Education


The History Boys

Many years ago, the head of the history department at my school was lecturing the pre-university class. Suddenly the door of the classroom burst open and the junior history master rushed in.

"You bastard!" he screamed. "You've been sleeping with my wife."

Within moments there was chaos. Blackboard dusters - the old wooden-backed ones - were flying. The two men were wrestling on the floor.

And then, suddenly, it stopped. The two men stood up, turned to the twenty-two very frightened boys, and told them: "Write down what happened." Unsurprisingly, they got twenty-two conflicting accounts.

"Now," said the head of the department, "what do you make of your primary sources?"

It is thanks to this lesson that I know that absolute historical truth does not exist, except in the mind of God - and of course, in the imagination of the historical novelist!

 

Did You Know?
This month four hundred years ago, the famed Mayflower began its journey across the Atlantic. After abandoning its sister ship, the Speedwell, which was not seaworthy, the Mayflower finally set sail in September. The people on the Mayflower all belonged to an obscure sect called the Brownists. The founder, Brown himself, had already abandoned the sect and returned to the king’s Church of England. The Pilgrim fathers were woefully badly prepared for their journey, lacking proper farm implements and livestock. The miracle is that they survived at all!




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