Wednesday, 22 January 2020

An Amateur looks at the art of Poetry


The Background

“So, homework,”– the dreaded words. We are nine-year-olds (or maybe 10 year olds, not more), it's getting towards the end of today’s English lesson, and we’ve been told about the poet Wordsworth, thought about the Lake District in springtime, and read Daffodils…). “So for homework, I'd like you all to write a poem about autumn,” she smiles… “the season that we are in now.” She sends another smile around our class. “Let's just think about autumn – what do you like about Autumn…?" Gosh, what do I think?

And so it goes. Went. I remember spending the whole weekend under the dark cloud of writing a poem about Autumn. Resenting Wordsworth, with his writing-appropriate name. A poem! It had to rhyme. It needed rhythm, and about four or five verses. It had to catch the inner eye, or as we’d had this explained, to capture a photo of autumn in your imagination.

Fast forward, as they say, about seven years. As teenagers the urge to write poems can suddenly strike. Suddenly they seem a great way to sort new and chaotic emotions. We write, inspired possibly as much by our favourite song of the time as by Milton’s Paradise Lost or John Donne’s sonnet beginning, Busy old fool, unruly Sun (which we had been studying). We write our own clutch of protest poems, or a bunch of hormonal musings.

The Art Itself

So, you get the drift? I am much more of a prose writer than a self identifying poet – even though I have written, on and off, quite a few poems. Mostly over times of stress, goaded on by the impulse to define and sort emotions, most of them common to all of us. But am I qualified to speak as one of a panel on the importance of poetry?

Poetry today has come a long way, far from its  beginnings in the ancient epics. J. R. R. Tolkien adopts some of the cadences and metres of Medieval poetry in his masterful fantasy novel Lord of the Rings, both in passages of prose and as original poems. But on its  way to us, poetry has passed through the Metaphysical poets – John Donne, Andrew Marvell, George Herbert – and the Romantic Movement – Keats, Coleridge and Wordsworth – which I studied at school. Gone are sonnets and sestinas – or are they? 

MS of 'Easter Wings' by George Herbert, written as wings
Poetry conventionally differs from other writing in its commitment to rhyme, rhythm, and formal style. Not only that but it is closely allied to music, and so to the ears. Whether the “inner ear” or the outer, collective ear of performance. Poetry appeals especially to creative writers who particularly enjoy pattern-making, fitting the deep emotional content of what they have to say into strict boundaries, and choosing a suitable form. A serious mathematician friend writes sestinas, I recall one piece which featuring (I think it was) bananas, had us in stitches as he read it aloud. Another writer friend prefers and perfects the sonnet form. Haiku, short, pithy pieces, offer a challenge to pack your thoughts into a very small space, and this challenging form has developed into one with popular appeal.

Back to performance, where poetry certainly and historically belongs. Despite many small volumes and chapbooks carefully printed and produced by contemporary poets, poetry has also re-visited its roots, beginning (as far as I know, others may disagree) via the Beat Poets of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. In America Allen Ginsberg, and in England Adrian Henry and Roger McGough are names I recall. Possibly the North-Eastern poet, Basil Bunting, who I heard read at the Morden Tower in Newcastle as a student, also belongs here.

“Spoken word” works are basically oral art, written be read or performed. The focus is on the aesthetics of wordplay, intonation and voice inflection. I remember once, aged about 15 or 16, performing a protest poem to the accompaniment of a friend playing the clarinet. It was definitely spoken word, and there was much emotion, wordplay, intonation and rebellion in that poem. And now we have Rap – much closer to poetry and employing rhythm, rhyme, and musicality. While moving far from the conventions of “Romantic” poetry of Wordsworth, Keats and school textbooks, Rap engages with our present world in a way which we, certainly, don’t see Wordsworth doing. Though maybe William Blake does?  His poem, known popularly as ‘Jerusalem’ is, in fact, a serious protest piece against the ‘dark satanic mills’ of his time, sadly now used as a rousing patriotic song. Blake would, I think, be furious.

The Question...

And so to my question – is poetry the right place for competition? Should poetry, the home of deeply felt emotions, not only love and longing but grief, loss, and protest, be subjected to the audience for its judgement in a Poetry Slam? Does the very word “slam”, used to describe a public competition where poets read their work before an audience and panel of judges, fit poetry, an art form describing both beauty and a raft of deep emotions? Can this word “Slam”– the violent bashing closed of a door – suit or belong to poetry?

I leave it to you, fellow writers: the passion of the poet is partly what the audience will judge their performance by. The audience is sometimes the sole judge (rather than using a panel of judges).  It can also be said of a slam that all the poets are equally open to criticism and nobody has celebrity status, which is possibly a very good thing. Poetry is egalitarian, after all…

I can’t imagine TS Eliot, John Betjeman or W. H. Auden competing at a slam… any more than I can imagine any of them enjoying a competitive sports! ‘In the room the women come and, Talking of Michaelangelo’ or ‘Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough…’  But all poets are not made in the image of Bunthorne  in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe… How about Dylan Thomas’s ‘Rage, rage, against the dying of the light’  though? Plenty of slammed doors in those thoughts. Poetry is a wide field, or has been recently said of the Labour Party, a broad church.

What is your feeling about poetry slams? Have you performed at one? And would we 9 year olds have preferred this approach to the reverence we were encouraged to develop towards poetry and poets? 

My short book of poems, Live,Lose,Learn … poems  from life is available from my website, 
https://hodgepublishing.co.uk/books/










Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Stars or 5G satellites? Katherine Roberts votes for stars.

Starry Night - Vincent Van Gogh

As a child staring up in wonder at the night sky, I became friends with the Great Bear, Orion, the Seven Sisters, the Little Bear, the North Star, and many other familiar constellations that inspired me to write the fantasy and science fiction stories that grew into my published books. A school trip to the London Planetarium, aged 13, is lodged firmly in my memory as an awesome event. Even today, living in an urban environment polluted by streetlights, on clear nights I can still see quite a few of the 9,000 stars that are visible to the human eye, although a trip to rural Wales for dark skies always amazes me.

But for how much longer? A company called SpaceX is currently launching the first few hundred of a proposed 12,000 satellites to deliver 5G wireless communications to every corner of the Earth. This is in addition to the land-based 5G transmitters various mobile phone companies are currently rolling out in urban areas (plus a few token rural experiments), coming to a streetlamp near you soon. You might be one of the many people who got a 5G-enabled device for Christmas, but do you understand exactly what "fifth generation wireless" means for the human race, insects, animals, plants and the environment? Because it's not as simple as 4G +1, despite what the tech companies would like us all to believe.

Even if you do not suffer from health problems triggered or worsened by wireless radiation (as I and many others now do), if you don't worry about your privacy, even if you care nothing about the fate of honeybees, about birds mysteriously dropping out of the sky, cats keeling over on the garden path for no apparent reason, trees being chopped down so they don't block the signals, or the general rise in temperature of the planet from all the microwave frequencies, 5G in space is likely to be a total disaster for stargazers. According to this appeal by astronomers, these low-orbit satellites will not only “greatly outnumber the approximately 9,000 stars that are visible to the unaided human eye,” but will “reach the brightness of the stars in the Ursa Minor constellation,” and will be “exceeded in brightness only by 172 stars in the whole sky.” Stargazing, it seems, will soon be history.

When your children look up at the night sky, what do you wish them to see? Stars or 5G? The choice is yours.




*
Katherine Roberts writes fantasy and historical fiction for young readers. She would like them to look up and see the stars, rather than have to stare at a 5G screen to see what the night sky used to look like "once upon a time".



Monday, 20 January 2020

Poetry Treasure Hunt by Sandra Horn


I wish everyone a happy, healthy and creative 2020!

2019 had its share of horrors with which we’re all too familiar, but to start the new year I’m going to concentrate on a huge December lifting-of-the-spirits for me. I signed up to Live Canon’s Poetry Treasure Hunt, which began on December 1st and ended on 31st, with a new clue and a new poet’s work every day and a grand finale on 31st incorporating all the clues.
  
Each day, an email arrived with a short biography of a poet, a link (or links) to a video of the poet or someone else reading their work, sample texts and a particular poem which contained a clue – in every case, a missing word to be identified and recorded. The range was very wide, across continents, traditions and time, from the 17th century to now. It included 8 poets whose work I knew, or rather, some of whose work I knew: Christina Rossetti, Derek Walcott, John Betjeman, U A Fanthorpe, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, George Herbert, Isaac Rosenberg. All the rest were new to me. 22 new poets and their works to explore. I could hardly wait to log in every day. Bliss. 



Of all the poems, there was just one I couldn’t relate to – modernist, clever in its way, but it just didn’t ‘speak’ to me. There was much to delight in with the others, though – the phrase ‘what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices’ from Robert Hayden’s ‘Those Winter Sundays’ has stayed with me and will go on doing so; it resonates, somewhat painfully, but that is one of the great strengths of poetry.

The end result, on day 30, was a list of 20 completely unrelated words. I had no idea what the final clue could be. How was it possible to make any kind of sense from them – words such as austere, gull, Arizona, against, purple? It turned out to be such good fun. The first ten words resulted in the number 16 (how many cantos had this poet completed of a particular work before he died). For the second ten words, the first initial of each word had to have a numerical value assigned according to where it came in the alphabet and the resulting numbers were to be summed: 121. The third set of ten were from a Shakespeare sonnet, which number was it? Easy: 49. Juggling the numbers by multiplying two and taking away the third gave a date; the year of a poet’s birth and the final question was how many nectarines did the poet write about. When I got to the answer, I felt like a lottery winner! AND there was a prize! An anthology of poetry! Yay!!

Finally, finally, there was a challenge to write a poem with all 30 words included. I wasn’t sure if it was remotely possible, but I was so fired up by then that I had to give it a go, so I did, and sent it off. Here it is – inevitably a bit of a mishmash but it sort-of works I think.

Travels

Do you remember, Love, that one white gull,
conjured from thin air?
Then nine more. Neat, decorous,
perched like a drift of snow along the fence
to watch us eat. Chips and fish –
a many-syllabled Maori name
we’d never heard before.
They did not rush, dart at us, snatch, just sat
like very neat clean beggars, shy of asking,
full of hope. Alien birds.
We were so far from home,
Anchored to that bench, sitting tight.
With one too-sudden move we could fall
Over the edge of the world.
Time was unspun, watches deceptive,
Days lost when we flew ever further south,
Gained, mysteriously, on our homeward way,
No longer marching to a linear path
The aeroplane soaring against gravity-
the laws of physics we’d thought fixed, immortal,
Were now cast into doubt. What were we at,
To journey halfway round the world
In these our later years?

Married, we’d been homebodies up to then –
By and large  - home being Europe .
We’d prided ourselves on tackling foreign coin
Krone, penge, franc. Learned polite phrases
Thank you, please, good evening, good day,
Drifted on Homer’s wine-dark sea, blue in the sun,
Deepening to indigo, purple, under cloud.
Walked upon mountains where oxygen was thin
And beauty was a glacier, cold, austere.
Watched a Tuscan wheat field bronze in the evening light,
Waited while cattle surged round the car, herded for home.
Tried out new foods – Venetian liver,
Finnish salmon soup, Icelandic lava bread,
Brought home squid ink, pimenton,
Exotic show-offs in our urban kitchen.

In our other lives, before we met,
You’d lived in Loma Linda, Cal.
Taken trips to Mexico, New York, Arizona.
Your freckled skin shows, even now,
Marks of the injurious Californian sun.
As for myself, I’d seen the tumbled wrecks of Carthage,
The walls of Kairouan, bright-eyed barefoot children,
Polyglot beggars, ‘poor’ in possessions, rich in life,
Veiled women whose curious eyes reflected mine.

Had we thought ourselves well-travelled then?
Perhaps, until that email sent us so far east and south,
It seemed like a long dream – or game of fantasy.
A world unknown except as places on a map.
A world at once so strange and so familiar –
And here we were in it, eating fish and chips,
watched by ten white gulls.

 
And there was another prize; two poetry collections! The icing on the proverbial. Yay!



So, a cold grey wet December beset by rotten health problems was transformed into 31 days of delight. I hope the energy and uplift it gave me will last and become a boost to creativity to start the year. Thank you, Live Canon!

The good news is, they are running another treasure hunt in August. Highly recommended, folks! I can't wait...

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Organisational by Jan Edwards


You would think December would be the month when projects are finished. Decks cleared ready for the new year. It should be and I wish I were that organised, but instead of making great strides on my next novel I’ve spent the first few weeks in 2020 scrambling to meet deadlines.

Image result for calendarBack in August having three short stories to write by January seemed like a doddle.  Come Christmas Eve with a house full of guests… not so much.  A lot of midnight oil was burned, along with some doubled-ended candles, and those stories are winging their way through the ether – but I do wish I was more organised.

Now I just have a novel to edit for a colleague and a final draft on my own to complete. And its 5.30 on the 18th with seven hours left to get my 19th of January Authors Electric posting logged. What that saying about no rest?

In my defence I have been working solidly on other projects, but keeping those three deadlines was important. Not just because the publications they are destined for are good markets, but because I said I would do it and because it’s unprofessional not to. Also I simply I hate to let people down. But I do wish I was more organised.

This could be seen as the downside of being a seat-of-the-pants writer.

If I am honest I suspect it’s the adrenalin surge (if such a thing can apply to writing) that gets the creative juices flowing. I like deadlines. They are my friend. I generally get things finished with a few minutes to spare and a big grin because I’ve beat the clock yet again. But I do wish I was more organised.

One day I shall be. I do try, honestly. Just that… I am just not organised.

Friday, 17 January 2020

New Year Resolutions and the Seven Deadly Sins, by Elizabeth Kay



With New Year resolutions a distant memory for some, and a matter of pride for others, it’s worth thinking how they can form the basis of a story. All crimes can begin with one of these, but they may not be as bad as they appear. The Seven Deadly Sins do not appear in the Bible, and were first enumerated by Pope Gregory I in the 6th century and elaborated in the 13th century by St Thomas Aquinas. As various religions have been used as a state form of control from time immemorial, instructing people to refrain from enjoyment is a good way of harnessing their energy into behaviour which enables the state to run smoothly – or the powers that be to remain in power.

Pride
The worst sin of all, which may be a bit of a surprise. In this context, pride is defined as irrationally believing that one is better, superior, or more important than others, and, in addition, failing to acknowledge or belittling the accomplishments of others. It’s an excessive admiration of yourself, because it might look as though you’re competing with the divine. Boasting is right out if you don’t want to be thought proud. Run yourself down, folks, and demonstrate your humility. Women are especially good at this, which has landed them in a lot of trouble over the years. Get in the habit of running yourself down and you will apologise for everything you do, even if it’s really good. If you’re never proud of what you do you will never have a yardstick by which you measure what you have, in fact, achieved; consequently, you will lose the ability to see your own work objectively, and fail to have a strategy to improve it even further. Not an easy one as a plotline.

Envy
Envy is the only one that can be directly related to the Ten Commandments. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, nor his wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s." Aristotle defined envy as pain at the sight of another’s good fortune, stirred by “those who have what we ought to have.” Bertrand Russell said that envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness.  Although envy is generally seen as something negative, Russell also believed that envy was a driving force behind the movement of economies and must be endured because it's what fuels progress.

Gluttony
The overindulgence and overconsumption of anything, but especially food. Medieval church leaders took a slightly expanded view of gluttony, arguing that it could also include an obsessive anticipation of meals, and the constant eating of delicacies and excessively costly foods. Thomas Aquinas prepared a list of five ways to commit gluttony, comprising:
 
Eating too expensively
Eating too daintily
Eating too much
Eating too soon
Eating too eagerly

Of these, Eating too eagerly is often considered the most serious, since it is extreme attachment to the pleasure of mere eating, instead of spiritual pleasures. These days, many people are the victims of advertising, which quite cold-bloodedly sets out to encourage over-eating to increase profit margins. Sensible eating requires far more self-discipline than in the past, when food was not so abundant. The addition of corn syrup to so many foods is physically addictive, and keeps you coming back for more even when you should feel full. Macdonalds is a classic. Do you want to go large?

Greed
Greed is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of desire, and is a good one for writers. However, greed (as seen by the Church) is applied to an artificial, rapacious desire and pursuit of material possessions. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "Greed is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things." In Dante's Purgatory, the penitents are bound and laid face down on the ground for having concentrated excessively on earthly thoughts. Hoarding of materials or objects, theft and robbery, especially by means of violence, trickery, or manipiulation of authorit are all actions that may be inspired by greed. As defined outside Christian writings, greed is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs; putting yourself first. However, greed’s opposite is putting yourself last, which can damage other people as well if they rely on you.

Lust
Lust, or lechery, is intense longing, usually thought of as sexual desire, which can lead to fornication to rape, bestiality, adultery, and so on. Lust is generally thought to be the least serious capital sin  as sins of the flesh are less grievous than spiritual sins. Is rape, therefore, less serious than missing confession? Let’s hear what St Paul had to say about sex.
I Corinthians V 32 He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 
Note that the husband doesn’t seem to be required to be holy in both body and spirit, although the wife is. And after all, without sexual desire we’d die out as a species.

Wrath
Another good one for the writer. Uncontrolled feelings of anger, rage, hatred and a wish to seek vengeance. It seems to have a more Islamic or Hindu feel to it than the other sins, and be associated with honour killings and ancient blood feuds that lasted for centuries. It may persist long after the person who started the ball rolling is dead. A feeling of wrath can manifest itself in different ways, including simple impatience, misanthropy, revenge, and self-destructive behaviour. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, anger becomes the sin of wrath when it is directed against an innocent person, and that includes the self, or when it is unduly strong or long-lasting, or when it desires excessive punishment. "If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbour, it is a mortal sin." A mortal sin is defined as a grave action that is committed in full knowledge of its gravity and with the full consent of the sinner's will. However, wrath is fine for both God and Allah.

Collossians 3:6 Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. 
The Quran: But such as open their breast to unbelief – on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful penalty.

On the other hand, if people don’t get angry at injustices, what is ever going to change? It acts as a catalyst to make us actually do something.

Sloth
The scope of sloth is surprisingly wide. To begin with it referred to an affliction attending religious persons, especially monks, when they became indifferent to their duties and obligations to God. Mentally, it consists of a lack of any feeling about self or other, a mind-state that gives rise to boredom, rancour, apathy, and a passive inert or sluggish attitude. Physically, it’s associated with lack of motion and an indifference to work; it finds expression in laziness, idleness, and indolence. In other words, depression, which was originally the eighth deadly sin but was dropped and merely reappeared in another guise.

As for me, my resolution is to always have one blog post in hand so that I don’t end up panicking at the last moment!


Thursday, 16 January 2020

A Little Slice of Literary History by Wendy H. Jones

Sir Walter Scott's Waverley Novels

As well as being an author, I also have the honour of being the President of the Scottish Association of Writers. Amongst many other duties that the role entails, I sometimes travel to visit writing groups in all areas of Scotland. This week I am in Thurso and Wick visiting both Caithness Writers and The Write Place 2b, which I have to say has been exciting. Both groups made me extremely welcome. It's encouraging to see so many new and established writers, which brings me to my slice of literary history of the title.

Scotland has a long literary history with some high profile writers and books. Reading has always been important with Andrew Carnegie building libraries and promoting reading and literature. As a reader I love to visit libraries when I visit new places, so visiting both Wick and Thurso Libraries was high on the agenda. Thurso has moved from the old Carnegie library, which is now an art gallery, and into a former school called the Miller Institution. It was originally built in 1862 as a fee paying boys school, with the foundation stone being laid in 1860. It closed in 1958 but then reopened as Thurso Library in 1968. Inside, it is smart, cutting edge and contemporary, with one fabulous exception. The original Rector, or headmasters, study, has been preserved to house the historic collections. This area is a bibliophile's dream. I felt like I'd died and gone to heaven. Row upon row of books which generations of library readers had enjoyed. My thoughts turned to those who had read the books before me. Were there any famous people amongst them? These historic texts are in cabinets but these are not locked. You can pull out, handle and read these books at will.

Of course, whilst I pulled out and opened several texts, my Scottish heart wanted to look at our two most famous writers. No Scot can talk about the history of Scottish writers without mentioning both Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. The librarians at Thurso Library, who are truly awesome, helped me find the correct books and brought them out for me, The picture at the top of the blog is of his Waverley Novels. Did you know that Waverley Station in Edinburgh is named after these books. It's the only station in Britain. to be named after a series of novels. They also had his complete poems and, of course, everything by Robert Burns. I enter a magical place as I opened these. MY emotions swelled, knowing that as the President of the Scottish Association of Writers, I am playing a small part in supporting present and future writers. I feel like I am a small piece of Scottish literary history.

My foray into the literary past has shown me, once again, the importance of our libraries and how vital it is that we keep them open. Libraries do so much more than loan books and I am proud to be living in a nation which values libraries and reading. I hope this continues and that libraries continue to be available to support future generations of readers.

About the Author

Wendy H. Jones is the award winning author of the best selling DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Cass Claymore Investigates, The Fergus and Flora Mysteries and the Bertie the Buffalo Picture Book. She is also the President of the Scottish Association of Writers and the Webmaster for the Association of Christian Writers, as well as a popular International Public Speaker. You can find out more about her, as well as book her to speak on motivation, writing and marketing, via her website 






Monday, 13 January 2020

Richard III and the trade in printed books by Alex Marchant


There has been a great deal in the news of late about trade and tariffs and taxes on goods, especially across frontiers in this increasingly global world. I don’t have a great deal of interest in (let alone knowledge of) modern economics. However, for me (as often happens, given my area of research), any and all roads potentially lead to the 1480s and the reign of a certain King Richard III. And a recent incident led me to an interesting related point about the king, his attitudes and achievements.

Richard III depicted on the contemporary Rous Roll

While setting up the listing for one of my books on the website of print-on-demand company Blurb, I saw a notification saying ‘Value added tax (VAT) will be added to the total price at the checkout.' My immediate thought was 'But there's no VAT on books – at least not here in the UK.' Then, 'Should I reduce the list price so the buyer pays no more than the normal price?'
I checked. I was correct. In the UK there is no VAT on books, as there isn't on children's clothes, most foods and various other items.  This extra tax levied on bought goods presumably isn't used to tax books because, given their educational value, they are far too important to allow them to be restricted only to better-off people. They should be available to all.
Then I remembered that in King Richard III's only Parliament (in early 1484) there was a provision designed to ensure that books would be available as widely as possible.



Parliament was passing laws designed to protect English craftspeople and sellers, whose business was at risk from foreign merchants, in an early example of economic protectionism. These overseas merchants (mainly Italians at that time) often monopolized the sale of imported goods and exported the money they made back to their home country. Parliament insisted that such 'aliens' should not be allowed to sell directly to the public, and could only sell their goods to shops in the town in which they lived, from which they could be resold at a profit to that local business.
One category of good only was exempted – books. In 1484 there were only a tiny handful of English book printers and sellers in England: William Caxton and maybe three others. The rest were foreigners. If these 'aliens' were prevented from selling imported books at markets and country fairs as was the practice, the growing book trade – in the cheaper books mass-produced by the newly introduced technology of printing, rather than the much more expensive, traditionally hand-produced manuscripts – would be crippled.


William Caxton

Books were not exempted from import taxes, but this exemption relating to how they could be sold ensured that printed books continued to be brought into the country and could be sold there freely while the native book trade continued to increase in size. Without the imports, native makers and sellers would not have been able to keep up with the growing demand.
Some experts (such as Peter Blayney, scholar of the Stationers Company, which controlled the printing and book trades) think that King Richard saw the danger to the book trade and was responsible himself for the exemption which ultimately allowed more people to access books and education to become more widely available.
Interestingly, perhaps, the acts of the 1484 Parliament were themselves the first ever to be printed, allowing them also to be more widely available. In addition, they were the first ever to be produced in English so anyone could understand them, not just people who could read French.  It was also another 20 years before any other acts of Parliament were printed and distributed so soon after the actual session of Parliament ended (the acts of Henry Tudor's first Parliaments, beginning in 1485, were not printed until 1491).

Source: http://www.medievalhistories.com/last-stand-on-vellum/

Some people say King Richard III was 'a man of his time' when they discuss his character and actions. Others, myself among them, think that perhaps, in some ways, he was ahead of it. Certainly, given this case, he was ahead of other monarchs of the time in understanding the value of making books and knowledge more accessible for the education of ordinary people.


Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). 

Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at: