Dr Bob Nicholson's Research Blog|bob.nicholson@edgehill.ac.uk

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    Nineteenth-Century Nuts: The Anatomy of a Victorian Lad’s Mag (Part 1)

Nineteenth-Century Nuts: The Anatomy of a Victorian Lad’s Mag (Part 1)

Nineteenth-Century Nuts
The Anatomy of a Victorian Lad’s Mag

It’s all gone tits up. Nuts, the beleaguered lads’ mag, has finally cracked under the twin pressures of outrage (from those who didn’t read it) and indifference (from those who once did). As a Guardian-reading feminist I should probably be quite glad to see it go, but the historian in me feels a pang of sadness. I work on the history of popular newspapers and magazines, so whenever a long-running publication closes its doors I feel compelled to mourn its passing. Even when the odious News of the World went to joing the great newsagent in the sky I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate the death of a 160 year old publication, no matter how toxic it had become. Nuts doesn’t have anything like this kind of history, but its death still feels like the end of an era. Front magazine closed its doors in February, the company behind Penthouse filed for bankruptcy last Autumn, and the circulation figures of most other men’s magazines are in freefall. Now that one of the genre’s flagship publications has sunk, titles like Zoo, FHM and Loaded seem sure to follow. For better or worse, the lad’s mag is on its last legs.

I was seventeen when Nuts was launched, […]

By |April 15th, 2014|1 Comment|
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    Talk: Digital Detectives – Bridging the Gap Between the Archive and the Classroom

Talk: Digital Detectives – Bridging the Gap Between the Archive and the Classroom

About 5 years ago, when I first started teaching, I led a small seminar group of 1st year history students. In the final class of the year we had a chat about how things had been going – whether they’d enjoyed their first year at university; if there was anything that they’d been struggling with; how their experiences compared to what they’d expected a history degree would be like. They were mostly fairly positive, in a shrugging, non-committal kind of way. However, after a bit of prodding one of the students said something interesting – something that has stuck with me ever since. “No offence”, he said –never a particularly promising start to a sentence – “but I’ve been a bit disappointed. I thought I was coming to university to learn about history, but all we do is talk about historians.”
This complaint – “I want to learn about history, not historians” – has stuck with me for two reasons. Firstly, I didn’t do a particularly good job of responding to him at the time. It was one of those questions that just caught me a bit off guard, like the time a student put his hand up in the […]

By |April 12th, 2014|2 Comments|

Musical Prize Fight

In September 1859 a “Grand Village Band Contest” was held in a place called Loftus – a small moorland-village on the North-Yorkshire coast, not far from the house where I grew up. Music filled the air and crowds poured in from miles around to witness the spectacle. Among them was John Hollingshead, a London journalist and theatrical impresario who would later go on to produce the first collaboration between Gilbert and Sullivan. At this point he was making his way in the business under the tutelage of Charles Dickens by contributing articles to Household Words and All the Year Round. His account of the “Musical Prize Fight” at Loftus appeared in the latter magazine in November 1859. It’s a delightful account of an outsider’s visit to the area and features a Dickensian cast of local characters.

119 years later, in 1978,  my parents unearthed a copy of the article in a second-hand bookshop. My Dad (a historian) began to explore the history of the Loftus Band Contest, while my Mam (an artist) started illustrating some of the scenes from Hollingshead’s account. Her pen & ink drawings are fabulous. She’s far too modest to make this comparison herself, but the characterisation and delightful background details remind […]

By |February 26th, 2014|1 Comment|
  • History and Humour: British and American Perspectives

History and Humour: British and American Perspectives

  • November 27th, 2013

A copy of History and Humour: British and American Perspectives has just landed in my pigeon hole. It’s a new book packed with interesting essays exploring the relationship between history and humour, plus an article by […]

  • Gale Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013

Gale Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013

  • September 30th, 2013

The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals has just announced the next Gale Fellowship competition. I was fortunate enough to win the inaugural competition. The prize money and the archive access were great, but more […]

  • Welsh Newspapers Online – 6 New Titles Added.

Welsh Newspapers Online – 6 New Titles Added.

  • July 1st, 2013

Excellent news! Welsh Newspapers Online have added six new titles to their database:

Cambrian News 1860 -1910
Cambrian 1804-1910
Cardiff Times 1858 – 1910
Monmouthshire Merlin 1829 – 1884
South Wales Daily Post 1893 -1900
Weekly Mail 1879-1910

I was really […]

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