E P Thompson in 2023

Three decades after he died, the historian E P Thompson occupies an ambiguous position in British intellectual life. While his reputation as a commentator has declined, he remains someone who has to be referred to, but with little real engagement. His historical work has lasted and if as a Marxist he suffered from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Maoist Chinese move into capitalism, the current wave of protest movements in the UK echoes his own protest activity and makes bringing his work back into focus a priority. The recent reference to Thompson in the Political Quarterly aligned him with Cowling, Pelling and Namier in a debate over how political history has produced an alleged split between High and Popular history. This is hardly the case with Thompson. Trevor Fisher reviews aspects of his academic life.

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Paulet, Lockdown and After

Amyas Paulet was the most stringent jailer of Mary Queen of Scots, and there is a large amount of correspondence from Paulet to Walsingham while he was in charge at Tutbury Castle and Chartley Manor. The letters are not entirely complete, and in compiling them, the Catholic priest Father Morris commented “it is plain that many of the later letters of this series are missing, and that they were purposely withdrawn from the collection is shown by the significant erasure of the item “A bundle of letters from Sir Amyas Paulet succeeding Sir Ralph Sadler 1585 to 1586”. (J Morris The letter books of Amyas Paulet, London 1874, p3).

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The Queen and the Brewer 3

Francis Walsingham has become a legendary figure in the history of spying, but while he was a genius, his genius was based on a combination of hard work and the ability to exploit strokes of good fortune. The story of Henry Fagot demonstrates this. Discovering the Throckmorton plot so preventing a Catholic invasion of southern England only happened because someone in the French embassy in London, self named Henry Fagot, contacted Walsingham and passed him copies of secret letters between Mary Queen of Scots and her French supporters. Walsingham’s skill was to work out that the crucial link outside the Embassy was Francis Throckmorton. Walsingham worked a lucky break.

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How Not to Matriculate to University

I first applied to university at age 18 – my birthday is the 6th October – and entered Warwick University on my 21st birthday, October 6th 1967. The three years in between were a painful example of how a working-class boy with little cultural capital experienced the admissions process in the mid 1960s – and sadly my experience has many lessons to give over half a century later. The university admissions system then was an obstacle race for working class children – and it still is.

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Who Was Henry Fagot?

Walsingham’s reputation as a spy catcher is based on building a spider’s web of agents and using counter espionage to control potential threats to Elizabethan government. But in 1580 and for some years to come, he was groping in the dark. As Conyers Read comments, “In the year 1580…. It is pretty clear that his secret service was not yet developed. He had to do what he could with the means at his command.

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Walsingham – More Than an Elizabethan

Sir Francis Walsingham, Secretary of State to Elizabeth 1, casts a long but indistinct shadow over history. Currently seen mainly as a founder of counter-espionage and often referred to as a ‘spycatcher’, not only is the wider contribution Walsingham made to Elizabethan politics obscured in general literature on the reign, but is a precursor to struggles of the twentieth century.

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Villa Before Villa Park

Villa Park was not the original home of Aston Villa - although the team played at the site of the current ground in the early days, it was based in Perry Barr for 21 years. The little acorn which grew into the mighty tree of Aston Villa did so on a farmer’s field in a semi rural location near to Perry Barry station despite the name– and how Villa developed in this unusual place, near to but nor actually in Aston – but then settled in Aston is quite a story.

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Marlowe: Reviewing Hoffman’s 1955 Book

While both Hoffman's theory has proved controversial and has kept his reputation as a thinker open to the charge of eccentricity, his legacy is important for Marlowe studies - through the Hoffman prize – providing a continuing role in stimulating debate. In this essay I will leave the wider issues pending, to focus on his theory to explain why the book remains an important part of the history of the controversies around Marlowe.

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Labour’s 1918 transformation

The history of the Labour Party divides into two phases. As any history book says the first stage began with the founding of the Labour Representation Committee on the weekend of 26-27th February 1900. However only 2 Labour MPs were elected in the 1900 election and progress was slow. 29 were elected in 1906 forming the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), but after the two elections of 1910 the Party still only had 42 MPs.

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