An Epilogue for Beren & Lúthien: Tolkien’s Last Years, 1966-1973

The Road Goes Ever on – Headington to Bournemouth: Although life retirement sometimes seemed ‘grey and grim’ to Tolkien, it also had many elements that suited him. For one thing, he and Edith, at last, had enough money. However, the tax authorities took a large proportion of his earnings, and on one occasion, Tolkien wroteContinue reading “An Epilogue for Beren & Lúthien: Tolkien’s Last Years, 1966-1973”

Faith, Fantasy & Fairy Tales – Tolkien, ‘Jack’ Lewis & ‘The Inklings’, 1926-66: Part Two – ‘Shadowy Abstractions’

There was a good stretch of time between Jack Lewis’s conversion on the way to Whipsnade and his writing of the Tales of Narnia. Throughout this time, while Tolkien was writing his Hobbit stories, Lewis was musing on the physical similarities that men and beasts have in common. This is why he felt that Kenneth Grahame, in The Wind in the Willows, made exactly the right choice in giving his principal character the form of a toad

J. R. R. Tolkien & Birmingham, 1896-1916: The Formative Years, Part One (to 1908) – Middle English

The South African Prelude – Beginnings in Bloemfontein: Arthur Reuel Tolkien and Mabel Suffield (pictured above in the family group), both from Birmingham, were married in Cape Town Cathedral on 16th April 1891, after which came an exhausting railway journey of nearly seven hundred miles to the capital of the Orange Free State. Less thanContinue reading “J. R. R. Tolkien & Birmingham, 1896-1916: The Formative Years, Part One (to 1908) – Middle English”

Britain, Europe and The World in 1937: A Moment in History Repeating itself? Part One

Democracy and Dictatorship – 2022 & 1922-1937: Beginning his keynote address on Russia’s War on Ukraine on 28th June 2022, the newly-commissioned Head of the British Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, spoke of the similarity of the events of 1937 in Europe to the continuing and impending events of 2022 in the central-eastern part ofContinue reading “Britain, Europe and The World in 1937: A Moment in History Repeating itself? Part One”

Who were the Huguenots? Currents of Cultural & Linguistic Change in France & Early Modern Europe.

Pictured above are French Protestants at Lyons Temple service, which was converted from an ordinary house. The hatted preacher is timed by an hourglass, and the two sexes are seated mainly in separate parts of the temple. Introduction – A Retrospective on Genocide & Deculturation: The word ‘genocide’ is essentially a term relating to eventsContinue reading “Who were the Huguenots? Currents of Cultural & Linguistic Change in France & Early Modern Europe.”

The Incredulous Twin – Finding Faith: The Second Sunday of Easter

Thomas the ‘Doubter’: On the second Sunday of Easter, ‘western’ Christians celebrate Thomas the Apostle and the Gospel story in John of how, as the disciple who missed Jesus’ visit to the ‘Upper Room’ after his resurrection, he overcame his doubts about his master’s physical appearance to the others in the first days of ‘EasterContinue reading “The Incredulous Twin – Finding Faith: The Second Sunday of Easter”

‘Cry God for Queen Bess, England and St Cuthbert….!’ How did George become England’s Patron Saint? 

Follow your spirit; and upon this charge Cry God for Harry, England and St George! William Shakespeare, Henry V, Part One. England hasn’t really got a national anthem….The Irish, the Scots and the Welsh all have anthems, the Americans have the cheek to sing ‘My Country ’tis of thee’ to the tune of ‘God Save the Queen‘, but what do theContinue reading “‘Cry God for Queen Bess, England and St Cuthbert….!’ How did George become England’s Patron Saint? “

Welsh Bards & Hungarian Balladeers: Imagining the Past – Poetry & History.

Wars of Independence: In 1857, the legendary martyrdom of the courtly poets of Wales by Edward I was used by the nineteenth-century Hungarian poet János Arany to serve as a parable of resistance to another Empire after the ‘heroic’ uprising and war of independence of 1848-49 in his native country. Arany’s poem, Walesi bardok (The Bards ofContinue reading “Welsh Bards & Hungarian Balladeers: Imagining the Past – Poetry & History.”

The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest, 1035-1135: Chapter II – Castles, Abbeys, Cathedrals & Churches.

Knights, Barons & Castles: The knights who served William ‘the Conqueror’ were armed in many respects as their English opponents, wearing mail hauberks and conical helmets, and carrying kite-shaped shields, lances, swords and maces. If battlefield tactics were dominated by the mounted knight, the strategies of war were increasingly subject to the powerful influence ofContinue reading “The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest, 1035-1135: Chapter II – Castles, Abbeys, Cathedrals & Churches.”

The False Dawn: Saxons, Celts and Britons, 616-839 – From Edwin of Northumbria to Egbert of Wessex.

The (no-longer-so-dark) Dark Ages: Since the discovery of the Sutton Hoo burial in Suffolk in 1939, archaeology has continued to shed light on the ‘Dark Ages’, where documentary evidence is lacking. The distribution of pagan fifth-century Anglo-Saxon burials indicates the probable areas of earliest English settlement in Britain. The English ‘advance’ continued throughout the periodContinue reading “The False Dawn: Saxons, Celts and Britons, 616-839 – From Edwin of Northumbria to Egbert of Wessex.”