Double, double, toil and trouble Witchcraft methodology in nineteenth-century Britain and the U.S.

│By André Buller, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth │

Ideas of sorcery, witchcraft and incantations have persisted in intriguing me throughout my years of study. The ways in which the supernatural arose and manifested alongside historical events has always fascinated me, and consequently I’ve found myself studying subjects that considered the mystical in both the literary and historical units of my degree. The topics I’ve studied in these classes have ranged as widely as manifestations of the supernatural have in the past. One week I’d study the seventeenth century, witch-hunts of Salem and the pursuits of Matthew Hopkins, but by the next week be focusing on the rise of Occultism.

Though definitely interesting, the famous contention between sceptical magician Harry Houdini and stalwart believer Arthur Conan Doyle did not discuss specific methods of magical practise at that time, leaving something of a gap in my knowledge of how the mysticality of witchcraft persisted in the nineteenth century. However, Gale Primary Sources proved bountiful once again, and through exploring this wealth of documents it is possible to answer methodological questions – such as how people cast spells – to those of a more analytical nature, such as how witchcraft was defined in the Victorian era.

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A genius on the throne: Lady Jane Grey remembered

│By André Buller, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth │

Throughout my historical studies, I remember the speed with which teachers and lecturers taught the Tudor period. Like a child faced with a wall of selections at the sweet shop, it’s practically impossible to give the entire period as much attention as one would like. Thus, more often than not the class would undergo a whistle-stop tour of the century, passing from the social unrest of Edward to the stark Catholicism of Mary’s reign with little consideration to what came in between. Lady Jane Grey has always been an interesting figure to me, and through the incredible resources of the Gale archives it is possible to inspect her further, and see how she has been remembered in the centuries that followed her brief and tragic reign.

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On Her Majesty’s’ Secret Service – Elizabeth I in the age of spies

By Rory Herbert, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth
I am a third year History student and President of the History Society at the University of Portsmouth. I enjoy trying to grapple with the vastness and complexity of this subject, and the challenges it can present. On the rare occasions that I have free time, I can be found playing hockey or researching historical facts and events.

While I’m sure we’re all familiar with the daring tales of English privateers and explorers during the Elizabethan age, there remains a forgotten and crucial element that helped Elizabeth maintain power. Under her reign, and with the significant help of her counsel, Elizabeth helped to cultivate and manage an extensive network of intelligencers, spies and informants that spanned the length and breadth of the continent. And what better way to view these official government communiques than in Gale’s State Papers Online.

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James Greenwood – Social Reformer or Opportunist?

by Rory Herbert
I am a third year History student and President of the History Society at the University of Portsmouth. I enjoy trying to grapple with the vastness and complexity of this subject, and the challenges it can present. On the rare occasions that I have free time, I can be found playing hockey or researching historical facts and events.

James Greenwood was an author of relative obscurity who came to fame abruptly following the publication of his serial A Night in the Workhouse in the 1860s by the Pall Mall Gazette. He soon found himself rising through the ranks of the Victorian social ladder and became one of the leading social commentators of his age. This revolutionary piece saw Greenwood experience the conditions of a workhouse firsthand in one of the first examples of investigative journalism. Yet, while his work was quickly adopted by social reformers and critics alike, it seems the author himself was somewhat less interested in the people he claimed to support and, instead, focused on appealing to a wider audience.

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