Page 279. " I will blow at your house, said the wolf "

The Three Little Pigs and The Big Bad Wolf is an English fairytale which first appeared in print around the 1840s. The story is formulated on the rule of three and is about three pigs threatened by a wolf. The first pig builds a house of straw, which is blown down by the wolf who eats the pig. The same fate occurs to the second pig, who builds a house of sticks. The third pig builds a house of bricks – when the wolf fails to blow it down, he attempts to climb down the chimney and lands in a pot of boiling water. ‘I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down,’ is the standard saying of the wolf, on which there are many variations.

In 1993, Disney made an award-winning short animation of the story.

Page 281. " Hart Street "

St Olave's Church, Hart Street
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSt Olave's Church, Hart Street - Credit: Lonpicman
Hart Street is a road in the City of London. It runs off Great Tower Street, up to the junction with Seething Lane where it becomes Crutched Friars. In the top corner of the street stands the medieval St Olave’s Church, dedicated to the eleventh century Norwegian saint. It was the church attended by the diarist Samuel Pepys and is where he and his wife are buried.

Page 286. " like Helen of Troy "

An Ancient Greek vase depicting Menelaus intending to kill Helen, but dropping his sword in awe of her great beauty
Public DomainAn Ancient Greek vase depicting Menelaus intending to kill Helen, but dropping his sword in awe of her great beauty - Credit: Campana Collection, 1861
In Greek mythology, Helen is the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Her lover, Paris, a prince of the ancient city of Troy, took Helen from her husband, sparking the Trojan War. She was reputedly the most beautiful woman in the world and is commonly described to have had the ‘face that launched a thousand ships’ (the Greek fleet sent to get her back from Troy). Helen seems to have gone willingly to Troy, but there became lonely and despised by the Trojans for being the cause of the war. After Paris and his brother Hector were killed, she briefly became the lover of their younger brother, Deiphobus, but then when the Greeks defeated Troy using the Trojan Horse she left him to his fate. Upon finding her in the city, Menelaus was about to kill her, but she dropped her robe from her shoulders and astounded him with her beauty – instead, he took her back with him to Sparta where she died shortly afterwards.

It is unclear whether the Trojan War was a real or simply mythical event. It is one of the most important events of Greek mythology, narrated in the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer, and in many other works. The Ancient Greeks believed it to have taken place in the 12th or 13th century BC, but later scholarship refuted it as sheer myth. In 1870, however, a site in modern-day Turkey was uncovered which is believed to have been the city of Troy (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site). It offers no clues, however, as to whether the Trojan War and Helen of Troy were real or simply legend.

Troy has remained a popular aspect of culture, featuring in many novels, works of art and film including Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and the 2004 film Troy.

The Odyssey's profile on Bookdrum can be found here.

Page 290. " the celebratory wedding balls at the Rooms "


Balls were common occurrences amongst the upper classes of English society during the Victorian era, and very popular. Whether private or public celebrations, balls were used to introduce young ladies to society and potential suitors. Hours of preparations went into the lavish evenings which would feature dancing, music and refreshments in luxurious surroundings. The ballroom dances changed throughout the nineteenth century – in the early half the waltz and polka were at the height of their popularity, but later on balls became less common amongst the younger generation and not all the usual dances were known. The marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert would most certainly have been a good excuse for the high society of London to celebrate with a series of balls.

Page 290. " what a greater choice the Prince Consort was than the Prince of Orange or one of the Russians "

In 1836, plans were begun to get the Princess Victoria to marry Albert, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Albert was the son of King Leopold I of the Belgians, the brother of Victoria’s mother the Duchess of Kent. The Duchess arranged for Albert and his brother to visit Kensington, with the purpose of introducing Victoria and Albert. Whilst they liked each other immensely, Victoria was not interested in marriage and Albert returned home with no definite attachment. Matters were also complicated by the fact that King William IV opposed the match, favouring instead Prince Alexander of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau. Victoria, however, did not take to him or to any of her other princely suitors as much as to Albert, who was very intelligent and handsome. After Victoria had become Queen, he visited again in 1839 and she proposed (by social convention, the Queen herself had to make the proposal) after five days. He accepted and they were married on 10th February 1840, becoming one of the greatest love stories of the nineteenth century.

Page 293. " Maiden Lane "

Maiden Lane is a street in Covent Garden, running parallel to Henrietta Street. It is thought to take its name from a statue of the Virgin Mary which used to stand there. Rules Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in London and a famous haunt of actors, is on Maiden Lane.

Page 293. " the new National Gallery "

The National Gallery behind the fountains of Trafalgar Square
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe National Gallery behind the fountains of Trafalgar Square - Credit: Mike Peel (
The National Gallery is an art museum on Trafalgar Square which houses over 2,300 works of art dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. Founded as a public body in 1824, it was unique in Britain in that it did not emanate from a royal or noble private art collection. Housed originally in Pall Mall, in 1832 work began on a building in the newly constructed Trafalgar Square – significantly in the middle of the richer West and poorer East ends of the city, allowing access to the art collection for all Londoners. The building was designed by William Wilkins and finished in 1838. Over the intervening years it has been much expanded, but the original façade remains the same. The National Gallery is free to the public and currently under the direction of Nicholas Penny.

Page 293. " the lines of a Madonna "

A Madonna is a painting depicting the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, either with or without her son. Dating from the Early Christian Church, no other such icon has permeated Western religious art as much as the image of the Madonna. The earliest example is thought to be a wall-painting in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome, but throughout the centuries almost all famed artists have tried their hand at a Madonna in both sculptures and paintings; many of the most famous depictions coming from the Italian Renaissance.

Page 293. " on Trafalgar Square, watch them building Nelson’s Column "


Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square
Public DomainNelson's Column in Trafalgar Square - Credit: David Castor

Trafalgar Square, in central London, commemorates Britain’s victory over France in the naval Battle of Trafalgar (1805), part of the Napoleonic Wars. Until the early nineteenth century, the area was occupied by the King’s Mews – the blocks where the royal horses and carriages were stabled. In the 1820s, John Nash was commissioned by George IV to clear the area, as the Mews had been transferred. He drew plans to leave the whole area open, except for one building which was to be the Royal Academy. Work was slow and a new plan was drawn up in 1840 by Sir Charles Barry, including terraces and fountains. The square was opened to the public in May 1844, although work continued for some time afterwards.

Nelson’s Column was a separate initiative, which Barry did not approve of. Admiral Horatio Nelson, naval commander, had died at the Battle of Trafalgar and a memorial committee constructed the column between 1840 and 1843. 169 ft 3 ins (51.59m) tall, the column is of granite, topped with a statue of Nelson and decorated with four bronze relief panels. Four golden lions surround the base, sculpted by Sir Edward Landseer.

Trafalgar Square is one of London’s icons, a popular tourist attraction and a space much used for public demonstrations, exhibitions and celebrations.

Page 294. " a campus near Windsor "
Windsor Castle viewed from the Long Walk
GNU Free Documentation LicenseWindsor Castle viewed from the Long Walk - Credit: David Iliff

Windsor is a suburban town to the east of London, on the south bank of the River Thames. The first settlement was at Old Windsor, a village three miles from the town, and the first Windsor Castle was built by William the Conqueror after the Norman conquest of 1066. The current castle was used from King Henry I’s reign onwards, and is the oldest occupied castle in Europe. A significant town in the Medieval Ages, due to the royal presence there, the town stagnated in the 16th and 17th centuries. George III reoccupied the castle from 1804 and two army barracks were built there which increased the population. A favourite of Queen Victoria, from 1840 the castle was much in use and with the introduction of a railway line in 1849, Windsor’s fortune was made. Now an extremely affluent town and the Queen’s favourite weekend residence, Windsor has some of the most expensive housing in the United Kingdom, a major royal presence and other notable inhabitants. The castle and old town are a popular tourist attraction, and it is a common mooring point for private boats travelling along the River Thames.

Page 298. " on Henrietta Street "

Henrietta Street is a road in Covent Garden running parallel to Maiden Lane. It was named after the queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I.