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  • 04/11/14--03:15: The Friday Digest 11/04/14
  • THP Friday digest 
    This week's update features debates on the future of the publishing industry, an exorcism in Elizabethan London and the curious history of the items in your tool shed.




    * Explore over 500 historical sources from across Europe, with insights by First World War experts with the British Library. 

    Craiglockhart War Hospital. Image from

    * Did Craiglockhart hospital revolutionise mental healthcare? 

    Vera Brittain with son and daughter. Image from

    * Did the trauma of the First World War lead to great creativity?

    A pigeon being released from a tank during World War One

    * Pigeon vs telephone: which worked best in the trenches? 

    Large porcelain flask painted with underglaze blue decoration. Made in Jingdezhen, China. Ming dynasty, Xuande mark and period, 1426–1435. Gift of Sir John Addis.

    * Which single object from the British Museum collection could possibly represent the early Ming dynasty (1368–1644), China? The answer seemed obvious – it had to be a spectacular blue-and-white porcelain vase.


    1000 Old Village - News Mexico

    * Archaeologists discover the hidden architecture of a 1,000-year-old village in New Mexico.  



    * The world’s oldest yacht has been excavated on the Isle of Man. The vessel, Peggy, was built for Castletown politician and bank owner George Quayle between 1789 and 1793. 


    Marlborough Workhouse

    * Skeletons in a Victorian closet: the unfortunate story of Thomas Willoughby.

    books with Athena. Image from


    * 10 ways would-be writers can start establishing their careers.   

    The devil attacking a window, a detail from St Anthony the Hermit by Matthias Grunewald (c.1470-1528)

    * Beware the foul fiend: an exorcism in Elizabethan London.  

    Women supporting the miners during the 1984 strike. Photograph: Don Mcphee for the Guardian

    The women of the miners' strike: 'We caused a lot of havoc'.

     Wilson, Keppel and Betty

    * A look at variety acts and turns of the early 1930s

    Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat, by Simon de Myle (Wikimedia Commons)   Read more:

    * Ten ancient stories and the geological events that may have inspired them.  

    What's lurking inside the Bank of England's vaults? All images subject to copyright. Images courtesy Bank of England Museum, London.

    * What's lurking inside the Bank of England's vaults? 

    Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve ('The Ambassadors') By Hans Holbein the younger. Image from

    * What hidden messages are lurking in these Tudor paintings?

    Chaucer's knight and squire from the Ellesmere manuscript (c) Getty Images

     * What did medieval Europe do with its teenagers?  



    * The curious history of the items in your tool shed


    * Was the Titanic disaster predicted? 

    Lemmington Wood rock carving

    * Protected status has been granted for Northumberland's prehistoric rock-art carvings


    Tom Weldon


    * Tom Weldon, the UK head of Penguin Random House insists that the publishing industry has coped with the digital revolution better than any other: 'Some say publishing is in trouble. They are completely wrong.' But do you agree with his comments? 


    * The Digital Minds conference in London asks is this a 'golden age for publishing or the end of the book?'

    * Wikipedia: The Book? Publishing Perspectives investigates ...


    * The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist has been announced with debut novelists Eimear McBride, Audrey Magee appearing.

    Sue Townsend in 2000. Photograph: Rob Judges/Rex

    * Sue Townsend, creator of Adrian Mole, has died aged 68. She was one of Britain’s most celebrated comic writers: novelist, playwright and journalist.

    Tracey Emin is to design a Collector’s Edition bag for the second 'Books Are My Bag' campaign.


    International appeal … Irvine Welsh, visiting Leith from his new home in Chicago. Photograph: Murdo Macleod


    * There are some big names in Scottish crime fiction, but is it enough? Irvine Welsh asks why Scottish writers have trouble with London publishers


    Footwear fragments can give a positive match 500


    * Just how useful are footwear marks at crime scenes




    5 tips for running a writers’ circle.

    Book shelf. Image from


    * Which books make you feel stupid?  


      Which history and publishing stories have you enjoyed reading this week?

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    In April 2013 a committee member found a box of old lantern slides in the organ loft of Alexandra Presbyterian Church. The images were of soldiers and sailors in First World War uniforms. There are 77 lantern slides in total featuring the faces of 137 men.  Of these 31 are known to have been Killed in Action. The slides were made by the famous Belfast photographer Mr Alex. R. Hogg. The committee minutes of Castleton Church state that in 1918 he was asked to put together a lantern slide exhibition ‘of our men at the front’ which was to be shown on 16th December 1918. Tickets were sent to the families of serving men. We assume that each family with a son serving in the Great War gave a photo for use in this exhibition.

    We set out on a voyage of discovery to find out who these men were, what they did and in some cases how they died. The project therefore aims to match the names on the Roll of Honour to the faces in the photos. At first we were unsure if this included both those who came home and those men who paid the ultimate sacrifice. With further research and the assistance of Nigel Henderson, who is researching Belfast Presbyterians in the Great War, we have now established that the lanterns include both men who survived and men who were killed in action.

    To date we have named over 30 men on the slides with help from various sources, but there are many more faces to put names to. We have linked families living in the community to both lantern slide images and names on listed on the Roll.

    Lantern slide 64 Centre Jack Trimble copyrighted

    Some of the stories we have been able to tell are that of Lance Corporal Jack Trimble of the Royal Irish Rifles who joined up at the age of 15, went on to live to the age of 98, emigrate to Australia and have a family of three sons, eight grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren. He told his story to a group of school children, the recording of which you can listen to here.

    L- Francis McCann lantern slide 05r RHS copyrighted R-  James McCann copyrighted 

    Francis Ernest McCann served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and his brother James McCann served in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  Lance Corporal James McCann was killed at the Somme on 1st July 1916. David Morrow, a relative of these men supplied a letter written by James’ friend James Magill who had written to the McCann's mother Mary to tell her how her son had died and how he had received a proper burial.  James Magill had been wounded in France and the Belfast Telegraph had printed his photograph. 

    James Magill lantern slide 73 LHS copyrighted

    At the launch of our Forget Me Not exhibition in the Red Barn Gallery, Belfast which featured the Castleton Lanterns images, David Morrow, (James McCann's relative) and James Magill's niece Carolyn Fullerton met for the first time since that letter was written almost a century ago.   That David's family kept the letter for so many years shows just how important these family memories still are to descendants of these local men.  The launch was an emotional experience for Carolyn and David. Additional photos and letters are pictured in this post and you can see the Castleton Roll of Honour here and all the lantern images are featured on the website here. 

    Karen O'Rawe, Project Manager of Castleton Lanterns said 'The example of James Magill, Francis Ernest McCann and James McCann demonstrate just how closely connected all the Castleton Lanterns men were.  They were brothers, best friends, pals and colleagues. It’s important to find their stories and tell them, to understand their lives and remember them, coming up to the anniversary of the start of the Great War. It is sad to hear the stories of those who were lost or wounded beside those who lived and flourished and I’m sure the families who gathered to watch the lantern slide show in 1918 must have felt something similar. We are asking everyone who had relatives in Northern Ireland at the time to log on to our website at

    We have a list of all the men on the Roll of Honour for Castleton listed and you may find that your family member is pictured. We'd love to hear your stories and see your family photos. It is easy to forget how much these families gave up, how a whole generation of young men was lost and how much the community needs to remember not only the sacrifice of those who died, but also the sacrifice of those who lived. The attempt to identify the men, their stories and their families is a way of shining a light on their lives. With no remaining veterans of the Great War, it is especially important that these faces do not become numbers or statistics. These men have names, families, memories and experiences that with research and your help, we will be able to record for generations to come.'

    David Morrow, Carolyn Fullerton and Karen O'Rawe

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    David Hutchings talks about the wider impact of the RMS Titanic tragedy. 

    Hundreds upon hundreds of ocean liners have plied the maritime highways of the world and it has fallen to a few of these to achieve a lasting fame. This small book is about one of the most famous of these ships ever to have sailed the seas and is aimed at those wishing to know a little of the basics as to why this particular vessel, the Royal Mail Steamship Titanic, was built and what gave her a place in history.

    David Hutchings talks about the wider impact of the RMS Titanic tragedy.

    There have been larger liners since and, in today’s world, larger cruise ships, and there have been shipwrecks that caused greater losses of life (General von Steuben, Wilhelm Gustloff, Doña Paz, to name but three), so why is Titanic so special?

    At the time of her loss, on 15 April 1912, not only was she the largest liner in the world, but she was new and she was on her maiden voyage. Titanic was special because she was the very visible epitome of British engineering, an engineering that had dominated the world for decades, producing 50 per cent of the world’s ships, railways and bridges. Great Britain’s Royal Navy was, through a deliberate policy, as big as the next two largest navies combined and the appearance of any new engineering feat that would be a worldbeater (an attribute that had come to be expected from Britain’s industrial might) in speed or size was therefore eagerly awaited by the world-wide citizens of ‘The Empire on which the sun never set’.

    David Hutchings talks about the wider impact of the RMS Titanic tragedy. 

    The disaster that overtook the Titanic represented not only a great loss of human life but also the loss of an empire’s prestige and self-confidence. The new legislation that resulted from her loss was far-reaching and improvements on that initial legislation are still being made today. Titanic was a sharp lesson in human behaviour and the self-assured arrogance of wealth that gave this era its label of The Gilded Age. Never again would mankind be so sure of its achievements and the materially based security that came as a result. The First World War that erupted two years after the liner’s loss would finally ram this lesson home in a brutal and bloody way.

    The Titanic Story - David Hutchings 

    Extracted from The Titanic Story by David Hutchings - available now from The History Press.

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    Life in the Orkney Islands, like any small group of islands, is dominated by the sea. In the past it was an all present force that shaped your life, or took it if it was angry. That mostly depended on the time of year, as the sea is ruled by spirits; in summer the Mother of the Sea gives life to all marine creatures and calms the waves but in winter it is ruled by Teran, a male spirit who causes the storms that wreck ships. They fight for supremacy at the equinox, causing the storms that rage at that time of the year. Whirlpools in the south of the islands are caused by the struggles of a witch, clasped in the deadly embrace of her drowned lover and by two giant women who turn a magical mill that grinds the salt for the sea.

     Fenia and Menia and the magic quern


    The islands themselves are made from the teeth of a sea monster so huge that it was wrapped right around the world, until it was killed by an unlikely hero who had been dismissed by his family as lazy and worthless. Magical islands, usually invisible to mortal eyes, float on the surface of the sea and are the summer home of the fin folk, who will carry away mortal women if they are unwise enough to turn their backs to the sea. The great city of Finfolkaheem, with buildings of coral and crystal, lies at the bottom of the sea and was once seen by a man from the island of Sanday who was carried away by a mermaid who had fallen in love with him.

    Arthur first spies Finfolkaheem


    They danced in a hall whose beautiful curtains were made from the shimmering Northern Lights, until he was retrieved by a local witch. Seals are not always what they seem either, for they contain people whose beauty surpasses any human. These selkie folk can take off their seal skins and dance in the moonlight at certain times of the tide. Men have carried off the skins of selkie maidens, forcing them to live on land until the selkie can find their stolen skins and return to their watery realm.

     The hidden selkie skin


    Humans play their part in these stories too: both alive and dead. Witches can raise storms, or sell fine winds to sailors, while the ghosts of the drowned long for their bodies to be found and buried in the kirkyard.

    These folk tales are written as I would tell them as a storyteller; linked with stories from my own family to give it the feeling of an evening of traditional tales by an Orkney fireside.

    Orkney Folk Tales

    In storyteller Tom Muir takes the reader on a magical journey where he reveals how the islands were created from the teeth of a monster, how a giant built lochs and hills in his greed for fertile land, and how the waves are controlled by the hand of a goddess.

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    The Third Plantagenet


    John Ashdown-Hill will be at Tewkesbury Abbey on Saturday 3rd May giving a talk and signing copies of his new book, The Third Plantagenet: George, Duke of Clarence, Richard III's Brother

    Less well-known than his brothers, Edward IV and Richard III, little has been written about George, Duke of Clarence, leaving us with a series of unanswered questions: What was he really like? What set him and his brother Edward IV against one another? And who was really responsible for his death?

    Here, John Ashdown-Hill brings us a new full biography of George, Duke of Clarence, which exposes the myths surrounding this important Plantagenet prince, and reveals the fascinating results of John's recent reexamination of the Clarence vault and its contents

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    Scottish Independence: Yes or No


    Alan Cochrane and George Kerevan will be at Waterstones, Edinburgh on Thursday 8th May having a debate featuring other speakers. Read more about the debate in their new book, Scottish Independence: Yes or No

    In September 2014, a referendum will be held in Scotland to decide whether or not Scotland should become independent and cease to be part of the United Kingdom. In this book, two of the nation’s leading political commentators will address both sides of this historic debate. George Kerevan will put forward the case for voting Yes, and Alan Cochrane will make the case for voting No. In this volume, the first title in this Great Debate series, the authors will present the distinctive arguments for both sides, fully preparing you to make up your own mind on a decision that will shape the future of Scotland and of Great Britain. 

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  • 04/12/14--02:20: Top 5 memories of the 1980s
  • Do you remember trying to solve the Rubik’s cube whilst dressed in your He-Man picture pyjamas? Did you try to make ‘cool’ sound effects with your mouth like Jones from Police Academy? If that sounds like you, there’s no mistaking you were a child of the 1980s. This is an unashamedly biased collection of the things that I remember, the way I remember them and, because there’s nowhere near enough space for me to catalogue everything from the eighties, I’ve selected the things that I found most memorable or meant something special to me. 

    The ZX Spectrum 48k Computer. Image courtesy of Bill Bertram

    5. The ZX Spectrum 48k Computer

    I still remember the excitement and awe I felt as I played an actual full blown flight simulator on the little rubber-keyed ZX Spectrum – quite an impressive feat for such a tiny computer with just 48k of RAM and a diminutive 3.5MHz processor. Whilst the Speccy was a fantastic computer, it did require a fair amount of patience since games were loaded on audio cassette, often taking several minutes of rapidly flashing, stripy loading screens, and frequently ending with the painfully familiar message “R TAPE LOADING ERROR”. Still, when you did get the games to load they were amazing and included such classics as Head Over Heels, Rainbow Islands and Dizzy.

    The Chicken Song by Spitting Image. Image from


    4. The Chicken Song

    Peculiarly popular pop song Agadoo by Black Lace was the inspiration for Spitting Image’s parody called The Chicken Song. Every child of the ’80s will remember at least a few of these lyrics:

    Hold a chicken in the air
    Stick a deckchair up your nose
    Buy a jumbo jet
    And then bury all your clothes
    Paint your left knee green
    Then extract your wisdom teeth
    Form a string quartet
    And pretend your name is Keith

    I remember my whole class singing along to this over and over again on a school coach trip until the teacher could take it no more and forbade us to sing it ever again.

    Raleigh Grifter. Image from


    3. The Raleigh Grifter

    At the weekends my friends and I would take our bikes up to the dirt ramps in the woods and pretend we were Evel Knievel doing spectacular jumps over the Grand Canyon. Whilst my friends soared gracefully through the air on their lightweight BMX bikes, my leaden Raleigh Grifter stayed firmly planted on the ground ploughing through every obstacle like a runaway train. Whilst the Grifter was one of the heaviest children’s bicycles ever made, it’s cumbersome weight and twist-grip three speed gears made it feel more like a real motorbike than a bicycle, especially when I added a rear view mirror to it!

     Back to the Future. Image courtesy of Universal)


    2. Back to the Future

    For me this was the defining film of the 1980s and one that I still watch whenever it’s repeated on the telly. Michael J. Fox stars as the super cool Marty McFly, whose eccentric professor friend Dr Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) invents a time machine in the guise of a DeLorean sports car. After accidentally being sent back in time to the 1950s, Marty inadvertently diverts the course of history and ends up trying to persuade his teenage parents to meet and fall in love. The combination of fast-paced adventure and pumping ’80s soundtrack provided by Huey Lewis and the News make this an unforgettable ’80s movie.

    Mullet haircuts. Image courtesy of Helge Overas


    1. The Mullet Haircut

    A bizarre phenomenon of the 1980s was that lots of men (and even some women) began to grow their hair long at the back whilst keeping the top and front short or spiky. The resulting disaster was the mullet haircut perhaps most notably sported by cheesy celebrities Pat Sharpe and Ian McShane a.k.a Lovejoy, the loveable rogue antiques dealer.  I remember watching Lovejoy and thinking how cool he looked with his stonewash denim jeans, cowboy boots, leather jacket and mullet haircut. How wrong I was, and how glad I am my mum never let me grow my own mullet!

    A 1980s childhood

    Michael A. Johnson is the creator of and the author of A 1980s Childhood. Rev up your DeLorean, switch on the Flux Capacitor and take a cruise back through the decade that made you the person you are today. This amusing and entertaining collection of reminiscences will jog the memories of all who grew up in the same decade where greed was good, mullets were cool and white dog poo littered the streets.

    Do you agree that the ZX Spectrum deserves to be number 5 or should it be even higher? What are your best (or worst!) memories of the 1980s?

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    These three boys are fishing for crabs from the pier of the Corporation Bridge across the River Freshney in Grimsby, Lincolnshire. (1950s)

    I was born in London in 1948 and was fortunate enough to have grown up at a time when it was still possible for children to play out in the streets without fear of traffic and with little hindrance from parked cars. The backstreets were our playgrounds, and the bomb sites and derelict houses left in the wake of the Second World War were where we played out our adventures and rummaged for buried treasures. Life in Britain was so very different then; the nation was still recovering from the ravages of war, the country was bankrupt and times were very hard for ordinary working families. However, because of the wartime bravery of our parents and grandparents in successfully defeating Nazism, our generation had the good fortune to grow up in a peaceful country in which we were free to enjoy a happy and untroubled childhood.

    This was a time of severe austerity; wartime rationing continued until well after the war ended. Sweet and sugar rationing continued until 1953, and it wasn’t until July 1954 that we saw the end of rationing altogether. But, after government-imposed rationing formally ended, some things were still difficult to get hold of, even if you could afford to buy them. For ordinary working families, times were hard throughout the fifties and many didn’t begin to see improvements in their lifestyles until well into the 1960s. The ravages of war were still etched in the faces of our parents and it was clear that their memories of wartime destruction and misery would never die. We lived in damp and draughty houses with no hot water and outside lavatories, and in winter, the outside air was often polluted with dense killer smog.

    Our day-to-day lives were very simple: we enjoyed none of the technological wizardry of today; we didn’t even have a television or a telephone in our homes. No fridge, freezer, washing machine, microwave, central heating, stereo; we had none of these things. In 1950, there were less than 2 million cars on the road in Britain and few of these were owned by ordinary working families. We didn’t even have the right sort of clothes and shoes to keep us warm and dry in bad weather. Yes, these were austere times and it is easy to paint a completely dark and gloomy picture of the 1950s; the history books generally portray it as a bleak period wedged between the war-torn 1940s and the ‘swinging sixties’, but this is not the uppermost image in my mind when I look back on my 1950s childhood. You see, as children we didn’t know any other way of life; we had been born into these times of hardship and we knew no different. Up until 1954, we thought the rationing of food and goods was a normal way of life and that it had always been that way.

    We just got on with our childhood and made the best of it, and from what I can remember, we children had a lot of fun.  I hope this book  will help to dispel the myth that some like to promote of miserable, snotty-nosed urchins littering the streets. There was a baby boom in the early post-war years and it is clear that there was an abundance of children around during the 1950s, but the image in my mind is of happy, fun-loving children with lots of smiling faces and loads of laughter. When we weren’t at school, we spent as much time as possible playing outside, and we were never short of playmates. We had few shop-bought toys and so we made our own out of discarded bits of wood and metal we found around the bomb sites. We made our own bows and arrows, and carved toy guns and rifles out of lumps of wood to play cowboys and Indians, and we used old pram wheels, planks of wood and orange boxes to make our own gokarts.

    We were very industrious; it came naturally to us to make use of any old discarded stuff we found when we were out on our adventures. We had  endless hours of fun playing with very basic things, whether it was a length of rope, a piece of chalk, a lump of wood or a tennis ball. We also made use of every piece of street furniture – from lampposts to street signs – for climbing and swinging from. We explored every inch of any derelict houses we came across and climbed every tree there was to climb. As the pictures in this book will testify, we had fun!

    It is hard to compare childhood in Britain today with how it was back in the 1950s. No doubt childhood today is equally fun-packed, just different. I feel privileged to have experienced the joys of a 1950s childhood. There was something very special about it: a carefree childhood in what was to be the last decade in which children were able to retain their childish innocence well into their secondary school years and enjoy an untroubled young life, full of fun and games. There were no pressures on us to grow up too soon; the stresses of adolescence and then adult life could wait. We were lucky. 

    A 1950s Childhood in Pictures

    Paul Feeney is the author of A 1950s Childhood in Pictures and bestselling nostalgia books A 1950s Childhood and A 1960s Childhood. He has also written the hugely popular From Ration Book to Ebook which takes a nostalgic look back over the life and times of the post-war baby boomer generation.

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    George Kirkwood

    The launch of the Castleton Lanterns display in NI War Memorial will take place on Thursday 1st  May 2014 at 7.30pm accompanied by an illustrated talk on World War One Photogaphy by Bryan Rutledge.  The display will include lantern slide images of men of Castleton Church, York Road who served in the Great War, and will run as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and beyond, closing on Friday 30th May 2014. 

    In 2013, a box of old lantern slides was found in the organ loft of Alexandra Presbyterian Church. The images were of soldiers and sailors in First World War uniforms and were made by the famous Belfast photographer Mr Alex. R. Hogg. The committee minutes of Castleton Church state that in 1918 Mr Hogg was asked to put together a lantern slide exhibition ‘of our men at the front’ which was to be shown on 16th December 1918. Tickets for the lantern slide show were sent to the families of serving men.

    Unfortunately the slides were not named and Alexandra Presbyterian Church have been attempting to identify the men in the slides. The project has flourished and to date, over 40 men have been identified. There are many more faces to put names to. NI War Memorial have stepped in to help the project attract a wider audience, to enable the families to see their ancestors' images and to ask the people of Belfast to visit to aid in the identification of the men. 

    George Kirkwood

    The importance of finding the families of the men is demonstrated by some of the stories being told.  One such story is of George Kirkwood, an engine fitter before the First World War. He was the seventh child in a family of ten children born to James and Mary Kirkwood.  He grew up in New North Queen Street and Alexandra Park Avenue.  His father was a joiner and each of George's siblings were employed in Belfast's important industrial landscape as joiners, platers, knitters and book keepers. Interestingly his older sister Margaret is listed as a warehouse forewoman in the 1911 census. 

    He joined the 14th (Young Citizens) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles which was formed in Belfast in September 1914 from the Belfast Volunteers.  Part of the 36th Ulster Division, the battalion landed at Boulogne, France in October 1915.  Private George Kirkwood was killed only 8 months later, dying from his wounds on 9th May 1916 aged 22. His name appeared in the YCV Battalion orders for the gallantry which he displayed before his death. He is buried in the Forceville Communal Cemetery Extension in France. 

    George Kirkwood's photograph appeared in the newspaper when he died, which enabled him to be matched to lantern slide 38 (left hand side).  George was a member of Brantwood Football Club and played for ‘B’ Company F.C., 14th Royal Irish Rifles (YCV).  He was photographed in 1915 when he was part of the winning team of the Regimental Cup in 1915. An additional photograph of George and two of his sisters who served as Red Cross nurses was supplied by George's niece Joan Browne, who remains a member of Alexandra Presbyterian Church.

    George Kirkwood's gravestone

    Karen O'Rawe, Project Manager of Castleton Lanterns said 'The example of George Kirkwood demonstrates just how closely connected the Castleton Lanterns men are to the North Belfast community.  These men had siblings, children, best friends, team mates and colleagues. It’s important for us to reach these living links to enable us to find the men's stories and tell them, to understand their lives and remember them, coming up to the anniversary of the start of the Great War.  The family photograph of George's sisters, who served with the Red Cross Nursing Corps is a timely reminder that, while the men who served are remembered on War Memorials across the country, women and those on the home front had an important role to play in wartime too.'  

    'We are asking everyone who had relatives around North Belfast at the time to visit the display, and to log on to our website at  There are also men with birth addresses in Ballymena, Derry, Armagh, Newtownards, Monkstown, Lurgan and across Belfast as well as men serving with non Irish Regiments.  We have a list of all the men on the Roll of Honour for Castleton listed and you may find that your family member is pictured.  We'd love to hear your stories and see your family photos.'

    The exhibition launches on Thursday 1st May 7.30pm, and runs until Friday 30th May, at NI War Memorial, Talbot Street, Belfast.  Bryan Rutledge, Museum photographer, will provide illustrated talks on Thursday 1st May at 7.30pm and Thursday 8th May at 12.30pm. Space is limited for the talk and admission is free of charge.  Please email to reserve a place.

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    The question I am asked most by readers is: where do I get my ideas from? And I say that ideas are all around. With Deadly Inheritance I know exactly where the first idea came from. I was reading a book on criminal investigation when I came across the statement: suicides don’t kill themselves lying down. It immediately stuck in my mind. One of the difficulties – and also delights - of writing historical crime novels is the question of technical and forensic knowledge at any particular time. But here was something that surely belonged to experience rather than science. I had been thinking around ideas for an historical crime novel set at the start of the twentieth century, after the death of Queen Victoria and the end of the Boer War. It was a time of new beginnings, of excitement. Then I came across an exhibition at the American Museum just outside Bath, on the American heiresses who married into the English aristocracy towards the end of the nineteenth century and I knew such a setting could provide the sorts of tensions that lie behind a crime novel.

    I didn’t, though, want my main character to be an heiress. But how about a resourceful, doughty American girl in her late twenties, with an adventurous background, employed to accompany the young sister of one of these heiresses to visit her sister, Helen the Countess of Mountstanton at the family estate. Belle, the sister, recently rescued from embryonic scandal, is hoping for an aristocratic husband of her own. Her companion, Ursula Grandison, has been tasked by Chauncy Seldon the millionaire father of the girls to discover what is going on in the marriage and what has happened to Helen’s dowry. I could see masses of ways the plot could work out but that phrase, suicides don’t kill themselves lying down, remained with me and it gave me an ending, Usually I start a book with a detailed plot worked out – except for the ending. I have published ten books in the cookery Darina Lisle crime series, three in the historical Canaletto series, and a stand alone To Kill The Past, and always the ending waits to be discovered until I’m there. For Deadly Inheritance this way of working was turned upside down.

    As I started, I had an idea of some of the characters, the setting and, extraordinarily, an ending but I didn’t know how I was going to get there. It didn’t matter; I was having far too much fun getting into the mind of Ursula, my heroine; together we were discovering the dysfunctional Mountstanton household, its aristocratic background, the upstairs and the downstairs, the local community, the demands being made on Belle, the young sister, her passionate pursuit of the Earl’s secretary, the marriage difficulties of the Earl and Countess, the stresses imposed by the mother-in-law, the steely Dowager Countess. Ursula discovers the body of a nursemaid everyone believed had run off and the plot seemed to write itself. Characters suddenly turned up, such as the Earl’s brother, Charles, home from the Boer war, a practical man who Ursula is surprised to find herself attracted to. But he seems involved with fighting his brother and mother for justice for the nursemaid’s sad remains. And then along a private investigator, Thomas Jackman, and tragedy strikes again at Mountstanton and this time no cover up is possible. I have no idea where Jackman came from but the tricky relationship between him and Ursula as Charles instructed them to work together to sort out the two deaths seemed too interesting to abandon after the book ended.

    So I’m now finishing a follow-up novel, A Fatal Freedom with Ursula in London and once again assisting Jackman in a murder investigation that features a militant member of the Votes for Women campaign. I have just found out how it ends!

    Deadly Inheritance by Janet Laurence


    Janet Laurence is the author of numerous books, including Deadly Inheritance. She was the Writer in Residence and Visiting Fellow at Jane Franklin College at the University of Tasmania in 2002 and has also run the Crime Writing Course at each of the Bristol-based CrimeFest conventions to date.

    Goodreads Book Giveaway

    Deadly Inheritance by Janet Laurence

    Deadly Inheritance

    by Janet Laurence

    Giveaway ends May 12, 2014.

    See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

    Enter to win

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    A 1950s Holiday in Bognor Regis


    Sylvia Endacott and Shirley Lewis will be at Waterstones, Bognor Regis on Saturday 3rd May from 11:30am onwards. They will be signing copies of their new book, A 1950s Holiday in Bognor Regis.

    Bognor Regis is situated on the south coast of Britain, overlooking the English Channel. On 18 January 1787 the resort€™'s founder, Sir Richard Hotham, laid the first stone marking the town as a €˜'public bathing place'€™, a description that Bognor Regis has enjoyed ever since. The lure of the sea and the town's regular appearance at the top of the national sunshine league continues to draw people from towns and cities. Throughout the decades, seaside holidays have changed to reflect current fashions. 

    Recalling Macari'€™s delicious ice cream, the divers leaping off the pier, and children building sandcastles as their parents sat in deckchairs in suits and summer dresses, this book relives the glory days of 1950s Bognor Regis. With many pictures published here for the first time, this book is sure to bring back happy memories for both visitors and residents of this popular seaside town. 

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  • 04/25/14--03:00: The Friday Digest 25/04/14
  • THP Friday digest 
    This week's update features cultural icons, the oldest message in a bottle and previously unknown works from Warhol.

    Saint George Killing the Dragon, 1434/35, by Bernat Martorell


    * History Today slays the myth of St George and the Dragon.  Despite popular belief, St George only gained popularity in England in the fifteenth century and Richard the Lionheart had nothing to do with it.


    'It doesn’t matter what they read' … Male and female soldiers queue to have books signed by author Andy McNab at Tidworth Army Camp, Wiltshire. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian 

    * A decline in male readers has caused alarm amongst authors and publishers but Publishing Perspectives ask what if boys just can't find the right stuff to read?  


    German fisher Konrad Fischer holds a message in a bottle from 1913 on the fishing cutter "Maria I" in Kiel, Germany. AFP/DPA/UWE PAESLER/CORBIS 


    * The oldest message in a bottle has been presented to the granddaughter of the sender, 101 years later. The bottle was discovered in the Baltic off the city of Kiel last month.

    Gloucester Mike preparing a plank (left) and Brian setting a plank clamp (right).

    Mike Selwood, Assistant Boat Manager at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall talks about the challenges of building a Viking boat today

    Homework helpers 


    * Doing research for a school project? Try our bitesized homework helpers

    In this March 3, 2000 file photo, Cuba's Fidel Castro, left, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez speak during a dinner in Havana, Cuba.

    * Nobel prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez has diedHe was cremated in a private family ceremony in Mexico City, where he lived for more than thirty years.

    Amazon logo

    * According to a new BBC television programme, more than half of Britain’s online retail spend goes to Amazon.


    Historical fiction books


    Balancing fact and fiction – Helen Carey’s top tips for historical novelists.

    Piccadilly Circus, 1949. Shared by Retronaut. Photograph: Chalmers Butterfield

    'Retronauting': why we can't stop sharing old photographs

    This funny portrait of a woman was taken while she was mid-sneeze. (1900)

    * Whilst there are plenty of places sharing old photos, The Guardian's 'pictures from the past' has images 'from definitive moments in history to milestones in photography' - well worth a look! 


    Andy Warhol Amiga art (c) Andy Warhol Museum


    * A dozen previously unknown works from Andy Warhol have been recovered from old Amiga disks. The images were made by Warhol to aid the launch of the Amiga 1000 in 1985. 


    Book shelf. Image from 

    Which book would you give to someone you love?


    * Do you agree that academic citation practices for PhDs and academic books need to be modernised? Join the debate here ...  


    Bernburg. Image from


    * History students share their experiences of visiting Holocaust memorial sites in Eastern Europe


     Word cloud of cultural icons


    * William Shakespeare is the UK's greatest cultural icon, according to the results of an international survey released to mark the 450th anniversary of his birth.  The Queen and David Beckham come in at second and third respectively. Who would you add to the list? 

    Cornish flag

    * Cornish people have been granted minority status within the UK this week in a move which has divided public opinion. The Cornish will gain the same status as other Celtic communities such as the Scots, Welsh and Irish.

      Which history and publishing stories have you enjoyed reading this week?

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    Who Killed William Shakespeare?


    Simon Stirling wil be at Stratford Arts House, Stratford-upon-Avon on Tuesday 29th April as part of the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival from 4:45pm. The price is £8 per ticket including tea and cake. Simon will be talking about his book, Who Killed William Shakespeare?: The Murderer, The Motive, The Means

    William Shakepeare lived in violent times; his death passed without comment. By the time he was adopted as the national poet of England the details of his life had been concealed. He had become an invisible man, the humble Warwickshire lad who entertained royalty and then faded into obscurity. But his story has been carefully manipulated. In reality, he was a dissident whose works were highly critical of the regimes of Elizabeth I and James I. Who Killed William Shakespeare? examines the means, motive and the opportunity that led to his murder, and explains why Will Shakespeare had to be ‘stopped’. From forensic analysis of his death mask to the hunt for his missing skull, the circumstances of Shakespeare’s death are reconstructed and his life reconsidered in the light of fresh discoveries. What emerges is a portrait of a genius who spoke his mind and was silenced by his greatest literary rival. 

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  • 04/27/14--01:00: The first rock 'n' roll Pope
  • Few outside the Roman Catholic hierarchy had heard of Karol Wojtyła before he became Pope in 1978. An obscure Polish bishop from humble roots, he appeared on the world stage out of nowhere, becoming the first non-Italian to hold the office in half a millennium. Within a few years, Pope John Paul II would have made an extraordinary impact, both on the Church he led and on the course of European history. In terms of popularity and global recognition, he became the first rock ’n’ roll pontiff.

    Pope John Paul II kisses the ground upon arriving in Auckland, New Zealand, in November 1986. 


    His life story was 20th-century Europe in microcosm. Born in the aftermath of World War 1, he was caught in the vicious undercurrent of events. Forced into slave labour by the Nazis when they occupied his homeland, he later, as a priest and bishop, had to serve God in a totalitarian Communist state. Even after his election as Pope he was vulnerable to the vagaries of history, narrowly surviving an assassination attempt believed by some to have been ordered by the KGB.

    John Paul was a force of nature, who went on to break many papal records. He reigned for more than twenty-six years, the third longest pontificate in history. He made 104 foreign visits taking in 129 countries, personally touching the lives of millions. He created 482 saints, more than all his predecessors put together.  These record-breaking statistics are part of his legacy, but they pale into insignificance beside his most enduring achievement. In his willingness to confront state oppression in Poland and elsewhere, and in the consistency of his message that the rights of the individual must never be sacrificed to those of the State, he became one of the most important global figures of the late twentieth century.

    One of the most revered popes in history, yes, as his forthcoming canonisation shows. Yet he is also one of the most loathed. Progressive Catholics and secular liberals bemoaned his refusal to allow artificial birth control or to reconsider the church’s position on priestly celibacy and the ordination of women. He rejected arguments that Catholics in AIDS-ravaged parts of the world, particularly Africa, should be allowed to wear condoms – an absolutist position that condemned many thousands of Catholics to death. Far from opening up the papacy to a conversation with the wider world, he shut down debate, stifled dissent and demanded unquestioning loyalty and obedience. For that reason, he left the Church weakened, divided and deeply unpopular with many of its own members.

    Nearly a decade after his death, John Paul remains an enduringly fascinating figure – not despite but because of the strength of feeling he inspires both among his legions of admirers and his armies of critics.  A man of contradictions, a globetrotting superstar, democrat and autocrat, hero and villain.


    Hugh Costello is the author of pocket GIANTS Pope John Paul II and an Emmy-nominated screenwriter. He has written many dramas for BBC Radio, including Conclave, about the election of Pope John Paul II, and The Guest of St Peter’s, about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. He has written and edited for many national newspapers and magazines, including BBC History Magazine, the Sunday Times, the Daily Mail and Radio Times. 


    This is a miniature gem of biography: not a word wasted, informed, crisp and even-handed in its judgements.' 

    - Diarmaid MacCulloch.

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    The First World War centenary represents a unique moment in history, a time to reflect on a war that engulfed the world for over four years. As we stand looking back, 100 years on, it is almost impossible to imagine what it was like to live through this first ‘war to end all wars’, and yet as the world stops to commemorate we are all seeking to understand what happened and what it means for us today.

    Here Jonathan Thacker, Education Assistant at Chelsea Football Club, speaks to us about the club's plans for the centenary commemorations. 

    Jonathan Thacker, Education Assistant at Chelsea Football Club

    When did you decide that a tour would be the best way to teach local school children about the First World War?

    Chelsea FC’s Stadium Tours Department have been looking to expand its educational content. We wanted to use some aspects of the current KS2 national curriculum, and deliver it within our stadium at Stamford Bridge. With this year being the centenary of World War One, we have a fantastic opportunity to create and offer programmes on this subject.

    How did you put the tour together? 

    As with all of Chelsea FC’s educational tours, I wanted to offer a programme that goes further than what and how children learn in school. Clearly the unique thing about offering educational packages within our stadium is that we can link Chelsea FC (and football in general) to different subject content, in an exciting setting. Therefore, I decided that Chelsea FC’s First World War school tour had to look into links between the club itself and The Great War.

    I researched the work that other football clubs were already offering, and saw that Manchester United FC’s was fairly comprehensive. I met with Laura Flint, Manchester United’s Curriculum Manager, and we discussed how their programme was created. This proved to be very helpful. I then set about researching links between Chelsea FC and the war. There is of course a wealth of information on the Christmas day football match in no man’s land, in 1914. I decided that I didn’t want to present any information on that for the time being, as that is an area that children are likely to learn in school. Therefore I started by looking into the 17th Service Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment – or The Footballer’s Battalion. I discovered that it was created just around the corner from the club in Fulham Broadway. The more I looked into this, the more I thought that this was the area that the tour should really focus upon.

    Where around the club does the tour go?

    The usual tour route goes through the Chelsea FC Press Room, the Home and Away changing rooms and the Dug Out area. Ideally, the content of educational tours should relate to those areas. I realised fairly quickly that I needed a helping hand in creating activities for these rooms, preferably from someone who was an expert on the First World War. Through my research I saw that The History Press is due to release a book in 2015 titled “Chelsea FC in the Great War” by Alexandra Churchill. I got in touch with The History Press, who put me in contact with Alexandra. We met at Stamford Bridge and had a look over the work I had gathered so far. I wanted to see if she could help create more of a structure for the tour delivery, in regards to finding content that related to the different rooms.

    This meeting proved to be very productive. We decided that The Press Room would be an ideal location to talk about the Newspapers’ and Press’ reactions to footballers not initially signing up to the war effort. The away changing room could be used to discuss players who signed up for The Footballer’s Battalion, from teams other than Chelsea FC (ie, visiting teams to Stamford Bridge). Finally, the home changing room could be used for talking about some of the Chelsea FC players who also signed up to The Football Battalion during WW1. Alex also suggested that I could research whether any current Chelsea FC players had family members involved in The Great War.

    When can we expect the tours to start? 

    With this structure in mind, the job of constructing content for the tour has become far easier. I am currently in the process of writing a workbook for KS2 children on these areas, along with creating educational activities for them in the stadium. I hope to have this work completed by this summer.


    Chelsea FC logo

    Jonathan is the Educational Assistant within Chelsea FC’s Tour Department. He creates learning resources for visiting schools to tours at Stamford Bridge. For any enquiries, please contact, or call 0871 984 1955. 

    To find out more about tours and educational activities, please visit the Chelsea FC website here.

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    Just over a hundred years ago, the suffragettes were at their most active and militant in their campaign for Votes for Women. Certain images are imprinted on our minds – Emmeline Pankhurst, so militant and yet so elegant in her long tailored coat and broad-brimmed hat; processions of thousands of women with their colourful Votes for Women banners; determined women chaining themselves to railings or being dragged off the pavements of Downing Street; smashed windows and burnt-out buildings.

    A Song of Their Own

    Such dramatic events would have had less effect if they had not been fully backed by thousands of women in towns and villages across the country. These women may by and large not have been so militant, but they were no less determined to have the vote, and thereby a say in the running of the country. Maybe they were even more courageous in some ways, because their actions were more visible to their neighbours and acquaintances. Often they did not have the protection of large numbers when they campaigned in a sometimes hostile environment.  

    In my own town of Ipswich, for example, groups of men made the lives of local suffragettes miserable by heckling at their open-air meetings and disrupting every speech they gave. In a by-election in 1914, they even ripped the clothes of women speakers who demanded that the candidates state their position on votes for women, leaving them humiliated - and angry.

    But such outrages merely increased their determination. They had held dozens of public and open-air meetings in and around Ipswich by then, held suffragette fairs with processions, and opened shops to sell their merchandise, and act as a focal point to talk to people.

    One of their most dramatic and courageous actions occurred in 1911, when they joined the national campaign to evade the Census, refusing to give their information to a government that denied them any say in how that information would be used. Under the leadership of Suffolk-born Constance Andrews, they hired out some public rooms in Ipswich and up to thirty women spent the night there. They weren’t at home, so their names couldn‘t be entered on the Census schedule. This close, supportive group of women held an all-night party. Not bad in 1911 when women had so little power and freedom, when on a more practical level they may not have had electric light or much heating, or known how the authorities might react.

    In such ways, women right across the country empowered themselves to become full, active citizens.

    A Song of Their Own

    Joy Bounds is the author of A Song of Their Ownthe story of how ordinary women supported each other to demand a say in the affairs of this country at a time when women had very little power inside or outside the home.

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    Scottish Independence: the great debate

    George Kerevan gives a brief look at the main economic arguments of the 'yes' debate:

    It's the economy stupid. Modern governments are about economic growth, not waving the flag. Unfortunately being run from London has not proved an economic success for Scotland - or elsewhere outside the M25! Despite having North Sea oil, Scottish economic growth has under-performed the UK average for a generation, and is considerably lower than in most other small West European economies. Why? Because UK economic policy has favoured the banks and the City of London over manufacturing industry. Result: the Crash of 2008 and the worst recession since the Thirties. Scotland needs to be independent so it can re-build its domestic economy and boost growth.

    But Scottish independence will also be good for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Westminster elite ignores England as much as the rest of the UK. Scottish independence will give birth eventually to a new English Parliament and a new partnership between the individual nations of the British Isles. That is why an independent Scotland wants to keep the Queen as head of state and continue to use the pound. A common currency means we can jointly regulate the banks, while a separate currency leads to unnecessary business costs on both sides.

    In considering the economy, Alan Cochrane puts forward one of his reasons for a 'no' vote in the referendum:

    Of course Scotland could be economically independent but how successful that independence might be is entirely contingent on Alex Salmond’s ability as a poker player. He is currently sitting in a high-stakes game with, frankly, not much of a hand but he is banking on the fact that he can stare down his opponents and win the pot.

    There are several major bluffs he has to maintain. The first is on Scotland’s currency in the event of his winning the referendum. From being a enthusiastic, even fanatical, supporter of the euro when things were going well for the currency of most of the EU he slid away from it when the going got bad, latching onto sterling instead.

    But, as usual with Mr Salmond, this is a move not of principle – such a word doesn’t sit well with the SNP leader – but of convenience. And when all of the main Unionist party leaders, as well as the head of the UK Treasury, said it wasn’t in the interests of the rest of the UK to allow what would be a foreign country to share the pound, Mr Salmond didn’t blink. Instead he said everyone else would fold their hands and cave in if he wins the referendum.

    His arrogance is in a similar vein over North Sea oil and gas revenues. When the independent Office of Budget Responsibility says that his estimates are grossly exaggerated, he merely maintains his poker face and says, in effect, everyone’s wrong except him.

    All of which proves conclusively that an independent Scotland under Alex Salmond would be no better than a massive gamble. Does anyone really believe this man’s promises?

    Scottish Independence: Yes or No?


    For the full debate on a range of issues including defence, culture, governance and,of course, the economy, please see Scottish Independence: Yes or No? by Alan Cochrane and George Kerevan.

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    Armour Never Wearies is the first volume to bring together all the hitherto scattered evidence – archaeological, literary and artistic – for the forms and uses of scale and lamellar armours in the region west of the Ural Mountains throughout the 3,500 years during which these armours were used. The interpretation of this data is informed by the author’s long practical experience as a maker of arms and armour, martial artist and horseman. It offers systematic definitions and analysis of these often misunderstood forms of armour, along with detailed diagrams and instructions that will be of great use to any who wish to turn their hands to reconstruction. Along the way, this unique synthesis of evidence and interpretation debunks some myths that have arisen in recent years. 

    'Armour Never Wearies'


    Timothy Dawson can rightly be considered an authority with everything that concerns the Levant, Byzantium and also its influences on the West. This book contains an exhaustive, very detailed account on most occurrences of lamellar armour west of Byzantium, including, but not limited to the famous Niederstotzingen find, many Eastern finds and an account of the much-disputed lamellar finds from Birka and those of Wisby.

    A great scholarly look at lamellar and scale armour in the Western world. An excellent book for those interested in re-enactment, but more detail could have been given on types of lamellae used in different time periods.

    The book is very well illustrated with clear designs and several colour plates to show some of the various types of armour and there construction methods. While very clear and interesting, I feel that more illustrations of the varieties as used by different cultures would have been useful.

    The main drawback of this book is that it is very dry. It does not have the wealth of information required in each section to make it a full reference book, but lacks the flow and narrative to make it interesting for the casual reader, I felt it was a more a summarised version of a longer dull work, and tries to appeal to all, but often misses the mark. A few case studies could have made it more light and generally interesting or more facts and figures could have made it more academic.

    Overall it did hold my interest and I do feel I learned from it. Whether you are are re-enactor, a history student with interest in the development of this versatile armour, or just someone interested in thoroughly researched books on historical topics, this volume could be for you.


    Book: Armour Never Wearies

    Author: Timothy Dawson

    Review by Joe Medhurst 

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    Although we’re taught it’s not kind to pick favourites there are definitely one or two ‘ghost signs’ that hold a special place in my heart. They are not necessarily always the most beautiful specimens but they are arguably the most telling about Britain’s history of marketing and commercialism.

    Gillette ad

    The faded Gillette advert outside Bayswater Underground Station, for example, depicts a man holding his young daughter in his arms. Their smiles are difficult to make out due to the mild erosion caused by decades of London drizzle but it is clear from what can be seen of their faces that they are both in a jovial mood; perhaps even astounded at how soft Father’s face now feels. Although this sign was obviously painted many years ago it is still deeply reminiscent of the kind of shaving adverts one might catch on television today: a daughter, girlfriend or wife marvelling at how effective a razor blade can be. Though many may understandably assume that the promise of physical closeness has only been exploited by advertising agencies in recent decades this sign tells a different story. Being close to people, particularly the opposite sex, has seemingly always been a popular selling point.

    Black Cat

    In contrast, the sign for Black Cat Cigarettes on Dingley Road in East London underlines how much attitudes have changed in the last hundred years or so, at least when it comes to what should and should not be advertised. In 1997 the Labour Party made an election pledge that nobody, especially not Russ Abbot, should go fishing with Des O’ Connor records ever again, and five years later they made good on their promise by introducing an advertising ban on tobacco products in the UK. Carreras Tobacco Company who produced Black Cat Cigarettes was fortunate enough to be in business at a time when cigarettes were more socially acceptable. Technically the remaining signage for Black Cat Cigarettes, Army Club Cigarettes and the Navy Cut brand around London is now illegal.

    Bates ad

    Ultimately, the most charming aspect of these vintage adverts is the picture they paint of the historic British high street. Small businesses such as Bates & Co who manufactured Citrate of Magnesia on Sidmouth Street in the 1930s, sat amongst many others like them. Individualism thrived. In our ‘Everything Under One Roof’ culture this is something we can now only dream about but ghost signs do offer a hand in making our visions that little bit more vivid.   

    Fading Ads of London

    Helen Cox is the author of Fading Ads of London. Take a photographic journey into London’s often overlooked advertising history and see how the capital’s businesses of old made use of hand-painted signs to inform, advertise and appeal to consumers. This intriguing book profiles hand-painted advertising from across the city and investigates the companies that commissioned the signs that now appear faded – like ghosts – on the brickwork of buildings.

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  • 05/02/14--03:00: The Friday Digest 02/05/14
  • THP Friday digest
    This week's update features commemoration controversy, Cinecittà and the oldest FBI agent.

     Red letter: colourful planting helps soften the headstones at Tyne Cot cemetery in Ypres, Belgium. The First World War memorial receives up to 700,000 visitors a year, posing significant challenges for maintenance staff Photo: Alamy


    * A fascinating look at the army of devoted gardeners who keep the memory of sacrifice alive in rigorously maintained war cemeteries around the globe. 

    New Zealand soldiers encampment at Anzac Cove in 1915


    History and 'betrayal': the Anzac controversy. Alistair Thompson uncovers a hidden controversy about myth making and Gallipoli.

    * The First World War as a publishing phenomenon, after 100 years, why are we still in the grip of the Great War?

    Schoolchildren plant poppy seeds at home of British Prime Minister to remember First World War


    * School children have planted poppy seeds at the home of the British Prime Minister to remember the First World War.

    The Crimson Field

    * Calm down, dear, it’s only a drama! Jessica Meyer shares her thoughts on the BBC's The Crimson Field. 


    * Files show confusion over the Lusitania sinking account, one of the most controversial incidents of the First World War.  

    Artists Rifles: there was a time when the artist was not 'contemptuous of any whiff of patriotism'

    * When artists fought for queen and country.

    Harper Lee in 2007. Photograph: Rob Carr/AP

    *  Upon her eighty-eighth birthday, Harper Lee has agreed to an ebook version of To Kill a Mockingbird, the first time the book has been available digitally.   

    Misty – well known 1978 dark female comic book of supernatural and horror stories


    * Historical comic books in pictures

    Scottish Independence: the great debate


    * Scottish independence: is the debate just a question of the economy? 

    Hampton Court Palace, the great gatehouse.


    * London Pass blog have created some stunning infographics looking at the history of top landmarks and monuments in and around London.

      An illustration of the crew of the HMS Bounty casting off Captain William Bligh and his loyal supporters. Getty Images


    * On 28 April 1789, the men of the crew of the HMS Bounty launched a mutiny against Captain William Bligh three weeks after sailing from Tahiti. But what happened next?


    The dead body of Mussolini (second from left) next to Petacci (middle) and other executed fascists in Piazzale Loreto, Milan, 1945


    * Poet Franco Loi recalls witnessing the dramatic day that Mussolini was strung up in a Milan piazza.

    * A new law in Israel means kindergarten children will be taught about the Nazi genocide for the first time, but how young is too young to learn about the Holocaust? 



    * From the sinking of the Titanic to the horrors of the Second World War, history is being brought to life on Twitter in real time.


    Van Dyck's self-portrait

    * The National Portrait Gallery has successfully raised the £10 million required to keep Sir Anthony Van Dyck's final self-portrait in the country.

    File:Auguste Rodin, 1881-ca.1899, Éve, bronze, Jardin des Tuilleries, Paris. DSC09221.jpg

    * Leading sculptor Auguste Rodin is being celebrated ina London exhibition of thirty of his bronzes, including some of his most-loved works.

    One of these early images depicts a young man wearing a tunic and sporting curly hair, a picture archaeologists say may be of Jesus. (University of Barcelona)


    * 'One of the earliest images of Jesus' has been unearthed in an Egyptian tomb

    How to eat in a restaurant: dating tips from the 1950s


    * How to eat in a restaurant and other dating tips from the 1950s

    Tapestry portraits of John Paul II (L) and Pope John XXIII and are seen in St Peter's Square at the Vatican April 27

    * History was made on Sunday as the Vatican declared Popes John Paul II and John XXIII as saints. But of all the Catholic traditions, is canonisation the most nonsensical?

    Remains of a set design, backstage at Cinecittà, Rome. Luca Locatelli

    * Cinecittà, the famous movie studio that’s now a graveyard of film memories.

    Walter R. Walsh in 1939 Courtesy of American Rifleman Magazine

    * The amazing life of Walter R. Walsh. The world-class marksman who shot clothespins off laundry lines as a boy and went on to become an F.B.I. legend in shootouts with gangsters in the 1930s, an Olympic competitor and a trainer of generations of Marine Corps sharpshooters.


    * The medals of Ronald Berry, Hull-born Spitfire pilot, have sold for £120,000

    Horse sculpture in Tewkesbury


    * Two giant horse sculptures have been erected to commemorate the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. Standing at 16ft, the title of the piece - 'Arrivall' - is taken from the 1471 account of the recovery of Henry VI's English throne by Edward IV.

    Felixstowe Bath Hotel suffragette arson commemorated


    * The 100th anniversary of the burning down of the former Bath Hotel in Felixstowe has been commemorated with the unveiling of a blue plaque.




    * Why does the Crimea region hold such a huge significance in the Russian psyche?

    Rocky Horror Picture Show cast


    * The strange time warp of the 1970s.


    The Weald & Downland Museum has several me Organic approach: the Weald & Downland Museum has several medieval gardens Photo: Alamydieval gardens 


    * Weeds and wisdom in the Middle Ages: many plants that we call weeds today were essential food in medieval times and they can still offer important benefits.

    Must-sea: Shae Williams re-reads one of his favourite books (Picture: Masons)

    * Shae Williams, a history-mad schoolboy from Norwich has turned his bedroom into an Admiral Nelson museum.

    Emilia Clarke

    * 15 differences from text to TV in Game Of Thrones.

    Greg Wise and Kate Winslet in a scene from Ang Lee's 1995 film Sense and Sensibility


    * The genre debate: is 'literary fiction' just clever marketing? 

    Literary or historical? … Great Expectations Photograph: Todd Antony/BBC

    * The genre debate: why don't we think of Dickens as a historical novelist? 

    Book shelf. Image from

    * The book world keeps changing, so Digital Book World has to change too.

    * Actor Stephen Fry has been announced as the new Hay Festival president.  

    * Why publisher Mills & Boon is romancing the mobile app

    * Foyles has unveiled further details of the fixtures for its flagship store, including an atrium and glass event space. The store will be located at 107 Charing Cross Road.

    * Amazon’s UK boss Christopher North has defended the online retailer’s tax arrangements and warned it could not offer customers 120 million different products if its European headquarters was not based in Luxembourg, but what are your thoughts?

      Which history and publishing stories have you enjoyed reading this week?

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