In the UK today, we associate fireworks with the fifth of November and (as the well-known nursery rhyme goes…) gunpowder, treason and plot. For many of us, fireworks are inextricably bound up with the smell of bonfire smoke, and standing in a park or sports ground, ankle deep in mud, waiting for the audio system to work. This is often combined with the unfettered glee of riding a fairground ride that appears never to have been safety tested! And of course, we all know and love the various fireworks themselves: the rockets, Roman Candles, Catherine Wheels, Golden Rain and sparklers. Perhaps your personal favourites are those that burst in gold, and then fizz silver? Maybe those that screech and scream? Or those that launch in a splendid spray of red and blue and then ‘phut’ into nothingness? Or the slow burner… refusing to go off until someone has cautiously poked it with a stick, whilst the others watch terrified that it should explode in the face of the poker… Firework night: a time of education and entertainment for all!
A king without a throne, a dashing young prince, and an army of exiles. These basic components of Jacobitism – with some misty lochs, rugged Highlanders, scheming Catholics and royal courts thrown in – lend themselves perfectly to high Romance and adventure. It is no surprise then, that the Stuarts and their Jacobite supporters provided inspiration for early Scottish Romanticism, evident in the works of authors such as Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson, the poetry of Robert Burns, and popular tunes like The Skye Boat Song. With a core narrative of brave young men fighting a doomed cause against an oppressive regime, (particularly embodied in the merciless Duke of Cumberland), the stories surrounding the two Jacobite risings remain popular today, as the recent success of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series of historical novels has shown.
On August 26th 1883, Krakatoa erupted. Not, of course, out of a clear blue sky; ash columns and steam plumes had been filling the sky over the island and its archipelago for days, the area had been experiencing tremors and earthquakes for years, and smaller explosions had been throwing up ash, changing the tides and, presumably, worrying the locals for months.
Vive La Baker
The International Herald Tribune, the latest periodical to be digitised for Gale Primary Sources, was the quintessential American newspaper – published in Paris. It was founded in 1887 by James Gordon Bennett Jr., who had left America for Paris under a cloud after he socially disgraced himself. (The story goes he ruined a party at his then-fiancée’s house in New York by relieving himself in the fireplace.) He consoled himself for the loss of his fiancée with both his wealth and Paris, where he established the European edition of the New York Herald. It was the paper for jet-setters and wealthy American visitors to Europe, catering to the transatlantic elite of Gilded Age Paris – it was the paper of the most romantic city in the world. From its inception, it focused on entertainment, sport, celebrity and international news. It helped shape the identities of American expats, catered to GIs who stayed on after WWII, and cultivated an image of glamour and luxury: it provided an all-American edit of French chic. Continue reading
State Papers Online: Eighteenth Century, 1714-1782, Part III: Western Europe is the newest addition to the extensive State Papers Online archive. Part III provides primary source material from the Catholic courts of Spain, Portugal and France, as well as from smaller states of Italy and the Mediterranean, bringing together a huge variety of people, places and events. Great powers and small Republics, border skirmishes and arguably – in the Seven Years’ War – the first global conflict, monarchs, spies and merchants; all are part of the network of information and politics centring on the British Secretaries of State in Whitehall, and through them, the King.
One of the delights of a collection like Gale NewsVault is the opportunity to follow the progress of a story through the reports of a range of writers and newspapers, and to draw new conclusions on social and political themes. Coverage of stock markets collapsing or governments changing hands can help illustrate such topics, and offer researchers insight into public opinion, debate and interests. So too can smaller stories, such as a seaside town witnessing a string of unexpected and unusual murders, straight out of the Golden Age of Crime. Continue reading