As an end-of-the-summer-holiday treat my little family and I went on a road-trip from Devon to Portsmouth to visit the Mary Rose Museum. I would highly recommend you to visit if you are nearby, or are particularly interested in Tudor life or the famous ship that was brought back to the surface in the 1970s.

The Mary Rose was sailing from 1511 to 1545 and saw a lot of action, serving Henry VIII well until her sinking at the Battle of the Solent. Out of the 400-strong crew, only around 35 men survived. The men aboard were a mixture of ordinary soldiers and higher order officers, and their personal items have been found amazingly preserved including shoes, tools, and books.




The Mary Rose

I find Tudor life fascinating and it is easy to romanticise the period what with its dresses, courtships, and seemingly simpler lives, but you soon realise that unless you are a rich man you wouldn’t fare well. Practical skills were generally held in higher regard especially in the lower orders. Learning to create, mend, and grow produce are essential life skills when you cannot afford to pay someone to do it for you. Academic education was reserved for those with the financial stability to educate the child and pay for a tutor. The luckier children had literate parents who could pass their knowledge on to them.

Horrifyingly to us Reading Addicts of the female persuasion we would have even less of a chance to read and write. Women and girls were seen as inferior, and their education seen as a waste. If a 16th century girl is lucky, or has particularly progressive or aspiring parents, then she may be permitted to read the Bible or her prayer book, but anything more than that was considered a waste of everyone’s time.

It seems it wouldn’t even matter if you were destined to be Queen: two of Henry VIII’s wives, Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard, could barely read a word. Despite this injustice many privileged women of the Tudor court were permitted to read and write, including Anne Boleyn whose golden book of psalms is now held in the British Library.

Anne Boleyn’s golden book of psalms.

Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I) c. 1559

Beautiful prayerbooks were popular among the wealthy women, above is Elizabeth I clutching her own copy in pious readiness.



As soon as I saw this book cover I thought about you lot- our Reading Addicts- and how you would understand my excitement at seeing a 500 year old book. Back then books were rarer than they are today, they were very expensive and so only the higher orders on the Mary Rose would own such an item. This beautifully decorated, calfskin book cover belonged to an officer aboard the fateful ship. The Mary Rose organisation says: “It is one of only two covers found on the Mary Rose to incorporate human likenesses within the design. Within small panels on the front and back are the letters ‘MD’, originally assumed to represent 1500 in Roman numerals, but now believed to represent Martin Doture, a London-based bookbinder and stationer during the period 1527–57.”

I have read many Philippa Gregory books about the royal courts during the 15th and 16th centuries, so this visit brought some realism to the characters I had come to know and the events that had unfolded. To see the leather boots the men wore and the tools they used, touched me deeper than I imagined it would. Life was cruel for many who lived through the reigns of bitter feuds of entitled royals and consequential religious turmoil, but it had always been just stories. Since seeing the bowls they ate from, etched with their personal symbols for easy identification, and the clothes they wore for comfort or protection, it has brought them to life again.




Turkish Garbage Collectors Open Library Full of Discarded Books

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Turkish garbage collectors in the country’s capital city of Ankara have opened a public library that is full of books that were originally destined to be put into landfill. The workers began collecting discarded books and opened the new library in the Çankaya district of Ankara. News of the library has spread and now people have begun donating books directly to the library, rather than throwing them away. Read More

Sad and Bad Bunnies Star in Their Own Violent True Stories

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An American charity, Youth Ambassadors, which was established in 2010 has produced a book of true stories based on American children’s lives,. The book is full of cutesy animal characters drawn in juxtaposition with violent and shocking stories, in a collection named ‘Welcome To My Neighbourhood’.

Their website states the charity is an: “educational, not-for-profit employment program designed to empower underserved youth with the knowledge that they as teenagers have a vital voice. They have the power to be active participants in their communities, not just passive observers.”

The book is meant to highlight the scary situations some children experience in their lives, and the awful reality many disadvantaged kids live through.

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5 Strange and Creepy Seasonal Creature Myths for Christmas

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Christmas time is full of strange customs and celebrations from cultures across Europe. Before Christmas time became what it is today, Pagan Europeans were marking Yule in their own way. Pagan celebrations eventually merged with Christian festivities, marking Christ’s birth instead of the Roman sun-god, Sol, and became something much like how we now celebrate.

Though people merged their cultures and adopted the Christian celebrations, some myths and local customs remain… And some of these are seriously creepy myths…

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A Very Literary Hanukah!

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A very happy Hanukah to our Jewish Reading Addicts!

If you are looking for some bookish ideas to spruce up you Hanukah celebrations then look no further. We have gathered together some of the internet’s finest literary bookish menorahs meant to interest the most dedicated bookish reader celebrating Hanukah.

Check out these fantastic creations.

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Amusingly Titled Gay Pulp Fiction of the 20th Century

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Pulp fiction is a popular and cheap way to produce books of low quality for mass consumption. In the early to mid-20th century popular pulp fiction titles included rather risqué publications about the sexual exploits of lesbian and gay couples.

Beginning in the 1930s, these pulp fiction books were sold in bus stations, newsstands, and general stores. Lesbian pulp fiction was far more popular than stories about gay men, due to their appeal to heterosexual men. The first original pulp nonfiction to feature male gay sex was in 1952, called Men Into Beasts, but it was more brutal and horrifying than the erotic and romantic fictions that followed.

In the 1960s gay press associations such as Guild Press, and Greenleaf Classics produced varied erotica and pornographic pulp fiction for and about homosexual men. Rather than being pieces of high literature the gay pulps were unashamedly created to titilate and arouse the reader. Each piece of pulp fiction of the time was produced with a colourful cover to catch the eye, and a provocative title.

We have gathered together some of the most amusing, shocking titles that were once available… Be warned- this is NOT safe for work!

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