Research and Writing

The Experience of False Pregnancies in Early Modern France

by Lisa Smith March 30, 2014
The Experience of False Pregnancies in Early Modern France

By Lisa Smith, W&M Contributor I was rustling through some old research notes on strange pregnancies when a detail in a case addressed to the Société Royale de Médecine from 1787 suddenly caught my eye. The case was one of unexpected pregnancy in which an unnamed forty-four year old woman (sterile for twenty-three years, one […]

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Up yours, Brutus!

by CarolineLawrence March 15, 2014
Up yours, Brutus!

by Caroline Lawrence One of the first things that greeted visitors to the Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition at the British Museum in the summer of 2013 was a jolly fresco of a phoenix above two peacocks (below right). On the audio guide, curator Paul Roberts called this fresco a “pub sign”. […]

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Seneca’s Tunnel? Or Virgil’s?

by CarolineLawrence February 15, 2014
Seneca’s Tunnel? Or Virgil’s?

by Caroline Lawrence Traveling to Naples from the Roman resort of Baiae one day, the Stoic philosopher Seneca decided to go by land instead of by sea. His chosen inland route included a famous tunnel built in Augustan times, the Crypta Neapolitana. But the claustrophobic and gloomy tunnel turned out to be not much better […]

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Building and rebuilding a dream in 17th century London: Shakespeare’s Globe

by stephaniecowell January 31, 2014
Building and rebuilding a dream in 17th century London:  Shakespeare’s Globe

by Stephanie Cowell Shakespeare’s Globe has been actually built three times…in 1599, in 1613 and after decades of struggle and huge architectural research, again on the south side of the Thames in 1995. But in 1599, it wasn’t really new because the actors salvaged the boards and galleries and perhaps even the hand-made nails from […]

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Pinky Pinkerton’s Prayer

by CarolineLawrence January 15, 2014
Pinky Pinkerton's Prayer

Here is my day. Every morning I wake at dawn. I sit Indian fashion on my cot and look out my window over Virginia City and a 100 Mile View. My window faces due East, straight down Mount Davidson. On a Clear Day I can see 100 miles. That reminds me that God sees a […]

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Ancient libraries and their dangers

by Helen King January 10, 2014
Ancient libraries and their dangers

By Helen King Galen was, to put it politely, a bit of a show-off. Since our main source for Galen is Galen himself, this can make it difficult to work out whether he was as great a physician as he makes out. I think the answer has to be that he was; his second-century AD […]

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How Aeneas invented Pizza

by CarolineLawrence December 15, 2013
How Aeneas invented Pizza

When most people think of Italy, they also think of pizza. In Naples they will tell you they invented this culinary sensation and that their pizza is still the best in the world. Pizza purists say when in Naples there are only two types you should eat: Marinara and Margherita. The first and most basic […]

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Searching for the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe in New York City

by stephaniecowell October 29, 2013
Searching for the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe in New York City

by Stephanie Cowell He died in poverty and was found in clothes not his own. He was only forty years old. Two years before he had lost his wife/cousin whom he had married when she was thirteen. 164 years after his death, we are still searching for him. This month and through January 26th the […]

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Looking for Virgil, finding Tony Soprano

by CarolineLawrence October 15, 2013
Looking for Virgil, finding Tony Soprano

by Caroline Lawrence When we visited Pompeii and Herculaneum a dozen years ago, everybody warned us to avoid Naples like the plague! They spoke of gangs of street-urchin pickpockets who would descend on us like locusts, fleets of Vespa-riding handbag-snatchers, piles of garbage and walls covered with rude graffiti. And then there were the suicidal […]

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Archival Wonders

by Lisa Smith September 30, 2013
Archival Wonders

By Lisa Smith, W&M Contributor A few days ago, a friend of mine mentioned on a certain social media site that she had just found pressed flowers in an eighteenth-century recipe book. Nothing unusual in that—there are lots of bits and bobs stuck into old papers.* But it is always a delight for researchers. Here […]

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Learning from the Pros

by tracybarrett August 20, 2013
Learning from the Pros

by Tracy Barrett (W&M contributor) A few weeks ago I attended the 42nd annual Summer Conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The keynote speakers were stars—writers, illustrators, editors, agents, publicists—and the breakout sessions covered every aspect of the industry from craft to publicity to how to negotiate a contract, and more. […]

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The very individual journey of novelists

by stephaniecowell August 16, 2013
The very individual journey of novelists

by Stephanie Cowell It strikes me what great individual journeys each and every novelist has had…different joys, different frustrations. As a writer you start off wanting to tell stories; somewhere along the way some of us add the desire to win a Pulitzer, make the New York Times best seller list, receive several million dollars […]

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Caecilius’ Willy

by CarolineLawrence July 15, 2013
Caecilius' Willy

by Caroline Lawrence (Wonders and Marvels contributor) Students and teachers familiar with the Cambridge Latin Course were in for a shock at the British Museum Pompeii exhibition this summer. We saw Lucius Caecilius Iucundus as never before and many of us exclaimed Herclé! (By Hercules!) Everybody knows his face from the famous orange textbook 1. […]

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Modern Evil Eyes

by CarolineLawrence June 15, 2013
Modern Evil Eyes

by Caroline Lawrence The more I try to find differences between the Romans and ourselves, the more similar we seem. Recently I’ve been thinking about charms against evil. In researching my Roman Mysteries books, I noticed that Romans seemed to employ three types of visual charms against evil. left: two modern versions of ancient evil eyes. […]

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Reading Women, and Reading Women

by tracybarrett May 20, 2013
Reading Women, and Reading Women

by Tracy Barrett (W&M contributor) That is, reading women (the act of reading works written by women) and reading women (women who read). When I received a grant from the NEH to study texts about women written by women in the Middle Ages, many of my friends were puzzled that this was possible. “Medieval women […]

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