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

‘Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century’ – a new archive packed with EXTREMELY useful sources which can RADICALLY change your thinking!

By Lily Cratchley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
I am a second-year student at the University of Birmingham currently completing a joint honours degree in English Literature and American and Canadian Studies. This multidisciplinary course allows me to study varying aspects of modern American literature, history and culture as well as old English writing, including poetry by Wyatt and plays by Shakespeare. In term-time I love to keep myself busy by volunteering for a society that helps local, disadvantaged children, preparing for a year abroad in North America, visiting the attractions that England’s second city has to offer with friends, and, of course, working as a Gale Ambassador.

Are you a budding politician or historian, intrigued with all things politically radical and extreme? Or perhaps you’re just faced with the need to write a lengthy dissertation, and are worried by your seemingly limited quantity of primary sources? Either way, Gale’s new archive, Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century, may be of extreme (pardon the pun!) interest to you.

Read more‘Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century’ – a new archive packed with EXTREMELY useful sources which can RADICALLY change your thinking!

Harry Potter: a world of new imaginings

By Tania Chakraborti, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
Tania is a Gale student ambassador and final year English Literature and History student at Durham University. During her time at Durham she has engaged with student journalism, student theatre, and is currently President of the English Literature Society. She finds Gale’s resources invaluable to her studies and is currently using them to explore a dissertation on Winston Churchill’s rhetoric towards India.

Since 1997 when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published, the Harry Potter series has sold over 500 million copies across the globe, making it the best-selling book series of all time. Of course, I don’t need to tell you this, the wide-reaching influence of Harry Potter is apparent enough for all to see: with a multi-billion-dollar film franchise, a West End Show and even a theme park at Universal Studios Florida, this magical world is clearly subsumed into a mode of popular culture. Any attempt at a brand new interpretation of Harry’s exciting venture into the world of wizardry seems old news, even impossible. Yet, through utilising Gale’s impressive wealth of resources, novel, innovative and informative interpretations of the well-known books can still provide fresh takes on the series.

Read moreHarry Potter: a world of new imaginings

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