Thomas Rowlandson’s Hunt the Slipper, Pic-Nic Revels (1802)

Rowlandson’s Hunt the Slipper, Pic-Nic Revels satirizes the Pic-Nics, a society of Dilettanti  (amateur actors),  gamblers, and gourmands who briefly flourished 1802-3. The rules of the Society are framed on the wall: Ici on boit, on danse, on rit! Et quelquefois on...
Pic Nic Society hosts a Balloon Launching (1802)

Pic Nic Society hosts a Balloon Launching (1802)

Among the Pic Nic Society anecdotes is its sponsorship of a balloon launch. In London. In July 1802, the Pic Nics called an ad hoc meeting to watch and cheer Jacques Garnerin’s successful launch of a hot air balloon from Ranelagh Gardens. See: Universal Magazine of...
Jack London’s Martin Eden (1908)

Jack London’s Martin Eden (1908)

Picnics in Jack London’s Martin Eden contrast social disparities between the poor working and genteel upper classes. London’s Martin Eden alludes to Horatio Alger Jr.’s heroes who rise in society by virtue of hard work and education. But London disparages Alger’s...
Pic Nic Society: Gamblers, Actors, and Pic Nic Diners

Pic Nic Society: Gamblers, Actors, and Pic Nic Diners

The Pic Nic Society attracted obsessive gamblers, eager amateur actors called Dilettanti, and gourmand diners. Taking advantage of a truce in a decade-long war with France (lead by Napoleon, then First Consul), the Pic Nics wagered (and lost) that London might have a...
John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids (1951)

John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids (1951)

Bill Masen and Josella Platon, exhausted survivors of vicious triffids, mutant plants with a taste for human flesh and blood, are stranded in a ruined landscape of Southampton. Wistfully, they are waiting to escape to Isle of Wight, a new Eden, which has been cleared...
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Carousel (1945)  

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Carousel (1945)  

Rodgers and Hammerstein II’s joyous clambake is among the significant changes to Ferenc Molnár’s bleak Liliom. It’s a setup for the unhappiness that follows when Billy Bigelow botches a robbery and dies, leaving his beloved Julie Jordan pregnant and alone....
Kate Atkinson Started Early, Took my Dog for a Walk (2010)

Kate Atkinson Started Early, Took my Dog for a Walk (2010)

Killing time. That’s what Atkinson uses a picnic for in Started Early, Took my Dog for a Walk. But in the TV series Case Histories is cut and replaced with an afternoon snack in a cafe. Importantly, what else is cut is a typical example of Atkinson’s method of...
John Dillwyn Llewelyn’s 1855 Picnic Photograph

John Dillwyn Llewelyn’s 1855 Picnic Photograph

It’s a family affair and except for their clothing not much has changed since John Llewelyn snapped his wife Emma and their children on a hillside above Swansea, Wales. According to family lore, Llewelyn photographed his wife Emma each year on her birthday,...
Gertrude Bell’s Baghdad Picnics

Gertrude Bell’s Baghdad Picnics

While serving as Oriental Secretary to the High Commissioner in Baghdad, Bell was a spy. Often her dual roles were indistinguishable, never more so at picnics Once using a picnic as a mask, she and her companions took an official to a lonely beach for an...
Alfred Hitchcock’s Missing Picnic in Spellbound

Alfred Hitchcock’s Missing Picnic in Spellbound

“Ham or liverwurst,” he asks. “Liverwurst,” she replies with a knowing smile.” It’s the start of a picnic (and a convoluted romance) for Dr. Anthony Edwardes (aka John Ballantyne) and Constance Petersen. Are we meant to wonder at Petersen’s knowing smile as she...