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Laos and the Vietnam War

30 November 2015

For a significant part of the twentieth century Laos was embroiled in armed conflict. The country had been a French protectorate from 1893, following more than a century of Siamese suzerainty. During World War II it was briefly occupied by...

William Blake and London

28 November 2015

To celebrate the birth of the visionary poet and artist William Blake #onthisday in 1757, I’ve chosen to write about one of his most beautiful yet bleak poems, London. I wander thro’ each charter’d street, Near where the charter’d Thames...

'Even to Live is an Act of Courage'

27 November 2015

The factory at Bandar Abbas, run by the East India Company to carry out trade in Persia and the Gulf region, was an unpleasant place to be at the best of times, described to be '…but an inch-deal from hell'....

A tale of two Françoises: Madame de Maintenon (1635-1719)

27 November 2015

When little Françoise d’Aubigné came into the world on 27 November 1635, her future seemed unlikely to be dazzling. True, her paternal grandfather was the distinguished Huguenot poet and patriot Agrippa d’Aubigné, but his son Constant had proved a sore...

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