20th century

Jan 272017

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, when we remember one of the darkest moments in humanity’s history.

Take a moment to say a prayer for the victims of hatred and intolerance, then take the hand of your neighbour, look him in the eye, and say: “Never again.”

Remember; you are your brother’s keeper. Don’t shirk that responsibility.

Dec 292016

Click image to be taken to the film

Viking Cronholm was born in 1874 in Sweden into a typical late 19th century bourgeois family. Interested in sports and generally curious, he nevertheless choose the road less travelled. After a few years at sea, he trained as a physiotherapist, and in 1904 he relocated to South Africa. He was no stranger to martial arts; among other things he had boxed during his period in Chicago in the 1890s. However, in South Africa (of all places) he discovered jujitsu and apparently never looked back.

In 1907, he returned to Sweden and started teaching jujitsu in Stockholm. He became a popular instructor and his book Jiu-Jiutsu Tricks which was published in 1908 has been printed in numerous editions. Above you can see a clip from 1919 where he demonstrates some moves on an unfortunate young man. Kudos, I must say, for looking quite the gentleman while doing it!

Sep 242016

Vintage make-over from the days when it was considered de rigeur with a patronising male voice-over who explains that no, you are not worth loving as you are. Rather, ladies, think of beauty as the tax you must pay for occupying a space labelled female.

Ah, the good old days, eh?

Sep 232016
Source: Stockholm City Museum Year: 1925-26 Object ID: F83205 License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 SE

Source: Stockholm City Museum Year: 1925-26 Object ID: F83205 License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 SE

During the early 20th century housing was a scarce resource in many European cities, and many families lacked adequate living quarters. Many of the social problems experienced in connection with the rapid urbanisation process were also blamed on poor housing. One way to remedy that was to construct temporary living quarters as a sort of emergency measure.

This image shows a temporary arrangement in the gymnasium in the Central Police Building in Stockholm, 1925-1926. It makes you acutely aware of how living standards have risen in Western Europe in the past century, doesn’t it?

Sep 142016


Growing up, I loved Edith Nesbit’s books because they were simply bursting with imagination and magic. Most of all, and not very surprising for a budding history nerd, I loved the time-travelling in House of Arden and Harding’s Luck. Today, Nesbit is perhaps not that well-remembered, but she had huge impact on the development on children’s literature and future writers such as C.S Lewis, P.L. Travers, Diana Wynne Jones and, indeed, J.K. Rowling. This quote is from New Treasure Seekers which is part of a series of four books about the Bastable children and their adventures to help their family, fallen on hard times.

Incidentally, Nesbit herself is also an interesting figure. Not just an author of children’s books, she was also a political political activist who co-founded the Fabian Society, a socialist organisation later affiliated to the Labour Party. Her personal life with Hubert Bland, whom Wikipedia defines as “an infamous libertine, a journalist, an early English socialist, and one of the founders of the Fabian Society” was stormy and not at all what you’d perhaps expect from a children’s author. Among other things, he had several children by Nesbit’s friend and housekeeper Alice Hoatson, which were adopted by the Blands. It’s pretty obvious that she’s one of the real life characters A.S. Byatt drew on for The Children’s Book (2009).

None of that made its way into her books, however, except perhaps indirectly, like in this quote, which I simply adore. Don’t worry about being ladylike, girls. Be a free and happy bounder!

Aug 042016

Meanwhile, at the front, the sea is stiff with naked Tommies.

It has been baking hot these days & I just sit & ache to go & have a bathe. But the ocean is so stiff with Tommies, ‘naked as worms’, that there is not means alas.

Dorothie Feilding, 4 August, 1916


Patients from No. 14 Convalescent Depot at Trouville bathing in the sea, 16 August 1918.© IWM (Q 11193)


General William Birdwood, the Commander of the the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), swimming at Anzac Cove, 1915 © IWM (Q 13420)


Men bathing, south of ‘X’ Beach, Helles Front, 1916. On the cliff top are the tents of No. 87 Field Ambulance, 29th Division.© IWM (Q 13283)


Patients from No. 14 Convalescent Depot at Trouville bathing in the sea, 16 August 1918  © IWM (Q 11194)

May 182016

Here’s a couple (called Oscar and Anna Tropp if the info supplied by the National Film Archive is correct) demonstrating some of the hippest new dance floor moves, including tango, foxtrot, one-step, and, I have been told, maxixe. I have it on good authority that it’s unusual to find this extensive footage of dancing from the period so this was rather a nice find.

(click on the image below to be taken to the National Film Archive to see the clip).


Mar 242016
Beach life at Mölle, 1911

Beach life at Mölle, 1911 (click image to be taken to the Swedish National Film Archive in order to see the entire film)

In 1911, this film was shot at Mölle, an early seaside resort, in Sweden. It shows people of all ages frolicking together in the waves, clearly enjoying themselves immensely. It’s a rare look at Edwardian swimming costumes in action, and it’s interesting to see that men and women are clearly bathing together, completely unashamedly. On the other hand, you can also note that when this film was shown in the cinemas in Sweden, it had been censored in parts and was rated R…

Therefore, only click the image (in order be taken to the Swedish National Film Archive and see the entire film clip) if you are sure that you are of an age and mental maturity to be able to handle Edwardians in saggy woollen bathing suits!

Mar 202016
Young Victoria, starring Emily blunt and Rupert Friend

Young Victoria (2009), starring Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend

I tried to put together a list of films set in the years between 1815 and World War I. It’s not exhaustive, and I’m not saying they’re all good (or even that I saw them all) but it’s a start for getting your Victorian and Edwardian fix, anyway.

A Christmas Carol  (1999)
A Dangerous Method (2011)
A Little Princess  (1995)
A Midsummer’s Night Dream  (1999)
A Room with a View  (1985)
Adèle and the Secret of the Mummy (2010)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984)
Affinity (2008)
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Amistad (1997)
An Ideal Husband (1999)
Andersonville (1996)
Anna and the King (1999)
Anna Karenina (1997)
Anna Karenina (2012)
Anne of Green Gables 
As You Like It  (2006)
Augustine (2012)
Berkley Square  (1998)
Bleak House (2005)
Bramwell, 1995
The Buccaneers (1995)
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)
Cold Mountain (2003)
The Conspirator (2010)
Cousin Bette (1998)
Cranford (2007)
Crimson Peak (2015)
The Crimson Petal and the White (2011)
Daniel Deronda (2002)
David Copperfield (1999)
Desperate Romantics (2009)
Dorian Gray (2009)
Downton Abbey (2010)
Dracula (1992)
Elvira Madigan (1967)
Enslavement: The True Story of Fanny Kemble (2000)
Ethan Frome (1993)
Far from the Madding Crowd (1998)
Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)
Finding Neverland (2004)
Fingersmith (2005)
The Forsyte Saga (2002)
The Four Feathers (2002)
The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981)
From Hell (2001)
Gangs of New York (2002)
Gettysburg (1993)
The Glass Virgin (1995)
The Governess (1998)
Glory (1989)
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Great Expectations (2012)
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)
Hamlet (1996)
Hans Christian Anderson: My Life as Fairy Tale (2001)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1999)
Howard’s End (1992)
Hysteria (2011)
The Illusionist (2006)
The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)
The Impressionists (2006)
Jane Eyre (2011)
Jane Eyre (2006)
The Jungle Book (1994)
The Last Samurai (2003)
The Legend of Zorro (2005)
Les Misérables (2012)
Lagaan: Once upon a Time in India (2001)
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1982, 2001)
Life in Squares (2015)
Lillie (1978)
Lincoln (2012)
Little Dorrit (2008)
Little Lord Fauntleroy (1995)
Little Women (1994)
Madame Bovary (2000)
Madame Bovary (2014)
The Man Who Would be King (1975)
The Mayor of Casterbridge (2003)
The Mill on the Floss (1997)
The Miracle Worker (2000)
Miss Friman’s War (2013)
The Missing (2003)
The Moonstone (1997)
Mr Selfridge (2013)
Mrs Brown (1997)
The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1986)
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012)
Martin Chuzzlewit (1994)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World 
Maurice (1987)
Middlemarch (1994)
Millie (1997)
Miss Julie (1999)
Miss Potter (2006)
Moby Dick (1998)
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (1999)
Moulin Rouge (2001)
Mountains of the Moon (1990)
Mrs. Brown (1997)
Ned Kelly (2004)
Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
North and South (2004)
The Old Curiosity Shop (2007)
Oliver Twist (2007)
Onegin (1999)
Original Sin (2001)
Our Mutual Friend (1998)
Peter Pan (2003)
The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
The Piano (1993)
The Portrait of a Lady (1996)
Possession (2002)
Queen of the Desert (2015)
The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1987)
The Ripper (1997)
Ripper Street (2012)
The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey (2005)
The Prestige (2006)
The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
The Secret Garden (1993)
The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton (2006)
The Shooting Party (1985)
The Sign of Four (2001)
Silk (2007)
Sommersby (1993)
The Song of the Lark (2000)
Suffragette (2015)
Tess of the D’Urbevilles (2008)
The Tempest (1998))
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1996)
The Time Machine (2002
Tipping the Velvet (2002)
Titanic (1997)
Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn (2013)
Topsy Turvy (1999)
True Grit (2010)
True Women (1997)
The Turn of the Screw (2009)
Twelfth Night (1996)
Under the Greenwood Tree (2005)
Up the Women (2013)
Upstairs, Downstairs (1971)
Victor Frankenstein (2015)
Victoria and Albert (2001)
The Way We Live Now (2001)
Where Angels Fear to Tread (1991)
Wilde (1997)
The Wings of the Dove (1997)
The Winslow Boy (1999)
Wives and Daughters (1999)
The Woman in White (1997)
Wuthering Heights (2011)
The Wyvern Mystery (2000)
Yentl (1983)
Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
The Young Victoria (2009)