Episode 42: The Fart

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

‘Whoever smelt it dealt it’

Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected where you will discover the history of things that you did not know had a history; like the history of chickens, or the history of tears.

For this episode let us join the Colonel of calendars and cats, Professor James Daybell, and the leader of long time ago, Dr Sam Willis, as they bottom burp, pop, and toot their way through the unexpected history of farts!

So, plug your nose and hold your breath on this often noisome and decidedly whiffy journey of farts through history. From Samuel Pepys’ diary entry of 1663 detailing his six or seven great and small farts to a more recent incident on a Glasgow train, from the first English use of the word Schadenfreude in 1852 to Theresa May and the snap election of 2017, from De civilitate morum puerilium written by the Dutch humanist Erasmus in 1530 to Chaucer’s The Millers Tale and from the Great Siege of Gibraltar in 1782 to Henry Ludlow’s famous parliamentary fart of 1607, our explosive pair prove that this unexpected history is no rotten raspberry tart.

Together James and Sam waste no time sniffing out the truth and reveal that this unexpected history is actually all about: gender and conformity, politics and justice, morals and ethics, conduct and manners, health and diet, subversion and expectations, metaphor and caricature, power and humiliation, communication and opinion … and bottom jokes.

Listen out as Sam reveals how a fart sparked an uprising in 569 BC – which brings a whole new meaning to revolting farts! And perhaps consider just how like Elvis Henry VIII may have been…?

“My Lord, I had forgot the fart”   (Elizabeth I to Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who had eventually returned to court after experiencing a bout of flatulence in front of the Queen)

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