I’ve enjoyed following historian Bob Nicholson on Twitter, @DigiVictorian.
He often posts examples of interesting things he finds in old newspapers, which as longtime readers know is also an interest of mine.
These two particular examples are even on similar themes to my own areas of fascination, that is, modernity and beards:
Late-Victorian observers were fascinated by the electrifying speed of modern American civilisation, and simulateoisly both wary and excited by its cultural implications. This article from Tit-Bits (1883) captures it perfectly. Wish I’d found this during my PhD… pic.twitter.com/e2ijGTWdS1
— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) April 8, 2019
Transform yourself from a ‘city-waiter’ into an ‘old Indian major’ by completely inverting your hirsute adornments!
– Answers magazine (1890) /6 pic.twitter.com/RPqJB3MkKU
— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) April 7, 2019
A full, bushy thread on beards begins here.
A bit ago, he went viral with his diatribe against inaccurate Victorian-era newspapers in film & television:
I’ve just watched the trailer for the new Dickens movie. I’m not usually bothered by inaccuracies in historical dramas, but I’d like to politely request that film makers STOP PUTTING MASSIVE HEADLINES ON VICTORIAN NEWSPAPERS. pic.twitter.com/GdOFi9u6G6
— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) November 25, 2017
You can read the whole (constantly-being-added-to) thread beginning here.
He’s also working on a survey of Victorian jokes and humor in particular. In this article he describes the prevalence of Victorian puns and groaners:
It turns out the Victorians joked about much the same topics as we do: cutthroat lawyers, quack doctors, mothers-in-law, foreigners (particularly the French), celebrities, political news, romantic misadventures, family squabbles, fashion faux pas, cheeky children, and other amusing situations drawn from everyday life. For a historian like me, these gags offer valuable insights into the inner workings of Victorian society. Laughter, after all, is a powerful thing – as anybody who’s ever been the butt of a cruel joke can attest. […]
Entire books of puns were also published, including Puniana (1867) and More Puniana (1875), which contained hundreds of pages of exquisitely tortured wordplay. Consider this appropriately festive example:
If you were to kill a conversational goose, what vegetable would she allude to?
Or this bizarre bit of wit:
When do we possess a vegetable time-piece?
When we get-a-potato-clock (get up at 8 o’clock).
Jokes and puns in particular he regulalry posts to the Twitter account @VictorianHumour.
I’ve found loads of Victorian jokes in which angry customers return defective parrots to a pet shop – that famous Monty Python sketch was built on a long-established comic trope!
– Answers (1890) pic.twitter.com/DEY55ALjIC
— Victorian Humour (@VictorianHumour) April 11, 2019
And here are some other good threads to read!
In 1888, Answers magazine ran a competition inviting readers to predict what life would be like in Britain 'a hundred years hence.' Strap in and get ready to learn how the Victorians imagined the 1980s!
Thread 👇👇👇: pic.twitter.com/hY6Vw2MLHN
— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) December 27, 2018
In 1889, Tit-Bits magazine offered prizes to single, female readers who sent in the best answers to the question: ‘Why Am I A Spinster?’ Here are some highlights… pic.twitter.com/7gRG0kVbUO
— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) February 17, 2018
It’s all good stuff, and he’s doing the Lord’s work out there.