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?
Only one man was allowed to live in the royal palace of China, known as the Forbidden City: the emperor. All the other inhabitants were either women - wives, concubines or servants - or the famous palace eunuchs. Nearly all eunuchs were castrated when they were still only boys. But there were just a few who chose to be castrated after they became men, and even had children of their own. They did it for the money. 




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