Quote of the Week: 16 October

BH brittle gloryLaura Ashe, Richard II: A Brittle Glory (Penguin: London, 2016)

Emboldened by the excellent ‘Penguin Monarchs‘ volume on Edward II, I looked out which other volumes were available: the first that arrived in the post was this one.

Ashe‘s approach seems different to Given-Wilson‘s on Edward. Where he was reassuringly chronological, she deals with Richard’s reign (and I’ve seen this as a criticism of the volume online) thematically. It has, nonetheless, given me some useful insight into a king who I’ve always vaguely felt I owed a debt: I fell asleep watching Jeremy Irons in the title role – in Stratford, of all places – back in 1986/7. To this day, I blame the large lunch I had before the matinee performance …

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Quote of the Week: 09 October

BH penguin mornarchs edward iiChristopher Given-Wilson, Edward II:  The Terrors of Kingship (Penguin Monarchs series), (Penguin:  London, 2016)

This series of books have been on my radar for a while, but it took a recommendation from an ex-student (thanks, Jay!) to finally push me into buying one.  These are absolutely ideal for A Level students (who NEED the context for their final exams:  hint, hint to both my classes) or people who wanted a potted history without getting too bogged down.

Given-Wilson‘s writing style was pitched just right, I thought – dryly academic without being off-putting, clear without being condescending to those of us who don’t need (or want) words of one syllable.  It’s certainly inspired me to buy some more from the series: naturally, I’m now forced to wait until March 2018 for the Richard III volume, sigh …

This week’s quote of the week, is the final paragraph from the book, which sums up my views on Edward as presented in Marlowe‘s play.

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Quote of the Week: 02 October

BH john julius norwichJohn Julius Norwich, Shakespeare’s Kings (Penguin:  London, 2000)

I like this book very much, and as I’m currently teaching Edward II to two separate groups of sixth-formers, I thought I’d look out a quotation for them regarding our hapless king.  Despite Edward not being one of Shakespeare‘s kings, Norwich doesn’t disappoint …

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Quote of the Week: 25 September

BH eltonGR Elton, A History of England:  England Under The Tudors (The Folio Society:  London, 1997)

If there was ever a knockout blow in the ebooks vs. physical books debate, I think The Folio Society supplies it.

The heft of them, the slipcases, the overall production values – even the feel of the paper stock makes these a pleasure to read, and as someone who usually subjects his books to ‘tough love’, it makes me look after them in a way I rarely do other books.

And the contents never fail to live up to the packaging …

 

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Quote of the Week: 18 September

BH BradbrookBRADBROOK, MC: Themes and Conventions of Elizabethan Tragedy (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1969)

The Boar’s Head Bookshelf uses Isaac Newton‘s famous ‘standing on the shoulders of giants‘ quotation to acknowledge the part that every book I read has in shaping my ideas about Shakespeare.  Occasionally, I read a book where the ideas are camouflaged by a ponderous, lecturing (in the worst sense of the word) style, and this is one of them.  (A shout-out to the massively disappointing Frank Kermode on this point, too)  When I read authors like David Crystal, his – pardon the pun – brilliant style makes the ideas shiny, fresh, exciting.  Kermode and Bradbrook are similarly huge beasts, but their home is the Jurassic period, not the 21st Century.  I’m slightly taken aback by that statement, given I devote myself to a writer who has been dead for over 400 years:  oh, the irony, I hear you say …

Anyway, Bradbrook HAS got something interesting to say when she’s not hectoring us or making massive assumptions about our knowledge:

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Quote of the Week: 04 September

BH Heard cover

HEARD, Nigel, Tudor Economy and History (Access to History series), (Hodder & Stoughton: London, 1992)

With school returning today (at least for the teachers) after the summer break, I think it’s appropriate to look at something education-related from my recent reading …

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Quote of the Week: 28 August

BH macaulayMACAULAY, Thomas Babington: The History of England from 1485 to 1685 (ed. Peter Rowland) (The Folio Society: London, 1985)

Before we look at Macaulay, let me give you one of mine from the classroom.  It’s always an attention-grabber – you can see students falling into a few different categories:

a) people who clearly haven’t considered the issue before but are now thinking rapidly;

b) those who panic at the agency I’m potentially giving them; and

c) the ones who get a twinkle in their eye and would like to test my theory but daren’t.

I hardly ever get a d) can’t be bothered or not listening …

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