Category Archives: Germany

Transvestite circus performer turned novelist

One of the (almost daily) joys of working with old books is discovering something you never knew before.  With this book, a novel published in Berlin, 1862–3, it was a new author: Emil Mario Vacano.  Often cited in histories of … Continue reading

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The perils of emigration

Another month, another book fair.  In the past, New York book fair has taken place in April, but this year it’s moved to the beginning of March.  This has meant carefully selecting, even as far back as December last year, which … Continue reading

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‘I never have any luck with my books’

Friedo Lampe.  Am Rande der Nacht.  For me, name and title evoked those lighted windows from which you cannot tear your gaze.  You are convinced that, behind them, somebody whom you have forgotten has been awaiting your return for years, … Continue reading

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Off the rails: the first murder on a British train

Something else for the London International Antiquarian Book Fair?  A scarce slipsong ballad, jauntily memorialising Franz Müller’s trial for the murder of City banker Thomas Briggs on a London train. Late in the evening of 9 July 1864, Briggs was … Continue reading

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The first bibliography of 18th-century English literature

  I’m sure that if you asked anyone “what was the first bibliography of eighteenth-century English literature?”, they probably wouldn’t guess that it was published in Berlin:    The book was the brainchild of the great Enlightenment publisher (and Anglophile), … Continue reading

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George Eliot, the first translation

As regular readers here will know, I am always on the lookout for cross-cultural material.  So I was interested in reading two articles on Anglo-German cultural exchange published this week, in The Observer (on Neil MacGregor) and The New Statesman.  In the latter, … Continue reading

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On this day: Thomas Mann in a photo booth

These are rare examples of the first ever photo-booth photos.  The Bosco-Automat, a portable photo booth, was patented by the German inventor Conrad Bernitt in 1890.  There had been an earlier patent filed for an automated photography machine in America, … Continue reading

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The flying kennel

A friend on Facebook pointed out a recent piece on fake places that only exist to catch copycat mapmakers.  ‘If a competitor just so happens to have the same fake town on their map, then you’ve pretty much caught them … Continue reading

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A lost English novel

Regular readers will know of my interest in the history of the reception of English literature abroad.  But I’ve never come across this before: a case of the translation preserving a text, when the English original is lost. This is … Continue reading

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The first dictionary of American English?

I’ve just realised that it’s been over month since I last posted.  Where has the time gone?  Things have been busy.  First, a trip to Stuttgart (read about what things used to be like at a German book fair), then … Continue reading

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