Bill Bryson was struck one day by the thought that we devote more time to studying the battles and wars of history than to considering what history really consists of: centuries of people quietly going about their daily business. This inspired him to start a journey around his own house, an old rectory in Norfolk, considering how the ordinary things in life came to be.
"Best use of a credit"
Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, a country house called The Firs in Buckinghamshire was requisitioned by the War Office. Sentries were posted at the entrance gates, and barbed wire was strung around the perimeter fence. To local villagers it looked like a prison camp. But the truth was far more sinister. This rambling Edwardian mansion had become home to an eccentric band of scientists, inventors and bluestockings. Their task was to build devastating new weaponry that could be used against the Nazis.
"Boys Own stuff but I loved it. .."
Love history? Know your stuff with History in an Hour.
"Not a good history of the Reformation"
The story of Britain from the earliest settlements in 3000BC to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. To look back at the past is to understand the present. In this vivid account of over 4,000 years of British history, Simon Schama takes us on an epic journey which encompasses the very beginnings of the nation's identity, when the first settlers landed on Orkney. From the successes and failures of the monarchy to the daily life of a Roman soldier stationed on Hadrian's Wall, Schama gives a vivid, fascinating account of the many different stories and struggles that lie behind the growth of our island nation.
‘Remember, remember, the fifth of November’. The gunpowder plot is a famed tale of treachery that continues to fascinate and capture the imagination four hundred years on. The Gunpowder Plot in an Hour reveals the elaborate background to the infamous plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and James I, the ultimate act of treason.
As a lover of both history and the countryside, urbanite couch-potato Charlie Connelly decides to rectify this and sets out on foot along some famous routes, journeying alongside Bodica's chariot in Norfolk, reliving Bonnie Prince Charlie's flight to Skye, and taking the same tragic route as the starving famine walkers of Connemara. It's a tale that features broken toes, dead poets, a couple of ghosts, and rain. Lots and lots of rain.
London, 1891. Less than three weeks after the last Whitechapel murder, 25-year-old Thomas Cutbush is committed to Broadmoor for savage knife attacks on two girls. The arresting officer, Inspector William Race, intrigued by the wealth of connections with the infamous unsolved murders in the East End, starts to wonder whether he has, in fact, arrested Jack the Ripper himself. Ignored by his superiors, and in despair, the detective eventually decides to take his story to the press.
This volume of Churchill's history of the Second World War recounts the events of 1941 surrounding America's entry into the War, Hitler's march on Russia, and the alliance between Britain and America.
The British wars began on the morning of 23 July 1637, heralding 200 years of battles. Most were driven by religious or political conviction, as Republicans and Royalists, Catholics and Protestants, Tories and Whigs, and colonialists and natives vied for supremacy. Of the battles not fought on home territory, many took place across Europe, America, India, and also at sea. Schama's examination of this turbulent period reveals how the British people eventually united in imperial enterprise, forming 'Britannia Incorporated'.
This is the remarkable story of the English language; from its beginnings as a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language. The Adventure of English is not only an enthralling story of power, religion, and trade, but also the story of people, and how their lives continue to change the extraordinary language that is English.
The bloodbath at Waterloo ended a war that had engulfed the world for over 20 years. It also finished the career of the charismatic Napoleon Bonaparte. It ensured the final liberation of Germany and the restoration of the old European monarchies, and it represented one of very few defeats for the glorious French army, most of whose soldiers remained devoted to their Emperor until the very end.
The loss of British bombers over Occupied Europe began to reach alarming levels in 1941. Could it be that the Germans were using a sophisticated form of radar to direct their night fighters and anti-aircraft guns at the British bombers? British aerial reconnaissance discovered what seemed to be a rotating radar tower on a clifftop at Bruneval, near Le Havre. The truth must be revealed. The decision was taken to launch a daring raid on the Bruneval site to try and capture the technology for further examination.
After the Second World War, many of the men and women who had worked at Bletchley Park moved on to GCHQ: the British government's new facility established to fight the KGB. The Spies of Winter explores the early years of GCHQ as it navigated its way through a tumultuous era - from the defection of the Cambridge Five and the treachery of atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs to the collapse of the British Empire and the emergence of the US as a superpower.
Thomas Cromwell is known to millions as the leading character in Hilary Mantel's best-selling Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. But who was the real Cromwell? Born a lowly tavern keeper's son, Cromwell rose swiftly through the ranks to become Henry VIII's right-hand man, and one of the most powerful figures in Tudor history. The architect of England's break with the Roman Catholic Church and the dissolution of the monasteries, he oversaw seismic changes in our country's history.
England, July 1540: it is one of the hottest summers on record, and the court of Henry VIII is embroiled once again in political scandal. Anne Cleves is out. Thomas Cromwell is to be executed and, in the countryside, an aristocratic teenager named Catherine Howard prepares to become fifth wife to the increasingly unpredictable monarch.
A graphic and biting polemic that still holds a fierce political relevance and impact despite being written over half a century ago. First published in 1937 it charts George Orwell's observations of working-class life during the 1930s in the industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire. His depictions of social injustice and rising unemployment, the dangerous working conditions in the mines amid general squalor and hunger also bring together many of the ideas explored in his later works and novels.
Timothy West reads the third and concluding volume of award-winning historian Simon Schama's compelling chronicle of the British Isles. Here he illuminates the period from 1776 to 2000 through a variety of historical themes, including Victorian advances in technology and industry, women's increasing role in society, and the burgeoning British Empire which promised civilisation and material betterment for all.
Starting AD 400 (around the time of their invasion of England) and running through to the 1100s (the 'Aftermath'), historian Geoffrey Hindley shows the Anglo-Saxons as formative in the history not only of England but also of Europe. The society inspired by the warrior world of the Old English poem Beowulf saw England become the world's first nation state and Europe's first country to conduct affairs in its own language, and Bede and Boniface of Wessex establish the dating convention we still use today.
"What have the Anglo Saxons ever done for us?"
The Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers. Even in their most private moments, they were accompanied by a servant specifically appointed for the task. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed. These attendants knew the truth behind the glamorous exterior.
This highly entertaining BBC Radio 4 series is written and presented by Bill Bryson and based on his best-selling book, Mother Tongue. In it, he romps through the history of Britain to reveal how English became such an infuriatingly complex - but ultimately world-beating - language.
A groundbreaking account of what it was like to live in a Victorian body from one of our best historians, author of The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton and George Eliot: The Last Victorian. Why did the great philosophical novelist George Eliot feel so self-conscious that her right hand was larger than her left? Exactly what made Darwin grow that iconic beard in 1862, a good five years after his contemporaries had all retired their razors?
The Elephant Man is Treves' own firsthand account of how he met and befriended Joseph Merrick (whom he mistakenly calls John Merrick), a young man with very severe physical deformities, who was being exhibited as a sideshow freak, as half man, half elephant. Treves initially invited Merrick to his rooms in the London Hospital so as to examine him, and to ensure Merrick's admittance he gave him his card.