James Daybell and Sam Willis – Blenheim Literary Festival


October 13, 2018


Historians Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell look at some of the unexpected and often magical links that connect events in history, using their own theatrical props and archive film including of Titanic, Vesuvius erupting and the Mary Rose.

What links zebras to the Second World War? Why is the history of the orange all about Elizabethan spies and the gunpowder plot? How is the history of windows linked to Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar? Willis and Daybell tackle some of the great historical themes from the Romans to the Tudors, the Victorians and the Second World War but through entirely unexpected subjects.

Willis and Daybell’s podcast, Histories of the Unexpected, is broadcast on Dan Snow’s History Hit channel. The series has also been turned into a book of the same name. Willis is an honorary research fellow at the University of Plymouth with an expertise in naval history and marine archaeology. He worked on the Hornblower television series and on the Channel 4 film, Shackleton, and presented the BBC 4 film, Nelson’s Caribbean Hell Hole. Daybell is professor of early modern history at the University of Plymouth and author of eight books including Women Letter-Writers in Tudor England.

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Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, OX20 1PP