Poirot or Scheherazade? I ask: must historians choose between academic analysis and popular narrative, in my latest column in History Today.
In my July 2014 column for History Today, I reflected on feelings and friendship in the past…. How Does It Feel?
This morning, A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England received its first review, by Mathew Lyons on the London Historians blog:
“It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I approached Suzannah Lipscomb’s latest book. Was it really necessary? Did the world need another guide book to the historic buildings of England? Would she not be forced into tiresome iterations of ‘We can imagine…’ or ‘If one closes one’s eyes one can almost hear…’ and so on.
Well, so much for my judgement: I stand corrected. A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England is not only a first-class and fascinating guide to the most important of what survives of Tudor England, it also doubles as a deceptively thorough history of the period – and indeed a fine introduction to the complexities of life in sixteenth-century England…”
Read on here.
Today, my review of Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England was published in History Today:
“Ian Mortimer has taken L.P. Hartley to heart. If ‘the past is a foreign country’, where ‘they do things differently’, Mortimer’s Time Traveller books are our historicalLonely Planets. Using the innovative approach first seen in his wildly successful The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England, Mortimer has turned his attention to the first Elizabethan age (1558-1603). By using telling details to evoke the world of the past, he writes history as people want to read it.
Mortimer’s basic conceit – time travel – is a very powerful one, allowing him to do a number of things that are rare in history books. He writes in the second person and the present tense – giving the text an immediacy – and yet encompasses the whole of Elizabeth I’s reign as if we are waiting by our DeLoreans ready to enter a date…”
Read on here.
Many Tudor court fools had real learning difficulties. In advance of our Wellcome Trust funded performance project at Hampton Court Palace in October (6th-9th, do come!) with learning disabled actors, read my summary of my research in this month’s History Today:
I’ve just finished an article for History Today to come out in their October issue, which looks at the evidence that court fools were ‘natural fools’ or what we’d describe as people with learning disabilities. It was fascinating doing the research on this. The article sets out the historical case for our Wellcome Trust funded project, which will culminate in performances at Hampton Court Palace in October 2011.