Page 251. " Like the pigeons of St Mark's, they were everywhere "

St Mark's Square
Creative Commons AttributionSt Mark's Square - Credit:
The Piazza San Marco is one of the main squares in Venice.

Feeding the famous pigeons has long been a tourist attraction. Unfortunately, however, the birds are now thought to damage the historic buildings, and attempts have been made to ban them.

Click here for the full story.

Page 257. " I got Emden to do it. "
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London - designed by Walter Emden and Bertie Crewe
Creative Commons AttributionRoyal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London - designed by Walter Emden and Bertie Crewe - Credit: Mark Kobayashi-Hillary, Flickr

Walter Lawrence Emden (1847-1913) was a well-known theatre and music hall architect who retired in 1906.

He passed his company on to a four-man partnership which included his son, William Emden. The partnership ran an architectural practice, situated on the Strand in London, under the name of Emden, Egan & Co.

Page 257. " There was an article on it in Country Life "
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1925
Public DomainElizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1925 - Credit: Philip Alexius de László (1869-1937)

Country Life is a British weekly magazine, established in 1897. It focuses on issues of interest to rural landowners and communities.

One of the magazine's traditions is to publish a picture of an upper-class young woman on its frontispiece (the page preceding its contents page), a section often referred to as Girls in Pearls.

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who married Prince Albert of York and later became the Queen Mother, appeared frequently on its front cover.

Click here and here to see two very different Girls in Pearls!

Page 258. " The Georgian Society made such a fuss "
The Georgian House, Bristol
Creative Commons AttributionThe Georgian House, Bristol - Credit: Heather Cowper

Although The Georgian Society does not appear to have existed, a body known as The Georgian Group  was founded in 1937.

It is still in existence today; its objective being to preserve and protect Georgian* monuments, buildings and landscapes.

* belonging to the period of the four King Georges who ruled Britain between 1714 and 1830

Page 259. " 'Savoy-Carlton-Hotel-goodmorning. "

Although there does not appear to have been a Savoy-Carlton hotel in New York, there were Ritz-Carlton*  hotels in existence there (on Madison Avenue and 54th Street) some time between 1927 and 1940.

*There is a different Ritz-Carlton Hotel currently in existence in the Central Park area of New York  

Page 261. " I saw their faces now and again peeping from the Tatler "

Today, the Tatler is a monthly magazine which focuses on the lives of the glamorous upper classes.

The original Tatler, which reported news and gossip from the London coffeehouses, was founded in 1709. It has existed in various forms since that time.

In the period referred to in Brideshead Revisited, the Tatler offered articles on fashion and reports of high society social events.

Page 262. " on which paper-thin Assyrian animals cavorted "

Assyria was a kingdom in Mesopotamia whose rulers managed to establish several empires during the pre-Christian period.

Art work produced during the later stages of the Assyrian civilisation (1500BC-612BC) includes carved stone relief work, often depicting animals; lions and horses were particularly popular choices of subject.


Assyrian relief carving depicting a royal lion hunt (645-635 BC)
Public DomainAssyrian relief carving depicting a royal lion hunt (645-635 BC) - Credit: Capillon, Wikimedia Commons
Page 262. " not for her the sly, complacent smile of la Gioconda "
'La Gioconda'
Public Domain'La Gioconda' - Credit: Leonardo da Vinci

La Gioconda is another name for the Mona Lisa, a painting by the Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, and one of the most famous works of art in the world.

It is currently on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, under the title Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo.

Page 272. " an extraordinary little red-haired man. Captain Foulenough in person. "

Captain Foulenough was a fictional character who featured in the popular Daily Express column By the Way which ran from 1919 to 1975.

Having been educated at Narkover school (which specialised in card-playing, horse racing and bribery), Captain Foulenough had a penchant for gate-crashing upper-class social events, which he then proceeded to wreck.

The column had many different authors over the course of its 56 years, some of whom used the nom de plume Beachcomber.

Page 272. " You know, like your Popeye. "
Popeye the Sailor (right) meets Sindbad the Sailor in a 1936 animated film
Public DomainPopeye the Sailor (right) meets Sindbad the Sailor in a 1936 animated film - Credit: unknown

Popeye the Sailor is a fictional character who made his debut in a 1929 American comic strip, Thimble Theatre.

He subsequently appeared in numerous comic strips, animated films, advertisements, television shows and video games.

One of his most notable characteristics is his superhuman strength, acquired by eating spinach.

Page 273. " I felt like Lear on the heath, like the Duchess of Malfi bayed by madmen "

King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare.

In the famous 'heath scene', King Lear rushes out into a storm to rail against two of his daughters, Goneril and Regan, whose ungrateful behaviour has enraged him.


'King Lear and the Fool in the Storm' by Dyce
Public Domain'King Lear and the Fool in the Storm' by Dyce - Credit: William Dyce (1806-1864)


The Duchess of Malfi is a tragedy by the English playwright John Webster (1580-1634).

The Duchess is a young widow whose remarriage is opposed by members of her family. In Act IV, Scene 2, just prior to being murdered, the Duchess is taunted by madmen. 

Page 273. " I summoned cataracts and hurricanoes "
A weathercock
GNU Free Documentation LicenseA weathercock - Credit: C.Hill

From King Lear (Act III, Scene 2):



Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks*!

Full text


*weathercocks, also known as weathervanes, are instruments for showing the direction of the wind; they are often placed on church steeples, and are commonly in the form of a cockerel.

Page 274. " 'Lear, Kent, Fool' "

The three characters from Shakespeare's King Lear who are present in the 'heath scene':

King Lear, who descends into madness during the course of the play;

The Earl of Kent, a character sympathetic to King Lear, who is disguised as Caius throughout most of the play;

The Fool, a supposed simpleton who, like most of Shakespeare's 'fools', is actually extremely astute.