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Pugs, Roos and Amazonians: Some Lesser Known Boxing Matches of the Eighteenth Century

In eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain, bare-knuckle boxing was a popular sport which drew followers from across the social spectrum, from the Prince of Wales and the aristocracy down. Charles Dickens loved a boxing match, and was one of the crowd who gathered in 1860 to watch Heenan v Sayers, which also included the Prime Minister, MPs and clergymen (see my blog Dickens and Chickens ). However, not all boxing matches took place in an official ring in front of thousands of spectators, with the representatives of the Fancy out in large numbers to watch fighters like England champions Jem Belcher or Daniel Mendoza fight it out for huge stakes after weeks of training. Many fights were spontaneous affairs between amateurs. Others were what you might call ‘novelty’ matches between unusual combatants, many of which were cruel and crude.   Daniel Mendoza Spontaneous fights arose out of everyday disputes: when men quarrelled they fought. Many of these matches, which look like nothing

My Month in Books: May 2021

The two books I've chosen to write about this month are Sylvia Townsend Warner's The Corner That Held Them , and the non-fiction Welsh Legends and Fairy Lore by D Parry-Jones, which were published only a few years apart. Apart from that, they don't have much in common except that both authors wrote about fairies - though not, to my mind, with equal success!  The Corner That Held Them , Sylvia Townsend Warner (Virago Modern Classics 2021, first published 1948) Having recently read and loved Kingdoms of Elfin (which I wrote about in January’s Month in Books ) closely followed by Of Cats and Elfins and the short novel Lolly Willowes , I’ve now turned to Sylvia Townsend Warner’s historical fiction with The Corner That Held Them . I say historical fiction, but perhaps that’s not quite an accurate description. The novel is set in the fourteenth century, but there’s hardly any history. Or, at least, what there is does not draw attention to itself as it so often does in his