Hot on the heels of someone actually using the word ‘vomitorium‘ correctly, we lapse into our old sin … and it’s kind of surprising who is doing it. Here’s the incipit from the Times:
He owes his success to history, but the author Terry Deary has described historians as “seedy and devious”.
The bestselling writer of the Horrible Histories series added that all historians were out to “make a name for themselves”, denied that his books were history books at all and even started a spat with Niall Ferguson, one of Britain’s best-known historians.
“Historians are nearly as seedy and devious as politicians,” Deary, 64, said. “They pick on a particular angle and select the facts to prove their case and make a name for themselves … They don’t write objective history.”
Deary — whose books have sold more than 20 million copies — does not like any historians. “Eventually you can see through them all,” he said. “They all come with a twist.” However, he reserved his greatest ire for Ferguson, the former Oxford historian who now lectures at Harvard University.
… then further below, where we get some details of the Horrible History, we read:
During Roman feasts, guests could eat so much that they had to be sick, and a special room was set aside for them called a vomitorium. They would then go back into the dining room to continue eating.
… arrgh. The item concludes:
Meanwhile, Catharine Edwards, Professor of Ancient History at Birkbeck, University of London, said that children “absolutely loved” the books. “If it takes toilets to get them interested in history, that’s fine. It’s the most gruesome side of things which attracts the young.”
Deary admitted that he was disappointed to be so closely linked to the Horrible Histories series, because he does not own the brand. He is also keen to turn his back on children’s books and move on to adult fiction. “It’s time for a new career direction,” he said.
I’ve got no problem with using disgusting items to get kids interested in history … but let’s make sure it’s accurate, no? Yes, it’s time for a new direction …