Category Archives: History

Troy, and then Standen

There are many good reasons for enjoying the Troy: Myth and Reality exhibition at the British Museum. Some remarkable ancient artefacts, some fine Victorian paintings, and so on. But what filled me with delight was in a small section devoted to Troy and Gallipoli. Under a a painting of the landing a small book was […]

Christopher Tugendhat’s ‘A History of Britain Through Books: 1900 – 1964’

There’s a recently published book that I’ve been enjoying greatly, so I thought I’d spread the word about it here. It’s A History of Britain Through Books: 1900 – 1964, by Christopher Tugendhat. The author is a collector of modern first editions and, inspired by Neil MacGregor’s excellent History of the World in 100 Objects, […]

Sound Mirrors

There’s an interesting article on the BBC News website about the concrete sound mirrors erected on the British coast during the First World War. These were designed to catch and amplify the sound of incoming aircraft, and so give warning of air raids. The technology was apparently still being developed till the thirties, when it […]

‘Lest We Forget’ at IWM North

Selecting the Unknown Soldier. Image from ‘Lest We Forget’ Until February 24, 1919, there is a very good free exhibition at the Salford branch of the IWM. ‘Lest we Forget’ is about remembrance, and ways in which the Great War cast its shadow over succeeding years. The exhibition starts with the dead – a wall […]

‘The Battle of the Ancre’ – at Sheffield

On Tuesday 13th November at 6.30 p.m., there will be a public showing of the 1917 film The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks at Sheffield Hallam University (at the Void Cinema, Room 123 (Building level 1) of the Owen Building. This was the second of the full-length documentaries commissioned by […]

Peter Jackson’s ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’

Peter Jackson’s new film They Shall Not Grow Old is a technical marvel. From hundreds of hours of archive film it creates a vivid account of the Great War that looks amazingly new. The film archive of the Imperial War Museum has been cleaned, speed-adjusted and colourised to present a picture of British soldiers in […]

Rose Allatini’s London

I’m trying to find out everything I can about the author of Despised and Rejected, so on Saturday, Marion and I took a walk (and some bus rides) round West London, looking at some of the places where the novelist Rose Allatini lived. She was born in Vienna in 1890, but soon moved to London. […]

Philip Gibbs and the war-book boom

The novelist hero of Philip Gibbs’s 1931 novel The Winding Lane is an ex-soldier rather ill at ease in the literary world. At the Pen and Palette, a bohemian club catering for the artistic set, he notes the taste of some of the members: Some of these middle-aged women praised with rather hysterical enthusiasms the […]

Ben Shephard (1948-2017)

I am sorry to hear of the death of Ben Shephard, author of A War of Nerves. He died in October, but for some reason his obituary only appeared in the Guardian newspaper this morning. A War of Nerves cuts through many of the pieties about shell-shock and PSTD, and looks at the conditions, and […]

General Kelly and Forester’s ‘The General’

Chief of Staff John Kelly has the reputation of being the most stable figure in President Trump’s chaotic White House. From what one can gather, he has brought a semblance of order and organisation to the place, and has engineered the removal of some of Mr Trump’s more erratic political associates. Earlier this year, he […]