“We tread enchanted ground” Celebrating Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon through the years

By Karen Harker, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
Karen is a Gale Student Ambassador and PhD student at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute. Her work focuses on digitally reconstructing and reconsidering the role of incidental music used in nineteenth-century Shakespeare productions, a project which is rooted in archival research and utilises many of Gale’s digital resources. Other research interests include operatic adaptations of Shakespeare, digital humanities, tableaux vivant, and Shakespeare performances during times of war. Karen also enjoys hiking, yoga, singing, and spending time with her cat, Monkey.

Around the 23rd of April every year, Stratford-upon-Avon becomes a different place. Flooded with tens of thousands of tourists from across the world, this small Warwickshire town pauses to pay homage to the most recognisable name, and for some, the greatest writer in all of English drama: William Shakespeare. The tradition of celebrating the life and work of Shakespeare has arguably placed Stratford-upon-Avon on the map. Even on a typical day, it is not uncommon to see throngs of school children touring Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street; patrons heading to see a show at one of the Royal Shakespeare Company theatres; or groups of visitors making their way to Holy Trinity Church to get a look at Shakespeare’s grave. For folks (such as myself) who call Stratford home, seeing Shakespeare remembered in this way, witnessing the twenty-first century style pilgrimage taken by millions of people each year, is a part of our daily life.

Read more“We tread enchanted ground” Celebrating Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon through the years

Sports Day: A Day for Everyone

By Matt Chivers, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I’m in my third year studying History at the University of Liverpool. I am obsessed with golf and regrettably even more obsessed about football. But at school, History took my interest; throughout Sixth Form and University I have loved studying the Cold War and, for my dissertation, the nuclear arms race. I am keen to pursue a career in sports writing and journalism – I couldn’t think of anything better than being paid to watch and write about the biggest sporting events in the world! I like film and tend to binge-watch a series or two.

I attended Dover Grammar School for Boys, and although not every student enjoyed PE, Sports Day was always a day that everyone seemed to enjoy. There were no lessons, or deadlines; everyone was buzzing, standing around the playing fields, participating or watching the various track and field events. Delving into Gale’s primary source archives, I found not only the photograph above, showing my predecessors in the now-vintage sports gear of the 1930s, but a results sheet from the Dover Grammar School Sports Day of 1948. It is interesting that back then the four houses of the school were named Maxton, Buckland, Country and Town after four different areas of Dover. The current school houses also use this theme, and are named Channel, Castle, Port and Priory.

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In Praise of Folly: A catalogue of April Fool’s hoaxes with Gale Primary Sources

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.

‘April is the cruellest month’, so went the ominous opening line of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Perhaps. But the first day of April, at the very least, has been witness to some of history’s biggest public hoaxes – many of which are hilarious and cruel in equal measures. From the Victorian “Grand Exhibition of Donkeys” in 1864 to the 1957 BBC documentary on spaghetti-bearing trees, these moments of meticulously organised journalistic foibles harken back to a now bygone age before the rise of wide-spread corporate PR-stunts and instantaneous internet trolling. The abundance of April-fool’s-related material in the Gale archives sheds light on the long history of a yearly occasion that stretches as far back as the time of Chaucer, who slyly alludes to the day as the ‘thirty-second of March’ in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale (a story of a farmer tricked into a singing contest against a fox) as early as the 1300s.

Read moreIn Praise of Folly: A catalogue of April Fool’s hoaxes with Gale Primary Sources

Liverpool: A city overshadowed by the Beatles?

By Megan Bowler, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am a full-time History student studying at the University of Liverpool, a Gale Student Ambassador and a life-long Netflix devotee. With particular research interests in nuclear culture and the movement of people, groups and civil organisations, I find Gale’s Primary Source archives immensely valuable to my studies. In my spare time, my main hobbies include spending time with my friends and avoiding the question, “What do you want to do after you graduate?”

Take four, young, charismatic musicians, add four Sgt. Pepper costumes and a city so devoting that their stardom lives on for years to come, and what you should be left with, with any luck, are the Beatles. George, John, Paul and Ringo – iconic names on the British and global music scene throughout the sixties, and still to a considerable extent today. Selling over 178 million units in the US alone, the group were quick to become one of the most celebrated bands in all of music history… and this status certainly still rings true when taking a walk around Liverpool’s Cavern Quarter today.

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A Global Security Crisis: A Future Under Threat

"Conflict, Complacency and Confusion on Global Security." Financial Times, 10 Oct. 2003, p. 19. Financial Times Historical Archive, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/8r5DJ9

By Grace Mitchell-Kilpatrick, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter I am a fourth-year student at the University of Exeter. I studied BSc Politics and International Relations with proficiency in data analysis at undergraduate level. As a Masters student studying Conflict, Development and Security, my interests lie in conflict zones but I am also an … Read moreA Global Security Crisis: A Future Under Threat

It’s Time to Share the Spotlight: Exploration of Trans Visibility Over the Years

By Emily Priest, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth
Emily, otherwise known as Emily the Writer, is a Creative and Media Writing (BA Hons) student at Portsmouth University with interests in travel writing and creative marketing. She is also a freelance writer and performance poet. After her degree, she plans to take a Digital Marketing MA and pursue a career in marketing or journalism.

Today, 31st March, is Trans Visibility Day and, although it is a day to celebrate, it is also a day to reflect on the past to appreciate how far we’ve come. Looking back on trans history and how much visibility the community used to have can be hard swallow at times but it is easy to research using the archives Gale’s Primary Sources. To put things into perspective I used Archives of Gender and Sexuality to compare how society has previously treated trans people with how they’re treated now.

Read moreIt’s Time to Share the Spotlight: Exploration of Trans Visibility Over the Years

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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Challenging the Stereotype: The Greenham Common protests

By Megan Bowler, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am a full-time History student studying at the University of Liverpool, a Gale Student Ambassador and a life-long Netflix devotee. With particular research interests in nuclear culture and the movement of people, groups and civil organisations, I find Gale’s primary source archives immensely valuable to my studies. In my spare time, my main hobbies include spending time with my friends and avoiding the question, “What do you want to do after you graduate?”

“Greenham Common is changing more women’s lives faster than any movement in the United Kingdom since the Suffragettes.”

TheresaThormhill, Ours, 31 March 1983

In an ardent and empowered, non-violent and non-alignment protest, more than 70,000 women demonstrated for nearly twenty years between 1981-2000 against the implementation of 96 American Cruise Missiles on the RAF Greenham Common base, Berkshire. Throughout the entirety of the women’s campaign, a conflict between feminist and anti-nuclear sentiment prevailed within highly derogatory and grossly gendered national and international news reports. As a result, the rhetorical nature of the protest came to be mispresented as an entirely feminist, rather than a predominately nuclear, issue.

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Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld – A Great Arctic Explorer of the Nineteenth Century

By Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki
I am a second-year student in a programme ambitiously titled ‘Society and Change’ – there is not enough space to describe it here, if you had started wondering! At the University, my main interests are in Political History, in addition to all the other things concerning the History of Civil Society. In my free time I like cooking, reading, exercising, complaining about politics, and gaming. My latest addiction is reading science fiction by Alastair Reynolds.

One hundred and forty years ago, the world was speculating about the survival of a significant arctic exploration party. One can read, for example this article in The Western Daily Press, one of the periodicals included in Gale’s British Library Newspapers. With Professor Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld leading the expedition, the steamer Vega had departed on August 27th, 1878 for the Northeast Passage, the shipping route to the Pacific Ocean along the Arctic Ocean coasts of Norway and Russia. As radio technology had not yet been developed, there were no means for the press to get in touch with Nordenskiöld and his crew. In the reporter’s words, “More than seven and a-half months have…now elapsed and nothing more has been heard of him.” Nevertheless, the newspaper firmly believed that the expedition would be safe, possibly having stopped to spend the winter at “the sheltered bay of Kulynchinska.” Without faster means to confirm this, organisations that had invested in Nordenskiöld’s expedition, or were otherwise interested in the Northeast Passage, were planning to send out search parties to look for the Vega.

Read moreAdolf Erik Nordenskiöld – A Great Arctic Explorer of the Nineteenth Century

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