The Middle Ages in Modern England
Michael Alexander’s study traces the evolution and course of the Medieval Revival, from the literature of the 1760s through to the writings of Waugh, Auden and the Inklings in the mid-20th century. He considers its influence beyond literature, looking at architecture, art and religion.
Images of the Past: British Seaside
Drawing on the archives of the Mary Evans Picture Library, this collection of photographs, cartoons, illustrations and ephemera tells the story of the British seaside, looking at how the purpose, traditions and character of coastal resorts have developed since the first sea bathing cure destinations opened in the late 18th century. Each image is captioned and accompanied by explanatory text.
Rebuilding Post-War Britain
Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Refugees in Britain, 1946–1951
After the Second World War, 25,000 Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians, displaced by conflict and invasion, were recruited to fill labour shortages in Britain. Drawing on interviews and documentary sources, Emily Gilbert brings this little-known episode to life, and charts the refugees’ contribution to British society.
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.
Witchcraft and Witch Hunting in the West
Why were witch hunts so prevalent in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, apparently a period of increasing confidence and rationality? This study explores the motivations – social, personal and political – behind accusations of witchcraft; contemporary beliefs about ‘assaults of Satan’; and connections between witch trials and the medieval persecution of heretics. The author also describes more recent responses to fears of satanic influence and identifies the lessons we can still learn about the need to re-examine our preconceived ideas.
Mrs Miles's Diary
The Wartime Journal of a Housewife on the Home Front
In August 1939 a Surrey housewife began a war journal in which she recorded daily life on the home front. She tells of bombers overhead day and night, ration queues and the influx of evacuees. In 1947, she sent the diary to the Imperial War Museum with a letter describing herself as a housewife and a professional journalist; she was a naturally gifted writer whose diary gives a compelling account of wartime Britain.
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.
'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.
Out of Time
1966 and the End of Old-Fashioned Britain
Peter Chapman was 18 years old in 1966, the year of Harold Wilson, the seamen’s strike, London ‘swinging’ to a soundtrack of Beatles and Rolling Stones, and England’s victory in the World Cup. Chapman, whose hopes of being a professional footballer had been dashed, but who would become an outstanding football journalist, gives a vivid picture of the lost world of Britain in the Sixties from the perspective of his world in Islington, north London.
Life in the Victorian Kitchen
Culinary Secrets and Servants' Stories
Life in a 19th-century kitchen could be tough and exacting, and staff below stairs needed a broader range of skills than ever before, as new and exotic ingredients were arriving from around the Empire. Using case studies and detailed research, Karen Foy examines Victorian cuisine through the seasons (with some recipes), and discusses useful tools and the sourcing of ingredients as well as introducing early cookery writers, including Catherine Dickens.
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’.
Eggs or Anarchy
The Remarkable Story of the Man Tasked with the Impossible: To Feed a Nation at War
Battling unscrupulous dealers, blockades and sinking ships, Minister for Food Lord Woolton was tasked with feeding the nation during the Second World War. Despite Churchill’s misgivings, Woolton – a working-class boy turned business tycoon – rose to the challenge, making a huge contribution to the war effort and improving the health of the nation to boot. Award-winning food writer William Sitwell draws on personal letters and diaries to reveal this previously untold story.
Women of the 1960s
More Than Mini Skirts Pills and Pop Music
The clichéd ‘sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll’ view of the 1960s stands in stark contrast to the experiences of many ordinary women who lived through the decade, particularly those outside London. This illustrated social history is based on interviews with people who were teenagers, students, workers and housewives during the decade, and covers subjects including sex, marriage, motherhood, fashion, finance, travel, women's liberation and the ever-present threat of nuclear war.
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.
Britain's Secret Army: The Munitions Women of World War II
With the outbreak of war in 1939, many factories were turned over to the war effort, while new ones were quickly built to manufacture munitions. Millions of women worked arduous shifts, day and night, dealing with dangerous materials, often after being forced to leave home and live in uncomfortable and unfamiliar surroundings. Based on extensive interviews, this book recounts the experiences of nine 'bomb girls', revealing the hardships that they endured and their often-unrecognized contribution to the Allied victory.
A Downstairs View of Twentieth-Century Britain
From the quintessential liveried servant of 1900 and the 10,000 'maids-of-all-work' invited to tea by Queen Alexandra to celebrate the King's coronation in 1902, to modern au pairs and domestics, this authoritative social history gathers the 'voices, heard and unheard, published and unpublished, of domestic servants' to offer an engrossing account of the social changes that have taken place in the British home over the last century.
Britain in Pictures: ‘70s, ‘80s - 2 Books
Compiled from the Press Association’s archives, these visual histories of Britain in the 1970s and 1980s evoke the spirit of each decade through reportage photographs of prominent personalities, events and scenes of everyday life, arranged chronologically and accompanied by detailed captions. The two titles included in this set are:The 1970s (Read more...) The 1980s (Read more...)
How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain
Nothing reveals as much about a society as its bad behaviour, and if Shakespeare’s England is remembered for courtly ceremony, it was also an age of brawling, boozing and badmouthing. Drawing on contemporary behaviour manuals, court cases and sermons, Ruth Goodman, the presenter of Victorian Farm, reveals what most upset and infuriated our forebears. Her entertaining survey dishes the dirt on ninny-hammers, wittols, stinkards and draggletails, and offers practical advice on how to handle yourself in a fight.
An English Odyssey
The Pendleburys of Lancashire and London: Nine Generations of a Working Family
The Pendleburys were an English family of alehouse keepers, cotton workers, parish clerks, soldiers, washerwomen and warehousemen, whose genealogical records can be traced back to the 1600s. This history, written by a descendant of the family, follows their fortunes from the social and religious turmoil of the 17th century through the cotton boom of 18th-century Lancashire to the unforgiving streets of Victorian London.
Beside the Sea
Britain's Lost Seaside Heritage
The building of the railways made seaside holidays a possibility for workers in Britain's industrial cities and transformed a host of small coastal towns into glamorous entertainment centres. Using archive photographs and ephemera and the memories of people who worked and holidayed in places such as Margate, Scarborough and Blackpool, this nostalgic history recalls the culture of donkey rides, lidos and variety shows that was the pleasure of millions until air travel drew people away from the traditional resorts.
Country House Life
A Century in Photographs
With an engaging commentary and over 250 photographs of the people who lived and worked in houses such as Polesden Lacey, Lacock Abbey and Castle Drogo, this book offers an authentic picture of life in the English country house during its heyday. Drawn from family albums and collections and covering the period from the 1840s to 1945, the photographs record everyday life for the families and staff as well as family celebrations, garden parties, sporting events and the occasional visit by royalty.
A Royal Christmas
With privileged access to the Royal Archives, Jeremy Archer has uncovered personal accounts of the royal family at Christmastime. His anthology reveals how monarchs have celebrated the festival -from 1066, when William I was crowned on Christmas Day, to the Queen's Christmas broadcast 2011. In themed chapters, Archer quotes at length from his royal sources as he explores Christmases at home and abroad, in times of crisis and conflict, and family rituals of feasts, pastimes and the exchange of gifts.
Through the Keyhole
Sex, Scandal and the Secret Life of the Country House
From around 1760 to the 1830s, stories about the sex lives of the rich and powerful were guaranteed to increase the readership of popular printed literature. Papers were so packed with salacious tales of secret sex that there seemed to be an epidemic of adultery among the aristocracy. This study explores the personal stories of men and women involved in adulterous affairs and compares their accounts of infidelity and its sometimes tragic consequences with the stereotypes of dissolute aristocrats in the popular press.
Peace and War:
Britain in 1914
This discerning cultural history presents a portrait of a nation on the eve of war. While it details the social and political issues of the day, including the Ulster crisis, suffragettes, labour disputes and the anxiety of approaching war, it also highlights the nascent modernism of contemporary artists and poets, including Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis, who anticipated the end of the Edwardian era and the ‘cosy certainties’ that belied the social conflicts of a troubled Britain.