I’m currently writing up The Edwardians and the Making of a Modern Spanish Obsession, which explores the early 20th-century boom in British interest in Spain, through academic and cultural scholarship, travel and tourism, popular fiction, and the illustrated press, all of which brought ordinary people into closer contact with Spain and its culture than ever before. Read more about the project.
The picture is the frontispiece for Bithia Croker’s 1908 novel The Spanish Necklace, in which repressed English twenty-something Hester Forde comes into a fortune, learns to stand up for herself, and buys some really impressive jewellery. You can read a bit more about Croker’s and other Spanish-themed Edwardian novels over at my Books on Spain blog.
I’m currently working on two digital history projects, which have grown out of my fascination with data, databases, and what the details of forgotten lives can tell us about wider questions in cultural history:
Hispanic Liverpool aims to uncover the traces of Liverpool’s role as a hub in the 19th-century networks that connected Spain and Portugal with Latin America. The core of the project is a database of some 2000 19th-century Liverpool residents born in the Luso-Hispanic world; another part of the project aims to trace and record the locations where Hispanic Liverpudlians lived and worked, many of which have already disappeared, or exist only as ruins.
The Atlantis Project: Women and Words in Spain, 1890-1936 challenges the received view of early twentieth-century Spain as ‘a desert for women writers’ by gathering bio-bibliographical information about women writing in all languages and all genres whose works were published, circulated, read or commented on during the decades between 1890 and the outbreak of civil war in 1936.
The Hispanic Liverpool Project has led me to a wider interest in port cities, and especially in Anglo-Spanish port city communities, the networks connecting them, and the traces they have left behind. I’m on the academic board of the Liverpool Centre for Port and Maritime History, and one of our collaborative research strands is Port City Lives. We held an international conference on the topic ‘Port City Lives’ on 29-30 June 2012, which was attended by nearly forty delegates from all over the world. Our 2014 annual conference, on ‘Vectors: Port Cities as Gateways, Channels and Conduits,’ took place in September 2014.
Mobile Memories, Lost Communities was led by Laura Yates, Community Programmer at FACT in Liverpool, between June and September 2013. Working in collaboration with Rotunda College, an adult learning facility in Vauxhall, Liverpool and in partnership with a number of grass-roots housing and charity organisations based in the North Liverpool area, Mobile Memories, Lost Communities researched stories of immigration into North Liverpool, local histories of these communities, and present-day lost or hidden communities. My contribution brought in the history of the Basque and Spanish residents of Vauxhall and Kirkdale.