It turned out recently that I needed to know about the Italian Opera (you can read about that in this blog post at my website.) I ended up with two amazing books. But there’s a third I’ll tell you about, too.

Don’t Hate Me Because I have Awesome Research Books

First, because it’s easiest, is Oxford Dictionary of First Names. Very Very handy. But let me tell you, this book is CRYING for digitization. Oxford University Press are you listening? Get this thing searchable and indexable. It also has shorter lists of Non-Western names. It’s a handy reference and a good supplement to the best name website on the internet, Behind The Name.

Next, because it’s awesome but I am saving something massively geeky for last, is The Pursuit of Pleasure, gender, space and architecture in Regency London by Jane Rendell. This book is blowing my mind with meticulously researched details and a whole new-to-Carolyn way of thinking about space and gender. This is not your average research book, in that it is offering far more than facts (though there are plenty of them!) but a framework for looking at how architecture serves and feeds our notions of gender. This is the book that contains so much great information on the Italian Opera. Money well spent!

A Book Made of Awesome Sauce And Handmade Paper, Too

Third is Memorials of Brooks’s MDCCLXIV to MCM. You can get this in PDF if you look hard enough. However, I located an original print copy for a fairly decent amount of money and it has winged its way across the Pond and over the Rockies to California.

What is this book? Nothing more or less than a list of every single member of Brooks’s from inception in 1764 to 1900. [Combine this book with Rendell’s which talks about the men’s clubs, Brooks, White’s and Boodles, among others and you might end up dancing for joy.)

This book is MORE than just the names. It lists who sponsored the member and has a bit of biographical information for most entries. There are some articles, but I didn’t buy the book for the articles. OK, actually, I will read the articles. But here:

Fergusson, Genl. was proposed and sponsored by Lord R. Spencer. He was elected on 23 Feb 1807. [!773-1841.] ? Sir Ronald; broth. of Robt F. of Raith; served in Cape of Good Hope, 1805; M.P. Kirkcadly. 1806-30 ; Nottingham, 1830-31 ; distinguished in Peninsular War; K.C.B., 1815 ; General, 1830 ; G.C.B., 1831 ; frequently mentioned in the “Creevey Papers.” [See App. K]

Appendix K: Abortive Duel between Broughham and “Dandy Raikes.” — An amusing account of this dispute, every actor in which was a member of Brooks’s, is given in the “Creevey Papers,.” Vol II. p. 106.

There’s more about the duel, but it’s late so I’ll have to save that and some more tidbits for next Wednesday.

So. Is that awesome or what?