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SHAKESPEARE’S LOVERS: The Dark Lady

Last month, I suggested that William Shakespeare had two major love affairs in his life.  The first was with his ‘White’ lady, who helped to inspire his ‘fair’ female characters, such as Bianca (The Taming of the Shrew) and Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream).  The model for these saintly ‘White’ ladies was almost certainly ‘Annam Whateley de Temple Grafton’, as …

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Going along with the ride: Museums in the 21st century

21st century museums are exciting places to visit. Exhibition opening nights resemble something more akin to an Oscars after party than a tea and sandwich get together of professors in tweed coats. It seems that museums would like to remind their audiences that they have come a long way from the era of glass cases and “do not touch” signs …

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ICONIC TEXTS: Dr Hannah Dawson on ‘Leviathan’ by Thomas Hobbes

In the first instalment of our brand new series of podcasts, Dr Hannah Dawson discusses one of the most controversial texts in the English language. Written during a period of civil war and published following the regicide of Charles I, Leviathan or the Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil earned its author the nickname the ‘Monster of Malmesbury’. …

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SHAKESPEARE’S LOVERS – Part One: The White Lady

The White Lady There is a theory that most of us fall deeply in love twice in our lives.  I believe that William Shakespeare did: that there were two women with whom he fell in love; that these two love affairs had a lasting impact on his life and work; and that neither of these women was his wife. As …

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Hampton Court Palace Reopens its Georgian Chocolate Kitchen

Having loved my recent encounters with Henry Jermyn, Cosimo de Medici & the rest of the rogues from London’s 17th century Chocolate House Tour, I was delighted to be offered the opportunity for more confectionary time-travel, on this occasion to meet the legendary chocolatier Thomas Tosier, who resided at Hampton Court Palace three hundred years ago. Mr Tosier was the …

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History in the Classroom: A Teacher Speaks

Over the past few weeks politicians and academics have engaged in fierce debate about how the First World War should be remembered and how history itself is being taught in our schools. The most recent furore began on the 30th December 2013 when the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Start the Week’ hosted by Andrew Marr discussed this very question. The …

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Memory and the Movies: 1960s Cinema-going in Britain

For many, 1960s Britain was full of women in miniskirts and men in flares. The colours were vivid and the sound of the Beatles or the Rolling Stones was in the air. This is how 1960s Britain is often remembered. The country was, as Time Magazine commented, ‘swinging.’ Except, of course, that it wasn’t. While London was certainly a hub …

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The Railway Men

THE RAILWAY MAN is based on Eric Lomax’s best-selling memoir and a series of meetings, over many years, with Lomax and his wife, Patti. The film tells the extraordinary and epic true story of Eric Lomax, a British Army officer who is tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labour camp during World War II. Decades later, Lomax …

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High Diplomacy: Bulstrode Whitelocke and the Anglo-Swedish alliance of 1654

A Conversation Starter Bulstrode Whitelocke and the Anglo-Swedish alliance of 1654 Personal relations are highly important when conducting politics today. The first steps towards political decisions are often made through conversations and discussions at an informal level. The same applied to the early modern period, although its unofficial dialogue is harder to trace in the archives. However, oral history gives …

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Fred Burnaby: The Victorian Adventurer

The incomparable Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1842-1885) In 1876 Fred Burnaby returned from an epic winter-ride on horseback and by sledge to the Khanate of Khiva, in the heart of central Asia. His book, A Ride to Khiva, was an instant hit and ran to eleven editions in the space of a year. On Horseback through Asia Minor, written after …

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