Until he ate a bluebottle, William Buckland had always maintained that the taste of mole was the most repulsive he knew. But that was before he ate the embalmed heart of Louis XVI.
Lord Monboddo believed that babies are born with tails, and was a careful observer at the births of his own children - but in each case the midwife outwitted him and managed to destroy the evidence.
The Comtesse de Noailles was a keen believer in the benefits of fresh air and methane gas, keeping cows tethered near her open windows so that she could enjoy both ...
These are just a few of the eccentrics who enliven the pages of this delightful survey of British loopiness through the ages, a celebration of true originals whose strength of character stands out now more than ever in our age of mass-market conformity. As John Stuart Mill warned as long ago as the 1850s: 'That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.'
Catherine Caufield's classic book is an immensely browsable compendium of inspired and inspiring lunacy, beautifully illustrated by Peter Till.