Filed under book review

A Lecture on Heads

A Lecture on Heads

There were a lot of theatrical companies in London and the provinces, but when I heard of The Lecture on Heads I was intrigued and confused. What heads? And why? Gerald Kahan in his book George Alexander Stevens & The Lecture on Heads has done a great job researching the show in its many forms … Continue reading

Writing Non Fiction

Writing Non Fiction

Writing fiction or non fiction requires the ability to get inside a story, and inside the heads of characters. But non fiction has to go further – it has to be checkable, you need to protect yourself from challenges. But the process of research and writing can change you for the better. I am a … Continue reading

World’s Oldest Treehouse

World’s Oldest Treehouse

Kids like having a special place to play away from the prying eyes of adults. When I was a kid we went underground, or under the house. It was too low for adults, and we got pretty dirty crawling around, but that’s what made it special. My brother, the future techie, hooked up tin cans … Continue reading

A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters

This is a book that sounded intriguing – the tagline was ‘148 Diaries Found in a Skip’. Literary giant Margaret Drabble and historian Kate Sumerscale provided high praise, but I struggled to finish it. Masters discovered the mouldy and tattered diaries in 2001, full of dense handwriting and occasional drawings which began in 1952 and … Continue reading

Jack London on London’s Poor

The horrors of life for the poor in London are so well documented by Charles Dickens that his surname has become synonymous with them. Together with the exhortations for change by The Times, and the work of social reformers, the Salvation Army and others, I thought things would have improved. I knew that many men … Continue reading

Minority Travel

We tend to take travel for granted in the internet age, but here’s some information on a book that should never have needed to be written: The Negro Traveller’s Green Book listing safe places to go. What surprises me is that it covers not just the USA, but Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean where such … Continue reading

Old Oak

Old Oak

This is subtitled ‘The story of a Forest village’, and it is a cracker of a book, published in 1932 about the Rev J E Linnell who was vicar at Pavenham, Bedfordshire for 37 years and left a journal of his life when he died at the age of 76 in 1919. He was described … Continue reading

Liberty’s Dawn?

Anyone who has read my blogs knows that I generally praise stuff, but for a change, I have discovered a book which is genuinely bad. Liberty’s Dawn – a People’s History of the Industrial Revolution is by Emma Griffin, and claims to disprove the long held belief that people were worse off by moving from agriculture … Continue reading

Blind Jack of Knaresborough

This is a book by Arnold Kellett about one of the most extraordinary men, not just of the 18th century, but ever. He was born with sight, but at the age of 6 contracted smallpox, which blinded him. But John Metcalf grew up to lead an extraordinary life even for one with full sight. He … Continue reading