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...
Alice Toklas’   The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (1954)

Alice Toklas’ The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (1954)

The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (1954) suggests that chopped roast beef and chopped chicken with mushrooms make the best picnic sandwiches. However, when these were not enough, Toklas and her partner Gertrude Stein stopped at restaurants where they might dine on Morvan...
Napoleon’s Last Picnic on St. Helena (1820)

Napoleon’s Last Picnic on St. Helena (1820)

Napoleon’s valet said that he was a frugal eater, but after five years of exile on St. Helena, his face was fat, and his figure plump. Henry Dodgin’s contemporary sketch of the great man suggests a penguin. But it’s not a caricature, and for sure, this is how Napoleon...
Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie (1959)

Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie (1959)

Among Laurie Lee’s vivid memories is his first picnic by the sea, a grand event sponsored by the Slad church choir. It was an annual trek of fifty-one miles to Weston-Super-Mare, on the coast, for which the most of the townsfolk stuffed themselves into hired five...