A new podcast series from The Queen’s Library starts with a look at the contemporary challenge of climate change, while Library staff have also put together a lavishly illustrated historical account of a Londoner facing a pandemic even worse than the present one.
Both the podcast and the account – about Samuel Pepys and the Great Plague of 1665 – are part of an extensive selection of content curated by Head of Library Services Surya Bowyer for boys to access during the pandemic lockdown.
The 27-minute first episode of the podcast series, entitled Roundness, looks at the issue of climate change, examining evidence from around the world and taking as its starting point President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. It features audio clips and music, as well as a commentary from Mr Bowyer.
The podcast, which is available on subscription from online providers including Apple Podcasts and Spotify, quotes experts from a range of disciplines, including investment bank Morgan Stanley’s chief executive, James Gorman, who recently told a congressional committee: “If we don’t have a planet, we’re not going to have a very good financial system.”
The podcast may also be accessed from the Library’s pages on eQE – the School’s portal for boys, parents, staff and other members of the Elizabethan community.
The Library’s extensive eQE section includes a Book of the Week, as well as a host of other recommended reading on the Lockdown Reading page, some of it recommended for particular age groups, some suitable for all.
“There are quick links to huge selections of free e-books and to free audiobooks. And there is our own Virtual Culture guide to virtual museums and galleries for lockdown and beyond,” says Mr Bowyer.
The Arabella magazine, a publication produced by pupils and featuring pupils’ own written and visual contributions, is hosted by the Library’s eQE section.
Mr Bowyer adds: “One coping strategy when we face a crisis like Covid-19 is to document our experiences in some way. More than 350 years ago, that was exactly what Samuel Pepys, a young civil servant living in London, did in his diary when the capital was hit by the Great Plague in 1665 – the worst epidemic in England since the Black Death of 1348. His reaction, and that of his fellow Londoners, is set out in our Pepys and the plague page.”
The page features 12 illustrations, most of them contemporaneous drawings, as well as extracts from Pepy’s diary detailing what he saw and heard – “so many poor sick people in the streets full of sores” – and the gradual recovery over many months until, in February 1666, London was deemed safe enough for King Charles II and his court to return.