Aspects of Modern History
The group now has 13 members and just manages to fit the dining room of 22 Broadway Road comfortably on the second and fourth Thursday mornings at 10.30am. For most of the Autumn session we studied the First World War covering various aspects of this popular subject. The Worcestershire Library catalogue listed some 600 volumes we could have used. We were able to get a long loan of two books and supplemented these from the collective past reading of learned members! There was much sharing of anecdotes and details.
For a change we are about to study The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes which gives an account of the scientific discoveries and researches of a number of eighteenth and nineteenth century worthies among them Charles Babbage, who invented the first computer, Joseph Banks, the botanist who sailed with Cook to the Pacific, the poets Byron, Coleridge and Cowper; Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles; Edward Jenner, who discovered the smallpox vaccine; and representing the women : Fanny Burney, who survived a mastectomy without anaesthetic; Jane Marcet, a chemist who inspired Michael Faraday; Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame; and many others of both sexes. It promises rich pickings!
We plan to study some of the history of Parliament. This was inspired by the Melvyn Bragg ‘In Our Time’ programme on Radio 4 in which a group of historians discussed the Putney Debates of 1647 towards the end of the Civil War. Although the debates reached no immediate conclusion the did have considerable influence of the development of democracy in Britain. We hope to explore this further.
The last sessions before the summer break were focused on A N Wilson’s The Victorians. This is a very readable book, by no means a straightforward account of what happened, and full of comment, some of which generated lively discussion which is what we all enjoy. His chapter sub-headings are an entertainment on their own. Who would have thought Queen Victoria had no right to the throne?
Apparently no-one except the author!
Sheila Himsworth - 47146