Increase Word Power with Roget’s Thesaurus.

Peter Mark Roget was born on 18 January 1779 in London, the son of a Swiss clergyman. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University and graduated in 1798.
As a young doctor he published works on tuberculosis and on the effects of nitrous oxide, known as ‘laughing gas’, then used as an anaesthetic.
Roget worked in Bristol and in Manchester and for a time was a private tutor, travelling with his charges to Europe.
In 1808, he moved to London and continued to lecture on medical topics.
He was made a fellow of the Royal Society and from 1827 to 1848 served as its secretary.
In 1814, he invented a slide rule to calculate the roots and powers of numbers. This formed the basis of slide rules that were common currency in schools and universities until the age of the calculator.
Later in his life, he attempted to construct a calculating machine. He also wrote on a wide range of topics.
In 1840, Roget effectively retired from medicine and spent the rest of his life on the project that has made his name, ‘Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrase’, which was a dictionary of synonyms.
As early as 1805 he had compiled, for his own personal use, a small indexed catalogue of words which he used to enhance his prolific writing.
His thesaurus was published in 1852 and has never been out of print.
Roget died on 12 September 1869.
via BBC History.

Real Story behind The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous Sherlock Holmes stories.
For those not familiar with the story, Holmes sends Watson off to investigate a mysterious murder surrounded by stories of a mysterious, spectral hound seen roaming the hills of Devonshire, supposedly part of a curse on the Baskerville family that has been haunting them for generations.
A great story, no doubt, but the real legend that it’s based on is no less creepy.
According to legend, a man named Richard Cabell lived in West Buckfastleigh in the late 17th century. A squire by trade, he was, by all accounts, an absolutely hated man known for his violent tendencies.
Supposedly his family had supported the wrong side during the English Civil War, and Richard ended up marrying the daughter of the man who had imposed fines on the family and sent them into financial ruin.
The marriage meant that he got his estate back, but the ending was anything but happy.
The locals were convinced that he had sold his soul to the Devil, apparently finding this a much more likely explanation for the return of his fortunes than the idea that he was just a stand-up sort of guy.
In an absolutely unproven version of Cabell’s story, it was said that his wife eventually found herself the target of his rage. (Death records show, however, that the historic wife actually outlived him by more than a decade.)
Cabell was said to have chased her out onto the moors in a jealous rage one night, killing her. In retaliation, her faithful hound ripped out his throat.
Cabell was laid to rest in the local church, but the villagers were afraid that he would rise from the grave and return to torment them. Instead of a simple grave, he was buried in a sepulchre lined with iron bars and a tomb sealed with a massive slab, all designed to keep him inside.
Almost immediately, villagers claimed to hear hounds howling in the night, pacing outside of his grave.
Naturally, they were the hounds of hell, sent by the Devil to collect the soul that he’d been promised. Other stories claim that the sepulchre is regularly visited by demons, hoping to succeed where the hounds have failed.
That’s not the end of the weirdness, either.
Read on via The Creepy Inspiration For ‘Hound Of The Baskervilles’ – KnowledgeNuts.

The Secret Origins of Wonder Woman.


Noted Psychologist Revealed as Author of Best-Selling ‘Wonder Woman,’” read the astonishing headline.
In the summer of 1942, a press release from the New York offices of All-American Comics turned up at newspapers, magazines and radio stations all over the United States.
The identity of Wonder Woman’s creator had been “at first kept secret,” it said, but the time had come to make a shocking announcement: “the author of ‘Wonder Woman’ is Dr. William Moulton Marston, internationally famous psychologist.” The truth about Wonder Woman had come out at last.
Or so, at least, it was made to appear. But, really, the name of Wonder Woman’s creator was the least of her secrets.
Wonder Woman is the most popular female comic-book superhero of all time.
Aside from Superman and Batman, no other comic-book character has lasted as long.
Generations of girls have carried their sandwiches to school in Wonder Woman lunchboxes. Like every other superhero, Wonder Woman has a secret identity.
Unlike every other superhero, she also has a secret history.
In one episode, a newspaper editor named Brown, desperate to discover Wonder Woman’s past, assigns a team of reporters to chase her down; she easily escapes them. Brown, gone half mad, is committed to a hospital.
Wonder Woman disguises herself as a nurse and brings him a scroll. “This parchment seems to be the history of that girl you call ‘Wonder Woman’!” she tells him. “A strange, veiled woman left it with me.” Brown leaps out of bed and races back to the city desk, where he cries out, parchment in hand, “Stop the presses! I’ve got the history of Wonder Woman!”
But Wonder Woman’s secret history isn’t written on parchment.
Instead, it lies buried in boxes and cabinets and drawers, in thousands of documents, housed in libraries, archives and collections spread all over the United States, including the private papers of creator Marston—papers that, before I saw them, had never before been seen by anyone outside of Marston’s family.
The veil that has shrouded Wonder Woman’s past for seven decades hides beneath it a crucial story about comic books and superheroes and censorship and feminism.
As Marston once put it, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.”
Read on via The Surprising Origin Story of Wonder Woman | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian.

The Black Hours Manuscript, circa. 1475.

Eager to dive into medieval literature?
You’ll be surprised by this exquisitely elegant, blue and black book of hours painted in 15th century Bruges (Flemish Region of Belgium), unveiled by our friends at Facsimile Finder.
The Black Hours is a splendidly decorated devotional book, crafted around 1475 in Bruges and currently stored in the Morgan Library & Museum (MS M.493) in New York City.
The manuscript was probably created in the workshop of Willem Vrelant, one of the most influential illuminators of his time.
Because all 121 vellum folios are stained in black, only white lead and opaque paints were used for the miniatures.
Similarly, the text was written in gold and silver ink to make the writing stand out against the dark background.
The decorative apparatus of the Black Hours is possibly unique in the world: more than half of the folios are ornate with large, blue borders enriched by gleaming gold acanthus leaves and drolleries.
Our thanks to Facsimile Finder for helping us create this post. You can learn more about this manuscript and see more images by visiting their website.
Source: Medieval Manuscripts: The Black Hours –

Chartist Newspapers in Britain circa 1830-1852.


The Chartist movement emerged out of the London Working Men’s Association in 1836.
Several of the leaders of this group were already involved in publishing radical newspapers. Henry Hetherington had been the publisher of the very popular The Poor Man’s Guardian and James Watson had edited the Working Man’s Friend.
In 1836 John Cleave was the publisher and editor of the most successful radical newspaper in Britain. Cleave’s the Weekly Police Gazette was selling over 40,000 copies a week.
As well as providing information on the latest crimes in Britain, Cleave’s newspaper also campaigned for the Chartist movement. William Lovett, the leader of the Chartists, also edited a newspaper, The Charter.
This newspaper was much more intellectual in its approach that the Weekly Police Gazette and only managed to sell 6,000 copies a week. Another newspaper that supported the Chartists in 1836 was The Champion, a journal inspired by the ideas of William Cobbett.
The Charter, The Champion and the Weekly Police Gazette, were all written and published by supporters of Moral Force Chartism.
The supporters of the Physical Force Chartists felt that there was a need for a newspaper that represented their views.
In 1837, Feargus O’Connor, the Leeds representative of the London Working Mens’ Association, decided to establish a weekly radical newspaper in Yorkshire.
The first edition of the Northern Star was published on 26th May, 1838. Within four months of starting publication, O’Connor’s newspaper was selling 10,000 copies a week.
The success of the Northern Star encouraged other Chartists to publish newspapers.
This included newspapers edited by George Julian Harney (Democrat and the Red Republican); Bronterre O’Brien (The Southern Star and The Northern Liberator) and Thomas Cooper (The Illuminator and The Extinguisher).
One of the most popular Chartist newspapers was the Scottish Chartist Circular and for a while sold 22,000 copies a week.
In 1851 Ernest Jones and George Julian Harney started a new radical newspaper, The Friend of the People. Jones wrote: “The very first, the most essential requisite of a movement is to have an organ to record its proceedings, to communicate through, with its several branches – to appeal through, to exhort through, to speak through, to defend through, to teach through.
A movement that has not the mighty organ of the press at its command is but half a movement – it is a disenfranchised cause, dependent on others, pensioned on others, pauper on others for the expression of its opinions.”
After a dispute with Harney in 1851, Jones started his own journal, The People’s Paper. Jones attempted to publish what he hoped would be a “complete newspaper”. As well as news of the Chartist movement, The People’s Paper included reports of parliamentary debates, public meeting and what Jones called “legal, political, mercantile and general intelligence.”
The newspaper became a socialist newspaper and one of his main contributors included Karl Marx, who was now living in exile in London.
The circulation figures of these newspapers reflected the fortunes of the Chartist movement.
For example, the sales of the Northern Star fell from 50,000 in 1839 to 1,200 a week in 1851. In April 1852 Feargus O’Connor sold the Northern Star to its former editor, George Julian Harney.
Harney merged it with the Friend of the People and called his new paper, the Star of Freedom. However, the Star of Freedom only survived a few months and in December, 1852, the last of the Chartist newspapers came to an end.
via John Simkins, Spartacus UK

Poison Cabinet hidden in Hollowed Out Book.

Labeled as a “poison cabinet” when placed for auction in 2008, images of this hollowed out book have been causing a stir online ever since.
Was it a computer-generated image? Or a modern fake? According to German auction house Hermann Historica—and the private collector who purchased it for €5,200 (about $7,000)—that’s not the case.
While calling it an assassin’s cabinet may be a bit exaggerated, the dramatically titled curio is a hollowed out book from the 16th century. In the pages’ place are eleven drawers of varying sizes with meticulous labels, each spelling out which plant each drawer contained.
Of course, many of these plants, while poisonous, were also part of herbal remedies—making it equally possible we are looking at an ornate medicine cabinet.
Travelling kits were not uncommon at the time, as apothecaries would have needed to tote their items around with them. So just what was in the potentially deadly cabinet.
Though empty at the time of auction, the silver-knobbed drawers would have contained everything from opium poppy and valerian to Castor Oil plant and Bella Donna. All of these have multiple uses—both in medicine and as a poison.
For instance, Bella Donna was famously used as a poison to kill several emperor’s wives during the Roman Empire, but was also used to ward off motion sickness and as a muscle relaxer. Opium poppy, which most know as the base for numerous narcotics, was also used in medicine to treat asthma and upset stomachs.
So, if anything, this curiosity certainly shows us that one person’s poison is another’s medicine.
Known as a “poison cabinet” this 16th-century book was turned into a secret hideaway for poisonous and medicinal plants.
Source: 16th-Century Poison Cabinet Created from Hollowed Out Book