I had spent most (30 years) of my working life in educational publishing and assessment, and after taking my degree at St Andrews University, history had become a hobby. History had always been a passion anyway, inspired by some great school teachers, in a love of England, its fabric, landscape and story – and of course by the Ladybird Kings and Queens.
So, there I was, working away, when one day in 2010 I started listening to Mike Duncan’s History of Rome podcast. And there I was, inspired again. I thought that maybe I could retell England’s story – and combine rigorous, well prepared history with the uniquely personal and intimate environment the podcast offers. 8 years and 1.3 million words later the History of England has arrived at Henry VIII, and is still going strong. So much did I enjoy the experience that in November 2016 I also launched a members’ podcast from my shed, and gave up the day job. Fortunately people have liked it enough to pay up and take part.
And so my life is now spent researching, writing and speaking history. And pinching myself each morning to make sure I am awake, and that I really am able to make a living doing something I love. Although since my hobby has become my job, I am in the market for a hobby. All (polite) suggestions most welcome.
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Can’t attend the live event? Ask a question now and Burnie will answer it on Sep 22 2018 @04:30pm(ET) and we’ll let you know via email when your question has been answered.
Ok Mr Crowther, here’s some questionies for ya from both me, and my history class.
Number 1. Mr Crowther, do you believe in your heart of hearts, that King Henry VIII would appreciate and perhaps be amazed by the wonders of Communism and general Marxist Theory. I for one often entertain the thought that a King so loyal to the country as Henry VIII would be extremely happy to cultivate a Communist England but would like your expert opinion on the matter.
Number 2. What happens to be your opinion on the matter of Rasputin – Yes, yes I know this is unrelated to a history of England per se. However, I feel compelled to understand your opinion in regards to whether you believe he did in fact hold mystical powers of healing, indeed there is much evidence to support this theory but you obviously will know best.
Number 3. What do you think past monarchs (I am talking from Medieval – Tudor Era) would think of the state of the Monarchy now?
Number 4. Was inscest rife within the English courts throughout History?
Number 5. would you consider the possibility that perhaps Henry VII had strong homosexual feeling towards that excellent gentleman John de la pole I often entertain this thought when I am lying in bed (naked of course) with my husband, Romeo.
Number 6. How do you like your eggs in the morning?
Number 7. What was the social impact of the Romans leaving Britain? Did this have any lasting changes throughout the Era’s to come?
Thank you for your time Mr Crowther, I hope that you can answer our questions, they would greatly benefit our studies.
Hello Alfred,. I love your question,. I wish I’d realised a day ago that you had asked them!
Here goes then, number one…
I think Henry VIII’s ghast would be so flabbered by the idea of communism that he would probably have a fit on the spot and keel over. It contravenes everything about the great chain of being. The mere idea of the peasant running the pace…well…words would fail him.
It’s a nice thought though. Comrade Tudor
Number two…I did it at school I think. You have to understand that the Crowthers are a dull, grinding lot with a history of life in Halifax, and repressing workers in cotton mills. Or working the land in the free air of Yorkshire. Wee don’t do mysticism. He was just a hypnotic man with eh the most amazing constitution
Number 3 question, you aksed. What do you think past monarchs (I am talking from Medieval – Tudor Era) would think of the state of the Monarchy now?
They would…be.. app…ALLED!!!! Bring me my sword….Raise the Fyrd….CHARRRGEE!!!
Democracy was a dirty word – not even a word. Maybe the most intelligent and enlightened; Alfred, Henry VI maybe, possibly perhaps could get their head round it. I doubt many others
Number 4. You asked “Was inscest rife within the English courts throughout History?”
I Really doubt it (I am giving you a series of dull, unexciting answers am I not? Crowthers, you see. Halifax.) The further you go the more rule bound were societies in England I think – incest was a crime against God in a time when God was at your elbow day and night. 90% sure Anne and George had nothing to do with such a thing.
Number 5. You asked…”would you consider the possibility that perhaps Henry VII had strong homosexual feeling towards that excellent gentleman John de la pole I often entertain this thought when I am lying in bed (naked of course) with my husband, Romeo.”
I doubt Henry VII actually. I suspect Richard II, Edward II (bi sexual by the sounds of things), possibly Henry VI, maybe Richard I may have been homosexual. Of course it was simply nuclear back then. Hmm, interesting question though.
Number 6. You asked How do you like your eggs in the morning?
I say, Fried if I have them which is sadly rare. But the key thing, the essential thing – is fried bread. Fried in lard preferably, beef dripping if not.
FOOD OF THE GODS!!!!
Number 7. you asked What was the social impact of the Romans leaving Britain? Did this have any lasting changes throughout the Era’s to come?
Ah, episode 2 or 3 or something on my podcast, I forget which. What can I say? Historians these days don’t like discontinuities, for good reason. But really, there is a massive, massive economic change in the 2nd/3rd centuries, catastrophic 4th 5th. Towns disappear essentially, trade is a fraction of it’s former glory. I could go on. The podcast is the thing and look at the webiste entries to, such as https://thehistoryofengland.co.uk/2011/01/01/1-1-change-and-calamity/
and thank for the quesions again!
What does the process look like to plan an episode + How do you find the time to read all the supporting material?
Hello Daniel, and um, how long do you have?
There’s formal and informal really. I have to read history books constantly – it’;s ages since I read anything else, which is a little sad. I used to love sci fi (sigh). So I am normally reading ahead for the next period – Edwatd VI at the moment. It means when IO get to the real research I have a good foundation
Then there the specific reading for episodes – often I’ll do a plan for a few episodes ahea, which I’ll never look at again,. don’t know why I do that. But Once I have annotated my books, really the episodes suggest themselves – that’s the triumph of a chronological podcast, it drives you. The Members podcasts are much more difficult actually, because they don’t have that same driver.
I must tell you that there is no way I can read all the literature on any given subject – I am a traveller through each period, a tourist. So I do what I can. Once I am ready writing takes anything from a day to 2 days; recording half a day maybe. Essentially, I reckon about 30 hours for each episode. Another rule of thumb I heard was 1 hour of research for each minute of podcast – which is there or there abouits
HI David, are terms like “he popped his clogs” and ” a bunny most unhappy” Britishisms or Crowtherisms? Listening from Portland OR so I’m not familiar with these terms. Thank you, Kittymama.
Hi Shawn, and thank you for being a member! It is very lovely of you, you are my liberator!
When she was little, my second daughter was a magpie for anything shiny or sparkly. I am a magpie for silly expressions. Sadly, everything you hear is derivative – someone somewhere says something I like and copy. An American bloke called Chris at university introduced me to the rough end of a Pineapple for example. Some people remember useful skilsl like financial management or carpentry. I remember silly expressions.
Are you the afro styled David Crowther who went to LGS from about 1975 to 82? The many East Midlands references and even Joseph’s dreamcoat took me all the way back there from sunny North Queensland. Love the show. My questions:
1. Why do you think early Tudor dress seems to have survived in various forms (academic, playing cards, beefeaters at al) but we don’t have the same from the periods either before or after?
2. Best fictionalised portrayal of Mr Cromwell? I’m a fan of Wolf Hall but would like to dip into some alternatives.
3. Do any beer or mead recipes survive from Henry’s time?
Chris ! Hello, how the devil are you? The very same, Ah Joseph! Mr Phillips wasn’t it who was Pahroah? And Liz Messiah., wilf Messiah’s daughter, Potifah’s wife.
Happy days. The hair is still bog brush-like sadly. And I hope you are well – still in contact with Pat?
Anyway, enough. Um what a great question. There is something about the Tudors that fascinates us isn’t there? I do not know the answer to your question, but maybe it has something to do with survival – the Tudor era is when survivals of artefacts and documents increases enormously. Maybe it’s a sense of nationhood; though I’d argue that England felt a sense of nationality well before Tudor times, yet under Elizabeth we really feel separate. But I do not know. Answers on a postcard…
I like Wolf Hall’s Cromwell because I like Cromwell. But it is WAAAYYY too positive. I suspect the one in a Man for All Seasons is the best. Leo McKern wasn’t it? He was tough, straighforward – but not unfair actually.
I’m a bit rubbish on stuff like food, but yes I am sure there are real enthusiasts for that sort of thing. I think Mead recipes suirvive from way back don’t they? Beth Goodman does some stuff I think. Sorry, not my sweet spot – I need to go to more Tudor fairs. Do thjey have Tudpr fairs in Queensland?
Anyway lovely to hear from you – come along and become a meber at thehistoryofewngland you can have a freebie in memory of old times!
I can’t decide between asking you to describe the shed where you create your podcast or asking you who your favorite English monarch is. So instead I’ll ask you how long you plan to do this podcast. Is there a time period where you will wrap things up: early modern period, the 19th century? And is there a different podcast you plan to do after this one?
You can ask me anything! Anything at all Mark. The shed is a bit dull – there is a tailors dummy in it draped in a flag of St George and a Sri Lankan garland, apart from that it’s just me, spiders and rats in the rafters. There’s a picture at https://thehistoryofengland.co.uk/about/ but it’s dull, it’s a converted garage
And don’t know. I was going to end with Victoria, 1901. But now I figure I’ll go at least to the most significant date in English history, which of course is when Leicester Tigers win the John Player cup. OK, maybe not – possibly end of WWII? Not sure.
I am planning to do a podcast called ‘TYhe Tjhings that Made England’, with a pal., We have done 4 episodes; I’;,m not sure they are quite good enough. But probably we will release it…I am not very spontaneous is the problem, and it’s a chat thing…we’ll see! I’d like ot do historical walking tours too..not sure how well it;d work…
I’d like to know who your favourite English Monarch is!
Hmm…favourite as in most admired, or would most like to go the pub with? I always come back to Alfred the Great really for the former – such an impressive man, such breadth of vision, deep understanding of what makes a nation strong. How clever of him to know that the key to surviving the Vikings was to convert them to Christianity – once you share the same values war might not end but you speak the same language.
Pub-wise though – I reckon William Rufus would have been good for a night out on the town.
You’ll get no softball questions from me:
1. What’s your favorite Monty Python skit?
2. What’s your favorite Led Zeppelin song?
3. What’s your favorite color? (“Blue…no, green!” is not an acceptable answer.)
It’s that just the best every bit in all of English comedy. With out exception. ‘He;s not he messiah he’s just a naughty boy’ pales into compariosn with “blue..no, green”. Ha!
O dear, give me a minute…
Right I am back. Favourite Monty P skit…National Cheese Emporium I think. ‘…it’s a bit runnier than you’ll like sir… no no bring forth le fromage de la belle France…’ etc.
Led Zep song ach that’s difficult. Just one? can I chose my favourite 50?
Oh dear. hum. Bron-y-aur Stomp? Anything with Bron-y-aur in it.
No! – Green!
Top 50 might take a while to type, so how about top 5 then?
Top 5. Humph. I love Led Zep 1 and III most. Good Times Bad Times would have to be there. I have a soft spot for When the Levee Breaks – on IV – such a good song. Oh dear. How long have we got? What about yours? :
Hmmm…I’d say When the Levee Breaks is one. Probably Kashmir, Rock and Roll, Since I’ve Been Loving You, and Immigrant Song would finish the list. Ask me again next week and I’d probably give you 5 different songs. 🙂
Mr Crowther as an American I am so perplexed at the concept of monarchy that I hardly know how to form this question. In your opinion do people really believe there is some sort of god given superiority that monarchs and their royal descendants possess or is it just class or status worship? The need to have a physical representation of something better than themselves. Difficult question I know but I would be very interested in your opinion.
You have to consider the context of the society I htink – monarchy has changed very much according to each period
Back in germanic tribes time, there was not concept of divine right as it were; in some cases there was evenm an elective principle., But their descent was from the Gods – king lists go back to Woden for example. But in these days and in Normal and Angevin days the king was first amongst equals
Having said that, it begins to change with Charlemagne maybe – when Pope Leo crowns him, supposedly transferring a special relationship with God – almost part of God’s divinity by the nnointing
The Divine right of kings has it’s heydey in the 17th/18 centuries (though not in England – we chop their heads off, and in Engl;and it is always clear hat king is subject to law) ; after that Monarchs become part of a system
The analogy is often of a body – the monarch is the head. So it’s not necessarily that kings after Charles I have a divine superiority (though they have divine blessing through the coronation); it’s just that society cannot conceive of itself without a head.
Hello David – thank you for your fantastic podcast which has kept me company whilst doing the laundry lo these many years. I love it – you make me laugh out loud and I recommend this podcast to everyone I meet who likes podcasts. I have two questions for you:
1. What was your job before you lost it most recently and why did those jerks fire you?
2. Would you consider bringing your children back on your episodes for bit parts? They were so much fun!
Keep the episodes coming! I love them. I like the guest episodes too!
And thank you very much. If you all didn’t listen I suspect I would have stopped now – there are only so many episodes you can do for your Mum….! So, it’s a team effort.
oooh, controversial question. I worked for Pearson for 11 years and loved it all. I worked in educational publishing, education systems reform work, and for the Edexcel exam board, the international bit. I was made redundant – things change all the time. It was the best thing that could have happened – I was tired, however lovely the job (and it was lovely). They were generous, it gave me the chance I needed to do something different. and I am happier than I can say.
I must bring the kiddies back! It’s just planning now, ‘cos they have been released into the wild, and the tracking devices are a bit faulty. I need to make more of an effort – they are still quite cute.
And thanks for the question
Oh good! So not jerks then. Happy to hear that! And yes, I sort of thought your children might have moved on to university or wherever. Mine is 5 and I can’t imagine him leaving home but I know it will come sooner than I wish it.
Not at all. The bloke who made me redundant kept saying sorry…I wanted to kiss his cherry lips, but it didn’t seem appropriate.
Children leaving is just not good. It’s really not something to look forward to, it’s like having an arm chopped off,. the world is a little less colourful.
It is quieter, it has to be said. Jane and I have conversations now sometimes.
And they do come back. So it could be worse.