Saturday, October 08, 2005

Burble, burble......

Oh my God. Do you remember I blogged Kate Thompson's Origins series very positively?

Well, according to The Guardian she is the daughter of Dorothy and E.P. Thompson.

Now, I know that this will mean nothing to most of you, but I trained as a historian in the 1980s at the University of York. This was a time when, scratch any enthusiastic modern-history student, particularly if they wanted to do social history (which was why one went to York anyway) and they had read E.P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class. This is the classic social history book (ok, so there is also Christopher Hill's The World Turned Upside Down, but that's more of a political history). The book is about a thousand pages of dense material about the construction of a sense of class through ballads, pubs, working men's educational organisations, unions, and all sort of other things. And it's utterly rivetting.

I received my copy for my twelfth birthday. About a year later, I got to hear Dorothy and E.P. Thompson both speak at a May Day rally in Birmingham (which once had a very fine labour tradition).

Anyway, you get the picture. Over the years of course I've changed, and part of my "university disaster story" is that I turned out to be terrible at social history (I have no eye for detail) which was a genuine grief to me. As far as I was concerned, social history was the only really viable type of history. This attitude blinded me for years to the fact that I have a knack for intellectual history (it was very passe when I was a student).

So, back to 2005 and the word spins around and I find myself listing the daughter of one of my favourite historians as one of my favourite science fiction writers.



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