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Helen Castor and guests discuss Victorian tabloid titillation and new research on the Black Death - and listeners suggest their history heroes.

Helen Castor is joined by Professor Mark Bailey from the University of East Anglia and Dr Eloise Moss from the University of Manchester to discuss the Black Death and Victorian tabloids.

Tom Holland is in Lincolnshire where Professor Carenza Lewis explains why pottery is telling us so much more about the Black Death. Her new research, working with volunteers across East Anglia, shows the pan-European epidemic of the mid-fourteenth century had an 'eye-watering impact' with communities losing up to 70% of their population.

Dr Bob Nicholson and former newspaper editor Roy Greenslade leaf through the pages of one of the most scurrilous tabloid publications ever, the tamely titled Illustrated Police News.

And we invite listeners to suggest characters from the past for the Making History plinth.

Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Tue 20 Sep 2016 15:00

The Black Death

Tom Holland joins Professor Carenza Lewis from the University of Lincoln in Heckington where she  is working with volunteers on a project which is using pottery finds to work out how the population of Britain declines during and after the Black Death of 1348. Her work in East Anglia confirms the latest thinking of archaeologists and historians that half of the population was wiped out and that this had a huge impact on the economy.

University of Lincoln 


Medieval Histories 


Science Daily 


Professor Mark Bailey edited “Town and Countryside in the Age of the Black Death: Essays in Honour of John Hatcher”  See a review 


History Today  

The Illustrated Police News

Dr Bob Nicholson at Edge Hill University is researching the Illustrated Police News, a newspaper founded in the 1860’s which readers of the Pall Mall Gazette voted the ‘worst newspaper in England’. Bob goes out on to the streets of Chelsea to gauge public reaction today and talks to Roy Greenslade Professor of Journalism at City University of London.

The history of the Illustrated Police News is now curated by the British Newspaper Library


Professor Roy Greenslade 


Dr Bob Nicholson  

The History of Boredom

Dr Tiffany Watt Smith at Queen Mary University of London studies the history of emotions and in this episode examines the history of boredom - a term heard before Dickens used it in Bleak House


Centre for the History of Emotions 


The Smithsonian   


Dr Tiffany Watt Smith