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Have various unsatisfactory books on the go for various… - Off the Cliff

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Sat Jun 25th, 2016


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09:57 pm
Have various unsatisfactory books on the go for various unsatisfactory reasons, as eg In the Skin of a Lion takes place in Toronto ('one book set in your home town') and ought to be the fast read that mainstream lit usually is, only so far it's all about the building of the Toronto Viaduct. Murder in the Queen's Garden is the third in a series of Elizabethan murder mysteries, which requires skipping over references to previous action; the library only has the annoying large text edition, and large fonts give the workmanlike but undistinguished prose an importance it doesn't deserve; but serendip, I open it up and on p.4 there's Dr Dee and so I must read it. The Hero With a Thousand Faces is fun but long and more western-centric than I care for. (Also the translations of eastern sources he cites are, well, indicative that he didn't have much to choose from.) But that piece of frothy history, The Bucks and Bawds of London Town, reveals a detail I would never have expected.

Georgian women played cricket.

And the first question one asks, obviously, is *How???*

The author doesn't answer the question, but does give this anecdote:

"Master John Willes, a youthful cricket fanatic, of Sutton in Surrey, had a pitch laid out in a large barn on his father's property and he used to play there whenever the weather was too bad to play in the open. He had his sister bowl for him and he'd trained his dog to 'field' the balls and bring them back to the wicket... Because of her long, full dresses, Miss Willes found that she was unable accurately to deliver the ball in the orthodox underarm manner and asked whether she might 'throw' with an overarm toss instead, to which her brother grudgingly agreed. In time miss Willes perfected the 'throw', other girls copied it, and it soon became the accepted method when women were playing...

Cricket matches between teams of women were very well supported and men laid bets on the outcome. The sporting Duke of Hamilton fell in love with Elizabeth Burre on the cricket field, for, apart from her physical attractions, Hamilton expressed his deep admiration for her batting style and was no end impressed by the fact that Elizabeth got 'more notches for her team than anyone else in the match.'"

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