About Me

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I lead workshops at the British Library, on literature, language, art, history, and the culture of the book; and teach the history of printing at other institutions. I research language usage during the First World War, and lead the Languages and the First World War project. Author of Discovering Words, Discovering Words in the Kitchen, Evolving English Explored, Team Talk - sporting words & their origins, Trench Talk - the Language of the First World War (with Peter Doyle); How to Cure the Plague; The Finishing Touch; and Words and the First World War. As an artist I work in performance, public engagement, and intervention using drawing, curating, text, changing things and embroidery.


Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Agricultural and horticultural advice from 1716

Having just acquired a lovely copy of Mortimer's The Whole Art of Husbandry: or, The Way of Managing and Improving of Land (1716) I am able to pass on the following:

Observations on December:

The Earth is now commonly locked up under its frozen Coat, that the Husbandman hath leisure to sit and spend what store he hath before-hand provided.

We are aiming to  make apple-crumble this evening, made with apples grown at the allotment, from an excellent tree purchased at Woolworth's, of happy memory, which bears Lamberts, Russets and remarkably tasty Golden Delicious; the Lamberts are the best. Also we have a variety called The Tree of Knowledge, prepared for the British Library exhibition The Writer in the Garden, in 2004.

In 1716 the apples 'in prime, or yet lasting' included:

Russeting Pippin, Leather-coat, Winter red Chestnut Apple, Great-Belly, the Go-no farther, or Cats-head, with some of the precedent month.

These last included:

The Belle Bonne, the William, Summer Pearmain, Lording Apple, Pear Apple, Cardinal, Winter Chestnut; Short Start, &c.

Important advice for your conservatory (NB 'charcoal' as a plural noun):