Social & Industrial History
The Old Boys
The Decline and Rise of the Public School
To many, public schools are an anachronistic bastion of privilege. This book charts a colourful history of schoolboy revolts, eccentric heads, scandal, decline and renewal, to argue that, on balance, their contribution to national life is a positive one. Slightly off-mint.
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.
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’.
London and the Making of the Permissive Society
Did sex really begin, as Philip Larkin wrote, in 1963? This groundbreaking cultural history challenges the orthodox view and uncovers the first stirrings of the sexual revolution amid the austerity of fifties London. Conducting the reader on a peephole tour from Whitehall to the fleshpots of Soho, it shows how a series of scandals involving murder, espionage, prostitution, blackmail and homosexuality reshaped public and private behaviour, and captures a key moment in the making of modern Britain.
A History of the Other Woman
What do Nell Gwynn, Marilyn Monroe, Emma Bovary and Camilla Parker-Bowles have in common? Desired and despised in equal measure, the ‘other’ woman enters a shadowy world of secret assignations and fear of discovery. This compelling study examines the role of the mistress throughout history, from Chinese concubines to European royal favourites, in life and literature. It examines the reasons why women become mistresses, the subversive threat they pose to the established order, and the eternal fascination they exert.
City of Sin
London and Its Vices
'If you do not want to dwell with evil-doers', wrote Richard of Devizes in 1180, 'do not live in London'. In her third exploration of the city's history, Catharine Arnold focuses on the sex trade, from slave girls brought to service Roman troops in first century Londinium, through medieval stews, 18th century sex clubs and Victorian male brothels to infamous '60s call girls and the internet 'Belle de Jour'.
Sex and Punishment
Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire
Sex is one of the most powerful human drives, and societies have sought to regulate it since the dawn of history. Meticulous, scholarly, yet laced with spicy anecdote, this chronological survey ranges from the brutal impalement of an adulteress in Mesopotamia to the trials of Oscar Wilde. Peopled with transvestites, rent boys, royal mistresses and gay charioteers, it demonstrates how what is 'normal' in one age is forbidden in another, exposing the futility of such attempts to constrain human sexuality.
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.
The End of the Debutantes
Until 1958 the daughters of Britain's aristocracy would curtsey to the Queen, a rite of passage that formed the highlight of a season of society parties in an elaborate, strictly controlled mating game. Part memoir, part social history, this book interviews the surviving debutantes to show how this arcane, archaic ritual was finally swept away, opening up their lives in new and unexpected directions.
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.
When Schooldays Were Fun
A Lighthearted Look at 'the Best Days of Our Lives'
In spite of the hard benches, stodgy food and iron discipline that feature prominently in people's memories of education in Britain before about 1970, schooldays from this period are nevertheless often fondly remembered. Covering a period from about 1900 up to the 1970s, this nostalgic miscellany of archive photographs, literary references, poems and first-hand accounts recalls the eccentric teachers, interminable lessons, withering school reports and punishing sporting trials that were once the daily lot of British schoolchildren.
Factory Production in Nineteenth-Century Britain
This anthology brings together writings that suggest the scope of responses – from wondrous celebration to apocalyptic horror – elicited by the advent and establishment of the factory system in 19th century Britain. Addressing complex questions about the possible effects of mass production on human life and labour, the collection includes important works by Adam Smith, Ruskin, Carlyle and Morris alongside extracts from lesser-known factory tourists' tales and inspectors' reports, a Luddite pamphlet and a cotton mill worker's autobiography.