Tag Archives: The Times Digital Archive

RIP Robert Mugabe

‘This is Not A Coup’: Reflections on the Political History of Emmerson Mnangagwa

By Lyndsey England, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
I am a second year student at Durham University, studying a joint degree in English Literature and History. My main areas of interest are African history and post-colonial literature, but when I’m not tucked away behind a stack of books in a corner of the library or promoting Gale, I’m busy with Durham Student Theatre, working backstage and on the production team for a number of performances each year. In amongst all this, I also try to find the time to write, because I am currently juggling a shamefully large amount of works in progress. 

On the 18th of November 2017, the people of Zimbabwe took to the streets of Harare. Men, women and children walked alongside armed military vehicles, shaking hands with soldiers and standing in solidarity with strangers. In a mass demonstration, members of the public marched united through the capital, calling for the resignation of President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. The march was treated as a ground-breaking moment in Zimbabwean history; an unprecedented declaration of the public’s antipathy towards Mr. Mugabe, the war hero who had ruled since the country’s independence in 1980.

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The Ultimate Showman: Freddie Mercury’s untold relationship with the UK press

By James Garbett, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter
I’m a third year English student at the University of Exeter.  I’m a huge fan of all things film, theatre and journalism, whilst also continuing to examine the changing forms of masculinity within Gender Studies. When not attempting to play drums, you can find me interviewing various individuals of the music and film world and working for the student newspaper, radio and television station.

When Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, passed away tragically in November 1991, many newspapers mourned the passing of one of the greatest musical legends of all time. Much has already been written of the lavish and decadent parties that Mr Mercury had in his too-short lifetime, however utilising the vast wealth of archives in Gale Primary Sources, such as The Times, Archive of Sexuality & Gender and others, a new perspective can be found regarding the incredible showman and his relationship with the press.

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Miscegenation, or ‘Fake News’ of the Civil War

(Warning: the below article contains excerpts from historical material that are explicitly racist and offensive to today’s readers. The author does not share the views of the material presented.)

Sometimes a random search can take you to unexpected places. For me it began a few months ago when I was asked to conduct a post-sale training session with a group of students at a university in Japan. I was told beforehand that the students were studying American History, including African Americans and other minorities, and I was asked to prepare an example that would match their interests.

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Nationalism Vs the true meaning of National Independence Day in Poland

By Anna Sikora, Gale Ambassador at NUI Galway*
Anna Sikora was recently a tutor, part-time teacher, and final year PhD student in the Discipline of English at the National University of Galway, Ireland. She examined 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). For her full bio, please see previous posts by Anna Sikora on The Gale Review.

In 2017, thousands took part in far-right marches on National Independence Day in Poland. My Irish friend asked me how worried we should be about the rise of far-right nationalism in Poland, my home country. He had seen newspaper headlines describing millions of Polish people, including school children and families, celebrating November 11 as “unsavoury.” I was shocked and disappointed; disappointed by hooligans disrupting the Independence Day marches, and shocked by the foreign media using images of these hooligans to represent the whole nation. This year has also seen heightened tensions, with attempts to ban far-right rallies and pleas from President Andrzej Duda for marchers to “come only with red-and-white flags,” rather than the nationalist banners and flags of far-right parties seen previously.

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Between the Acts: Remembering War during the Interwar Period

By Calvin Liu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I am a second year English student at University College, Oxford – and the Gale Ambassador for Oxford University. I am a huge lover of everything Romantic and Modernist – from Wordsworth to Woolf. When I am not in the depths of an essay crisis, I spend my time collecting fountain pens and looking at old books. Born and raised in Hong Kong, I am still getting to grips with the English weather and am partial to punting picnics on a rare sunny day. 

Remembrance is repetition.

As Laurence Binyon’s poem, often the highlight of memorial services, puts it: ‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:/ […]/ We will remember them.’ Ways of memorialising the world wars, too, seem never to grow old and are reinforced through recurrence. Remembrance is ritualised by each poppy-wearing politician, each BBC documentary, each Ian McEwan novel. The narratives have been retold so many times that they grow hazy and the details blend together – battle trenches upon Maginot Lines. It almost comes as a shock to be reminded that twenty-one years elapsed between the two world wars that we now jointly remember on one day. Twenty-one years during which the world regularly reminded itself of the last great war, before rushing into another. Gale Primary Sources provides a plethora of primary sources that poignantly illustrate how the world wars were both remembered and anticipated during the interwar period.

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Exploring Changing Attitudes Towards Climate Change in Gale Primary Sources

By Grace Mitchell-Kilpatrick, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter
I am about to start my fourth year at the University of Exeter. I studied BSc Politics and International Relations with proficiency in data analysis at undergraduate level. As a Masters student studying Conflict, Development and Security, my interests lie in conflict zones but I am also an advocate of sustainability and feminism. Besides studying, when I’m not snowed under with work I like to run and binge watch Netflix. 

The issue of climate change is often one which is put on the backburner by both politicians and the population at large. Whilst the issue has been on the political agenda in several countries numerous times in the twenty-first century, the efforts to bring about impactful change remain minimal. I thought it would be interesting to use Gale Primary Sources to investigate the developing history of climate change consensus over the last thirty years or so.

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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!

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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.’


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.

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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

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