Christopher Hart

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Shapely Ankle Preferr’d: A History of the Lonely Hearts Ad

By Francesca Beauman

Chatto and Windus 207pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Francesca Beauman’s new book, a thoroughly original history of lonely hearts adverts, is elegant, witty, wise and utterly delightful. It offers hours of NSA adult fun, and most definitely has a GSOH.

The first ad of which we have evidence appeared in 1695, in a pamphlet published at the Golden Fleece on the corner of Gracechurch Street and Eastcheap. Among the offers of an Arabian stallion and a second-hand bed, there was also a gentleman of thirty years of age looking for ‘a young Gentlewoman that has a fortune of 3000l.’ Multiply this by at least 100, perhaps 1,000, and you can see this young man had ambition.

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