December 2015


Desk Top Christmas Tree

The big highlight of 2015 has to have been passing my viva and becoming a doctor.  I’m still quite pleased with the way my thesis looks sitting on the shelf, even though I never got it bound (Manchester only requires electronic submission of corrected theses).  I like it the way it is.  And graduation was a lovely day – much nicer than I expected.

I’m pleased that I was appointed as an Honorary Researcher at Lancaster, which enabled me to finish a couple of articles that I’ve been working on for a long time.  One of the articles, in Notes and Queries, was published online in November, and although I’m still waiting to see a hard copy, I’m happy to count 2015 as the year I had my first peer-reviewed article published.

The year hasn’t all been great – the wilderness months in the middle with no access to any research databases were pretty rough – but it’s rounded off on a positive note.  I had plenty of A-level work for Sovereign Education and finally, I was appointed as a part time lecturer at Liverpool Hope University, a position which I will take up at the end of January 201

I’m also very proud of my involvement in The Great History Quiz: The Tudors, which was broadcast on Christmas Eve on BBC2.  I really enjoyed the programme, particularly the performance of the two ballads, which were accompanied by Jill Kemp on recorder.  Jill used to play in concerts for my late father-in-law, which was an amazing coincidence.  It’s worth watching on BBC iPlayer, I think, if you have chance, as it was very entertaining.  It will be available for few weeks yet here:

By the way, my mum took the photo, not me!

I have really only got two goals for 2016.  The first is to make a successful start to my university teaching career at Liverpool Hope.  Although I’m looking forward to it, I am a bit nervous as it’s a long, long time since I was employed to teach anyone on a regular basis.  The second goal is to complete the book of the thesis.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Great History Quiz listing in the Christmas Radio Times

Over the summer I was very pleased to be contacted by a researcher from the BBC who asked if I could suggest some ballads to use in The Great History Quiz: the Tudors.  I was happy to help out by suggesting lyrics and period tunes.  It will be interesting to see how it’s turned out when it’s broadcast in the UK on BBC2 at 9pm on Christmas Eve.

Great History Quiz – Christmas Eve Choices in the Radio Times

In a quick post this afternoon, I just wanted to draw your attention to a new blog by my friend Christopher Henstock: Early Modern Spanish Texts in Context.  Chris and I met at Manchester University, and we share an interest in the woman that one of my friends referred to as ‘that mad Spanish nun’, Luisa de Carvajal, although Chris knows far more about her than I ever will. Luisa became possibly the first female missionary of modern times when she arrived in London in the wake of the Gunpowder Plot and tried to convert people to her Roman Catholic faith. As you might imagine, this made her extremely unpopular with sections of the London community and she spent two spells in prison, the second of which probably contributed to her death.  In his new blog, Chris is going to untangle the various drafts of Luisa’s autograph religious vows.