Tory Historian has many pleasant and not so pleasant memories of the great Brotherton Library of the University of Leeds, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The latest Alumni magazine does, indeed, have an article on the subject complete with a time line but neither appears to be on the website.


Suffice it to say that the library grew out of a private collection of books, formed by Sir Edward Allen Brotherton, later Lord Brotherton of Wakefield and could not have existed without his munificent gift. Thereafter, many other private collections were added. One example is the extensive Russian archive; then there is the Cookery collection; but, it seems, no detective story collection. How sad.

The main reading room was based on the British Museum Reading Room, which, alas, is no longer used for anything to do with books. But the Brotherton one is still there. Perhaps, Tory Historian will be welcomed back there one day. Hmm. A thought to be considered.


June 22, 1941 - Germany invades the Soviet Union, disregarding the infamous Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939. Of course, it is important to recall that what was actually being invaded in those first days was eastern Poland that had been the USSR's portion of the deal.

Tory Historian, being the offspring of a lexicographer, finds dictionaries almost as exciting as maps. (see previous postings passim) Therefore, the news that the grand project of creating a dictionary of the Akkadian language, last spoken in Mesopotamia a couple of millennia ago, has been completed.

The dictionary was put together by studying texts written on clay and stone tablets uncovered in ancient Mesopotamia, which sat between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers - the heartland of which was in modern-day Iraq, and also included parts of Syria and Turkey.

And there were rich pickings for them to pore over, with 2,500 years worth of texts ranging from scientific, medical and legal documents, to love letters, epic literature and messages to the gods.
It took ninety years but that is hardly a problem, considering the language and its dialects, Assyrian and Babylonian have been out of use.

Tom Fort reviews an interesting new book, When in Rome, the story of the Eternal City through the eyes of visitors who wrote about it. Few visitors can rival the historian Edward Gibbon, who spent 18 weeks in Rome and wrote later in his Memoirs:

It was at Rome, on the [fifteenth] of October[,] 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the bare[-]footed fryars were singing [V]espers in the temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the [C]ity first started to my mind.
Though there is some doubt as to the precise date, the very idea of conceiving such an undertaking while sitting in the ruins of the Capitol is astonishing.

There is, Tory Historian can assert, something extraordinarily exhilearating about the moment one can say for the first time: I am walking in the Forum Romanum.

To descend from the sublime though not to the ridiculous, one of Tory Historian's favourites among the Ngaio Marsh novels is also called When in Rome.



Tory Historian managed to miss the Duke of Edinburgh's 90th birthday but can do no better than to link to an article by that excellent journalist, Ruth Dudley Edwards. It is mostly about the difference between the Duchess of Cambridge, a seemingly sensible, balanced individual on the one hand and the Princess of Wales (Princess Di, as she is known to the media) and the Duchess of York (Fergy, as she is known to the media). Both of these, as the article points out, were "vulnerable, ill-educated and rather dim young women" with Diana possessing more than her fair share of manipulativeness.


There is, however, a very telling paragraph about the Duke of Edinburgh, who has had to put up with media attacks throughout most of his life and has managed to ignore them or, at least, not to let them affect his life and his work.
So affected was Oprah by Sarah's despair at having appeared on television drunkenly offering access to ex-husband Prince Andrew for vast sums of money and subsequently at her exclusion from the royal wedding, that she decided to help her rebuild her life. So Oprah has financed Finding Sarah, a reality-TV series in which experts ("We're here to help") advise Sarah on how to make a real beginning to her new journey. This requires that along with the watching millions she learns "why I kept self-sabotaging all these years". She's "moving on with strength and positivity". Sarah speaks fluent American gobbledygook.

One can imagine the gritted teeth at Buckingham Palace, where the Duke of Edinburgh has celebrated his 90th birthday by holding a charity reception and chairing a conference of military colonels. While he's been reducing his more demanding commitments on the grounds that "it's better to get out before you reach the sell-by date", he works on. And as his erstwhile daughter-in-law shares newly remembered childhood hurts, Prince Philip remains tight-lipped about what it was like to grow up rootless and virtually parentless and to have to abandon the promising naval career he adored in order to be a consort. His generation believes in duty and doesn't whinge, which is why he and the Queen found the behaviour of soul-barers Sarah and Princess Diana bewildering.
This blog wishes the Duke Edinburgh a very happy, if somewhat belated, birthday and hopes for many more.


June 6, 1944

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