Music, Diamonds and Conspiracy – Fowkes and friends in India
Bob Fowke

Music, Diamonds and Conspiracy Fowkes and friends in India, 1701-1788
Bob Fowke
This book is based on the correspondence of several generations of the Fowke, Holland and Walsh families during the eighteenth century. Closely related to each other, they were representative of the wider British merchant class in this period, growing in wealth and sophistication but, in general, without much landed property. Their fate was closely intertwined with the East India Company and with Robert Clive when he came on the scene, and this book sets them in that wider context. Much of their correspondance ended up in the British Library as the 'Fowke Papers' and the 'Ormathwaite Collection', two of the largest collections of personal letters surviving from the eighteenth century.
They were a mixed bunch and included gamblers and fraudsters as well as honest merchants both male and female. What united them was their intellect or their intellectual pretensions, and their curiosity about the world, and in this they were perhaps less representative of their class.
Published: April 2021
Paperback: 204 pages
Price: £11.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425449

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Several were passionate music lovers and instrumentalists, several invented things, for instance systems of shorthand, one became a member of the Royal Society. As the century progressed, they came to inhabit a world of wealthy amateurs but it was still a world of early death and bitter quarrels as well as of pleasure. The women’s letters are especially interesting in this respect.

Bob Fowke is a prolific writer of historical non-fiction and children's reference books, published by Hachette, Oxford University Press, Collins and Heinemann. His book, The Real Ancient Mariner, uncovers the identity of the man who shot an albatross and inspired Coleridge's poem, The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.

Paul Binding, novelist, critic, poet and cultural historian.
Bob Fowke generously allows his forebears to speak for themselves so that we readers can get to know them through both their words and their actions, and make our own minds up about the differences between these. At the same time he draws the societies which formed his people and on which they themselves had impact - Britain and India - with admirable informative clarity. A particular feature of the book was its presentation of his characters’ feeling for (and accomplishment at) music.

Toby Green, Professor of Precolonial and Lusophone African History and Culture at King’s College London.
A fascinating family history. Bob Fowke’s focus on the women involved casts the gendered history of empire in an important new light. This is a book which brings a new perspective onto the English imperial venture in India.

Martin Rudwick FBA, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego.
CA fascinating insight into the lives of some of those who worked for the East India Company in the 18th century, their wives and families, and their tangled relations with Indian maharajahs, English politicians, and a host of other characters.

The History of Place Names in England and Worcestershire
Dr Mike Jenkins

A ground-breaking exploration of the origins, meaning and history of place names in southern Britain, The History of Place Names in England and Worcestershire throws new light on the people who coined the names and those who later modified them in waves of successive migration.
Dr Mike Jenkins’s extensive research is based on an integrated multidisciplinary approach; he collates evidence from: the study of place names, written history, archaeology, anthropology, the evolution of language, genetic population studies, geology and evidence of the environment and natural history of the past. Scenes and settlements are described as if the reader were looking out at them over the centuries from a well known landmark and this brings the research sharply to life.
In Part 3, Worcestershire acts as a paradigm for southern Britain as a whole. This closer detail allows Dr Jenkins to demonstrate the extraordinary potential that the study of the origins and meaning of place names holds for our understanding of the folks who lived in a particular area in the past. He includes guidance or a ‘history tool kit’ that the reader can apply to any county or locality of England, thus bringing relevant local history to your doorstep.
Published: Apr 2021
Paperback: 240 pages
Price: £11.99
ISBN: 978-1-913425-78-4

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Mike Jenkins is a retired medical doctor and medical educationalist of over thirty years experience in both Primary and Secondary (hospital) Care. He has undertaken original research and published many research papers including leading articles in the British Medical Journal and other peer reviewed journals.
He has wide experience in writing, lecturing and the development of educational programmes. Over the last thirty years he has enjoyed learning, writing and lecturing on history, anthropology, evolutionary biology and genetics, natural history and toponomy. Indeed, this generalist role has been helpful in collating evidence from such diverse disciplines.

Writing on Shakespeare’s Walls:The Historic Graffiti in the Guild Chapel, Stratford-upon-Avon
Pamela Devine

Writing on Shakespeare's Walls
The Historic Graffiti in the Guild Chapel,
Pamela Devine
The historic graffiti in the medieval Guild Chapel in Stratford-upon-Avon gives a wonderful insight into a world where writing on the walls was routine.
Barely visible without a torch, it has remained largely unnoticed and unexplored until now, despite the building’s close association with William Shakespeare and his family.
The Chapel is unique within Stratford: no other building in the town has such a broad range of historic graffiti. It tells the story of the Chapel and its famous neighbour in a completely new way, shedding light on the innermost thoughts of the people who have come and gone from the building for over five hundred years, some of whom may have been Shakespeare’s family and friends, perhaps even Shakespeare himself.
Published: Nov 2020
Paperback: 112 pages
Price: £8.50
ISBN: 978-1-913425-20-3
Images: 60 B/W

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The Chapel’s medieval graffiti reveals the hopes, fears and beliefs prevalent on the eve of Shakespeare’s birth; later graffiti reveals the changes in the way the Chapel was used during his lifetime, and changes in belief after the Reformation as graffiti gradually became more about recording a visit or remembrance. The absence of more modern graffiti tells its own story, and reflects the different attitude towards graffiti in churches, particularly as the Victorian period progressed.
The walls really do talk!