Englishness

A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring. -- Alexander Pope

455 notes

houghtonlib:

Badger, C. M., Mrs. Wild flowers drawn and colored from nature, 1859.

EDR 467

Houghton Library, Harvard University

A book from the family home of Emily Dickinson in Amherst, MA.

244 notes

medievalpoc:

Wlliam Hogarth

Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn

England (1738)

Etching/Engaving, 16 3/4 x 21 1/4 in.

By the middle of the 18th century there were between 10-15,000 black people living in London. The development of the slave trade from the mid 17th century brought many more African people to the UK. However not all black people at this time were slaves.

Hogarth’s prints of life in London feature black performers in pageants as well as black actresses and dressers. The picture ‘Strolling Actresses in a Barn’ shows a group of touring actresses in various states of undress as they prepare for that evening’s performance of ‘The Devil to Pay’ at the George Inn in South London.

Men at this time could pay to peek at the actresses changing. The figure in the centre of the image looking out at the viewer appears to be performing for us, and casts us as one of these Peeping Toms.

The print also shows the presence of black people in
London at the time: to the right a black woman is darning the stockings of an actress; and on the left, a black actress dressed as Aurora (the goddess of dawn) picks lice off the collar of a kneeling colleague whose costume has a mermaid’s tail.

The engraving shows a seedy, disordered side to a play filled with magic and goddesses, but also illustrates the normality of a black presence in English working class communities.

-Black Performance in Britain Before 1800 (V&A Museum)

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