Reading Branch Programme

Branch Programme

Lectures, on the dates indicated will be held in The Lecture Theatre, Reading School (near the Royal Berks Hospital). They start at 7.30pm (8.00pm October only, following the AGM). All are welcome, FREE-OF-CHARGE, without prior reservation. But anyone wishing to join the speaker and committee for supper from 6.00pm (cost £11.50 inc wine), to which anyone is welcome, should email a reservation a few days in advance to:

Reading School,
Erleigh Road,

There is more than adequate parking on site, but please note that a one-way system, with automatic gates, operates. Enter the school via Erleigh Road and leave by the Craven Road exit. Suppers are served in the refectory in the centre of the main building, and the lectures are in the Lecture Theatre at the rear (which is reached by walking to the right of the main building and bearing to the left - the LT is a little way along on the right.)

PROGRAMME 2018 - 2019

Friday 5 October 2018, 8.00pm (following the AGM starting 7.30pm)

Dr Natalie Thomlinson, University of Reading

' Working-class women's political activism after 1918: What difference did the vote make?  

'This lecture will consider the nature of working-class women's political activism in Britain since the granting of the franchise. In particular, it will look at the moment of  the 1984-5 miners' strike, and the huge women's support movement that it engendered, as a way of exploring the forms that such activism took, the impact that it had, and the extent to which working-class women were politicised and took part in the traditionally masculine public sphere of politics by the end of the twentieth century.'


Friday 9 November 2018, 7.30 p.m.

Professor David Parrott, New College, Oxford

‘The Quatercentenary of the Thirty Years War, 1618-1648: new interpretations’

In her celebrated 1938 study of the Thirty Years War, Veronica Wedgwood famously wrote that it was ‘the outstanding example in European history of meaningless conflict’.  This talk will examine the ways in which historians’  views of the war have changed since Wedgwood's judgement, written at the moment when Europe stood on the brink of another catastrophic conflict.  It will reconsider issues surrounding the outbreak of the Thirty Years War, the reasons for its duration, the ‘military revolution’ that is widely supposed to have taken place during the war, and the extent to which the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 marked a ‘new age’ in international relations


Friday  7 December 2018, 7.30pm

Professor Tony Badger, Emeritus Master of Clare College, Cambridge and President of the Historical Association

How did Martin Luther King Jnr. Change America?

In this lecture Tony Badger asks how Martin Luther King enabled a politically and economically powerless minority to wrest changes from a determined entrenched white majority in the American South. He also examines how far these changes went. How justified was King's faith in the ballot and politics? Has a sanitised version of the civil rights leader’s career downplayed the economic radicalism and anger of his rhetoric? In today's America and with a white southern Republican Attorney-General, do Black Lives Matter? How successful has been the drive to restrict African-American suffrage? How much did African-Americans benefit from the first African-American president? What, if anything, does Donald Trump offer the African-American Community?


Friday 18 January 2019, 7.30pm

Dr Elizabeth Matthew, University of Reading

The Death of William Marshal: Caversham, 1219

In January 1219, William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, fell mortally ill. The weeks leading up to his death on 14 May at his Thameside manor of Caversham are covered in exceptional detail in the vernacular verse biography written in the 1220s to celebrate his long and eventful career. This talk will review the insights this offers into an early thirteenth-century experience of terminal illness, and the light it sheds on the preoccupations—and surroundings—of the sufferer, whose regency for the young Henry III briefly made Caversham the focal point of English politics.


Friday 1 February 2019, 7.30pm

Professor Gary Sheffield, University of Wolverhampton

‘The Spring Offensives of 1918 - German or Allied Victory?

The series of German offensives on the Western Front that began on 21 March 1918 reopened mobile warfare and thus opened a new chapter in the history of the First World War. They remain controversial. Some see the opening phase as a great German victory. One influential interpretation has the Germans ‘defeating themselves’, by wearing out their strength in attacking the Allies. Others see them as a great defensive victory for the Allies. In this lecture, Gary Sheffield reassesses these offensives in the light of recent research.


Friday 15 March 2019, 7.30pm

Dr Miranda Kaufmann, author of Black Tudors (shortlisted for Wolfson History Prize, 2018)

‘Before Virginia: free Africans in England before 1619’

 The first Africans arrived in Virginia, England's first mainland American colony, four hundred years ago: in August 1619. These twenty were sold to John Rolfe by a Cornish privateer, who had in turn captured them from a Portuguese slaving ship. Although there were no laws delineating slavery in the nascent colony, their prospects were not rosy. But this was far from the first English encounter with Africans. In fact there had been Africans living in England from the early 1500s. What’s more: they were free. In this talk, Dr. Kaufmann explores the lives of these Black Tudors and Stuarts, contrasting their experiences with that of the Africans in early Virginia.


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Thursday 22 November 2018, Henley Business School, Whiteknights Campus

Professor Nicholas Vincent, University of East Anglia

 ‘The Letters of England's Kings and Queens 1154-1215: A Vast New Resource?’