Digital Version of Correspondence of William III available

Over here.

Via the Williamite Universe.


Magna Carta in word clouds

Using the fabby wordle tool, (on which see Mercurius Politicus’ recent post) I’ve created word clouds of both the bits of Magna Carta still in effect and the original 1215 Magna Carta (well, English trans thereof.) Note how in the 1215 charter ‘barons’ and ‘land’ are rather bigger than ‘liberties’.

I think I’m going to run some other great ‘Charters of Freedom’ through wordle too.

More to follow…

Published in: on June 27, 2008 at 2:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Size matters

Over at Me and My Big Mouth, the Glorious Stereo Reading Experiment is in full swing. I would like to say that I am wiping the floor with Mr Dillon, but, sadly, it remains a dead heat which will perhaps have to go to the judges for a narrow points decision.

I’m interested in Scott’s comments though about the size of the chapters in my Glorious Revolution book. When I wrote it, I thought that these were as mouth-wateringly light as a sugary syllabub. However, as an academic, I’m used to thinking of 10000-word heavily -footnoted journal articles as accessible and concise ways of getting into meaty subjects.

It’s an important point because the book I am writing on English radicalism is pretty big, 160000 words at present and there are still two more chapters to go. (A fair bit of cutting will need doing, I’m hoping not to turn in a final draft of more than 160k.) The chapters themselves are also currently much more substantial than those in Glorious Revolution, averaging 25000-30000 words.

In light of Scott’s comments (which confirm something I was thinking about anyway), I’m going to need to break these up a good deal into lots of mini-chapters (or mini for me) of about 5-6000 words. That way, I hope readers will be able to take a break, eat some restorative Soreen malt loaf and then come back, refreshed and ready to rejoin the story.

“Nothing says thank you like dollars in the waistband”

With apologies to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Over at the Times, Libby Purves reveals the ‘shame of our lap-dancing universities.’

Disappointingly, this isn’t news that some UK university is literally teaching its students how to climb the greasy pole. Instead, it’s a rather confused opinion piece which is sort of about plagiarism, sort of about the dangers of academics chasing media attention and sort of about a supposed overall decline in academic rigour (which some how gets connected to the ‘dodgy dossier’ on Iraqi WMD.)

I don’t know what’s more irritating about this article: the fact that for a piece partly on plagiarism it is largely dependent on unattributed quotations from unspecified ‘messageboards’; its unsubstantiated slurs on the quality of UK PhD’s (which mainly reveal a complete lack of understanding of how PhD’s are supervised and examined); or its bizarre connection of supposed falling academic standards with the war in Iraq.

Actually, the most galling thing about the whole article is the smug undertone that newspaper journalists are somehow a more respectable and ethical bunch than academics. Now, the journalists I know are certainly ethical, and some of them are even respectable. However, Purves surely misses the point that the academic plagiarism in the dodgy dossier was a far less significant crime than the packaging of that evidence into a case for war. The person largely responsible for the organisation and presentation of the intelligence was a former Daily Mirror journalist, Alastair Campbell.

If an academic did any of the things Purves suggests that they are doing, they would be sacked. However, the consequences for an ex-journalist who helped make a spurious case for a war that has killed thousands of people appear to have been less serious. Which is the more intellectually rigorous and ethical profession?

British Printed Images Conference- September 2008

I missed this one but it looks a good line-up:

Following the very successful first conference of the British Printed Images to 1700 project held at Birkbeck in July 2007, there will be a further conference at which innovative research on various aspects of early modern printed images will be divulged at the Victoria & Albert Museum on Friday, 12, and Saturday, 13 September 2008.

The following papers will be given:

  • Margaret Aston, ‘Symbols of conversion: Proprieties of the page in Reformation England’
  • Justin Champion (Royal Holloway): ‘Decoding the Leviathan: doing the history of ideas through images 1651-1700’
  • Lorri Anne Ferrell (Claremont, Ca.), ‘Grasping knowledge: tactility and kinetics in early modern “how-to” books’
  • Malcolm Jones (Sheffield), Title to be confirmed
  • John King (Ohio State), ‘Reading the woodcuts in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
  • Angela McShane (V & A), ‘Top knots and lower sorts: print and promiscuous consumption in the 1690s’
  • Gill Saunders (V & A), ‘”Paper tapestry” and “wooden pictures”: printed decoration and the domestic interior in Tudor and Stuart England’
  • Kevin Sharpe (Queen Mary), ‘Images of Oliver Cromwell’
  • Ben Thomas (Kent): ‘Noble or commercial? The early history of mezzotint in Britain’
  • Alexandra Walsham (Exeter), ‘Reliques of the past: printed images and antiquarianism in early modern England’

The conference will also include an exhibition of books and prints from the National Art Library, a ‘new researchers’ session’ at which research by graduate students will be divulged, a round table discussion of printed images and their milieu, and an exposition of recent work on the database of the British Printed Images to 1700 project.

For further details and registration, contact, or


….which isn’t bad given that my stats tell me that hardly a soul was looking at my blog four months ago.

Thank you all for reading, and for your comments.

Published in: on June 20, 2008 at 5:52 pm  Comments (3)  
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Book Promotion on Social Networks – a great resource for authors

I strongly recommend the following for anyone in the process of writing a book and thinking about ways to promote it online. There are some great tips on the wiki for using social networking sites like facebook, myspace (and I thought that was just for hipster beat combos), yahoo groups etc., to help promote your work. Also information on Amazon’s Connect service for authors –  which allows them to feed their blog into their product pages. You can see how it works with this page for my Glorious Revolution book. At the moment this only appears on, but who knows, it may be rolled out across Amazon’s sites soon.

Go check it out.

Supersizers Go Restoration – Making an Eel Pie

Eew! and double eew!

More early modern food fun here

Published in: on June 20, 2008 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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A sad indictment of modern Britain?

My silly post on the evilness of Oliver Cromwell has now overtaken my very serious and important post on How We Should Remember the Levellers as the most popular item on this blog.

Over here, Simon Heffer tells us that David Davis is like Oliver Cromwell. Well, they were certainly both white male MPs with army connections (though Davis only with the TA.) Other than that…

Published in: on June 20, 2008 at 9:39 am  Comments (1)  
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English Historical Review – free access to top 25 articles

EHR is celebrating its 500th issue by making its 25 most read articles available free to download until the end of 2008.

Go here to take a look. Unfortunately, my article on the Solemn League and Covenant didn’t make the cut.