Victorian children’s author Favell Lee Mortimer published three bizarre travel books that described a world full of death, vice, and peril. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll sample her terrifying descriptions of the lands beyond England and wonder what led her to write them.
We’ll also review the movie career of an Alaskan sled dog, learn about the Soviet Union’s domestication of silver foxes, and puzzle over some curious noises in a soccer stadium.
Favell Lee Mortimer’s travel books for children are all available online:
The Countries of Europe Described (1850)
Far Off, or, Asia and Australia Described (1852)
Far Off, or, Africa and America Described (1854)
In 2005 Todd Pruzan published a collection of the most xenophobic passages, titled The Clumsiest People in Europe: Or, Mrs. Mortimer’s Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World.
Fast Company has an article about the breeding of friendly foxes by Russian researchers.
And National Geographic goes into greater depth regarding the genetics and evolutionary aspects of domestication in this 2011 article.
This week’s lateral thinking puzzle was submitted by listener David White, who sent these corroborating links (warning — these spoil the puzzle).
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Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.
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