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".
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.
The Birds Have Flown
King Charles I came to the throne in 1625, utterly convinced that he had been put there by God and that his governance must therefore be beyond question. The newly created United Kingdom of England and Scotland had a Parliament that sat at Westminster but its sole function – as Charles saw things – was to enact his policies and raise the necessary funds for any wars or other forays that incurred expense.
Summer: A Painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo
A painting of a human head in which all the features are fruits or vegetables might sound like something produced by Salvador Dali or René Magritte, so it comes as a surprise when one realises that this work was created more than 400 years ago.
Alexander Selkirk: The Original "Robinson Crusoe"
Alexander Selkirk is usually credited as being the original of the character of Robinson Crusoe in Daniel Defoe’s novel of 1719. Although Defoe’s book was fictional, and owed much to the author’s vivid imagination, it did contain elements of fact which relate to the life of Alexander Selkirk, as relayed by word of mouth and written accounts at the time of his rescue from having been marooned on a remote island for more than four years.
To Zephyrus, The West Wind
Psyche you bore, not too heavy a load Took her to Cupid, the Ancients did sing. The best way to fly, for her just the thing,