The Riddle of the Sands

Melvyn Bragg and guests discusses the prescient thriller ‘The Riddle of the Sands’ about the decline Anglo-German relations before the First World War. In 1903 an Englishman called Charles Caruthers went sailing in the North Sea and stumbled upon a German military plot. The cunning plan was to invade the British Isles from the Frisian Islands using special barges. The plucky Caruthers foiled the plot and returned to his sailing holiday.This is not history but fiction, an immensely popular book called ‘The Riddle of the Sands’ by Erskine Childers. It was a prescient vision of two nations soon to fight the First World War but it went against the spirit of the previous century. Brits and Germans had fought together at Waterloo and had influenced profoundly each other’s thought and art. They even shared a royal family. Yet somehow victory at Waterloo and the shared glories of Romanticism became the mutual tragedy of the Somme.

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  • Richard Evans 2 episodes
    Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge
  • Rosemary Ashton 10 episodes
    Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at University College London
  • Tim Blanning 9 episodes
    Professor of Modern European history at The University of Cambridge

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Auto-category: 823.912 (English fiction written after 1900)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, in 1903 an Englishman called Charles Carruthers went sailing in the North Sea and stumbled on a German military plot.