A Stage for the Brave
12 May 2014

I, for one, adore the theatre; the bright lights, the energy, the set, the somewhat mystical quality that envelops you when confronted with the stage, upon which unfurls anything from a deeply moving fictitious work to light-hearted and humorous banter. After all, we all seek a sense of escapism and a yearning for pure entertainment.

A Very Regal Rejection of Tobacco
12 May 2014

It’s not exactly a common occurrence these days that the mere mention of tobacco is met with an audible gasp of wonder. But this was precisely the reaction I encountered recently whilst delivering a webinar showcasing our resource Global Commodities: Trade, Exploration & Cultural Exchange

Annoy the enemy upon all quarters!
15 April 2014

Long experience has shown the human race that the surest way to provoke technological innovation is to fight a war. This being so, I shouldn’t have been surprised to find in the papers of Henry Knox, general in the Continental Army and artillery specialist during the American War of Independence, a design from about 1775 for an improved, and rather intriguing, type of naval vessel.

Channelling my Inner Wood Nymph: The Women’s Land Army in WW1
04 April 2014

After months of rain and grey skies we are finally seeing glimpses of a proper spring. New lambs are in the fields and my garden, which has resembled a muddy swamp for most of the winter, is now beginning to pop with colour. Even the chickens, who have sulked in their coop for months, have begun to lay again

Dance with the Devil: William Ellis, missionary, and Hawaiian hula
28 March 2014

To the mind of the twenty-first-century tourist, Hawaiian hula dancing is symbolic of Pacific island paradise. Against a backdrop of golden sands and blue waters, we envision dancers bedecked in grass skirts, moving effortlessly to lilting ukuleles. However, if we travel back almost two hundred years, to over a century before Hawaii became an American state, we see the hula at the centre of a moral battleground.

The Power of Celebrity
18 March 2014

The Institute for Motivational Research often employed ‘depth interviews’, an approach to consumer surveys that asked quasi-psychiatric questions to expound the sub-conscious motivations behind consumer choice. In the reports for Quality Bakers, Dichter and his team asked their pool of respondents to describe the qualities they associate with famous actors, with the final report ranking the considered endorsers in terms of appropriateness for the wholesome, energy-giving qualities they wanted Sunbeam bread to embody.

Don’t Forget to Check for Nails ...
07 March 2014

On a very wet Sunday evening, four inches deep in Wiltshire mud with a horse in one hand and an obstinate gate in the other, I had a flash of inspiration for my object of the week.

The First Cut is the Deepest
07 March 2014

This page is taken from De Formatu Foetu, or, The Formation of the Foetus, a work by the Flemish anatomist Adrianus Spigelius that examined the female reproductive system.

The End of the World
28 February 2014

“Ch’iaot’ou is a market of about 100 families and gives the impression of being the end of the world, as it is near the limit of settled Chinese penetration in those parts, and beyond is nothing but t’ussu ti, the wild tribal territory of the Sawbwas.”

07 February 2014

Whilst I was visiting the Big Apple last week on business I ventured to Central Park to visit Strawberry Fields; an area of the park that pays tribute to the late John Lennon. The ‘Imagine’ mosaic which lies in the centre of the area is adjacent to the Dakota apartment building. Lennon was returning home to the Dakota building when he was shot dead on December 8th, 1980. Strawberry Fields is a living memorial to the world-famous singer.

The Children's Guide to Harpooning Whales
06 February 2014

Anyone exploring the many maritime logbooks in our resource China, America and the Pacific will know how gruesome and perilous whaling voyages could be in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (I refer you to Paul’s grisly and fascinating post from November). Lots of blood, lots of screaming, lots of death… Definitely post-watershed stuff, I’d have said, wouldn’t you?

Food: Accept No Substitute
16 January 2014

Every January without fail, I am inevitably left feeling the pinch – not just of an empty purse but of my favourite pair of jeans that take a little extra ‘persuading’, shall we say, to fasten (usually holding onto the waistband and jumping a few centimetres into the air whilst breathing in will do it). Therefore, every January without fail, I resolve to do something about it.

Victorian vacations and some unusual city sightseeing
15 January 2014

January is the busiest month of the year for travel agents. Once the glow of Christmas has worn off, and the cold winds of the New Year begin to bite, our thoughts inevitably turn to summer holidays. Accordingly, I thought I’d go in search of travel guides in Adam Matthew’s digital collections…

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