Episode 75 – Childhood

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

“There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boys life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure”    (Mark Twain – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer). Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected where you will discover the history of things you did not know even had a history, like the history of the bubble or the history of sweat.

For this episode let us join the Queen of the Stone Age, Professor James Daybell  and the Admiral of the Archive, Dr Sam Willis, as they take you on a magical journey of wonder, through a time when frogs could become princes, animals could talk, pirates buried treasure and sought mermaids, and carpets could fly; welcome to the unexpected history of childhood!

From Ben Johnson’s moving epitaph “On my First Sonne” written in 1603 to the card sharp ‘Canada’ Bill Jones and the Mississippi riverboats in the mid-nineteenth century, from the accidental death of Jane Shakespeare in 1569 to the exploits of John Dee’s children in 1582, and from the Dutch painter Pieter Bruegel’s ‘Children’s Games’ painted in 1560 to the Lisle Papers and the precocious James Basset’s wonderful correspondence to his mother Honor Grenville in the 1530s, James and Sam explore the sanctuary of childhood.

As our two historical Boy Scouts come of age they discover that this unexpected history is actually all about: myths and stories, innocence and resilience, magic and tricks, memory and wonder, play and education, socialising and culture, and of course happiness and angst.

Listen out as James loses (or wins – we’re not sure!) a £50 bet to Sam! And also keep an ear tuned for James’ favourite childhood accidental death…probably could have said that better.

“Sweet childish days that were as long

As twenty days are now”        (William Wordsworth, “To a Butterfly”)


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