Robert Norton’s Memories of Edith Wharton Picnicking

Robert Norton’s Memories of Edith Wharton Picnicking

Robert Norton recalls Edith Wharton “had a passion for picnics, a passion not shared by quite all of her guests, some of whom, unskilled at balancing a loaded plate on their knees, would have secretly preferred a hot square meal served on solid mahogany: but they...
Henry Angelo’s Reminiscences (1830)

Henry Angelo’s Reminiscences (1830)

Angelo, London’s most renowned fencing master, was an original Pic Nic. His in Reminiscences of Henry Angelo (1830) is among the few first-hand depictions of the society. Angel explains that “the plan [for the Pic Nics] was derived from a friendly custom...
Henry Louis Gates’s, Jr.’s Colored People: A Memoir (1994)

Henry Louis Gates’s, Jr.’s Colored People: A Memoir (1994)

  Piedmont, West Virginia, where Gates spent his youth, was a segregated town where most of the inhabitants worked at a Westvaco paper mill. Though Gates looks fondly at the company picnic scheduled to close in 1969 or 1970, the event is bittersweet. It’s...
Lady Elizabeth Craven’s “What is a Pic Nic?” (1803?)

Lady Elizabeth Craven’s “What is a Pic Nic?” (1803?)

From 1780-1820, “Dilettanti” or amateur theater aficionados organized theater groups. Among the most passionate, Louise Craven, Margravine of Ansbach, who wrote plays, produced and acted in them, persuaded her doting husband the Margrave of Ansbach to build her a...
John Byng’s The Torrington Diaries (1792)

John Byng’s The Torrington Diaries (1792)

Among his many adventures traipsing about England, John Byng was proud of picnicking on the far side of High Force though the experience was miserably wet. After spending an uncomfortable night in an inn, Byng hired a guide. Then, stuffing his pockets with eatables,...
Oliver Cromwell’s Picnic in Hyde Park (1654)

Oliver Cromwell’s Picnic in Hyde Park (1654)

Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England, “picnicked” in Hyde Park in 1654. According to Cromwell’s secretary of state Edmund Ludlow, “His highness, only accompanied with secretary Thurloe and some few of his gentlemen and servants, went to take the air in...
Gwen Raverat’s Period Piece  (1952)

Gwen Raverat’s Period Piece (1952)

“Heroic Survivors of the Picnic.” is Gwen Raverat’s bittersweet memory of a miserable picnic. It’s the next-to-last anecdote in her memoir Period Piece: A Cambridge Childhood. I think she means to suggest that life was no picnic but that she has no remorse. Despite...
Georges Touchard-Lafoss’s Chroniques de l’Oeil-de-boeuf (1776)

Georges Touchard-Lafoss’s Chroniques de l’Oeil-de-boeuf (1776)

Touchard-Lafosse’s pseudonym Oeil-de-boeuf is an allusion to Louis XIV’s Salon de L’Oeil-de-Boeuf, the antechamber to his bedroom dominated by a circular window, oeil-de-boeuf, above the door. As a metaphor, it suggests that he’s a gossip, often relating sexually...
Sebastian Longchamps Mémoires sur Voltaire (1824)

Sebastian Longchamps Mémoires sur Voltaire (1824)

Longchamps suggests that sharing the bill at dinner, dîner en manière de pique-nique was stylish in the 1740s. He relates that while in the employ of Emilie du Châtelet, a marquise, he supervised a festin (or soupé) at La Maison-Rouge, a cabaret [inn] in Chaillot,...

Alberto Moravia’s “War is after all a long picnic.” (nd)

Alberto Moravia’s and his wife Elsa Morante’s dour expressions suggest their marriage was no picnic. Moravia explained that his relationship with Morante was happy but fraught with danger and fearful of being arrested by the Nazis, who occupied Italy...