Mini adventures in the life of a Victorianist #1: The Vanquishing of the Chihuahua-diles,

**No chihuahuadiles were harmed in the making of this blog. Also, I’m going to swear. A lot. Don’t read on if that offends you.**

Back in September we moved house. And all was fine and good.

Then our next door neighbours moved in to their house. And still all was good.

Then our next door neighbours had some kind of collective fucking brain fart – a common sense embolism, if you will – and decided it would be just a darling idea to buy a pair of little white chihuahuas.

Now, don’t get me wrong, when they were little puppies (read: ‘incapable of producing SHRILL SCREECHING MOTHER F- ahem, excuse me. When they were… quieter) they were pretty darn cute.

IMG_2102Also, I should clarify: I am very much a dog person. But my love of dogs extends primarily to dogs that don’t give you the fear, every time you sit down on the sofa, that you’re about to crush one of them; dogs that aren’t a risk for being yoinked away by birds of prey when out for a walk; dogs that can carry off names like Arrow, Pilot, or Achilles.


I don’t know the names of next door’s chihuahuas (Husband and I have taken to referring to them as Sauron and Morgoth), but within a few months it became clear that these things are EVIL INCARNATE. I should have suspected as much when, within weeks of their arrival next door’s cat was like ‘NOPE’ and left without warning in the night. Alas, I now fear that’s the best case scenario and a more likely explanation is that the chihuahuas have done for him and buried his body in the walls.

The full horror of the situation became clear one evening around Christmas time when our peace was disturbed by the sound of something being viciously savaged in next door’s garden. We ran to the upstairs window in time to witness the chihuahuas dragging the sad carcass of a teddy bear (our neighbours have a little boy) across the lawn and ferociously ripping it to shreds like a pair of crocodiles with a zebra. There were full-on death rolls, there was thrashing and shaking and snarling and snapping….and all the while the poor teddy bear stared up at us as if to say ‘Kill meeeeeee!’ while the chihuahuas went at it like it was feeding time at Jurassic Park.

And thus the Chihuahuadiles were born.


A brief lesson in the anatomy of Chihuahuadilus Assholius:


Continue reading “Mini adventures in the life of a Victorianist #1: The Vanquishing of the Chihuahua-diles,”


Creative Competition: Substance Use and Abuse in the Long Nineteenth Century

Calling all creative-types, artists, academics, 19thC researchers and Sherlock Holmes fans!

The organizers of the ‘Substance Use and Abuse in the Long Nineteenth Century’ conference (Edge Hill University, September 13th-14th 2018) are inviting submissions of creative works which explore any aspect of nineteenth-century substance use and abuse in one image:

  • Photography, painting, digital art, mixed media, posters?
  • Still lives of drug paraphernalia?
  • Microscopic images of chemical compounds
  • Mapping nineteenth-century drug use?
  • A sculpture featuring Sherlock Holmes’s 243 types of tobacco ash?!

The ‘Substance Use and Abuse in the Long Nineteenth Century’ conference will bring together international, interdisciplinary researchers from Medical Humanities, the History of Medicine, and Romantic/Victorian literature to examine the changing roles of substances for therapy, medication, and recreation in the nineteenth century.

This competition is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students, lecturers and researchers, and members of the public.

Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at the conference, 13th – 14thSeptember 2018 at Edge Hill University.

First prize: £100.

Head Judge: Stephen Whittle. Principle Manager, The Atkinson Southport.

Deadline for entries: 17th August 2018.

For full terms and conditions and to enter, download entry form here and send it, along with your submission, to 


Some Great (and some not so great) Fathers from Victorian Fictionn

It’s Father’s Day and I thought I’d compile a list of some of the best dads from my favourite Victorian novels. But oh boy, it turns out that I was wandering blithely into a wilderness and that nice, stable father figures don’t make for very compelling fiction. Drat!

Fear not, I have hunted high and low and found some of the good’uns (even if one of them is a wolf) to go alongside the wrong’uns. And so, without further ado:

*SPOILER WARNINGS for novels mentioned*

1. Good’un: Bob Cratchit, A Christmas Carol

You all know this one, I’m sure. Bob Cratchit is the epitome of the kind of hard-working, domestic masculinity that Dickens idolises time and again in his novels. Though Bob earns ‘but fifteen “Bob” a-week himself’ his modest home, stuffed with children and a goose, is the kind of Christmassy Victorian idyll that needs to be slapped on a tin of shortbread or, better yet, a Muppets Movie.

Muppets Christmas

2. Good’un: Akela, The Jungle Books

Though not technically Mowgli’s father in either a biological or adoptive sense, Akela leads the Seeonee wolf pack (though it should be mentioned that he, like all the wolves remain just a little bit terrified of Mowgli’s mother Raksha ‘The Demon’, who is way more badass than the original Disney animation would have us believe).

Continue reading “Some Great (and some not so great) Fathers from Victorian Fictionn”

CFP: Science and Spiritualism, 1750-1930

The Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies is pleased to announce a two-day conference, to take place at Leeds Trinity University on 30 and 31 May 2019. We are delighted to have Professor Christine Ferguson (University of Stirling), and Professor Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck, University of London) as our keynote speakers.

D.D. Home levitates himself in front of witnesses in the home of Ward Cheney in South Manchester, Connecticut on 8 August 1852. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

Since the emergence of modern mediumship in the middle of the nineteenth century, science and spiritualism have been interwoven. Sceptics and believers alike have investigated spirit and psychic phenomena to determine its legitimacy. This two-day interdisciplinary conference will explore the history of the intersection of science and spiritualism during the long nineteenth century. Continue reading “CFP: Science and Spiritualism, 1750-1930”

Call for Articles: ‘Materiality in Wilkie Collins and his Contemporaries’, Wilkie Collins Journal.

Materiality in Wilkie Collins and his Contemporaries
The Wilkie Collins Journal
 Guest Editors: Dr Kym Brindle, Dr Laura Eastlake
‘I prophesy that we shall see ghosts and find treasures, and hear mysterious noises –
and, oh heavens! What clouds of dust we shall have to go through’
(The Dead Secret)
Wilkie Collins’s fiction depicts a rich cabinet of material curiosities. His novels evidence the wealth of objects with which the Victorians surrounded themselves in everyday life. This special issue looks to explore the entanglements between object and subject in Collins’s work. We seek proposals exploring the ways in which aspects of identity in Collins’s novels are articulated through forms of material culture. What is the significance of property and personal possessions for identity formation?

Continue reading “Call for Articles: ‘Materiality in Wilkie Collins and his Contemporaries’, Wilkie Collins Journal.”

CFP: Substance Use and Abuse in the Long Nineteenth Century

Friends, Victorianists… I am delighted to tell you about a conference I’ve been working on with @drBeard79 to be held at Edge Hill University on 13th-14th September 2018. If you are researching any aspect of nineteenth-century substance use (medicine, therapies, foodstuffs, stimulants and sedation, trade) or abuse (addiction, drugs etc) then do submit a paper, or simply come along as an attendee and join us for what is shaping up to be a cracking couple of days, complete with fabulous plenary speakers and some fun surprises to be announced in the coming weeks. If you need some inspiration for your abstract, follow us @substance18_EHU for daily #substance18 Trivia on all manner of substances from the nineteenth century!
Full CFP below – hope to see you there!

CFP: Substance Use and Abuse in the Long Nineteenth Century

13th – 14th September 2018, Edge Hill University



Professor Susan Zieger, University of California Riverside

Dr Noelle Plack, Newman University

Dr Douglas Small, University of Glasgow


‘The body (follow me closely here) lies at the mercy of the most omnipotent of all potentates—the Chemist.

Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (1859)

In The Woman in White Collins’s villainous Count Fosco expounds on the power of modern pharmacology. Fosco is speaking at the mid-point of a century wherein the body and the mind seemed increasingly easily affected by the influence of substances. From 1821 opium had allowed Thomas de Quincey to explore ‘the palimpsest of the human mind’ and navigate the dream space of the human subconscious. Ether and chloroform banished pain and facilitated new surgical innovations. Stimulants and sedatives regulated waking and sleeping and the working day in between. Reports of alcoholism, addiction and criminality appeared with increasing regularity in the periodical press and featured in the plots of new literary genres like the sensation novel and the detective story.

This two day interdisciplinary conference examines the changing roles of drugs and chemical substances in the history, literature, and medical discourses of the long nineteenth century. We invite proposals for 15-20 minute papers or panels on any aspect of the theme. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Addiction and excess: Alcohol, tobacco, opiates, cocaine, ether, chloroform and other compounds
  • Psychoactive substances, hallucinogenics, pharmacology
  • New drug treatments, therapies, medical technologies, pain and pain management
  • Concepts of stimulation and sedation
  • Drugs and creativity
  • Drugs and criminality
  • Substances and the media: celebrity culture, advertising,
  • Thomas de Quincey, Coleridge, Keats, Wilkie Collins, L. T. Meade Conan Doyle,
  • Novels, sensation fiction, and literature as addiction
  • Gendered representations of substance use
  • Aphrodisiacs, appetite and their suppressants
  • Substances and the military, empire, trade, war
  • Neo-Romantic or Neo-Victorian representations of substance use

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words together with a brief bio to by 21st May.

We are delighted to be able to award a number of postgraduate bursaries. If you would like to be considered for a bursary, please include a 200-word explanation about how the conference relates to your research, along with a breakdown of your expenses.

Please see our website for more information.


Michael Bradshaw - ENG - 1ss 230x420 50off

What Would a Victorian Novel Monopoly Board Look Like?

I like to think I have some virtues kicking around in here, but patience, my friends, is not one of them. So Monopoly, with its long, drawn-out deaths by bleeding paper money and weeks of treading on tiny plastic houses afterwards, was never one of my favourites. I suspect I, like most people, am guilty of not knowing all the rules which would help make it a less excruciating experience.

However, over a nice end-of-semester coffee, I got to playing the much more fun game of imagining what a Victorian Monopoly board would look like. Here is my best guess. Have I missed any of your favourites?


Continue reading “What Would a Victorian Novel Monopoly Board Look Like?”

National Siblings Day. Who are your favourite nineteenth-century siblings?

It’s national siblings day! This fact dawned on me in a meeting with fabulous fellow nineteenth-century scholars @DigiVictorian, @DrBeard, and @DrDouglasSmall. To celebrate, we set each other the challenge of coming up with some siblings – real or fictional – who deserve a nod today.

For my choice, I’ve gone for: Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Not only were the Rossetti siblings immensely talented poets and artists each in their own right, but you can also see the traces of sibling relationships (and rivalries) in their work. Dante Gabriel used his sister as a model in several of his best-known early paintings, including ‘The Girlhood of the Virgin Mary’ (1849) and  ‘Ecce Ancilla Domini’ (1850) although he also liked to taunt her by capturing her in her less flattering moments, such as this sketch from 1862 of Christina in mid-tantrum.

Meanwhile, Christina makes reference to her brother’s notoriously quirky pet in her poem ‘Goblin Market’ (1862). Yes, Dante Gabriel was the proud, and often pretty hapless owner of a pet WOMBAT. Continue reading “National Siblings Day. Who are your favourite nineteenth-century siblings?”

Victorians in Springtime

It’s springtime! The birds are singing, the emulsified chocolate treats are flying off the shelves, and I thought it would be fun to look at some Victorian paintings of springtime to see how the Victorians passed the time of year.


Leighton Burleigh
Edmund Blair Leighton, ‘The Lord of Burleigh’

On a fine spring afternoon, Ralph was insistent in his efforts to mansplain trigonometry to Ethel. Later, they would find him beaten to death with that there basket of cold cuts.

Continue reading “Victorians in Springtime”

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