Majesty & Grace V: The Lives & Times of the Windsors – King, Country & People’s War, 1940-45:

‘Ribbentrop’s War’ – The Assault on the West: After the defeat of Poland, Hitler wanted to wage a winter campaign in the west, but bad weather prevented it, and both sides sat through a winter of ‘phoney war.’ For this reason and with some justice, the Second World War has been called ‘Ribbentrop’s war.’ AlthoughContinue reading “Majesty & Grace V: The Lives & Times of the Windsors – King, Country & People’s War, 1940-45:”

Personal Recollections of Prince Charles as Chancellor of the University of Wales, 1979-80 & Reflections on his Elevation to King Charles III.

The Troubles & the Tragedy, 1966-79: On August 27, 1979, in Mullaghmore, County Sligo, on the western coast of the Republic of Ireland, a massive 50lb remote-controlled bomb exploded on board the fishing boat Shadow V, killing Lord Louis Mountbatten, his grandson and two others while they were boating on holiday off the coast. Lord Mountbatten wasContinue reading “Personal Recollections of Prince Charles as Chancellor of the University of Wales, 1979-80 & Reflections on his Elevation to King Charles III.”

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. “

Tolkien’s Shire: From Middle England to Middle-earth – People, Places & Past Times.

Sarehole as Hobbiton: J.R.R. Tolkien lived near Sarehole Mill as a child in what was then a Worcestershire village and is now part of the Hall Green district of Birmingham. Together with the neighbouring Moseley Bog, the Sarehole area inspired the Tolkien stories of Middle-earth. The Tolkien Trail – Late Victorian & Edwardian Birmingham. Birmingham’sContinue reading “Tolkien’s Shire: From Middle England to Middle-earth – People, Places & Past Times.”

‘You Can’t Stop Them Singing’: Welsh Experiences of Exodus and Exile in England, 1927-47.

This is an edited version of an article originally written for the Modern Wales Unit at the University of Wales, Cardiff in 1998, drawing on material in my unpublished PhD Thesis, presented in September 1988, The Re-Making of a Working-Class: Migration from the South Wales Coalfield to the New Industry Areas of the Midlands, c.Continue reading “‘You Can’t Stop Them Singing’: Welsh Experiences of Exodus and Exile in England, 1927-47.”

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.”

Imperial Islands, Caribbean Englishes & Atlantic Economies, circa 1630-1980

‘Little England’ & ‘Pidgin’ English: Some interpretations of Britain’s imperial past have charged the ‘White British’ with using the Caribbean islands in general and Barbados in particular as a ‘dumping ground’ for Black slaves. In fact, the first settlers there were White Catholics, according to the Jesuit priest who met them in 1634, both IrishContinue reading “Imperial Islands, Caribbean Englishes & Atlantic Economies, circa 1630-1980”