Taiwau Bozu: The bald geisha plague of 1901 by Michael Davies

The strange disease which has produced so much hilarity came, it is said, from Formosa; and a person may conclude that he has been attacked by it when he gets up in the morning and finds a hitherto hairy poll as bare as a billiard ball. No other symptoms make their appearance. It is bad enough for the Japanese gentlemen, …

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Five Minutes With… Melanie Backe-Hansen

Melanie Backe-Hansen is an historian, author and speaker. She specialises in social history of houses and streets and is the author of the acclaimed books ‘House Histories: The Secrets Behind Your Front Door’ and ‘Historic Streets and Squares: The Secrets on Your Doorstep’  What is an historian? This is rather a difficult question to answer, and I’m suddenly transported back into time (of …

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JAMES TAYLOR REVIEWS ‘THE BOMBERS AND THE BOMBED’ BY RICHARD OVERY

The Bombers and The Bombed: Allied Air War Over Europe 1940-1945 By Richard Overy Viking On the night of 27th July 1943, 729 RAF Bomber Command aircraft dropped 2,386 tons of bombs on the German city of Hamburg. The city’s shipbuilding industry meant that it was frequently a bombing target, but that night the majority of the bombs fell on …

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THE HANOVER: 300 Years of British-German Royal Ties

2014 marks the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian accession to the British Throne, a crucial moment in which the new British nation created an original sense of style that is still recognised across the world today. With the death of Queen Anne and the unsuccessful search for a Protestant heir in England, the British monarchy turned to its distant relatives …

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Historic St Pancras Launches Second Annual Lecture Series

An outlaw, unconventional women and a cross-dressing French spy will feature in a new series of lectures to raise money to keep the doors of historic St. Pancras Old Church open.   The church, in Pancras Road, Camden, reportedly a site of worship since the 4th century, may have to permanently close doors which have welcomed visitors for at least …

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ICONIC TEXTS: Julia Nicholls on ‘The Communist Manifesto’ by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

In the second instalment of our brand new series of podcasts, Julia Nicholls discusses one of the most controversial texts of the 19th and 20th centuries. Written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in late 1847 and published in 1848, The Communist Manifesto begins with the immortal line: ‘A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism’. Written in response to European …

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The White Princess and The Lost Prince

Tony Boullemier reviews Philippa Gregory’s novel The White Princess and compares her theory on the Princes in the Tower to that of David Baldwin in his work of research, The Lost Prince.  If you enjoyed The White Queen TV series, based on Philippa Gregory’s book, your next step should be to read her follow-up novel The White Princess – the …

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ITV To Make The Great Fire of London Drama

The story of humble baker Thomas Farriner and his fabled involvement in The Great Fire of London is to be dramatised for ITV. Described as being ‘inspired by the historical events of 1666’, the decadent court of King Charles II will provide the backdrop to one of the most catastrophic events in London’s history. Written by author and political commentator Tom Bradby …

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Five Minutes With… Greg Jenner

Greg Jenner is a writer, historian and TV freelancer. He is best known as the Historical Consultant to the BBC’s comedy sketch show Horrible Histories, and has just written his first book – One Million Years In A Day – which will be published in 2015. He is obsessed with Twitter. What is an historian? This is one of those …

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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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M.F. Husain: Master of Modern Indian Painting

M.F. Husain: Master of Modern Indian Painting 28 May – 27 July 2014 Admission: FREE For the first time, the final nine paintings by the celebrated Indian artist, M.F. Husain (1915- 2011) will go on public display at the V&A this summer. The Indian Civilization series comprises eight monumental triptych paintings, each measuring 12 feet wide by six feet high, …

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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 at the V&A Museum

Shakespeare: Greatest Living Playwright 8 February – 21 September 2014 Admission: FREE The 23rd April 2014 marks 450 years since William Shakespeare was born. To mark this occasion, the Victoria and Albert Museum has a new exhibition exploring how Shakespeare’s works have inspired theatrical interpretations through the centuries and across the globe. Shakespeare: Greatest Living Playwright takes Shakespeare’s First Folio …

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