A seal on horseback that got linked to an infamous scandal, a carefree beauty who hated skirts, and racy goings-on in Vienna: my first Amazons of Paris newsletter carries on where the Paris Review Daily series left off.
Category Archives: Women
Céleste Mogador: Lioness of the Hippodrome
Paris Review Daily have just published the fifth in my Écuyères series about the circus and hippodrome horsewomen of nineteenth-century Paris. It’s about Céleste Mogador, who was so many things it was hard to cram it all into the essay, not least because she left so much of her own life writing behind. Please go …
Continue reading “Céleste Mogador: Lioness of the Hippodrome”
A Short History of Certain Western Men Attempting To Explain Why Women Love Horses
I wrote my first book, If Wishes Were Horses, about the history of the girl–pony bond, an experience that led to my dentist telling me that women had orgasms when riding and a guy standing up after a talk I’d given and mansplaining that it was all about sex anyway.
The Baudelairean Horsewoman: Jenny de Rahden
The new Écuyères essay is up at the Paris Review Daily’s blog: it’s about Baroness Jenny de Rahden. This is part of a series on circus horsewomen of nineteenth-century Paris. The earlier essays are on Selika Lazevski (research blog here), Sarah l’Africaine (research blog here) and my obsession with these circus horsewomen (research blog here). …
Continue reading “The Baudelairean Horsewoman: Jenny de Rahden”
Tragedy, Bravery, Royal Weddings and Queer Riders – why I can’t stop researching the nineteenth-century circus
Following on from essays for the Paris Review Daily about Selika Lazevski (here, with research notes here) and Sarah l’Africaine (here, with research notes here), I’ve written a third essay about my obsession with the horsewomen of the nineteenth-century Parisian circus who “lived at the center of public attention while simultaneously being marginal”. You can …
Continue reading “Tragedy, Bravery, Royal Weddings and Queer Riders – why I can’t stop researching the nineteenth-century circus”
The Story of the “Black Gazelle” of the Paris Hippodrome: Sarah L’Africaine
A new essay on an equestrian stuntwoman who set Second Empire Paris alight: Sarah l’Africaine, following on from an earlier piece about the mystery horsewoman Selika Lazevski. Here’s some information about my sources: Most of the firsthand material is combed from Gallica, the incredible, searchable digital collection of the French national library. The quotations in …
Continue reading “The Story of the “Black Gazelle” of the Paris Hippodrome: Sarah L’Africaine”
Everything I Don’t Know About Selika Lazevski
UPDATE: The viral photographs of Sélika set me hunting through archives and circuses from St Petersburg to Paris to uncover the lives of elusive women who were celebrated artistes, survivors, and scapegoats of the nineteenth century. I’m telling their stories now in Amazons of Paris. You can sign up here for more information and …
Continue reading “Everything I Don’t Know About Selika Lazevski”
Who is the woman in Sir Edwin Landseer’s The Shrew Tamed?
The more I’ve learned about research over the last decade, the more I’ve realised how easy it is to slip up. I’ve seen how one writer’s creative suggestion becomes “fact” in the next book down the line, and I’ve made that mistake myself. I’ve also endeavoured, when possible, to have the issues corrected in reprints. …
Continue reading “Who is the woman in Sir Edwin Landseer’s The Shrew Tamed?”
A Crown of Feathers and a Fine, Blue-Nosed Horse
American Woman Riding Side-Saddle on the Road at Hommoku, Motomura, Yokohama, by Utagawa Hiroshige II (Japanese, 1829–1869). This woodblock print dates from 1861. It belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, who have generously made many of their public domain images free for anyone to use.
Those Lissom Heroines on Horseback
Very often we look back on women the Victorian era and see only the equivalent of some modern-day heroine of Cosmo magazine who wears a size zero and eats only mung beans. That’s why I loved finding this caricature from Punch in 1872 mocking “the young lady with a model figure, light as a feather”.