Bee Wilson

Bee Wilson is the author of The Way We Eat Now and First Bite: How We Learn to Eat. Her first cookbook will be published next year.

In​ 1901, London was still the largest city in the world. It had a population of six and a half million, two million more than New York and five million more than Tokyo. One of the ‘biggest wonders of this glorious Metropolis’ as well as ‘one of the most strangely human sights that the world can show’, according to J.C. Woollan, was the spectacle of all these...

Barbara Hosking​ was eating chicken curry in a bungalow in Tanganyika one day in the 1950s when she felt the room shaking. She was lunching with her old schoolfriend Mary, and this was the bungalow they shared. Both women were then working as office managers for a British-owned gold, copper and silver mine in Mpanda. Pieces of plaster were falling off the wall, the room was juddering and,...

What Dettol Can’t Fix: A Life in Lists

Bee Wilson, 13 September 2018

In the spring​ of 1942, Elisabeth Young, a diplomat’s wife living in Surrey, began keeping a ‘register’ of eggs. Each day, she recorded the date and number of eggs laid by her flock of 12 hens, sometimes logging the name of the particular hen who had laid it. She noted whether the eggs were brown or white or ‘brownish’ and any that were double-yolked. At the end...

As well as being obscene, the libels were also decidedly strange. This was swearing as a foreign language by someone who had the vocab but was not sure of how to fit the words together. The phrases ‘poxy ass’ and ‘foxy ass’ often pop up in the libels. The ‘foxy’ in question did not mean ‘sassy’, but decaying like a foxed book. The phrase ‘piss country whore’, a favourite in the letters, is not one that Christopher Hilliard can trace to any known usage. Often, they pile up an excess of adjectives for effect: ‘bloody flaming fucking piss country’, where ‘bloody country’ on its own would do.

I am the fifth dimension!

Bee Wilson, 27 July 2017

The possibility of Gef’s existence was first reported in the Manchester Daily Dispatch in January 1932. A reporter claimed he had visited the Irving household to investigate the ‘animal story’ that had been the talk of the island for several months. On arrival at the farmhouse, he heard ‘a voice which I should never have imagined could issue from a human throat’. The Irvings told him that it was an animal, something like a stoat, weasel or ferret, except that it spoke and sang songs and on occasion offered betting tips.

Schlepping around the Flowers: bees

James Meek, 4 November 2004

Not long after​ the First World War, the movie baron Samuel Goldwyn set up a stable of Eminent Authors in an attempt to give silent screenplays more literary weight. One of the recruits was the...

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