Books

Shapely Ankle Preferr'd

Francesca Beauman

What do women look for in a man? And what do men look for in a woman? And how and why has this changed over the centuries?

Every week thousands of people advertise for love either in newspapers, magazines or online. But if you think this is a modern phenomenon, think again - the ads have been running for over three hundred years. From the first ad in 1695 from a young gentleman who 'would willingly Match himself to some Good Young Gentlewoman, that has a Fortune of £3000 or thereabouts' to the GSOH, WLTM and online dating of more recent years, each ad is a snapshot of its age. The result is a startling history of sex, marriage and society over three centuries - hilarious and heartbreaking by turn.

Shapely Ankle Preferr'd

Francesca Beauman

What do women look for in a man? And what do men look for in a woman? And how and why has this changed over the centuries?

Every week thousands of people advertise for love either in newspapers, magazines or online. But if you think this is a modern phenomenon, think again - the ads have been running for over three hundred years. In 1695, a popular London pamphlet published the brave plea of a young gentleman who 'would willingly Match himself to some Good Young Gentlewoman, that has a Fortune of £3000 or thereabouts'.

This was just the beginning. In the 1730s, papers carried regular ads in which income or respectability were the most desired qualities, though some asked for a 'shapely ankle' or a 'non-dancer'. By 1900 twenty-five British newspapers were dedicated solely to matrimonial ads. Shapely Ankle Preferr'd tells the story of ads of all kinds - from aristocrats and MPs, bus conductors and nurses, country squires and city swells, and even from a man who had lost a leg 'due to the kick of an Ostrich, in the East Indies'. The reasons are strangely familiar: the size of the city makes it hard to meet people; they're busy at work; they've just returned from abroad. Loneliness is not new.

The surprising views of Lord Byron, Charlotte Brontë and George Orwell are revealed, and every ad is a snapshot of its age, from the criminal scams of the 1890s to the sad appeals of widows after the Second World War. In this fascinating book Fancesca Beauman uses newly uncovered evidence to answer crucial questions about how humans choose their mates. The result is a startling history of sex, marriage and society over three centures - hilarious and heartbreaking by turn.

The Pineapple

Francesca Beauman

This enchanting, juicy history takes us from the pineapple's origins in the Amazon rainforests to its first tasting by Columbus in Guadeloupe and its starring role on the royal dinner tables of Europe. In the eighteenth-century this spectacular fruit reigned supreme: despite the fact that, at first, to cultivate just one cost the same as a new coach, every great house soon boasted its own steaming pits filled with hundreds upon hundreds of pineapple plants. As the Prada handbag of its day, a real-life, homegrown pineapple was a powerful status symbol, so much so that at first, it was extremely unusual actually to eat the fruit. The image appeared on gateposts, on teapots, furniture and wallpaper.

A new phase opened when growers in the Caribbean began supplying pineapples in the 1840s and later the first canning factory was built in Hawaii. As the story rolls on, through the heyday of pineapple chunks and cocktails, right up to the fashions of today,it touches on pineapples and sex, pineapples and empire, pineapples in art.

Why is the pineapple so special? In one surprising sense it is indeed ideal. Made up of hundreds of separate fruitlets, its spirals embody the gradations of the Golden Mean - it is mathematically perfect. But it is more than that - for years a focus of traveller's tales, it is a treasure of sight and scent and taste. Packed with fascinating illustrations, this delicious book sees Fran Beauman explore the life and lore of the king of fruits: scholarly, witty and fun, it is a true hamper of delights.

Biography

Fran Beauman graduated with a first class degree in History from Cambridge and now writes and presents for television. Her passion for pineapples began with a childhood visit to the pineapple-shaped garden retreat at Dunmore Park in Scotland and has taken her across the world. This is her first book.