Mr Stark and Mr Staring

Just when you’re starting to think ‘what shall I blog about this week?’, along comes good old David Starkey and solves the problem. (Actually, in true London bus fashion his intellectual soulmate Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Eton – sorry, Education – then came along too, but more of him anon.) For those […]

Endless Poetry

‘…this damned war: the mud, the noise, the endless poetry.’  (Lord Flashheart, Blackadder Goes Forth) There are very, very few similarities between the First World War and the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-7). One of them, arguably, is that both wars generated a substantial amount of memorable poetry, albeit of very different kinds. Having known and loved […]

Of Kings, Car Parks and Bandwagons

After the discovery of the remains of King Richard III, it seems to be obligatory for every history blogger, Tweeter and Facebooker to have their say on the matter, so for what it’s worth, here are a few of my thoughts. First, bouquets to Leicester University’s archaeologists for a stunning piece of work; second, brickbats […]

Stasis

A strange thing happens to me in secondhand bookshops these days. Time was when I couldn’t go into one without leaving laden down with books. Now, though, I invariably browse the shelves and think ‘got that…got that…don’t need that…got that…’. I used to have a lengthy ‘wants list’ on Abebooks, but now it’s virtually empty. […]

The End

It’s good to be back after a two week break, although ‘break’ is probably the wrong word – most of that time having been spent frantically finishing off Britannia’s Dragon, which has now gone off to the publisher! This is my fourth non-fiction historical book, so I think I’m now probably qualified to pass on some of […]

Repository Bingo, Part 2

  Last week’s first part of this thread got a big response and clearly struck some chords with people. I wrote then that I intended to use this week’s post to provide my ‘top five’ of UK non-national repositories, i.e. county record offices and the like; at the last count, I think I’ve now visited […]

Repository Bingo, Part 1

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the start of my research into the seventeenth century navy – or at least, the formal, funded, full-time student start, as I’d been tentatively examining the subject during the previous couple of years, when I was still teaching in Cornwall. Apart from the fact that realising it’s been […]

The Sailors’ (and Soldiers’) Graves

Last week’s post about naval and maritime graves in west Wales got a very positive response, so I thought I’d return to a similar theme this time. I spent the second half of last week further north, on the shores of Cardigan Bay, dodging torrential downpours, visiting a few places of naval interest (both expected […]

The Comfort Zone

One of the challenges and delights of working on my new non-fiction book, Britannia’s Dragon: A Naval History of Wales, is that it’s taking me into all sorts of uncharted territory and, in some cases, territory I’m revisiting after many years. The book is meant to cover the entire time period from the Romans (AD 60, to […]

Flash Pepys, Saviour of the Universe

Last week saw the anniversary of Samuel Pepys’s birth in 1633, and Twitter was abuzz with the inevitable superlatives – the greatest English diarist! the founder of the modern Royal Navy! One only needed Queen to belt out ‘Pepys, Saviour of the Universe’, with Brian Blessed bellowing ‘Sam’s alive?!’, and the hyperbolic overdose would have […]