Roads Less Travelled

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Historians of Restoration London know John Ogilby (c 1600–1676) for the marvellous post-Fire survey of the capital that he produced with his step-grandson, William Morgan, which was published in 1677; or as the choreographer of the celebrations accompanying Charles II’s coronation, of which the Earl of Clarendon said, ‘the whole Show was the most glorious […]

Portrait of Pum

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In 1923 Robert Gayer-Anderson, oriental secretary to the British high commissioner in Egypt, attended the official opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb. The body of the boy-king, who had been mummified with his penis erect, lay in gorgeous state, surrounded by gods and funerary artefacts, among them toy boats from which Gayer-Anderson correctly guessed his age at […]

Imperial Impersonation

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

A deep-rooted desire to believe that public figures who have died in mysterious circumstances somehow managed to escape their fate and survive for years thereafter seems to be as old as history. In 1113 a party of canons of Laon visiting Bodmin in Cornwall narrowly escaped being lynched by local inhabitants when they expressed mild […]

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Double Cross

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Both these books have been prompted by the recent release of MI5 files on Eddie Chapman, a small-time crook who as ‘Zigzag’ became one of the most successful double agents run by the British against the Germans during the Second World War.

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A Pirate and Predator

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Since his death forty years ago, the soldier and ornithologist Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, DSO, CBE, has bagged four biographers. The first two, John Lord and Peter Capstick, were worshippers who believed everything their hero said and wrote. The third, Mark Cocker in 1989, had qualms, but gave his subject the benefit of the doubt. And […]

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