A long time ago, I posted on David Crowther’s History of England podcast. Since then Crowther has went from strength to strength, with at least another hundred episodes and two more centuries. He has also explored ways of expanding the podcast – with a patreon platform and additional members podcasts – though I think he does still record in his shed. I faded out of listening to it a year ago, as he reached the Tudors (a topic that has never really been close to my heart).
I’ve picked it up again in the last month or two and actually quite enjoyed the topic. Although Crowther still loved to quote from the Ladybird Book of kings and queens, Sellar and Yeatman, and Winston Churchill (though the latter mostly just to wheel out an impression), he really seems to have dug into the historiography on the Tudors. His coverage of Henry VII finds a surprisingly light and positive tone, different to many popular histories, and his coverage of Henry VIII finds him exploring academic opinion over time. It’s detailed without getting bogged down – very well done.
Tacking a different tack on the subject, I recently re-read John Julius Norwich’s Four Princes. A quadruple biography of Henry VIII, Charles V, Francis I and Suleiman the Magnificent. Norwich is as opinionated as ever – writing offhand comments on topics that Crowther agonised over for episodes – but he is still a very entertaining writer. There may not really be much new material there, even the focus on the relationships between the princes and their effect on foreign policy, but the inclusion of Suleiman is a good touch. Norwich does show how the Ottomans could drive the politics of Europe that the other three fought to rule, and it feels good to have them in their proper place in a history of Europe.
I have an odd relationship with Peter Ackroyd’s books. I have read a few of his novels and like his use of history, he clearly has knowledge about and passion for the periods he chooses. I generally enjoy his style of writing (though parts of Hawksmoor were trying). Unfortunately I find the books a bit light on anything actually happening, any particularly compelling characters or occasionally any point. That sounds harsh, he’s not far off but it generally just doesn’t click for me.
However, that intimate knowledge of history – particularly in England and particularly in London – makes him a very good writer for popular history. He builds scenes and atmospheres well. He brings the world to life. He throws in odd little facts and stories that add colour and depth to the narrative. He is currently in the middle of writing a history of England, with the first book Foundation taking things up to Henry VII and the third covering the Civil War.
Continue reading Post 65: Peter Ackroyd’s The Tudors [History of England Volume 2]
This is my fiftieth post on this blog. I’d wondered if I should do anything special here, but in the end have decided to just note a couple of small things. Firstly, the History of England podcast is going on to a (hopefully brief) hiatus. It has been one of my favourite podcasts for a few years now with its mix of amateur dramatic, sheds and the ladybird book of Kings and Queens. However, David Crowther has been doing it more or less non-stop for four years and has decided to break until early next year to help keep things fresh. Here is the relevant post from his facebook group.
Continue reading Post 50: Web comics, podcast news and other things.
Having said in my recent post on David Crowther’s History of England podcast that I should probably check out their Facebook group, I did and reading a few of the posts there was inspired to write a blog entry on this old pub in Nottingham. I’ve got a few other old pubs in mind too, so I may well end up doing a few of these. I was in Nottingham for reasons related to work, but took the advantage of some free time to look around the city. The pub, which claims to be the oldest in England – founded in 1189, is near the castle on the West side of the city centre. It’s probably one of the most impressive locations for a pub that I’ve seen, overshadowed by and more or less built into the huge limestone cliffs, just around the corner from the statue of Robin Hood.
Continue reading Post 11: Historical Pubs: Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (1189)
Another podcast summary here – this time the History of England, as found at http://historyofengland.typepad.com/. As the title suggests, this is very much from the “History of X” school of podcasts that have sprang up in the aftermath of History of Rome. In this podcast series, David Crowther covers the history of England from Anglo Saxon times onward using his Ladybird book of English monarchs. The end goal is to reach the end of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1901, but at the time of writing he is 124 podcasts in and currently somewhere in the reign of Richard II so there’s still plenty more to go.
Continue reading History of England Podcast