I am a retired librarian, having spent most of my career in academic and industrial libraries.
I write on a number of subjects and also write stories as a member of the "Hinckley Scribblers".
Emperor Caracalla of Rome
The history of the Roman Empire contains several instances of worthy emperors producing far less worthy sons. One notable example was Commodus, who succeeded Marcus Aurelius in 180. Only 31 years later history repeated itself when Caracalla became emperor on the death of his father, Septimius Severus.
The Ultimate Sacrifice of Captain Oates
“I am just going outside and I may be some time”. Those were the last recorded words of Captain Lawrence Oates, who stepped into a blizzard in Antarctica on 16th March 1912 and was never seen again. The recorder of those words was Captain Robert Falcon Scott, who kept a diary until shortly before his own death some two weeks later, also defeated in the attempt to survive the terrible conditions of the southern continent.
Captain Morgan and an Unwise Pig Roast
Captain Henry Morgan was a notorious privateer and pirate during the 17th century. He suffered an unfortunate setback when a celebratory pig roast cost him a lot more than he had bargained for.
Canal Boating in the UK
The canals of the UK were built for one purpose only, namely to provide a means of transporting bulk cargoes from mines and quarries to factories, and from factories to ports. Now that many of the mines, quarries and factories are no more, and those that remain are linked by rail and road, the surviving canal system has become a mecca for pleasure boaters as well as a haven for wildlife.
The Canterbury Tales: An Introduction
Any attempt to provide a complete literary analysis of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in 1,000 words or so is doomed to failure. The book runs to some 17,000 lines of (mostly) verse, comprising 24 tales, a long introductory General Prologue and a number of other prologues to tales and other linking material. The analysis therefore has to be at a more general level, with examples brought in to illustrate the important points.
Tam O'Shanter, by Robert Burns
Robert Burns (1759-96) is best known for his short poems in lowland Scots dialect, many of which were written during the years 1785 and 1786 and published in Kilmarnock in 1786 as “Poems Chiefly in the Scottish dialect”, the volume generally being known as “the Kilmarnock edition”. However, he later composed and edited many songs and ballads, some in dialect and others not, that are generally less well known although they do include some that are very well known indeed, such as “Auld Lang Syne” and “Scots Wha Hae”. One of these later poems is “Tam o’ Shanter” which, at 228 lines, is one of the longest poems Burns ever wrote.
Train Robbery at Big Springs, Nebraska
On 18th September 1877 there was a daring raid on an express train at Big Springs, Nebraska. The gang got away with a fortune in gold coins, but their criminal career did not have much longer to run.
The Antonine Way, Scotland
Most people have heard of Hadrian’s Wall which was built on the orders of Emperor Hadrian across northern England and completed around the year AD 128. The Emperor had decided that there was a limit as to how far north the Empire could be extended, and this was it. Although he was happy for trade to continue with the people living north of the Wall, he saw no point in imposing Roman rule on them and undertaking the expense of so doing.