Page 151. " Bedlam "

The Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem was one of the first psychiatric hospitals in England, although it could be better described as a "mad house".  There was very little understanding of mental illness and the only 'treatment' was restraining inmates.  Bedlam, as it was commonly known, admitted its first inmates in the 16th century and by the end of that century its name was a proverbial euphemism for madness.

Page 155. " George Morland and his kind "

The Labourer's Luncheon
Public DomainThe Labourer's Luncheon
George Morland (1763-1804) was an English painter who composed mainly harmonious rustic scenes, often showing contented, well-fed and well-clothed rural labourers.

Page 155. " Birket Foster was the arch criminal "
Landscape with figures
Public DomainLandscape with figures

  Myles Birket Foster (1825-1899) was a prolific English illustrator and painter.  His depictions of rural scenes shared an idealised view of rural life with Morland's work.

Page 156. " in such wells of loneliness "

Fowles knowingly refers to The Well of Loneliness, a 1928 lesbian novel by Radclyffe Hall.

Page 158. " Have you read his Omphalos? "

While well-respected for his contributions to marine biology, Philip Henry Gosse (1810-1888) gained notoriety and scorn for the theories expounded in his book Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot. In his memoir Father and Son, Gosse's son portrayed him as tyrannical and fanatically religious.

Page 158. " our two carbonari of the mind "

The Carbonari were secret societies formed in Italy in the early part of the 19th century, with the aim of bringing about various political revolutions.

Page 160. " Finally, she broke her silence "

Jacqueline Kennedy was travelling in the same car as her husband, President of the United States John F Kennedy, when he was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.  During the assassination, his blood stained her clothes but she refused to change until the next morning.

Page 172. " of course the Pre-Raphaelite "

Romeo and Juliet by Ford Madox Brown
Public DomainRomeo and Juliet by Ford Madox Brown
The Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood was an artistic movement that deliberately set itself against what they saw as the predominant Raphaelite style of art.  They aimed to create art that was less artificial and a closer imitation of nature, taking inspiration from medieval European art.  Distinctive elements in Pre-Raphaelite art include vivid, jewel-like colours, medieval settings or subjects, and full-lipped, pale-skinned women with long hair.

Page 172. " a Millais or a Ford Maddox Brown "

The Pretty Baa-Lambs, by Brown
Public DomainThe Pretty Baa-Lambs, by Brown
Ferdinand Lured by Ariel, by Millais
Public DomainFerdinand Lured by Ariel, by Millais


Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893, above left) and John Everett Millais (1829-1896, above right) were central members of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood.  John Constable (1776-1837, below left) was a landscape painter who painted with particular realism. Samuel Palmer (1805-1881, below right) painted visionary, mystical work as well as highly realistic watercolour landscapes.


The Cornfield, by Constable
Public DomainThe Cornfield, by Constable
A Dream in the Apenine by Palmer
Public DomainA Dream in the Apenine by Palmer


Page 173. " some Abbey of Thélème "

In Rabelais' (1494-1593) novel Gargantua and Pantagruel, the Abbey of Thélème is a parody of monkish luxury: an abbey with a swimming pool and maids for the monks. It is also a kind of utopia, however.  The only rule of the abbey is "do what thou wilt" - a principle that makes the abbey a utopia, according to Rabelais,

"because men that are free, well-born, well-bred, and conversant in honest companies, have naturally an instinct and spur that prompteth them unto virtuous actions, and withdraws them from vice"

Page 173. " through the Tyrrhenian "

The Tyrrhenian is the sea off the west coast of Italy.  Avila is a city in central Spain, famous for its medieval city walls.  The Aegean is the sea between Greece and Turkey; the Aegean islands mostly belong to Greece although a few are Turkish.

Map of the Mediterranean showing Avila, Terrhenian and Aegean Seas
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMap of the Mediterranean showing Avila, Tyrrhenian and Aegean Seas - Credit: Original work by Mapmaster, adapted work by Kat Matfield