Rose Lerner

Why maple sugar/syrup never caught on in Europe. 

In 1744 Charlevoix suggested to the Duchess Les diguières that French maples be tapped (like the ones in French Canada); and around the same time, Brissot de Warville forecast a sugar revolution if they could make it work, and noted that M. Noialles had provided proof of concept in his garden in St. Germain. Sadly, De Warville, a member of the anti-monarchy but relatively mild, syrup loving Girondist group, was executed by extremist elements in 1793. 

"Women may not have been able to vote, but even this needs to be seen in context: in the eighteenth century the overwhelming majority of the population could not vote. In terms of electoral politics between 1754 and 1790, hereditary peers could not vote, and overall, only 17.2 per cent of adult males, or 4 per cent of the total population of England and Wales, were enfranchised. Elections were not yet common; contested elections even less so; consequently, suffrage was not yet the kind of issue for eighteenth-century women that it would become for women a hundred years later."

Elaine Chalus, Elite Women in English Political Life, c. 1754-1790.

"[Women of the eighteenth-century elite] were expected to be politically aware and involved. One need only look at the political coverage in a publication such as the Ladies Magazine, with its detailed reports of speakers at county meetings, lists of bills given royal assent, information on taxes and the Budget, and its roster of new Court appointments, among other political occurrences, to have this confirmed.”

Elaine Chalus, Elite Women in English Political Life c. 1754-1790.



Scientists have used a new x-ray technique to produce spectacular 3D images of Roman coins that were corroded inside pots or blocks of soil.

The rotating images built up from thousands of two-dimensional scans are so clear that individual coins can be identified and dated, without a single…




Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the most badass of badass women, Nancy Wake.

RIP NANCY WAKE (30 August 1912 – 7 August 2011)

Ms Wake, who has died in London just before her 99th birthday, was a New Zealander brought up in Australia. She became a nurse, a journalist who interviewed Adolf Hitler, a wealthy French socialite, a British agent and a French resistance leader. She led 7,000 guerrilla fighters in battles against the Nazis in the northern Auvergne, just before the D-Day landings in 1944. On one occasion, she strangled an SS sentry with her bare hands. On another, she cycled 500 miles to replace lost codes. In June 1944, she led her fighters in an attack on the Gestapo headquarters at Montlucon in central France.

Work began earlier this month on a feature film about Nancy Wake’s life. Ms Wake, one of the models for Sebastian Faulks’ fictional heroine, Charlotte Gray, had mixed feelings about previous cinematic efforts to portray her wartime exploits, including a TV mini-series made in 1987.

“It was well-acted but in parts it was extremely stupid,” she said. “At one stage they had me cooking eggs and bacon to feed the men. For goodness’ sake, did the Allies parachute me into France to fry eggs and bacon for the men? There wasn’t an egg to be had for love nor money. Even if there had been why would I be frying it? I had men to do that sort of thing.”

Ms Wake was also furious the TV series suggested she had had a love affair with one of her fellow fighters. She was too busy killing Nazis for amorous entanglements, she said.

Even before she escaped to Britain, through Spain, in 1943 to train as a guerrilla leader, Nancy had been top of the Gestapo’s French “wanted” list. With her husband, she ran a resistance network which helped to smuggle Jews and allied airmen out of the country.

Nancy recalled later in life that her parachute had snagged in a tree. The French resistance fighter who freed her said he wished all trees bore “such beautiful fruit”. Nancy retorted: “Don’t give me that French shit.”