It reveals life's (often avoidable) daily perils such as the woman who poisoned her dinner guests, then died, having forgotten she'd used the same saucepan just days before to boil arsenic for the purpose of eradicating vermin (1830), and a drunk carter in charge of a ton of gunpowder on his horse-drawn cart, found careering through wet, slippery streets, while also carrying a number of "Lucifer" matches (1875).Scandal and gossip also highlight social mores of the times - stories include opening Empress Maria Theresa's body to find death "due to a great quantity of fat and viscous matter, Her Majesty having accustomed herself never to spit" (1781), a marriage between a corpse and his living Spiritualist bride (1856), and the formation of the "No-Nose Club" for people with no noses due to syphilis (1873).
The author has also (possibly) discovered the man to blame for the adding of service charges to bills (1768), as well as (possibly) the most pretentious, pseudo-intellectual description of Tennyson's death: "Soft beams of light played upon the features of the dying poet like a halo of Rembrandt's"(1892).
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 176 pages
- Publisher: The British Library Publishing Division
- Publication Date: 08/09/2016
- Category: Humour collections & anthologies
- ISBN: 9780712356596