Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Red-haired first and founders, 5th part (201 - 250)

While working at our partner blog Famous Redheads in History I couldn’t help but notice the great number of “first” and “founders” among our famous redheads. Here’s the list from 201 to 250.

First part.
Second part.
Third part.

Fourth part.  

201) Reginald Fessenden: he is best known for his pioneering work developing radio technology, including the foundations of amplitude modulation (AM) radio. His achievements included the first transmission of speech by radio and the first two-way radiotelegraphic communication across the Atlantic Ocean. 


202) Herman Frasch:  inventor of the Frasch process for petrochemistry and of the paraffin wax purification. 


203) Mary Anderson: first actress to appear onstage (in 1887) in the double role of Perdita and Hermione in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Popular Antipathy to Red Hair..

A very short post here. Just some commentary on the dislike of red hair from the late 19th century.
"The popular Antipathy to Red Hair arose from the tradition that Judas, the betrayer of Christ, had red hair. Hence the expression current in many languages, "Judas coloured hair." Cain, the first murderer, is also believed to have been a red-haired man. In England and the north of France the popular aversion was strengthened in no small degree by the repeated incursions of the Danes, who were all red-haired, and heartily detested. By the Danes themselves red hair was and is still looked upon as a sign of strength."

References to Red-Haired Tribes and Peoples

Redhead references from 19th century ethnographers has been a common theme on this blog over the years. I came across a few more in my recent searches around Google. I'll share them in random list form below.

1) On Tartar Women
"Red hair is considered beautiful among the Tartar women, who use a dye for the purpose of making it that colour. Their nails, also, are stained a brick colour"

2) Red Hair in the Caucasus
"Generally speaking, the people of Caucasus are large, well made, rather lean, of a tawney complexion, with strong features and a little nose; their eyes small and lively, thin eyebrows, and their hair is red or black."
"[..] In the provinces of Caucasus red hair is thought so great a beauty in the women, that such as have not received that advantage from nature use red pomatum."

3) Red Hair in the China Review

It was a little difficult to garner the correct context for these passages just from browsing the work. I think they're a retelling of Chinese reports of the peoples they had dealings with. With the writer relaying the descriptions attempting to equate the peoples to groups, nations or tribes known to western readers. I'll reproduce the quotes here as is. It might be worth coming back at some point in the future though to take a second look.
"The men are said to have been of tall stature, with red hair and greenish (?blue) eyes, and to have never before had intercourse with China. The Caliph's name was [Chinese characters]. This description would seem to apply (if necessary) to Magyers or Russians."
"The King of the Wusun we have shown was called K'un-mi, and we have also shown that they had blue eyes and red hair. The Wu-sun may therefore have been Hungarians."

4) Finns, Ostiaks, Turks and Franks

Quite a few passages from this work.

The Finns;
"The Finns are regarded as the remains of people once far more numerous, who have been conquered, repressed, carried off, or driven back by Slavonians, Turks, and Mongolians. They lead the life of hunters and husbandmen, rather than that of warriors and nomads. Reddish, or, frequently red hair, a scanty beard, a complexion marked with red patches, bluish or grey eyes, sunken cheeks [..]"
The Ostiaks;
"The Ostiaks who dwell upon the banks of the Obi appear to have preserved in much greater perfection the characteristics of the Finns. They are a people devoted to hunting and fishing, with red hair, very uncivilized, and partly idolatrous."
Now quite a curious quote about the Turkish peoples;
"The Turks had originally red hair, greenish-grey eyes, and a Mongolian cast of countenance. But these characteristics have disappeared."
The Franks;
"Before going to battle, the Frank dyed his hair red. The hair itself was frequently held together by a golden net, or a copper circlet; at other times he dressed himself with the spoils of wild beasts."

5) On the Russians

Finally we have this rather unflattering account of the Russians from the 14th century Muslim traveller Ibn Battuta.

The Russians are an "ugly and treacherous race of Christians, with red hair and blue eyes."

Some more redheads from history..

A short post reeling off some more redheads ..or at least possible redheads.

Firstly I came across the following quote about the English martyr John Rogers.
"Thus John Rogers, the martyr, had red hair, as appears from a painting of him now in Harvard College; and accordingly red or light hair and sandy whiskers will be found to prevail in his descendants in this country to the present day. So powerful was his constitution, that it stamped its own impress upon the great majority of his descendants. Compare the number of Rogerses who have more or less admixture of the red in the colour of their hair, with the community as a whole, and the force of this hereditary fact will be too apparent to be controverted."

(Illustration of the death of John Rogers,
from Foxe's Book of Martyrs)

At present I can't, with any certainty, find the painting referenced in the quote. There are a few images of the man online, but all those show hair either dark or greying. So we'll have to take the writer's word for it at the moment.

Next up I have a few quotes from a piece from 1884. It concerns a National Exhibition of Portraits which took place in South Kensington. A few red-haired portraits are mentioned.

One notes a painting of the English poet Leigh Hunt.
"Leigh Hunt, who is painted by Haydon, and who has a pouting mouth and a mop of reddish hair, and stares from the canvas like a vexed schoolboy"
The following painting portrays Hunt and is by Haydon, so I'm guessing this is the work - the pouting mouth certainly checks out. The hair looks somewhat dark in this image, but the colours in these paintings often deteriorate over time, or render slightly differently when photographed or reproduced.

(Leigh Hunt by Benjamin Hayden)

I guess you could say there is a slight red tinge to the image. Though it does look most definitely dark. So another where the jury's slightly out.

The other quote concerned the poet Abraham Cowley.
"Cowley, with red hair hanging over his shoulders, looking very like a handsome girl"
(Abraham Cowley
by the artist Peter Lely)

I guessing this is the work referenced 😅

Finally, I came across another portrait of Elizabeth Seymour, Duchess of Somerset (1667 - 1722). We've mentioned her red hair on this blog before, but I felt this portrait was worthy of a further mention.

(Elizabeth Seymour by Peter Lely)

I also came across a further reference to the satirist Jonathan Swift calling her "Carrots" too. Again, something we've mentioned on here before.

"And dear England if aught I understand,
Beware of carrots from Northumberland.
Carrots sown Thynn, a deep root may get,
If so they be in Somer - set:
Their Cunnings - mark thou; for I have been told,
They assassin when young and poison when old." 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Book Review: Breve storia dei capelli rossi - Giorgio Podestà

I've just finished reading Breve storia dei capelli rossi. It's an Italian work, and the title translates simply as; A brief history of red hair.

I can't read Italian properly, though I have been trying to learn. So it was a doubly worthwhile experience.

With lots of help from Google Translate I've finally made my way through it. Brief though it is.

(My now slightly battered
copy of the work)

The book explores the history, science and cultural impact of red hair. Along with the many myths and prejudices. Some of the studies referenced were particularly interesting.
"Already a 2017 study by Professor Werner Habermehl of Hamburg, an important German sexologist, had highlighted their [redheads] particular inclination to sex."

Further noting that redheads are more sought after by the opposite sex.

"For many, redheads represent, in short, the sexually perfect alter ego, the lover of their most hidden and unspeakable dreams."

This referenced the following article;

The work also touches upon some of the cherished topics we've mentioned on this blog. Such as the short story Rosso Malpelo, by the Italian writer Giovanni Verga.

Overall Breve storia dei capelli rossi was a really enjoyable read, and gives a great overview of the topic. Along with providing plenty of interesting information about red hair (and some very handy maps). All with a slight Italian lilt.

It also contained an extensive list of famous Italians with red hair at the back of the book.

I look forward to reading it again, this time without having to reach for Google Translate ..once my Italian improves.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

What Percentage of Mammals have Red Hair?

Just a quick post. We always talk about how rare red or ginger hair is amongst humans. However, I often wonder; is it equally rare amongst other animals?

I always mean to dig into this, but rarely get going with it. I've just had another quick wander around the online world to try to ascertain at least a ballpark percentage for how many animals are ginger. Particularly in regard to mammals, but again, I can't seem to find any useful information.

(I did discover though that ginger cats are much more likely to be male than female - apparently the "ginger gene" for cats is on the X chromosome. Meaning that female cats, unlike males, need two copies of the gene as they have two X chromosomes. Or something along those lines. I did try to find the percentage of ginger pet cats, but again got nowhere.)

Anyhow, I thought I'd post here just to get the ball rolling. To at least put a marker down for future reference.

It would be useful to look into this further. Not only to discover how rare ginger animals are in general, but also to see if there are any geographical factors at play too. My little pet theory that diverse gene pools containing the extremes of light and dark give rise to outbursts of gingerness in humans suggests an element of geography. It would be interesting to see if any parallels arise in the animal kingdom.

In a very basic way I've started trying to list the various orange animals.

red squirrels 
red foxes
red pandas

I'm sure there are many more, but from a lazy children's book of world animals type perspective not too many spring to mind.

We also have red-haired variants amongst domesticated animals too of course - horses, cattle, cats, dogs, etc.

It may also be worth looking at the percentage of animals with white fur, such as Arctic foxes and so forth. Which seems equally, if not more rare, and also seems to be associated with the far north. As with blond hair in humans.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Katie King: a red-haired spirit?

Katie King was the name given by Spiritualists in the 1870s to what they believed to be a materialized spirit. The question of whether the spirit was real or a fraud was a notable public controversy of the mid-1870s.

The spirit was said to have appeared first between 1871 and 1874 in séances conducted by Florence Cook in London, and later in 1874-1875 in New York in séances held by the mediums Jennie Holmes and her husband Nelson Holmes.

Katie King was believed by Spiritualists to be the daughter of John King, a spirit control of the 1850s through the 1870s that appeared in many séances involving materialized spirits.

Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about her in his book The History of Spiritualism.


- " She stated that Katie was taller and heavier than Florence and that Katie had red hair, while Florrie's hair was dark and almost black."


- "... with large grey or blue eyes, a white skin and a profuzion of golden red hair."


- "Crookes had cut a lock of Katie's golden auburn hair..."  

- "King had a fair complexion and light auburn hair.

Florence Cook

Portrait of Katie King
by Gabriel von Max

"Photograph" of Katie King

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Red hair in art: Franz Stuck

Franz von Stuck (1863 – 1928) was a German painter, sculptor, printmaker, and architect. Stuck was best known for his paintings of ancient mythology, receiving substantial critical acclaim with The Sin in 1892. In 1906, Stuck was awarded the Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown and was henceforth known as Franz Ritter von Stuck.

Stuck's subject matter was primarily from mythology. His seductive female nudes are a prime example of popular Symbolist content. Stuck paid much attention to the frames for his paintings and generally designed them himself with such careful use of panels, gilt carving and inscriptions that the frames must be considered as an integral part of the overall piece.

By the time of his death, Stuck's importance as an artist in his own right had almost been forgotten: his art seemed old-fashioned and irrelevant to a generation that had endured World War I. Stuck's reputation languished until the late 1960s when a renewed interest in Art Nouveau brought him to attention once more. In 1968 the Villa Stuck was opened to the public; it is now a museum.

In Robert Waite's 1977 book The Psychopathic God: Adolph Hitler and numerous other sources it is noted that Franz Stuck was Hitler's favorite painter from childhood on.


Der alte faun (The Old Faun)


Adam and Eve

Meerweibchen (Mermaid)

Quellnymphe (Nymph of the Spring)


The Struggle for Woman

The Three Goddesses: Athena, Hera and Aphrodite


Es war einmail (Once Upon a Time)



Spring Love

Der Spaziergang (The Stroll)


Jugend (Childhood)