Category Archives: History

Colonel Repington, Arnold Bennett and Lady Constance

I’ve been looking again at a text I’ve neglected for a long while, The First World War, 1914-1918 (1920) by Colonel Repington. It was a book that scored a huge hit at the time of publication – ten editions in a year he claimed. It was something of a succes de scandale, because it was […]

Kipling does not mince his words

Ever since the sentimental film My Boy Jack, a myth has grown that his son’s death at Loos made Rudyard Kipling less warlike, more pacific. The evidence mostly points the other way. Kipling was tremendously affected by John’s death, of course, but in ways that made him even more committed to the war effort, more […]

Carlyle’s Statue

The news last week, suddenly, was all about the toppling of statues. When it comes to the bronze representation of a slave-owner like Colston in Bristol, my only feeling is a mild surprise that it hasn’t been quietly got rid of long ago (which would have avoided its noisy elimination this week). But when I […]

Tipping a policeman

I’m indulging myself during this tedious lockdown by re-reading Arnold Bennett’s Imperial Palace (1930). At the moment I’m wondering about something that occurs in the episode where dynamic Gracie Savott parks her car outside Smithfield market, and asks a policman to keep an eye on it.On leaving the market, ‘she resumed her dark cloak, tipped […]

Max Beerbohm and ‘Tubby’ Clayton

Idle in the lockdown, I did a bit of exploring in Ebay, a site where I’ve not ventured much recently. I bought myself this print, a drawing of Rev. P.B. ‘Tubby’ Clayton by Max Beerbohm, one of a set of lithographs of current notables that Max drew for the Spectator in 1931. I have a […]

Influenza advice

In view of the current crisis, I thought it might be helpful to share this advice from the Daily Mail of February 24, 1919:

‘The Magnet’ and the Regulation of War Enthusiasm

I’ve been looking through the essays and conference papers that I’ve written over the years, and will be uploading several of them onto this site. The first is one that I gave at a conference a few years ago, where I looked at the Magnet boys’ paper, (which featured stories of Billy Bunter and Greyfriars […]

On Bookish Students of History

From The Bulpington of Blup (1932) by H.G. Wells: The bookish student of history in the future will find a curious interest in the contrasts between the literature which tells the story of the English going to war on the one hand, a complex, reluctant, voluntary affair, and that which describes the fatalistic acquiescence of […]

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, […]