are taken from the 1906 edition. Pen and ink drawings from Henrique Alvim Corrêa. I have a long history with H. G. Wells. I can’t remember a … Continue reading Happy 150th birthday, H. G. Wells!

Marie Curie’s notebooks are still radioactive

I recently learned that some of Marie Curie’s notebooks are still radioactive. Researchers wishing to view them must sign a disclaimer. Many people know that Marie Curie won a Nobel prize for her pioneering research on radioactivity. But perhaps it’s not so widely known that she won that illustrious prize twice and, altogether, Marie Curie’s family won 5 Nobel prizes. Not bad going! High achievers, … Continue reading Marie Curie’s notebooks are still radioactive

Painting: The Funeral of Shelley (1889)

‘The Funeral of Shelley’ by Louis Édouard Fournier (1889). The Walker Gallery, Liverpool, UK. The painting depicts the funeral of the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley on a beach in Tuscany (18 July, 1822). It is said by some that Edward Trelawny plucked Shelley’s carbonised heart from the ashes, but was eventually persuaded to hand it over to Shelley’s widow, Mary – who preserved the … Continue reading Painting: The Funeral of Shelley (1889)

ART: Famous writers on cigarette cards

Famous writers on cigarette cards Shown above are some portraits of famous writers on cigarette cards. Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, G.K. Chesteron, Rudyard Kipling, Michael Arlen, Hilaire Belloc, Phyllis Bentley, Marjorie Bowen, John Buchan and (again) G.K. Chesterton. There was a time when cigarette cards (trade cards) were issued by tobacco manufacturers to stiffen cigarette packaging and advertise cigarette brands. They often had transport, animals … Continue reading ART: Famous writers on cigarette cards

Painting: The Day Dream (1880)

The Day Dream (1880) – By Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). Victoria & Albert Museum. Readers reading #9 Instead of ‘Readers reading’, perhaps this one ought to be titled ‘Reader forgetting about reading’! Rossetti was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator – and co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The Day Dream was his last finished work. Rossetti even wrote a sonnet about this lovely painting: … Continue reading Painting: The Day Dream (1880)