March – June 2018
It is not often that actual history and Showtime’s TV series The Tudors are in agreement. Yet one scene depicts a very small event that may have actually happened, as part of a much larger 16th-century tradition of patronage and gift giving. In it, Thomas Culpepper presents Catherine Howard with a folio-sized book as part of the New Year’s celebrations. The book – the first book on midwifery to be written in English – was the work of Richard Jonas, a man who came to England in the train of Anne of Cleves. Jonas meant to dedicate the book to Anne, but would now like to dedicate it to Catherine instead.
Historians have a unique opportunity in 2018 – the centenary of British women gaining the right to vote – to re-examine a pervasive silence at the heart of the story: that of the nationwide bombing and arson campaign carried out by the Pankhursts’ Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).
What do holiday souvenirs have in common with pilgrim badges? The former are affordable to make and sell; they are eye-catching and showcase the unique characteristics of their destination through shape, text, colour and images; importantly, holiday souvenirs are nearly always portable. T-shirts, miniature models of buildings or statues, snow-globes, tea-towels, mugs, fabric patches, magnets or metal badges are the kinds of objects we like to bring home. Even if we all went to the same place and bought matching mementos – and the mass produced nature of such ‘tourist tat’ means that inevitably such items are far from unique – the feelings we project onto souvenirs are uniquely shaped by personal memories. In our possession, these objects take on new meanings that transcend their low material quality, or the fact that thousands of other people have got one just like it.