John W Hawkins reviews “Oxford: Mapping the City” by Daniel MacCannell

Oxford: Mapping the City Daniel MacCannell Edinburgh: Birlinn Ltd., 2016 One of the tests that can be applied by a book reviewer is whether the work in question leaves the reader wanting more, and that is certainly the case with Oxford: mapping the city. This is a handsomely produced work, profusely illustrated, with the text written in an interesting and …

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Five minutes with… Jem Duducu

Jem Duducu is a historian and author of The Presidents in 100 Facts, The Busy Person’s Guide to British History and Deus Vult, among many others history books. He is also the mastermind behind History Gems and runs the regular podcast series Condensed History Gems. What is an historian? Someone who brings the past to life but leaves their personal biases …

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1668 Almanac

No one tells you this, but one of the best things about conducting historical research is the opportunity to play detective. In truth, there is much even specialists do not know about their period of expertise. Part of being a historian is using the skills you have acquired at university (or on the job) to get to the bottom of enigmatic source …

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History on the Box

Apple Tree Yard has finished, Endeavour is over and Sherlock is no more. What can history-loving TV fans watch next? Here’s a few suggestions: The Last Kingdom (BBC) I genuinely think this was one of the best historical dramas of 2015, and that’s saying a lot (this was the year of Wolf Hall, after all). BBC currently has half the …

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History Masterclass – Review

‘If historians neglect to educate the public, if they fail to interest it intelligently in the past, then all their historical learning is useless except insofar as it educates themselves’. G. M. Trevelyan A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the first History Masterclass – a new lecture/seminar series launched by Dr Suzannah Lipscomb and Dr …

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Five minutes with… Olivette Otele

Dr Olivette Otele is a historian of transnational colonial history at the College of Liberal Arts, Bath Spa University. Her latest book, a history Afro-Europeans will be released next year.  What is an historian? A person who seeks to not only understand, to write histories that influence our comprehension of the past. He/she is passionate about trajectories and experiences that shaped societies. …

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Spells for sale: the grubby reality of magic in early modern England

By Francis Young Popular perceptions of magic in Tudor and Stuart England have largely been formed by scholarship on three figures, one real and two fictional: John Dee (1527–1608/9), the astrologer and crystal-gazer who famously advised Elizabeth I; Prospero, the magician in Shakespeare’s The Tempest; and Christopher Marlowe’s learned and hubristic Doctor Faustus. Unfortunately, none of these figures is truly …

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Gill Hoffs reviews “Victorian Supersleuth Investigates” by Angela Buckley

“Victorian Supersleuth Investigates … Amelia Dyer and the Baby Farm Murders” Angela Buckley Manor Vale Associates Kindle £1.99 Paperback £4.99 In the late 19th century a series of bundles weighed down with bricks were recovered from the waterways of Berkshire.  Their contents appalled the local community and led to the discovery of one of the most prolific serial killers in …

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A Disaster in Bolama by Joanne Major & Sarah Murden

Henry Hew Dalrymple (1750-1795) has been forgotten by history, but in his lifetime he enjoyed a brief period of renown. During 1788 and 1789 he travelled to the Caribbean island of Grenada where he owned a plantation, but appalled at the treatment of the slaves, he took the decision to free all those on his own land. Back in London, …

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Why Society Needs Historians

The following article was written by Jonathan Healey for The Social Historian Blog. Jonathan Healey is Associate Professor in Social History at the University of Oxford. Society doesn’t need a 21-year-old who is a sixth century historian. It needs a 21-year-old who really understands how to analyse things, understands the tenets of leadership and contributing to society, who is a thinker and …

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Lilliburlero – The Biggest Hit of the 17th Century

In the seventeenth and eighteenth century people of all classes listened to what we might now call folk songs. In The Spectator in 1711, Joseph Addison remarked how, for instance, the ballad of The Two Children in the Wood was not only ‘one of the darling songs of the common people’ but also ‘the delight of most Englishmen in some …

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Five minutes with… James Shapiro

James Shapiro is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and author of the Samuel Johnson Prize-winning book 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare. His latest book traces Shakespeare’s life and work from late 1605 through to the publications of King Lear, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra during a time of huge political and social upheaval. …

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Matthew Moss reviews “1914” by Allan Mallinson

Allan Mallinson’s ‘1914: Fight The Good Fight’ is an ambitious attempt at giving a overview of the British Army during the first months of WWI. Published in time to coincide with the centennial commemorations 1914 traces the genesis of British war strategy, the efforts of the Army staff to reform and prepare Britain’s military for a continental war. In the …

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The 17th-Century Game of Thrones: John Dryden’s King Arthur (1691)

Kings, queens, dragons, and swordfights; John Dryden (1631-1700) was the seventeenth century counterpart to George R. R. Martin. His play King Arthur, or the British Worthy (1691) is a piece of pure medieval fantasy. With an elegant score composed by Henry Purcell (1659-1695), the play tells the tale of Arthur attempting to drive the Saxons out of Britain. Yet the …

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