Between fact and fiction

This article first appeared in the January 2016 issue of History Today. What does it mean to write history today? What claims can historians make about their work? These are just two of the questions that sprang to mind after listening to Niall Ferguson tussle with the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley on Radio 4’s Start … Continue reading Between fact and fiction

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Young academics: the great betrayal

This piece first appeared in the September 2015 issue of History Today. I discussed the issues it raised with Catherine Fletcher in a related podcast which can be heard here. Catherine wrote a THE blog in response to my article and the disagreements it aroused, which can be read here. Supporters of the status quo … Continue reading Young academics: the great betrayal

Review: Shakespeare in London by Hannah Crawforth, Sarah Dustagheer and Jennifer Young

This review first appeared in the August 2015 issue of History Today. The world might be forgiven for rolling its eyes at the prospect of another book on Shakespeare. Does Shakespeare in London, the latest addition to the Bloomsbury Arden list,  have anything new to say? The answer is a confident yes. Shakespeare in London … Continue reading Review: Shakespeare in London by Hannah Crawforth, Sarah Dustagheer and Jennifer Young

Review: The Black Prince of Florence by Catherine Fletcher

This review first appeared in the Financial Times on April 29, 2016 Alessandro de’ Medici reigned from 1532 to 1537 as the first duke of one of Italy’s greatest city-states. Yet just as he lived in obscurity until his teens in the late 1520s, he has largely been returned to that obscurity by historians ever … Continue reading Review: The Black Prince of Florence by Catherine Fletcher

The decline and fall of Twyford Abbey

This article first appeared in the November 2015 London Historians newsletter. Since I wrote it, the abbey has been sealed away behind high metal fencing, as if to confirm the purposeful neglect of its current owners.  I grew up in Kingsbury, North West London. I now live in Ealing. Between those two places lies a … Continue reading The decline and fall of Twyford Abbey

The LRB, Twitter and Craig Raine’s ‘Gatwick’

June 3rd was a strange day on Twitter. For most of it, a living poet was trending. Unfortunately for Craig Raine, the poet in question, he was trending because a long poem of his entitled ‘Gatwick’ had appeared in the LRB and Twitter didn’t like it. Most comments ranged from amused contempt to, well, just … Continue reading The LRB, Twitter and Craig Raine’s ‘Gatwick’

History Today column: Taking history out into the world

My eyes were caught the other week by a news story in Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, which reported an interview with the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. Defending his country against accusations of anti-semitism, Zarif cited, among other things, the role of Cyrus the Great, who led Persia in the mid-sixth century BC, in … Continue reading History Today column: Taking history out into the world