Social & Industrial History
Tales From Below Stairs
The Bestselling Memoirs of a 1920s Kitchen Maid
Margaret Powell entered a life of service in the great houses of 1920s London at the age of 15. In this funny, poignant and at times angry memoir, she evokes a vanished world: the harsh life of a kitchen maid, the haughty mistresses, lecherous gentlemen and temperamental cooks, the heartbreaking fate of a pregnant parlourmaid, and her own eventual escape to marry and make an independent life with Albert the milkman.
Britain's Greatest Generation
How Our Parents & Grandparents Made the Twentieth Century
A depression, wars and unprecedented new technology created challenging conditions for Britons in the first half of the 20th century. Drawing on the first-hand accounts of people born into the devastated world of the 1920s, this book analyses the experiences of the generation that lived through the Second World War and built a new society after it, from a Jewish refugee coming to Britain in 1939 to Jimmy Perry, who served in the Home Guard and later created Dad's Army.
The Age of the Automobile
A Social History of 20th Century Britain
Based on the author's series of television programmes, this social history of Britain up to the 1970s explores the impact of motorized transport – whether motor cars, tanks or aircraft – on how and where people lived; the development of mass production industries; and on leisure pursuits and holidays. At the same time, Perkin traces the political and economic decline of Britain as a world power and its 'moral rise as the leading pioneer of the welfare state'. First published in 1976.
Divorced, Beheaded, Sold
Ending an English Marriage 1500–1847
How could English people end unhappy marriages before divorce was readily available? As the colourful stories in this book reveal, the options ranged from quietly but bigamously remarrying to selling an unwanted wife to the highest bidder at market. The author also examines a 1594 case in which neighbours helped a woman retrieve property from her husband, and occasions when wives successfully sued for legal separation. The appendix focuses on Henry VIII's marital arrangements.
How British Aristocrats Staked a Claim to the American West 1830–1890
From the 1830s onwards, a succession of British aristocrats headed for the American West, taking with them their valets, their dogs – and their prejudices. This sparkling account describes the newcomers' experiences as they crossed the country to meet Native Americans, hunt buffalo and build cattle empires. Packed with lively incident and colourful personalities, it also charts their reception by Americans often less than pleased at the return of their former colonial overlords.
The Oldest Hatred
John Mann, the Labour MP, has brought together essays, speeches and articles by a variety of public figures who have spoken against anti-Semitism and racism, from George Washington's letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport (1790) and Émile Zola's defence of Dreyfus in 1898 to a campaign speech by Barack Obama in 2008. Among another 30 writers represented are Maxim Gorky, Elie Wiesel, John F Kennedy and Winston Churchill, and for each author Mann provides a substantial historical introduction.
From Crimea to Afghanistan: the Real Lives of Women Behind the Men of Uniform
Through the centuries, army wives have had to contend with anxiety, separation, injury, bereavement, post-traumatic stress, and the struggle to maintain a normal home life in abnormal circumstances. Using interviews, letters and diaries, this remarkable history gives them a voice, sometimes for the first time. It traces their experiences from the Crimean War – the last in which wives followed their husbands to the front – to the new breed of independent women supporting their men through the war in Afghanistan.
A Colourful History of Cosmetics
From prehistoric body art and ancient Egyptian anti-ageing preparations, through lethal white lead and crocodile dung (both used to make the face paler) in Roman times, medieval pomanders and the painted faces of 16th-century aristocrats, to radium night cream in the 1930s, Susan Stewart traces the history of cosmetics and the ideals of beauty that inspired men and women to take such terrible risks in the fight against time and the wrinkle.
'You've Never Had It So Good!'
Recollections of Life in the 1950s
With full employment, a boom in car sales, and washing machines making housework less of a chore, life in the 1950s certainly seemed better than ever before. Following a theme, such as family life, childhood or the rise of television, each chapter in this compendium brings together recollections of those who lived through the decade, remembering everything from sweet rationing to the meagre contents of a Christmas stocking, and how to find Indian spices.
The Great British Dream Factory
The Strange History of Our National Imagination
Britain’s empire has gone, but popular culture is one area in which it is still a superpower. JK Rowling has sold more than 400 million books, Doctor Who is watched in almost every developed country, and James Bond is the longest-running film series in history. This entertaining, thought-provoking book explores the roots, meaning and global success of Britain’s popular culture, and asks what there is in the national imagination that has given birth to such riches.
A Hundred Years in the Life of a Yorkshire Family
Richard Benson's great-grandfather Walter returned from the First World War damaged in body and mind. His wife Annie led front-room seances, and their daughter Winnie married an eccentric amateur comedian. This combination of rich social history and family memoir from the bestselling author of The Farm follows four generations in the pit villages of South Yorkshire as they struggle to build a better world against a backdrop of mining disasters, two global conflicts, party politics and the miners' strike.
Why the English Sailed to the New World
During the 17th century unprecedented numbers of people left England. They were on their way to new lives in the Caribbean and the North American colonies – but what were their motivations for undertaking such a perilous transatlantic voyage? Using contemporary letters, diaries and court records, Evans tells the personal stories of men and women who left their homeland in search of a fortune, for political and religious reasons or because their desperate poverty meant they had little to lose.
A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall
As the Second World War ended and the Soviets seized control of eastern Germany, Hanna, a teacher’s daughter, escaped to the West. Her parents and siblings remained in the East, and the family was separated. Forty years later, as the Berlin Wall was torn down, her daughter Nina, now a US intelligence officer, rediscovered her lost family. In this poignant memoir, she tells their remarkable story against the backdrop of events that shaped the world.
A Scene In Between
Tripping Through the Fashions of UK Indie Music 1980–1988
The British alternative pop scene of the 1980s took its fashion cues from 1960s garage rock and punk, with an anti-glam look of charity shop chic, anoraks and bowl haircuts, and distinctive indie guitar music in the form of bands such as Primal Scream, The Smiths and My Bloody Valentine. This portrait of the times comprises a collection of mostly unpublished images of the bands, gigs and fans on the minority scene.
The Intelligent Woman's Guide
To Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism
In 1924, asked by his sister-in-law Mary Cholmondeley for ‘a few of [his] ideas of socialism’, George Bernard Shaw produced this panoramic survey of the competing ideologies of the day. Hailed by the Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald as ‘the most important book that humanity possesses’ after the Bible, it outlines Shaw’s belief that British institutions, from the state to the family, were ‘corrupted at the root by pecuniary interest’, and required not piecemeal reform but radical change.
Octavia, Daughter of God
The Story of a Female Messiah and Her Followers
In the aftermath of the First World War, a group of Englishwomen came up with a solution to the world’s grief: a new religion. Led by Mabel Barthrop, whom they called Octavia and believed to be the daughter of God, they set about building a new Jerusalem in Bedford. Drawing on the group’s painstakingly preserved archive, this book charts the forgotten history of a utopian community that once had thousands of members and ministered to 10,000 people around the globe.
Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes
The Story of Women in the 1950s
What did it feel like to be a young woman in the 1950s? Virginia Nicholson examines the pressures under which women lived in a post-war culture characterized by sex discrimination, inhibition, conservatism and hierarchy, and in thrall to the ideals of marriage, home and the perfect wife. With the emphasis on real women's experience, she explores topics from coronation fever, through 'how to get your man' manuals, housework and paid employment to the pervasive fear of atomic war. Slightly off-mint.
The Farmer's Wife
The Life and Work of Women on the Land
Agriculture is widely perceived as a male endeavour, yet throughout history, farmers’ wives have been central to the running of many farms. In addition to their responsibilities for children and the home, women worked the land, milked the cows and took care of the business side. Illustrated with more than 250 historic photographs, this book records and celebrates the life and work of rural women from the Middle Ages until the coming of mechanization after the First World War.
Breach of Promise to Marry
A History of How Jilted Brides Settled Scores
Hiding from daylight in her mouldering wedding dress, Dickens’s Miss Havisham is the classic literary image of the jilted bride. But thanks to the 18th-century law of breach of promise, many women had more attractive options. This entertaining social history uncovers more than a thousand cases in which wronged fiancées employed no-win-no-fee lawyers to gain substantial financial redress for their disappointment – and adventuresses extracted money from men ‘they cannot possibly want as husbands’.
When the Massachusetts Bay authorities responded to months of accusations by executing 14 women, five men and two dogs for witchcraft, they made the name of Salem synonymous with murderous mass hysteria. In her vivid narrative of this seminal episode in American history, Pulitzer-winner Schiff profiles the leading figures, takes the reader into Salem’s houses, taverns, streets and courtrooms and explores how the adolescent girls at the centre of the crisis responded to their repressive Puritan surroundings. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge and American-cut pages.
Air Raids & Ration Books
Life on the Home Front in Wartime Britain
The government lost no time in making plans to manage the inevitable food shortages that would come with war, registering everyone in the country for ration books in September 1939, before rationing was actually introduced in January 1940. With chapters on wartime food, clothing, home life, air raids and transport, this book recalls life for ordinary Britons during the Second World War and is illustrated with hundreds of contemporary posters, coupons, advertisements, public information leaflets and photographs.
The True Story of Life Behind the Counter
In the 1960s, over a million women worked in shops, nearly a fifth of the female workforce. The number had grown steadily from the early 19th century as industrialization had drawn people to the cities and created a demand for, and supply of, consumer goods. Originally published to accompany the BBC TV series, this book explores the life of the shopgirl from the strict propriety of Victorian department stores to the boutiques of the 1960s.
Call The Midwife
A True Story of the East End in the 1950s
The book that sparked the award-winning TV series details Jennifer Worth’s very real experiences as a young midwife based in a convent amid the chaos of post-war London Docklands. Her true-life stories show how tough conditions were in the East End, especially for women, who often lived in slum accommodation – grateful if they had a cold-water tap – with ten or more children to look after.
How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940s
How did the women of Paris survive the grim years of German occupation – and how, in the aftermath of liberation, did they come to terms with their actions? This first in-depth account of the lives of ordinary women in the occupied city charts the experiences of collaborators and resisters, actresses and prostitutes, teachers and writers, Nazis and Jews, in an atmosphere where sex became currency and life-or-death decisions were faced every day.
Secret Histories of Britain's Rebels and Revolutionaries
Alarmed by the French Revolution, the rulers of Georgian Britain established a network of spies and informers to infiltrate and monitor radical groups at home. Drawing on official records and contemporary accounts, this compelling history probes the shadowy world of government agents pitted against Irish rebels, Luddites, the Pentrick uprising of 1817 and the 1820 plot to murder the cabinet. In vivid prose, the book recreates a climate of fear and repression, in which even peaceful reformers risked arrest.
The Midwife's Sister
Despite the success of Call the Midwife, little is recorded of author Jennifer Worth’s life outside midwifery. Here, her sister Chris describes her relationship with Jenny and tells the story of how their idyllic childhood was tragically cut short, the troubles that followed, their nursing training and the divergent paths they subsequently took. Though their relationship was sometimes difficult, the sisters’ lives regularly intertwined until Jennifer’s death in 2011.
Textile Mills of South West England
The textile industry in the South West has deep roots – the mills of the region, in contrast to many parts of the country, can often trace their beginnings beyond the Industrial Revolution to former more ancient buildings and uses. This meticulous study focuses on these historic buildings and their workings to tell the story of woollen, serge, hemp, flax, silk, lace, hosiery and cotton production in the area and to shed light on the early origins of these industries.
Miller of Dee
The Story of Chester Mills and Millers, their Trades and Wares, the Weir, the Water Engine and the Salmon
Corn mills on the River Dee by the King’s Pool were built in the eleventh century and that part of Chester and Handbridge became one of the most important medieval and post-medieval industrial sites in Britain. In this illustrated industrial history, Roy Wilding presents a detailed look at the many wares besides flour – leather goods, paper, snuff and needles – that were produced by the mills; and he also describes fishing in the Dee.
The Secret World of the Victorian Lodging House
Throughout the burgeoning cities of Victorian Britain, lodging houses provided shelter to those who flocked from the countryside in search of work. Crowded, insanitary and often disreputable, they aroused the horror of respectable society, and were viewed as hotbeds of crime and disease. Drawing on contemporary accounts, newspaper reports and court cases, this fascinating social history shines a light into the shadowy world of itinerant labourers, criminals, street entertainers, peddlers, prostitutes, abandoned children, and families fallen on hard times.
A Dance Through Time
Images of Western Social Dancing from the Middle Ages to Modern Times
Where depictions of peasant revels may be exuberant and unfettered, the stately codes of formal dance before the modern era created a tension between sobriety and decorum and underlying emotion or sexual tension. This art history curates images of dance from the Bodleian Library and explores their different meanings and themes, including how artists have conveyed the movement of dance technically and the social and historical information that can be gleaned from depictions of dancing, instructional illustrations and satirical sketches.
A History of Adoption in England and Wales
Gill Rossini traces the social history of adoption from the ‘fallen woman’ and makeshift arrangements for unwanted children and orphans of the 19th century, through the 1926 Adoption of Children Act to the shift in attitudes that followed the NHS release of the contraceptive pill in 1961. Rossini’s study uses real stories; deals with topics such as charitable institutions, baby farming, the First World War, and the 1945 illegitimate baby boom; and ends with a guide to resources for researching an adoption.
Horse-Drawn Transport in Leeds
William Turton, Corn Merchant and Tramway Entrepreneur
Although steam power was transforming the nation's transport in the 19th century, the horse-drawn tram survived in cities long enough to be replaced in most areas by electric traction, rather than by steam. This history examines the introduction of these early urban transport systems from the 1870s through the career of Yorkshire entrepreneur William Turton, who founded the Leeds Tramways Company and ran horse tramway services in major cities across the north of England.
The Diaries of a Military Wife During the Second World War
While her husband was serving as a British Army captain, Evelyn Shillington travelled with him whenever she could. She kept a regular diary starting with their arrival home from Hong Kong in 1935, through the turbulence of the Second World War, to a stint in post-war Italy in 1946. As well as commenting on the political situation, the diaries include gossip, humour and even a meeting with Princess Elizabeth.
The Last Shepherds
A Vanishing Way of Life on Britain's Traditional Hill Farms
Shepherds were ubiquitous from pre-biblical times, their occupation a way of life – some even had their own language for counting sheep. Today, among other things, fewer sheep and quad bikes contribute to dwindling shepherd numbers. First published in 2004, this account follows three shepherds through their year, witnessing lambing, haymaking, sheep fairs and the training of a puppy to become a working sheepdog; it describes age-old traditions that are fast becoming things of the past.
British Nannies & the Great War
How Norland's Regiment of Nannies Coped with Conflict & Childcare in the Great War
Founded in 1892, the Norland Institute trained educated working- and middle-class young women to be nannies, and quickly won the patronage of British and European royalty. Drawing on Norland archives and the nannies’ own accounts, this book tells their story of caring for children on the home front, behind enemy lines, and in distant parts of the British Empire, or volunteering as nurses during the First World War.
The Last Horsemen
A Year at Sillywrea, Britain's Only Horse-Powered Farm
First published in 2001, this study of a disappearing way of life took place over three years, on the last farm in Britain still reliant on horse power rather than machinery. Sillywrea Farm has belonged to the same family for over 150 years, and the book follows two of the family’s recent farmers and their five Clydesdale horses through four seasons, ploughing, haymaking and training a young foal.
A Lark for the Sake of Their Country
The 1926 General Strike Volunteers in Folklore and Memory
During the 1926 General Strike, many upper- and middle-class young people volunteered to drive buses, trucks and trains. Drawing on interviews conducted with almost 100 survivors during the 1980s, this first book to focus specifically on their experiences uses folklore, anthropology and social history to reveal how their behaviour was rooted in the fancy-dress parties and treasure hunts of universities and country houses, and how memories of the strike have continued to shape British identity.
Moon Landings, The Kinks and the 1966 World Cup
Increasing disposable income, new technologies and social reform changed British life in the 1960s and made it an exciting time to be growing up. This round-up of 1960s culture describes what life was like for many British children, at home and at school, and recalls the entertainments that made the period so memorable, from books, comics, toys and TV programmes to pop music and fashion.
Around the Village Green
The Heart-Warming Memoir of a World War II Childhood
In this memoir, the author recalls growing up with her coal miner father, mother and siblings in a Derbyshire village and describes how the outbreak of war and the nearby PoW camp and American base changed life for everyone.
My Life as a Nurse in the 1950s
Exchanging her native Belfast for Cumbria, Patricia Jordan worked as a midwife and district nurse in Borrowdale during the 1950s. This memoir recalls her tough nursing training in London, tells how a romance with a patient took her to the North West and recounts her many heart-warming and sometimes heartbreaking experiences as her work took her into people's homes at times of crisis and celebration.
An Alternative History of Every House
Why does your house look the way it does? What is the point of a dado rail? And what's that thingumajig for? From noggins and newel posts to power showers and fitted kitchens, every household fixture has a story to tell. Illustrated with photographs, antique prints and vintage advertisements, this light-hearted history of the domestic environment uncovers the often bizarre stories behind the inventions that have shaped our homes.
The Society Doctor Who Held Victorian London Spellbound
Physician John Elliotson and his friend Thomas Wakley, founding editor of The Lancet, were well-known medical pioneers in Victorian London. Yet when Elliotson championed the new ‘science’ of mesmerism, which purported to dull surgical pain, their friendship – and Elliotson’s credibility – were severely tested. Against a backdrop of Victorian lecture theatres and hospital wards, the two distinguished men publicly clashed over a technique which, for all its successes and failures, is still little understood.
Britain's Best-Known Brand
As Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, the Queen is seen by many as a calm, reassuring presence in an era of restless change. But what of the institution she represents? This revelatory book takes a glimpse behind the scenes at the machinery that sustains the monarchy today: its constitutional role, its leadership of the Church of England, its finances. It also takes a clear-eyed view of its future, and the pressures that will face an heir to the throne. Slightly off-mint.
If fashion in the 1960s had broken barriers, 1970s style exploited the new climate with extravagant and exuberant costume, inspired by feminism, sexual liberation and daring new stars such as David Bowie and the Sex Pistols. This photographic collection features the supermodels and iconic celebrities of the period, including Farrah Fawcett, Debbie Harry and Jerry Hall in the work of leading fashion photographers such as Helmut Newton, Norman Parkinson and Terence Donovan.
The Story of an Island
In her prologue to this much-acclaimed study, Dressler writes of Eigg, ‘From the fierce struggles in clan times to the bleak period of famine and emigration, through to the modern-day fight to maintain a viable crofting community, the island has always been a microcosm of Highland history’. Drawing on oral history, legend and song, and written sources, Dressler’s book covers the story of the island from the coming of the Celts to life on Eigg since the 1997 community buy-out.
Household Servants in Early Modern England
With chapters on topics including servants and the law, housing, diet and dress, and order and disorder in the household, this socio-cultural history of servants and service covers the period from the mid 16th to mid 18th century. Richardson examines the life histories of individual servants, their relationships with other servants and with employers and, more generally, he looks at how this field of employment related to contemporary economic and social organization.