Richard Cavendish

The History Which Never Happened

Mythology of the British Isles

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Methuen 304pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

This New Age Business

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King Lear’s father was a royal prince named Bladud. As a young man he contracted a repulsive skin disease and was sent away from court to be a swineherd. Unfortunately, the pigs began to suffer from the disease as well. Poor Bladud was horrified, but then the pigs went wallowing in the mud at a place where hot springs bubbled up from below ground. Noticing that it did them good, Bladud went wallowing himself, and was cured. He returned to the court and when he became king he founded the city of Bath at the springs. His swine were consequently the forerunners of all the best people in 18th-century England, who flocked to Bath to take the waters. Bladud ended his life as the victim of the first recorded flying accident in Britain. He made himself a pair of wings, soared up in the air above London, crashed and was killed.

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