In one of three special episodes, I talk to royal studies specialist Dr Ellie Woodacre about a collection of books that belonged to Joan of Navarre, wife of Henry IV and stepmother to Henry V, of Battle of Agincourt fame. The books provide a fantastic starting part for a wider discussion about this little known English queen who left her children from her first marriage to move to England, had French royal blood, and was imprisoned by her stepson for witchcraft.Read More
In one of three special episodes of my podcast Past Matters, I talk to Kelcey Wilson-Lee, historian and author of ‘Daughters of Chivalry’, a biography of the five daughters of Edward I (aka the king in ‘Braveheart’). Kelcey picks the Alphonso Psalter as her underrated historic object and reveals what it tells us about life and death in medieval England as well as its owner, Edward I’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth.Read More
“Imagine you are in London’s South Kensington district. You pass the glorious Romanesque architecture of the Natural History Museum on Cromwell Road, before turning onto Exhibition Road where you encounter not one but two more museums, the V&A and the Science Museum. Now imagine that, instead of being open to the public and bursting with tourists, they were closed and dilapidated, Dippy the dinosaur outside with a “for sale” sign around his neck. Read More
And, another piece I wrote for the excellent Horse & Hound! This time on the perils of riding in London… Read More
So, I got to write a piece on one of my favourite characters from the Roman empire – Galla Placidia – for the New Statesman. She was one pretty cool lady, so go on click on the link below to find out more… Read More
Despite the fact that women are harbingers of life into this world, men, and Hollywood, love the idea of the femme fatale. And nowhere is this fascination more physically embodied than in Hollywood film directors’ predilection for female fighting stunts to involve a woman wrapping her thighs around the neck of a man and snapping it. Or strangling him. Or just bringing him down to land the killing blow. Read More
Objectification. An ugly sounding word about an ugly issue that feminists rightly campaign about. Women have suffered hugely over the centuries from the reduction of their worth to just how good their body looks and the problem rages on.
Just look at the recent Protein World ads effectively body shaming women into thinking only those with unrealistically skinny bodies should be allowed to go to the beach. Because of course, the only reason women might want to go to the beach is to spice up the view for some sleazy men. Read More
Experience is the best teacher. It’s also the shittiest, so sometimes I wish I were better at listening to other people’s words of wisdom. As someone who is not infrequently found in bed alone before 9pm in mismatching pyjamas demolishing a tub of Pringles, I clearly still have a lot to learn about leading a fulfilling life. However, here are some pearls (ok more like some cheap precious stones) of wisdom about dating that I have picked up along the way: Read More
I am one of those people who gets to tick the box on forms that says ‘White-Asian’ or something thereabouts when describing my ethnic origin. I’m a mixture of Thai and English with some Burmese, Scottish and Irish thrown in there too.
I am also incredibly fortunate in my life that the instances of racism I have encountered have been few and far between. Being told by the local kids, when I was of primary school age, that my skin was “poo coloured” or “dirty” stung a bit at the time. But, all terrible, racist things that happen in this world considered I’ve got off very easily. Read More
In various best books lists, certain childhood classics keep springing up again and again. What are very rarely ever mentioned though are the sequels to these, and often there are many. Some good, some not so good.
There are a number of reasons I suspect these books very rarely get a mention in best books lists:
a) They don’t quite live up to the charm of the first one.
b) They are awful.
c) Putting them in would take up a lot of space in a ‘Top [insert number here]’ list so list-makers just put in the first book.
d) A combination of a) and c).
As someone who always hates saying goodbye to characters at the end of a book, especially in books such as ‘Little Women’ and ‘Anne of Green Gables’ which don’t have a single plot and rather follow the lives of their protagonist (a trend in books that is noticeably 19th century American/Canadian – although I would love to hear of any children’s books doing that now?), I’m always dying to hear more about them and gobble up sequels. Read on for my guide to these lesser known sequels and some notes on interesting recurring motifs. Read More