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Author Archives: simonbaker


Baseball…it’s just not cricket: baseball and British and Irish history

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Baseball and British history – not, you think, a natural pairing. It’s then surprising to learn that there are enough references to baseball in BBIH to warrant a blog.

A woodcut from “A Little Pretty Pocket-Book” (1744) England, showing a reference to baseball

There is little on the development of the sport, unlike the lengthy discussions available on the development of football (the association not the American kind).

Highlights from the collection include the nationalistic and sneering response to the game, such as “That’s your way of playing rounders, isn’t it”? The response of the English press to American baseball tours to England, 1874-1924”. The sporting coverage is also explored in Embracing sporting news in England and America: nineteenth-century cricket and baseball news (a chapter in Anglo-American media interactions, 1850-2000).

There is some material on London including Baseball in East London before the war, British baseball and the West Ham club: history of a 1930s professional team in East London and A very peculiar practice: the London Baseball League, 1906-1911.

Picking up on imperial themes, there’s Why baseball, why cricket? Differing nationalisms, differing challenges which asks why India and Pakistan play cricket and the USA does not. A night at Delmonico’s: the Spalding baseball tour and the imagination of Empire looks at parts of the tour by Albert Spalding, particularly the contrasting results of the visits to Australia and Britain, while Similar economic histories, different industrial structures: transatlantic contrasts in the evolution of professional sports leagues contrasts the histories of the English Football League and the National Baseball League.

The issue of class is raised in “Poor man’s cricket”: baseball, class and community in south Wales c.1880-1950 which documents the origins of the sport in south Wales and its development that was said to be ‘slowly ingratiating itself into the favour of the masses’ and became part of the local popular culture.

Even more unexpected is the history of Irish involvement with baseball. As Jerrold Casway notes in his biography, Ed Delahanty in the emerald age of baseball  – “Baseball for Irish kids was a shortcut to the American dream and to self-indulgent glory and fortune”. The Irish in baseball: an early history surveys the contribution of the Irish to the American pastime and the ways in which Irish immigrants and baseball came of age together. It looks at the role of the Irish in Boston, Chicago and Baltimore. Anti-Irish job discrimination circa 1880 : evidence from major league baseball shows that Irish players outperformed non-Irish players both on average and at the margin and were generally relegated to less central positions in the field but were less likely to be hired as managers. Finally there is the chapter, “Slide, Kelly, slide” : the Irish in American baseball in New perspectives on the Irish diaspora and Glimpses of the Irish contribution to early baseball by John P. Rossi in the journal Éire-Ireland (1988).

However, it was not entirely a one-way road as the chapter by Sara Brady, Playing ‘Irish’ sport on baseball’s hallowed ground: the 1947 All-Ireland Gaelic Football Final makes clear (in After the flood: Irish America 1945-1960).

Recent additions (both due to appear in the October update) include Nine innings for the King: the day wartime London stopped for baseball, July 4, 1918 by Jim Leeke and his article Royal match: the Army-Navy service game, July 4, 1918, based on the same event, in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture. For historians and baseball fans this journal covers a wide range of topics from racism in the sport (including the Ku Klux Klan), media representation (radio and film) the various baseball tours including Japan and Taiwan and, of course, Babe Ruth.

 

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After 1967: homosexuality in the Bibliography of British and Irish History

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It seems more than timely to write something about the LGBT community. Pride has just taken place in London; Tate Britain has an exhibition – Queer British art 1861-1967; the British Museum has Desire, love, identity exploring LGBT histories from its collection; and the Walker Art Gallery has Coming out: Art and culture 1967-2017. Even Radio 4 has produced as series on Queer Icons. And of course it’s the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which led to the partial decriminalization of male homosexuality in England, as well as the 60th anniversary of the Wolfenden Report (1957), which itself led to the 1967 Act.

Needless to say much has been written on homosexuality in British, Irish and British imperial history (BBIH has over 800 references). It seems invidious to pick out particular books or articles so I’ve gone for the easy option and picked the first 25 references from BBIH (as of July 2017).

Fortunately the list offers a wide range of topics. Different localities are represented by Mandate Palestine, the Indian North West Frontier, London (of course) and south Wales (For our common cause: Sexuality and left politics in South Wales, 1967–1985). Date coverage is equally wide-ranging from early modern England to a 1609 sea voyage to the near present. As for subjects, there are representations of gay people in literature, film and caricature, cross-dressing, AIDS, religious thought, church reactions, legal implications, psychology and disability (Libertine Sexuality and Queer-Crip Embodiment in Eighteenth-Century Britain).

As for the authors, it’s encouraging to see a number of the leading historians of gender and sexuality in the list. Harry Cocks is represented by his article Conspiracy to corrupt public morals and the ‘unlawful’ status of homosexuality in Britain after 1967 which explains the ‘partial decriminalization’ with the continued prosecution of homosexuality. Indeed his latest book, Visions of Sodom: religion, homoerotic desire, and the end of the world in England, c. 1550-1850, is just out (and just added to BBIH). There is also cultural historian Matt Cook and his discussion of AIDS in London, AIDS and the 1980s, a chapter in Sex, time and place: queer histories of London, c.1850 to the present. Also present is Lesley A. Hall and her article ‘Sentimental Follies’ or ‘Instruments of Tremendous Uplift’? Reconsidering women’s same-sex relationships in interwar Britain.

People (as subjects) to pick out from the list are (inevitably) Wilde in Oscar Wilde prefigured: queer fashioning and British caricature, 1750-1900, Francis Bacon in ‘Famous for the paint she put on her face’: London’s painted poofs and the self-fashioning of Francis Bacon (another chapter from Sex, time and place), Constance Maynard in Religion, Same-Sex Desire, and the Imagined Geographies of Empire: the case of Constance Maynard (1849–1935), and Wolfenden himself in Wolfenden’s witnesses: homosexuality in postwar Britain, as well as references to the contemporary author Alan Hollinghurst and Victorian painter Simeon Solomon.

Of course the Sexual Offences Act only applied to England and Wales. Charting the slower change in Scotland you can do no better than look at the works of  Roger Davidson and Gayle Davis.

 

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Embroidery, needlework and seamstresses – stitches in the fabric of history

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My interest was piqued in embroidery by the book Stiching the world: embroidered maps and women’s geographical education in which Judith Tyner describes schoolgirls in Britain and the United States creating embroidered map samplers and even silk globes designed to teach the girls, not only needlework, but geography. I’ve been meaning to write something on needlework/embroidery for some time now and have been spurred on by two new references that I’ve just documented for BBIH.

The first is a chapter in the marvellous book Hardwick Hall: a great old castle of romance, entitled The embroidery and needlework of Bess of Hardwick by Emma Slocombe which charts Bess’s acquisition and creation of embroidery and needlework for the hall. The chapter is of particular importance as this period witnessed the transition of embroidery from ecclesiastic requirements to a more secular form in the interior decoration of elite houses. The book also features tapestries as well as bed coverings and drapery.

The second is En souvenir du roi Guillaume. La broderie de Bayeux by Xavier Barral I Altet which reinvestigates the embroidery adding to a long list of existing investigations.

But of course embroidery existed before Bayeux. Laura Michele Diener’s Sealed with a stitch: Embroidery and gift-giving among Anglo-Saxon women (Medieval Prosopography, 29, 2014) and Fiona Griffiths’ “Like the sister of Aaron”: medieval religious women as makers and donors of liturgical textiles show the importance of the art in Anglo-Saxon England. While Jenifer Ní Ghrádaigh’s chapter, Mere embroiderers? Women and art in early medieval Ireland extends that geographical importance.

The Victoria and Albert museum recently held an exhibition on the Opus Anglicanum: masterpieces of English medieval embroidery producing a sumptuous catalogue, English medieval embroidery : Opus Anglicanum.

Of course many such outstanding examples of embroidery are found in ecclesiastical vestments. Frank and Peter Rhodes discuss such examples looking especially at the flowers on English copes and chasubles in their article, Medieval embroidered “water flowers”.

Terry Moore-Scott discusses the Minsterworth embroidery (an embroidered panel made up from a pre-Reformation liturgical vestment) and gives a better understanding of its intriguing history and survival since the Reformation. (Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 132, 2014).

Meanwhile, Catherine Walden takes the research further and details the episcopal vestments on funerary effigies, corroborated by existing textile fragments and descriptions of garments in the inventories of churches in her chapter, ‘So lyvely in cullers and gilting’: vestments on episcopal tomb effigies in England (in Dressing the part: textiles as propaganda in the Middle Ages).

The importance of embroidery and ecclesiastical vestments continued into the early modern period as demonstrated by Sophie Holroyd’s chapter “Rich embrodered churchstuffe”: the vestments of Helena Wintour (in Catholic culture in early modern England). Helena was the daughter of Thomas Winter, one of the Gunpowder plotters. A more detailed look at her life and embroidery is contained in Plots and spangles: the embroidered vestments of Helena Wintour.

For a meticulous look at the commissioning, production, materials and significance of embroidered motifs, Cynthia Jackson documents all this in ‘Powdered with armes ymages and angels’: an early Tudor contract for embroidered vestments. She also considers the relationship between the embroiderer and the mercer and the ways in which they collaborated to produce garments for royalty, the nobility and an increasing number of wealthy citizens.

Amanda Pullan’s article ‘Informed seeing’: Reading the seventeenth-century embroidered cabinet at Milton Manor House through its historical and social contexts, examines the cabinet and its display of biblical scenes in part showing the transition from ecclesiastical to decorative use while maintaining a foothold in the religious camp.

A more categorical move from ecclesiastical to secular is demonstrated in the chapter, Polite war: Material culture of the Jacobite era, 1688-1760 (in Living with Jacobitism, 1690-1788: the three kingdoms and beyond). Here, Jennifer L. Novotny discusses the household goods and material culture, including wall hangings and samplers, of Jacobitism.

A more recent article in some ways continues the theme of Judith Tyner. Performing curiosity: re-viewing women’s domestic embroidery in seventeenth-century England, by Mary M. Brooks, describes a specific type of pictorial, decorative embroidery, usually learnt in school and practiced in the home. While an indicator of status and wealth, these “curious works” are placed within the changing concept and practice of curiosity (and education) in early modern England.

The relationship between needlework and writing (and women’s education) is explored further in Dress culture in late Victorian women’s fiction: literacy, textiles, and activism by Christine Bayles Kortsch. While examining the inextricable relationship between the material culture of dress and sewing, Kortsch documents how stitching samplers continued to be a way of acculturating girls in print literacy. She  explores nineteenth-century women’s education, sewing and needlework, mainstream fashion, alternative dress movements, and female labour in the textile industry.

The role and representation of the seamstress is provided by Lyn Mae Alexander’s Women, work, and representation: needlewomen in Victorian art and literatureUsing literary examples from Dickens and Gaskell, visual representations by Millais and others, as well as illustrations from the periodical press, she outlines the working conditions of the professional seamstress – the long hours, very small wages, isolation and helplessness, creating powerful image of working-class suffering that appealed to the sensibilities of the social reformers and helped stimulate public opinion in the need for reform.

The Seamstress; or, the White Slave of England (George W. M. Reynolds)

The rise of “art embroidery” during the nineteenth century and the developing commercial ventures as well as the significance of the embroidery business to female employment is revealed in Linda Cluckie’s The rise and fall of art needlework: its socio-economic and cultural aspects. The commercial side of embroidery mobilized activity through numerous agencies such as department stores, depots and charitable institutions. However the working conditions of the female labour is explored in such chapters entitled, Suitable employment for women; Sweated labour and the need for radical change; and Beyond the sweated trades, all indicative of those conditions.

Not all women were subjected to “sweated labour”. One such example, Matilda Pullan, made a career of needlework instructor and periodical contributor. Forced by personal circumstance, she became one of the most prolific contributors of needlework patterns, generating her own income that allowed her to become financially independent through her widowhood and spousal separation. Her life is charted in Threads of life: Matilda Marian Pullan (1819-1862), needlework instruction, and the periodical press by Marianne Van Remoortel.

I’ll end on a poignant article, Wilful design: The sampler in nineteenth-century Britain in which Chloe Flower uses the autobiographical sampler from the needle of a 17-year-old Sussex girl named Elizabeth Parker worked in 1830. It recounts Parker’s childhood experiences in domestic service, and the physical abuse and sexual assault that led her to contemplate suicide, all compressed into 46 lines of cross-stitch. The same sad life is also explored in Maureen Daly Goggin’s chapter, Stitching a Life in “Pen of Steele and Silken Inke”: Elizabeth Parker’s circa 1830 Sampler in (Women and the material culture of needlework and textiles, 1750–1950); as well as in Nigel Llewellyn’s, Elizabeth Parker’s ‘Sampler’: memory, suicide and the presence of the artist (in Material memories: Design and evocation).

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Bibliography of British and Irish History updated (June 2017) and journal coverage

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An update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 20 June. 4, 455 new records have been added. Some 612 new records relate to Irish history while 237 deal with the history of London, 354 with the history of Scotland and 125 with the history of Wales. The overall total of records available online is now 588,873.

We regularly search for content relevant to the Bibliography in a large range of journals (over 780 are checked).  We also consider new journals (both in print and open access) and assess whether or not to add a new journal to the list. If any users think we have missed a new journal please contact us via the feedback form.

 

Recent additions have included Manuscript Studies, History of Retailing and Consumption, Cultural History, British Journal for Military History and Early Modern Women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have access to the online Bibliography, you can also see journal coverage by selecting “Coverage” from the main menu on the search page, and then selecting the “Currently searched systematically for relevant material” radio button.  Note that items from journals or series that we have decided to cover only recently may not be included in the published Bibliography yet.

 

We expect the next update to be released in October 2017.

 

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“War and militarism, attitudes to” searching for war and peace in BBIH

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With the ending of the Radical Voices exhibition at Senate House, the People Power: Fighting for Peace exhibition at the IWM about to begin, and the re-opening of the National Army Museum, it seems like an appropriate time to look at war in BBIH.

In the Subject tree, “War and militarism, attitudes to” is the broad term which includes, as lower terms, Militarism, Pacifism, and Anti-conscription, while Pacifism itself is a broader term for Conscientious objection and Peace Society. Thus searching for “War and militarism, attitudes to” will bring up all of these terms.

Taking a chronological approach and beginning with Anglo-Saxon England we kick off with Looking back in Anger: Wrath in Anglo-Saxon England. This article not only examines the emotion of anger using the Old English language anger vocabulary, but also looks at how religious conversion brought new attitudes to the emotional response to war, especially to an Anglo-Saxon warrior culture, where anger played a role in constructing a man’s honour and helped him excel in battle. The article uses quotes from the poem the Battle of Maldon.

Religious responses to warfare are also discussed in An Abbot, an Archbishop and the Viking Raids of 1006-7 and 1009-12 which uses Ælfric, abbot of Eynsham, and Wulfstan, archbishop of York reflections, prayer and representation in the coinage and in charter evidence. The Viking raids of 1006 are further explored in Landscape and Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England and the Viking Campaign of 1006 . This argues that certain types of place were considered particularly appropriate for the performance of violent conflict throughout this period and that these locales are recoverable through an interdisciplinary analysis of landscapes, place names and texts.

The themes of the religious response to warfare and the role of masculinity are continued in the Warrior Churchmen of Medieval England, 1000-1250 : Theory and Reality which looks at the role of Odo Bishop of Bayeux and earl of Kent, and Geoffrey bishop of Coutances. This theme is continued in the recent book, The church at war : the military activities of bishops, abbots, and other clergy in England, c.900-1200.

Covering the later medieval period we start with The Hundred Years War in literature, 1337-1600 which charts the narration of the war in English literature, from contemporary chroniclers and poets, such as Chaucer and Lydgate, to later polemicists and playwrights looking back on their medieval past. The book also includes the dramas of Shakespeare as well as anonymous chroniclers, balladeers and agonising eyewitness accounts of warfare.

The collective volume, Emotions and War : Medieval to Romantic Literature, includes the following medieval chapters, Emotional Responses to Medieval Warfare in the History of William Marshal, and Moving to War: Rhetoric and Emotion in William Worcester’s Boke of Noblesse. Another chapter moves on to the later period:  ‘I was enforced to become an eyed witnes’ : Documenting War in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, while others cover the British civil wars, the American Revolution in North Carolina, and Henry Crabb Robinson’s Letters to The Times, 1808–9 covering the Peninsular Wars.

The conflict between war and religious thought continues during the later medieval period and the Lollard view of the just war is discussed in John Wyclif on War and Peace which includes a chapter entitled, The Medieval Pacifist.

Increasingly, as one may expect, the role of chivalry comes to the fore. There is Chivalry, War and Clerical Identity : England and Normandy c. 1056-1226 in Ecclesia et Violentia : Violence Against the Church and Violence within the Church in the Middle Ages which also harks back to the involvement of the clergy; and English Writings on Chivalry and Warfare during the Hundred Years War in Soldiers, nobles and gentlemen : essays in honour of Maurice Keen.

For the early modern period we have Trauma Narratives of the English Civil War which explores the psychological impact and after effects of the war. Its main points of focus are the expressions of personal as well as collective trauma caused by this conflict. In this context, the discussion places the ways in which war experiences were narrated in relation to wider conceptualizations of traumatic damage to the mind.

The chapter Early Modern War Writing and the British Civil Wars discusses the growth of martial writing in the 16th and 17th centuries and, of course covers the Civil War. It charts the classical influences and the use of eyewitness accounts and the use of powerful language reflecting strong military command. This aspect of language is also explored in the chapter, ‘Broken Verses across a Bloodied Land’ : Violence and the Limits of Language in the English Civil War (in Aspects of Violence in Renaissance Europe).

In addition, there is Parliamentary Politics and the Politics of the Street : The London Peace Campaigns of 1642-3 which argues that Londoners were more lukewarm towards parliament and its campaign than received accounts would lead us to believe. After the battle of Edgehill people quickly lost their appetite for further conflict and an increasingly large minority campaigned actively for peace.

The role of the Quakers is also highlighted in the chapter, The “Lamb’s war” and the origins of the Quaker peace testimony, contained in The pacifist impulse in historical perspective, as well as the article The Early Quakers, the Peace Testimony and Masculinity in England, 1660–1720. The latter considers the Friends’ pacifism and its relation to masculinity, including its relation to Quaker rejections of domestic violence and to the violence of the alehouses. The article also highlights how seventeenth- and twentieth-century interpretations of pacifism differed.

Of course Quakerism, and other non-conformists, are associated with the conscientious objectors of World War I. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, for the 18th and 19th century and more especially the Napoleonic Wars are also covered in the article Christian heroes, providence, and patriotism in wartime Britain, 1793–1815.  Evangelicals sought to resolve tensions between heroism, virtue, masculinity, religiosity and war by advancing a different set of ideals, a difficult task in a highly charged patriotic society. A less salubrious view of the military is explored in Scarlet Fever: Female Enthusiasm for Men in Uniform, 1780-1815 in Britain’s Soldiers : Rethinking War and Society, 1715-1815  which outlines a ‘dangerous disorder prevalent in wartime’, principally afflicting women.

Of course much of our view of attitudes to war is coloured by  World War I and the conscientious objector. With over a thousand references it is hard to pick out a couple of books or articles. However, taking us to the most recent wars we have Going to War : British Debates from Wilberforce to Blair and The March that Shook Blair : An Oral History of 15 February 2003. The march and reactions to it are further explored in Local Press Reporting of Opposition to the 2003 Iraq War in the UK and the Case for Reconceptualizing Notions of Legitimacy and Deviance. The parliamentary ramifications are also deliberated in Challenging the Royal Prerogative : The Decision on War against Iraq in Parliamentary Debates in 2002–3.

The above is simply an outline of references available on BBIH – that’s without exploring specific wars, civil-military relations, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament or the Greenham Common peace activists.

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Bibliography of British and Irish History updated (February 2017)

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An update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 14 February. 4,901  new records have been added. Some 633 new records relate to Irish history while 246 deal with the history of London,  299 with the history of Scotland and 129 with the history of Wales.  The overall total of records available online is now 584,478.

In the past we’ve shown the range of material available on BBIH when we have published an update. We’ve covered the international aspects of BBIH as well as the number of references by year. In this instance we’ve charted the number of references by century using the period covered option on the simple and advanced search, and a chart showing our editorial period ranges.

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We expect the next update to be released in June 2017.

 

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Discounted subscriptions to the online Bibliography of British and Irish History

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Discounted subscriptions to the online Bibliography of British and Irish History are available to Friends of the IHR who may not have access to the Bibliography through a university or other institution.

 

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The Bibliography is a joint project of the IHR, the Royal Historical Society and Brepols Publishers, and is the most extensive guide available to what has been published on British and Irish history. It covers the history of British and Irish relations with the rest of the world, including the British empire and the Commonwealth, as well as British and Irish domestic history. It includes not only books, but also articles in journals (over 770 journals are searched) and articles within collective volumes. It is updated three times a year and currently includes over 579,000 records, with a further update expected in February 2017; subscribers can sign up for email alerts notifying them when new records are added on subjects, people, or places in which they are interested.

Friends of the IHR (including American Friends) can subscribe to the Bibliography for one third of the normal cost of an individual subscription. The sign-up period for the Friends’ discounts starts on 1 October and runs until 15 December 2016 for the 2017 subscription year. New subscribers will have access to the Bibliography from 31 December 2016 and subscriptions will run until 31 December 2017. To apply please contact the Development Office or by telephoning (0)20 7862 8791.

For more information about the Friends, and the other benefits of joining, please visit the Friends’ web pages. Similar discounts are available to Fellows and Members of the Royal Historical Society who will receive information in their autumn mailing, as usual.

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Henry III, better than his father, worse than his son?

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Henry’s reign began inauspiciously. He was crowned on 28 October 1216 in some haste at Gloucester Abbey. The coronation was overseen by the papal legate and Henry was anointed by the bishops of Worcester, Winchester and Exeter; the archbishops of Canterbury and York being unavailable. The royal crown had gone missing and he was crowned with his mother’s circlet. All this in the midst of the Barons’ War caused by his father the “bad” king John. To reinforce his royal authority he had a second coronation in 1220.

 

Henry III's coronation (Cotton Vitellius A. XIII) Wikipedia

Henry III’s coronation (Cotton Vitellius A. XIII) Wikipedia

 

 

“Henry’s capacity to play for very high stakes, and yet lose, was truly remarkable”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His reign was to end just as inauspiciously. His claims to the lost Angevin empire were renounced by the treaty of Paris (1259), factional court fighting and another baronial revolt led to yet another civil war. Though the war was won by Henry the last years of his reign were marred by fears of further rebellion.

The online publication of the Henry III Fine Rolls has opened a new episode in research on Henry as well as the politics, government, local-central relations, law, relations with Wales and Ireland and society in general – an episode well documented in The Growth of Royal Government under Henry III which uses the Rolls to offer new interpretations of the reign.

As well as documenting the above volume, BBIH has a range of references on Henry III. There are specific references on Henry’s minority; his more than conventional piety; his relations with the Jews (his son, Edward I, was to expel all Jews in 1290); and his expensive and overambitious foreign policy including his crusading endeavours.

 

Henry III (Click to enlarge)

Henry III (Click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote from S. D. Lloyd The Oxford Companion to British History p. 452

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bibliography of British and Irish History updated (September 2016)

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An update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 30 September. There are 4,962 new records, some 633 new records relate to Irish history while 240 deal with the history of London, 324 with the history of Scotland and 262 with the history of Wales.  The overall total of records available online is now 579,638.

We are pleased to welcome a new section editor to our editorial teamDr Colin Veach  Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Hull, who will be dealing with Irish history to c. 1640. He succeeds Dr Beth Hartland, for whose expert help over the last few years we are very grateful.

We also welcome Dr Adam Chapman, Editor and Training Co-ordinator with the Victoria County History based at the IHR, who will be dealing with England 1066-1500.

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We expect to release the next update in February 2017.  You can always find out more about the Bibliography at http://www.history.ac.uk/projects/bbih or, if you already have access to the Bibliography, you can sign up for email alerts so as to be notified each time the Bibliography is updated with records on a subject or subjects of your choice.

 

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The Battle of the Somme: “Have you seen the Big Push films?”

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“Have you seen the Big Push films?” wrote Roland Mountford to his father in August 1916. Mountford was referring to The Battle of the Somme film. We are not certain that his father did see the film as we don’t have the reply, however it is more than likely that he did it as it’s estimated over 20 million viewed it.  Reaction to the film was often divided.
Somme-film-ad

“Crowds of Londoners feels no scruple at feasting their eyes on pictures which present the passion and death of British soldiers in the Battle of the Somme … a “film” of war’s hideous tragedy is welcomed. I beg leave respectfully to enter a protest against an entertainment which wounds the hearts and violates the very sanctities of bereavement.” (The Dean of Durham letter to The Times).

“We went on Wednesday night to a private view of the ‘Somme films’ i.e. the pictures taken during the recent fighting. To say that one enjoyed them would be untrue; but I am glad I went. I am glad I have seen the sort of thing our men have to go through, even to the sortie from the trench, and the falling in the barbed wire. There were pictures too of the battlefield after the fight, & of our gallant men lying all crumpled up & helpless. There were pictures of men mortally wounded being carried out of the communication trenches, with the look of agony on their faces.” (Frances Stevenson – David Lloyd George’s secretary).

 

Just as historians have debated the strategy and tactics of Haig et al, the representation of the battle and its effects on a nation, so too have they discussed the authenticity of the film. A discussion well covered in the Roger Smither article “A wonderful idea of the fighting” : the question of fakes in The Battle of the Somme.  A search on the subject tree BBIH brings up the following references.

 

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To expand the search to Film and all World War I click on the Refine search button…

Brepolis  BBIH(10)

Brepolis  BBIH(13)

…and replace “Battles, Somme 1916” with “Wars, World War I” for an overview of references to the war and film which includes cinema going, propaganda, representation of the war, and moral panics. Alternatively, delete the term “Film” and see the results for “Battles, Somme 1916”.

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Film and World War I (Click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle of the Somme (Click to enlarge)

Battle of the Somme (Click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll leave the final comments to Lt. Cyril Catford and his letter of 25 September 1916 held by the Durham County Record Office.

Surely truth is stranger than fiction!! Last night I had a most excellent sleep in No Mans Land, during a fairly heavy bombardment such as is practically continuous in this the greatest battle of the War!! … There is very little to say about this big show except the Artillery is awful and the flies are worse, whilst conditions of living are worse still. All the same we are exceptionally cheerful. We bear everything I hope like good soldiers proud to have beaten thoroughly the reputed “Invincible German Army”. The men are absolutely wonderful. My Company are in the best of spirit. I think you might send out 1000 Woodbines [cigarettes] for them.

Lt. Catford was to die 10 days later, he was 26 years old.

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