The year of big, scary life changes.  The year in which my husband is likely to retire and in which I need to become the main breadwinner for the family.  The year in which, 20 years after starting at the University of Manchester the first time round, I should earn the title of doctor.

234 So to end 2013, I got some new bookshelves.  I need them because in the last couple of months I’ve accumulated so many books that I’ve run out of space to put them.  Two of the shelves on the bookcase in my bedroom are now devoted to post-1950 history, as I was given a lot of high-quality books by a friend who could no longer use them.  I’ve also had to buy quite a few texts for my work and, of course, there are the ones that Father Christmas brought for me last week.  New bookshelves were a must.

And to begin 2014, I put some books on them.

235The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that it required the movement of my printer from my right to my left.  This may not seem significant, but it created a strange sense of space.  Working in there this morning, it felt like there was a lot more room.  I stopped for a moment to consider it, deciding that the space in the corner had been redundant space, because it was trapped between my Spanish dictionary and the printer.  Now it isn’t.  I’m not sure how ‘working round a corner’ is going to pan out in the long run, but for now it seems quite pleasant.


On a more research-based note, I am pleased to report that my chapter finally seems to be coming together.  I’m slightly more confident of it than I was.  This week, I’ve been working very much part-time, alternating it with playing games with the family and trying to get some fresh air between the raindrops and gales.  Somewhere along the way, I have found 6500 words of a chapter, which is interesting because it’s certainly not yet what I’d call a chapter – a lot of it is still in notes, or just lists of primary or secondary quotations.  When I mentioned this to my husband the other day, he commented that I had brain incontinence!  Puddles of words that don’t have any flow.  But, today, what prose there is is finally beginning to coalesce.  I’ve read several articles (I could do with going to the library but I don’t think I’m going to get there before the children go back to school next week), ordered yet another pile of books from Amazon and in the evenings, I’ve been cataloguing and analysing ballads, a few at a time.  Progress, I think.

Yesterday I began an 8 week mindfulness course, a present from a friend for Christmas intended to help me with my depression and stress since I can no longer take anti-depressants.  I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
Publication date: Tuesday 14th May 2013
Thank you from the President of the HA

In response to a speech by Michael Gove on 9th May 2013, the following letter from 54 historians was published in The Times on 14th May 2013. As President of the Historical Association, I would like to thank the signatories for their support’.

Professor Jackie Eales

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

In defence of The Historical Association

This letter was published in The Times today:

As historians from the Higher Education sector, we deplore Michael Gove’s extraordinary and misleading attack on the Historical Association in his recent speech at Brighton College. Mr. Gove suggested that the HA favours a dumbed-down or infantilised version of history teaching in schools. Citing a single sentence in an article by an experienced teacher in the Association’s journal Primary History, he claims that ‘the Historical Association suggest students learn about the early Middle Ages by studying the depiction of King John as a cowardly lion in Disney’s “Robin Hood”.’ In fact, the journal piece is a very thoughtful one which explains how
students can be helped to realise that they should not take film depictions of history at face value. Mr. Gove at any rate ignores the important statement that ‘Publication of a contribution in Primary History does not necessarily imply the Historical Association’s approval of the opinions expressed in it.’

Mr. Gove would have us believe that the HA is an ideologically motivated organisation dedicated to the erosion of academic standards. In fact, its 6000 plus members have widely divergent political views but are united by their love of history and their devotion to bringing high quality scholarship to schools and the wider public. The key skill that the study of history teaches is the ability to evaluate evidence. Regrettably, what Mr. Gove has demonstrated in his speech is a remarkable capacity for manipulating and distorting it.

Dr Sophie T. Ambler, King’s College London

Dr Sara Barker, University of Exeter

Professor Jonathan Barry, University of Exeter

Professor Eugenio F. Biagini, University of Cambridge

Dr Adrian Bingham, University of Sheffield

Dr Helen Birkett, University of Exeter

Professor Lawrence Black, University of York

Dr Elizabeth Boyle, University of Cambridge

Professor Kathleen Burk, Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary History,
University College London

Dr John-Henry Clay, Durham University

Dr Timothy Cooper, University of Exeter

Dr Pat Cullum, , University of Huddersfield

Professor Martin Daunton, University of Cambridge

Dr Simon Ditchfield, University of York,

Kenneth F. Duggan, Doctoral Student, King’s College London

Dr Ann-Marie Einhaus, Northumbria University

Dr Steven Gunn, Merton College, Oxford

Professor Sarah Hamilton, University of Exeter

Dr Freyja Cox Jensen, University of Exeter

Dr Helen Foxhall Forbes, University of Exeter

Dr Felicity Heal, Emeritus Fellow, Jesus College, Oxford.

Professor David Hendy, University of Sussex.

Dr Clive Holmes, Emeritus Fellow and Lecturer in History at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford

Dr Matt Houlbrook, Magdalen College, Oxford

Dr Bronach Kane, Bath Spa University

Professor Evan Mawdsley, Senior Professorial Research Fellow, University of Glasgow

Dr Helen McCarthy, Queen Mary University of London

Dr George Molyneaux, All Souls College, Oxford

Dr Staffan Müller-Wille, University of Exeter

Jamie Page, PhD student, St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies

Dr Hugh Pemberton

Senior Lecturer in Modern British History

University of Bristol

Dr Catriona Pennell, University of Exeter

Dr Tim Rees, University of Exeter

Dr Matthias Reiss, University of Exeter

Dr Catherine Rider, University of Exeter

Dr Laura Sangha, University of Exeter

Dr Levi Roach, University of Exeter

Dr Mark Roodhouse, University of York.

Professor John Shepherd, University of Huddersfield

Dr Nicholas Terry, University of Exeter

Dr. David Thackeray, University of Exeter

Professor Patricia M. Thane, Institute for Contemporary British History, Kings College, London

Professor Andrew Thorpe, University of Exeter

Dr. Hereward Tilton, University of Exeter

Dr Daniel Todman, Queen Mary University of London

Laura Tompkins, PhD Candidate, University of St Andrews

Professor Richard Toye, University of Exeter

Professor Paul Ward, University of Huddersfield

Dr Cordelia Warr, University of Manchester

Tosh Warwick, PhD candidate, University of Huddersfield

Professor Jane Whittle, University of Exeter

Dr Alun Withey, University of Exeter

Professor Matthew Worley, University of Reading

Professor Chris Wrigley, Professor Emeritus, Nottingham University

The following also wish to be associated with the letter:

Dr KH Adler, Department of History, University of Nottingham

Dr. Sascha Auerbach, Department of History, University of Nottingham

Ann Garfield, PhD Student, University of Nottingham

Dr Robert Alexander Hearn, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Universita degli Studi di Genova, and formerly University of Nottingham

Professor Michael Jones, Correspondant de l’Institut, Emeritus Professor of Medieval French History, University of Nottingham

Dr Conor Kostick, Advanced Research Fellow, University of Nottingham.

Dr Joe Merton, Teaching Associate, University of Nottingham

Matt Phillips, PhD student, University of Nottingham

Laura Sumner, PhD student, University of Nottingham

Dr. Claire Taylor, Associate Professor in History, University of Nottingham.

Professor John W. Young, Professor of International History, University of Nottingham

I’m about to go and meet a friend for coffee (well, in my case, tea) to discuss trying to put together a pnael for the EMREM symposium on Birth, Sex and Death (  I have no idea if I’ll even be able to get a babysitter to let me get to the conference, but the fact that there are now a few of us early modernists in the department makes me feel like we ought to stick together and that it might make it easier for me to think about going to some of these conferences that I look at occasionally.  Somehow it’s not as scary when there are a few of you!  I could almost get excited about this….