Monthly Archives: August 2013

Historical Miscellany #29 – Aunt Vera’s New Year wishes

I remember my Aunt Vera very clearly from my childhood. She lived well into her nineties in a neat little bungalow outside Worcester with a mini parked on the drive outside. Aunt Vera had a magnificent mischievous grin and to her end she was one of life’s cheerful souls. A few years ago I found […]

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Historical Miscellany #28 Once in a blue moon [1950]

In September 1950 a blue moon was sighted over the Scotland and the north of England. An alluring and mysterious atmospheric phenomena, it was almost certainly caused by an enormous and devastating wild fire in Canada. A blue moon has become shorthand for extreme rarity – even more so than the Preston Guild. Here is […]

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Historical miscellany #27 – John Constable writes to John Dunthorne [1802]

In May 1802 the artist John Constable wrote this visionary letter to his childhood friend and mentor John Dunthorne. Here he sets out his ambition to become a natural painter – inspired only by nature and not the work of others. At this time Constable was aged 26, he was struggling to establish himself as […]

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Orwell’s England June and July

Madrid Barajas Airport on one of my recent travels Summer came and I was struck by a run of weddings and birthdays that knocked me off my writing rhythm. To put it geographically, over the past ten weeks I’ve been to weddings (and related events) on the west coast of Scotland, in Staffordshire, Amsterdam, Berlin […]

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Historical Miscellany #26: Edmund Burke, Speech to the Electors of Bristol [1774]

I’ve just finished Jesse Norman’s biography of the eighteenth century politician and philosopher Edmund Burke, so that’s where I’ll turn for this week’s dose of historical miscellany. Burke lived in the great age of political oratory and this is an extract one of his most enduring and celebrated speeches, outlining the independence of a political […]

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Historical Miscellany #25 – Christopher Colombus writes home [1493]

I’m in Madrid so I’ve picked an Iberian themed miscellany this week. This is an extract from one of Christopher Colombus’ letters to Luis de Santangel, one of Ferdinand and Isabella’s chief ministers. As for monsters, I have found not trace of them except at the point in the second isle as one enters the […]

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