Having recently read extracts from Jane Austen's teenage satirical work The History of England, I thought it was time to re-visit this classic work, first published in 1930. Jane Austen's work on the same theme reminded me of how much I had enjoyed reading this book more than thirty years ago.
It is a quick read: sixty-two chapters in 123 pages, from Chapter 1, in which Caesar invades Britain, to the end of history, which according to Chapter 62, occurred after the Great War and the "Peace to End Peace". It was then that America became "top nation" and history came to a full stop.
It is also an entertaining read. It relies for its entertainment value on the reader having at some point being taught English history and then having forgotten almost everything that was learned. As the "Compulsory Preface" puts it:
History is not what you thought. It is what you can remember. All other history defeats itself.
As I read this today, some bits had me rolling around the floor laughing. Other bits I didn't get at all. Clearly, there's plenty of English history I was never taught, because the references meant nothing to me, even in the bizarre, bastardised form set out in this work.
So, having reacquainted myself with 1066 and All That, I see that there's not a great deal its authors share with Jane Austen, other than a knowledge of English history, a gift for wit and satire and a wonderful irreverence.
This is worth reading for novelty value only. It will make no sense at all to a reader who hasn't been taught English history at some point in their life. It also helps to have some familiarity with the works of William Shakespeare. Amongst other things, this will explain why references to Henry IV as a "split King" - that is, Part I and Part II - are actually funny!