In Bed with the Georgians
Sex, Scandal and Satire in the 18th Century
The sex trade flourished openly and profitably in Georgian England, particularly in the area around London’s Covent Garden. This illustrated history considers how the ‘oldest profession’ permeated all classes – from the courtesans who plied their trade within the very highest echelons of society right down to the common prostitutes who walked the streets – and examines how the scene was portrayed by the letter writers, journalists, satirists and caricaturists of the time.
Holding the Home Front
The Women's Land Army in the First World War
Within days of the start of the First World War there were calls for women to come to the fields, but it would be almost three years before the Women’s Land Army was formally established. Using previously unpublished accounts and photographs, this social history examines how the movement impacted agriculture at a time of national crisis and examines the rhetoric surrounding it, the political purpose that shaped it and the experiences of those who worked for it.
Women of the 1960s
More Than Mini Skirts, Pills & 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.
All Quiet on the Home Front
An Oral History of Life in Britain During the First World War
First published in 2003, this oral history used interviews with 100 people then in their late nineties, who had lived through the First World War, not as combatants, but as children and young adults on the home front. Their words, along with letters, diary entries and the authors’ linking narrative, offer an unusual view of the war, from fears of the Kaiser’s ambition in the years before its outbreak, to the jubilation, readjustment and mourning following the Armistice.
Menus, Munitions and Keeping the Peace
The Home Front Diaries of Gabrielle West 1914–1917
Gabrielle West worked variously as a Red Cross volunteer, a cook and a police officer during the First World War. Her diary entries, now part of the Imperial War Museum archives, note the discrimination she encountered as a woman in a position of responsibility, and the dangers posed by the Zeppelin raids over London. They paint a lively picture of her experience of the British Home Front and are illustrated with her drawings and family photographs.
Images of the Past: The 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.
The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in France, 1917–1921
Women Urgently Wanted
Documenting the experiences of the WAACs who served in France, this study follows the women from enrolment to demobilization, notes the part they played in the Spring Offensive of 1918 and the Armistice, and analyses how the army, the general public and the press viewed them.
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.
Maladies and Medicine
Exploring Health and Healing 1540–1740
In Early Modern England, it was believed that tiny worms caused tooth cavities and that inflammation of the blood triggered smallpox. Those unlucky enough to fall ill would often find themselves subjected to 'cures' such as herbal infusions, skin blistering and blood letting. This guide looks in detail at the most common medical conditions of the period and analyses sources including contemporary physicians' notes, journals and letters to investigate how patients reacted to their treatment.
Victorians and Edwardians Abroad
The Beginning of the Modern Holiday
The Polytechnic Touring Agency (PTA) was created in 1888 to cater for the growing numbers of lower middle-class people who could for the first time afford to holiday abroad. From the PTA archive at the University of Westminster, this book uncovers the recollections of those who enjoyed ‘Poly holidays’ before 1914. Illustrated with postcards, photographs and promotional items, it records their train journeys to Paris, Switzerland and Italy, and reveals a penchant for mischievous fun.
The Mighty Healer
Thomas Holloway's Victorian Patent Medicine Empire
Selling the ‘cure-alls’ he made by bottling leftover cooking grease in the kitchen of his parent's Cornish pub set Thomas Holloway on the road to becoming one of the richest self-made men in Victorian England. Here the author (a distant cousin) explores the rise and fall of his patent medicine empire and reveals how he used his millions to build the enormous Gothic college that still bears his name.
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.
Same Sex Love 1700–1957
A History and Research Guide
Family history is often seen as concerned with the traditional heterosexual unit, but what of ancestors who were attracted to same-sex partners? This first history of gay relationships aimed specifically at family historians offers valuable insights into those often seen as outcasts. Empathetic and meticulously researched, it charts the ways in which gay men and women lived their lives, from the Mollies and Sapphists of Georgian England to the Wolfenden Report of 1957.
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.
The Lengthening War
The Great War Diary of Mabel Goode
Having lived in Germany for a time before the outbreak of the First World War, middle-aged, middle-class diarist Mabel Goode knew 'the enemy nation' as many Britons did not, which adds an extra dimension to her contemporary account of the years 1914–1916. She records enrolment, rationing, the collapse of domestic service and the growth of war work, the Zeppelin attacks over Yorkshire, the ever-mounting casualty lists and a growing disillusionment with a lengthening conflict.
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’.
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.
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.
Tales from the Big House: Normanby Hall
400 Years of its History and People
Normanby Hall has been the seat of the Sheffield family since it was built in the 1820s. In this social history, Stephen Wade charts the hall’s role in local industry and during two world wars, when it was used as a military hospital and a personnel base. The tales of the resident family, guests and staff include that of the charismatic Lady Grosvenor, who astonished servants by arriving in a gypsy caravan.
Corsets & Codpieces
A Social History of Outrageous Fashion
This overview of two millennia of British clothing highlights some of its extraordinary forms, and their associated perils, such as the tragedy of 2,500 deaths caused by crinolines catching fire and the embarrassment of a race-goer whose bustle was eaten by a horse. With photographs and often humorous drawings, it explains how flamboyant fashions, including farthingales, face patches and wigs, came to exist, the purposes they served and what they said about those who wore them.
Early Victorian Railway Excursions
The Million Go Forth
The first railway entrepreneurs considered that their real business would be in freight, the tremendous demand for passenger travel coming as something of a surprise. This well-researched history challenges the traditional notion of rail travel as a middle-class activity in the first decades of steam, exploring the cheap excursions that were promoted to the working classes by enterprising tour operators and railway companies, and revealing the appalling conditions, often in open carriages, that the day trippers had to endure.
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.
Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards
The extravagant whiskers of prominent Victorians such as Charles Darwin and WG Grace seemed impossibly archaic until the recent 'hipster' fashion reinvented the wearing of long beards for young men for the first time since the hippies of the 1960s. This book traces the history of fashions in facial hair from the ancients to the present 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. The book recreates a climate of fear and repression, in which even peaceful reformers risked arrest.
Growing Up in the Not-So-Friendly 'Baby Boomer' Years
Looking back to children’s education, play, home life and health in the 1950s, Simon Webb paints a grim picture of childhood, often at odds with baby boomers’ own memories of those years. Drawing on documented evidence and examples, he discusses topics including sexual abuse, juvenile crime, playground hazards, and fears about the new media of television and comics in the post-war decade, arguing that children’s lives today are far safer, healthier and happier.
Tracing Your Ancestors' Lives
A Guide to Social History for Family Historians
Once you have tracked down the names, dates and places in your family tree, this handbook will help you to explore further by investigating the day-to-day experience of your forebears. It contains advice on the best sources and methods for research into British social history and presents a variety of case studies that illustrate topics of special interest to family historians, such as economic and demographic change, domestic life and education.
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.
The Justice Women
The Female Presence in the Criminal Justice System 1800–1970
Today we are accustomed to seeing female police officers, barristers and judges, but this only came about through more than a century of struggle. This absorbing book traces the history of the fight for equality and professional status through the lives of pioneering women in the legal system. They include Edith Smith, the first woman police officer to be sworn in, Lilian Wyles, the first female chief inspector, and the remarkable judge Rose Heilbron.
Britain's Great War Experience
Life at Home and Abroad 1914–1918
Beyond the horrors of the Western Front, the First World War sent Britons to the far corners of the globe and affected all aspects of life on the home front. This portfolio of contemporary photographs, documents, letters and ephemera (first published as The Worst Ordeal in 1994) takes the broadest view of the conflict – from the experiences of soldiers, sailors and airmen and their families to dealing with strikes, volunteer work, rationing, conscientious objectors and the Irish rebellion at home.
The Home Front in the Great War
Aspects of the Conflict 1914–1918
The Great War was the first to have a deep impact on every aspect of civilian life. This book, originally published in 2003, examines its effects on society at home, from recruitment to rationing and from Zeppelin raids to propaganda. Drawing on personal accounts and articles in newspapers and magazines, and extensively illustrated with period photographs, it explores the war's effects on industry, employment, labour relations, the press, the class system and the role of women.
Ribbons Among the Rajahs
A History of British Women in India Before the Raj
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, legions of women made the long, costly and hazardous journey to India, some accompanying husbands, others seeking a husband or employment, others still from a sense of adventure; but while the women of the Raj are familiar from literature, these pioneers are generally forgotten. Between the voyage out and their deaths in India, Patrick Wheeler’s social history offers an account of everyday life for these ‘Indian British’ women during the pre-imperial era.
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.
Children in the Second World War
Memories from the Home Front
Drawing on the archives of the Second World War Experience Centre, this collection presents the personal accounts of over 200 people who grew up during wartime. Their testimony reveals a childhood of extremes, from the excitement and terror of living under heavy bombardment to the culture shock and upheaval of evacuation. Arranged by subject, including Air-Raid Shelters, Schools and Entertainment, the recollections of those who survived offer a child’s-eye view of life on the Home Front.
Childhood and Death in Victorian England
Sarah Seaton surveys the hazards of childhood in an age when childbirth was fraught with danger, child labour was exploited, there was no adequate protection against disease, and little, if any social support for the poor. As well as these daunting obstacles to health and happiness, the book describes cases of child murder, infanticide and concealment of birth, and explains the often desperate circumstances in which such crimes were committed.
Edwardian Ladies' Hat Fashions
'Where Did You Get That Hat?'
Based on the historian Peter Kimpton’s collection of fashion postcards from Edwardian times, this well-illustrated guide documents the hat (and hatpin) fashions that defined that era and the designers – including Coco Chanel – who created them. The author also explores the darker side of the millinery industry, from the wholesale slaughter of exotic birds for their ornate feathers to the appalling conditions in the hat-making sweatshops of New York.
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.
Life Below Stairs in Their Own Words 1800–1950
Focusing on the stories of ordinary men and women who worked as servants in the homes of the middle classes, this book gives a ‘warts and all’ history of domestic service. In each of four periods, Michelle Higgs first surveys the work, conditions and social issues of the day before introducing the servants and their testimony, from Mary Ann Ashford, general servant, housemaid and cook in 1800, to Amy Jones, a 14-year-old general servant and nursemaid in 1945.
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.