British Royal Babies Through the Ages

| By Rebekka Väisänen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki |

All media outlets are now brimming with news about the newest addition to the British Royal Family, HRH Prince Harry and Meghan’s baby boy. In light of this, I decided to search Gale Primary Sources to see how royal births have been documented and celebrated throughout the ages. Below I explore the media hype around five royal ancestors, ranging from poetry to the decoding of names.

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Francis Barber: Samuel Johnson’s Jamaican friend

By Calvin Liu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I am a second-year English student at University College, Oxford – and one of the Gale Ambassadors for Oxford University. I am a huge lover of everything Romantic and Modernist – from Wordsworth to Woolf. When I am not in the depths of an essay crisis, I spend my time collecting fountain pens and looking at old books. Born and raised in Hong Kong, I am still getting to grips with the English weather and am partial to punting picnics on a rare sunny day.

The figure of Dr Samuel Johnson has come to be seen as the canonised cliché of a certain type of stuffy Englishness. His very name evokes scenes from a Blackadder episode where an august but temperamental enlightenment gentleman, draped with a flamboyant powdered wig, raves to his friends in a coffee house about the sorry state of ‘demotic Anglo-Saxon’ as it stands in the modern age. Not to mention the lexicographical feat that is Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, often touted as the grandsire of modern English dictionaries from the OED to Merriam-Webster – and bane to the lives of English Literature students ever since its publication! What is, however, less well-known is his remarkable friendship with Francis Barber, a Jamaican freedman who first arrived in rural Yorkshire as a child. Barber became a close companion to Johnson during a period of deep depression after the death of his wife and was named the executor and ‘residuary legatee’ (as James Boswell puts it in his 1791 Life of Samuel Johnson) of Johnson’s estate after his death (Gale platform p.226).

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The Myth of the Rhinoceros

By Lyndsey England, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
I am a second-year student at Durham University, studying a joint degree in English Literature and History. My main areas of interest are African history and post-colonial literature, but when I’m not tucked away behind a stack of books in a corner of the library or promoting Gale, I’m busy with Durham Student Theatre, working backstage and on the production team for a number of performances each year. In amongst all this, I also try to find the time to write, because I am currently juggling a shamefully large amount of works in progress.

In 1769, writing his ‘Description of Three Hundred Animals’, a document included in Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Thomas Boreman presented the rhinoceros as follows:

“He has two girdles upon his body, like the wings of a dragon, from his back down to his belly … his skin is so hard, that no dart is able to pierce it, and covered over with scales, like the shell of a tortoise.”

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Valentine’s Day for the Broken Hearted

By Maya Thomas, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I’m a second-year History student at Oxford University and proud owner of 56 types of loose-leaf tea. My obsession with all things pre-WW2 has leaked from my studies into my free time, which I like to spend researching everything from the intricacies of costume history to the scandalous court life of Byzantium’s Emperor Justinian. Besides nerding out over history, I spend a lot of time debating, and am currently in the fun, (yet headache-inducing) process of setting up an Oxford free discourse society to combat campus censorship.

The weather is cold and grey, but the shops are ablaze with red hearts, sparkly roses and giant teddy bears holding signs reading “I love you”: Valentine’s Day is upon us yet again. Whether you love or hate this centuries-old festival, it cannot be denied that the love it celebrates certainly deserves a day of its own. After all, from Helen of Troy to Tinder, the literary-minded (read: soppy) historian might argue that love, with all its greatness and tragedy, has inspired the culture, art and even politics that have propelled our human story onward.

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Nationalism Vs the true meaning of National Independence Day in Poland

By Anna Sikora, Gale Ambassador at NUI Galway*
Anna Sikora was recently a tutor, part-time teacher, and final year PhD student in the Discipline of English at the National University of Galway, Ireland. She examined the works of John Wyndham, author of over 60 short stories and 12 novels, including the famous The Day of The Triffids (1951)and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957). For her full bio, please see previous posts by Anna Sikora on The Gale Review.

In 2017, thousands took part in far-right marches on National Independence Day in Poland. My Irish friend asked me how worried we should be about the rise of far-right nationalism in Poland, my home country. He had seen newspaper headlines describing millions of Polish people, including school children and families, celebrating November 11 as “unsavoury.” I was shocked and disappointed; disappointed by hooligans disrupting the Independence Day marches, and shocked by the foreign media using images of these hooligans to represent the whole nation. This year has also seen heightened tensions, with attempts to ban far-right rallies and pleas from President Andrzej Duda for marchers to “come only with red-and-white flags,” rather than the nationalist banners and flags of far-right parties seen previously.

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The road to American Independence

By Carolyn Beckford, Gale Product Trainer
Carolyn joined Gale in 2015 after working in US higher education. She likes working for Gale because it’s an opportunity to stay connected to higher education and support faculty and students with quality research content. When not visiting university libraries or delving into the Gale archives, she likes playing tennis and visiting historic English castles and estates.

Every July 4th I send holiday greetings to my friends and family in the USA and they always say, “same to you”. I remind them that July 4th isn’t a holiday in the UK. As an educator, I relish the opportunity to highlight and explain why American Independence is not celebrated with euphoria in the UK as it is in America.

We can see from the map below, found in Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers, that the territory under British rule was once immense and spanned the globe, leading to the well-known quote that Britain had “the empire on which the sun never sets.” The British colonisation of the Americas began in 1607 and before long, colonies had been established throughout the Americas.

Read moreThe road to American Independence

Alemania Nazi, Antigua Roma: la apropiación de la cultura clásica para la formulación de la identidad nacional

Por Paula Maher Martin, Gale Ambassador en la Universidad NUI Galway
Paula Maher Martín estudia su último año de Literatura Inglesa y Clásicas en la National University of Ireland, en Galway. Interesada en el lenguaje como un medio para reflejar y transcender de manera simultánea la experiencia humana, planea realizar investigación de posgrado en Literatura Inglesa, centrada en la construcción metafísica de la realidad en la literatura modernista. Disfruta leer a Nancy Mitford, Leo Tolstoy, Evelyn Waugh o Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, del viento, de la música del mundo, de vagar inmersa en abstracciones filosóficas, de escribir poesía en clase y de enamorarse de los personajes de los cuadros.

Para leer esta publicación de blog en inglés, haga clic aquí.

Germania, una descripción aparentemente inofensiva de los territorios, costumbres y tribus de los germanos por el historiador romano del siglo I Cornelio Tácito, fue ensalzada por los alemanes nazis como un estandarte: un retrato del ario primitivo; virtuoso, intrépido y fuertemente militarizado, cualidades que habían reverberado a lo largo de los siglos y que sustentaban la identidad racial del alemán moderno.

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Nazi Germany, Ancient Rome: The appropriation of classical culture for the formulation of national identity

By Paula Maher Martín, Gale Ambassador at NUI Galway
Paula Maher Martín is a third-year student of English and Classics at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Interested in language as a means of simultaneously reflecting and transcending human experience, she plans to do postgraduate research in English, with a focus on the metaphysical construction of reality in Modernist literature. She enjoys reading Nancy Mitford, Leo Tolstoy, Evelyn Waugh or Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, the wind, the music of the world, wandering immersed in philosophical abstractions, writing poetry in lectures and falling in love with characters in paintings. Paula is blogging for Gale in both English and Spanish.

To read this blog in Spanish, click here.

The Germania, an apparently harmless description of the territories, customs and tribes of the Germani by 1st century Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus, was acclaimed by Nazi Germans as a banner: a portrait of the primitive Aryan; ‘virtuous, fearless and heavily militarized’, qualities the Nazis felt had reverberated through the centuries and supported the racial identity of the modern German.

Read moreNazi Germany, Ancient Rome: The appropriation of classical culture for the formulation of national identity

Fashion and the Eighteenth-Century Public Sphere: from Tatler to Twitter

By Daniel Mercieca, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
Daniel Mercieca is an English Literature finalist and President of both the English Literature Society and Bede Film Society at Durham University. His main research interests are imagined spaces in film and screen adaptation, with further interests in memory and motion in twentieth-century and Romantic poetry. Dan enjoys the independence of thought, interdisciplinary and experimental aspects of studying English and aims to achieve an MA in Film and/or Literature. Dan enjoys lyricism and landscapes in the works of Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Smith and Sylvia Plath. His favourite directors include Alfred Hitchcock, Darren Aranofsky, Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan for their suspense, soundtracks and cinematography. If he is not reading books or watching films then he is probably writing, running or trying something new.

‘Since t’is the intent and business of the stage,
To copy out the follies of the age
To hold to every man a glass,
And show him of what species he’s an ass’.[1]
– John Vanbrugh

The sharp, epigrammatic wit of John Vanbrugh’s preface to The Provoked Wife (1697), reflects the theatricality of eighteenth-century audiences and exposes the wider hypocrisy of the ‘Public Sphere’[2]. After the Restoration of Charles II, the New Printing Act (1662) led to a watershed of publishing and print culture in Britain[3]; a society in which political sentiments and private identities bled into each other. The torrent of periodicals, pamphlets and magazines circulated gossip and popular opinion, cultivating a highly self-conscious and extravagant nation.

Read moreFashion and the Eighteenth-Century Public Sphere: from Tatler to Twitter

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