The First Fleet was the 11 ships that departed from Portsmouth, England, on 13 May 1787 to found the penal colony that became Australia. The Fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships & six convict transports, carrying between 1,000 & 1,500 convicts, marines, seamen, civil officers & free people and a large quantity of stores.

In the twenty-eighth year of the reign of King George III, the British Government sent a fleet to colonize Australia. … More

Born OTD in 1876, John Griffith London, AKA Jack London. The People of the Abyss is a book by Jack London about life in the East End of London in 1902. He wrote this first-hand account after living in the East End for several weeks, sometimes staying in workhouses or sleeping on the streets. In his attempt to understand the working-class of this deprived area of London the author stayed as a lodger with a poor family. The conditions he experienced and wrote about were the same as those endured by an estimated 500,000 of the contemporary London poor.

As well as being a literary masterpiece, The People of the Abyss stands as a major sociological study. While other … More

Born OTD in 1853, Italian activist and political theorist, Errico Malatesta. Malatesta spent ten years in prison and much of his life exiled from Italy, some of which was spent in London where he befriended (amongst others), another exile, Peter Kropotkin, and went on to write and produce pamphlets with Freedom Press.

“Capitalism is the same everywhere. In order to survive and prosper it needs a permanent situation of partial scarcity: it … More

Ted Gioia’s History of Jazz has been universally hailed as a classic-acclaimed by jazz critics and fans around the world. Now Gioia brings his magnificent work completely up-to-date, drawing on the latest research and revisiting virtually every aspect of the music, past and present. Gioia tells the story of jazz as it had never been told before, in a book that brilliantly portrays the legendary jazz players, the breakthrough styles, and the world in which it evolved.

Here are the giants of jazz and the great moments of jazz history-Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington at … More

Sex, pubs & rock’n’roll – King’s Cross has it all, and so much more … from a fish-&-chip shop once bugged by MI5 to London’s most enduring radical bookshop. Inside the main line station, there’s the magic of platform 9¾ … and just outside, the every bit as magical Keystone Crescent. The locality has a lighthouse, a Welsh tabernacle where services are now conducted in Amharic, social housing with a fairy-tale feel, a canal-side well built to store huge blocks of Norwegian ice, and a cruising club based in a water point which once supplied steam trains.

The area has been repeatedly re-branded ever since the 1820s, when the cinder heaps of Battlebridge were given the more … More

Born OTD in 1820, Friedrich Engels. Much of what Marx and Engels’ proposed – a state education system, a progressive income tax, the nationalisation of banks – would continue to be at the heart of political debate into the 21st century. It is no surprise, perhaps, that The Communist Manifesto (as it was later renamed) is the second best-selling book of all time, surpassed only by The Bible.

The Guardian’s editorial cartoonist Martin Rowson employs his trademark draughtsmanship and wit to this lively graphic novel adaptation of Marx … More

In this brilliant collection of diverse works essays, short stories, poems, translations which spans a lifetime’s engagement with art, Berger reveals how he came to his own unique way of seeing. He challenges readers to rethink their every assumption about the role of creativity in our lives. Paying homage to the writers & thinkers who influenced him, he pushes at the limits of art writing, demonstrating beautifully how his artist’s eye makes him a storyteller, rather than a critic.

His expansive perspective takes in artistic movements and individual artists from the Renaissance to the present while never neglecting the … More

A sect of sensual medieval heretics stumbles upon the secrets of quantum entanglement, a centuries-old wanderer thrives on rebellion as well as blood in the ruins of post-WWI Munich. Anti-austerity demonstrations lead to haunting connections with past and parallel events, while quantum computing meets ‘welfare reform’ in our near-future. Meanwhile, persecuted Jews in early 20th century Russia must decide whether extraterrestrials are allies or the schnorrers out of space. The stories of Rosanne Rabinowitz span the centuries in a remarkable mixture of European history and the familiar world of modern Britain – as well as some all-too-likely near futures.

These stories are rooted in the spirit of resistance and rebellion without ever feeling didactic. They are coloured with a … More