The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

Archives for the ‘Culture’ Category

The Culture and Science of the UK

Category: Culture

Literature As a result of the Norman Conquest, French displaced English as the language of the upper classes. Scholars continued to write in Latin. However, the English literature of this period is memorable and quite significant. The main literary genre was the romance, a story in verse or prose dealing with chivalric adventures. There are […]

English Humour

Category: Culture

“When I use a word,’’ said Humpty Dumpty,* “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’’ It is to be expected that a literary country like England should excel in verbal wit.* It is verbal buffoonery, a juggling with the sound and sense of words, a peculiarly English delight […]

Practical Jokes

Category: Culture

The hoax, the rag, the spoof, the jape are as popular today as in every other period of English history. Something has to happen, to be done to the embarrassment or surprise or discomfort of the selected victim, who must take it in good part or lose face as a bad sport.” Apple-pie beds* continue […]

Nursery Rhymes

Category: Culture

It is typical of the perverse workings of oral tradition that few of the nursery rhymes should have originally been intended for the young. Many of them are unrelated snatches of worldly songs, adult jests, lampoons, proverbial maxims, charms, and country ballads. The mother or nurse of former days did not croon her ditties because […]


Category: Culture

As a reflection of a nation’s humour the limerick can hardly be bettered, ranging tongue-in-cheek as it does from whimsy to ribaldry. Nobody remembers when the first limerick was composed, or why it took its name from the county of Limerick in Ireland. The best examples have always depended for their survival on oral tradition […]


Category: Culture

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the British colonial aristocracy and rich merchants filled their houses with valuable paintings, sculptures, furniture and ornaments which they brought back from their travels abroad and particularly from the colonies they robbed so mercilessly. So their collections can be seen today in museums, country houses, palaces and castles. There […]


Category: Culture

In the second half of the nineteenth century there existed a number of trends in European continental painting — impressionism, expressionism, fauvism, which later, in the twentieth century, gave way to cubism, futurism and surrealism, and eventually to abstractionism. The foundation in 1885 of the New English Art Club and the Glasgow School (about the […]


Category: Culture

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries English musicians had a great reputation in Europe, both for their talent and for their originality. Today there is a revival of interest in these neglected composers. It was their experiments in keyboard music which helped to form the base from which grew most of the great harpsichord and […]


Category: Culture

By the end of the nineteenth century Great Britain was abandoning the aims of peace and retrenchment proclaimed by the Liberals. Foreign affairs were deeply affected by the coming of imperialism. As the world was divided up amongst imperialist powers, the newer powers, rapidly coming into the first rank of capitalist states, found themselves left […]

Broadstairs Remembers Dickens

Category: Culture

Every year the attractive old sea-side town of Broadstairs, close to the easternmost tip of Kent, puts the clock back a hundred years. Local inhabitants — including children and teenagers — walk through the narrow streets in colourful Victorian costumes, curtseying to passers-by in the best 19th-century tradition, and obviously enjoying the part they play […]

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