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(SP-3295: 1. 48'; b. 8'6" ; dr. 4'; s. 12 k.)
The third Josephine (SP-3295), a motor boat, was built in 1913 by Jacob Shipyard, City Island, N.Y., and acquired by the Navy 30 October 1918 from her owner, Frank S. Sample.
Josephine operated as a patrol and harbor craft in the 3d Naval District until being returned to her owner 3 January 1919.
Before going to Egypt in 1798, Napoleon I gave his wife Joséphine the task of finding a country house to her liking. Joséphine was immediately charmed by Le Château de Malmaison and bought it in 1799, three years after their marriage.
At first, it was an old house of the 17th century, but renovations by architects Percier and Fontaine (1800 to 1802) turned it into a luxurious villa with all the fashions of the 19th century.
The Château had many interesting features. On the ground floor, the architects gave the vestibule the appearance of the atrium of a Roman villa. During receptions, a mechanism installed enabled the mirrors to slide into the walls transforming the billiard rooms and dining room into reception halls.
In the pavilions at either end, small rooms were modified to create larger rooms. The dining room was extended by the addition of a semi-circular section and thereafter featured six windows instead of four.
All these renovation works had seriously weakened the walls of the château façade however, and the architects were forced to use heavy buttresses to hold them up. These massive buttresses were decorated with statues taken from the gardens of Château de Marly (see the picture of the garden facade).
Outside the Château, Percier and Fontaine built a small theatre that could accommodate 200 to 300 spectators, set for numerous productions. The farm adjacent to the Château was transformed into a kitchen block since the previous kitchens, located in the cellar, were no longer sufficient for the emperor’s family and guests.
The interiors were decorated in a style combination of Antiquity and Renaissance which became the archetype of the Empire style. There is no shortage of archaeological and historical references: Doric pilasters and stucco columns in the vestibule, decorative motifs inspired by Roman and Pompeian paintings on the library ceiling and in the dining room.
The council chamber is another interesting part of the Château. It is made to look like a military tent, with its fabric walls supported by fasces, pikes, and standards between which were hung ensembles of arms recalling the most famous warlike people of all time.
Bonaparte’s library still keeps the original decoration, with furniture mainly brought from the Tuileries Palace. The painted ceiling alludes to the literary authors Bonaparte appreciated. A secret staircase led Napoleon directly to his rooms on the first floor.
Josephine Skriver made her SI Swimsuit debut in 2020. She was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. She was scouted to model as a teenager during a trip to NYC and pursued a career in at home in Denmark before beginning her international work. Josephine's NYFW debut was in February 2011, when she walked for Calvin Klein and Rag & Bone. Josephine has modeled in campaigns for Armani, Balmain, Gucci, Max Mara, Tom Ford and more. She's appeared in a variety of editorial spreads in publications like Vogue, Vogue Italia, VogueGermany, V, Dazed, W Magazine, and Interview, just to name a few. In 2013, Josephine walked her first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and was named an official “Angel” by Victoria’s Secret in 2016. Josephine's accolades go far beyond the modeling world. She is well known for being an advocate for global LGBTQ rights. She was raised by a lesbian mother and a gay father, and is outspoken about her upbringing. Since going public about her unique upbringing, Josephine has been involved with organizations like Stonewall Initiative, Family Equality Council and COLAGE, while her story has been documented by Vogue, Huffington Post, i-D, Australia Today, and additional media outlets.
The Richard III Society, American Branch, sponsors an annual $30,000 dissertation fellowship, as well as five annual awards in the amount of $2000, for graduate students working in the field of later medieval English history & culture. The program is administered on behalf of the Branch by the Medieval Academy of America. For more information please see About Us page.
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B. Diagnosis of arterial injury
CT angiography or duplex ultrasonography can be used in lieu of arteriography to rule out an arterial injury in penetrating injuries to Zone II of the neck.
CT of the neck (even without CT angiography) can be used to rule out a significant vascular injury if it demonstrates that the trajectory of the penetrating object is remote from vital structures. With injuries in proximity to vascular structures, minor vascular injuries such as intimal flaps may be missed.
In the era of mandatory neck exploration for penetrating trauma, there seemed to be little need for angiography, though some  suggested that the angiogram could assist in operative planning and thereby minimize morbidity, or rule out the need for exploration (56, 57). Physical examination, however, seemed unreliable for ruling out arterial injury  . Delayed pseudoaneuryms and neurologic events have been described in originally asymptomatic patients, prompting some to advocate angiography in all such patients  . A negative arteriogram in a stable patient can rule out an arterial injury  . North et al  reviewed the records of 139 stable patients with penetrating neck trauma. Patients who had at least soft signs of vascular injury (absent pulse, bruit, hematoma, or altered neurologic status) had a 30% incidence of vascular injury by angiography, whereas only 2 of 78 asymptomatic patients had injuries (one minor and one that did not affect management). Gunshot wounds were more likely than stab wounds to cause vascular injury. Similarly, Hartling et al  found that 43 patients with stab wounds to the neck and minimal symptoms had no significant injuries by angiography. Even in the 18 patients with physical findings consistent with a vascular injury, only 2 had significant injuries. Rivers et al  similarly questioned the value of angiography. Of 63 angiograms in 61 patients, only 6 were abnormal. Three were thought to be spurious on subsequent review, two were clinically insignificant, and one required surgery. No significant arterial injuries were identified by arteriography in the absence of suggestive physical findings. No major arterial injuries were discovered during exploration that were missed preoperatively. Angiograms did not alter the course of management.
In contrast, Sclafani et al  found that 10 of 26 patients who had positive angiograms for penetrating vascular injury to the neck had undergone the angiogram solely because of proximity. Physical examination had a sensitivity of 61% and specificity of 80%. They also found no differences in their results based upon mechanism of injury. They suggested that proximity should not be abandoned as an indication for angiography in these patients. Menawat et al  performed angiography for proximity or soft signs of vascular injury. Fifteen injuries were found on 45 angiograms. Forty-two patients without any signs of injury were successfully observed without angiography or operation. Overall, only 1 patient had a significant injury that was not predicted by physical examination.
In contrast, Nemzek et al  found that proximity, based on the addition of plain films or CT of the neck showing prevertebral soft-tissue swelling, missile fragmentation, or missiles adjacent to major vessels can be useful but are nonspecific radiographic signs.
To examine the cost effectiveness of angiography, Jarvik et al  studied 111 patients with penetrating neck trauma. Forty five of the 48 patients with vascular injuries had abnormal clinical findings. Management in the other 3 patients was not altered by the angiogram. They calculated the cost of screening angiography in asymptomatic patients to be approximately $3.08 million per central nervous system event.
Demetriades et al  prospectively compared physical examination and duplex US imaging to angiography in 82 stable patients with penetrating neck injuries. Only 11 patients had vascular injuries by angiography and only 2 of these needed to be repaired. The serious injuries were detected or suspected on physical examination, but 6 lesions that did not require treatment were missed (sensitivity 100% for serious injuries, but 45% for all injuries). By duplex US imaging, 10 of 11 injuries, including all serious ones, were identified, for an overall sensitivity of 91% (100% for clinically important lesions) and specificity of 99%. Further studies by Demetriades et al  included 223 patients. Of the 160 asymptomatic patients, 11 had injuries that did not require treatment. Overall, duplex US was 92% sensitive (100% for findings that required an operation) and 100% specific for defining an injury. Bynoe et al  similarly found that duplex US was 95% sensitive and 99% specific for vascular injuries after both neck and extremity trauma. The only missed injuries were 2 shotgun pellet injuries that did not need repair.
In a prospective, double-blind study, Montalvo et al  found that US identified all 10 significant injuries in 52 patients with penetrating neck trauma. Duplex US did not identify reversible carotid narrowing in one patient and did not visualize 2 vertebral arteries. Another report by the same group  found in 55 patients that duplex US had 100% sensitivity and 85% specificity.
Corr et al  reported that duplex US picked up 2 intimal flaps that were not identified on angiography.
Helical CT angiography is the newest technology to be tested for identifying vascular injuries from penetrating neck trauma. Because it might also be useful for identifying or ruling out other injuries, e.g., aerodigestive tract injury, this modality is particularly intriguing as a &ldquoone stop shop&rdquo to evaluate asymptomatic patients for selective operative management. The speed and resolution of this modality continues to improve. Gracias et al  have already recommended that if a CT demonstrates trajectories that are remote from vital structures, the need for additional invasive studies can be eliminated.
Munera et al  prospectively studied 60 patients, who had 10 vascular injuries. There was one missed injury by CT angiography because the study actually did not include the entire neck. They later  suggested that patients with bruits or thrill at admission may be better treated by undergoing conventional angiography because of the potential for endovascular therapy. Helical CT angiography is limited by artifact due to metal, which may obscure arterial segments therefore, these patients should undergo conventional angiography. In the setting of a mandatory exploration protocol, Mazolewski et al  found that CT angiography, compared to operative findings, was 100% sensitive and 91% specific in 14 patients.
Josephine Marshall Jewell Dodge
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Josephine Marshall Jewell Dodge, née Josephine Marshall Jewell, (born Feb. 11, 1855, Hartford, Conn., U.S.—died March 6, 1928, Cannes, France), American pioneer in the day nursery movement.
Josephine Jewell was of a prominent family. She left Vassar College after three years in 1873 to accompany her father, who had just been appointed U.S. minister to Russia, to St. Petersburg. Returning to the United States in 1874, she married Arthur M. Dodge, a member of a family active in New York business and philanthropy (he was an uncle of Grace H. Dodge).
Josephine Dodge became interested in the day nursery movement and in 1878 began sponsoring the Virginia Day Nursery to care for children of working mothers in New York City’s East Side slums. In 1888 she founded the Jewell Day Nursery, whose aim was not simply day care but also the education of immigrant children in “American” values. She demonstrated a similar model day nursery at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. In 1895 she founded and became first president of the Association of Day Nurseries of New York City, and in 1898 she became president of the National Federation (later Association) of Day Nurseries, which within 20 years encompassed some 700 members.
Clearly, a more comprehensive definition of the trauma patient requiring trauma center care needs to be developed. A subcommittee is working to accomplish this. Major trauma, complex care, resource availability and regionalization of care need to be considered. This definition must be developed prior to any further research in order for these studies to be meaningful. We need to be certain we are making valid comparisons of similar patients. The National Trauma Data Bank could then be examined for criteria effectiveness. Pediatric trauma centers and adult trauma centers with added pediatric qualifications should pool their data to address the paucity of literature on pediatric trauma triage.
Jughead was born and raised in Riverdale alongside, his younger sister, Jellybean, and his closest friends, Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper. He is the son of Gladys and FP Jones, who at one point, was the leader of the Southside Serpents.
A few years prior to the start of the series, Fred Andrews fired FP from his business and soon afterward, FP began drinking heavily interspersed with empty promises to quit drinking and find another job. His downward spiral along with their lack of income led Jughead's mother to take off with his then ten-year-old sister, Jellybean, while Jughead took up residence in the projection booth at the Twilight Drive-In. His mother and Jellybean, for a time, lived with Jughead and Jellybean's grandparents in Toledo.
Six years prior to the series, Jughead was playing with matches outside Riverdale Elementary School and was sent to the Riverdale Juvenile Delinquent Center for "arson" as listed on his permanent record. He was also routinely bullied throughout high school, predominantly by the football team, which included Jason Blossom and Reggie Mantle.
Jughead hates his birthday because throughout his childhood, despite the constant chaos at home with his alcoholic father, there was an arbitrary day where he was supposed to pretend that everything was okay, which just made him feel really lonely. From that point forward, he decided to barely acknowledge his birthday. Instead, he would attend a double-feature at the Bijou theater with Archie (aside from his 16th birthday, when he went with Betty instead).
Leading into summer of 2017, Jughead and Archie were best friends. They had planned a road trip set to occur over Fourth of July weekend, however, Archie canceled at the last minute for unknown reasons. It was later revealed that Archie instead spent the weekend with his music teacher, Geraldine Grundy, with whom he was having an affair. As a result of Archie canceling their trip, he and Jughead had a serious falling out and broke off their friendship. However, their friendship has since been mended "over many hamburgers and milkshakes".
Decades After Her Death, Mystery Still Surrounds Crime Novelist Josephine Tey
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It begins with a body in the library. Two hundred pages later, when the police have exhausted all lines of inquiry and made hee-hawing jackasses of themselves, an amateur detective summons the dramatis personae to the same library—they may well include an actress, a tennis pro, an embittered widow, a disinherited younger son, and of course a butler—to reveal which of them is the killer.
That is the familiar template for crime fiction in the golden age, those years between the First and Second World Wars, when authors such as Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, and Dorothy L. Sayers earned fortunes by satisfying an apparently limitless public appetite for corpses in English country houses. One of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple novels was actually titled The Body in the Library.
Christie and Sayers were founder-members of the Detection Club, a dining society formed in London in 1930. Recruits had to swear an initiation oath promising that their detectives “shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God.” A joke, no doubt, but this was kidding on the level. Like any game, mystery writing had its rules, which were codified into “Ten Commandments” by the British author Ronald Knox—who, fittingly enough, was also a Catholic priest. His prohibitions included accidental discoveries and unaccountable hunches, undeclared clues and hitherto unknown poisons.
“The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow,” Knox decreed. “The ‘stupid friend’ of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader…. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.”
No wonder Josephine Tey never belonged to the Detection Club. During her career as a crime novelist—from The Man in the Queue (1929) to The Singing Sands (published posthumously in 1952)—she broke almost all the commandments. As if willfully guying Monsignor Knox, the main character in her novel Brat Farrar (1949) was an impostor posing as a missing twin to grab an inheritance.
Her disdain for formulaic fiction is confirmed in the opening chapter of The Daughter of Time (1951). In a hospital recuperating from a broken leg, Detective Inspector Alan Grant despairs of the books on his bedside table, among them a writing-by-numbers mystery called The Case of the Missing Tin-Opener. “Did no one, any more, no one in all this wide world, change their record now and then?” he wonders despairingly.
Was everyone nowadays thirled [enslaved] to a formula? Authors today wrote so much to a pattern that their public expected it. The public talked about “a new Silas Weekley” or “a new Lavinia Fitch” exactly as they talked about “a new brick” or “a new hairbrush.” They never said “a new book by” whoever it might be. Their interest was not in the book but in its newness. They knew quite well what the book would be like.
Still true today (are you listening, James Patterson and Lee Child?), but this is not a charge that could ever be made against Josephine Tey. In The Franchise Affair (1948) she can’t even be bothered to include the obligatory murder: all we have is a teenage girl who claims that two women kidnapped her for no apparent reason, and we know almost from the outset that she is lying.
The Daughter of Time exemplifies Tey’s delight in subverting the conventions of the genre and defying expectations. Giving up on his bedside reading, Alan Grant decides to spend his convalescence solving one of the most notorious crimes in British history: did King Richard III really kill the princes in the Tower? Grant’s interest is piqued when a visitor shows him a portrait of the 15th-century king. After staring at it for ages—“the slight fullness of the lower eyelid, like a child that has slept too heavily the texture of the skin the old-man look in a young face”—he reaches a preliminary verdict. “I can’t remember any murderer, either in my own experience, or in case-histories, who resembled him.” So the bed-ridden sleuthing begins.
A first edition of To Love and Be Wise, published in 1950. A 1960 paperback of The Man in the Queue and three hardcover first editions: The Franchise Affair (1948), The Daughter of Time (1951), and The Singing Sands (1952).
Left, from Peter Harrington Books.
It was William Shakespeare whose depiction of Richard III as a venomous hunchbacked monster damned him for centuries, and it was Shakespeare who, in Macbeth, had King Duncan say of the duplicitous Thane of Cawdor, “There’s no art / To find the mind’s construction in the face: / He was a gentleman on whom I built / An absolute trust”—by which he meant that no one can discern inner character from outward appearances.
Josephine Tey thought otherwise. “Lucy had long prided herself on her analysis of facial characteristics, and was beginning nowadays to bet rather heavily on them,” she wrote in Miss Pym Disposes (1946). “She had never, for instance, come across eyebrows beginning low over the nose and ending high up at the outer end, without finding that their owner had a scheming, conniving, mind.” Even chickens weren’t safe from Tey’s stern gaze: one of her characters mused on “the concentrated evil of a hen’s face in a closeup.”
This may seem a bit intense for a whodunit, and almost certainly falls foul of the ban on intuition, but it imbues Tey’s novels with more honesty than you’ll find in most of her contemporaries: which of us does not sometimes judge by appearances?
‘I am a camera” might have been Josephine Tey’s motto. “Oh, for one of those spy cameras that one wears as a tie pin!” she wrote in a letter to her friend Caroline Ramsden, a sculptor and racehorse owner, according to Ramsden’s memoir, A View from Primrose Hill. “When I was in town this last time I thought that, apart from a well-fitting new suit, there was nothing in the world that I wanted. And then I thought that yes, there was. I wanted a camera that looked like a handbag, or a compact, or something. So that one could photograph a person standing two feet away and be looking in another direction altogether while one was doing it. I am always seeing faces that I want to ‘keep.’ ”
Tey herself had no desire to be “kept.” Few photographs of her exist, and by dividing her life into discrete spheres she ensured that no one could know her too intimately. (One need hardly add that she never married.) To date, more than 60 years after her death—uniquely among the queens of the golden age—there is no biography (although one is due out in the fall). Oh, and her name wasn’t Josephine Tey. Her literary friends called her Gordon, but that wasn’t her name, either.
Before turning to crime she was the dramatist “Gordon Daviot,” author of Richard of Bordeaux, which played to packed houses at the New Theatre, in London’s West End. “I first met Gordon Daviot in 1932,” the actor John Gielgud wrote in 1953, “when I played the title role in Richard of Bordeaux. We were friends until her death last year—1952—and yet I cannot claim ever to have known her very intimately. She never spoke to me of her youth or her ambitions. It was hard to draw her out. It was difficult to tell what she really felt, since she did not readily give her confidence, even to her few intimate friends.”
This much we know. Elizabeth MacKintosh, pen name Josephine Tey, was born on July 25, 1896, in Inverness, capital of the Scottish Highlands. Her father was recorded on the birth certificate as a fruiterer. “Strange as it may seem, few of us had ever known the real person,” recalled Mairi MacDonald, a contemporary at Inverness Royal Academy. “We had rubbed shoulders with her in our busy streets admired her pretty home and picturesque garden—and some had even shared schooldays with her—yet no one enjoyed her companionship, for Gordon Daviot was, and wished to be what she herself termed herself, ‘a lone wolf,’ discouraging any attempts at fraternisation.” A reluctant pupil, she preferred playing tic-tac-toe with a neighbor in class, or drawing mustaches and spectacles on portraits of the Kings of Scotland, or scampering off to a cloakroom “where, upon an old set of parallel bars—housed there for no apparent reason—she delighted herself and others by turning somersaults.”
The next phase of her life, qualifying as a physical-training instructor, provided the backdrop for Miss Pym Disposes, set at a physical-training college in the English Midlands. According to most sources, including an obituary in the London Times, her teaching career was curtailed by family obligations. After teaching physical training at schools in England and Scotland, she returned to Inverness to care for her invalid father. It was there that she began her career as a writer.
Alfred Hitchcock directing Mary Clare and Clive Baxter in the 1937 film Young and Innocent.
Nicola Upson, who investigated Tey’s life with the intention of writing a biography, finds the tale of the invalid father hard to credit, given that he was catching prizewinning salmon into his 80s. “A lot of myths and half-truths have been created and repeated over the years,” she wrote to me. “Admittedly, she started one or two of them herself.” Tey’s description of a film actress in A Shilling for Candles may well have been a self-portrait:
She wasn’t fond of being interviewed. And she used to tell a different story each time. When someone pointed out that that wasn’t what she had said last time, she said: “But that’s so dull! I’ve thought of a much better one.” No one ever knew where they were with her. Temperament, they called it, of course.
Nicola Upson eventually set aside her projected work, deciding that such an elusive figure was more suited to fiction. Her novel An Expert in Murder, published in 2008, was the first of a series in which Josephine Tey herself features as an amateur detective. Though the crimes are imaginary, the settings are accurate. We see her traveling to London to enjoy the success of Richard of Bordeaux—or, in another volume, meeting Alfred Hitchcock to discuss his film adaptation of her novel A Shilling for Candles. According to Upson, “Readers tell me that part of the fun of the books is guessing what’s true and what isn’t…. But the bigger picture of her that I’ve built up from her letters and from talking to people who knew her is reflected very truthfully throughout the series.”
Tey’s great genius, Upson says, is to create a story which can be read on many levels, and which differs according to its audience—a trick that Tey played with her life, too, and just as effectively. Elizabeth MacKintosh, Gordon Daviot, and Josephine Tey were distinct personae. Even her correspondence has that chameleon quality: a letter from “Gordon” is quite different in tone from a “Mac” letter or a “Tey” letter. “She kept her life in compartments,” says Upson, “and was different things to different people private and insular in Inverness carefree and more gregarious in London and on travels abroad.”
Gregarious only within a small circle, however: Mairi MacDonald found Tey’s unwillingness to meet strangers “almost pathological in its intensity.” Having decided to model Brat Farrar’s physical appearance on that of a well-known racehorse dealer, she asked her friend Caroline Ramsden to find out all she could about him. “It isn’t a question of wanting to meet him—which I should actively dislike,” she wrote to Ramsden. “It is a quite detached curiosity about him…. What he thinks, reads (I suppose he can?), says, eats whether he likes his bacon frizzly or flaccid…. It always happens with someone I see casually, like that and once my curiosity is satisfied my interest finishes. But until the picture is complete the curiosity is devouring.”
The devotion to her craft was absolute. While writing a novel she could allow no distractions, and it shows. The prose is nimble, acute, witty. The texture of English interwar life is palpable. Tey’s fictional worlds come fully furnished: even minor characters are never mere ciphers. Her regular detective, Alan Grant, has none of the eye-catching props—deerstalker hat, waxed mustache, monocle—that other authors append to fictional sleuths in lieu of a third dimension. He is dogged, diligent, ready to admit error. “By the time coffee had arrived he was no nearer a solution,” Tey writes in A Shilling for Candles. “He wished he was one of these marvelous creatures of super-instinct and infallible judgment who adorned the pages of detective stories, and not just a hard-working, well-meaning, ordinarily intelligent Detective Inspector.”
Sir John Gielgud and Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies in the 1933 play Richard of Bordeaux.
When Tey’s work was finished, she displayed an equally absolute devotion to indolence. “Next to chocolates, the cinema and racing, her favourite pastime was a day in bed, lying flat on her back, wide awake,” Caroline Ramsden wrote. After one of these epic lie-ins, Ramsden asked what she had been thinking about all day. “Nothing—absolutely nothing,” Tey replied. “I’ve had a wonderful time.”
Her death, in February 1952, could hardly have been better timed for such a shy and private person, a week after the demise of King George VI. “It was typical of her that she could slip out of her lives, and her own, at a moment when her passing was hardly noticed by the general public,” Ramsden wrote. “The whole nation was much too busy mourning its king to pay much attention to the deaths of any of his subjects.” John Gielgud read the news in his evening paper after coming offstage in a production of The Winter’s Tale. He hadn’t even known that she was ill.
A small party of mourners, including Gielgud and the actress Dame Edith Evans, gathered at Streatham crematorium in South London on a cold, dreary day to say their farewells. “We talked to Gordon’s sister, whom we were all meeting for the first time,” Caroline Ramsden recorded, “and she told us that Gordon had only come south from Scotland about a fortnight before, when she had stayed at her Club in Cavendish Square, on her way through London. What she did or thought about during that period was her own affair, never to be shared with anyone…. All her close friends were within easy reach, but she made no contacts—left no messages.”
Historian obsessed with Napoleon spills the beans on Bonaparte's sex life and reveals the truth about 'not tonight, Josephine'
hen I tell Professor Andrew Roberts — historian, BBC presenter and best friend of David Cameron — that we’ve met before he looks aghast. “Christ, we didn’t sleep together, did we?” A hand leaps to his forehead. “Did I make some drunken pass at you in a darkened room at some nightclub?” I assure him it was just a handshake at the launch of one of his books (he’s written 12).
“Thank Christ. I was a totally different person back then, that’s the thing.” He takes a slurp of beer. It’s midday and we’re at the Belgraves Hotel, a swanky number with a branch in Brooklyn, just aound the corner from his Knightsbridge home (“the house is being refurbished so we’re renting a little place”).
By “back then” he’s referring to his single days, when was so prolifically present at parties that he was nicknamed “the socialite historian”. An Observer profile accused him, “with his successful romantic conquests”, of rivalling Casanova.
He’s keen to kill this reputation now he’s turned 52, and impresses on me how dull he is. He’s just returned from a visiting professorship at Cornell University in New York with his wife Susan Gilchrist, who is the global CEO at Brunswick Group, and has recently taken up a post as visiting professor of war studies at King’s College London.
“I’m actually really enjoying the serious and substantial stuff like writing big books and appearing on TV shows,” he says. Last night he was invited to three parties “and didn’t go to any of them”. He doesn’t miss the carousing of the old days and can only explain his former habit as “some sort of psychological desire to be liked. There’s an age for everything and it’s like a book, you turn over a new leaf and start a new chapter. I’m more mature now.”
The effect is slightly dampened as a succession of svelte, buffed ladies pause to say hi. “You’re doing so well,” one drawls.
We’ve here to discuss Napoleon, his BBC series, launched on the back of his latest book but as “there are more books on Napoleon Bonaparte than days since his death”, what does he add?
“I’m trying to present him as anybody other than the Hitlerian evil tyrant and dictator,” Roberts explains. “He was a tyrant and a dictator, but he wasn’t evil.” Napoleon was “charming and very funny. There are 80 Napoleon gags in my book.”
One myth he slays is that Napoleon had this “classic hubris nemesis ancient Greek dramatic trope that led him into Russia. The idea that he had gone mad is completely ridiculous!” There are people that have Napoleon complexes, Roberts says, but: “Napoleon just wasn’t one of them.”
But he was small? “NO!” he roars. “He wasn’t small. This is another of these myths. He was precisely my height.” He makes me get out of my seat — “Stand up, stand up” — and measures himself against me. “Righ, you are pretty much the same as me,” he says (he’s 5ft 6in, I’m 5ft 10in) “maybe a bit taller. About two inches. So two inches taller than Napoleon — you think anyone who is two inches shorter than you is small?”
Settling back on the sofa, he explains Napoleon was the “average height for a Frenchman of his day”. He adds that when he went to St Helena to see Napoleon’s deathbed he climbed in: “A wonderful opportunity (he breaks off to say hi to a bronzed blonde: “How nice to see you!”) lying on his deathbed. And I was exactly the right length. We think of him as a midget only because he was caricatured by the British.”
Readers like to know, Roberts says, about Napoleon’s sex life: how he lost his virginity in a Paris brothel — “a particularly mucky experience” — and was only successful with the fourth prostitute. “He wasn’t the hugely sexually confident man that he became. But then who is? I mean God.”
Perhaps the most exciting of Roberts’s scoops concerns Napoleon’s first wife Josephine, of “not tonight” fame, who according to Roberts was unfaithful within weeks of the wedding. “Napoleon found out when he was in the desert in Egypt and embarked on the first of his 22 love affairs.”
But while they were not “Romeo and Juliet” their early letters are scorching. “I mean unbelievably erotic,” says Roberts. “FULL ON.”
Like what? “Cunnilingus. Napoleon was obsessed by cunnilingus. Talked about it constantly. He’d say to her, ‘don’t wash for three days’ because he’d enjoy going down on her when she was unwashed. It was really basic.”
Is that going on the BBC? “It’s all in the book,” he says (it has been optioned by Harvey Weinsten for a TV series called Napoleon and Josephine).
Gaps in his research annoy him. “Josephine did something in bed called zig-zags and I’m desperate to find out what they are. I’ve done primary research, I’ve dug about, but couldn’t find anything.
“We also don’t know why Napoleon called her private parts the Baron de Kepen. Who on Earth was the Baron de Kepen to have justified this soubriquet?” Roberts asks around at literary festivals, “but not a whisper”. He adds: “Sexology is such a complicated thing.”
Napoleon and Josephine are no racier than the youth of today, he believes. “Don’t people write fairly disgusting things on SnapChat? Actually I don’t want to know. My daughter Cassia is 16.”
He also has a son, Henry, 18. Both children, with his first wife Camilla, are at boarding school and he has just been ticked off for sending Henry a hipflask: “Nothing wrong with that, is there?”
Any attempt to talk about his own childhood makes him uncomfortable. “Nothing to report,” he says. He was the eldest of four. And it was happy. “When you say, ‘I had an extremely happy childhood’, all psychiatrists say, ‘Hmmm how deeply disturbing. Why does he lie?’ But I did.”
Can I ask about the money his father Simon made out of owning the British Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise? “Ha ha ha,” he laughs. “Don’t you dare.”
There’s a vague paranoia about his Wikipedia entry — I mention it because it lists his friends not just as the Prime Minister but also prominent Tories such as Michael Gove (“splendid”) and Oliver Letwin.
“Don’t read Wikipedia on me for God’s sake,” he says. “I discovered from a mutual friend during dinner on Saturday that Richard Tomlinson, the traitor former MI6 agent now living abroad, spends his time altering my page.”
Really? “Yup. How about that? I think that’s rather grand, having a full-scale traitor edit your Wikipedia. Can you imagine John Vassall or George Blake? Might as well have Anthony Blunt.”
He pauses. “He must have a lot of time on his hands that he thinks that it’s worthwhile saying that I cling-filmed the lavatories at school, and that was the reason for my expulsion.”
You cling-filmed the lavatories at school? “Listen, can we concentrate on Napoleon?”
You were expelled? He looks exasperated.
So you were expelled, but not for cling-filming the lavatories? “Oh God, what have I said.” He tries to steer me on topic. “It’s a wonderful thing to have made a three-part BBC TV series. ”
His working day, he says, starts at 5am, with a very tidy desk, everything in its place (“I’m OCD”). He likes to really “immerse”, he’s a method historian, and carries about artefacts from his subject’s lives — he has a piece of wallpaper from the room Napoleon died in. “Letters, a piece of hair, and a bit of his saddle cloth.” He drags “poor Susan” around the sites of pivotal points in subjects’ careers.
Once they visited Stalingrad, “and by the end of the holiday she could tell the difference between a T-3476 and a T3485 tank”. His next two volumes are on Winston Churchill. Has he read Boris Johnson’s book?
“I helped him with it a bit,” he says, “and tried to send him a few ideas about things I thought were over-the-top. Boris being Boris he didn’t take any notice.” He adds. “I love that line that Simon Heffer came out with the other day on Radio 4: ‘The problem with Winston Churchill is that he thinks he is Boris Johnson.’”
Cameron, he says, is the real heir to Margaret Thatcher (of whom he is an ardent fan), but won’t talk about the “famous jellyfish incident” (Cameron saved him from one while on holiday). “I’ve got nothing to say about David except what an amazing coup he’s bought off against all expectation. He could well be greater than Harold Macmillan, his own hero.”
Returning to whether we’d slept together, he adds: “Please, it’s very important Charlotte that you don’t take that seriously because my God, can you imagine?”
He shakes his head. Then drops his voice. “And I know I would’ve remembered.”
Napoleon starts on BBC Two tonight at 9.30pm
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