IF YOU COUNT the number of hours terrestrial TV is currently giving over to history programmes, you are likely to conclude that we are a nation in love with the past. Thanks to series like Starkey on the Tudors, The Real . .., What the .. . Didfor Us (insert the appropriate proper noun within the general franchise) and, most recently, Georgian Underworld, it looks as though there isn't a corner of Britain's attic that hasn't been turned over by an independent producer and reconstructed by some jobbing actors in unconvincing wigs.
In book publishing, too, history has been selhng like hot cakes (the sort, presumably, you used to be able to buy hm a picturesque old street vendor in Merrie England). Kings, queens, scientists, adventurers, lovers, soldiers, virgins, heroes and rogues have all been subject to biographies of varying competence. And,