Category Archives: popular culture

On War Memorials

For much of my life I was indifferent to war memorials. They stood there in the middle of every town and village, often useful as landmarks, but surely all more or less the same? It was only when I started seriously studying the Great War, and especially its cultural effects, that I began to realise […]

The Yoke (1907) by Hubert Wales

I’ve been thinking again recently about Kipling’s literary treatment of syphilis, so am looking around to see how other writers treated the theme during his lifetime. The most common approach is the moralistic: a sinner receives the wages of sin. There were alternatives, though, and I’ve just been reading The Yoke, a scandalous novel of […]

Dean Street Press

This is just a brief note to recommend the excellent Dean Street Press, and their reissues of classic crime novels of the inter-war period. Quite regularly, they whet readers’ appetites by offering free Kindle downloads of some of their books. This week I took advantage of the offer of The Black Cabinet, by Patricia Wentworth […]

Frail Women (1932)

Another Maurice Elvey film from Talking Pictures TV, to go with his Who Goes Next? which I wrote about yesterday. Frail Women is a melodrama that uses the trope of the war baby to explore the themes of illegitimacy and responsibility. Mary was born in 1916, placed in a care home and then adopted by […]

‘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 […]

1917 – a film for 2020

The first thing that must be said about 1917 is that it’s a gripping and brilliantly made film. The effect is that the camera follows two soldiers on a dangerous mission, in a single shot, in real time. An effect of immediate realism is produced that looks simple, but has in fact been achieved by […]

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 […]

Robert Blake (and Sexton)

Sanjay Sircar, a reader of this blog, has sent me an interesting footnote to my long-ago posts about the Sexton Blake detective magazines. His mother , Rani Sircar, wrote a memoir, Dancing Round the Maypole: Growing Out of British India (New Delhi: Rupa, 2003). In this she records that at school in Madras in the […]

‘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 […]