What was new in 2008?

18 December 2008

Synopsis of 1415: Henry V's Year of Glory

Publication won't be until the end of 2009, but for those who are interested in book four in the sequence of biographies, here is an outline.

3 November 2008

Review of The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England in The Literary Review

Alan Massie also likes the book. I've now started a reviewers' comments page.

25 October 2008

Review of my Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England in The Guardian

Kathryn Hughes takes a positive view of my new book - 'My Goodness, it is fun', she declares. For those in the West Country there is also a positive review in today's Western Morning News by Colin Bradley.

17 October 2008

'What Isn't History? The Nature and Enjoyment of History in the Twenty-First century'

My article redefining and massively widening the intellectual scope of history has appeared in the scholarly journal History (the journal of the Historical Association). The above link takes you to the abstract.

11 October 2008

First newspaper review of my Time Traveller's Guide

It's always frustrating when the first review you see of a new book is by someone who doesn't really understand your work, and doubly frustrating when he/she clearly hasn't tried to understand. This bizarre review by Tom Holland seems to suggest that I should have sexed up the bits he found boring, or ignored them, or written them in some sort of semi-fictionalised way. I think you can go so far down this road, but only so far, and only if you want your books to appeal only to the readership of today, and only if you don't mind writing something which scholars will use as a by-line for the trivialisation of their subject. I rather hope that my original contributions will stand the test of time, and that goes for this book as well as my detailed historical biographies. People are interested in clothing (to pick one section he didn't like), and they want to know what people wore in the middle ages with a degree of certainty. Unless historical writing carries that degree of certainty, and encourages confidence, it won't last.

9 October 2008

History in Education - a further note

An exchange in the local shop yesterday reminded me powerfully of my essay History in Education. I had to write this short note as a result. As I put it: 'History is like sex - you should discover how wonderful it is for yourself; you shouldn't be forced to undergo it against your will; and it is shallow and meaningless when it is second-rate.'

8 October 2008

Comment on my TLS piece

There's a couple of letters in this week's TLS coming back at my article 'Beyond the Facts', about the stifling of originality in history. - The first of these, by Professor Phil Cohen, raises an interesting point. The one comment I would make on Phil Cohen's piece is that his view seems to be structured around history as a social science concerned with establishing what happened and why. Of course this is one function of history - my PhD was very much a scientific social study of 17th century medicine - but the originality I envisage goes quite a lot further. I don't see history as necessarily about the past. History is about humanity in time. My Time Traveller's Guide is a good example of what I mean by originality; yes, on the one hand it is an ironic twist on traditional social history, and is meant to be entertaining as well as informative; but on the deeper level it is meant to encourage people to juxtapose themselves with their antecedents in the fourteenth century, just as WH Auden encouraged people wishing to understand their own country to live in two others. Rejuventating the intellectual aspect of history is of interest to me - but so is expanding the emotional, artistic, spiritual, poetic and sympathetic aspects of history. These are things which don't fit within Phil Cohen's Kuhnian model, nor his social-science perspective on how things might change.

4 October 2008

'The Uncertain Death of Edward II'

I'm really pleased to see - at long, long last - that an academic is prepared to put his neck on the block and try to argue against my EHR article, which demonstrated that there was no sound information basis to the reports of Edward II's death in 1327 and that he was still alive in 1330. Click here for a continuation of this note.

2 October 2008

The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England...

...is published today. In all good bookshops now.
(I like that phrase - it implies that all bookshops which don't stock my books are not good.)

2 October 2008

Introduction to a talk on Climate Change and the National Trust

Today Adrian Colston of the National Trust came to talk to the Moretonhampstead History Society about the impact of climate change on the National Trust's activities. Several people asked later if I would make my introduction available. Here it is - with the caveat that I did tend to wander from my notes.

26 September 2008

Beyond the facts How true originality in history has fallen foul of postmodernism, research targets and commercial pressure

I am very pleased to see that my article on historical originality appears in this week's edition of The TLS.

25 September 2008

Groats in your Purse

My reconstruction of medieval shopping is now out in the October edition of BBC History. In fact, if you subscribe to the magazine in the near future you can get a free copy of my new book, The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England.

16 September 2008

The Historian as Time Traveller

The 'Point of Departure' article in the October edition of History Today is an autobiographical piece about my approach to writing history.

10 September 2008

York or Lancaster: who was the rightful heir to the throne in 1460?

This article appears in the autumn edition of the Bulletin of the Richard III Society.

25 August 2008

The Paris catacombs.

I revisted the catacombs in Paris a couple of weeks ago. An inspirational place.

25 August 2008

Medieval Intrigue and the Nature of Historical Evidence

I have now signed the contract for this book of essays about medieval information and evidence, and have updated the 'forthcoming books' page. The book will not actually be written until next year. All being well, it should appear in 2010.

18 July 2008

Ways with Words, Dartington

I enjoyed this year's festival so much I thought I'd write a note about it.

18 July 2008

History in Education

Last week I was stuck all Thursday in the emergency ward of a hospital, with people in adjacent beds sufering from very serious illnesses, strokes, dizziness and delirium. I longed for some semblance of normality. I sat by my bed - did not want to get into it - and waited for the necessary checks, brainscan, lumber puncture, etcetera, with my notebook and pen for company. I wrote two essays over that period, including this one, about the implications of making history in education compulsory to age sixteen.

25 June 2008

A note on the first impression of The Perfect King

A piece of trivia - but perhaps of interest to those who are collecting first editions of my books.

8 June 2008

Interview published

John Saunders of the Richard III Society interviewed me earlier in the year. The resulting 'Meet the Historian' article appears in the summer edition of the Society's Bulletin. A fuller version, with the long answer to question two, appears here.

21 May 2008

Why I do not fly

This morning I hear the Sustainable Development Commission is calling for a halt to the building of new airports until the costs to the UK are established. About time. As it happens I was thinking about the cost implications of flying two days ago, as I cound't sleep and went and sat in the early moning light on the moor. The financial arguments were eventually cut from the note I wrote, but in case it finds resonance with anyone else who does not like flying, here is my twopenny-worth on the subject.

20 May 2008

Promotional article for Time Traveller's

The book does not come out until 2 October, but in case you want a preview of the promotional article, here's a draft.

13 May 2008

Past Talks and Lectures

Spoke to the Richard III Society last Saturday. Removing the details from the 'forthcoming talks' page this morning seemed like throwing away information. Seemed a pity - so I drew up a select list of past talks I have done over the last five years. Probably of no interest to anyone but me when I am in my dotage.

7 April 2008

A Note on the Deaths of Edward II

An attempt to make my research into Edward II's 'death' in Berkeley Castle clear and simple to understand, and to explain the methodology and information basis for the work, and also to show why I do not think one has any option but to accept the survival narrative. This appears in a new section of the website, Notes and Essays, for the on-line publication of various ideas, thoughts and comments.

1 April 2008

Autobiographical Note

April Fool's day seems as good a day as any to write a bit about myself.

30 March 2008

This page...

This website is going to start expanding, so this page is intended to give further information about my books and other activities, including forthcoming appearances. Today I have made available some initial information about my forthcoming book The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, which will be published by The Bodley Head in October. I'll add some excerpts when the book appears. I'm not a big fan of blogs but perhaps this page will serve a similar purpose, keeping readers up to date with what I'm up to.


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