The great unknown masterpiece of British Literature

Arthur has destroyed and made the reputation of many writers. The British Historian John Morris wrote a history of the King who held back the Romans in the fifth century. His reputation was destroyed, although the book itself sold well.

Blind, gay, often drunk and notorius for a less than fastidious approach to his personal grooming, John Heath-Stubbs’ own stab at immortality was the long poem Artorius.

Published in 1974, it tells the story of Arthur with the accretion of later ages removed. …


Who is the real St George?

Historians would have you believe that St George was born in Cappadocia, in Modern day Turkey. That he was a member of the Emperor’s body guard and that he was killed for his Christian faith. Not so. He was born in Coventry, in the English Midlands.

The historical George

Persecution of Christianity was not the default situation in the Roman Empire before Constantine. Some Emperors persecuted, some ignored and some even favoured it. The Emperor Severus Alexander may even have been a Christian of sorts. …


The Stuarts

British Baroque: Power and Illusion explores British Art between the restoration of Charles II in 1660 and the death of Queen Anne in 1714.

A lot went on during this period- the restoration of the monarchy, the accidental beginnings of a free press, the reaction against religious toleration, the introduction of a constitutional monarchy, the stock exchange and the national debt, the Royal Society and the rule of reason, the development of Empire and the slave trade, and the rise of tea and coffee to popularity, to name a few.

This is very much a show about the Stuarts and…


A man dies two times. The first time is when he dies and the second time is when the last person who speaks his name dies.

Tutankhamun will not die the second death for quite a while.

Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun was a short lived and minor king who reigned nine years during Egypt’s most expansive period. He was a puppet ruler controlled by his grandfather-in-law Ay. Tutankhamun’s father, Akhenaten, had overseen a period of religious change as official worship was transferred from Amun and several gods, to Aten the solar disk.

Akenaten moved the capital from Thebes to Akhenaten or Amarna (to…


Alan Sorrell is revered as one of the greatest archaeological reconstruction illustrators but his oeuvrereveals a more creative artist.

Alan Sorrell

Born in Tooting Bec in 1904 to a relatively prosperous family, his early life was marked with love and tragedy. The family moved to Southend and Alan was part of a close knit family. His Uncle William was a Royal photographer and claimed that the Sorrell family descended from Norman Sorrell, a conqueror who came over with William I. His family was a creative one. His father (who had wanted to be a painter as a young man) had taken Alan…


Western artists in the nineteenth century were enthralled with the land and the artefacts of Ancient Egypt. Egypt was an exotic land completely different from Europe. The colours, the heat and the people all exerted a strange fascination.

The boom in Ancient Egypt style art of the Nineteenth Century was an indirect result of Napoleon’s foray at the start of the century. The publication of the Description of Egypt and the display of ancient artefacts in Western Europe enticed a public eager for more.

This is sometimes called the Year Zero of Egyptology, yet Egypt exerted a fascination before this…


A mighty empire felled by wild barbarians from beyond the hills or a once powerful civilisation destroyed by avarice and greed. These are not just the fantasies of today.

Thomas Cole: Course of Life

Thomas Cole was born in Lancashire in 1801. His father lost his fortune when Cole was young and he began working as an engraver at 13. At 17 his family emigrated to America. His period working in newly industrialised Lancashire may have influenced his life view and later work. The north of England was rocked by the industrial uprising known as Ludditism. These groups of workers sought to defend their rights…


One of the most beguiling museums in London is 18 Stafford Terrace. Once home to the Sambourne family, it has kept its cluttered period charm.

The Sambourne family

Edward Linely Sambourne, the Punch Ilustrator, decorated his family house in Kensington in the popular Aesthetical style. The basic tenets of Aestheticism were a celebration of art for arts sake. That is all items must be beautiful. Other trends include a taste for orientalist art (especially Japanese).

Cartoon by Linley (from wikipedia)

Following Linley’s death, the house was inherited first by their son and then their daughter. The contents of the house remain unchanged until 1960, by a fortunate combination…


I have not been asked to rewrite the new Bill and Ted film but if I was it would go something like this.

Synopsis

Bill (played by Ilana Glazer) and “Ted” Theodora Logan (played by Zazie Beetz) are two perpetual community college students who are flunking history. If they don’t pass Ted will be sent to an Alaskan military accademy etc. (Is this a thing in the American education system?)

One day, outside the circle K, they met Rufie (played by Susie Essman). She shouts at them for not applying themselves to their studies. Then she shows them a telephone box…


In October 1517 Martin Luther published his 95 Theses which set in motion the Reformation. The romantic version of the story states that he pinned them on the door of the church in Wurtenberg. Trends and movements had sprung up before 1517 which were aimed at reforming or moving outside of the Catholic Church’s control. For various reasons, the reformation started by Martin Luther was successful. One of the reasons for this is the introduction of print which allowed materials to be quickly reprodcued for a relatively mass consumption.

The British Museum recently exhibited their collection of prints from this…

Simon Bralee

Part-time PhD examining Anubis in the Greek and Roman World. Also interested in ancient religions, reception of Egypt in arts/literature and politics of history

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