Miscellanies

Britain and America’s Theatrical War

In the 19th century, American theatres provided the stage for a war between high and low culture, the elite and ‘Know-Nothings’ – and Britain and the US. In 1849, events turned bloody.

How Europe Learnt to Swim

For 1,500 years, Western Europe ‘forgot’ how to swim, retreating from the water in terror. The return to swimming is a lesser-known triumph of the Enlightenment.

Gregor MacGregor, the Prince of Poyais

Like a herald of lost Atlantis, Gregor MacGregor arrived in 19th-century London with news of a Central American utopia. Unfortunately, Poyais didn’t exist and its would-be emigrants found only a ‘sinister coast of disillusion’.

The Curious Creatures of Victorian Taxidermy

The exotic dead animals that appeared in the menageries of Victorian Britain’s grand exhibitions were far from perfect specimens. Stuffed, stitched, painted hybrids – accuracy was not a priority.

Point of No Return? Britain and the Elgin Marbles

Britain’s ownership of the Parthenon Sculptures has caused controversy since they were first brought to London in the early 1800s. Keen to keep the Greeks onside, the debate became highly charged during the Second World War.

The President's New Stadiums

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party has consolidated its power with relentless construction projects, pursued at the expense of Turkey’s cosmopolitan heritage. The country’s historic football stadiums are among the collateral.

Ireland, Back to the Future

In medieval Ireland divorce, contraception and abortions were readily available. The country’s recent political and cultural changes take it much closer to its pre-modern past.

War Among The Ruins

During the First World War, the deliberate destruction of western Europe's medieval heritage changed how people thought about their nations' pasts. Heritage tourism is one of the war's lesser-known legacies. 

Lily of Liberty: Amelia Bloomer at 200

With her newspaper, The Lily, Amelia Bloomer changed how American women thought about themselves; with her popularisation of the bloomer, she changed how they dressed. Her progressive thinking remains relevant in her bicentenary year. 

Cleopatra's Daughter

While Antony and Cleopatra have been immortalised in history and in popular culture, their offspring have been all but forgotten. Their daughter, Cleopatra Selene, became an important ruler in her own right.