Category Archives: History

John Bull

Insofar as Horatio Bottomley’s magazine John Bull is remembered in the history books it is as a purveyor of rabid Jingoism and hatred of the ‘Germhuns’. For a while I’ve been developing the idea that there was more to it than that, and that it was a strong populist voice, critical of the status quo. […]

Beer

After a long while away, I was back at the British Library at Boston Spa today. For too long I’ve been meaning to take a proper look at Horatio Bottomley’s John Bull magazine. Today I got deep into some 1917 issues on microfilm. Loathed by the respectable in his time, and vilified by all decent […]

‘Kipling in the News’

I spent last Thursday and Friday at the Kipling in the News conference in London. It was rather a strange one, because it was what they call hybrid. Current restrictions and problems keep many from travelling, so only a few of us met at the City University near Islington. The rest joined in from afar […]

End of a War

Wars in Afghanistan don’t usually end well. This painting by Lady Butler is called Remnants of an Army. It shows William Brydon, assistant surgeon in the Bengal Army, arriving at the gates of Jalalabad in January 1842. He is bringing news of the sorry fate of 16,000 soldiers and camp followers from the 1842 retreat […]

Objectors and Tribunals

I’ve been dipping into Philip Snowden’s Autobiography (found yesterday in a charity shop). Snowden was the M.P. most consistently arguing for the rights of conscientious objectors. He is very interesting on the tribunals, claiming that the Military Service Act was generous in intention, giving definite rights to those unwilling to fight. I cannot speak too […]

Hemingway

I am an admirer of Ken Burns’s documentaries, from his revelatory series on the American Civil War to his recent very enjoyable take on Country Music. His Hemingway (now showing on BBC4) is well up to standard in most respects, clearly explaining the life and work of this remarkable writer. One thing jarred. During the […]

Horatio Bottomley and the TLS

A couple of weeks ago, the TLS published a long article by Neil Berry about that awful old rogue, Horatio Bottomley. Mr Berry took the standard line on him, deploring his dishonesty, vulgarity and jingoism, which is fair enough up to a point – but actually Bottomley’s magazine, John Bull, is much more interesting than […]

‘Illusions of Peace’ at the NAM

I should have given a blog mention to this before the event (but don’t worry, you can still book up for tomorrow’s sessions – details later). I’ve spent the day at the first day of an online conference about the aftermath of the Great War. Illusions of Peace is hosted by the National Army Museum, […]

William John Chapman

Dear Jane,Thank you for your kind offer to find details of William Chapman’s naval career. I have now done some basic research, but I wonder whether you would be able to cast some light on the documents that I have discovered. William John Chapman, my great-grandfather, was born in 1846, in Plymouth, which may suggest […]

Sergeant-Major George Simmers

My sister died fifteen years ago, and last week her husband sent me scans of some of the older family photos she had put long ago into a box. The prize piece was a family group, in the centre of which was this smart man, in civvies but with something of a military air. He […]