Category Archives: History

Sex lurks in the shadows of the Pre-Raphaelites – phallic symbols in Isabella by Millais

FAIR Isabel, poor simple Isabel!  Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love’s eye!  They could not in the self-same mansion dwell  Without some stir of heart, some malady;  They could not sit at meals but feel how well  It soothed each … Continue reading

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Sarah’s story – family history and poetry from the darkest places…

In a previous post, I wrote of Sarah Hardiman, the first (and only legal) wife of my Great Grandfather George Hardiman. George Hardiman was a journeyman silversmith, born in 1839 in an impoverished part of Clerkenwell, North London. Sarah (nee … Continue reading

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In praise of daytime antiques programmes – a tribute to David Barby

For some reason I have felt compelled to write a quick blog post. Usually I spend quite a lot of time researching and writing a post that involves a literary or historical connection. Or I indulge in reminiscence or even … Continue reading

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‘From Clapton Pond to Stamford Hill’ – landscape, literature & Pinter at the British Library

Yesterday I made the trip from Somerset to London to meet Sarah Whittingham, author of the wonderful Fern Fever and Wendy Wallace whose recently published The Painted Bridge is my favourite fiction book of the year so far. Although we were looking … Continue reading

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What’s in a name? Warnings from our family history…..

Prompted by a short discussion on Twitter with the fabulous @oldpostcards and @CountryBook about the first names our ancestors were given (‘saddled with’ in many cases) I went back through my tree to find patterns or traditional names handed  down … Continue reading

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Keats the Radical, or Where were those fields of mists and mellow fruitfulness?

At the end of March a blog appeared on the Oxford University Press website explaining the work behind a paper just  published in The Review of English Studies. The blog is entitled ‘A Keatsian Field trip’ and was written by Richard Turley, … Continue reading

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Telling ‘Sarah’s Story’ – finding truth in family history

It is some time since I have written on the history of my family, or on history in any sense really. I am deep into the process of finalising a manuscript that will be published in the next few months – … Continue reading

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‘He is gone…’ Joseph Severn on the death of John Keats

Rome. 27 February 1821. My dear Brown, He is gone–he died with the most perfect ease–he seemed to go to sleep. On the 23rd, about 4, the approaches of death came on. “Severn-I–lift me up–I am dying–I shall die easy–don’t … Continue reading

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September 1818: So begins the miracle of Keats’ ‘Living Year’.

In the late 1970s, in my mid-teens and already enjoying the poetry of John Keats (albeit without really understanding all of it) I read a book by one of the great twentieth century writers on Keats and his work – Robert Gittings. … Continue reading

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‘A Walk After John Keats’ by Nelson Bushnell 1936 – History, hindsight & a hike with Hitler Youth?

In 2008 I organised and undertook a charity walk in the Lake District (see my short trek blog here) to follow in the footsteps of the poet John Keats. He walked through the Lakes and Scotland in 1818 with his … Continue reading

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