Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Writing - A present from history

I wonder how many children have been given a diary for a birthday or Christmas? I remember lots of girls having cloth bound diaries with small locks and tiny keys that boys were always trying to 'borrow' so that they could read the secrets within the little books. All good clean fun.

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Anne Frank

On June 12th 1942 Anne woke in Amsterdam and dashed to see her birthday presents. She was 13 years old and living in occupied Holland. A month later the family were forced into hiding and she recorded the whole story in her diary. In fact she kept the diary going until August 1944. The following spring she died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen.

Even in death getting published was hard and it wasn't until it was translated into English and printed with the title of The Diary of a Young Girl. It has now been published and translated into 60 languages.

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Some years before Anne Frank, in the Regency period in Britain (1811 - 1820), there were a number of rebellious occurrences that were recorded in a variety of forms. There were secret letters and newspaper research that became sources of information during this rebellious period. 

There were at least six instances of insurrection and civil disobedience during those turbulent few years.

Luddites 1811 - 1816

Gangs of weavers across the Midlands and the North feared the growth of automation and the subsequent loss of jobs. They wrecked equipment in several factories.

Government hijacking plot

In November and December 1816 meetings were held in London's Spa Fields demanding political reform of the Prince Regent. There was arson and violence as  group marched towards the Bank of England.

Blanketeers 1817

In March around 5000 unemployed weavers known as blanketeers because they carried blankets, attempted to march from Manchester to London to petition the Prince Regent for food. They were dispersed by the army at Stockport and several were arrested.

Peterloo Massacre 1819

In August of this year a peaceful crowd attending a Manchester rally to call for political reform was broken up by Yeomanry and Army cavalry. At least 18 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured.

Assassinate the Cabinet 1820

In February 1820 Arthur Thistlewood and a small band of followers plotted to assassinate the cabinet. They were caught near the Edgeware Road, Five were hanged then beheaded and the remaining five were transported.

The Great Reform Act 1832

It was a little later but this act was introduced to bring about some governmental changes, principally abolishing rotten boroughs and giving parliamentary representation to new industrial cities.

In one sense the way in which we collect information has changed little in the last two hundred years. This was demonstrated last night following the bombing at Manchester Arena during which at least 22 people died and 59 were injured. The initial information came from eye witness accounts and smartphone videos. Much has already been written but the final accounts will be a conglomeration of the myriad of snippets both written and electronic which should eventually attain 100% accuracy.

God Bless