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Vegan Breakfast Zine

The Vegan Breakfast cookbook is a self-published zine inspired by traditional British cookery like the sort found in the Mrs Beeton cookery books of the Victorian and Edwardian period.
If you like old style breakfast dishes such as sausages, kedgeree or breakfast rolls and hot cocoa, but want to cook a vegetarian and vegan version, this zine can help with some recipes. It has a hint of nostalgia for the varied breakfast fare available circa 1900, alongside delightful illustrations from a Victorian copy of Mrs Beeton.
The Siege of Mafeking

The postcard opposite shows Boer fighters around a "Long Tom" gun, like the one which the Boers used to pound the inhabitants of Mafeking with shells. During the Anglo-Boer war of 1899-1902, which in many respects was also a South African civil war, three imperial towns were besieged with their garrisons by the Boers in protracted sieges: Kimberley, Ladysmith, and Mafeking. This tied down tens of thousands of troops on both sides of the conflict, both the Boer commandos who laid siege to the towns, and the British armies which tried to relieve them. Mafeking itself was besieged from mid October 1899 to mid May of 1900.
In his diary of siege, Sol T. Plaatje who worked as a court interpreter and secretary within Mafeking commented: "I am inclined to believe that the Boers have fully justified their bragging, for we are citizens of a town of subjects of the richest and the strongest empire on earth and the Burghers of a small state have successfully besieged us for three months". In fact, the siege was to last another three months, as the inhabitants were unable to break out, while the British relieving forces were held back, dogged by military defeats. In charge of Mafeking's defence was Colonel Baden Powell, of boy scouts fame. The defenders deployed a mixture of real and fake landmines around the perimeter, an armed white garrison with a little artillery, and armed men from the native Barolong population in the so-called "Black Watch". Whether or not native Africans were participating as armed combatants in the war was a great source of contention for the British and Boer authorities. All inside the town had to endure daily shelling by the Boer guns. Shells inflicted horrible injuries; curiously, those in the town bought and sold fragments of shell and indeed unexploded shells even while the siege was continuing: a trade in war souvenirs.
As part of maintaining the town's morale, Baden-Powell and others such as Lady Sarah Wilson organised what appears from the pages of the Mafeking Mail to be a never-ending village fete. Regular gymkhanas were held with prizes given for the best fancy dress. There were also frequent concerts, and even siege exhibitions or agricultural produce shows, in which prizes were awarded for the best livestock, fruit and vegetables, for the most ingenious objects made from Boer shells, for the best children's essays of life under siege, and for the best siege baby.
Life as experienced by the besieged did, however, differ sharply, depending on class and colour. Baden-Powel and his subordinates had designed the food rationing systems specifically to favour the white inhabitants, bulking out their rations by cutting back the black food supply to starvation level.
Although the rest of the world could not see exactly what was happening in and around Mafeking, papers such as the Daily Mail followed the siege with great interest. When Mafeking was finally relieved on 17th May 1900, in Britain, a huge outpouring of public opinion led to spontaneous public celebrations in the streets, hence the verb, "to maffick". Meanwhile in Sotuh Africa, after the besieged towns had been relieved, and the Boer capitals had fallen, the war was entering a new phase in which the British would imprison Boer and African civilians in concentration camps.

Tearooms and cafes

Although tearooms might seem pleasant if unexciting places today, they marked an important change in how people ate and drank out. Prior to the late Victorian and Edwardian flourishing of tearooms and cafes, it was hard for women to find anywhere cheap and respectable to eat on their own. A pub or coffee shop would not be socially respectable enough for many women to have their lunch at, for many at this time were male-dominated drinking houses, or were rather dingy and seedy in character. Ther alternative would have been to order a weighty meal in the restaurant of a hotel, which was expensive, and certainly beyond the budget of the new working women who were being increasingly employed as office workers in the city.
The first tearoom in Britain was opened by Stuart Cranston in Glasgow in 1875. As a tea dealer, he saw a demand for an area in his rooms where people could sample the tea he sold. In 1878, his sister, and tearoom entrepeneur, Catherine, opened her own premises in Argyle St. There was clearly a demand for this sort of refreshment, as she soon opened tearooms at Ingram St and Buchanan St, and later at Sauchiehall St.
Tearooms came at a similar time to London, in part as spin-offs from bakery chains. In 1884, the ABC Aerated Bread Company opened its first tearoom, and the Lyons its first tearoom in Picadilly in 1894. Other firms which soon had numbers of tearooms included Lockharts and the Express Dairy, as well as independently run establishments. The picture above shows ladies having tea in a confectioner's shop in Picadilly, from George Sims' 1901 publication, "Living London". As Sims says, confectioners, pastry cooks and sellers of chocolates also saw the advantage of including a tearoom within their shops.
What tearooms offered was cakes, scones, tea and coffee, as well as more substantial meals like sausages and eggs in non-alcoholic and clean and comfortable surroundings. A menu of the time indicates that you could have a cheap snack of tea and bread and butter for a bun or 5d, Welsh Rarebit and coffee for 7d, or instead a more expensive high tea for 9d. So tearooms catered for most budgets, as well as providing somewhere warm and and pleasant to sit. No wonder that tearooms proved very popular with women and families, as well as with many male city workers.
Arguably, tearooms reached their height in Glasgow in Edwardian times, under the management of Kate Cranston, who commissioned Charles Rennie Mackintosh to design her furniture and interiors. Mackintosh used geometric motifs and inset panels of glass or mirror in a highly original way.His elegant and striking designs included the Ladies Luncheon Room in her Ingram St premises, with its white painted interior offset by dark oak chairs and stained glass panels. He also designed rooms for her in 1904 in the Willow tearooms in Sauchiehall St. These include the famous Salon de Luxe, which was based on a colour scheme of pink and purple with geometric panels of glass and mirror decorating the room and its furnishings. A recreation of this room is in use as a tearoom today, with a menu not too far removed from that of its Edwardian heyday.

Edwardian Biscuits

Huntley and Palmers dates its origins back to 1822, when Joseph Huntley, a Quaker, opened a biscuit shop in Reading. Joseph's son went into partnership with a fellow Quaker, George Palmer in 1841. Thereafter, the firm went from strength to strength, becoming a household name, and by 1900, was the largest biscuit business in the world. It sold not only to the British market, but also on the Continent, to the far East, and to the colonies. The company at first used the canal network to transport ingredients and the finished biscuits, and subsequently, the growing railway network.

A distinctive feature of the Huntley and Palmer brand was their eagerly sought after tins, which were made for the company by Huntley, Boorne, and Stevens. These tins allowed the biscuits to be transported freshly over large distances. However, they became attractive items in their own right. Ingeniously shaped tins with coloured printing were advertised in special catalogues and sold for the Christmas market: the more exotic designs include a pillar box, and their famous range of library tins, each devised to look like a row of classic books. The Huntley and Palmer Collection contains information on these superbly made Edwardian storage tins, and on the history of the company.

Customers who bought Huntley and Palmer's biscuits included Victorian coach and rail travellers, as well as those who by the Edwardian period were enjoying morning coffee and afternoon tea. Curiously, some biscuits were believed to have health-giving properties, such as the breakfast biscuit, which is advertised on the tin above; was invented in 1891 by Walter Palmer as a healthy yeasted biscuit that could be topped with butter or cheese. Even Captain Scott took some Huntley and Palmers biscuits made to a special recipe, with him on his 1910 expedition to the South Pole, some of which have survived and are now on display in the Antarctic Museum on Dundee waterfront.

Many of the biscuits familiar today date from Victorian and Edwardian times. These include the Ginger Nut, the Abernethy, and the Nice biscuit. The Garibaldi was invented in 1861 by one of Huntley and Palmer's rivals, Peek Freans, who also invented the Bourbon (first known as the Creola) in 1910. In 1892, Alexander Grant who worked at McVities in Edinburgh invented the digestive biscuit, so called because its baking soda was wrongly thought to aid digestion. So if you are looking for period biscuits to put in your biscuit tin, any of the above would be ideal.

Conrad and Greenwich

In February, 1894, a man called Martial Bourdin blew himself up in Greenwich Park with the explosives he was carrying. His actions have never been entirely explained, but it has been suggested that he killed himself up accidentally while attempting to blow up the Observatory, and that he may have been put up to the deed by his brother-in-law, a well-known anarchist, H.B. Samuels. David Nicoll in his pamphlet of 1897, "The Greenwich Mystery" complicated the matter by arguing that Samuels was an agent provocateur, who had in fact used Bourdin as a dupe, intending that he be arrested in Greenwich with the explosives on him, and so bring the anarchist movement into disrepute. Other anarchists of the time did distance themselves from the Greenwich explosion, claiming no connection with it. Joseph Conrad would have read about the explosion in the newspapers, and was probably aware of Nicoll's pamphlet. This incident provided the germ for Conrad's novel, The Secret Agent.
"Dynamite outrages", as contemporaries called them, were common at the time. The 1880s had seen a series of explosions and bomb attempts in London, including on the underground system, Whitehall and in 1885, on the House of Commons and on the Tower of London. The term, "anarchists", may have covered a spectrum of political activists and terrorists. These attacks were often attributed to the Fenians, or Irish Nationalists, but other political groupings active in Britain included Russian opponents of the Tsarist regime and Italian exiles. Conrad was acquainted with the Rossetti family, whose younger members, Olive, Arthur, and Helen published the anarchist journal, "The Torch" from their basement in St Edmund's Terrace, and whose house was a meeting-place for European, especially Italian, anarchists. However, it is the Russian angle which Conrad emphasises. Tsar Alexander II had been assassinated by a bomb in 1881, and in his novel, Conrad makes the Russian embassy keen to organise a spurious act of terrorism through a double agent in order to alienate the public and the establishment from any sympathy with anarchists living in Britain.
Conrad took these intriguing materials and formed them into a deeply ironic domestic drama. It may also that he was attracted by the contrast between the semi-rural beauty of the Greenwich environs and the mangled human remains after an explosion. The Observatory may not seem the obvious target for a dynamite attempt, but Conrad has his Russian official, Vladimir, justify his choice of an attack on the Observatory, by explaining that it is only an attack on science and learning which will end complacency: "it would be really telling if one could throw a bomb into pure mathematics. But that is impossible." Conrad also highlights the new techniques of police surveillance and detective work of his time. However, Conrad's particular achievement is to foreground the domestic tragedy of the affair, and to bring forward as his key character, Winnie Verloc, the older sister of the young man who is accidentally blown up. Although at the time of writing, London stood at the heart of an empire at its territorial zenith, the world of the novel as seen through the Verloc household is oppressive, troubled, and even claustrophobic, all rendered in a distinctively Conradian ironic style.


A hundred years on, the suffragettes' campaigns for votes for women remain one of the best recognised features of the Edwardian period. In part, this is because their stance was vindicated, but it is also because the suffragette campaigners were adept at the art of political spectacle. Mass rallies, marches, banners, posters, and propaganda leaflets and pamphlets, along with ceaseless touring and public speeches gave the campaigns a new visibility. The spectacle of well-dressed women carrying out protests such as window breaking or chaining themselves to railings provided powerful images for onlookers, and enduring ones for us today. Both the NUWSS and especially the WSPU produced merchandise such as badges like the one above, buttons, scarves, tea services and stationery. This raised funds for campaigning, it allowed supporters to recognise one another, and it raised public awareness of the issue of votes for women.
Perhaps the most controversial discussions of the suffragettes campaigns have focussed on the so-called militant/constitutionalist debate. The WSPU took as its slogan, "Deeds not Words", and adopted the argument of the broken pane of glass as far more effective than the NUWSS's quiet lobbying. Although the suffragettes were careful to avoid loss of life, protests just prior to the First World War included pouring acid on golf courses, arson attacks and even bomb attempts. Leuchars railway station was burnt down in 1913, for example. From 1909 onwards, the Liberal government of the day made legal the force feeding of those suffragettes who went on hunger strike. In practice, of course, as historians have pointed out, the boundary between militant and constitutionalist was blurred and complex. Many women were members of both campaigning organisations and the WSPU and NUWSS supported each other's activities, at least until the escalation of the militant campaign. Moreover, what counted as militant shifted over time. In the early 1900s, for example, heckling a politician at a public meeting was regarded as militant, and women who did so would be thrown out of the meeting hall by stewards or even arrested. In a speech of 1908, Christabel Pankhurst includes among "the militant methods of women today", protesting at public meetings and marching in procession to the House of Commons. Vigorous touring and setting up suffragette stalls were the sort of militant WSPU activity that the NUWSS also adopted. Over time, and in response to the reaction of the Liberal government, militancy became more violent, mainly involving damage to property.
The usefulness of militant suffragette actions has been a contentious issue, for contemporaries and ever since. Given that by the advent of the First World War, women had still not won the vote, one might argue that both constitutional and militant methods had failed, or equally, that the Liberal goverment of the day had failed to deliver it. Moreover, it was a common pattern for suffrage bills to pass their second reading in the House of Commons, and then to be talked out by MPs with well-known anti-suffragist convictions. Therefore, to assert that it was WSPU militancy itself which hindered the cause is highly contestable.

Invasion Fear Literature

Invasion fear itself is not simply an Edwardian phenomenon but can be seen at any time of international tension combined with rapid technological change. There were serious invasion scares during the Napoleonic Wars, for example, when it was feared the French would invade by sea or even by balloon. However, Edwardian invasion literature has a particular flavour of its own. Its roots lie in the late Victorian period, with George Tomkyns Chesney's sensational novel The Battle of Dorking of 1871. This novel was designed to rouse its readers out of their complacency about British security, while it also helped to create further popularity for the genre. Its themes, and those of the stories to follow, were of sluggish Britons being roused out of their torpor by the military ambitions of the Continental powers. Would Britain's army be able to cope with modern warfare against a quickly industrialising nation like France or Germany? Britain's experience in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 suggested not.
Chesney's novel was a success and a flush of related stories and novels were published up to and during the First World War. These fed both on diplomatic tensions - it was by no means clear that a future war would be against Germany rather than against France or Russia - and on the growth of new technologies. Balloons had come into use during the Boer War for aerial reconnaissance, airships were being developed, and finally in 1909, the French pilot, Louis Bleriot, succeeded in flying across the Channel to Dover, making the possibilities of airborne warfare as well as of recreation, graphically apparent. ironclad vessels, which before the First World War, were to culminate in the Dreadnought, were being developed, as were plans for the first submarines or U-boats. Plans to build a Channel Tunnel provoked fears of invading troops using it as a routeway. In a time of diplomatic tension and rapid technological change, it was no wonder that invasion scare stories should hold the public interest and become an established genre. ≈
One of the most sensational of invasion fear narratives was William Le Quex's The Invasion of 1910 which was advertised in London by sandwich board men wearing German uniforms and was serialised very successfully in 'The Daily Mail'. Indeed by this date, the genre was so well-known, that it was subject to spoofs.1909 saw A.A. Milne's satirical short story, 'The Secret of the Enemy Aeroplane', and P.G. Wodehouse's light novel, The Swoop! or How Clarence Saved England in which last eight foreign armies invade Britian, and are only rebuffed by a boy scout. In these spoof stories, you can see clearly guyed the themes of the originals: the honest, decent, but sleepy John Bull, finally being roused from his lethargy by pluck and patriotism. Interestingly, cartoons of the Edwardian period convey similar ideas, for example by depicting a sleepy Jack tar alongside his brisker German naval counterpart who seems to be all the more prepared for war.
Famous authors contributed to the genre. H.G. Wells nourished his own distinctive blend of fears of invasion and technology in his 1898, The War of the Worlds, also writing a telling description of the potential horrors of aerial bombardment in The War in the Air of 1908. Even Arthur Conan Doyle got in on the the act, with his Sherlock Holmes story, 'The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans' of 1908, in which enemy agents attempt to steal the design for a new submarine. Enduringly famous is John Buchan's The Thirty Nine Steps of 1915 after the outbreak of war, featuring Richard Hannay's flight from German agents who are portrayed as stage villains.
Invasion fear stories contain less attractive features. The narratives, as was utterly typical of their time, show constant slippage between Britain and England. One could also argue that fictional and press coverage of a forthcoming war made that war more likely. They make fascinating period pieces but we should expect them to be jingoistic and xenophobic. What they do show is an intriguing blend of Edwardian politics, social fears, and literary taste, while giving early examples of the thriller genre and of the spy story story. One of the most readable remains Erskine Childers's spy novel of 1903, The Riddle of the Sands. This story follows the fortunes of the heroes on the yacht, 'Dulcibella', as they track down German agents who are using the Frisian Islands as the base for a mass invasion of England. This novel has little xenophobia, but a strong sense of atmosphere, interweaving the intricacies of international espionage with the intricacies of sailing a yacht along the misty, winding Frisian coastline.

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