the Peacock Room

The Controversial Backstory of London’s Most Lavish Room

James McNeill Whistler created the famous "Peacock Room" for a wealthy patron. But the patron never actually wanted it.
A paper theater

Paper Theaters: The Home Entertainment of Yesteryear

In the nineteenth century, enterprising toymakers developed a novel way to bring theater into the home.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Memorial_jewellery_made_from_human_hair_in_a_case.jpg

Why Victorians Loved Hair Relics

Victorians were mesmerized by the hair of the dead -- which reveals something about about how they saw life.
Charlotte Bronte

Sorry, but Jane Eyre Isn’t the Romance You Want It to Be

Charlotte Brontë, a woman whose life was steeped in stifled near-romance, refused to write love as ruly, predictable, or safe.
An empty bottle for opium tincture

When Doctors Took Opiates To Gain Credibility

Long before today's opioid epidemic, doctors shared stories of their own experiments with the drugs they prescribed their patients.
Orchids in a Wardian Case

The Accidental Invention of Terrariums

Victorian London became obsessed with Ward's cases, which protected plants from the city's toxic pollution -- and piqued peoples' imaginations.
Georgie Hyde-Lees

W. B. Yeats’ Live-in “Spirit Medium”

In the Victorian era, a different kind of ghostwriting became popular—largely because it allowed men to take all the credit.
Vernon Lee 1881 by John Singer Sargent 1856-1925

The Forgotten Master of the Ghost Story

Vernon Lee was a widely-read writer of 19th-century ghost stories, called the "cleverest woman in Europe." Her life story was pretty fascinating, too.
Felicia Hemans portait

What, Prithee, Is a Poetess?

The loss and recovery of a poetic genre shows how the canon of literary history treats women writers the moment they start to gain attention and approval.
Thames tunnel walk

How the Thames Tunnel Revealed London’s Class Divide

The Thames Tunnel, the world's first underwater tunnel, is still in use 175 years after its long-delayed opening, but you can't shop there anymore.