Plague, or Yersinia pestis, has “plagued” humankind throughout history. Since at least the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 500s—and likely for much longer before that—it has claimed millions of lives. This section presents the voices of people throughout history who have recorded their experiences of the plague and who have also represented it in popular culture.
Conscience | Susannah Frances Reynolds
A poem originally written by Susannah Frances Reynolds and published in the Teetotaler. Transcribed by Stephen Basdeo and Jessica Elizabeth Thomas
Mary Shelley’s “The Last Man” (1826): An Abridged Version | Stephen Basdeo
Presented here is an abridged version of Mary Shelley’s post-apocalyptic pandemic novel “The Last Man” (1826). The plague makes its way across the world killing all in its path and eventually arrives in England. Many of the motifs we find in modern-day apocalypse movies can be found in Shelley’s novel: lawlessness and rioting, the rise of religious madmen, the hoarding of food, and scenes of desolate towns and cities. The extract presented here is a highly abridged one which provides an overview of how Shelley imagined the end of the world as ushered in by a pandemic.
The Baroness: A Novel (Part VII) | G.W.M. Reynolds
The notary sank upon a chair, gazed wildly at that brother whom he had never wished to encounter more, and in whose presence he so singularly and unexpectedly found himself: Alfred de Moirot crossed his arms on his breast, and returned the timid glance of the notary with one of scorn, indignation, and reproach. The Baroness and de Montville exchanged looks of mingled satisfaction and anxiety.
The Baroness: A Novel (Part VI) | G.W.M. Reynolds
While the inhabitants of the chateau were thus thrown into a strange state of doubt, anxiety, and alarm, the approaching steps of horses and the wheels of a heavy vehicle indicated the arrival of some visitor. A loud knocking speedily commenced at the front door, and in a few minutes the gallery, with which the room the room where the evening meal had been spread, communicated, re-echoed to the steps of’ several individuals.
The Baroness: A Novel (Part V) | G.W.M. Reynolds
“Traitor!” cried M. Delville, when he had managed to put himself in possession of the contents of the letter; “I could tear your very flesh from your body; but I prefer the adoption of other measures, which I shall put into immediate effect, and thus avenge my injured honour;” and having delivered himself of this eloquent oration, M. Delville reeled, fell back into his chair, and relieved his sorrows by the powerful medicine recommendable in such cases—Moëtt’s best Champagne.
The Baroness: A Novel (Part IV) | G.W.M. Reynolds
“The days were passed in amusements of all kinds—the evenings in dancing, fétes champétres, or with music and cards. There were barges upon the canals, beautifully fitted up for the use of the visitors who were fond of water-excursions; hounds and huntsmen for the chase; and shooting apparatus for the sportsman. The ponds were filled with an abundance of fine fish; and many sought a recreation in, to me, the cruel art of angling. Thus was time whiled away on the wings of pleasure; and ennui was banished from those halls of delight.
George W.M. Reynolds’s Italian Chartist Republic | Stephen Basdeo
What would a Chartist republic look like in practice? Very few Chartist novelists discussed this question in depth, as most of them merely shined a light on social issues of the day. G W M Reynolds, however, used the fictional Italian state of Castelcicala in The Mysteries of London as a ‘laboratory’ in which his progressive theories of government might be tested.
The History of the Bastille | G.W.M. Reynolds
There have been many brief and detached accounts of the Bastille current in the English sphere of literature; but this is the first connected and important history that has hitherto satisfied the curiosity of the public regarding an event that must be considered with no ordinary degree of attention. The throne of him whom the French deemed a despot was only to be essentially shaken by the destruction of the worst engine of its tyranny; and when the adamantine bars of the gates of that terrible castle were destroyed—when the secrets of the prison-house were displayed—when the dark dungeon of slavery was illuminated by the torch of popular vengeance—then emanated from that dismal abode young Liberty.
Playing Robin Hood in the Victorian Nursery
It would have fallen to the lot of a poorly paid Victorian governess to practice playing Robin Hood with children in the nursery.
Me — A Mild-Mannered Professor Falsely Accused of a Crime!
I remember it well: it was the evening of 17 November 2019—it was a dark and stormy night, and wintry rain fell in torrents, when I, a mild-mannered professor, found myself wrongly accused of a crime. Would I ever clear my name?
Stephen Basdeo’s “Robin Hood” Radio Segment
Most authors promise themselves they’ll never look at reviews of their book, but we can never help maybe sneakily wondering if our ‘average star’ count on Amazon has gone up or whether a feature has been done on your book on the local radio (and let me tell you, Goodreads reviewers are the harshest taskmasters). But I was lucky enough to have my Robin Hood book featured on an Australian radio station
Sedition | Stephen Basdeo
“The distance is never great between contempt of the laws and open resistance to them.” – Justice Fitzgerald.
Dimas and Gestas: Bandits Crucified with Christ
The two men crucified alongside Jesus were not just petty thieves but dangerous bandits and possible revolutionaries.
New York’s 19th-Century Underclass: The Work of Jacob A. Riis (1849-1914) | Stephen Basdeo
Stephen Basdeo takes a look at the life of one of New York’s pioneering social reformers, Jacob A. Riis.