British Folk Art at Tate Britain

British Folk Art Tate Britain, London, 10 June – 31 August 2014 I imagine them sitting together, heads huddled close, whispering, choosing what to embroider next: two dancing pigs, a peacock with a fabulous tail, an anchor, or a sprig of daisies. Over the course of a year, their quilt becomes filled with an eclectic mix of motifs, sewn by …

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5 Lost Texts I’d Love To Get My Hands On… Dr Joanne Paul

Every historian has had that moment, when they realise that the their perfect text existed once, but has since been irrecoverably lost. Here is a top five list of the texts, lost to time, I’d most like to get my hands on… 1. More of Sappho’s Poetry. Not much is known of Sappho beyond her glowing reputation in the classical …

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When Women Ruled Europe

Next year the Church of England will appoint its first female bishop and Hilary Clinton will decide whether to try for the US presidency. We might think that such manifestations of female power were novel. Feminist campaigners and male chauvinists alike could be surprised to learn that 500 years ago women held most of the top jobs in Europe. We …

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The greatest general you’ve never heard of…

Not a lot of attention (beyond Greece) is given to the Byzantine empire, this is in part because after a brief flourish after the end of the Roman Empire in the West the tale of this civilisation is one of constant, steady decline. However while Western Europe was mired in many wars of invasion after the collapse of the Roman …

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Extradition – A Very Brief History

In October 2012, British Home Secretary Theresa May announced that computer hacker Gary McKinnon would not be extradited to the USA. It marked the end of a ten-year battle. Some commentators argued that the request for extradition should never have been made in the first place and that, once again, it highlighted the unequal Anglo-American extradition treaty. McKinnon, who suffers …

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John ‘Mad Jack’ Mytton – The epic story of an English eccentric

You know those outrageous stories of rich British aristocrats behaving in a very odd manner? Well John “Mad Jack” Mytton is the very pinnacle. What you are about to read will sound made up, but Mytton’s biographer, Charles James Apperley, assures us the modern reader that he told Mytton’s exploits without exaggeration. In general mental heathcare was rudimentary in the …

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Anne Boleyn’s Enduring Appeal

Born in 1501, Anne Boleyn was only eight years old when Henry VIII married his first wife Catherine. By 1522 she would become one of Catherine’s ladies in waiting and eleven years later she would become Henry VIII’s wife.  It lasted less than three years, but it was one of the most significant marriages in English history. We speak to authors …

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BOYS IN THE BOAT – A epic tale from the 1936 Olympics

In 1936 the US rowing team were victorious at Hitler’s 1936 Olympics. In THE BOYS IN THE BOAT Daniel James Brown charts their epic quest for gold in a dramatic new book that has already been optioned by the The Weinstein Company.  A conversation with the author… How did you discover the story that became THE BOYS IN THE BOAT? One day …

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Tudor Assassination – Derek Wilson Writes About His New Book

‘An assassin [is one] that will slay men for money at the instance of every man that will move him to it, and such a man may lawfully be slain…by every private person.’ – Christopher St.German, A First Dialogue in English on  Fundamental English Law and Conscience, 1531, II, xl So wrote the leading legist in Henry VIII’s London in a …

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The Great Fire – First Look

ITV has released a tantalizing taster of their epic new series about The Great Fire of London, starring Andrew Buchan, Charles Dance, Rose Leslie, Jack Huston and Daniel Mayes. Penned by Tom Bradby, the landmark drama is set to be broadcast this autumn.    

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ICONIC TEXTS: Dr Jenny McAuley on ‘Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ by Mary Wollstonecraft

‘It requires a legion of Wollstoncrafts to undermine the poisons of prejudice and malevolence.’  Mary Robinson, 1799. In the fourth installment of our new series of podcasts, Dr Jenny McAuley explores a text written by a trailblazing advocate of women’s rights.  Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman – conceived during the late eighteenth century – made a profound case for the …

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Disaster at Sea and the Fall of Captain Noble

Like most people, I hadn’t heard of the RMS Tayleur until a visit to the museum in Warrington, England a few years ago. My eye was caught by a brass porthole, crusted with barnacles but still surprisingly shiny after over 150 years, fixed to the wall next to a pile of chipped crockery and an etching of a shipwreck. A …

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John W Hawkins Reviews ‘Saving the City’ by Richard Roberts

Richard Roberts Saving the City: the great financial crisis of 1914 Oxford University Press, 2013 xviii + 302 pages + 8 B/W figures + 3 tables, £20.00 RRP Whether Richard Roberts would appreciate having his fast-moving book compared to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, or the latest series of Kiefer Sutherland’s 24 is a matter of debate, but it …

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From historical fact to historical fiction

Historian and novelist James Aitcheson on making the transition from fact to fiction, why research matters, and the power of historical novels to challenge myths and misconceptions. One of the most common questions that historical novelists get asked is: where do you draw the line between fact and fiction? Achieving the right balance is a tricky business, and as a …

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