Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt by Robert Gottlieb

The world has had more than its fair share of high profile, controversial celebrities.  Name off the first ones that come to mind.  Now dig a little deeper and name some more.  They were amateurs.  Every last one of them lives in the shadow of Sarah Bernhardt.  From obscure beginnings as the illegitimate daughter of … Continue reading Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt by Robert Gottlieb

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, 1848

While the name Brontë might not have meant anything to the reading public in 1848, the pseudonym of Bell was very well known.  Given the triple punch of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey, all the year before, Anne Brontë's second and final novel under the name of Acton Bell was an instant runaway success... a … Continue reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, 1848

“The Adventure of the Second Stain” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

For those readers who get a grin from such things, this case was referenced in two previous accounts, "The Adventure of the Yellow Face" and "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty."  (We'll come back to discuss this at the end of this post.)  Likewise, Watson tell us up front that this case wasn't even going … Continue reading “The Adventure of the Second Stain” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts: Twelve Journeys Into the Medieval World by Christopher de Hamel

Do you love books?  Do you love old books?  You only think you do.  Let me tell you about Christopher de Hamel.  He's a paleographer, which means he's been privileged to gain access to some of the oldest and rarest books in existence.  And he wants to share that experience with you.  As he tells it, … Continue reading Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts: Twelve Journeys Into the Medieval World by Christopher de Hamel

Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization by Stephen Cave

In the Middle Ages, especially in the wake of the Black Death, there was a Latin inscription that permeated virtually everything.  Memento mori.  Remember that you will have to die.  One of the popular ways to remind people of this great equalizer was to entomb a body, usually a noble or a royal, in a … Continue reading Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization by Stephen Cave

“The Adventure of the Abbey Grange” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"The game is afoot!"  It must be something important if Holmes is opening this adventure by waking Watson in a rush on a cold winter morning.  Murder has been committed at Abbey Grange, presumably by burglars.  The victim: Sir Eustace Brackenstall.  The suspects: the infamous Randall gang, who have been committing other burglaries in the … Continue reading “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle