East India Company

Suzannah Lipscomb

The maxim ‘show don’t tell’ is often forgotten when film-makers confront historical horrors, argues Suzannah Lipscomb, as two recent cinema releases demonstrate.

The world does not influence Britain’s native culture, the world is its culture, as anyone with a grasp of the country’s history will understand, argues Suzannah Lipscomb.

The challenges of writing history for television are formidable. But if historians don’t get involved, they will cede ground to those less qualified, warns Suzannah Lipscomb.

Despite progress since the 1970s, female historians are still treated unfairly both inside and outside the academy. Things must change, says Suzannah Lipscomb.

Archives are one thing, the public another and connecting the two is one of a historian’s hardest challenges, as Suzannah Lipscomb knows from experience.

Practical details from historical sources may convince us that historical fiction is fact, but, warns Suzannah Lipscomb, such novels are fraught with danger for one in search of the past.  

Was Henry VIII a good-natured buffoon or an egotistical tyrant? Your answer is likely to depend on which cinematic portrayal you have seen most recently.

The public expects historians to deliver authoritative accounts of the past, yet different conclusions can be drawn from the same sources.

There should be no contradiction in constructing a history curriculum that incorporates both Britain’s ‘national memory’ and its many diversities, argues Suzannah Lipscomb.  

Historians try to produce as total a view of the past as possible. Yet does our concern with facts isolate us from how material culture influenced lived experience, asks Suzannah Lipscomb?