In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Daniel Snowman talks to Claire Tomalin about her work as a historical biographer.
Claire Tomalin (born Claire Delavenay on 20 June 1933) is an English author and journalist, known for her biographies on Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Pepys, Jane Austen, and Mary Wollstonecraft.
Introducing a 1996 translation of Alain Corbin’s now seminal work on the history of scent, The Foul and the Fragrant, Roy Porter lamented that ‘today’s history comes deodorized’.(1) As Jonathan Reinarz shows in this historical synthesis of recent work on the history of smell, Porter’s complaint has since been enthusiastically answered.
This book achieves two aims: to locate the Great War in the history of the 20th century, and to show how, as the 20th century unfolded, our understanding of the meaning and significance of the Great War changed as well.
The beginnings of Europe is not a very complicated historical subject. After the end of Roman domination in the fifth century CE, so-called ‘successor states’ grew up in the territories and around the margins of what had been the Western Roman Empire, and out of those states grew France, Spain, Italy and (with greater complications) England and Germany.
The most entirely satisfactory volume in this batch of books about President Kennedy is Peter J. Ling’s biography (John F. Kennedy). The author could perhaps have done with more space, but it remains astonishing how much information he gives us, and his command of the sources is equally impressive. He is scholarly, lucid, fair-minded and up-to-date.
The origin of the imperial college of electors has remained an enigma, despite a lengthy procession of monographs devoted to it. This set collects the majority of Armin Wolf’s large-scale contributions to the solution of the enigma, along with various short papers and book reviews, and several new studies are included.
The study of war and memory has been popular amongst cultural historians for over two decades, yet scholarly interest in the subject shows no sign of abating. Indeed, as this collection demonstrates, memory remains a fruitful area of research, particularly if approached from a comparative perspective.
History is never the final word; we are too empirically sensitive these days to think otherwise. It would be fair to say that since the days of Karl Popper historians have been acutely aware that what they write or utter is never the final statement concerning the historical record. Their assertions are provisional, liable to a degree of tinkering.
With the government in the midst of yet another shake-up of the national curriculum, the teaching of history in schools has become perhaps the most contentious of proposed reforms.
Six years after the publication of the first volume of the Handbook of Nineteenth-Century European Constitutional History (1), the long-awaited second has appeared. While the first ranged from around 1770 to 1815 over 1224 pages, its successor covers the time between the Congress of Vienna (1814/1815) and the Revolutions of 1848 using 1504 pages.