18th Century


Standing crust meat pie

from 18th Century Cooking with Jas. Townsend & Son

Baroque music, Haydn, Mozart, and even Hummel were drawn into a stereotypically feminine world of decorative and sweetly plaintive expression, contrasting with the gigantic outbursts of Beethoven or the dazzling virtuosity of Liszt and Thalberg. Haydn was, in the 1840s, described as both ‘Beethoven’s wife’ and 'a gracious Vestal.’ Earlier in the century, he had already been typecast as 'naive’ and even 'infantile.’ The process dates back to 1810 and Hoffmann’s critique of Haydn’s symphonies, in which he emphasized their 'childlike’ quality in comparison with Beethoven. Berlioz, influenced greatly by Hoffmann, was instrumental in making Haydn’s youthful style an object of scorn during the 1830s and 1840s. Haydn’s music was thus denied the dignity of full masculinity through its consistent association with two forms of undeveloped humans, women and children.
—  Katharine Ellis, “Female Pianists and Their Male Critics in Nineteenth-Century Paris,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 50 (1997), 364-65.

Harlots is wonderful and here’s why you should watch it:

  • it centres around the experiences of 18th century women in the sex industry without fetishising them or acting condescendingly towards them
  • it features gay women and they will almost definitely get together in the coming episodes (it’s not the kind of hinting that’s just queerbaiting, they’re legit setting up for these two women to fall in love and its going to be wonderful)
  • there are multiple black characters who are legitimately important to the plot as opposed to just background characters (also one of them is gay). It’s set in the 18th century so it’s great that it’s acknowledging that there were plenty of non-white people in London 200+ years ago.
  • the costumes (the whole aesthetic really) are absolutely beautiful
  • it’s based on real historical sources such as Harris’ List of Covent Garden Ladies and there’s loads of fun things to pick up on for people who know a bit about this time period
  • following on from the last point, it gives a largely accurate portrayal of what the sex industry was like in the 18th century
  • it features a lot of platonic and familial female relationships as well as romantic ones
  • there’s a dominatrix spy in it

Old fashioned instagram. I just love this ad.


I know you all love 18th century undergarments, so here’s a video from the National Museums Liverpool of a well-off woman getting dressed (of course, with a lot of help).