Atmospheric but Not Accurate – Five Ways ‘Peaky Blinders’ Stretched the Truth

Peaky Blinders newspaper images

│By Emily Priest, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth│

Since 2013, Peaky Blinders stormed the UK television charts. Five seasons and a well-deserved BAFTA later, the series continues to intrigue, outrage and fascinate viewers with its gritty, unflinching depiction of Birmingham gangs – the once very real “Peaky Blinders” gang in particular.

Read moreAtmospheric but Not Accurate – Five Ways ‘Peaky Blinders’ Stretched the Truth

The Peterloo Massacre, August 1819

Reform. Libel. -- Sedition. -- Treason. -- Persecution. 1819, January - 1820, November. Radical Politics and the Working Man in England: Part One: Sets 7-11, 13-32, and 34-46 Set 40; Vol 1. British Library. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CREORT076326165/GDCS?u=webdemo&sid=GDCS&xid=c5017dd3

│By Clem Delany, Associate Acquisitions Editor│

Two hundred years ago, on 16th August 1819, at least seventeen people died at St Peter’s Field, Manchester, during a peaceful protest calling for the reform of parliamentary representation.

This year, the two hundred-year anniversary, has been marked in the UK by a wealth of newspaper articles covering ‘a tragic event of minor historical significance that happens to accord with a Marxist version of Britain’s past’ 1 (The Times) or ‘the bloodiest event on English soil in the nineteenth century’ 2 (The Daily Mail). The BBC, from its new headquarters in Manchester, produced ten radio programmes and performances to mark the anniversary. You can buy a Peterloo mug or a Peterloo tea towel, and around Manchester live music, poetry readings, open-air karaoke and other family-friendly events took place over the weekend.

I dug through the Gale archives to see how the event was represented at the time, and at its centennial in 1919.

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Jenny Lind – the Swedish Nightingale

Eduard Magnus (1862): ”Jenny Lind”,

| By Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki |

Whilst it is undoubtedly quality entertainment, the 2017 Hollywood film The Greatest Showman should not be taken as an accurate history lesson… However, among all the drama, singing and dancing, it does portray some facts; P.T. Barnum did start small and end up as a household name; he did bring ‘The Swedish Nightingale’ to the United States and make her tour a success like never before. Indeed, the concert tour amassed him a sizeable fortune, and the humble Scandinavian singer donated her own share – which was by no means small – to charities of her choice.

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The Ultimate Showman: Freddie Mercury’s untold relationship with the UK press

By James Garbett, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter
I’m a third year English student at the University of Exeter.  I’m a huge fan of all things film, theatre and journalism, whilst also continuing to examine the changing forms of masculinity within Gender Studies. When not attempting to play drums, you can find me interviewing various individuals of the music and film world and working for the student newspaper, radio and television station.

When Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, passed away tragically in November 1991, many newspapers mourned the passing of one of the greatest musical legends of all time. Much has already been written of the lavish and decadent parties that Mr Mercury had in his too-short lifetime, however utilising the vast wealth of archives in Gale Primary Sources, such as The Times, Archive of Sexuality & Gender and others, a new perspective can be found regarding the incredible showman and his relationship with the press.

Read moreThe Ultimate Showman: Freddie Mercury’s untold relationship with the UK press

Between the Acts: Remembering War during the Interwar Period

By Calvin Liu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I am a second year English student at University College, Oxford – and the Gale Ambassador for Oxford University. I am a huge lover of everything Romantic and Modernist – from Wordsworth to Woolf. When I am not in the depths of an essay crisis, I spend my time collecting fountain pens and looking at old books. Born and raised in Hong Kong, I am still getting to grips with the English weather and am partial to punting picnics on a rare sunny day. 

Remembrance is repetition.

As Laurence Binyon’s poem, often the highlight of memorial services, puts it: ‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:/ […]/ We will remember them.’ Ways of memorialising the world wars, too, seem never to grow old and are reinforced through recurrence. Remembrance is ritualised by each poppy-wearing politician, each BBC documentary, each Ian McEwan novel. The narratives have been retold so many times that they grow hazy and the details blend together – battle trenches upon Maginot Lines. It almost comes as a shock to be reminded that twenty-one years elapsed between the two world wars that we now jointly remember on one day. Twenty-one years during which the world regularly reminded itself of the last great war, before rushing into another. Gale Primary Sources provides a plethora of primary sources that poignantly illustrate how the world wars were both remembered and anticipated during the interwar period.

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A Centenary Celebration for Stonehenge

On 31st October 1918, Stonehenge was gifted to the nation by local landowner Cecil Chubb. As has been widely reported in the media, English Heritage are running a series of projects and events to celebrate the centenary, including the fascinating recreation of photographs taken by visitors to the stones during the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s in their ‘Then and Now’ Project.

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‘An artist who can get away with this’: The Press Response to Yves Klein’s 1957 London Exhibition

Yves Klein calls his pictures “Propositions.” He very carefully roughens the surfaces so as to express his sensibility. Then he invites the spectator to share the artist’s sensibility by “allowing the mind to plunge into the heart of the colour.”[1]

The debate around modern art versus representational art had begun by the 1950s. The pages of The Listener had followed the debates, as a subject that had “often led to controversy”[2]. Modern art was perceived as an area where “execution determines design instead of design determining execution”, and the modern artist “has done away with the rational meaning of the subject-matter required in traditional art and allows unconscious phantasy to express itself more clearly”[3]. Klein, as the emerging face of modern art, represented this, arguing “that our primary ocular sensation is that of colour, and that he, as an artist, wishes to free this sensation of colour from all extraneous or limiting circumstances.”[4]

Read more‘An artist who can get away with this’: The Press Response to Yves Klein’s 1957 London Exhibition

One Man in Wangaratta

The town of Wangaratta in the north of Victoria, Australia, has a population of approximately 19,000, but little does that population realise that one amongst their number is a man who, but for an accident of history, could today be the King of England. This matter was originally researched by the British historian, Dr. Michael Jones, in 2003, and it can be updated with the help of Gale Primary Sources.

Read moreOne Man in Wangaratta

Surprising Search Results: From Crystal Therapy to Singing Bowls

By Rebecca Bowden, Associate Acquisitions Editor
Having joined Gale in December 2017 with a background in business to business publishing, I am enjoying learning more about the world of digital archives. I love the diversity of Gale’s archives, and discovering the unique stories hidden within them. In my spare time I like doing a variety of unusual sports, a lot of baking, and curling up with a good book.

If one was researching current affairs, political history, or a particular literary period, Gale Primary Sources would be an obvious place to look. It is full of useful archives, from newspapers like The Times and The Independent, to huge collections of diverse primary sources, such as Nineteenth Century Collections Online. But what if you were researching something altogether more obscure – say, palmistry, feng shui or crystal therapy? It may surprise you that Gale Primary Sources continues to shine!

Read moreSurprising Search Results: From Crystal Therapy to Singing Bowls

Damiselas en apuros: voces femeninas del siglo XX

Por Paula Maher Martin, Gale Ambassador en la Universidad NUI Galway
Paula Maher Martín estudia su último año de Literatura Inglesa y Clásicas en la National University of Ireland, en Galway. Interesada en el lenguaje como un medio para reflejar y transcender de manera simultánea la experiencia humana, planea realizar investigación de posgrado en Literatura Inglesa, centrada en la construcción metafísica de la realidad en la literatura modernista. Disfruta leer a Nancy Mitford, Leo Tolstoy, Evelyn Waugh o Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, del viento, de la música del mundo, de vagar inmersa en abstracciones filosóficas, de escribir poesía en clase y de enamorarse de los personajes de los cuadros.

“Lo que las mujeres son para las mujeres”, una sinfonía de pensamientos e impresiones, un lenguaje pulido delicadamente para reflejar el “cuerpo”, resonando con una “percepción” femenina de la realidad… En una crítica de A Room of One’s Own, de Virginia Woolf en el Times Literary Supplement (1929), Arthur Mc Dowall sintetiza en estos términos la experiencia femenina en la literatura, según sugiere Woolf.

Read moreDamiselas en apuros: voces femeninas del siglo XX

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