New College of the Humanities

Introducing the new History Today

The editor offers a brief introduction to the new-look History Today

A page from the January issue. Click to see more imagesRegular readers of History Today will notice that we have made some changes for our January issue, which we believe you will welcome. Click here to see a slideshow of the new issue.

The design of the magazine has been refreshed to give it a cleaner, more elegant look and to make it easier to read. Typography afficionados will also note our new font family. We also welcome on board two new columnists: Amanda Foreman, who'll be writing about the ways in which women have challenged the orthodoxies of their time, and Suzannah Lipscomb. 

What will not change is History Today’s commitment to presenting serious history, encompassing all periods and all continents, to a wide, increasingly international audience. History Today, a wholly independent publication, seeks to bring intellectual nourishment to those bored by the superficial and ephemeral, to provide a haven for those seeking a satisfying and substantial read informed by a long view.

That such an audience exists was vividly brought home to me in November when History Today, in association with Martin Randall Travel, hosted a three-day symposium in York on civil war in Britain, namely the Wars of the Roses and the Civil Wars themselves. It was an uncompromising event attended, remarkably, by 120 people eager to explore two of British history’s most fascinating periods. No attempt was made to ‘dumb down’ or to bow before the modern deity of ‘access’. We simply invited some of the best scholars of the period – the likes of Blair Worden, Jane Ohlmeyer, John Adamson and Tony Pollard – to offer us their extraordinary insights on the subject, garnered from the latest research. Theirs was a tour de force, ranging across the burial place of Richard III to fashion among the Civil War elites, to the thought of Thomas Hobbes, the genius of the English archer and the tragic, lingering legacy of Cromwell’s subjugation of Ireland.

What was especially memorable was the way in which the speakers brought the past to life by using the latest technology: whether the digital projects sponsored by Trinity College Dublin, such as the 1641 Depositions, detailing the experiences of Protestants during the Catholic Rebellion of that year; or the rich gallery of paintings, compiled by John Adamson that reveal the political affiliation of aristocrats and the well-born during the Tudor and Stuart periods.

The potential of digital technology is apparent, too, at History Today: witness our thriving tablet edition, which complements the print version with galleries, videos and other means of interaction. The word magazine is derived from the Arabic makzin, meaning ‘warehouse’. Five centuries on, the name seems more appropriate than ever, a store of knowledge and erudition. It is what our audience demands.

Paul Lay is the editor of History Today