OTD in 1840, the transportation of British convicts to the New South Wales colony is abolished. The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia’s Founding by Robert Hughes is a history of the birth of Australia out of the suffering and brutality of Britain’s convict transportation system. It also addresses the historical, political and sociological reasons that led to British settlement.

The British Government began transporting convicts overseas to American colonies in the early 17th century. When transportation ended with the … More

Happy Birthday to local Young Adult writer and screenwriter, Catherine Johnson. A forensic crime thriller set in Revolutionary Paris. Young surgeon Ezra McAdam must hasten to Paris to rescue his friend Loveday Finch and her charge Mahmoud, the Ottoman prince, who have been caught up in the Revolution. On the way, Ezra experiences the war first hand on the battlefields of Northern France, where his surgical skills are in high demand by the beleaguered French army. Meanwhile, in Paris, the guillotine is busy, and the medical world is finding the surfeit of bodies useful to its research into the seat of life.

Ezra is not persuaded by the controversial theories of his French colleagues, but his mind is on other matters. Finding … More

The Legacy of the Blues : A Glimpse into the Art and the Lives of Twelve Great Bluesmen. Samuel Charters is a musicographer, novelist, poet, and producer of jazz and blues records who for many years has also been seriously interested in every aspect of black music. His book, The Country Blues, was the first to be published on the subject.

He began making field recordings in the South in the early 1950s and has subsequently produced many recordings, both of … More

Book talk next Tuesday (21st May), at PM Bookshop, 6pm, with art historian, Christine Lindey. £3 tickets in advance (redeemable against purchase of book). ‘Art for All’ reveals a forgotten or marginalised area of 20th century British art. Christine Lindey delves into the fascinating treasure trove of British socially-committed art from the 30s through to the Cold War, and of which most people will be unaware. She demonstrates that the work of these artists deserves to be rediscovered and enjoyed.

In her lavishly-illustrated volume, she also examines the circumstances that turned these individuals into socially committed artists, often swimming against … More

A fascinating journey through the history of railways, packed with first-hand accounts of innovation, triumph, & tragedy. From the earliest steam engine to the high-speed bullet trains of today, A Short History of the Railway reveals the hidden stories of railway history across the world – the inspired engineering; the blood, sweat, & tears that went into the construction of the tracks; the ground-breaking innovations behind the trains that travelled along them; and the triumphs and tragedies of the people who made the railway what it is. Chart the history of the Trans-Siberian railway, the Orient Express, & Maglev trains and the impact of world events on the development of trains and the railway.

Explore the pioneering railway lines that crossed continents, the key trains of each era, and the locomotives that changed the … More

Malcolm Hulke was a successful writer for radio, television and the cinema from the 1950s to the late 1970s. His work included episodes for Armchair Theatre and The Avengers, and 54 episodes for Doctor Who, broadcast between 1967 and 1974. He was also a socialist, belonging for a time to the Communist Party of Great Britain, and his political views fed into his work.

Just as radical in its intentions, and arguably Who fandom’s founding document, was Hulke and Dicks’ 1972 paperback The Making … More

A fascinating journey through more than 5,000 years of seafaring history in this essential guide to the most impressive seafaring tales, explorers, and maritime environments. For more than 5,000 years, the seas have challenged, rewarded, and punished the brave sailors who set forth to explore it. This history of the seas and sailing tells the remarkable story of those individuals – whether they lived to tell the tale themselves or not.

From the early Polynesian seafarers and the first full circumnavigations of the globe, to explorers picking their way through the … More

Born OTD in 1947, Irish civil rights leader and former politician, Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. After engaging, on the side of the residents, in the Battle of the Bogside, she was convicted of incitement to riot in 1969, for which she served a short jail term. After being re-elected in the 1970 general election, Devlin declared that she would sit in Parliament as an independent socialist.

Having witnessed the events of Bloody Sunday, Devlin was infuriated that she was later consistently denied the floor in the … More