The Figure of Guy Fawkes – Past, Present and Future

Guy Fawkes has become something of an icon in the British psyche; we foster an underlying admiration for the plotter, despite his attempt to orchestrate murder. This is partly based on an innocent relish for royal intrigue and romanticised view of a time of ruffs, candles and pointed shoes. Yet there is a tension between British attitudes towards recent acts of social disorder, terrorism and violent political expression, and our euphemized view of attempted murder in seventeenth-century England. The complexity of our collective memorialisation and current attitude towards the Gunpowder Plot can be explored by charting its development in the Gale archives.

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The ‘Father of Rugby Football?’ William Webb Ellis and the Rugby World Cup

The sight of hordes of excited, expectant people checking in to Britain’s hotels this month can mean only one thing – not the lure of a discounted late-summer trip to the seaside – but the start of the eighth Rugby Union World Cup. The beginning of the event on 18th September marked the second time that the UK has hosted the competition. Public interest is reaching fever pitch as we sit glued to our TVs, agonisingly hoping for another Jonny Wilkinson-inspired moment. The victorious nation will crown their achievement by lifting the William Webb Ellis Cup at Twickenham on 31 October. But just who was William Webb Ellis?

With access to millions of pages of digital archival material here at Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, I decided to dig a little deeper into the legend which surrounds the man…

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Bonnie Prince Charlie and ‘the ‘45’

In August 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s Highland army embarked on its journey across Scotland, marking the onset of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Determined to restore the Stuart monarchy to the throne, and severe the Union of 1707 which bound Scotland to Britain, the Prince led his Jacobite followers into battles across Scotland and the North of England. Replete with themes of individual heroism, and of the struggle of the few against the tyranny of the establishment, it is little wonder that the story of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ has come to acquire mythical status. 270 years on from what was effectively the beginning of the end of the Jacobite cause, I couldn’t resist delving into some of the original documents from our State Papers Online: Eighteenth Century resource, which gives us some clues as to why the rising – and the figure at its head – has become so romanticised.

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