Books Magazine

London’s Skeletons #BriFri

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!

Last week, I reviewed Ken Follett’s A Dangerous Fortune. Jackie shared photos from a 2005 trip to Ireland.  Sim shared her whole list of posts recounting her fantasy walk through London using the Tube Map as her guide — she’s completed 29! Becky reviewed a play (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and two books (The Fellowship of the Ring and Cain His Brother).


I’m traveling in Britain this week, vicariously, via a Facebook friend. She’s been visiting some of the places I wanted to go in London but didn’t make it to on my first trip, including the British Library and a play at The Globe. They’re on my list for the next trip!

I did visit the Museum of London, as she did, very early in our stay because it offers such a helpful overview of the city. What I didn’t see was the new exhibit about recent scientific discoveries from old bones in the Museum’s collection. The analysis of four partial skeletons generated surprising results — London was a diverse city, in all kinds of ways, from the very beginning. The BBC covered the story just before the exhibit opened last fall.

The London Wall
A piece of the London Wall outside the Museum of London.

For all that I love about the English, I despair about their sense of superiority over everyone else — largely because of how that attitude has determined what it means to be white in America. But, I’m also sad for the white English. They lament the loss of the British Empire, but seem unable to appreciate the great gift they have now — the entire British Empire resides on their island. The white driver of a car we hired for a day actually said to me, “It doesn’t feel like England anymore.” Perhaps this discovery will help re-wire the English psyche, providing evidence that their pre-history was also diverse.

A lot of things have come into my thought process here, but the most complete version on my blog is the book review of Sugar in the Blood by Andrea Stuart, a book I searched for in vain at every bookstore I visited in England. There were always at least two books about William Wilberforce on the shelf — apparently, the British would prefer to think about their role in ending slavery rather than their role in starting it.

What have you encountered from the British Isles this week?


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