How have gay men and women lived, loved, and coped with prejudice through the ages? This chronological survey ranges from two men of ancient Egypt to the Cuban writer and dissident Reinaldo Arenas (1943–1990), taking in such celebrated figures as Sappho, Michelangelo and Oscar Wilde. With 128 illustrations, 56 in colour, it presents a rich tapestry of gay life from the unknowable relationships of the distant past to the frankest affirmations of modern sexuality. Slightly off-mint.
School Songs and Gymslips
Grammar Schools in the 1950s and 1960s
With tales from the days of indoor sandals and navy knickers, Latin verbs and transistor radios, semolina pudding and O Levels, this light-hearted social history is based on the experiences of pupils from 18 schools around the country and describes how things were for grammar school girls – at school and at home – between about 1955 and 1965.
A Fortunate Man
The Story of a Country Doctor
First published in 1967, this book follows the GP John Sassall as he goes about his rounds in rural Gloucestershire. What emerges, in the words of John Berger and the photographs of Jean Mohr, is a portrait of a community, and of a remarkable man who combined breadth of vision with a deep appreciation of the minutiae of everyday life.
Digging Up the Untold Stories of Britain's Resurrection Men
From the mid-1700s onwards, as the number of people entering the medical profession in England and Scotland increased, so too did the demand for cadavers to examine as part of their training. This led to a rise in ‘bodysnatching’ – a macabre profession that is investigated here through the examination of contemporary documents and newspaper reports, revealing the stories of some of the trade’s lesser-known figures.
Mrs Miles's Diary
The Wartime Journal of a Housewife on the Home Front
In August 1939 a Surrey housewife began a war journal recording everyday life on the home front. Now in the Imperial War Museum, the diary remains a compelling account of wartime Britain by a naturally gifted writer. Slightly off-mint.
A Powerful True Story
Returning to Ireland after 50 years, Gordon Lewis began to investigate the secrets of his childhood, only to be told not to go ‘digging up that old stuff’. Brought up in the 1950s in a secretive Catholic hostel for unmarried women, he had little idea of the hardships his mother had suffered, or her determination to keep her child, in defiance of an intolerant society.
Making Monte Carlo
A History of Speculation and Spectacle
Monaco was an obscure, impoverished principality until, in 1855, it legalized gambling, and Monte Carlo was born. Blending research, storytelling and scandal, this account describes how princes, profiteers and press agents created the first modern casino resort, how it flourished in the Belle Époque and how, after the First World War, it was reinvented for the Jazz Age. Its cast of characters includes Karl and Harpo Marx, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Picasso and Cole Porter.
Digging in the Dark
A History of the Yorkshire Resurrectionists
‘It is nature that teaches us to use the bodies of the dead to preserve the bodies of the living,’ argued a solicitor’s clerk found guilty of body snatching in 1831. He is just one of the Yorkshire grave-robbers, from many walks of life, who appear in this compendium of grim tales. Johnson vividly describes the resurrectionists’ macabre methods, the violent public protests against their activities and the private anguish of their victims’ families.
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, and describes traditions that have disappeared or are under threat.
The Life of Two Countries, England and Germany, in Many Stories
Two world wars have all but erased the memory that Britain and Germany were once the best of friends. This history charts three centuries of cooperation between allies bonded by blood, religion and culture. Wide-ranging and richly anecdotal, it also recounts the stories of individuals – from the royal family through writers and musicians to ordinary people working abroad – whose lives straddled two nations, and how their loyalties were put to the test after 1914.
The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp
In the late 19th century, a young Welsh tearaway boarded ship for America, where he lived as a hobo, jumping freight trains and living in doss-houses. After losing a leg in a railway accident, he returned to Britain, determined to make his living as a writer. His autobiography, reprinted here with a new introduction, became an instant classic. Its vivid picture of life on the road and understated account of his own adventures still make gripping reading today.
The Acid Bath Murders
The Trials and Liquidations of John George Haigh
John Haigh did not deny the murders of which he was accused during his trial in 1949 but claimed insanity, citing a history of disturbing dreams and claiming that he had drunk the blood of his victims before dissolving their bodies in sulphuric acid. This new analysis of the famous case draws on unpublished archive material, including letters that Haigh wrote from prison while awaiting execution.
An Italian Immigrant's Search for Respectability in Victorian Bath
Colin Fisher tells the story of Stefan Vallerio Pieroni (1819–1900), a seller of plaster figurines who came to England from Tuscany in 1837. Eventually, he settled in Bath, where he became prominent in the city’s social, cultural and political life.
The Battered Body Beneath the Flagstones and Other Victorian Scandals
Victorian newspaper reports, Old Bailey transcripts and coroners’ inquests offer a catalogue of grisly and often bizarre crimes: husbands murdering their wives, suicidal lovers, and mistresses taking revenge on their rivals in love. Drawing on these archival records, this book identifies three main types of offence: crimes of passion; theatrical crimes such as the fatal stabbing of the actor William Terriss at the door of the Adelphi; and unsolved mysteries.
Tales from the Tent
Jessie's Journey Continues
Having grown up in Scotland’s Traveller community in an old bus with her parents and seven sisters, Jess takes to the road in caravans, stopping at campsites and lay-bys in pursuit of work – berry picking, haystacking and fortune-telling. Alongside recollections of her family and her first loves and losses, she recounts campfire tales of ghosts, mythical beasts and supernatural encounters.
The History of Newgate Prison
From the 12th century onwards, Newgate Prison played a key role in the development of the British penal system, housing well-known prisoners from Captain Kidd to Ben Jonson and Daniel Defoe, as well as murderers, rapists and arsonists. Illustrated with historic prints and portraits, this book explores its traditions and lexicon of slang, and offers accounts of executions, the pillory and famous escapes.
Six for the Tolpuddle Martyrs
The Epic Struggle for Justice and Freedom
Taking its title from a radical version of the song ‘Green Grow the Rushes, O’, this history explores the lives and politics of the six Dorset farm labourers sentenced to transportation in 1834 for attempting to establish a trade union. It records the struggle against a reduction in agricultural wages that led to their arrest and trial, their experiences in Australia, and the public campaign that brought about their eventual pardon and homecoming.
Bombers, Rioters and Police Killers
Violent Crime and Disorder in Victorian Britain
Simon Webb examines a dark aspect of life in Victorian Britain which is less well-known than the poisoners and serial killers: rioting and disorder, mob violence and terrorism. Among the topics covered are the Clerkenwell Outrage, when explosives detonated in the street killed 15 people and injured 120; the West End riots on Black Monday and Bloody Sunday; and the Aldersgate Underground bombing in 1897.
The Minister and the Murderer
A Book of Aftermaths
Should a self-confessed murderer be allowed to become a priest? In 1984 the Church of Scotland wrestled with this question when James Nelson, who had served a prison sentence for killing his mother, applied for ordination as a minister. Kelly uses this case as the starting-point for a history of the Church in Scotland, which also combines personal memoir, true-crime narrative and an exegesis of biblical and literary accounts of sin and forgiveness.
White Boots and Miniskirts
A True Story of Life in the Swinging Sixties
From the author of Bombsites and Lollipops, this is a memoir of the Swinging Sixties, recounting how Jacky grew up as a free-spirited, hedonistic girl in search of adventure and independence. The decade’s music, fashion and culture has become iconic, but this is a more personal look at a world of souped-up Minis, conmen, typewriters, bed-hopping, tragic romances, flat-sharing, Soviet spies and the smoke-filled pubs of Fleet Street. Slightly off-mint.
Some Sunny Day
A Nurse. A Soldier. A Wartime Love Story
When Madge stepped onto a troop ship headed for Burma in 1944, she knew that life as a military nurse would be challenging. In this memoir, written with the aid of journalist Robert Blair, she recalls her experiences, humorous as well as difficult; the friends she shared them with; and how, amid the trauma and tragedy, she also found true love.