Category Archives: British History

The Historical Tourist visits Walmer Castle

Between 1539 and 1543, King Henry VIII, who feared an invasion after divorcing his Spanish Queen Catherine of Aragon and splitting from the Catholic church, constructed a chain of defensive castles. Built to a common design, the three artillery forts created to protect a stretch of beach along the Kent coast consisted of a central circular keep with lower semi-circular bastions that were arranged symmetrically around the keep to allow several tiers of guns to be mounted. Although one of the three, Sandown Castle, was almost entirely destroyed in the nineteenth century, Deal, the largest of the three, and Walmer survive.

Walmer Castle is often overshadowed by the better known Dover Castle, six miles away, but the Historical Tourist chose to visit Walmer because of its unique history. Although the castle was occupied by Royalists and put under siege by Parliamentarians following the execution of Charles I in 1648, its design had become old-fashioned by the end of the seventeenth century and Walmer Castle began to be used as the official residence of the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1708. Holders of the post are usually appointed for life, but it is not a hereditary title. The office continues to be “seen as a high honour to be conferred on those who have given especially distinguished service to the State”, so it is not surprising that previous Lords Warden include the Duke of Wellington, Viscount Palmerston, Sir Winston Churchill, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

The Historical Tourist has to admit that while she certainly respects this illustrious company, her interest in Walmer Castle is primarily due to another Lord Warden, the Rt Hon. William Pitt, who was born 252 years ago today! The son of the Earl of Chatham, Pitt the Younger became the youngest man ever to become Prime Minister when he took office in 1783 at age 24. Remembered for his gift at managing the nation’s finances and for his eloquence in the House of Commons, Pitt is also one of the longest serving Prime Ministers, in office from 1783-1801, and again from 1804 until his death in 1806.

View from Walmer Castle

In a note following his well-written and extremely readable biography of the late Prime Minister, author William Hague wrote that he “felt closest to [Pitt], perhaps, in Walmer Castle, where the panelled landing and the dining room are not dissimilar from how they would have been in his time, and it is possible to imagine him sitting at the head of the table, entertaining military visitors, humouring Lady Stanhope, and going out onto the wide terrace to look for signs of activity at sea” (p 17 *). With such an endorsement, I couldn’t help passing over Deal and even Dover for the official residence of the Warden of the Cinque Ports!

Although the Willingdon room, near the entrance of the castle, contains objects associated with Pitt the Younger, including a mahogany desk and a campaign chair, named because its metal frame meant that it could be taken apart for traveling, Walmer Castle’s most interesting displays are the rooms associated with the Duke of Wellington. Wellington was a frequent visitor who called the castle the “most charming marine residence”. The proximity of Walmer Castle to the port of Dover made it ideal for entertaining foreign royalty, but it was also enjoyed by the British Royal family. Victoria visited the castle at age sixteen and returned seven years later, as Queen, with Albert and two of their children. They stayed for a month.

Today Walmer Castle is home to the Lucas Collection of Wellington Memorabilia, which was donated to the property in 1966. The collection contains portraits and busts, but I was more impressed by the other objects featuring the Duke’s likeness, which included pot lids, paperweights, and even a doorstop!

The smaller Wellington Museum room contains a number of objects associated with the Duke’s Wardenship, including a pair of his famous Wellington boots and the instructions written to the shoemaker about their design. More on the history of Wellington boots can be found in an earlier entry here. The collection also contains a death mask of the Duke, who died at Walmer Castle on September 14th, 1852 at age 83.

Successive Wardens usually bought furniture from their predecessor’s estate, but Lord Palmerston refused to do so and the late Duke’s items were moved to his Apsley House residence so they were not dispersed. After W.H. Smith became Warden in 1891, he initiated the Indenture of Heirlooms by an Act of Parliament so that historic items would remain at Walmer Castle. As a result, when Lady Reading, in the 1930s, attempted to restore Wellington’s bedroom to the way it had been at the time of his death, the original contents of the room were returned to the castle by the fourth Duke of Wellington. Wellington’s bedroom, which is decorated with period appropriate wallpaper, now holds his campaign bed and the armchair in which he died.

My favourite resident is remembered in the Pitt Museum room across the hall. Pitt became the first commoner appointed to the post in 1792. Deeply in debt, he accepted the position because it came with an annual salary of three thousand pounds, and when his finances forced him to give up his country house he moved to Walmer permanently in 1803. The Pitt Museum is smaller than the displays on Wellington, but I enjoyed viewing the Gainsborough-Dupont portrait, political cartoons, and letter written by Pitt that adorn the walls and the leather covered gaming chair and writing desk that likely belonged to him.

Walmer corridor

During his Wardenship, Pitt created the corridor that runs the full length of the castle, which was painted a vivid teal by the succeeding Granvilles, and added the room later used by the Duke of Wellington as a bedroom to the castle as a winter apartment because it was the warmest part of the castle. He also made important contributions to the castle’s gardens with the help of his niece and hostess Lady Hester Stanhope.

The Dining Room at Walmer Castle

Other rooms at Walmer Castle include the royal bedroom suite used by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert during their month long visit in 1842, the 1920s/30s style drawing room, and the dining room mentioned in William Hague’s biography. The dining room continues to be set with a blue minton service that was used by the Queen Mother, Walmer Castle’s first female Warden, and the grounds contain a garden that was commissioned by English Heritage as a ninety-fifth birthday gift.

Queen Mother's Garden at Walmer Castle

* William Hague. William Pitt the Younger. London: Harper Perennial, 2005.

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The King’s Speech

By now most will have heard of The King’s Speech, the critically acclaimed film that tells the story of The Duke of York (later King George VI)’s struggle to overcome his stammer. Although Bertie, as he was known to his family, had previously tried a number of treatment options, it is Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue’s unorthodox combination of breathing exercises, tongue twisters, and talk therapy that finally proves effective. When the King dies, older brother David ascends the throne as King Edward VIII, but his infatuation with Wallis Simpson, a twice divorced American woman, threatens to bring down the government. With World War II just around the corner and Bertie first in the line of succession, Bertie’s ability to speak is more important than ever.

The King’s Speech was one of my favourite films of 2010 and I left the theatre wanting to know what had really happened. My research began with a copy of Mark Logue and Peter Conradi’s book The King’s Speech: How one man saved the British Monarchy. Based on the diaries kept by Lionel Logue, and on his correspondence with George VI, the book was written after filming began, meaning it isn’t the source material behind the Academy Award winning film. While the movie dramatizes George VI’s struggle, the book was written by Mark Logue, Lionel’s grandson, to “tell the story of my grandfather’s life from his childhood in Adelaide, South Australia, in the 1880s right the way through to his death”.

Conradi and Logue’s book is a great source and complements the movie nicely, but the critical and popular success of the film has ensured that it receives more press than most period dramas and, as a result, that there is more written about its historical accuracy.



In order to examine them all, it is prudent to divide criticisms into two categories; the accuracy of the central relationship between Logue and Bertie depicted in their treatment sessions, and the historical events that serve as the background for their relationship, including the abdication and the rise of Hitler.

Most articles criticize The King’s Speech for its treatment of relevant events but pay little attention to the central relationship of Bertie and Lionel. The main change here is a tightening of chronology. The film begins their sessions in 1934, but Bertie actually began visiting Logue in 1926. By the early thirties his speech had improved so dramatically that he rarely visited Logue’s Harley Street premises, but when the abdication crisis resulted in his ascension to the throne, George VI again turned to Logue for help.

Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) and Bertie (Colin Firth) have a session.

Logue’s diaries did not record his sessions with the King, but scriptwriter David Seidler drew from his own experiences as a stutterer to decide on both the treatments Bertie would have tried, and on the methods Logue used with his patients. Seidler’s theories were confirmed when he learned that his uncle was a former patient of Logue’s and that the talk therapy depicted in the film was one of the methods the speech therapist had used.

Although it makes for a humourous scene in the film, Lionel’s wife Myrtle did, in fact, know about her husband’s most famous patient. She was even “presented” at court to Bertie’s parents in a show of gratitude for Lionel’s work and wrote an article for an Australian newspaper about the experience!

Another humourous moment is more accurate. At the film’s climax Bertie broadcasts a speech immediately after Britain’s Declaration of War against Germany but Lionel remarks that he made one mistake. While the exchange that follows did take place, it actually occurred after another speech given by the King in December 1944 to mark the disbanding of the Home Guard. The only mistake was a stumble over the ‘w’ in weapons.

“Afterwards Logue shook hands with the King and, after congratulating him, asked why that particular letter had proved such a problem.
‘I did it on purpose,’ the King replied with a grin.
‘On purpose?’ asked Logue, incredulous.
‘Yes. If I don’t make a mistake people might not know it was me.’” (p 200 *)

While the timeline has been compressed and the lack of formality in Bertie and Lionel’s friendship is likely exaggerated, they did remain friends until the end of their lives and the film is essentially accurate in this portrayal. However, press have focused on the historical events that provide the background for the film, and here The King’s Speech takes more liberties.

Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) supports her husband.

The biggest change is that Winston Churchill actually supported Edward VIII (later given the title the Duke of Windsor) during the abdication crisis. This was more dangerous than the film makes out because Bertie’s brother was not just spoiled and naive; he was also suspected of being a Nazi sympathiser. Even after his abdication and forced exile the British Government thought that the Duke of Windsor’s willingness to enter an alliance posed a threat and he was sent to govern the Bahamas. In his draft of a telegram informing the Prime Ministers of the Dominions that the Duke had been appointed Governor of the Bahamas, Churchill wrote “The activities of the Duke of Windsor on the Continent in recent months have been causing His Majesty and myself grave uneasiness, as his inclinations are well-known to be pro-Nazi and he may become a centre of intrigue.” The sentence was omitted from the final version.

As shown in The King’s Speech, Edward VIII’s father even doubted his eldest son’s ability to rule. Before his death, George V, said about his younger son Bertie and granddaughter Elizabeth, “I pray to God that my eldest son [Edward] will never marry and have children, and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne”. He also made a prediction about Edward, confiding to Prime Minister Baldwin that “After I am dead, the boy will ruin himself in 12 months.”

Churchill’s support of Edward VIII during the abdication crisis meant that George VI was, in turn, not a great supporter of Churchill. The Royal Family were in favour of a policy of appeasement, and after Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement he was invited to appear on the Palace balcony with George VI and his wife in a show of support. This endorsement of foreign policy by the Royal Family has been called “the most unconstitutional act by a British sovereign in the present century” by historian John Grigg.



Although the film undoubtedly takes liberties with historical facts, It remains a moving film with wonderful dialogue, a great cast, and a musical score that should be celebrated. It is important to acknowledge, discuss, and understand the inaccuracies present in The King’s Speech, but these deviations from historical fact don’t take away from the central story of Logue and George VI’s friendship and the King’s success in overcoming his crippling stammer.

Verdict: Its Oscar success was well-deserved. This is a film that everyone should see and the book is a wonderful complement for those interested in learning more.

The King’s Speech is released on DVD & Blu-Ray today.

The King’s Speech: How one man saved the British Monarchy by Conradi and Logue is available now.

* Peter Conradi and Mark Logue. The King’s Speech. Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2010.

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Mailbox Monday: Christmas edition

After taking a hiatus to concentrate on coursework, I’m returning to Truth in Fiction with a Christmas edition of Mailbox Monday. I don’t usually receive enough books to participate in the weekly meme, which encourages readers to share the new books they’ve acquired each week, but during family get-togethers after Christmas I was well-supplied with enough fiction and non-fiction to ward off the boredom of a long Canadian winter.

Mailbox Monday began at The Printed Page but is now being hosted on a monthly basis as the ‘Mailbox Monday Blog Tour’. For the month of January it can be found at Rose City Reader.

Sir William Garrow: His Life, Times and Fight for Justice has been on my wish list for awhile so I was thrilled to find it under the tree! Written by legal historian John Hostettler and Richard Braby, a descendant of Garrow’s, it details the life of Sir William Garrow, an eighteenth century lawyer who changed the English criminal trial. Garrow spent the first ten years of his career as a defender at The Old Bailey and became known for his aggressive cross-examination, but later in life he changed sides and conducted prosecutions against political radicals while his colleague, Lord Erskine, defended them and became the more celebrated lawyer. Garrow’s early career has been dramatized in the wonderful British drama Garrow’s Law, which concluded its successful second season in December.

For my birthday several months ago my Aunt gave me Aristocrats, Stella Tillyard’s biography of the Lennox Sisters who became influential in Georgian England, so it was only fitting that I received Tillyard’s other titles, A Royal Affair and Citizen Lord: The Life of Edward Fitzgerald, Irish Revolutionary from her for Christmas.

A Royal Affair is concerned with King George III of England and his siblings, primarily his sister Caroline Mathilde whose affair with a court doctor ended in tragedy. Also featuring the king’s brothers, who delighted the gossip-hungry press by partying and carrying on disastrous relationships, Tillyard’s biography suggests that George III’s refusal to give up America can be attributed to his desire to control the colonists in the same way that he tried to rule his siblings.

Her other title, Citizen Lord, chronicles the life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, a Dubliner who fought with the British in the American War of Independence, visited revolutionary France, and took part in the 1798 Irish rebellion. A blurb on the back of the work writes that Lord Edward “grew up as vigorous as Garibaldi and passionate as Byron”. That description alone is enough to pique my interest!

Continuing with the Irish theme, I received Morgan Llywelyn’s 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion. I first borrowed this fictionalized account of the Easter Rising from the library last March as part of the Ireland Reading Challenge, and am thrilled to have my own copy of this fantastic novel to re-read and keep. You can find my review of it here!

My final historical addition is Kate Pullinger’s Mistress of Nothing. The novel, which won the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Award recognizing excellence in Canadian literature, is loosely based on the writings of Lady Lucie Duff-Gordon. Lady Duff-Gordon moved to Egypt in order to help manage her tuberculosis and published Letters from Egypt in 1865. Pullinger’s novel places Sally, the lady’s maid accompanying her, as the narrator who eventually must learn that despite the new freedoms life in Egypt has granted her, she is ultimately mistress of nothing.

I was also fortunate enough to receive a pair of fantasy novels to read when I’d rather escape to another world than the past. I’ve been meaning to read Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman for awhile and asked for the novel this Christmas in the hopes of finally sitting down to read it. This collaboration by two of the biggest names in fantasy was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in 1990 and concerns the efforts of the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley to postpone the end of the world after the apocalypse is announced.

Lev Grossman’s The Magicians tells the story of a teenager, Quentin Coldwater, disappointed in real life and secretly fascinated by a series of fantasy novels set in a magical land of Fillory. Life becomes much more interesting when he’s admitted to a college of magic in New York and discovers that Fillory is real, but he soon realizes that the reality is darker than his childhood fantasy and more dangerous.

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The Historical Tourist visits Wilberforce House

251 years ago William Wilberforce was born in a red brick house in Kingston-upon-Hull. The third child of a second son, he was a frail boy with poor eyesight but the only male heir of the Wilberforce line. The successful family business of trading wood, iron, and cloth meant that after the deaths of his father, uncle, and grandfather during his youth, William inherited enough money to live comfortably as a gentleman for the rest of his life. Instead he turned to politics and used his familial connections to the community and his fortune to get elected as a Member of Parliament for Hull at the age of 21.

At 26 he experienced his “great change” and converted to Christian evangelism. Searching for a common ground between politics and his religious beliefs, William met with a group of committed abolitionists who believed that he was the ideal man to lead their campaign in Parliament. Wilberforce’s status as an MP independent of party ties, his eloquence, and his friendship with Prime Minister Pitt made him uniquely suited for the job, but Wilberforce initially hesitated because he didn’t think that he was equal to the task. He slowly came around to the idea and later wrote: “God, Almighty has sent before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners”.

Wilberforce gave his first speech on abolition in 1789 and continued to present his bill in the House of Commons, facing defeat each time. In 1807 the bill abolishing the slave trade in Britain was passed and Wilberforce received a round of applause from his fellow MPs. The abolition of slavery itself in Britain occurred on July 26th, 1833, just three days before Wilberforce’s death.

Wilberforce House, where William lived until he was elected to Parliament, was sold in order to pay off debts incurred by his sons, but Hull Corporation bought the building in 1903 and turned it into a museum. It opened in 1906, making it the oldest anti-slavery museum in the world! The museum was renovated and re-opened in 2007 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of abolition. The Historical Tourist has a particular interest in Wilberforce and abolition, so visiting the museum, in the spring of 2009, was a thrill. Wilberforce House contains exhibits on slavery and the trade, the abolition campaign, the aftermath, and on modern day slavery.

Anyone who read my article on George Brown House,will not be surprised to learn that my favourite part of Wilberforce House was the library. Belonging to William and his sons, the collection was broken up in the twentieth century but visitors can view the remainder of the collection and examine Wilberforce’s books, journals, and letters through an electronic kiosk. The library is also home to a wax figure of Wilberforce created in 1933 by Madame Tussad’s for the centenary of his death. It’s a nice touch, but the Historical Tourist admits that she found the wax Wilberforce more eerie than interesting.

Other exhibits on Wilberforce present a balanced view of the man, celebrating his great successes but also mentioning the criticism he faced for supporting restrictive measures against trade unions, among other things. I enjoyed the exhibits, but did leave a little disappointed that there wasn’t more about his life and personality. Instead Wilberforce House is devoted entirely to the slave trade and the abolition campaign, showing the kidnap of Africans, the ‘Middle Passage’ across the Atlantic, and the punishing life of a plantation slave.

Draped from the ceiling, one orange flag with bold text presents visitors with a horrifying statistic:“12 Million African people were forcibly transported across the Atlantic and sold into slavery.”

I was most interested in the abolition campaign. One display case contained the famous image of Josiah Wedgewood’s chained African pleading, “Am I not a man and brother”. Wedgewood cameos were made by the pottery company using an image modeled in relief by William Hackwood. Many cameos were sold while others were given to those who supported the cause, including President of the Pennsylvanian Society for the Abolition of Slavery in America, Ben Franklin! The pieces became such a huge hit that they were worn decoratively, prompting abolitionist Thomas Clarkson to comment: “fashion, which usually confines itself to worthless things was seen for once in the honourable office of promoting the course of justice, humanity, and freedom.”

Wilberforce House also displays the Brooks slave ship model that was used by William during his speeches to Parliament to demonstrate the conditions experienced by slaves during the middle passage. Fellow abolitionist Clarkson argued that Britain should trade goods for profit with Africa instead of people. When he spoke in public meetings across the country he brought a chest filled with natural and manmade African goods along as a visual aid. Clarkson’s chest is now on display in the museum.

Sadly the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, in 1833, did not immediately result in improved conditions for slaves because slavery was replaced with a binding system of apprenticeship. Children under the age of six were freed instantly, but other ex-slaves were forced to serve an apprenticeship that was intended to prepare them for their freedom. Instead it permitted masters to continue taking advantage of their workers.

Wilberforce House’s final rooms include a look at Hull’s human rights record, as the first council to sign up for Amnesty International and as the home of the ‘Wilberforce Institute for the study of slavery and emancipation’, which opened in 2006. More sobering, are exhibits on modern day slavery. A 2005 estimate from the International Labour Organization puts the estimated number of people enslaved today at 12.3 million, a figure that includes child labour, bonded labour, and human trafficking.

For more information on modern day slavery visit Antislavery.org. To learn more about the slave trade in the eighteenth century and the abolition campaign, browse the digitized library of related documents, including essays by Wilberforce and Clarkson, here.

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Vienna, 1814

Vienna, 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna by David King. Crown Publishing Group, 2009.

One of the most famous images of the Congress of Vienna is Jean-Baptiste Isabey’s enduring portrait of the representatives, including the Duke of Wellington and Austrian Prince Metternich, gathered around a table. It isn’t hard to imagine them working diligently on a territorial dispute, but as David King explains in his non-fiction work Vienna, 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna, the biggest misconception about the event is that it was a Congress at all! Although many European delegates arrived for the Congress, it never sat as one. In fact, most of the business was discussed in private informal sessions between the Big Four (Austria, Russia, Britain, and Prussia) and France, or during decadent feasts and balls. One attendee, Prince de Ligne, who was known for his wit, famously commented “Le Congres danse, mais ne marche pas” (The Congress dances, but does not progress).

King’s book not only details the lavish feasts and balls, it also examines the romantic affairs that took place during the nine month Congress and looks at intelligence gathering in 1814. I was especially captivated by the description of Prince Metternich’s network of spies, who frequented salons (drawing rooms where the intellectual, political, and social elite gathered to converse) and intercepted letters, reading, copying, and re-sealing them, before delegates began to catch on and took measures to prevent intelligence from falling into Austrian hands.

King spends most of the book detailing the frivolity and excesses of the Congress but, despite its imperfections, ultimately concludes that the Congress of Vienna did have a positive and lasting impact on European history. The peace treaty signed on June 9, 1815 resulted in what Henry Kissinger called the longest period of peace Europe has ever known. It was also “the first international peace conference to discuss humanitarian issues” and resulted in a condemnation of the slave trade, and discussions on literary piracy and the civil rights of Jews.

Purely by chance, I began reading Vienna, 1814 during the preparations for the G20 summit in Toronto, and couldn’t help considering similarities between the two events, both of which were paid for by the hosting country and seemed to involve unnecessary excesses. Fortunately, the G20 didn’t last nine months, although it also seems to have accomplished a great deal less than the Congress of Vienna did.

History has provided a dynamic set of characters in the handsome Russian Tsar Alexander, French delegate Talleyrand, who had helped Napoleon gain power but resigned in 1807 because he did “not wish to become the executioner of Europe”, and Metternich, who likely arranged the marriage between Napoleon and Marie-Louise of Austria. With such strong personalities involved, it is no wonder that bickering over who entered a room first gave rise to the myth that Metternich had cut extra doors into his office so representatives could enter at the same time!

The personalities are there but it is King who brings them to life as characters by describing their physical presences as well as their temperaments and quirks. Instead of simply stating what historical figures discussed, King uses letters and other sources to extrapolate conversations between characters. The result is a researched work of non-fiction, complete with endnotes, that reads like a novel. I found the book to be so engaging with its balance of nineteenth century gossip and politics that I’m surprised there isn’t a film, or at least a documentary, based on the book!

The one area where the author fell a little short was in his examination of the long and short term consequences of the Congress of Vienna. He does note that it created a lasting peace using a system where leaders met periodically to work out their differences, through what diplomatic historian Charles Webster called the first ever attempt “to regulate international affairs during a time of peace”, but I felt that the book would be better served by a more detailed look at the consequences of the Congress. This was my only criticism of an otherwise informative and fast-paced read though.

Verdict: A great popular history book that will inform and entertain with its balance of gossip and history.

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Sunday Spotlight: The Duel for Europe 1800-1830

‘The Duel for Europe 1800-1830’ is an exhibition created by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Although there is a physical exhibit, which contains artifacts such as an 1811 pistol, made by a leading London gunmaker, and the Treaties of Vienna and Paris, it is also, much to the delight of this history enthusiast who lives in Canada, an online exhibition.

‘The Duel for Europe 1800-1830’ “highlights one of the most important periods in the history of the Foreign Office, when it helped to end the devastation of war and begin one of Europe’s longest periods of peace.” The exhibition, made up of images and explanatory text, begins with the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars that consumed Britain, and the need for a new system to bring peace. Further pages summarize the 1809 duel between the Foreign Secretary, George Canning, and the Secretary for War, Lord Castlereagh, which I have previously discussed on this blog, and their different approaches to foreign policy.

Discussing the idea behind the exhibit, Chief Historian Patrick Salmon explains, “we thought of it as a literal duel, obviously, but also as a metaphorical duel; a duel between Britain and Napoleon for the future of Europe, and a duel between two alternative views of foreign policy”, referring to Canning and Castlereagh. Both men served as Foreign Secretary, but while Castlereagh worked through persuasion in one-on-one meetings and favoured a policy of international agreement, Canning preferred to use public oratory and was viewed as an isolationist.

I was surprised to learn that the Foreign Office regularly employs historians, such as Chief Historian Patrick Salmon. Aside from providing briefing support on historical issues, the historians’ roles include publishing the Official Record of British Foreign Policy since World War II, with an emphasis on documents from the last thirty years that have not yet gone to the National Archives.

‘The Duel for Europe 1800-1830’ is the first exhibition by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, but Salmon hopes that this will be the beginning of several exhibits. I hope so too.

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Mailbox Monday

I’ve been reading other bloggers’ weekly posts but today marks the first time I’ve taken part in Mailbox Monday, a weekly meme hosted by The Printed Page. The aim is to provide a “gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week”, but the site warns that “Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.” Although the meme is often used by book bloggers receiving review copies, I’ve chosen to include books I’ve purchased.

I received just one book this week, but it’s one that I’m very excited about. The Younger Pitt: The Years of Acclaim is the first book in a three volume biography of William Pitt the Younger, the man who became Prime Minister of Britain at age 24.

Thanks to my beloved Alumni library card, I was able to borrow The Younger Pitt last month from the University library, but, at over 650 pages, it’s a dense read and I reluctantly returned it unfinished. Fortunately, used copies are available through a number of booksellers online and I found a copy at Prairie Archives, an Illinois bookstore specializing in history books.

Ehrman’s The Younger Pitt: The Years of Acclaim was originally published in 1969 and is the definitive biography of the important statesman. In power between 1783-1801 and again from 1804-1806, Pitt rehabilitated the nation’s finances following the costly American War of Independence, and was in power during the war with France. Ehrman’s first volume covers Pitt’s early life and career, finishing with the Regency crisis, and continues the story in subsequent volumes The Consuming Struggle and The Reluctant Transition

I greatly enjoyed reading William Hague’s more recent biography and look forward to reading the rest of this more comprehensive work!

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