In 1812 Benjamin West completed his portrait of John Eardley Wilmot. The portrait was two paintings in one: it depicted its subject, Wilmot, lawyer and former Chief Justice of Common Pleas, at the foreground; in the background was a painting within a painting, a scene of American loyalists, including Native Americans, African slaves, women, and children.
Happy 240th birthday, Jane Austen! Jane Austen was born 16 December 1775 in Hampshire, England. Birthdays were important events in Jane Austen’s life – those of others perhaps more so than her own.
People often find their interest in a cause awakened by a dramatization on stage, screen, between the pages of a book or, these days, on YouTube. This fall, Americans are learning about the highly dramatic battle in Britain to win the vote for women.
In 1623, one kilogram of tobacco was roughly five times more expensive than Shakespeare’s newly published First Folio. The entire collection, which cost only £1, contained thirty-six of his works, many of which incorporate 16th- and 17th-century notions of status, wealth, and money. Most of his characters are garbed in colors and fabrics befitting their social standing, and he frequently presents foreign currencies alongside English coins.
In the late 1960s, an ugly little rhyme circulated in Britain’s declining industrial towns. At the time, seemingly unstoppable mass migration from Britain’s former colonies had triggered a succession of new laws aimed at restricting entry to Britain, followed by a new political emphasis on ‘race relations’ intended to quell international dismay and reduce internal racial tensions.
Ezra Pound was a major figure in the early modernist movement. During his lifetime he developed close interactions with leading writers and artists, such as Yeats, Ford, Joyce, Lewis, and Eliot. Yet his life was marked by controversy and tragedy, especially during his later years.
Where did Shakespeare obtain material for his English history plays? The obvious answer would be to say that he drew on the second edition of Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (1587), a massive work numbering no fewer than 3,500,000 words that gave rise to more Renaissance plays than any other book, ancient or modern.
Though a Queen ruled England, gender equality certainly wasn’t found in Elizabethan society. Everything from dress to employment followed strict gender roles, and yet there was a certain amount of room for play. There are several cases of (in)famous women who dressed as men and crossed the bounds of “acceptable behavior.”
Corbynomics has yet to be unpacked. And when it is, there’s danger it will be branded as a return to the bad old days of tax and spend, when the 1983 Labour manifesto was dismissed by pundits as the longest suicide note in history. To avoid this, what Labour needs are some big and positive ideas; ideas that that resonate with the public and which capture that popular mood of radicalism that has put Jeremy Corbyn where he is.
At its root, Islam is as much a Western religion as are Judaism and Christianity, having emerged from the same geographic and cultural milieu as its predecessors. For centuries we lived at a more or less comfortable distance from one another. Post-colonialism and economic globalization, and the strategic concerns that attended them, have drawn us into an ever-tighter web of inter-relations.
In July 1867 the British historian Edward Augustus Freeman was in the thick of writing his epic History of the Norman Conquest. Ever a stickler for detail, he wrote to the geologist William Boyd Dawkins asking for help establishing where exactly in Pevensey soon-to-be King Harold disembarked in 1052.
Elizabeth Stuart (1596–1662) was the charismatic daughter of King James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) and Anna of Denmark. She married the Calvinist Frederick V, Elector Palatine, at age 16, and lived happily in Heidelberg, Germany, for six years before being crowned Queen of Bohemia at 23 and moving to Prague.
It is a well-known fact of British prehistory that burial monuments, sometimes on a monumental scale, are well-documented in the Neolithic and Bronze Age, but largely absent in the Iron Age, outside certain distinctive regional groups at particular periods.
At the dawn of the children’s hospital movement in Europe and the West (best epitomised and exemplified by the opening of London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children (GOSH) on 14 February 1852), the plight of sick children was precarious at all levels of society. After a long campaign by Dr Charles West, Great Ormond Street hospital was the first establishment to provide in-patient beds specifically for children in England.
The conspirators in what we now know as the Gunpowder Plot failed in their aspiration to blow up the House of Lords on the occasion of the state opening of parliament in the hope of killing the King and a multitude of peers. Why do we continue to remember the plot? The bonfires no longer articulate anti-Roman Catholicism, though this attitude formally survived until 2013 in the prohibition against the monarch or the heir to the throne marrying a Catholic.
Our legal history stretches back well over eight centuries. But however long this history may be, it is not one of which we can be universally proud, and the freedoms which we enjoy today have had to be hard won over the centuries.