'Silver Fork' or Fashionable Novels are the largely forgotten English popular novels of the 1820s and 30s which depicted aristocratic life and scandals as a how-to guide for rising middle-class readers while also exploring growing political and class anxieties in the post-Regency. Advice on how to romance, eat, party and raise children like a member of the upper class from Silver Fork novels via Bizarre Victoria (previously).
How to be German in 20 easy steps; also, from the same author: how to be English. Elsewhere: how to be a really hip German.
UK adoption agencies are reporting "huge numbers of calls from 'deeply distressed' adoptive parents whose children have been contacted" through Facebook and other social networking sites, in violation of the traditional, confidential reunion process between birth parents and their offspring who have been placed with other families. Full report from Channel 4. [more inside]
The Mitchell and Kenyon collection consists of 800 rolls of nitrate film documenting scenes of everyday life in England between 1900 and 1913. This extraordinary archive, now painstakingly restored by the British Film Institute, includes footage of trams, soup kitchens, factory gates, football matches, seaside holidays and much else besides. Here are some sample images and a short clip of workers at a Lancashire colliery, all astonishingly evocative and reminiscent (to me) of Philip Larkin's poem MCMXIV: 'The crowns of hats, the sun / On moustachioed archaic faces / Grinning as if it were all / An August Bank Holiday lark .. Never such innocence, / Never before or since .. Never such innocence again.'
Passport to the Pub Initiate yourself in the strange and subtle rules and customs of the British pub. (via The Old New Thing, strangely enough)
Forget British. Define English. The perennial ex-pat and honorary Yank Christopher Hitchens may not be the best Englishman to define it - though his embarrassingly reactionary brother Peter is even less suited - but at least he has a go. For everyone else in the world, there are the Scottish, the Welsh, even the Northern Irish - all strong nationalities in their own right, each one older and more culturally solid than the slightly French, slightly German and slightly Dutch English. So why persist, in this post-imperialist day and age, in the myth of the Brit? If it is a myth. Americans, whether from the U.S. or Canada, certainly continue to buy into it. Or is it, for the rest of the world, too dangerous for the English - with devolution raging - to find their own, muddied identity? Think of those football hooligans and their grotesque politics, St.George face-masks and flags. (Via Arts And Letters Daily.)