Tag Archives: The Times Digital Archive

Surprising Search Results: From Crystal Therapy to Singing Bowls

By Rebecca Bowden, Associate Acquisitions Editor
Having joined Gale in December 2017 with a background in business to business publishing, I am enjoying learning more about the world of digital archives. I love the diversity of Gale’s archives, and discovering the unique stories hidden within them. In my spare time I like doing a variety of unusual sports, a lot of baking, and curling up with a good book.

If one was researching current affairs, political history, or a particular literary period, Gale Primary Sources would be an obvious place to look. It is full of useful archives, from newspapers like The Times and The Independent, to huge collections of diverse primary sources, such as Nineteenth Century Collections Online. But what if you were researching something altogether more obscure – say, palmistry, feng shui or crystal therapy? It may surprise you that Gale Primary Sources continues to shine!

Continue reading

BNP

Inside the BNP: Being a Mole in the British Far-Right

By Rebecca Bowden, Associate Acquisitions Editor
Having joined Gale in December 2017 with a background in business to business publishing, I am enjoying learning more about the world of digital archives. I love the diversity of Gale’s archives, and discovering the unique stories hidden within them. In my spare time I like doing a variety of unusual sports, a lot of baking, and curling up with a good book.

On 29 March 1984, at 10:25pm, Channel 4 aired ‘The Other Face of Terror’. According to Elizabeth Cowley, writing for the Daily Mail, ‘if I didn’t know this documentary was fact and that the people we see and hear…were real, I’d swear it was an over-the-top political thriller.’ The hour and a half film, by Dutch director Ludi Boeken, exposed a ‘vast neo-Nazi network of terrorists, arms dealers and theorists’; it also exposed one of the key figures in the British National Party (BNP) and the British Movement  as a mole for anti-fascist investigative organisation Searchlight. That man was Ray Hill. Using Gale Primary Sources, we explore his experience with the far-right.

Other Face of Terror

Cowley, Elizabeth. “The Other Face of Terror.” Daily Mail, 29 Mar. 1984, p. 22. Daily Mail Historical Archive, 1896-2004, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/745mX0. Accessed 19 Sept. 2018.

Ray Hill was born in Mossley in 1939. He joined the army at seventeen, following in the footsteps of his father. Writing for The Times, he describes how he left the army in the early sixties and was living in Leicester when he came across an anti-immigration advert. It was the first time he had been interested in politics, but he quickly became involved in the anti-immigration movement. In an interview, available in Gale’s Political Extremism & Radicalism archive, Hill describes this first encounter with the British far-right:

‘I picked up some literature from an outfit calling themselves the “Racial Preservation Society.” And it was right at the sort of beginning of the influx of immigrants here. Particularly into Leicester. Leicester was sort of a favourite settling place for many of them. And this Racial Preservation Society was active, as was an outfit calling themselves the “NDP” the National Democratic Party…And I took an interest in it.’

Attracted by the strong anti-immigration stance of the Racial Preservation Society, Hill found himself drawn into the world of the far-right.

Ray Hill

“British National Party Launched after Months of Nazi Unity Talks.” Searchlight Magazine, May 1982, p. 3+. Political Extremism & Radicalism, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/747zr9. Accessed 19 Sept. 2018.

How then, does a far-right supporter become a mole, reporting on the people he had once seen eye-to-eye with? In 1969, Hill moved to South Africa, which was in the midst of apartheid at the time, and it was this that radically changed his mind. As he puts it:

‘nobody with much humanity about them can stay in South Africa for ten years and not come to dislike apartheid. It’s just so horrible, you know. Just horrible. I mean people being arrested for falling in love, you know. That sort of thing. Bloody awful.’

This, combined with the fact he had made Jewish friends, meant he left his earlier views behind him. It was not a ‘Damascene Conversion,’ he emphasises in The Times, but ‘a gradual change in [his] attitudes caused by the people [he] was mixing with.’

So, when the National Front of South Africa came into existence, Hill found himself re-joining; this time, however, it was at the request of a Jewish friend, who asked him to report back on what he saw and heard. Ray Hill had become a mole.

Hill attended around two-dozen meetings, even becoming chairman, before he returned to the UK and was put in touch with Gerry Gable, founder of Searchlight. It was Gerry’s idea for him to infiltrate the far-right in the UK on behalf of Searchlight, and ‘in no time at all [Hill] was Deputy Leader of the BNP.’

BNP

In 1982, John Tyndall founded the BNP, following a previous failed attempt to break away from the National Front. Ray Hill is seen on the left of the picture.
“British National Party Launched after Months of Nazi Unity Talks.” Searchlight Magazine, May 1982, p. 3+. Political Extremism & Radicalism, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/747zr9. Accessed 19 Sept. 2018.

Hill publicly exposed himself as an infiltrator when he left the BNP five years later and has continued to talk about his experiences since. It is these discussions, including the audio interview featured in Gale’s Political Extremism & Radicalism archive, that provide the researcher with a different angle on the far-right at the time.

Firstly, let us look at Nicky Crane. Nicola Vicenzio Crane was active in the British Movement, was jailed multiple times for racist attacks and was one of the founders of neo-nazi group Blood and Honour (see sources in both Political Extremism and Archives of Sexuality & Gender). Somewhat oxymoronically, in 1992, Crane came out as homosexual, a year before he died of AIDS (see source 1; source 2). It is difficult to find a positive description of him in Gale Primary Sources. Searchlight Magazine describes him as ‘one of the foulest and most violent nazi thugs’, and a ‘psychotic lump of trash’. An audio interview with anti-fascist activist Anna Sullivan in Political Extremism states:

“You couldn’t miss him, either. Physically, he certainly stood out…he’d been imprisoned at least once or twice for a GBH attack, because, you know, he was really vicious. And I never really met him face to face. I saw him when we did the march past his house…we got so many of the local Asian community involved, and, you know, that’s the key, really. And all these wonderful women, you know, in their saris and headscarves were carrying placards saying, “We will not be bullied by these racists.”

Nicky Crane

“Not so Gentle but Certainly Touched.” Searchlight Magazine, Sept. 1986, p. 6+. Political Extremism & Radicalism, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/759oe3. Accessed 19 Sept. 2018.

That same rally, in which nearly 300 anti-fascists, led by then local-MP Jeremy Corbyn, marched to the home of Nicky Crane and other known Nazis, was also covered by Searchlight magazine.

Hill’s interview in the Searchlight Oral Histories Collection is the only instance to paint a different picture:

“I liked Nicky. I always thought he was a likeable, kind-hearted, but misguided young man. Obviously, with a massive chip on his shoulder, but good at heart.”

Here we see a more personable side to Nicky Crane, something that would be lacking were it not for these first-hand testimonies featured in Political Extremism & Radicalism. It is an insight into how Hill could have stomached being a part of the far-right for those five years he was a mole. As he puts it:

‘Some of the kids that were pulled in were genuine people who wanted a better world for themselves and their offspring…Well, you can’t condemn them for that.’

This reminds us that there are multiple facets to every personality, even those whose ideologies many would class as unpleasant. It also enables researchers to look beyond the movement as whole, and instead begin to understand the individuals involved.

Hill’s testimony also reveals what happens after the mole has been outed: the repercussions. This part of his story is corroborated by news reporting of the time. The Sunday Telegraph, for instance, offers an article titled ‘Nazi threat of death for author’, detailing how ‘the most dangerous nazi group in Europe…plans to kill him in revenge’ and that he even has a panic button to the police station in his house. In The Times, we hear of vandalised cars and threatened children. One Searchlight Magazine story reported that ‘police in rural areas of England…have launched a round-the-clock watch on his house’ after a hit team turned up at his door, while another tells how his home was ‘attacked by a nazi firebomb squad over the May bank holiday’ of 1988, with the words ‘Kill Hill’ daubed on his front door. Similarly, in his interview, Hill discusses having his caravan set on fire while his children slept inside and having bricks repeatedly thrown through windows. He jokes that he ‘must have been the only man in England to pay a f****** glazier by banker’s order’. Jokes aside, his disgust and anger are obvious, describing it as ‘utter, utter evil.’ Again, we get the opportunity to understand the personal side of the story, alongside the more formal reporting.

Nazi Threat

Porter, Robert. “Nazi threat of death for author.” Sunday Telegraph, 7 Feb. 1988, p. 5. The Telegraph Historical Archive, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/745Vz5. Accessed 19 Sept. 2018.

The political life of Ray Hill then, is full of drama and intrigue. He has since devoted the rest of his life to anti-fascist work, giving talks that highlight the dangers of the far-right. He suggests he will continue to do so whether he is 75, or 95. The press tells of a far-right BNP leader who revealed himself to be a mole, and of the difficult aftermath that followed. It is only through Hill’s own testimony that we get a true sense of the man, his journey and the personal side of the story; of the people he was interacting with and the emotional struggles he had to overcome.

Across the Gale Primary Sources platform researchers can view a variety of content from political ephemera and oral history interviews in Political Extremism & Radicalism to newspaper articles in The Telegraph, The Times and The Daily Mail thus providing scholars with a broad and in-depth view of this episode of history, from multiple angles.

Exploring Arabic Periodicals in Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library

By Becky Wright, Gale Content Researcher
I joined Gale in 2015 as Content Researcher. I completed my MA in Historical Research at the Institute of Historical Research and am delighted to work in a role where I can indulge my love of all things history. I’m based in London and, when I’m not surrounded by books and manuscripts in various libraries and archives, I love exploring all that my home city has to offer.

Gale’s digital collections include a wealth of newspapers, journals and periodicals. From The Times Digital Archive to the newspapers in the 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection, and from the International Herald Tribune to Missionary, Sinology and Literary Periodicals published in China, researchers have access to a vast array of English-language journalism, spanning centuries and continents. With the inclusion of early newspapers and periodicals in the resource Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library, this archive offers researchers the opportunity to trace the development of Arabic print journalism as well. While the digital collection was being created, I was lucky enough to see some of the originals at the British Library. I was struck by the diversity of the journals, both in subject matter and appearance, but such variety is not so surprising considering the titles span more than thirty years (1861 to 1899) and were produced in several different countries.

Continue reading

The Rise and Fall of Space Invaders in the British Press

“In the spring of 1978, Taito approached Midway about distributing a new arcade game in the United States. The game had originally been invented as a hexadecimal test used for evaluating computer programmers. Someone decided to convert the test into a video game that Taito distributed in Japan, despite the unenthusiastic blessing of company executives. The game was called Space Invaders.”
Kent, Steven L. The Ultimate History of Video Games, New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001, p. 116

Continue reading

The Only Way is Wessex: Thomas Hardy’s Cultural Impressions

By Daniel Mercieca, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
Daniel Mercieca is an English Literature finalist, and President of both the English Literature Society and Bede Film Society at Durham University. His main research interests are Film Aesthetics and Screen Adaptation, with further interests in twentieth-century poetry and Romantic poetry. Dan enjoys the independence of thought, interdisciplinary and experimental aspects of studying English and aims to achieve a Master’s in Film and/or Literature. Dan enjoys lyricism and landscapes in the works of Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Smith and Toni Morrison. His favourite directors include Alfred Hitchcock, Darren Aronofsky, Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan for their suspense, soundtracks and cinematography. If he is not reading books or watching films then he is probably writing, running or trying something new.

“She was not an existence, an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations, to anybody but herself. To all humankind besides Tess was only a passing thought. Even to friends she was no more than a frequently passing thought.” [i]

The well-trodden Dorsetshire heathlands, bustling rustic communities and evanescent ghosts from Thomas Hardy’s folkloric world, Wessex, continue to impress memories of English rural heritage. Hardy’s sensitive capturing of ‘mere impressions of the moment’ in prose and poetry; the cascade of raindrops on a gate, hazy warmth of a barn dance or ghostly silhouette of a horse rider in sea mist, reinvigorates our appreciation of ordinary experience [ii]. This year marks the 90th anniversary of Hardy’s final collection of verse, Winter Words in Various Moods and Meters (1928), whose sombre cadences echo amongst later generations of modern poets and can be found in The Times Historical Archive. The continual resurgence of Hardy’s works in dramatic and televisual adaptations, modern poetry and National Trust Heritage fosters a Wessex mythology which remains vibrant today.

Continue reading

How can human trafficking be tackled in Britain?

By Tiria Barnes, Gale Student Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am currently a third year History student at the University of Liverpool, hoping to graduate with an extensive knowledge of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and good quality banter. When I’m not in the library plugging Gale’s amazing resources, I am usually in a hipster independent coffee shop sipping on a cheeky chai latte. Some of my passions include Jesus, street dance, and charity shops.

Despite slavery being outlawed in the nineteenth century, human trafficking – defined by the Tearfund as ‘the transporting or abduction of people for the purposes of exploitation, using coercion, fraud or deception’[1] – is still a prevalent problem in our world today. In 2015, it was estimated that the trafficking industry was worth 32 billion US dollars a year, which is equivalent to the GDP of Tanzania[2]. As the fastest growing business in the world, it has been suggested that every 30 seconds a child is trafficked[3]. I decided that it would be interesting to investigate human trafficking on a more local scale, and see how newspapers reported on Britain’s response to the problem. Using Gale Primary Sources, I was able to make some thought-provoking discoveries.

Continue reading

Newspaper reports on the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade

By Tiria Barnes, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am currently a third-year History student at the University of Liverpool, hoping to graduate with an extensive knowledge of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and good quality banter. When I’m not in the library plugging Gale’s amazing resources, I am usually in a hipster independent coffee shop sipping on a cheeky chai latte. Some of my passions include Jesus, street dance, and charity shops.

On the 25th of March 1807, the British Parliament passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act which prohibited the carrying of slaves in British ships. While it is important to note that this did not outlaw slavery itself, which came about in 1833 as a result of the Emancipation Act, 1807 was a significant step in the right direction. Two hundred years later, the UK commemorated the bicentenary of the act, and attempted to reflect on the brutality of slavery [1]. Using Gale Primary Sources, I thought it would be interesting to study how this was reported in the media, taking note of the ways in which newspapers depicted the actions taken by the UK as part of the commemoration.

Continue reading

Trouble in Toxteth: Representations of the 1981 Riots in Liverpool in the National Press

By Megan Murphy
I’m a third year History student at the University of Liverpool, a Gale Student Ambassador, and a self-proclaimed Jane Austen fanatic. As a modern historian, my main research interests revolve around the development of Victorian cities – particularly the crime and deviance that took place within them. Outside of my studies, in the rare time I spend without my head in a nineteenth-century newspaper, I specialise in binge-watching Louis Theroux documentaries.

Although Toxteth (an inner-city area of Liverpool) is now a proud and diverse community – one that is home to many independent businesses, local street markets and an urban regeneration project that was awarded the Turner Prize in 2015 – it is an area with a troubled past. In July 1981, four consecutive days of rioting in Toxteth resulted in the hospitalisation of 258 police officers, 160 arrests, 150 buildings being burnt to the ground, and countless businesses looted, with more destruction and injuries in the weeks that followed.[1]

Continue reading

The Top Ten Most Random Articles Found, Using Gale Primary Sources

By Tiria Barnes

I am currently a third-year History student at the University of Liverpool, hoping to graduate with an extensive knowledge of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and good quality banter. When I’m not in the library plugging Gale’s amazing resources, I am usually in a hipster independent coffee shop sipping on a cheeky chai latte. Some of my passions include Jesus, street dance, and charity shops.

For this contribution to The Gale Review, I challenged myself to find the 10 most random sources I could in Gale Primary Sources. Armed with a cup of tea and the potential for banter I began to search, hoping to find some gems. I can safely say I was not disappointed!

Continue reading

The roots of ‘ecocriticism’: Exploring the impact of Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’

By Anna Sikora:
Anna Sikora is a tutor, part-time teacher, and final year PhD student in the Discipline of English, National University of Galway, Ireland. She is examining the works of John Wyndham, author of over 60 short stories and 12 novels, including the famous The Day of The Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957). Anna is interested to see when and why science fiction authors began to show an awareness of environmental issues, and how this was demonstrated in their work. She is adopting some of the concepts of environmental criticism (ecocriticism) to ask how environmental concerns are articulated in fiction, and whether literature can, and should, influence our daily environmental choices or the ways in which we interact with the environment.

Ecocriticism (environmental criticism) is not exactly new to the humanities, as it has been around for nearly a quarter of a century, but it is the latest to join the set of lenses – such as Marxism, Postcolonial theory and Feminism – through which students are invited to read literature. Do these theoretical frameworks enhance our understanding of literature and the creative process behind writing? Perhaps yes; perhaps no.

Continue reading