The Trickster Prince

Matt Houlbrook: mobile historian; beard growing, head shaving; occasional cycling.

Looking back on 2013

1. Mobile historian Over the past twelve months I have needed history to be a consolation and a solace more than ever. It has been a brutal year in many … Continue reading

December 31, 2013 · 6 Comments

Social climbing, society glamour and confidence tricks (1927)

Compare and contrast: 1. Miss Nancy Kenyon in Henry Cecil’s Book of Beauty (1928): 2. The adventuress, social climber and convicted fraudster Josephine O’Dare in the World’s Pictorial News (1927) Society status … Continue reading

December 20, 2013 · 5 Comments

A porcelain dog’s head whistle (1920s)

A bit of 1920s material culture: a porcelain dog’s head whistle made by the Royal Worcester company. What a fine fellow of a hound he is.

December 19, 2013 · Leave a comment

Hitchcock’s Blackmail and Britain’s first all-talkie film (1929)

Here’s the poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s fantastic film Blackmail (1929) — the first all-talkie full length film produced in Great Britain. Well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it … Continue reading

December 18, 2013 · Leave a comment

Man walks dog in Stockport (1922)

Man walks dog in Stockport (1922) A man walking his dog down Offerton Lane in Stockport in 1922: the most unremarkable postcard ever?

December 17, 2013 · Leave a comment

Love, loss and the sublime experience of the past

“[T]his experience of the past may come into being by a movement comprising at the same time the discovery and a recovery of the past. Historical experience involves, in the first place, a Gestalt-switch … Continue reading

December 17, 2013 · Leave a comment

Everyday Swindles (1921)

For some reason this image disturbs me a great deal: the front cover for John Laurence’s Everyday Swindles, published as a cheap paperback from C. Arthur Pearson in 1921.

December 16, 2013 · Leave a comment

Netley, we need to talk.

We need to talk Netley. It’s not me—not this time, no; it’s you Netley. Because I’ve tried so hard to make this work over the past eight years but then, … Continue reading

December 12, 2013 · 6 Comments

Miss Pounds in The Book of Beauty (1926)

The striking image of Miss Pounds in Hugh Cecil’s series of photographs (and poems) published as The Book of Beauty in 1926.

December 12, 2013 · Leave a comment

Steam engines in Stirchley (1925)

The steam engines owned by the haulage company of Shephard and Hough, in Stirchley in Birmingham around 1925.

December 11, 2013 · 2 Comments