Research Rabbit Holes; or, Hunting for Bob Short Junior

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By jd359

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Countless are the times I have looked up from reading the Lady’s Magazine to moan in frustration: ‘I can’t stand this man!’

LM VII (Mar 1776): 126. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British l Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

I’m speaking of Bob Short, Junior, author of the magazine’s serial ‘The Female Reformer’ which appeared periodically from March 1776 through the mid-1780s. From the outset, Bob Short declares he will ‘animadvert occasionally on the foibles of the female world, with a view to reform them’ (LM VII [March 1776]: 126). This first number sees him criticizing initially the ‘preposterous and feathery head dress of the ladies’ whilst noting that there are ‘many other parts of the female dress [. . .] equally open to ridicule and censure’ before moving onto the fan as the target of his ‘reforming’ remarks.

Yes, you read that right: the fan. No, it didn’t mean something else back then. Apparently Short’s problem with ladies’ fans was with the mounts – ‘the loose, and I had almost said indecent, mounts ladies have to their fans in the present day’ – mounts that make him believe ‘a coarse, indelicate, and immodest picture is not so offensive …read more