I’m delighted to be delivering a new talk this evening entitled ‘Public Intellectualism Today’ in which I’ll be looking at the importance of thinking deeply and carefully about things, present and past; and the role of the intellectual in society today.
In the talk I’ll pose the questions: Who and what is an intellectual, today? What does it mean to be an intellectual? Does being ‘a whole person’ include being an intellectual? What is the intellectual’s role in the world? How does an intellectual best engage with society? Has this changed significantly from the past to today? And is a ‘public intellectual’ not an oxymoron?
Wow, after all that I’ll sit back and let others do the work while I help judge the THINK SLAM!
This is how it works – Competitors have 3 minutes to present a thought-provoking idea, theory, or story. From then on, it’s a knockout! Keen but kindly judges, including me as judge-supremo, will decide who pleases the thinking parts that others cannot reach, who inspires good, great, or gruesome thoughts, and who does not.
Just as in all good sporting competitions, there will be a quarter final, semi final, and final! Though there may well be moments of seriousness, nervousness, and puzzlement, a spirit of wonder, wit, and good humour will prevail!
The sixth Swindon Think Slam Champ will receive a bubbly-filled trophy, rapturous applause, and nice words from me!
I’ve enjoyed speaking about the birth of HRH The Princess of Cambridge from a historical perspective on the television and radio (Sky News, BBC Breakfast, LBC, Good Morning Britain on ITV, BBC News and BBC World) this weekend.
The birth of this little girl, fourth in line to the throne is historically interesting, because it brings equality to the sexes. For the first time, following a change in the law – the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, that only came into force a mere five weeks ago – the new Princess can’t be supplanted from her position in the line of succession by any younger brothers. Age, for the first time in history, trumps gender.
Another piece of legislation also applies to this child. The new baby will be titled HRH Princess Charlotte of Cambridge because of Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm issued by the Queen in December 2012. In 1917, George V restricted the title of HRH Prince or Princess to the children of the sovereign, their children, and the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales (i.e. today Prince George). So, born under that law, the new baby would have been Lady Charlotte Cambridge or possibly Lady Charlotte Mountbatten-Windsor or Lady Charlotte Wales. But the Queen’s change to the law means she has been born a Princess. The law doesn’t extend to Prince Harry: if he has children, they will still not be titled Prince of Princess.
Finally, the last Princess of Cambridge was Princess Mary Adelaide Wilhelmina Elizabeth, born in 1833, and known for both her lavish partying and her charitable works. She was also, curiously, known as ‘The People’s Princess’, so already, before we even know her name, this little baby reminds us of her grandmother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
I’m joining a Telegraph ‘World of Wolf Hall’ tour in July and wonder if you would like to join me?
You can find more details here if you are interested The World of Wolf Hall or call 033330 059095.
History Today have re-posted an old article of mine about Henry VIII that was first published in History Today Volume 59, Issue 4, April 2009
It was a great pleasure to go on Griff Rhys Jones’s new quiz show, Quizeum, which will be shown this week in the Museum of London. My erudite team-mate, Lars Tharp, and I took on the formidable combination of historians Hallie Rubenhold and Dan Snow. The fiendish questions were set by Griff and his team at Modern TV. Do watch it to its nail-biting end!
Here’s a couple of clips:
The increasing commercialisation of sites known for their gruesome and violent history raises troubling questions. But to ignore such events would be worse -
I was lucky enough to be part of this series – the last Time Team series ever! Sob. If you’re on Twitter, go and RT this to be entered into the competition (UK only).
If you missed it, Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home is playing on iPlayer for the next 24 days here.
This is what I wrote about it when it was first aired in 2013 Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home
This programme will be repeated on Tuesday 7th April, on The Yesterday Channel. You can see what I wrote about it when it was first broadcast here.
Had great fun (although initially dead nervous) on Monday night recording an episode of Quizeum – a new quiz show in – guess what – a museum! It’s presented by Griff Rhys Jones. The series starts to air on 25th March on BBC 4 (at around 8.30pm) and my episode, at the Museum of London, is about six in. I was in a team with Lars Tharp (whom you’ll know from the Antiques Roadshow) and we fought historians Hallie Rubenhold and Dan Snow. But the question is: who won?
Here’s the first trailer:
On 28th February 2015, the Daily Mail featured three female historians, including me:
Thanks to Mick Symes, I’ve just found this rather lovely mini-review of A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England, which is out in paperback…
In this History Today article I argue that a revolution in communications and new technology means that we now live in an age of speeded-up history. Historians should wake up to this shift – read it here.
An edited extract from my Introduction to Richard Rex’s ‘Tudors’ was published in The Sunday Telegraph on 25th January 2015 – What’s So Gripping About The Tudors?
The dynasty was short-lived, insecure and suspicious, yet laid the foundations for our Navy, Church and Empire.
THE TUDORS: ILLUSTRATED HISTORY
By Richard Rex, and with an introduction by me.
I was delighted to write the introduction to this splendid book by Richard Rex. Don’t miss this one.
The Tudor Period is regarded by many as England’s golden age, and still casts a spell over the public imagination. Whether it is the glittering rule of Elizabeth, the ruthless power of her father Henry VIII, or the bloody and radical reign of Mary, the Tudors remain the most fascinating English dynasty. Richard Rex looks at how the public and private lives of the Tudors were inextricably linked, and how each Tudor monarch exuded charisma and danger in equal measure.
Well, I am astonished and delighted: Damian Lewis says that, among others (and as well as looking to Prince Harry!), he read my book on Henry VIII to prepare for his role in Wolf Hall:
I’ve written an article for The Times bringing together two of my great loves: the Tudors… and partying. ‘Tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1599′:
‘Partying like a Tudor is a serious endeavour. Henry VIII’s party without parallel, the Field of the Cloth of Gold — the Glastonbury of its day — lasted for three weeks. By contrast, Elizabeth I’s party at Sudeley Castle — for three days straight to celebrate the defeat of the Spanish Armada — was a bit lightweight. So you need to be prepared . . .’
A little bird has told me that Henry and Anne: The Lovers Who Changed History premieres at 11.30am on Tuesday 13th January on the Australian History Channel.
It’s official, Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home will air on BBC 4 on Tuesday 20th January at 9pm.
Here’s the latest information from the BBC with me looking very sad at the prospect of all those killers!
I Never Knew that About Britain will be on ITV on Wednesday nights, starting this week 7th January, at 11.40pm. The first unknown fact is the last invasion of Britain. This is the blurb from when it was on TV last year – I Never Knew That About Britain
The Last Days of Anne Boleyn is being repeated on BBC 2 on Saturday 10th January at 7.30pm. This is a talking heads programme of historians and historical novelists, and includes Greg Walker, Hilary Mantel, David Starkey, Philippa Gregory … a few others, and me! The Last Days of Anne Boleyn – BBC 2