The Life & Times of Elizabeth Windsor, 1963-78: Part 1 – Rebellious Britons.

Protest & Planning, 1963-68 – Youth, Vietnam & Grosvenor Square: The 1960s were dramatic years in Britain. Demographic trends, especially the increase in the proportion of teenagers in the population, coincided with economic affluence and ideological experimentation to reconfigure social mores to a revolutionary extent. In 1964, under Harold Wilson, the Labour Party came into power,Continue reading “The Life & Times of Elizabeth Windsor, 1963-78: Part 1 – Rebellious Britons.”

Majesty & Grace II – The Lives & Times of The Windsors; George V & Family, 1921-1936.

1922-23 – Four Royal Weddings: The betrothal of 24-year-old Princess Mary to Viscount Lascelles, 39-year-old millionaire son of the Earl of Harewood, was officially announced at Buckingham Palace on 22 November 1921: On the last day of February 1922, the marriage was held at Westminster Abbey. The Abbey was thrown open to the public afterContinue reading “Majesty & Grace II – The Lives & Times of The Windsors; George V & Family, 1921-1936.”

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

The Making of an English Mythology; from Reality to Fantasy and back again, 1917-1954: Tolkien’s Creative Years.

Following his recovery from the Somme and ‘trench fever’ on his return from France in 1916, Tolkien was determined to create an entire mythology for England. He had hinted at this during his undergraduate days at Oxford when he studied and wrote of the Finnish ‘Kalevala’:

“I would that we had more of it left – something of the sort that belonged to the English.”

This idea now grew during his recuperation until it reached ‘epic’ proportions. This is how Tolkien expressed it when recollecting many years later:

“Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen), I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large to the cosmogonic to the level of romantic fairy-story – the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths – which I could dedicate simply: to England, to my country. “

J. R. R. Tolkien & Birmingham; the Formative Years, 1896-1916: Part Two (1908-16) – ‘Lang.’, Lore & Love.

Inventing Language: As a result of his insatiable love of words, Ronald started to invent his own languages. Some children have rudimentary private languages that they like to share together. This was what Ronald’s cousins Mary and Marjorie Incledon had done. They now lived outside Birmingham at Barnt Green, the neighbouring village to Rednal, andContinue reading “J. R. R. Tolkien & Birmingham; the Formative Years, 1896-1916: Part Two (1908-16) – ‘Lang.’, Lore & Love.”

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”

The Radical Messiah and The Politics of Love in the Bible: Part 2 – Christianity, Church and Society over two Millennia.

‘The Farthest Limits of the West’: I will always remember my first visit to Bangor, North Wales (originally the furthest western outpost of the Roman Empire), to attend an interview for a university place in Biblical Studies and History. It was a long journey by train from Birmingham, where I grew up as the sonContinue reading “The Radical Messiah and The Politics of Love in the Bible: Part 2 – Christianity, Church and Society over two Millennia.”

The Bible as Action Manual: Radical Reflections on Siding with the Poor.

Liberation Stories: The focus of The Radical Bible, published in 1972, was social justice and ‘The Third World’ as it was then known, meaning the poor and powerless peoples of the earth, most of whom live in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This is not to say that justice is all the Bible is concernedContinue reading “The Bible as Action Manual: Radical Reflections on Siding with the Poor.”