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A macabre history podcast in which Jess and Philippa wax lyrical over the awful oddities of the past.

A macabre history podcast in which Jess and Philippa wax lyrical over the awful oddities of the past.
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United Kingdom


A macabre history podcast in which Jess and Philippa wax lyrical over the awful oddities of the past.




Strangers: Capgras and Cotard's

Content warning: animal abuse, murder (including infants), and sexual assault. Take care of yourself, and listen at your own discretion. What do you do when your loved ones, pets, and household items have been replaced with flawless doppelgängers? Or when your organs have been replaced with soap? Or you're already dead and no one else has noticed? This episode, Jess and Philippa dip into the uncanny valley to discuss cases of Capgras and Cotard's delusion, the most famous of which being...


Typhoid Mary

Meet Mary Mallon: the first asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever, believed to have infected 51 people during her career as a household cook. Meet George Soper: the sanitation engineer who wasn't going to take no for an answer when she refused his request for her blood and faeces. This week, Jess and Philippa discuss a romcom for the ages (and the people infected along the way).


Bitchfinder General - Part 2

The Witchfinder General is back, and touring Suffolk in search of vulnerable women to accuse of witchcraft. This week, Jess and Philippa finish Matthew Hopkins' grim story, discussing the greatest witch trial in English history and how East Anglia eventually returned to its senses.


Bitchfinder General - Part 1

It's time to get familiar with the subject of witchcraft. Who were those adorable imps that hung around suspected magic-users in the medieval period? How did one actually catch a witch? Were witches hanged or burned? And just how many men and women were accused of witchcraft in England, anyway? This week, Jess and Philippa look at supersitions surrounding witches and witchcraft in England during the mid-1600s, as well as Matthew Hopkins: the self-made Witchfinder General who instigated...


In the Pits

Is a seven day week just not enough? Do you have a list of chores as long as a very long arm? Have you considered children? This week, Philippa and Jess take another look at how the Victorians exploited children and used their labour to literally fuel their sooty lifestyles. Join us as we dig up the dirty details on child miners.


Gone with the Fairies

Has a loved one been grumpy, sickly, and just doesn't play those Facebook games that you keep tagging them in? They may have that stomach bug that's been going around or - and hear us out, here - they may have been stolen by fairies and replaced with a bad-tempered changeling. This week, Jess and Philippa talk about the fairy faith in late 1800s Ireland, and how personal and societal pressures led to a man murdering his "changeling" wife so that he might get his real love back from the...


Freak Shows

It's time to take the Victorian Period to even stranger places. Jess and Philippa discuss the emergence of the Victorian freak show out of the circus, looking at the lives of two of its stars: Oofty Goofty and Grady Stiles - also known as "The Lobster Boy". As the main act, we look at how Stiles in particular blurred the boundaries between performance and murder - and almost got away with it.


Dirty, Dirty

Blake may have seen "marks of weakness, marks of woe" in every London face he saw, but in a city famously called "The Smoke", it turns out that Victorian skin may have been rather more grubby that previously imagined. This week, Jess and Philippa wallow in the dirty details of Victorian filth and pollution, and discuss the unhappy lives that toiled under its sooty cloud.


Moronic Murderers

"I've got a cunning plan!" said no Victorian murderer ever. Are you getting tired of ingenious modern killers? Want a little less subtlety in your serial killers? If you're hankering after the days in which murderers laughed maniacally, yelling "they'll never catch me - I'm invincible!" while twirling their mustaches, you're in the right place. This week, Jess and Philippa talk about the "Bermondsey Horror": a murder replete with hilarious bungling, futile finagling, and a whole bunch of...


Parricide Poisoners

What did Adelaide Bartlett, Madeleine Smith, and Mary Ann Cotton...um...Mowbray...er...Ward? Mary Ann Robinson? Cotton again? What might these three women have had in common - aside from a sudden and startling lack of still-breathing relatives and husbands? If your answer is "suspicious amounts of deadly poison" then you're either thinking like a parricide poisoner or you are a parricide poisoner and need to hand yourself in to the authorities. This episode, Jess and Philippa look into the...


Medicinal Cannibalism

This episode comes to you with some fava beans and a nice chianti. This week, Philippa and Jess explore the grisly history of medicinal cannibalism and corpse medicine. Whether it was ancient Egyptian mummies, mossy skulls, or blood fresh from the execution, European kings, priests, doctors, and beggars ate human flesh and bones for well over two hundred years. Join us for the whys and wherefores - but take care to eat dinner, first!


Eat Me, Drink Me

When an ominous, black granite sarcophagus was unearthed in 2018, oozing with a mysterious red liquid, the prevailing public opinion was "I wanna drink that"! Listen to Jess and Philippa talk about why you should never imbibe the mysterious red liquid; find out more about cursed cheese, historical beliefs about food, and discover what chemicals the Victorians like to ingest (hint: all of them).


Ice Pick Lobotomies

Is therapy just a drag, lately? Do people complain that you talk about politics way too much? An ice pick lobotomy may fix both of those problems. Or, you know, kill you. Perhaps stick to listening to Jess and Philippa talk about this pinnacle of medical discovery and how one man terrorised America in his lobotomobile. His words, not ours.


Victorian Cosmetics

Fancy a few drops of deadly nightshade in your eyes? Your partner will swoon when he sees your dilated pupils and - better still - you won't be able to see him at all. Or how about a little sugar of lead to bring a corpse-like glow to those cheeks of yours? Listen to Jess and Philippa chat about the bizarre and frankly death-defying beauty tricks employed during the 1800s. Just remember not to smile or laugh: you don't want to have to start the enamelling process all over again!