Welcome back to a new (actual) year of The Manchester Historian. With the exam period came ample opportunities for witnessing terrible daytime TV, which might explain where our theme for this month’s historian came from – we love to hate them but adverts are the bread and butter of our media today and we can’t escape them.

With that in mind, we’ve looked at advertising in all its many forms, across history and throughout the world. Many of the advertising norms that we are irritated by today we think of as products of the mad men culture of the 1960s. However, many of these go much further back. Did you know that celebrities have been putting their names to products they likely don’t use for over a century? Or that ad agencies themselves were as prolific, if not as inventive, for the Victorians as they have been over the last fifty years?

We have reached further back in time to discover the sales techniques that predated Madison Avenue. If you’re a Carpenter it’s likely that this is what your ancestors actually did in the Middle Ages. While Shakespeare may have claimed that all the world is a stage, for him it was equally a billboard. We explore the extraordinary inventiveness of the salesman pre-literacy and media in this issue.

Of course, as the twentieth century developed advertising did so too. If you’re particularly fond of puns, we suggest you relish in our trip through those favoured by the ad men over the last century and if you’re equally fond of a political slogan or two, we’ve got an article dedicated to their proclamations.

With a new year also comes new news. In History Behind the Headlines, we deliver a fresh take on the events dominating the bulletins today. From the history of peace talks, written in the hope of a solution for Syria, to a review of working class demonization that reveals just how inevitable shows like Benefits Street really are in our culture, we have provided the historical context for the events that may be concerning you.

As ever, we haven’t neglected our regular features. For a top up on your must have historical knowledge, do take a look at our overview of the oft neglected South American slave trade. Our Undiscovered Hero had a dramatic impact on the landscape of this country – and on many of our summer holidays. Do read about James Lees-Milne toward the back of the issue. We’ve reviewed films, TV shows, and provided an indulgent look back at the awards season over time. We’ve even interviewed a historian-cum-comedian – check out our interview with Al Murray. Given that the original conversation was at least half an hour long, we think it’s fair to say it is enjoyable!

For updates on your history department, please consider the Historian an essential source. Those of you considering your modules for next year may be pleased to know we’ve interviewed Dr Goeschel so you can get to know him a bit better.

We hope you enjoy this issue and have just about recovered from exams. Thanks, as always, must go to all those who have written, edited and designed this issue. If you’d like to get involved with the Historian, please get in touch.


Alice and Charlotte