The English Revolution and its Patriotic Exiles

Despite the plethora of literature that has been published on the English Revolution and Restoration over the years, the topic of exile during this most exciting period of British history remains an understudied area. There is still much unseen primary source material to be uncovered in European and North American archives and plenty of gaps… Continue reading The English Revolution and its Patriotic Exiles

Divided Heaven – 25 years later

Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall I have finally finished reading Divided Heaven by the East German writer Christa Wolf. It is a love story ended by the separation of the two Germanies, completed by the construction of the Wall, which aimed to prevent the defection of Eastern Germans to the West.… Continue reading Divided Heaven – 25 years later

Laughing about Hitler

Is it ok to laugh about Hitler? This seems to be the one big question critics have been asking themselves about Timor Vermes’s Look Who’s Back – a novel about Adolf Hitler waking up in 21st-century Berlin seeing a confusingly modern world through a Nazi lense. Some teenage boys playing football on a field must… Continue reading Laughing about Hitler

Lies, secrets and death on the eve of the Glorious Revolution

The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander is a historical novel set in the murky world of London’s coffee houses on the eve of the Glorious Revolution. The son of an English dissenter and a French Huguenot, its young redhead hero Calumny Spinks lives under the shadow of his father’s dark secret dating back to Oliver… Continue reading Lies, secrets and death on the eve of the Glorious Revolution

Tracking down the regicides

I don’t read much popular history, and that is probably a mistake. By ignoring countless works written for a mass audience I miss what attracts most people to my subject area: a good story that is actually true, or at least could be true, reconstructed from sources scattered all over the archives and joined by… Continue reading Tracking down the regicides

‘The World is Our House’: A Midsummer’s Symposium of Jesuit Culture and Music, 1540-1700

Swansea University and Hereford Cathedral are holding a Midsummer symposium on international Jesuit culture, 1540–1700. The event on 21 June celebrates the re-evaluation of the Cwm Jesuit Library, housed at Hereford Cathedral since 1679. The library is the largest surviving seventeenth-century Jesuit missionary library in Britain. Scholars are currently analysing the library as part of a… Continue reading ‘The World is Our House’: A Midsummer’s Symposium of Jesuit Culture and Music, 1540-1700

The Archive Closes for Lunch

If you want to do research in Switzerland, you better learn to get up early. I always thought I was an early riser, but compared to the average Swiss person I’m clearly a sleepy head. Arriving at the Berne State Archive just after 8am on a Tuesday morning, I found that most of the other… Continue reading The Archive Closes for Lunch

The Fascination of The Isle of Pines (1668)

Henry Neville’s utopian travel narrative The Isle of Pines (1668) is one of my favourite pieces of literature. It tells the story of the shipwreck of an English trading vessel during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and  of the subsequent survival of one man and four women on a lonely island near terra Australis… Continue reading The Fascination of The Isle of Pines (1668)

Transnational Subjects: Calls for Papers

I am on the editorial board of a new journal, Transnational Subjects: History, Society and Culture. Our first issue will be appearing in October 2011. The journal is print and online, and fully peer-reviewed. Currently we have two open calls for papers. For our second issue, which will be published in May 2012, we invite… Continue reading Transnational Subjects: Calls for Papers

Shakespeare, Chaucer and Joyce: A Conference on Medieval and Early Modern Authorship

If it has never occurred to you that Chaucer might have influenced Joyce as much as Homer then you should read more medieval literature – or listen to Helen Cooper (Cambridge). Even though Joyce decided to name his Ulysses after Homer’s classical Odyssey, Cooper argues, his true ‘poetic father’ in the English language was Chaucer,… Continue reading Shakespeare, Chaucer and Joyce: A Conference on Medieval and Early Modern Authorship