Thursday, 20 October 2011

My professional love affair with a giraffe

There is so much to do at the moment I consider writing this blog post a break from all the other chores. Over the last 12 months I wrote about 10 lectures, most of them very serious and perhaps boring for some students/guests. One, however, quite unexpectedly became a hit: "George IV and his Giraffe: A Tale of Politics, Exoticism and Science".

I have never seen so much enjoyment in a lecture audience, and it works both ways: I do actually get a great deal of pleasure giving this talk, and continue researching the subject with great joy.

Hence the current giraffe invasion on top of my bureau:
  • Two Schleich giraffes ("borrowed" from my daughter);
  • an early 20th c book on animals with a fabulous giraffe-themed spine;
  • a rare book on menageries published in 1829 just weeks before George's poor giraffe died at the menagerie at Windsor Great Park;
  • a quirky American publication on The Giraffe in History and Art from 1928,
  • and Huish's Memoirs of George IV (2nd vol.) from 1831, which includes a picture of G4 riding his ponychaise to his menagerie at Windsor (see below).