My New Book on Madame Tussaud is Now Available!

Banyans: Garments that 18th Century Gentlemen Loved

By Geri Walton | November 18, 2019

Banyans were garments that became popular with gentlemen in the 18th century. They were oriental in style being influenced by Persian and Asian clothing and called morning gowns, robe de chambres, wrappers, or nightgowns. However, “by the year 1730 certainly, and possibly earlier, these Indian gowns had become known generally by the name banyan, banjan,…

Point Breeze Estate or Joseph Bonaparte’s Park

By Geri Walton | November 15, 2019

Joseph Bonaparte, older brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, ending up owning the Point Breeze estate, or Bonaparte’s Park, in New Jersey after he took refuge in America in 1815. How it happened begins several years earlier when Joseph and Napoleon were looking at a map of the United States. At the time Napoleon was supposedly thinking…

Nellie Bly: Pioneer of Investigative Journalism

By Geri Walton | November 11, 2019

Nellie Bly was christened Elizabeth Jane Cochran on 5 May 1864, but when her father died six years later, her life drastically changed. Her father, Michael Cochran, started out as a laborer and mill worker but later became a merchant, postmaster, and associate justice at Pennsylvania’s Cochran’s Mills (which was named for him). He also…

Benjamin Banneker: African-American Almanac Author, Astronomer, and Surveyor

By Geri Walton | November 8, 2019

Benjamin Banneker was born on 9 November 1731, in Baltimore County, Maryland a few months before George Austen, the father of future novelist Jane Austen. Unlike George whose family connections are clear, there are two differing accounts of Banneker’s family history. One account is that he was the son of Mary Banneky, a free black,…

Princess Charlotte of Wales: A Most Unusual Princess

By Geri Walton | November 4, 2019

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales was the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later George IV) and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick. Charlotte’s parents were cousins and her father married her mother to help resolve his enormous debts, but the marriage was disastrous. They were unsuited, each disliked the other, and George was in…

Cremorne Gardens: Its History Between 1845 and 1877

By Geri Walton | November 1, 2019

Cremorne Gardens were popular pleasure gardens by the side of the River Thames in Chelsea, London, located between Chelsea Harbor and the end of the King’s Road that flourished between 1845 and 1877. The gardens began after the property was sold in 1845 to Thomas Bartlett Simpson. He owned the North & South American Coffee…

Paris Catacombs and Associated Interesting Tales

By Geri Walton | October 28, 2019

  The Paris Catacombs (Catacombes de Paris in French) are underground ossuaries that were created as part of the effort to eliminate the city’s overflowing cemeteries in the late eighteenth century. The same year that Marie Antoinette’s husband ascended the throne as Louis XVI was the same year that preparation for the Catacombs began after…

Revolt at Levant Penitentiary with 14 Boys Roasted Alive

By Geri Walton | October 25, 2019

On 3 October 1866 14 boys were roasted alive because of a revolt at Levant Penitentiary, a juvenile facility, located on the Île du Levant, sometimes referred to as Le Levant. It is a French island in the Mediterranean off the coast of the Riviera, near Toulon and is the largest of the four islands…

Philadelphia Austen Hancock: Eliza de Feuillide’s Mother

By Geri Walton | October 21, 2019

Philadelphia Austen Hancock was born on 15 May 1730 to a not so successful surgeon in Tonbridge named William Austen and his wife Rebecca Walter née Hampson, who had been married before and had a son, William Hampson Walter. In addition, three other children were born to William and Rebecca: Hampson in 1728 (who died…

Napoleon Bonaparte Portraits: Important Historical Moments

By Geri Walton | October 18, 2019

There are many Napoleon Bonaparte portraits that provide important historical moments in his life. Yet, it is somewhat surprising that any portraits of Napoleon exist as he almost never willingly sat for any painter. In fact, he was notorious for disliking to sit and even believed that portraits should demonstrate his character rather than capture…