Henry and Anna Richardson were famously known for being a pair of successful and well established Quaker abolitionists, who dedicated most of their lives freeing slaves who had been held captive by their masters oversees in America. The couple originated from Newcastle Upon Tyne, and a significant relationship can be found in the form of America and Tyneside in the case of the north-east Quaker’s, especially due to the number of slaves Henry and Anna assisted in helping. The stand out former slave they have been involved with is Frederick Douglass, who wrote the ground-breaking book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, who the Richardson’s met when Douglass embarked on his tour after rising to fame, which included a stop in Newcastle, another connection which can be made between Tyneside and America. One historical building in Newcastle that relates to both the Richardson’s and Douglass is a house in Summerhill Grove, where the former slave stayed with Henry and Anna for a while. This significant moment in transnational history is being memorialized, with the house ‘set to have a blue plaque whose unveiling will coincide with the 50-year anniversary of Martin Luther King receiving his doctorate in the city.’ The plaque will be open to the public later this year. Newcastle city council have also expressed their admiration for Douglass. ‘Frederick was one of the most historically significant African-American figures of the 19th Century and a leading anti-slavery and early civil rights campaigner’. The council’s words of praise make the inhabitants of Newcastle feel privileged to have an American cultural icon like Douglass inhabit the city and take in the culture at that time. Henry and Anna’s historical achievements has made the people of Tyneside proud, and it’s brought an influx of positive Americanization to the city, with people being made more aware of the impressive cultural connection Tyneside has with America.
 Barbara Hodgson, “Former slave ‘freed’ by Newcastle couple is to be honored in Martin Luther King anniversary year”, The Chronicle, 5th November 2016,
[Accessed 15th February 2017]
 Hodgson, “Former slave ‘freed’ by Newcastle couple is to be honoured in Martin Luther King anniversary year”
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Love them or hate them, reality TV shows are now a huge part of modern popular culture. The UK has embraced this form of mindless reality television within the past several years. The US gave us Laguna Beach, The Hills and The Simple Life, and so I guess we have them to thank for shows like The Real Housewives of Cheshire, The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea – cheers, America! Although Britain is fairly late to the game in this brand of TV, we could certainly give the States a run for their money if the goal is to satisfy guilty pleasures.
MTV’s Jersey Shore first came to our screens in 2009 and ran until December 2012. The show is a quintessential example of American ‘reality’ television: it follows the highly dramatised lives of eight twentysomethings sharing a house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Just two years later in 2011, we were treated to our very own British spin-off in the form of MTV’s Geordie Shore. Essentially the only differences between the two is the location and the accent. The rest is pretty much the same – even down to the false tan. To someone who has never seen either shows, I’d encourage you to imagine a soap opera where all of the characters are intoxicated. Ask anyone on Tyneside about the show, and I’d say that the majority will roll their eyes. Although I myself am not from Newcastle (Sunderland native here), I can guarantee that watching Geordie Shore will not give you an accurate picture of the average Newcastle local, just as I imagine that watching Jersey Shore will give you a very skewed depiction of a true Jerseyite.
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On June 21st 1957, Rudolph Ivanovich Abel was arrested in Brooklyn, New York, charged with spying for the Soviet Union and sentenced to 45 years imprisonment. Few know that Abel was born William Fisher (July 11th 1903) in Benwell, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK to German parents who had emigrated from Russia due to political circumstances. After spending his early life in the North East, Fisher had acquired a respectful education in Whitley Bay, returning to Russia in 1921 after the revolution – his parents strong supporters of communism and claiming links to Lenin himself.
Fisher worked as a translator for the Comintern during WW2, being fluent in five languages. In 1946 he joined the KGB and trained as a spy, arriving in the United States in 1948. He was tasked with smuggling nuclear secrets to Russia although his success is disputed; much information having already been passed on by his predecessors. Following betrayal by a drunken associate Fisher was uncovered and captured. His arrest was hugely significant at the time due to east/west cold-war paranoia.
Fisher was later traded for captured US spy plane pilot Gary Powers in 1962.
Fisher’s case highlights the common fear of communist aggression held by the US and UK in the immediate post war years. It was that same fear that led to the U-2 spy plane overflights from which Powers was later shot down. It also shows the willingness of both countries to embrace immigrants and many would argue that this has been a weakness exploited by our common enemies.
Kahn, Jeffrey, ‘The Case of Colonel Abel’, Journal of Nation Security Law & Policy, Vol. 5, 2011
Whittel, Giles, Bridge of Spies, A True Story of the Cold War (UK: Simon & Schuster, 2011) pg. 17
FBI: Famous Cases and Criminals, Rudolph Ivanovich Abel (Hollow Nickel Case), (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/hollow-nickel) Accessed 18th Feb, 2014
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