Thanks to Covid19 for a timely discovery.
One of the donations to the new library was the Eagle Annual volume 9, a new kind of magazine from way back in 1959. Boys of a that vintage will remember The Eagle as the embodiment of post-war modernity and style; with its striking A4 scarlet and black graphic cover and high-quality colour printing.
The detailed instructions of how to build a rocket launch-pad, tales of lost worlds and extinct monsters, and constant fantasies about the future were intended as an antidote to the power-worshipping post-war ‘Yank-Mags’ in which every problem was solved by brute force or magic. The Eagle was educational entertainment packed with history, technology and science.
And yet even this emblem of change still clung to the habit of glorifying the criminals of Empire, for on pages 93-7 is a glowing bio-cartoon of none other than the infamous warmonger Cecil Rhodes, complete with heart-rending death-bed scene and the last words “So much to do – so little done.” Plus (literally) incredible tributes from the people he oppressed.
1959 may seem a long time ago, but the point is that it is within the lifetime of many people still alive who may therefore have passed on their misconceptions to a younger generation. And as we have seen, the same mistakes are still being made now.
The Rhodes memorial is probably to be removed from its plinth in Oxford this month. The question for us is, do we keep this volume of a vintage boys’ magazine in our library?
It will certainly guarantee straight-A’s if used as project source-material.
Rob Kenyon (secretary)