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Before AIDS or Ebola, there was the Spanish Flu — Catharine Arnold's gripping narrative, Pandemic 1918, marks the 100th anniversary of an epidemic that altered world history.
In January 1918, as World War I raged on, a new and terrifying virus began to spread across the globe. In three successive waves, from 1918 to 1919, influenza killed more than 50 million people. German soldiers termed it Blitzkatarrh, British soldiers referred to it as Flanders Grippe, but world-wide, the pandemic gained the notorious title of “Spanish Flu”. Nowhere on earth escaped: the United States recorded 550,000 deaths (five times its total military fatalities in the war) while European deaths totaled over two million.
Amid the war, some governments suppressed news of the outbreak. Even as entire battalions were decimated, with both the Allies and the Germans suffering massive casualties, the details of many servicemen’s deaths were hidden to protect public morale. Meanwhile, civilian families were being struck down in their homes. The City of Philadelphia ran out of gravediggers and coffins, and mass burial trenches had to be excavated with steam shovels. Spanish flu conjured up the specter of the Black Death of 1348 and the great plague of 1665, while the medical profession, shattered after five terrible years of conflict, lacked the resources to contain and defeat this new enemy.
Through primary and archival sources, historian Catharine Arnold gives readers the first truly global account of the terrible epidemic.
As layer upon layer of London soil reveals burials from pre-historic and medieval times, the city is revealed as one giant grave, filled with the remains of previous eras -- pagan, Roman, medieval, Victorian. This fascinating blend of archaeology, architecture and anecdote includes such phenomena as the rise of the undertaking trade and the pageantry of state funerals; public executions and bodysnatching.
Ghoulishly entertaining and full of fascinating nuggets of information, Necropolis leaves no headstone unturned in its exploration of our changing attitudes to the deceased among us. Both anecdotal history and cultural commentary, Necropolis will take its place alongside classics of the city such as Peter Ackroyd's LONDON.
“Victorian England: We know what that was supposed to mean — all priggish prudery and "we-are-not-amused" harrumphing. Except now we know it wasn't all that . . . [Catharine Arnold’s] new biography focuses — deliciously — on the women who shared the scandalously plentiful sex life of Queen Victoria's eldest son, the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII.” —USA Today
Edward Prince of Wales, better known as “Bertie,” was the eldest son of Queen Victoria. Charming and dissolute, he was a larger-than-life personality with king-size appetites. A lifelong womanizer, Bertie conducted his countless liaisons against the glittering backdrop of London society, Europe, and the stately homes of England in the second half of the 19th century.
Bertie’s lovers were beautiful, spirited, society women who embraced a wide field of occupations. There was Lillie Langtry, the simple Jersey girl who would become an actress and producer; “Daisy” Brooke, Countess of Warwick, the extravagant socialite who embraced socialism and stood for Parliament as a Labour party candidate; bisexual French actress Sarah Bernhardt, celebrated for her decadent appeal and opium habit; and by total contrast the starchy Agnes Keyser, who founded a hospital for army officers. One of Bertie’s most intriguing liaisons was with American heiress Jennie Churchill, unhappy wife of Sir Randolph Churchill and mother of Sir Winston.
While the scandals resulting from his affairs—from suicides to divorces—were a blight on the royal family, Bertie would become a surprisingly modern monarch. His major accomplishment was transforming the British monarchy into the modern institution that we know today and ensuring its survival in a period when every other European dynasty collapsed in the wake of WWI.
"A previous stranger to Catharine Arnold’s work, I feel grateful to have been introduced to her through a subject that is so richly rewarding, both historically and artistically. The inextricable link between London’s chaotic, complex past and the life of Britain’s greatest poet is explored with exceptional enthusiasm. This handiwork is a feast for imagination and edification, weaving scores of facts with extracts from the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, to create as complete a picture as possible of a fascinating time in a place that remains enchanting. The result is a necessity for any Shakespeare aficionado."
“Arnold offers a tour of Elizabethan and Jacobean London, showing how a confluence of events allowed the theaters to flourish. Four stars.”
Margaret Sankey - Educator
“Globe is a delightful read from start to finish. From an imagined scene that brings to life late Tudor London, Arnold takes us into a fascinating history of the London theatre scene, and Shakespeare's place in it. There is never a dull moment.”
“Full of interesting details, the book does not neglect other playwrights of the time or Shakespeare's fellows in the Lord Chamberlain's Men. Accessible instead of ponderous and scholarly, you'll learn so much about how theater worked in Elizabethan England, information that sheds light on the plays as they were perceived by the people of the time.”
“Overall, this is an excellent evocation of Shakespeare's London that goes far beyond the walls of his most famous theatre.”
Kate Baty - Educator
“This book was everything I wished it to be. Informative but not dry, funny and captivating but not trivial. After reading it you'll not only know more about Shakespeare and his Globe but also about his colleagues and London.”
Sophie Freinhofer - Bookseller
“I loved it… this is a really good book.”
Rianna Blokzijl – Reviewer
The life of William Shakespeare, Britain’s greatest dramatist, is inextricably linked with the history of London. Together, the great writer and the great city came of age and confronted triumph and tragedy. Triumph came with the founding of the Globe in 1599, the patronage of the Queen herself and the golden age of Elizabethan drama. On the shadow side, fatal political intrigue meant tragedy for contemporaries Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Kyd, while the city struggled against the omnipresent threat of riots, rebellions and the devastating plague.
Catharine Arnold has created a vivid portrait of Shakespeare and his London from contemporary sources, combining a novelist’s eye for detail and a historian’s grasp of Shakespeare’s unique contribution to the development of the English theatre. No mere work of literary criticism or biography, this is a portrait of Shakespeare, London, the man and the myth.
That this is still the most powerful image of Bedlam, over two centuries later, says much about our attitude to mental illness, although the Bedlam of the popular imagination is long gone. The hospital was relocated to the suburbs of Kent in 1930, and Sydney Smirke's impressive Victorian building in Southwark took on a new role as the Imperial War Museum.
Following the historical narrative structure of her acclaimed Necropolis, BEDLAMwill examine the capital's treatment of the insane over the centuries, from the founding of Bethlehem Hospital in 1247 through the heyday of the great Victorian asylums to the more enlightened attitudes that prevail today.
If Paris is the city of love, then London is the city of lust. From the bath houses of Roman Londinium to the sexual underground of the twentieth century and beyond, The Sexual History of London is an entertaining, vibrant chronicle of London and sex through the ages.
For more than a thousand years, England's capital has been associated with desire, avarice, and the sins of the flesh. Richard of Devises, a monk writing in 1180, warned that "every quarter abounds in great obscenities." As early as the second century AD, London was notorious for its raucous festivities and disorderly houses, and throughout the centuries the bawdy side of life has taken easy root and flourished.
In The Sexual History of London, award-winning popular historian Catharine Arnold turns her gaze to London's relationship with vice through the ages. London has always traded in the currency of sex. Whether pornographic publishers on Fleet Street, or courtesans parading in Haymarket, its streets have long been witness to colorful sexual behavior. In an accessible, entertaining style, Arnold takes us on a journey through the fleshpots of London from earliest times to present day. Here are buxom strumpets, louche aristocrats, popinjay politicians, and Victorian flagellants—all vying for their place in London's league of licentiousness.
From sexual exuberance to moral panic, the city has seen the pendulum swing from Puritanism to hedonism and back again. With latter chapters looking at Victorian London and the sexual underground of the twentieth century and beyond, this is a fascinating and vibrant chronicle of London at its most raw and ribald.
London's crimes have changed over the centuries, both in method and execution. Underworld London traces these developments, from the highway robberies of the eighteenth century, made possible by the constant traffic of wealthy merchants in and out of the city, to the beatings, slashings and poisonings of the Victorian era.