Keep the Aspidistra Flying
Keep the Aspidistra Flying, first published in 1936, is a critical novel by George Orwell. It is set in 1930s London; the main theme is Gordon Comstock's romantic ambition to defy worship of the money-god and status, the dismal life that results. Orwell wrote the book in 1934 and 1935 when he was living at various locations near Hampstead in London, drew on his experiences in these and the preceding few years. At the beginning of 1928 he lived in lodgings in Portobello Road from where he started his tramping expeditions, sleeping rough and roaming in the poorer parts of London. At this time he wrote a fragment of a play in which the protagonist Stone needs money for his child's life-saving operation. Stone would prefer to prostitute his wife rather than prostitute his artistic integrity by writing advertising copy. Orwell's early publications appeared in The Adelphi, a left-wing literary journal edited by Sir Richard Rees, a wealthy and idealistic baronet who made Orwell one of his protégés; the character of Ravelston the wealthy publisher in Keep the Aspidistra Flying has much in common with Rees.
Ravelston is acutely self-conscious of his upper-class status and defensive about his unearned income. Comstock speculates that Ravelston receives nearly two thousand pounds a year after tax—a comfortable sum in those days—and Rees, in a volume of autobiography published in 1963 wrote: "... I have never had the spending of much less than £1,000 a year of unearned income, sometimes more... Before the war, this was wealth for an unmarried man. Many of my socialist and intellectual friends were paupers compared to me..." In quoting this, Orwell's biographer Michael Shelden commented "One of these'paupers'—at least in 1935—was Orwell, lucky if he made £200 that year... He appreciated Rees's editorial support at the Adelphi and sincerely enjoyed having him as a friend, but he could not have avoided feeling some degree of resentment toward a man who had no real job but who enjoyed an income four or five times greater than his."In 1932 Orwell took a job as a teacher in a small school in West London.
From there he would take journeys into the country at places like Burnham Beeches. There are allusions to Burnham Beeches and walks in the country in Orwell's correspondence at this time with Brenda Salkeld and Eleanor Jacques. In October 1934, after nine months at his home in Southwold, Orwell's aunt Nellie Limouzin found him a job as a part-time assistant in Booklovers' Corner, a second-hand bookshop in Hampstead run by Francis and Myfanwy Westrope; the Westropes, who were friends of Nellie in the Esperanto movement, had an easy-going outlook and provided him with comfortable accommodation at Warwick Mansions, Pond Street. He was job sharing with Jon Kimche who lived with the Westropes. Orwell worked at the shop in the afternoons, having the mornings free to write and the evenings to socialise, he was at Booklovers' Corner for fifteen months. His essay "Bookshop Memories", published in November 1936, recalled aspects of his time at the bookshop, in Keep the Aspidistra Flying, "he described it, or revenged himself upon it, with acerbity and wit and spleen."
In their study of Orwell the writers Stansky & Abrahams remarked upon the improvement on the "stumbling attempts at female portraiture in his first two novels: the stereotyped Elizabeth Lackersteen in Burmese Days and the hapless Dorothy in A Clergyman's Daughter" and contended that, in contrast, "Rosemary is a credible female portrait." Through his work in the bookshop Orwell was in a position to become acquainted with women, "first as a clerk as a friend... and with whom, if circumstances were favourable, he might embark upon a'relationship'... This for Orwell the author and Blair the man, was the chief reward of working at Booklovers' Corner." In particular, Orwell met Sally Jerome, at this time working for an advertising agency, Kay Ekevall, who ran a small typing and secretarial service which did work for Adelphi magazine. By the end of February 1935 he had moved into a flat in Parliament Hill, it was through a joint party with his landlady here that Orwell met his future wife Eileen O'Shaughnessy.
In August Orwell moved into a flat in Kentish Town, which he shared with Michael Sayers and Rayner Heppenstall. Over this period he was working on Keep the Aspidistra Flying and had two novels, Burmese Days and A Clergyman's Daughter, published. At the beginning of 1936 Orwell was dealing with pre-publication issues for Keep the Aspidistra Flying while on his tour in the North of England collecting material for The Road to Wigan Pier; the novel was published by Victor Gollancz Ltd on 20 April 1936. The aspidistra is a hardy, long-living plant, used as a house plant in England, which can grow to an impressive unwieldy size, it was popular in the Victorian era, in large part because it could tolerate not only weak sunlight but the poor indoor air quality that resulted from the use of oil lamps and coal gas lamps. They had fallen out of favour following the advent of electric lighting, their use had been so widespread among the middle class that they had become a music hall joke appearing in songs such as "Biggest Aspidistra in the World," of which Gracie Fields made a recording.
In the titular phrase, Orwell uses the aspidistra, a symbol of the stuffiness of middle-class society, in conjunction with the locution "to keep the flag flying." The title can thus be interpreted as a sarcastic exhortation in the sense of "Hooray for the middle class!" In subsequent adaptions and translations, the original title has been altered.
The Rose Ryal is a gold coin of the Kingdom of England issued in the reign of King James I and is now rare. The coin is a two-ryal coin worth thirty shillings and is a development of the earlier fine sovereign of Queen Elizabeth I; the Rose Ryal, so called because the rose appearing on the reverse, was introduced during James I's second coinage. The design of this first issue shows on the obverse the king enthroned with a portcullis beneath his feet, surrounded by the legend IACOBUS DG MAG BRIT FRAN ET HIBER REX; the reverse shows the royal arms over a rose surrounded by the legend A. DNO FACTUM EST ISTUD ET EST MIRAB IN OCULIS NRIS. During James' third coinage a new-style rose. On the reverse is the royal shield, with the value "XXX" over the shield and the whole surrounded by roses and lis, surrounded by the legend A. DNO FACTUM EST ISTUD ET EST MIRAB IN OCULIS NRIS, while the obverse shows a redesigned version of the enthroned king with a portcullis beneath, surrounded by the legend IACOBUS DG MA BRI FR ET HI REX
Sovereign (British coin)
The sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom, with a nominal value of one pound sterling. Struck from 1817 until the present time, it was a circulating coin accepted in Britain and elsewhere in the world. In most recent years, it has borne the well-known design of Saint George and the Dragon on the reverse—the initials of the designer, Benedetto Pistrucci, may be seen to the right of the date; the coin was named after the English gold sovereign, last minted about 1603, originated as part of the Great Recoinage of 1816. Many in Parliament believed a one-pound coin should be issued rather than the 21-shilling guinea struck until that time; the Master of the Mint, William Wellesley Pole, had Pistrucci design the new coin, his depiction was used for other gold coins. The coin was unpopular as the public preferred the convenience of banknotes, but paper currency of value £1 was soon limited by law. With that competition gone, the sovereign not only became a popular circulating coin, but was used in international trade and in foreign lands, trusted as a coin containing a known quantity of gold.
The British government promoted the use of the sovereign as an aid to international trade, the Royal Mint took steps to see that lightweight gold coins were withdrawn from circulation. From the 1850s until 1932, the sovereign was struck at colonial mints in Australia, in Canada, South Africa and India—they have been struck again in India since 2013 for the local market; the sovereigns issued in Australia carried a unique local design, but by 1887, all new sovereigns bore Pistrucci's George and Dragon design. Strikings there were so large that by 1900, about 40 per cent of the sovereigns in Britain had been minted in Australia. With the start of the First World War in 1914, the sovereign vanished from circulation in Britain, replaced by paper money, it did not return after the war, though issues at colonial mints continued until 1932; the coin was still used in the Middle East, demand rose in the 1950s, which the Royal Mint responded to by striking new sovereigns in 1957. It has been struck since both as a bullion coin and, beginning in 1979, for collectors.
Though the sovereign is no longer in circulation, it is still legal tender in the United Kingdom. There had been an English coin known as the sovereign, first authorised by Henry VII in 1489, it had a diameter of 42 millimetres, weighed 15.55 grams, twice the weight of the existing gold coin, the ryal. The new coin was struck in response to a large influx of gold into Europe from West Africa in the 1480s, Henry at first called it the double ryal, but soon changed the name to sovereign. Too great in value to have any practical use in circulation, the original sovereign served as a presentation piece to be given to dignitaries; the English sovereign, the country's first coin to be valued at one pound, was struck by the monarchs of the 16th century, the size and fineness being altered. James I, when he came to the English throne in 1603, issued a sovereign in the year of his accession, but the following year, soon after he proclaimed himself King of Great Britain and Ireland, he issued a proclamation for a new twenty-shilling piece.
About ten per cent lighter than the final sovereigns, the new coin was called the unite, symbolising that James had merged the Scottish and English crowns. In the 1660s, following the Restoration of Charles II and the mechanisation of the Royal Mint that followed, a new twenty-shilling gold coin was issued, it had no special name at first but the public soon nicknamed it the guinea and this became the accepted term. Coins were at the time valued by their precious metal content, the price of gold relative to silver rose soon after the guinea's issuance. Thus, it came to trade at 21 shillings or sixpence more. Popular in commerce, the coin's value was set by the government at 21 shillings in silver in 1717, was subject to revision downward, though in practice this did not occur; the term sovereign, referring to a coin, fell from use—it does not appear in Samuel Johnson's dictionary, compiled in the 1750s. This economy was disrupted by the Napoleonic Wars, gold was hoarded. Among the measures taken to allow trade to continue was the issuance of one-pound banknotes.
The public came to like them as more convenient than the odd-value guinea. After the war, Parliament, by the Coinage Act 1816, placed Britain on the gold standard, with the pound to be defined as a given quantity of gold; every speaker supported having a coin valued at twenty shillings, rather than continuing to use the guinea. The Coinage Act did not specify which coins the Mint should strike. A committee of the Privy Council recommended gold coins of ten shillings, twenty shillings, two pounds and five pounds be issued, this was accepted by George, Prince Regent on 3 August 1816; the twenty-shilling piece was named a sovereign, with the resurrection of the old name promoted by antiquarians with numismatic interests. William Wellesley Pole, elder brother of the Duke of Wellington, was appointed Master of the Mint in 1812, with a mandate to reform the Royal Mint. Pole had favoured retaining the guinea, due to the number extant and the amount of labour required to replace them with sovereigns.
Formal instruction to the Mint came with an indenture dated February 1817, directing the Royal Mint to strike gold coins weighing 7.988 grams, to say, the new sovereign. The Italian sculptor Benedetto Pistrucci came to London early in 1816, his talent opened the doors of
House of Tudor
The House of Tudor was an English royal house of Welsh origin, descended in the male line from the Tudors of Penmynydd. Tudor monarchs ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including their ancestral Wales and the Lordship of Ireland from 1485 until 1603, with five monarchs in that period; the Tudors succeeded the House of Plantagenet as rulers of the Kingdom of England, were succeeded by the House of Stuart. The first Tudor monarch, Henry VII of England, descended through his mother from a legitimised branch of the English royal House of Lancaster; the Tudor family rose to power in the wake of the Wars of the Roses, which left the House of Lancaster, to which the Tudors were aligned, extinct. Henry Tudor was able to establish himself as a candidate not only for traditional Lancastrian supporters, but for the discontented supporters of their rival House of York, he rose to the throne by the right of conquest, his victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field was reinforced by his marriage to the English princess Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, symbolically uniting the former warring factions under a new dynasty.
The Tudors extended their power beyond modern England, achieving the full union of England and the Principality of Wales in 1542, asserting English authority over the Kingdom of Ireland. They maintained the nominal English claim to the Kingdom of France. After him, his daughter Mary I lost control of all territory in France permanently with the fall of Calais in 1558. In total, five Tudor monarchs ruled their domains for just over a century. Henry VIII was the only son of Henry VII to live to the age of maturity. Issues around the royal succession became major political themes during the Tudor era. In 1603 when Elizabeth I died without heir, the Scottish House of Stuart supplanted the Tudors as England's royal family through the Union of the Crowns; the first Stuart to be King of England, James VI and I, descended from Henry VII's daughter Margaret Tudor, who in 1503 married James IV as part of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace. For analysis of politics and social history, see Tudor period; the Tudors descended on Henry VII's mother's side from John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, one of the illegitimate children of the 14th century English prince John of Gaunt by Gaunt's long-term mistress Katherine Swynford.
The descendants of an illegitimate child of English royalty would have no claim on the throne, but the situation became complicated when Gaunt and Swynford married in 1396, when John Beaufort was 25. The church retroactively declared the Beauforts legitimate by way of a papal bull the same year, confirmed by an Act of Parliament in 1397. A subsequent proclamation by John of Gaunt's legitimate son, Henry IV recognised the Beauforts' legitimacy but declared them ineligible to inherit the throne; the Beauforts remained allied with Gaunt's legitimate descendants from his first marriage, the House of Lancaster. However the descent from the Beauforts, despite the above, did not render Henry of Richmond a legitimate heir to the throne nor did the fact that his father's mother had been a Queen of England make him an heir; the legitimate heir, or, in this case, was the Countess of Salisbury, descended from the second son of Edward III, Duke of Clarence and his fourth son, the Duke of York. This is verified by the Tudor family tree which appears in this article.
Henry Tudor had, one thing that the others did not. He had an army which had defeated and killed the last Yorkist King, Richard III and therefore the support of powerful nobles, his son Henry VIII made sure there were no other claimants to the Throne when he wiped out all the remaining Plantagenet heirs including the Countess of Salisbury and her family the Poles. One Pole alone survived, he became Archbishop of Canterbury under the Catholic Mary I. On 1 November 1455, John Beaufort's granddaughter, Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, married Henry VI's maternal half-brother Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, it was his father, Owen Tudor, who abandoned the Welsh patronymic naming practice and adopted a fixed surname. When he did, he did not choose, as was the custom, his father's name, but chose that of his grandfather, Tudur ap Goronwy, instead; this name is sometimes given as Tewdwr, the Welsh form of Theodore, but Modern Welsh Tudur, Old Welsh Tutir is not a variant but a different and unrelated name, etymologically identical with Gaulish Toutorix, from Proto-Celtic *toutā "people, tribe" and *rīxs "king", corresponding to Germanic Theodoric.
Owen Tudor was one of the bodyguards for the queen dowager Catherine of Valois, whose husband, Henry V, had died in 1422. Evidence suggests that the two were secretly married in 1429; the two sons born of the marriage and Jasper, were among the most loyal supporters of the House of Lancaster in its struggle against the House of York. Henry VI ennobled his half-brothers: Edmund became Earl of Richmond on 15 December 1449 and was married to Lady Margaret Beaufort, the great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, the progenitor of the house of Lancaster. Edmund died on 3 November 1456. On 28 January 1457, his widow Margaret, who had just attained her fourte
History of Anglo-Saxon England
Anglo-Saxon England was early medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries from the end of Roman Britain until the Norman conquest in 1066. It consisted of various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 927 when it was united as the Kingdom of England by King Æthelstan, it became part of the short-lived North Sea Empire of Cnut the Great, a personal union between England and Norway in the 11th century. The Anglo-Saxons were the members of Germanic-speaking groups who migrated to the southern half of the island of Great Britain from nearby northwestern Europe and their cultural descendants. Anglo-Saxon history thus begins during the period of Sub-Roman Britain following the end of Roman control, traces the establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th and 6th centuries, their Christianisation during the 7th century, the threat of Viking invasions and Danish settlers, the gradual unification of England under Wessex hegemony during the 9th and 10th centuries, ending with the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066.
Anglo-Saxon identity survived beyond the Norman conquest, came to be known as Englishry under Norman rule and through social and cultural integration with Celts and Anglo-Normans became the modern English people. Bede completed his book Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum in around 731, thus the term for English people was in use by to distinguish Germanic groups in Britain from those on the continent. The term'Anglo-Saxon' came in practice in the 8th century to distinguish English Saxons from continental Saxons; the historian James Campbell suggested that it was not until the late Anglo-Saxon period that England could be described as a nation state. It is certain that the concept of "Englishness" only developed slowly; as the Roman occupation of Britain was coming to an end, Constantine III withdrew the remains of the army in reaction to the Germanic invasion of Gaul with the Crossing of the Rhine in December 406. The Romano-British leaders were faced with an increasing security problem from seaborne raids by Picts on the east coast of England.
The expedient adopted by the Romano-British leaders was to enlist the help of Anglo-Saxon mercenaries, to whom they ceded territory. In about 442 the Anglo-Saxons mutinied because they had not been paid; the Romano-British responded by appealing to the Roman commander of the Western empire, Aëtius, for help though Honorius, the Western Roman Emperor, had written to the British civitas in or about 410 telling them to look to their own defence. There followed several years of fighting between the British and the Anglo-Saxons; the fighting continued until around 500, when, at the Battle of Mount Badon, the Britons inflicted a severe defeat on the Anglo-Saxons. There are records of Germanic infiltration into Britain that date before the collapse of the Roman Empire, it is believed that the earliest Germanic visitors were eight cohorts of Batavians attached to the 14th Legion in the original invasion force under Aulus Plautius in AD 43. There is a recent hypothesis that some of the native tribes, identified as Britons by the Romans, may have been Germanic-language speakers, but most scholars disagree with this due to an insufficient record of local languages in Roman-period artefacts.
It was quite common for Rome to swell its legions with foederati recruited from the German homelands. This practice extended to the army serving in Britain, graves of these mercenaries, along with their families, can be identified in the Roman cemeteries of the period; the migration continued with the departure of the Roman army, when Anglo-Saxons were recruited to defend Britain. If the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is to be believed, the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms which merged to become England were founded when small fleets of three or five ships of invaders arrived at various points around the coast of England to fight the Sub-Roman British, conquered their lands; the language of the migrants, Old English, came over the next few centuries to predominate throughout what is now England, at the expense of British Celtic and British Latin. The arrival of the Anglo-Saxons into Britain can be seen in the context of a general movement of Germanic peoples around Europe between the years 300 and 700, known as the Migration period.
In the same period there were migrations of Britons to the Armorican peninsula: around 383 during Roman rule, but c. 460 and in the 540s and 550s. The historian Peter Hunter-Blair expounded what is now regarded as the traditional view of the Anglo-Saxon arrival in Britain, he suggested a mass immigration and driving the Sub-Roman Britons off their land and into the western extremities of the islands, into the Breton and Iberian peninsulas. This view was influenced by sources such as Bede, where he talks about the Britons being slaughtered or going into "perpetual servitude". According to Härke the more modern view is of co-existence between the British and the Anglo-Saxons, he suggests that several modern archaeologists have no