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Would Bletchley Park have recruited YOU? Try our Chessboard War puzzle!

Posted on: 23/11/2017 with tags: Bletchley Park Brainteasers, Enigma, Puzzles, world war II, 20th Century, WW2

When scouring the land for top-level code breakers, the Bletchley Park recruiters left no stone unturned. As well as approaching the country’s fi nest mathematicians, they cast their nets much wider, interviewing sixth-form music students who could read orchestral scores, chess masters, poets, linguists, hieroglyphics experts and high society debutantes fresh from finishing school. To assess these individuals they devised various ingenious mind-twisters – hidden codes, cryptic crosswords, secret…

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How the Victorians Changed Christmas by Anna Mazzola

Posted on: 24/11/2016 with tags: Anna Mazzola, christmas, Christmas Cards, Christmas Tree, Crackers, Father Christmas, The Unseeing, Victorians, Christmas, Victorian

Hate Christmas? Blame the Victorians. At the beginning of the 19th century, Christmas was barely celebrated. It wasn’t just Ebenezer Scrooge who begrudged his clerk the day off – many didn’t consider the 25th December to be a holiday. There were no crackers, no cards, no Santa, and no Christmas trees, at least not in England. By mid-century, however, Christmas was big business. Charles Dickens himself was partly to blame. A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, helped to popularise among the newly…

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‘The Britain we live in today is the Britain of Attlee’s creation’ John Bew on his new book, CITIZEN CLEM

Posted on: 09/09/2016 with tags: biography, Citizen Clem, Clement Attlee, John Bew, Labour Party, non-fiction, Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, 20th Century, World History, WW1, WW2

The gallons of ink spilled on Winston Churchill – and the huge appetite for books about him – have created something of an imbalance in our understanding of twentieth-century Britain. Not only does Clement Attlee’s life deserve to have a rightful place alongside the Churchill legend. It is also more emblematic, and more representative, of Britain in his time. It is difficult to think of another individual through whom one can better tell the story of how Britain changed from the high imperialism…

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Ten Cunning Methods of Poisoning by Karen Maitland

Posted on: 17/08/2016 with tags: author blog piece, karen maitland, poison, Wicked Children, Medieval, Tudor

The obvious method of poisoning someone was to add the toxin to the victim’s food or drink, but it was not always possible, especially when the rich and powerful employed food tasters and the poisoner might not have access to the kitchens or if he did, would immediately be suspected. So the successful poisoners of history had to come up more ingenious ways to get the poison into their victims. Killing Ointment – This was made from arsenic, vitriol, baby’s fat, bat’s blood and hemlock and was int…

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