Historians, unsurprisingly, spend much of their time thinking about how people make sense of the past.
The funniest moment in the British Library’s wonderful Magna Carta: Law Liberty, Legacy exhibition comes towards its end, in a recent cartoon by Stephen Collins (sadly not reproduced in the excellent catalogue, but available here).
The Southampton Rebellion remains the most famous slave rebellion in American history. It was not the largest or even the first. From the hinterlands of the African continent to the plantations of the New World, rebellion and resistance on the part of enslaved African Americans was common, persistent, and widespread.
As Anna Bayman notes in her excellent new monograph, ‘[a] book about Thomas Dekker could [...] be a book about almost anything’ (p. 3). Tackling this prolific and somewhat elusive writer brings with it a host of difficulties. Dekker’s writings are generically and formally diverse, embedded within the political and moral concerns of early modern London.
Both the problematic discourses of ‘professional/amateur’ and ‘public/private spheres’, and also the multifaceted hierarchies between the fine and the applied arts, have received substantial academic enquiry in the last thirty years. This is particularly true for the art historians researching the cultural activities of middle-class women in 19th-century Britain.
In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Daniel Snowman talks to Professor Roy Foster about his recent book, Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923, as well as issues surrounding Anglo-Irish history, historiography and biography.
The period 1550–1700 saw the ‘golden age’ of the English alehouse. Although ale had long been consumed as part of a daily diet in England, it had mostly been produced on a domestic scale, and its retail had tended to be sporadic and temporary.
The title of Richard Brookhiser's biography of the 16th President indicates the innovative nature of its perspective. Brookhiser contends that new light can be shed on Lincoln's personal and political evolution by tracing his regular reflections and adaptations of the ideas of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Biography has always been as something of the black sheep of historical writing; we cannot do without it, yet it always looked down upon, particularly by those in the profession that are committed to more high-flown subjects and methods of analysis. Yet there can be no doubt that John Campbell has made a serious contribution to British political history through his biographical studies.
In one of Disraeli’s novels, we are told to ‘read no history, nothing but biography, for that is life without theory’. It is a maxim that political historians, in particular, have taken enthusiastically to heart, though they may find the current generation a less attractive prospect. Of our current party leaders, few have led especially captivating lives.