Angus Trumble’s 1849 In Retrospect


“Cadbury Brothers commenced manufacturing a solid chocolate bar in direct competition with Joseph Fry & Son, who invented it. Both firms exhibited their new sugary nonliquid chocolate products at Birmingham. Robert Schumann started work on Manfred, a melodrama for orchestra, choir, soloists, and speakers (Op. 115), partly based on Lord Byron’s dramatic poem. A fifth attempt was made to assassinate Queen Victoria. Her daughter, Princess Helena, 3, who was present, remarked: ‘Man shot, tried to shoot dear Mamma, must be punished.’ This is believed to have been the princess’s first recorded public statement....”

For this issue’s “Year in Retrospect,” Esopus regular Angus Trumble sets his sights on 1849, chronicling everything from the accidental discovery of dry cleaning to the near-execution of Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Angus Trumble (1964–2022) was the director of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia. He was also a senior research fellow at the National Museum of Australia, as well as a curator at the Yale Center for British Art and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Trumble wrote several books, including A Brief History of the Smile (Basic Books, 2004) and The Finger: A Handbook (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2010). In 2015, he was named a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. In 2022, he was made an honorary fellow of his alma mater, Trinity College, Melbourne.