5 episodes

From the former slave that taught Darwin to the first female playwright who was also spy for the English King, historian Dr Fern Riddell is exploring some little-known characters from history to reveal not just their incredible stories, but also why they're so important for our view of what the past looked like.

Not What You Thought You Knew HISTORY

    • History
    • 4.8, 78 Ratings

From the former slave that taught Darwin to the first female playwright who was also spy for the English King, historian Dr Fern Riddell is exploring some little-known characters from history to reveal not just their incredible stories, but also why they're so important for our view of what the past looked like.

    John Edmonstone the Former Slave who Taught Darwin

    John Edmonstone the Former Slave who Taught Darwin

    John Edmonstone was born into slavery in the former Dutch colony of Demara in the late 1700s but died a free man in Scotland having taught one of the greatest men in the history of science, Charles Darwin, the skill of taxidermy.

    We speak to Dr Angelina Osborne, independent researcher and heritage consultant and co-author of the upcoming book, 100 Great Black Britons about Edmonstone's life and his remarkable journey from the coastal jungles of Demerara to the cobbles of Edinburgh's old town.

    And to understand the art taxidermy and the skills that Edmonstone imparted to his pupil, we also talked to Tannis Davidson, curator at UCL's Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy who explains the importance of taxidermy to zoologists like Darwin and why her favourite specimen in the museum isn’t some exotic creature but a common-or garden-taxidermy chicken.

    Sponsored by Ancestry, this episode of Sky HISTORY's Not What You Thought You Knew is presented by Dr Fern Riddell with production by Kim Sergeant, Peter Ross and Sam Pearson.
     
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    • 39 min
    Mary Anning the Pioneering Fossil Hunter

    Mary Anning the Pioneering Fossil Hunter

    A well-known celebrity in her day, we have somewhat struggled to appreciate the incredible weight of what Mary Anning's discoveries of ancient marine reptiles meant at the time for a burgeoning science.

    We speak to Dr Aubrey Roberts, a paleontologist at the University of Oslo, Norway, and affiliated with the London Natural History Museum, and Dr Rebekah Higgitt, a historian of science and senior lecturer at the Centre for the History of the Sciences at the University of Kent, about Mary Anning, who she was, the discoveries she made and her long-lasting legacy in the field of paleontology.

    Sponsored by Ancestry, this episode of Sky HISTORY's Not What You Thought You Knew is presented by Dr Fern Riddell with production by Kim Sergeant, Peter Ross and Sam Pearson.
     
    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 42 min
    Aphra Behn and Female Espionage

    Aphra Behn and Female Espionage

    Aphra Behn, was one of the first women in England to make her living as a writer who just so happened to be one of the country's first female spies.

    To discover more about the world of female spies, Dr Fern Riddell speaks with Dr Nadine Akkerman, Senior Lecturer at Leiden University whose book Invisible Agents is the first study of early modern female spies. As Fern finds out, espionage and fiction are more closely linked than you think. But why has the important role of female spies played in history been largely forgotten? For that answer we need to head to archives. To give a modern-day perspective on women in espionage, Fern talks to Dr Elizabeth Bruton, curator of the Science Museum's new exhibition, Top Secret. The exhibition features one daring story of a UK-based spy ring whose female members, played an integral role in passing on military secrets to the Russians.

    Sponsored by Ancestry, this episode of Sky HISTORY's Not What You Thought You Knew is presented by Dr Fern Riddell with production by Kim Sergeant, Peter Ross and Sam Pearson.
     
    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 37 min
    The Mary Rose and the People of Tudor England

    The Mary Rose and the People of Tudor England

    Earlier this year, analysis on the remains of eight sailors who drowned on the Mary Rose yielded some astonishing results for our perception of the people of Tudor England. In speaking to Dr Alex Hildred and Dr Onyeka Nubia, we’ll hear that while the study helps to paint a new picture of the historic population of southern port towns we now know that this wasn’t unique.

    Sponsored by Ancestry, this episode of Sky HISTORY's Not What You Thought You Knew is presented by Dr Fern Riddell with production by Kim Sergeant, Peter Ross and Sam Pearson.
     
    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 33 min
    Dr Fern Riddell's #NotWhatYouThought

    Dr Fern Riddell's #NotWhatYouThought

    Hosted by historian, author and broadcaster Dr Fern Riddell, Not What You Thought You Knew explores some under-celebrated characters from history and reveals not just their incredible story but also why they’re so important for our view of what the past looked like.

    Sponsored by Ancestry, Sky HISTORY's Not What You Thought You Knew is presented by Dr Fern Riddell and produced by Kim Sergeant, Peter Ross and Sam Pearson.
     
    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 38 sec

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
78 Ratings

78 Ratings

MMS🧜‍♀️ ,

Fascinating

I found this utterly fascinating. What a brilliant idea to refocus the lens on our history.

MelBel1982 ,

Fascinating

Fascinating podcasts on a variety of historical figures. Please keep making these!

J liz Drake ,

Informative and fascinating

Great podcast on such interesting topics! I’ve found each episode really eye opening and enjoyable.

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