On Tuesday 1st November we were delighted to welcome historian, author and broadcaster Tracy Borman back to the University of Hull for an Inspired in Hull talk. In the fantastic Middelton Hall venue we were treated to some of the highlights of Tracy’s career and a whistlestop tour of some of the key moments in the history of the British Monarchy. Below, you can watch the video of Tracy’s fascinating and brilliant talk, see the event photographs and read about the evening.
Tracy started the evening with a story about her first job at Lincoln Castle in which she dressed up as a Victorian Jailer to take tourists around the attraction. This was something she enjoyed, but it was only when she arrived at the University of Hull that everything came together for her.
‘It had an atmosphere that was so unique and so welcoming,’ she said. ‘And I think that is something that hasn’t changed a bit.’
The opening of Tracy’s talk was accompanied by personal photographs and covered key moments in her life and career from Hull onwards, and she was keen to talk about the friendships she made here, and the contribution that Hull made to her growing love of history. There were photographs from Tracy’s time at Hull, including her first day at the university, and the day of her graduation, and photographs that Tracy had taken herself at venues such as the archives at the Vatican and the ceiling of St Mary’s Church at Beverley.
This photograph showed the depictions of every King from Anglo Saxon times to Henry VI. And this was part of the focus of the evening’s talk which was a brief history of the British Monarchy with stories taken from Tracy’s new book Crown and Sceptre. Tracy’s interest was in the personalities of the monarchs, but also the institution of the monarchy itself – how much has changed and how much has stayed the same, pointing out that the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 had a startling resemblance to that of her ancestor Egbert, the 9th Century King of Wessex.
Acknowledging that the term ‘British Monarch’ can be problematic given the history of the institution, the different countries involved, and the changing national boundaries over the centuries, Tracy began her story with William the Conqueror, taking in familiar figures and familiar anecdotes from history, going through Richard III, Henry VIII, Charles I and his son Charles II, the Georges, Queen Victoria and taking us up to the present day.
Though some of the stories were familiar, Tracy’s engaging style and the personal twist she added invited us to think afresh about each of the monarchs within the wider context of Tracy’s exhilarating trip through 1,115 years of the British Monarchy.
Following her talk, Tracy took questions from the audience and signed books in the foyer. And if anyone is interested in which actor has, in Tracy’s opinion, given the greatest screen performance of a royal, she answered that question at the end of the evening: Miranda Richardson as Queen Elizabeth I in Black Adder!
‘She nailed it, she really nailed it!’ Tracy said, to laughter from the audience.