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Titanic: One Family’s Story

By John Welshman
At the time of the collision, Hanna Touma was standing in the doorway of the family’s cabin. She was talking to one of the other migrants from her village. It was just a jolt, but it made the door slam shut, cutting her index finger. Two of the men went to find out what had happened while Hanna went to the Infirmary to get her hand bandaged. Everyone she passed wondered what had caused the jolt and why the ship had stopped.

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Titanic Street

One of the intriguing aspects of the Titanic story is the way it offers insights into particular locations. A particularly good example is Oxford Street in Southampton. Southampton became established as England’s main passenger port following the transfer, from 1907, of the White Star Line’s transatlantic express service from Liverpool. By 1912, the city was home to steamship companies that included the Royal Mail, Union Castle, and American Lines.

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Tales of the Titanic disaster

A lot has changed in the past 100 years, but certain stories stay with us, such as those of the people aboard the RMS Titanic. One of the greatest disasters in maritime history, its sinking sent over one thousand people still aboard into the Arctic waters. Leading political figures and servants, teachers and children, wireless operators and engineers, layered the hulking ship. We sat down with author John Welshman to discuss the people on this star-crossed voyage.

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Images from the Titanic Disaster

At 11:40 pm ship’s time on 14 April 1912, the HMS Titanic hit an iceberg. Just two hours and forty minutes later, the hull broke, taking the ship and over one thousand people still aboard into the sea. It remains one of the greatest disasters in maritime history. In Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town, John Welshman gathered 25 pictures of this ill-fated voyage together and we’d like to share a few with you.

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Everyday people aboard the Titanic

By John Welshman
It was Walter Lord in A Night to Remember (1955) who described the sinking of the Titanic as ‘the last night of a small town’. Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town, draws on Lord’s metaphor by focusing on the stories of just 12 people, chosen as a representative cross-section of passengers and crew.

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Fellowes and the Titanic

By John Welshman
The latest news for period drama fans is that Julian Fellowes, writer of Downton Abbey, has created a four-part ITV mini-series commemorating the centenary of the Titanic sinking. However, what many viewers may not realise is that there was a real Fellowes on board the ship in 1912.  But rather than being an ancestor of the popular writer, Alfred J. Fellowes was a humble crew member and one of the estimated 1,514 people to perish in the maritime disaster.

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“Music in your blood and poetry in your soul”: the beauty of Welsh English

By Bethan Tovey
To be born Welsh requires the genes of a chameleon. You must be a geographer (how many maps have I drawn to explain to anyone not from our little island the difference between “Britain” and “England”?), a musician (try singing “Bread of Heaven” in a Welsh pub: I give you two bars before you’re accompanied by full four-part harmony), a diplomat (not punching the hundred-and-first person to make a sheep joke takes some restraint), and above all, a linguist. The Welsh have a way with words.

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The Oxford Companion to Downton Abbey

Now that Series One and Two, plus the Christmas Special, of Downton Abbey have aired in the US and Canada, we’ve decided to compile a reading list for those serious-minded viewers who’d like to learn more about Edwardian England, World War I, life in an aristocratic household, and what lies ahead for the Crawleys and their servants. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

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One Voyage, Two Thousand Stories

Downton Abbey opens with the telegram announcing that the Earl of Grantham’s heir, James Crawley, and his son Patrick, have perished in the sinking of the Titanic. Since Lady Mary was supposed to marry Patrick, the succession plans go awry, and this sets off a chain of events. But how likely is it that an English aristocrat would have perished in the disaster?

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The Cameron-Clegg Coalition: Day One

It’s the morning of Wednesday 12 May, and I’m in London to be interviewed by Laurie Taylor on the Radio 4 programme ‘Thinking Allowed’. Selina Todd, from Manchester University, has been asked to contribute her assessment of my book, and so will also be on the show. I know of her work, but haven’t met her previously. The researchers have assured me that Selina likes the book, but she has a formidable reputation, and I worry what she might say.

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Broken Britain and Big Society: Back to the 1930s?

The phrase ‘Broken Britain’ is well known to British newspaper readers; it’s a phrase commonly used across the media to describe society’s problems. Here, historian John Welshman traces this identification of a broken society back to around the time of the Second World War, and argues that the real answer is – and was then – to address society’s inequalities rather than ‘Big Society’ and a retreat from state involvement.

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