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A Dormouse Jar at the Ashmolean

… an earthenware fattening jar …

dormouse ashmolean

Obviously the star exhibit at the Last Supper in Pompeii show currently at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford is the glirarium or dormouse jar. (Glires is Latin for dormouse.) This large, lidded terracotta jar mimics the hibernation nest, perfect for Continue reading “A Dormouse Jar at the Ashmolean”

Aston Hall, Birmingham

… is this Birmingham’s best kept secret? …

aston birmingham jacobean strapwork

Aston Hall is an astonishing Jacobean mansion that practically nobody’s heard of. A c17th contemporary described it as: “A noble fabric which for its beauty and state much exceedeth anything in these parts.”* It has some of the finest

Continue reading “Aston Hall, Birmingham”

Invisible Agents : Nadine Akkerman

… pioneering archive archaeology …

seventeenth century spies agents women

With this exhilarating and meticulously researched account, Nadine leads the reader through thickets of ciphers and pages of correspondence to highlight the contribution female agents made to the field of espionage during the seventeenth century. Most of these women have been been discounted or silenced Continue reading “Invisible Agents : Nadine Akkerman”

Elizabethan Treasures : National Portrait Gallery

… tiny fire crackers of colour & astonishing detail …

Henri iii france hilliard miniature

Tucked into a pocket or worn next of the heart, Queen Elizabeth keep them wrapped in tissue in a cabinet, the language of miniatures has always been an intimate affair. Created for love, diplomacy and remembrance these limnings of Hilliard and Oliver display exquisite details and jewel like colours. Withe their roots in illuminated manuscripts, the size of these watercolours draws you in, making you concentrate to appreciate every detail. This attention creates an intimacy not Continue reading “Elizabethan Treasures : National Portrait Gallery”

The Ghost A Cultural History : Susan Owens

… a fascinating book to curl up with … 

ghost supernatural spooks halloween

The Ghost is a thoroughly fascinating book which traces the development of ghosts from warnings from the afterlife, through escapees from purgatory and then the devil’s playthings and finally to delicious, terrifying entertainment purely from the imagination. Continue reading “The Ghost A Cultural History : Susan Owens”

The Book of Lost Books : Stuart Kelly

… deliciously anecdotal & splendidly erudite …

book review lost books

Deliciously anecdotal and splendidly erudite, Stuart Kelly has written a crash course in the Canon via an Incomplete History of All the Great Books You’ll Never Read. From Greek plays praised in passing to the possibility of Sylvia Plath‘s second novel, from the celebrated Mystery of Edwin Drood to the fabulous Yongle Encyclopaedia ,Stuart’s charming and witty scholarship lets you muse upon what might have been. Perfect for bedtime reading.

I have no idea why I hadn’t heard of it before! Highly reccommended.

Stuart Kelly is the literary editor of Scotland on Sunday and a freelance critic and writer.

The Book of Lost Books (New Expanded Edition) by Stuart Kelly was published by Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn Ltd in 2010.

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