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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Saturday 19 November 2011 at 15:58



A silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It is one of the most influential of German Expressionist films and is often considered one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era – notable for having introduced the ‘twist ending’ in cinema and for its weird and distorted set design. Our hero Francis grapples with the deranged Dr.Caligari in a world which is not quite all that it seems…

Download from Internet Archive

Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Annie Oakley Fires Her Gun (1894) 20secs

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) 13min

For The Term of His Natural Life (1927) 1hr33min

The Last Man on Earth (1964) 1hr27min

Operation Cue (1955) 52sec

Never Weaken (1921) 28min

Intolerance (1916) 2hr57min

Quicksand (1950) 1hr18min

Dutch Fashion Reel (1969) 1min50sec

Betty Boop: Minnie The Moocher (1932) 7min46sec

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) 1hr46min

Suddenly (1954) 1hr16mins


Buffalo Dance (1894) 14sec

The Cook (1918) 18min

The Thief of Bagdad (1924) 2hr20min

Five Minutes to Live (1961) 1hr14min

VD is for Everybody (1969) 1min

American Day in Tripoli, Libya (1962) 14min

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) 1hr11min

Cyrano De Bergerac (1950) 1hr53min

The Enchanted Drawing (1900) 1min29sec

Your Name Here (1960) 10min10sec

Stella Maris (1918) 1hr13min

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) 1hr40min

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/19/the-cabinet-of-dr-caligari-1920/


Kitab al-Bulhan or Book of Wonders (late 14thC.)

Thursday 17 November 2011 at 11:43

The Kitab al-Bulhan, or Book of Wonders, is an Arabic manuscript dating mainly from the late 14th century A.D. and probably bound together in Baghdad during the reign of Jalayirid Sultan Ahmad (1382-1410). The manuscript is made up of astrological, astronomical and geomantic texts compiled by Abd al-Hasan Al-Isfahani, as well as a dedicated section of full-page illustrations, with each plate titled with “A discourse on….”, followed by the subject of the discourse (a folktale, a sign of the zodiac, a prophet, etc.).

(Higher resolution images can be found at Wikimedia Commons)



















Operation Doorstep

The Spirit Photographs of William Hope

The Maps of Piri Reis

Dr Julius Neubronner's Miniature Pigeon Camera

Art in Art

Huexotzinco Codex


Sessions for the Blind at Sunderland Museum

Eugène von Guérard's Australian Landscapes

Landscape and Marine Views of Norway

The Mechanism of Human Physiognomy

Space Colony Art from the 1970s

Men in Wigs


De humana physiognomonia libri IIII (1586)

Field Columbian Museum

Maps from Geographicus

Arnoldus Montanus' New and Unknown World (1671)

World War II from the Air

Halloween Postcards

Engravings by Dominicus Custos

Kodak No.1 Circular Snapshots

Kitab al-Bulhan or Book of Wonders (late 14thC.)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/17/kitab-al-bulhan-or-book-of-wonders-late-14thc/


The Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi

Monday 14 November 2011 at 20:31

Andrew McConnell Stott, author of The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi, introduces the life and memoirs of the most famous and celebrated of English clowns.

Few biographers have proved so reluctant, but when the raw materials that would become The Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi reached Charles Dickens’ desk in the autumn of 1837, he was far from impressed. “I have thought the matter over, and looked it over, too,” he told his publisher, Richard Bentley, “it is very badly done, and so redolent of twaddle that I fear I cannot take it up on any conditions.”

What he saw had begun life as a sprawling manuscript of some 400 “childlike and simple” pages written by the pantomime clown, Joseph Grimaldi, in the course of his long retirement from the stage. When a publisher proved hard to find, Grimaldi contracted with a theatrical journalist, Thomas Egerton Wilks to help him revise the entire manuscript, but died before it was completed. Wilks sold the unfinished project on to Bentley, who considered Dickens perfect for the job – not only had he idolized Grimaldi as a child, fondly recalling trips to Covent Garden “to behold the splendour of Christmas Pantomimes and the humour of Joe,” but his own Sketches By Boz (1836) had been widely commended for displaying “the spirit of Grimaldi.”

Having finally relented, Dickens saw it off in a matter of weeks, subjecting it to “a double and most comprehensive process of abridgement,” resetting the narrative from the first person to the third, and not even bothering to write it down, preferring to dictate it to his father, who could be found “in exulted enjoyment of the office of amanuensis.”

Despite all its evident haste, The Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi remains unmistakably “Dickensian,” recalling passages from Nicholas Nickleby, Hard Times and others. Without doubt, his most important decision was to place the biographical details of Grimaldi’s life within a strict economy of pleasure and pain that draws stark contrasts between the tinsel of the stage and the shabby reality of his many hardships. Laughter and misery becomes the balance-beam on which Grimaldi’s existence is constantly weighed as every career triumph is paid for with a proportionate personal agony, and every moment of joy countered by grief.

Illustration of Grimaldi from his Memoirs

In presenting Grimaldi’s life in this way, Dickens was cementing much of what was popularly perceived during Grimaldi’s own lifetime. Born into a theatrical family in 1778, “Joe” was a superstar of Regency theatre who rose to national prominence in 1806 playing Clown in the pantomime of Harlequin and Mother Goose; or, the Golden Egg. His unique comic gifts had been honed since making his first appearance onstage at the age of two, tutored by his father, Giuseppe, a cruel and eccentric dancing master known throughout London’s close-knit theatrical community as the “Signor.” The Signor had fathered several children by different women – most of them young dancers indentured as his apprentices – but as his first boy, it was Joe on whom his future hopes were settled. The Signor’s methods of instruction were gruelling, as were the regular beatings and medieval punishments he inflicted on those that failed to meet his expectations, which included locking children into stocks, or throwing them into a cage and hoisting it into the flytower to leave them dangling precariously over the stage. Home life was little better, as the Signor was horribly morbid, living in perpetual fear of death, and especially of being buried alive. When he finally died in 1788, his will directed that his eldest daughter cut his head from his corpse just to be certain.

The Signor’s passing was a liberation, yet at age nine, Joe was suddenly the family’s principal breadwinner, and he spent the remainder of his childhood running between performances at Sadler’s Wells and Drury Lane theatres and appearing as a supernumerary in various pageants, spectacles, and crowd scenes, only graduating to pantomimes in his twenties. Regency pantomimes were markedly different from the entertainments that we know today, and were comprised of an opening that was usually based on a fairy tale, and a second, much longer performance, called the “harlequinade.” The openings usually involved a pair of star-crossed lovers forbidden to marry by a tyrannical parent, miming the action in their “big heads” – huge, caricatured papier mache masks – until they were magically transformed into the lead characters of the harlequinade, four figures instantly recognizable to every man woman and child in Regency Britain – the mercurial, acrobatic Harlequin; his gauzy, dove-like lover Columbine; and their enemies the elderly “libidinous, miserly Dotard,” Pantaloon, and his titular manservant, the “incorrigible emblem of gross sensuality,” Clown. What followed was a series of frenetic scenes in which Harlequin and Columbine were pursued through a series of lavish sets that could be magically transformed with a whack from Harlequin’s magic bat, which, primed with a pinch of gunpowder, was the original “slapstick.” The humour was crude and physical, but with its emphasis on transformation and the unexpected, it was the perfect entertainment for the age of revolutions.

A young Joseph Grimaldi, dressed as a monkey, getting propelled into the audience when the rope his father was swinging him round by snapped - illustration by George Cruikshank from the Memoirs.

Aside from his comic talents and fine singing voice, Grimaldi was an innovator, widely acknowledged as the father of modern “slap and motley.” It was Grimaldi who overhauled the Clown’s appearance from the rustic booby that had remained more-or-less unaltered since the sixteenth century, to the heavily made-up and colourfully-attired clowns that we are familiar with today. The new make-up left not a centimetre of skin exposed – not even in the nostrils or inside of the lips – and, as such, it implied a much stricter division between the man and the mask, an impenetrability that acted as a kind of invitation to speculate about what they might have concealed. Was there, perhaps, a division in Grimaldi himself? Rumours to this effect arose during the initial success of Mother Goose: the King of Clowns, it was reported, was subject to debilitating bouts of offstage depression, reports he himself chose to confirm with a punning quip, “I am GRIM ALL DAY, but I make you laugh at night.” A series of anecdotes followed that prefigured Dickens’ biographical portrait in black-and-white, the most famous of which dates from the 1820s and involves a visit to the surgeon, John Abertheny. Grimaldi, hoping to find a cure for his depression, asks Abertheny for advice, and unaware of his client’s identity, the surgeon prescribes the diversions of “relaxation and amusement”:

“But where shall I find what you require?” said the patient. “In genial companionship,” was the reply; “perhaps sometimes at the theatre; – go and see Grimaldi.” “Alas!” replied the patient, “that is of no avail to me; I am Grimaldi.”

Grimaldi pursued by his adoring fans after he had to run through streets on the way to a show before jumping into a coach - illustration by Cruikshank from the Memoirs

Clowning also made extraordinary physical demands, and as early as 1813, The Times was already expressing misgivings about the sustainability of his performances: “It is absolutely surprising,” it wrote, “that any human head or hide can resist the rough trials which he volunteers. Serious tumbles from serious heights, innumerable kicks, and incessant beatings, come on him as matters of common occurrence, and leave him every night fresh and free for the next night’s flagellation.” Sure enough, Joe’s health worsened with each passing season until reaching a point where he had to be carried to his dressing room and revived after each performance. Laughter demands an exorbitant prince. “Poor Joe!” wrote the author William Robson, “it was like the boys and frogs; it was sport to us, but death to you.” Grimaldi was 45 when he gave his last regular performance. This was young – his father had continued well into his seventies – but by 1823, he was suffering so badly from arthritis and various digestive complaints that it was impossible to continue. He would reappear two years later at a pair of gala performances to celebrate his career, but made his contributions seated in a chair. With the retirement of its greatest exponent, pantomime quickly entered a period of decline, as the slapstick antics of the harlequinade were replaced with bloated stage effects and meaningless scenery. As Grimaldi approached the end of his life, his battered old body became a symbol for the exhaustion of Regency popular culture, and by extension, the lost youth of Dickens’ generation. Dickens had already conveyed as much in “The Stroller’s Tale,” one of the first instalments of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1835). Here, “Dismal Jemmy,” himself a down-at-heel actor, recalls the time he comes across a fellow performer, a “enfeebled by dissipation and emaciated by disease.” It is night and the theatre is dark. “I was dressed to leave the house,” Jemmy recalls,

and was crossing the stage on my way out, when he tapped me on the shoulder. Never shall I forget the repulsive sight that met my eye when I turned round. He was dressed for the pantomime, in all the absurdity a clown’s costume. The spectral figures in the Dance of Death, the most frightful shapes that the ablest painter ever portrayed on canvas, never presented an appearance half so ghastly. His bloated body and shrunken legs – their deformity enhanced a hundred fold by the fantastic dress – the glassy eyes, contrasting fearfully with the thick white paint with which the face was besmeared: the grotesquely-ornamented head, trembling with paralysis, and the long skinny hands, rubbed with white chalk – all gave him a hideous and unnatural appearance of which no description could convey an adequate idea, and which, to this day, I shudder to think of.

Grimaldi delivering his 'last song' at his final performance in 1828, at this stage of his life too weak to stand and so remaining sitting throughout - illustration by Cruikshank from the Memoirs.



Andrew McConnell Stott is the author of The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi: Laughter, Madness and the Story of Britain’s Greatest Comedian which won the George Freedley Award, the Royal Society of Literature/Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction, the Sheridan Morley Award for Theatre Biography, and was named by the Guardian as one of its books of the year for 2010. He is Professor of English at the University of Buffalo, SUNY, and can be visited online at www.andrewmcconnellstott.com.


Links to Works


Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/14/the-memoirs-of-joseph-grimaldi/


The Eccentric Mirror: Reflecting a Faithful and Interesting Delineation of Male and Female Characters, Ancient and Modern (1807)

Saturday 12 November 2011 at 22:07


The Eccentric Mirror: Reflecting a Faithful and Interesting Delineation of Male and Female Characters, Ancient and Modern, Collected and re-collected, from the most authentic sources, by G.H. Wilson; 1807; J. Cundee, London

Reports on a marvellous menagerie of weird and wonderful characters from the past and Georgian-present, including Daniel Lambert, a gaol keeper and animal breeder from Leicester, famous for his unusually large size, more than 50 stone, and the Polish-born 3-foot 3-inch Józef Boruwłaski who toured in European and Turkish courts, (and who incidentally met Mr Lambert amid much public interest in 1782).

Open Library link



Letters From a Cat (1879)

Castaway on the Auckland Isles: A Narrative of the Wreck of the "Grafton," (1865)


Infant's Cabinet of Birds and Beasts (1820)

Old French Fairytales (1920)

Armata: a fragment (1817)

An Account of the Late Improvements in Galvanism (1803)

The Medical Aspects of Death, and the Medical Aspects of the Human Mind (1852)

Quarles' Emblems (1886)

Cat and bird stories from the "Spectator" (1896)

Wonderful Balloon Ascents (1870)

The Book of Topiary (1904)

The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (1899)

English as She is Spoke (1884)

The Danger of Premature Interment (1816)

The Last American (1889)

Pirates (1922)

Napoleon's Oraculum (1839)

Horse Laughs (1891)

Hydriotaphia/Urn-Burial and The Garden of Cyrus (1658)

Across the Zodiac: the Story of a Wrecked Record (1880)

Superstitions About Animals (1904)

The Diary of a Nobody (1919 edition)

The Attitudes of Animals in Motion, Illustrated with the Zoopraxiscope (1882)

The Eccentric Mirror: Reflecting a Faithful and Interesting Delineation of Male and Female Characters, Ancient and Modern (1807)

Uriah Jewett and the Sea Serpent of Lake Memphemagog (1917)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/12/the-eccentric-mirror-reflecting-a-faithful-and-interesting-delineation-of-male-and-female-characters-ancient-and-modern-1807/


Kodak No.1 Circular Snapshots

Thursday 10 November 2011 at 14:18

Popular photography can properly be said to have started 120 years ago with the introduction of the Kodak camera, the invention of an American, George Eastman (1854-1932). It was a simple, leather-covered wooden box – small and light enough to be held in the hands. Taking a photograph with the Kodak was very easy, requiring only three simple actions; turning the key (to wind on the film); pulling the string (to set the shutter); and pressing the button (to take the photograph). There wasn’t even a viewfinder – the camera was simply pointed in the direction of the subject to be photographed. The Kodak produced circular snapshots, two and a half inches in diameter. The Kodak was sold already loaded with enough paper-based roll film to take one hundred photographs. After the film had been exposed, the entire camera was returned to the factory for the film to be developed and printed. The camera, reloaded with fresh film, was then returned to its owner, together with a set of prints. To sum up the Kodak system, Eastman devised the brilliantly simple sales slogan: ‘You press the button, we do the rest.’

(Images and text courtesy of The National Media Museum via Flickr)

















Operation Doorstep

The Spirit Photographs of William Hope

The Maps of Piri Reis

Dr Julius Neubronner's Miniature Pigeon Camera

Art in Art

Huexotzinco Codex


Sessions for the Blind at Sunderland Museum

Eugène von Guérard's Australian Landscapes

Landscape and Marine Views of Norway

The Mechanism of Human Physiognomy

Space Colony Art from the 1970s

Men in Wigs


De humana physiognomonia libri IIII (1586)

Field Columbian Museum

Maps from Geographicus

Arnoldus Montanus' New and Unknown World (1671)

World War II from the Air

Halloween Postcards

Engravings by Dominicus Custos

Kodak No.1 Circular Snapshots

Kitab al-Bulhan or Book of Wonders (late 14thC.)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/10/kodak-no-1-circular-snapshots/


Your Name Here (1960)

Tuesday 8 November 2011 at 10:10



Bizarre film from Calvin Communications, in which they satirise their own formulaic approach to industrial promotional films, showing how the idea of the “American Dream” is utilised to sell products. A real insight into the humour and tongue-in-cheek attitude lying behind a lot of the industrial films of the 50s and 60s.

Download from Internet Archive

Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Annie Oakley Fires Her Gun (1894) 20secs

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) 13min

For The Term of His Natural Life (1927) 1hr33min

The Last Man on Earth (1964) 1hr27min

Operation Cue (1955) 52sec

Never Weaken (1921) 28min

Intolerance (1916) 2hr57min

Quicksand (1950) 1hr18min

Dutch Fashion Reel (1969) 1min50sec

Betty Boop: Minnie The Moocher (1932) 7min46sec

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) 1hr46min

Suddenly (1954) 1hr16mins


Buffalo Dance (1894) 14sec

The Cook (1918) 18min

The Thief of Bagdad (1924) 2hr20min

Five Minutes to Live (1961) 1hr14min

VD is for Everybody (1969) 1min

American Day in Tripoli, Libya (1962) 14min

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) 1hr11min

Cyrano De Bergerac (1950) 1hr53min

The Enchanted Drawing (1900) 1min29sec

Your Name Here (1960) 10min10sec

.

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/08/your-name-here-1960/


Peter The Wild Boy

Monday 7 November 2011 at 16:15

Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces and author of Courtiers: The Secret History of the Georgian Court, on the strange case of the feral child found in the woods in northern Germany and brought to live in the court of George I.

Illustration from The Eccentric Mirror (1807) by G.H. Wilson

On the evening of 7 April 1726, George I’s courtiers crammed themselves into the drawing room at St James’s Palace. The room buzzed with their trivial chatter about balls and masquerades, everything seemed just as usual.

But a sensational event would make this particular palace party the most memorable in years. The doors opened to reveal a brace of footmen, bearing between them a grinning, bushy-haired boy. He was perhaps twelve years old.

There was something decidedly odd about this youth. For a start, he seemed not the least ‘embarrassed at finding himself in the midst of such a fashionable assembly’. Once lowered to the floor, he scuttled about using his arms, like a chimp, and scampered right up to the king. The courtiers were scandalised by his audacious lack of ceremony.

This was their first encounter with Peter, the curious ‘Wild Boy’. Green-eyed, with strong teeth, he had ‘a roving look’ in his eyes. He often giggled, and lacked the solemn and stately demeanour of the other courtiers. Strangest of all, he could not speak.

Everyone shared his delight when he heard a watch striking the hour for the first time, and Peter’s comical ways provided much amusement. But he also sparked off engrossing philosophical debates. His very existence raised the fascinating question of what it really meant to be human.

Peter’s unlikely journey to court began in the German forest of Hertswold. In 1725, local forest folk had come across a feral child, ‘naked and wild’. He’d been living all alone in the woods, eating nuts and acorns.

There was a general assumption that the Wild Boy was ‘rescued’ from the wilderness, but the more detailed accounts of his capture reveal that he was actually hunted down. He took refuge up a tree, which had to be felled before he could be caught. His captors didn’t know quite what to do with him, so they thrust him into the local ‘House of Correction’.

But news of Peter and his bizarre, speechless condition reached the nearby palace of Herrenhausen, the summer home of the German-born George I. The king ordered Peter to be brought from the prison to the palace, made him a member of his household, and took him back to London.

Peter the Wild Boy and Dr Arbuthnot painted by William Kent, at Kensington Palace - courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces (NB: not published under an open license).

Now the Wild Boy became a kind of court pet. Soon after his arrival, he was taken to Kensington Palace to sit for William Kent, the painter who was decorating the King’s Grand Staircase there with portraits of the king’s favourite servants. Peter’s painting still remains there today.

The courtiers were entranced by Peter, and a mania for the Wild Boy took off outside the palace gates as well. Londoners crowded to see the waxwork of Peter which appeared in Mrs Salmon’s celebrated gallery in the Strand. Writers hailed him as ‘the most wonderful wonder’, and ‘one of the greatest curiosities of the world since the time of Adam’.

Throughout the centuries, feral children like Peter have aroused feelings of mingled pity and fear. More seriously, Peter fascinated the intellectuals then exploring the questions raised by the Enlightenment. Philosophers were beginning to assert the primacy of reason over superstition. They even debated the very definition of a human being, and whether or not people had souls. Peter proved to be a stimulating test case. If he possessed no speech, did he therefore possess no soul? Was he really just an animal? Or was he an admirable and ‘noble savage’, who’d lived a life untainted by society? Jonathan Swift remarked that the subject of the Wild Boy had been ‘half our talk this fortnight’, and Daniel Defoe thought he was the most interesting thing in the world.

Illustration from Curiosities of Human Nature (1843) by Samuel G. Goodrich.

The Wild Boy became wonderful fodder for the city’s satirists. The few accurate facts about his life were soon forgotten or distorted in a deluge of pamphlets now printed about him. Ostensibly about Peter himself, their writers were really using him to mock the court, the courtiers, and even the whole silly race of men. The Wild Boy’s lack of worldly knowledge exposed the shallow foundations upon which fashionable society was built. London’s satirists invented more and more ludicrous transgressions that Peter was said to have committed: he licked people’s hands in greeting; he wore a hat in the king’s presence; he’d stolen the Lord Chamberlain’s staff.

Daniel Defoe joined in with his own wild cadenza of speculation. It would be a terrible indictment of the present age, Defoe argued, if the Wild Boy had actively chosen his previous way of life, to ‘converse with the quadrupeds of the forest, and retire from human society’. He was really suggesting that Peter was in fact the only truly sensible person alive.

Back at the palace, the Wild Boy soon began to show signs of distress. The first time he saw someone removing stockings, he was ‘in great pain’, thinking the man was peeling the very skin from his leg. The courtiers had enormous trouble in getting Peter into a new green suit. As well as the daily struggle over his clothes, Peter could not be made ‘to lie down on a bed, but sits and sleeps in a corner of the room’. These details of a little boy bewildered pierce the heart.

Illustration from Curiosities of Human Nature (1843) by Samuel G. Goodrich.

Peter’s tight court coat, cut much more restrictively than a modern jacket, prevented him from ‘crawling or scrambling about’, and he learned to walk. Eighteenth-century court garments were designed to make the wearer stand with shoulders lowered, chest puffed, and toes turned-out. They began to do their work upon the Wild Boy’s posture.

Eventually he grew used to his fine clothes. He also learned to pick pockets, from the most innocent of motives: ‘if he finds nuts or fruits, he is very glad of them’. This was charming and amusing. But when Peter stepped over the invisible line that defined acceptable behaviour, he was beaten on the legs with a ‘broad leather strap to keep him in awe’.

George I, exasperated by Peter’s wild ways, put him under the care of the medical doctor John Arbuthnot to be taught to speak ‘and made a sociable creature’. Dr Arbuthnot is another of the figures depicted in William Kent’s staircase paintings at Kensington Palace. He gave Peter daily lessons, but progress was slow as the Wild Boy had ‘a natural tendency to get away if not held by his coat’.

Peter did indeed learn to ‘utter after his tutor words of one syllable’. But he would never really engage with other people through language. Dr Arbuthnot had Peter baptised nevertheless, just in case he did have a soul.

Illustration from Wonderful Characters (1821) by Henry Wilson.

Even with the advantage of hindsight, it’s not exactly clear what Peter’s condition was. It is likely that he was autistic, and it’s been argued that he had Pitt-Hopkins syndrome. This condition would explain his learning difficulties and the remarkable Cupid’s-bow shape to his upper lip. Perhaps Peter was abandoned in the woods in the first place by a mother who considered him damaged or defective.

Eventually the courtiers grew bored with him, and Peter was sent to live in retirement on Broadway Farm near Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. There he lived a long and quiet life, remaining ‘exceedingly timid and gentle in his nature’, fond of gin, and of onions. He liked to watch a fire burn, and loved ‘to be out on a starry night’. In autumn he would still show ‘a strange fondness for stealing away into the woods’ to feed upon acorns.

Peter constantly visited by the curious, including the novelist Maria Edgeworth, who commented that in old age he looked just like a bust of Socrates. He was in some measure loved by the farming families who looked after him. After the sudden death of his last carer, Farmer Brill, Peter ‘refused food, pined away, and died in a few days’. It was 22 February 1785.

I have visited his grave in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Northchurch, near Berkhamsted, which is often laid with flowers by an unknown person. When I asked a member of the congregation if she knew who places the bouquets, I was moved by her answer.

‘We’ve no idea who leaves the flowers’, she said, ‘but it must be someone who thinks that Peter should be remembered’. And so he should be.

Peter's grave in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Northchurch, near Berkhamsted.



Lucy Worsley is Chief Curator at the charity Historic Royal Palaces, which opens the unoccupied royal palaces of London including The Tower of London, Hampton Court and Kensington Palace to 3.2 million visitors a year. Her book Courtiers: The Secret History of the Georgian Court was published by Faber and Faber in 2011. She has also presented a BBC television series on the topic of her new book If Walls Could Talk, An Intimate History of the Home (Walker Books, 2012). Please visit her website.


Links to Works


Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/07/peter-the-wild-boy/


The attitudes of animals in motion, illustrated with the zoopraxiscope (1882)

Friday 4 November 2011 at 11:37


The Attitudes of Animals in Motion, Illustrated with the Zoopraxiscope, by Eadweard Muybridge; 1882; W.M.Clowes and Sons, London.

Published lecture given by the pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge on March 13th 1882 at the Royal Institution in London in front of a sell out audience that included members of the Royal Family, notably the future King Edward VII. He displayed his photographs on screen and described his zoopraxiscope, a device for projecting motion pictures that pre-dated the flexible perforated film strip.



Open Library link



Letters From a Cat (1879)

Castaway on the Auckland Isles: A Narrative of the Wreck of the "Grafton," (1865)


Infant's Cabinet of Birds and Beasts (1820)

Old French Fairytales (1920)

Armata: a fragment (1817)

An Account of the Late Improvements in Galvanism (1803)

The Medical Aspects of Death, and the Medical Aspects of the Human Mind (1852)

Quarles' Emblems (1886)

Cat and bird stories from the "Spectator" (1896)

Wonderful Balloon Ascents (1870)

The Book of Topiary (1904)

The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (1899)

English as She is Spoke (1884)

The Danger of Premature Interment (1816)

The Last American (1889)

Pirates (1922)

Napoleon's Oraculum (1839)

Horse Laughs (1891)

Hydriotaphia/Urn-Burial and The Garden of Cyrus (1658)

Across the Zodiac: the Story of a Wrecked Record (1880)

Superstitions About Animals (1904)

The Diary of a Nobody (1919 edition)

The Attitudes of Animals in Motion, Illustrated with the Zoopraxiscope (1882)

The Eccentric Mirror: Reflecting a Faithful and Interesting Delineation of Male and Female Characters, Ancient and Modern (1807)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/04/the-attitudes-of-animals-in-motion-illustrated-with-the-zoopraxiscope-1882/


Apollo 11 Onboard Recordings (1969)

Wednesday 2 November 2011 at 13:30



From NASA: Apollo 11 Onboard Audio Highlights – These are not necessarily major milestones of the mission but are some of the more interesting and clearly recorded conversations the crew members had among themselves as the mission progressed.

(Use next track button to navigate between recordings).

Highlight clip 1
(mission time: 1:24-1:29, tape 11-03302)
As the crew members complete their first orbit of Earth after launch, they talk about the beauty of the planet below.

Highlight clip 2
(mission time: 003:03:48-003:04:00, tape 11-03348)
The crew members debate the color of the moon before, and after, they fire Columbia’s engines to enter lunar orbit.

Highlight clip 3
(mission time: 003:04:03-003:04:16, tape 11-03348)
After entering lunar orbit, the crew members are amazed at the lunar terrain as they fly 60 miles above the back side of the moon and await Earthrise and to resume communications with Mission Control.

Highlight clip 4
(mission time: 004:03:42-004:03:47, tape 11-03352)
As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin prepare to depart for the lunar surface in the lunar module Eagle, Mike Collins, in the command module Columbia, bids them farewell … and tells them to take it easy.

Highlight clip 5
(mission time: 005:04:21-005:04:33, tape 11-03330)
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin lift off from the moon to rejoin Mike Collins in lunar orbit.

These recordings are in the public domain because they were created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that “NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted”.

MP3 Download
Internet Archive Link



Beela Boola by the Electric City 4 (1920)

Hungarian Rag - Pietro Deiro (1913)

As a Porcupine Pines for its Pork - Billy Jones & Ernest Hare
(1925)

Popeye, the Sailor Man - Al Dollar & His Ten Cent Band with Billy Murray (1931)

Chopins Funeral March - The Edison Concert Band (1906)

Houdini on his Water Torture Cell (1914)

Lomax Collection Recording of English, Sample 8

Enrico Caruso - A Dream (1920)

La Paloma (1903)

Orson Welles Show (1941)

Tokyo Rose (1944)

Fats Waller and His Orchestra live at The Yacht Club (1938)

Very early recording of George Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue (1924)

Rudolph Valentino singing (1923)

Aiaihea - The Hawaiian Quintette (1913)

Antony's Address Over The Body of Caesar (1914)

Charlie and His Orchestra

Excerpt from Handel's Israel in Egypt (1888)

Gurdjieff's Harmonium Improvisations (1949)

General Pershing March - Imperial Marimba Band (1918)

Apollo 11 Onboard Recordings (1969)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/02/apollo-11-onboard-recordings/


Engravings by Dominicus Custos

Tuesday 1 November 2011 at 11:13

Dominicus Custos (1560 – 1612), was a Flemish artist, printer and copperplate engraver, who specialised in depicting notable figures of his time – producing books akin to a 16th century “Who’s Who”. The most famous of these was the “Atrium heroicum” which he made between 1602 and 1604; a collection of 171 engraved portraits of rulers, nobles, statesmen, dignitaries, celebrities, military leaders and important businessmen of the time. See more here.




















































Operation Doorstep

The Spirit Photographs of William Hope

The Maps of Piri Reis

Dr Julius Neubronner's Miniature Pigeon Camera

Art in Art

Huexotzinco Codex


Sessions for the Blind at Sunderland Museum

Eugène von Guérard's Australian Landscapes

Landscape and Marine Views of Norway

The Mechanism of Human Physiognomy

Space Colony Art from the 1970s

Men in Wigs


De humana physiognomonia libri IIII (1586)

Field Columbian Museum

Maps from Geographicus

Arnoldus Montanus' New and Unknown World (1671)

World War II from the Air

Halloween Postcards

Engravings by Dominicus Custos

Kodak No.1 Circular Snapshots

Kitab al-Bulhan or Book of Wonders (late 14thC.)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/01/engravings-by-dominicus-custos/