In this swashbuckling episode of Travels Through Time we head back to the year 1453. We watch on as the brilliant, ruthless young sultan, Mehmet II, makes use of terrifying modern weaponry as he seeks to capture the prize of his heart’s desire: the ancient city of Constantinople.

 

Our guest this week is the award-winning and bestselling writer Justin Marozzi. Marozzi has lived for much of his professional life in the Middle East and North Africa and is known for books like The Man Who Invented History: Travels with Herodotus (2008) and Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood.

 

The events described and the characters involved in this episode are taken from Marozzi’s latest book, Islamic Empires Fifteen Cities that Define a Civilization. That book is published in paperback on 6 August by Penguin Press.

 

For much, much more about this episode, including battle plans and portraits of Mehmed and Constantine, head to our website: tttpodcast.com

 

Show notes

 

Scene One: January 1453. A Hungarian siege engineer called Orban offers the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II the most powerful new weapon in the world.

Scene Two: 22 April 1453, Mehmet displays an astonishing example of his military genius to seize control of the Golden Horn, Constantinople

Scene Three: 1:30am on 29th May, the battle for Constantinople reaches its dramatic climax

Memento: The magnificent cannon cast for the seige in 1453 by the Hungarian engineer Orban

 

People/Social

 

Presenter: Peter Moore

Interview: Violet Moller

Guest: Justin Marozzi

Production: Maria Nolan

Podcast partner: Colorgraph

Follow us on Twitter: @tttpodcast_

In this episode Professor Greg Woolf takes us to 146 BCE – the point at which Roman domination of the Mediterranean became inevitable.

In the West, the Romans destroyed the city of Carthage, ending the decades of military struggle known as the Punic Wars and finally defeating the Phoenicians.

In the East, Roman forces seized control of the important city of Corinth on mainland Greece, giving them a strategic foothold that they would go on to use in building their empire.

At the same time, the glittering intellectual capital of the ancient world, Alexandria, was beset by internal power struggles and so began the period of decline that would eventually lead to it, too, being absorbed into the Roman Empire.

For much, much more about this episode, head to tttpodcast.com

Show notes

Scene One: The demolition of Carthage in Spring of 146

Scene Two: At the sack of the ancient city of Corinth in Greece in 146

Scene Three: The decline of Alexandria and the death of Ptolemy VI in 145

Memento: A painting from the Ancient world

People/Social

Presenter: Peter Moore

Interview: Violet Moller

Guest: Professor Greg Woolf

Production: Maria Nolan

Follow us on Twitter: @tttpodcast_

Partner: Colorgraph

 

The conversation in this episode of Travels Through Time revolves around Woolf’s most recent book, The Life and Death of Ancient Cities.

In this brilliantly descriptive and entertaining episode of Travels Through Time the award-winning writer and satirist Craig Brown takes us on a cultural tour of 1963. We discuss the Great Train Robbery, the Beatles meteoric rise to fame and the assassination of JFK.

For much, much more about the episode and to be the first to see the amazing new colourised photograph of the Beatles in Washington DC at their first US concert – head to our website: tttpodcast.com

 

Show Notes:

Scene One: August 1963, lingering with the robbers in their hide-out at Leatherslade Farm.

Scene Two: Second half of 1963, Jane Asher's family home, Wimpole Street, to see/be Paul McCartney, living with the Ashers, at the time of the first flush of the Beatles’ success.

Scene Three: November 23 1963. In the Texas School Book depository with Lee Harvey Oswald as he shoots President Kennedy.

Memento: Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Yesterday’

 

People/Social

Presenter: Peter Moore

Interview: Artemis Irvine

Guest: Craig Brown

Producer: Maria Nolan

Titles: Jon O

Follow us on Twitter: @tttpodcast_

Podcast Partner: ColorGraph

 

Craig Brown’s book One, Two, Three Four: The Beatles in Time is available now from 4th Estate books.

 

In this episode of Travels Through Time, the writer and broadcaster Luke Pepera introduces us to Mansa Musa, a dazzling figure in African history. Mansa Musa was the Emperor of Mali in the fourteenth century. We follow him as he embarks on his spectacular pilgrimage to Mecca in 1325.

It was a journey of epic proportions, involving a procession of tens of thousands of people and the transport of extraordinary amounts of gold, the precious metal on which Mali had built its wealth.

For much more information about this episode - including illustrations of the places and people featured - head to our website, tttpodcast.com

To hear more stories from African history, you can follow Luke on Twitter at @LukePepera and read along with his blog.

Show notes:

Scene One: Early 1325, as Mansa Musa sets off on his extravagant pilgrimage to Mecca.

Scene Two: Mid-to-late 1325, in the court of al-Nasir, the Egyptian sultan, to witness the meeting between the two great leaders.

Scene Three: Late 1325, as a scholar in the Djingeureber Mosque at Timbuktu, which was established by the architects and scholars whom Mansa Musa brought back from his pilgrimage.

Memento: A book of poetry from the University of Timbuktu

People/Social

Interview: Artemis Irvine

Guest: Luke Pepera

Producer: Maria Nolan

Titles: Jon O

 

Check out the amazing colourised images made by our podcast partner, ColorGraph!

In our fascinating season three opener, Peter talks to Professor James Shapiro, one of the world’s leading scholars of the life and work of William Shakespeare. He tells Peter about the origin of the concept of 'Manifest Destiny'. He takes us to meet a young Ulysses S. Grant, and he evokes the life of the greatest Romeo of the age: Charlotte Cushman. The year is 1845.

For much more information about this episode, including images of the people and places involved, head to our website, tttpodcast.com

The conversation in this podcast revolves around James Shapiro's most recent book,  Shakespeare in a Divided America. It is available now from Faber in the UK and Penguin Press in the USA.

 

Show notes:

 

Scene One: August, 1845.  John O’Sullivan, in an essay called “Annexation” introduces the phrase “Manifest Destiny” into the American vocabulary, capturing America’s shift from republic to empire, the repercussions of which are being felt to this day.

Scene Two: November, 1845.  Corpus Christi, Texas. Four thousand US troops are awaiting orders in Corpus Christi, Texas to cross the Rio Grande and invade Mexico. 

Scene Three: December 1845.  In a revealing act of cross-dressing that speaks to the anxieties about manliness at the time, the star American actress Charlotte Cushman debuts as Romeo - a role that no man at the time was able to perform successfully - at London’s Haymarket Theatre. 

Memento: A recording of Ulysses S. Grant speaking Desdomona’s lines in Othello:

People/Social

Presenter: Peter Moore

Guest: Professor James Shapiro

Producers: Maria Nolan

Titles: Jon O

 

Check out the amazing colourised images made by our podcast partner, ColorGraph!

July 19, 2020

Season Three Trailer

We're really excited to let you know that the third season of Travels Through Time begins on Tuesday 21 July.

Our first guest will be with the winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize and world-leading Shakespeare scholar, Professor James Shapiro. Following him will be a brilliant range of historians, novelists, poets and others - all of them people with a passion for the past. 

For more, check out tttpodcast.com. // See you soon!

In this thrilling episode of Travels Through Time, Owen Matthews takes us back to 1941 to see Richard Sorge, the ‘spy to end all spies’, operating at the highest level in the most dangerous months of the Second World War.

~

Two events in 1941 did more than anything else to settle the shape and outcome of the Second World War. The first was the most fateful decision of Adolf Hitler’s life: the launching of Operation Barbarossa against the USSR on 22 June. The second was the surprise Japanese aerial attack on the US naval base of Pearl Harbour, six months later on 7 December.

These events appear crystal clear to us in retrospect, but for many living at that time they came like a flash out of the blue. A few people, though, did know what was coming. One of them was one of the most extraordinary communist underground operatives of the twentieth century: Richard Sorge. Sorge ran a Soviet spy group in Tokyo from the 1930s onwards that achieved astonishing access into the Nazi war machine.

A drinker, a womaniser, a risk-taker, all on a breath-taking scale, one journalist has classified Sorge ‘as an example of the rare species we might call Homo undercoverus – those who find the dull, unclassified lives that the rest of us lead simply not worth living.’

Our guest on Travels Through Time today is Owen Matthews, author of a new biography of Sorge. Owen studied Modern History at Oxford. His book, Stalin's Children, was translated into twenty-eight languages and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.

The scenes and subjects described in this episode feature in Owen Matthews biography of Richard Sorge, An Impeccable Spy. The book is available in paperback from Bloomsbury now.

Show notes:

Scene One: 31 May 1941, The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Richard Sorge receives final confirmation that Operation Barbarossa will shortly be launched.

Scene Two: 22 June 1941. The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Sorge’s bitter fury when he hears news of the German invasion.

Scene Three: One night in August, 1941. The Embassy Ballroom with Sorge and Eta Harich-Schneider

Memento: Richard Sorge’s lighter

People/Social

Presenter: Peter Moore

Guest; Owen Matthews

Producer: Maria Nolan

Editorial: Artemis Irvine

Titles: Jon O

==

Follow us on Twitter @tttpodcast_

Check out the best colourised images from our new partner, Dynamichrome.

In this thought-provoking episode of Travels Through Time, historian Kelcey Wilson-Lee takes us to the court of the English King Edward I in 1297 to meet his daughters at a dramatic moment in their lives.

~

King Edward I’s daughters did not conform to the modern stereotype of medieval princesses. They weren’t delicate, wistful girls, passively waiting to be rescued by a handsome prince. Eleanora and her sisters were true Plantagenets. They were headstrong, passionate characters who spent as much time hunting, managing estates and travelling around England and the Continent as they did doing needlework in their chambers.

Their lives reveal the breadth of experience of royal women in the medieval period through the various roles they played. They represented their country and championed the needy. They promoted monastic houses, were brides in strategic alliances, rebellious daughters, landowners, patrons of culture, mothers, wives and most important of all in this story, sisters.

In this episode of Travels Through Time, the historian Kelcey Wilson-Lee takes Violet Moller to meet Eleanora, Joanna, Mary, Margaret and Elizabeth in the year 1297.

Kelcey Wilson-Lee’s Daughters of Chivalry: the forgotten children of Edward I is published by MacMillan

Show notes: 

Scene One: January, 1297, and the royal family has gathered in Ipswich for Elizabeth's wedding to Johan, Count of Holland, after which she is supposed to sail for her new husband’s lands.

Scene Two: July 1297, King Edward I’s court at St Albans. Joanna comes to plead her case after having eloped and secretly remarried a nobody without her father's permission. She makes a dramatic speech that is (very unusually) recorded and is forgiven by her Father.

Scene Three: Christmas 1297, in Ghent where Elizabeth (who eventually went to Holland) is reunited with her sisters who have married into Europe in years before.

Memento: A gold ring presented to Margaret by Edward I at Harwich.

People/Social

Presenter: Violet Moller

Guest: Kelcey Wilson-Lee

Producer: Maria Nolan

Editorial: John Hillman

Titles: Jon O

Made in partnership with the brilliant photo colourists at Dynamichrome

In this invigorating episode of Travels Through Time, the award-winning Zimbabwean novelist Petina Gappah takes us in pursuit of the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone in the year 1871.

~

David Livingstone was one of the towering figures of Victorian Britain. He was a missionary who became an explorer, who believed that he was divinely appointed to solve the puzzle of the geography of Africa.

Livingstone made his name in the 1850s when he became the first recorded Briton to set eyes on Victoria Falls. In 1855 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society, and the next year he published his huge bestseller, Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa.

Victorian Britons grew used to consuming stories of Livingstone’s travels as heroic adventure narratives. He was portrayed as a dynamo of energy and an oracle of vision who chased after the loftiest prizes: mysterious lakes or hidden rivers in a vast continent.

But what of the African people who travelled with Livingstone? What did they think of this peculiar wandering mzungu? What kind of lives were living at that time? What did Livingstone’s intervention in their societies mean for them?

The Zimbabwean novelist Petina Gappah raises these questions during the course of this episode as she takes us back to the year 1871. She tells us how glamorous Livingstone’s adventures were for his contemporaries. She shows us the magic and peril of strangers encountering one another for a first time. She explains how Livingstone’s expeditions worked as logistical enterprises. Then she depicts some of the more disturbing aspects of the period: the east African slave trade, and the massacres it generated.

The scenes and subjects described in this episode feature in Petina Gappah’s new novel, Out of Darkness, Shining Light, which tells the story of Dr Livingstone’s final journey. The book is available in hardback from Faber.

Show notes:

Scene One: 21 March 1871, Bagamoio, a port on the east coast of what is now Tanzania. The American journalist Henry Morton Stanley sets out from Bagamoio for a daring mission into the African interior.

Scene Two: 15 July 1871, A day market in Nyangwe, a village in Manyema, on the right bank of the Lualaba River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Livingstone witnesses a massacre.

Scene Three: October 1871, Ujiji in present day Tanzania. Stanley finally meets Livingstone, having marched 700 miles to reach him.

Memento: The instruments that David Livingstone used, later ‘purloined’ by Lt Cameron

People/Social

Presenter: Peter Moore

Guest; Petina Gappah

Producer: Maria Nolan

Reading: Makomborero Kasipo

Editorial: Artemis Irvine

Titles: Jon O

==

Follow us on Twitter @tttpodcast_

Check out the best colourised images from our new partner, Dynamichrome.

In this episode of Travels Through Time, Marcus du Sautoy The Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford takes us back to the 1830s to meet one of his heroes: the brilliant and tragic Évariste Galois. 

~

Évariste Galois is a fascinating figure in the history of mathematics. An unpromising and secretive student who became embroiled in the revolutionary politics of the 1830s, Galois was dead at the age of twenty. Yet the work he completed in his few active years of study has influenced the subject of mathematics ever since.

Galois was born on the outskirts of Paris during the period of Napoleon’s rule in 1811. From the beginning he was known for his unusual, ‘bizarre’, character that led him into time and again into dangerous situations.

At some point during Galois’s undistinguished school career he fell, ‘under the spell of the excitement of mathematics’. Here he found a realm of certainty and fascination, where he could feel safe and escape the perils of human interaction and everyday life.

During his teenage years Galois’s fascination for his subject became ever deeper. He began to conceive entirely new ways of approaching an age-old mathematical problem – that of solving the quintic. So begins one of the thrilling stories in the history of mathematics.

Marcus du Sautoy takes us back to see Galois as his young life reached its intellectual peak and tragic conclusion in the early 1830s. It's a story of beguiling genius in tumultuous times.

The Creativity Code by Marcus du Sautoy is out now.

Show Notes:

Scene One: 9 May 1831, Paris. At a banquet to celebrate the acquittal of 19 members of the revolutionary Société des Amis du Peuple, a young Galois gets carried away by the atmosphere and the alcohol.

Scene Two: 23 October 1831 , Sainte-Pelagie Prison, southern Paris. Galois is thrown in jail, having been found guilty of wearing a banned National Guard uniform, carrying weapons – and graffitiing his holding cell with political cartoons.

Scene Three: 30 May 1832, Paris: Early one morning a peasant on his way to work finds a young man lying beside a pond bleeding from a gunshot wound.

People

Presenter: Violet Moller

Guest: Marcus du Sautoy

Producer: Maria Nolan

Editorial: Artemis Irvine

Titles: Jon O

==

We've set up a Twitter account at long last! Please say hello @tttpodcast_

In this episode of Travels Through Time, Catherine Nixey, author of the international bestseller The Darkening Age, guides Violet Moller back to the ancient city of Alexandria in the year 415. They talk about the simmering tensions between Christians, Jews and Pagans at that time. Among the characters they meet is the gifted, beautiful and powerful Hypatia of Alexandria.

~

Hypatia of Alexandria has always been a compelling figure. Her glittering life and brutal death have inspired writers, poets and film makers for centuries. But what lies behind the myth and speculation?

Hypatia’s murder was a particularly horrific episode in the gradual triumph of Christianity over classical culture, a slow and painful process that was played out across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. In this episode Catherine Nixey isolates and analyses 415, one dramatic year in this complex story.

Catherine Nixey is a journalist and author. The Darkening Age won an award from the Royal Society of Literature and was an international bestseller. Her journalism has appeared in The Economist, The Financial Times, The Times and The New York Times.

The Darkening Age is available from MacMillan now.

Show notes:

Scene 1: Cyril becomes Bishop of Alexandria and begins to impose his policy on the city. He regulates theatrical entertainment and the Jews react, killing a Christian in the process.

Scene 2: Cyril orders his followers to attack the synagogues and seize Jewish property. Orestes, secular ruler of the city, is attacked by Christians (even though he is one himself) but manages to escape.

Scene 3: The violence escalates. Hypatia is rumoured to have cast a spell on Orestes, public feeling against her is stirred up. She is pulled from her coach and murdered.

Memento: One of Hypatia's astrolabes.

People/Social

Presenter: Artemis Irvine

Interview: Violet Moller

Guest: Catherine Nixey

Producer: Maria Nolan

Titles: Jon O

For our Valentine’s Day Special episode of Travels Through Time, we visit Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, to talk to Dr Sophie Ratcliffe about Anna Karenina, Kate Field, Sofia Tolstoy and the year 1876.

~

Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is one of the dazzling achievements of nineteenth century literature. It is a story of power, ambition, fidelity and lust, ‘a warning against the myth and cult of love’, with the ill-starred relationship between the Russian socialites Anna and Count Vronsky at its centre.

In this episode of Travels Through Time, Sophie Ratcliffe shows how Anna was very much a child of the 1870s. Various historical figures can be found in her character. A well-known inspiration is Anna Stepanovna Pirogova, a jealous lover who threw herself under a freight train. A lesser-known one is the American journalist, lecturer and early telephone pioneer Kate Field.

Field was hugely charismatic and popular. The Chicago Tribune judged her ‘perhaps the most unique woman the present century has produced.’ She was among the first celebrity journalists. She was acquainted with Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Anthony Trollope, and George Eliot. For a time in the 1870s, she was employed as the first public relations manager for Alexander Graham Bell’s new invention, the telephone.

Here Ratcliffe explains how Field’s legacy stretched further still. As she explains in her new book, The Lost Properties of Love: ‘Parts of Kate Field live on in Anna Karenina. Anna Karenina is part Kate Field. That’s what writers do. They change lives.’

In this conversation, Ratcliffe guides us back to 1876 and to a historical past suspended between fact and fiction. She describes how trains were viewed as an invasive new technology; how time operates in intriguing ways in Tolstoy’s fiction, and she speculates about what was hidden in Anna’s red handbag as she stepped off the railway platform.

Dr Sophie Ratcliffe's The Lost Properties of Love is published by William Collins.

Show notes:

Scene One: A warm Sunday evening in late May 1876 (probably Sunday 30 May by the Russian calendar), the platform of Obiralovka Train Station, Russia.

Scene Two: The Gaiety Theatre, London, late April 1876, to watch Kate Field in a play called The Honeymoon by John Tobin

Scene Three: 17 March, 1876, Sofia Tolstoy’s bedside, Yasnaya Polyana Russia.

Memento: The front page of the Times (with the classified ads) for Tuesday 13 June, 1876

People/Social

Presenter: Peter Moore

Guest: Dr Sophie Ratcliffe

Producer: Maria Nolan

Titles: Jon O

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