Cynthia Harnett’s The Wool-Pack is a fascinating book in all sorts of ways. I wonder, for a start, how a contemporary publisher would react to any author who presented a book to them on the 15th century wool trade? But The Wool-Pack is by no means a dry, historical tome. The winner of the 1951 Carnegie Medal (theContinue reading “Cynthia Harnett’s ‘The Wool-Pack’”
On Wednesday 1st April, I shall be giving a talk at Redhill Library, Surrey, about my novel, Between Darkness and Light, and the amazing story of the Chinese Labour Corps in World War I that appears in its pages. The coffee morning lasts from 10.30 – noon and I would be delighted if you wereContinue reading “An Invitation”
“Considered etymologically, [the word ‘medieval’] assumes that we have to deal with a threefold division of time, a succession of three periods in terms of Hegelian dialectic. Viewed thus, the ‘Middle Ages’ are a transition from antiquity to modern times; but if by that phrase we mean that they form a chronological link between theContinue reading “Quotation of the Day”
“Doctors of ancient times used to recommend reading to their patients as a physical exercise on an equal level with walking, running, or ball-playing.” So says Jean Leclerq in his wonderful The Love of Learning and the Desire for God.
“The expression ‘Middle Ages,’ when used to designate the period 1050-1350 and the following century, is open to objection. The phrase itself and the notion it is intended to convey were alike unknown to the men of that epoch. Unconscious of any break in continuity between themselves and their predecessors of the ancient world, theyContinue reading “Quotation of the Day”
In some ways, blogs and books don’t mix too well. Blogs are part of the online world of instant gratification whereas books are part of the real world of delayed gratification. This is a particular problem when it comes to long books.
Catherine Brighton’s The Fossil Girl: Mary Anning’s Dinosaur Discovery is in many ways a lovely book. The pictures are glorious and the story of the young Mary discovering the first complete Ichthyosaur is fascinating. However, a couple of minor moments mar the whole. The first is a page showing Mary having a tower constructed so sheContinue reading “The Fossil Girl and Earth’s Deep History”
In 1899 an English historian was declared a doctor of the Church. A man who had never had political influence or held high office in the Church was now officially one of the Church’s great teachers. His name was Bede, or the Venerable Bede as he was called even in his own lifetime. Why wasContinue reading “St Bede the Venerable’s ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’”
In the introduction to her translation of Bede’s The Reckoning of Time, Faith Wallis has a fascinating aside about education in Anglo-Saxon England: