A Vulgar History

   Posted by: Julia Redlich   in Bookworm

No, this is not what you think, simply a phrase in the title of Professor Stephanie Trigg’s latest book that was launched in the Mitchell Theatre of the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts on Friday, 8 June 2012.

Several New South Wales Ricardians attended and enjoyed an erudite and enjoyable evening. Opening the proceedings Dr Paul Giles, Challis Professor of English at Sydney University, introduced Shame and Honour: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter, and  had the honour and pleasure of launching the book. The author, Professor Trigg FAHA, of the University of Melbourne, followed with an explanation of the long research that resulted in this book accompanied by a continuous presentation of illustrations of Garter history from the legendary beginning through to the Duke of Cambridge looking rather sheepish in his robes and watched by his amused brother.

The book follows the cultural history of the Order from its founding in the mid-14th century through the variety of politics and fashion, and the attitudes regarding its importance. There has always been a lot of pride as well as embarrassment over the alleged story of its founding – the whole business of a lady’s dropped garter – as well as all the gloriously robed  rituals that go with it. However to quote the Order’s motto honi soit  qui mal y pense, as a so-called vulgar history, the book reflects on a wish to consider the sexual background of such an august Order and  introduces the idea that this could be one of the reasons for the Order’s long life as one of today’s  most select and covetable honours that still retains its connection to its medieval past.

Cleverly conceived and written with a pleasing dash of humour, it will hold the attention of history lovers whatever period in time is their special  interest.

Shame and Honour: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter, by Professor Stephanie Triff, FAHA. Published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, rrp AU$49.

The cover of the book, designed by John Hubbard, is Rex Whistler’s “His Royal Highness the Prince Regent Awakening the Spirit of Brighton”. © The Royal Pavilion, Libraries & Museums, Brighton and Hove, United Kingdom.

Tags: ,

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 at 16:19 and is filed under Bookworm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Trackback/Ping

  1. Richard III Society of NSW » Blog Archive » Review of the General Meeting of the NSW Branch on 9 June 2012    Oct 23 2012 / 10am:

    […] then reported on the official book launch for University of Melbourne Professor Stephanie Trigg’s Shame and Honor: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter, which several branch members had been able to attend the evening before, hosted by the Sydney […]

Leave a reply

Name (*)
Mail (will not be published) (*)