Curing Hiccups with Small Fires: A Delightful Miscellany of Great British Eccentrics

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Boxtree, 2009 - History - 298 pages

An 18th-century French scholar attributed the British talent for eccentricity to a "mixture of fogs, beef, and beer . . . aggravated by the tedium of the English Sunday." Whatever the reason, the British Isles do seem to have thrown up more than their fair share of magnificent oddballs, the finest of which are profiled in this fast, funny celebration of over 200 aristocrats, inventors, artists, and the just plain weird. Some included examples are: Dr. Samuel Johnson is said to have shaved off all of his bodily hair, just to see how long it would take to grow back; Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, once related an experience he had at Westminster, "I had a horrid nightmare. I dreamed I was making a speech in the House of Lords, and woke up to find I actually was"; and Percy Bysshe Shelley once tied a cat to a kite in a thunder storm to see if it would be electrocuted. Obviously a romping, roaring good time.

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User Review  - sscarllet - LibraryThing

This is a lot of fun to read. As the UK is my adopted country I find it really fun to read about little bits of history that you wouldn't normally find out about. Read full review

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User Review  - MiaCulpa - LibraryThing

Eccentrics are my favorite type of people and British eccentrics are my favorite types of eccentrics so "Curing hiccups with small fires" was always going to be a hit with me. I've read a fair number ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

Karl Shaw trained as a journalist for NME and others and is the author of several humor books, including Gross, Royal Babylon: An Irreverent History of European Royalty, and the American bestseller Five People Who Died During Sex and 100 Other Terribly Tasteless Lists. He currently works in marketing for the largest manufacturer of stool jars in the country, and lives in Staffordshire with his family.

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