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'Ackroyd makes history accessible to the layman' - Ian Thomson, Independent
The penultimate volume of Peter Ackroyd’s masterful History of England series, Dominion begins in 1815 as national glory following the Battle of Waterloo gives way to post-war depression, spanning the last years of the Regency to the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901.
In it, Ackroyd takes us from the accession of the profligate George IV whose government was steered by Lord Liverpool, who was firmly set against reform, to the reign of his brother, William IV, the 'Sailor King', whose reign saw the modernization of the political system and the abolition of slavery.
But it was the accession of Queen Victoria, aged only eighteen, that sparked an era of enormous innovation. Technological progress – from steam railways to the first telegram – swept the nation and the finest inventions were showcased at the first Great Exhibition in 1851. The emergence of the middle classes changed the shape of society and scientific advances changed the old pieties of the Church of England, and spread secular ideas across the nation. But though intense industrialization brought boom times for the factory owners, the working classes were still subjected to poor housing, long working hours and dire poverty.
It was a time that saw a flowering of great literature, too. As the Georgian era gave way to that of Victoria, readers could delight not only in the work of Byron, Shelley and Wordsworth but also the great nineteenth-century novelists: the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, Mrs Gaskell, Thackeray, and, of course, Dickens, whose work has become synonymous with Victorian England.
Nor was Victorian expansionism confined to Britain alone. By the end of Victoria’s reign, the Queen was also an Empress and the British Empire dominated much of the globe. And, as Ackroyd shows in this richly populated, vividly told account, Britannia really did seem to rule the waves.
"Amazing & Extraordinary Facts about Kings and Queens" unearths a wealth of fascinating truths about British monarchs from pre-Roman times to the present day. Discover revealing stories about the lives and personalities of each monarch and how they have shaped history. Tales of wickedness, greed, adultery and madness make this guide to Britain's kings and queens utterly compelling. "The Amazing and Extraordinary Facts series" presents interesting, surprising and little-known facts and stories about a wide range of topics which are guaranteed to inform, absorb and entertain in equal measure. Brief, accessible and entertaining pieces on a wide variety of subjects make them the perfect books to dip in to.
For most of the 2nd World War the RAF flew small aircraft into Occupied France at night, landing and taking off in total secrecy. Their mission was to transport agents to and from France to support the activities of the French Resistance and SOE. The chronicle of these operations tells an extraordinary adventure story, full of danger for both agent and aviator. Hugh Verity flew many of the missions recounted in We Landed by Moonlight and was probably the most outstanding pick-up pilot of them all.
In UNDER FIRE, Stephen Bourne tells the whole story of Britain's black community during the Second World War. On the home front, civilians came under fire from the Blitz in cities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, London and Manchester. Meanwhile, black servicemen and women, many of them volunteers from places as far away as Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana and Nigeria, risked their lives fighting for the Mother Country in the air, at sea and on land. Drawing on first-hand testimonies, Bourne sheds light on a wealth of experiences, from evacuees to entertainers, government officials, prisoners of war and community leaders. Despite facing the discriminatory 'colour bar', many black civilians were determined to contribute to the war effort where they could, volunteering as civilian defence workers - air-raid wardens, fire-fighters, stretcher-bearers and first-aiders. Among those remembered are men and women whose stories have only recently come to light, making UNDER FIRE the definitive account of the bravery and sacrifices of black Britons in wartime.
Oxford greatly expanded and flourished under the Tudors, as the reviving University provided a growing body of consumers and trade for shopkeepers and craftsmen. They needed apprentices - and in huge numbers, as the material in this volume demonstrates. It calendars the enrolments of over two thousand apprenticeship contracts made during this period; they are a familiar source for social and economic history and genealogy, but the Oxford material, in both quantity and detail, is quite exceptional. Moreover, sixteenth-century enrolments are much fuller than their more familiar seventeenth-century successors, containing miscellaneous information of great interest, notably lists of working tools, details of journeymen's wages, and stipulations about apprentices' behaviour. The data is discussed in an Introduction which re-examines the apprenticeship system on the basis of the unusually plentiful statistics, throwing new light on such matters as length of service, payment of premiums, and the rates of career failure and success. Oxford recruited apprentices from an astonishingly wide area; their places of origin are identified and mapped, and an analysis of their social and geographical origins breaks new ground in the field of migration studies. More prosaically the calendar provides the genealogist and local historian with the names, parentage, and places of origin of thousands of young men from all over England and Wales - crucial raw material for much-needed further research.on the later movements of qualified apprentices. Alan Crossley is a member of the modern history faculty, University of Oxford.
A provocative reappraisal of Wellington's military career, his victory at Waterloo, and the source of his genius as a general Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, lives on in popular memory as the "Invincible General," loved by his men, admired by his peers, formidable to his opponents. This incisive book revises such a portrait, offering an accurate-and controversial-new analysis of Wellington's remarkable military career. Unlike his nemesis Napoleon, Wellington was by no means a man of innate military talent, Huw J. Davies argues. Instead, the key to Wellington's military success was an exceptionally keen understanding of the relationship between politics and war. Drawing on extensive primary research, Davies discusses Wellington's military apprenticeship in India, where he learned through mistakes as well as successes how to plan campaigns, organize and use intelligence, and negotiate with allies. In India Wellington encountered the constant political machinations of indigenous powers, and it was there that he apprenticed in the crucial skill of balancing conflicting political priorities. In later campaigns and battles, including the Peninsular War and Waterloo, Wellington's genius for strategy, operations, and tactics emerged. For his success in the art of war, he came to rely on his art as a politician and tactician. This strikingly original book shows how Wellington made even unlikely victories possible-with a well-honed political brilliance that underpinned all of his military achievements.
London at the outset of war in 1939 was the greatest city in the world, the heart of the British Empire. The defiant capital had always been Hitler's prime target and 1945, the last year of the war, saw the final phase of the battle of London. The Civil Defence could not have succeeded without the spirit, courage, resilience and co-operation of the people. London 1945 describes how a great city coped in crisis, how morale was sustained, shelter provided, food and clothing rationed, and work and entertainment carried on. Then, as the joy of VE Day and VJ Day passed into memory, Londoners faced severe shortages and all the problems of post-war adjustment. Women lost the independence the war had lent them, husbands and wives had to learn to live together again, and children had a lot of catching up to do. The year of victory, 1945, represents an important chapter in London's - and Britain's - long history.
Lochaber is a sparsely-populated area, remote but romantic, centred on Fort William. It contains no mediaeval burgh, no major monastic site, and for its size, not even many castles. However, it does include the highest mountain in Great Britain (Ben Nevis, 4406 ft, the deepest lake in Western Europe (Loch Morar) and the most westerly point of the British mainland (Ardnamurchan Point). Daniel Defoe described it as a `mountainous barren and frightful country . . . full of hideous desert mountains and unpassable'. Much of the land surface is mountain or bog, and its coastline is indented by long sea lochs, while the interior contains some very large fresh water lochs, the longest of which are Loch Shiel, at 17 1/2 miles, and Loch Arkaig at 12 miles. The name Lochaber first appears in Adamnan's Life of St Columba (written c.690). It probably refers either to the top of Loch Linnhe, or to a possible loch, later a bog, east of Banavie. Much of the scattered population of Lochaber has always lived close to its long and sheltered coastline, and until the last 200 years most communication was by water. One local minister in the 1790s claimed, probably correctly, that Tahiti and other Pacific islands were better surveyed than parts of the west coast of Scotland. Only a few intrepid travellers came here before the nineteenth century, when roads, steam-boats and then the railway rapidly opened up the area to tourism. Attempts to introduce new industries during the twentieth century had mixed success, but the population, having declined for almost two centuries, has now stabilised. Perhaps a better understanding and de-mythologising of the past may help to develop a sustainable economy for the future.
A rich account of the impact of the Second World War on the lives of people living in the farms and villages of Britain. On the outbreak of war, the countryside was invaded by service personnel and evacuee children by the thousand; land was taken arbitrarily for airfields, training grounds and firing ranges, and whole communities were evicted. Prisoner-of-war camps brought captured enemy soldiers to close quarters, and as horses gave way to tractors and combines farmers were burdened with aggressive new restrictions on what they could and could not grow. Land Girls and Lumber Jills worked in fields and forests. Food - or the lack of it - was a major preoccupation and rationing strictly enforced. And although rabbits were poached, apples scrumped and mushrooms gathered, there was still not enough to eat. Drawing from diaries, letters, books, official records and interviews, Duff Hart Davis revisits rural Britain to describe how ordinary people survived the war years. He tells of houses turned over to military use such as Bletchley and RAF Medmenham as well as those that became schools, notably Chatsworth in Derbyshire. Combining both hardship and farce, the book examines the profound changes war brought to Britain's countryside: from the Home Guard, struggling with the provision of ludicrous equipment, to the role of the XII Corps Observation Unit. whose task was to enlarge rabbit warrens and badger setts into bunkers for harassing the enemy in the event of a German invasion; to the unexpected tenderness shown by many to German and Italian prisoners-of-war at work on the land. Fascinating, sad and at times hilarious, this warm-hearted book tells great stories - and casts new light on Britain during the war.
A groundbreaking history of mothers who worked for pay that will change the way we think about gender, work and equality in modern Britain. In Britain today, three-quarters of mothers are in employment and paid work is an unremarkable feature of women's lives after childbirth. Yet a century ago, working mothers were in the minority, excluded altogether from many occupations, whilst their wage-earning was widely perceived as a social ill. In Double Lives, Helen McCarthy accounts for this remarkable transformation, whose consequences have been momentous for Britain's society and economy. Drawing upon a wealth of sources, McCarthy ranges from the smoking chimney-stacks of nineteenth-century Manchester to the shimmering skyscrapers of present-day Canary Wharf. She recovers the everyday worlds of working mothers and traces how women's desires for financial independence and lives beyond home and family were slowly recognised. McCarthy reveals the deep and complicated past of a phenomenon so often assumed to be a product of contemporary lifestyles and aspirations. This groundbreaking history forces us not only to re-evaluate the past, but to ask anew how current attitudes towards mothers in the workplace have developed and how far we have to go. Through vivid and powerful storytelling, Double Lives offers a social and cultural history for our times.
To many in the United Kingdom, the British public school remains the disliked and mistrusted embodiment of privilege and elitism. They have educated many of the country's top bankers and politicians over the centuries right up to the present, including the present Prime Minister. David Turner's vibrant history of Great Britain's public schools, from the foundation of Winchester College in 1382 to the modern day, offers a fresh reappraisal of the controversial educational system. Turner argues that public schools are, in fact, good for the nation and are presently enjoying their true "Golden Age," countering the long-held belief that these institutions achieved their greatest glory during Great Britain's Victorian Era. Turner's engrossing and enlightening work is rife with colorful stories of schoolboy revolts, eccentric heads, shocking corruption, and financial collapse. His thoughtful appreciation of these learning establishments follows the progression of public schools from their sometimes brutal and inglorious pasts through their present incarnations as vital contributors to the economic, scientific, and political future of the country.
Arctic explorer, survival expert and naturalist Freddy Spencer Chapman was trapped behind enemy lines when the Japanese overran Malaya in 1942. His response was to begin a commando campaign of such lethal effectiveness that the Japanese deployed an entire regiment to hunt him down, believing that a 200-strong guerrilla army was responsible for the wholesale destruction of their convoys. He was wounded, and racked by tropical disease. His companions were killed, or captured and then beheaded. Cut off from friendly forces, his only shelter the deep jungle, Chapman held out for three years and five months. Jungle Soldier recounts the thrilling and unforgettable adventures of the North country orphan who survived against all odds to become a legend of guerrilla warfare.
'Fresh, gripping and vivid' Simon Sebag Montefiore 'Majestically narrated' Dan Jones 'A portrait that chills you to the bone' Leanda de Lisle, The Times A dedicated brother and loyal stalwart to the Yorkist dynasty for most of his early life, Richard's personality was forged in the tribulation of exile and the brutality of combat. An ambitious nobleman and successful general with a loyal following, he could claim to have achieved every ambition in life except one: the crown. By stripping back the legends that surround England's most controversial king and returning to original manuscript evidence, Chris Skidmore's compelling biography reveals Richard III as contemporaries saw him.
2018 marks the centenary of the year when (some) women in Britain were allowed to vote for the first time. It is also the year of the `Great Exhibition of the North' when we are reflecting on the North's past successes, drawing on these for future inspiration and aiming to encourage the aspirations of our young people, girls and boys. Angels of the North highlights forty women who are either from the North-East - or have strong connections to it. Some of these women are household names whereas others have significant achievements to their credit but are in danger of being forgotten. All of them are women to be proud of. The forty women cover many fields - the arts, politics, science, women's rights, business and sheer heroism. The book focuses on the successes, achievements and ambitions of these women, noting collaborations, friendships and common goals. It also underlines that north east women were the pioneers in many of these fields. The first `feminist literature' was written by a north-east woman, one of our women caused the first national `media frenzy', we had the first female cabinet minister and the first national beauty queen. Many of the women featured fought for women's rights and were suffragettes - it's important to record the role northern women played in that struggle, perhaps providing more energy, passion and sheer determination than other regions. Northerners may not be given to self-promotion and are not given to boasting, also in a Britain dominated by London-based media the North's achievements and accomplishments often seem to get overlooked. This book is a timely reminder and a celebration of some of our country's most remarkable and truly inspiring women.
Well-behaved women don't make history: difficult women do. Helen Lewis argues that feminism's success is down to complicated, contradictory, imperfect women, who fought each other as well as fighting for equal rights. Too many of these pioneers have been whitewashed or forgotten in our modern search for feel-good, inspirational heroines. It's time to reclaim the history of feminism as a history of difficult women. In this book, you'll meet the working-class suffragettes who advocated bombings and arson; the princess who discovered why so many women were having bad sex; the pioneer of the refuge movement who became a men's rights activist; the 'striker in a sari' who terrified Margaret Thatcher; the wronged Victorian wife who definitely wasn't sleeping with the prime minister; and the lesbian politician who outraged the country. Taking the story up to the present with the twenty-first-century campaign for abortion services, Helen Lewis reveals the unvarnished - and unfinished - history of women's rights. Drawing on archival research and interviews, Difficult Women is a funny, fearless and sometimes shocking narrative history, which shows why the feminist movement has succeeded - and what it should do next. The battle is difficult, and we must be difficult too.
The crisis and tragedy which followed the naming of Charles Stewart Parnell as correspondent in a divorce decree in 1890 remains one of the most significant events in modern Irish politics. In this powerful reassessment of the split, Frank Callanan reargues the politics of Parnell's last campaign, and establishes the critical importance of T.M. Healy's ferocious attacks on the Irish leader for the consolidation of a conservative and reactionary Irish nationalism. Contemporary and previously unexplored sources--newspapers, periodicals, political speeches and private correspondence--are used to examine the politics and psychological character of the split. The author draws out from the bitter controversy Parnell's articulate and incisive critique of contemporary nationalist politics, and shows how it anticipated the predicament of the modern Irish state. Parnell's campaign in the split, against overwhe lming odds, emerges as a neglected political masterpiece.
Smithfield, settled on the fringes of Roman London, was once a place of revelry. Jesters and crowds flocked for the medieval St Bartholomew's Day celebrations, tournaments were plentiful and it became the location of London's most famous meat market. Yet in Tudor England, Smithfield had another, more sinister use: the public execution of heretics.
Spanning the reigns of British history's most remarkable dynasty, The Burning Time is a vivid insight into an era in which what was orthodoxy one year might be dangerous heresy the next. The first martyrs were Catholics, who cleaved to Rome in defiance of Henry VIII's break with the papacy. But with the accession of Henry's daughter Mary - soon to be nicknamed 'Bloody Mary' - the charge of heresy was levelled against devout Protestants, who chose to burn rather than recant.
At the centre of Virginia Rounding's vivid account of this extraordinary period are two very different characters. The first is Richard Rich, Thomas Cromwell's protégé, who, almost uniquely, remained in a position of great power, influence and wealth under three Tudor monarchs, and who helped send many devout men and women to their deaths. The second is John Deane, Rector of St Bartholomew's, who was able, somehow, to navigate the treacherous waters of changing dogma and help others to survive.
The Burning Time is their story, but it is also the story of the hundreds of men and women who were put to the fire for their faith. It is a gripping insight into a time when people were willing to die, and to kill, in the name of religion.
The "textures" of the Irish-American experience have been manifold, greatly influencing this country's economic, social, and cultural development over the past two centuries. Unlike that of many other European immigrants, the Irish journey to America was viewed largely as a one-way trip. They quickly adjusted to America, soon becoming citizens and active participants in politics. By the end of the 19th century, they dominated not only most American cities but also sports, especially baseball, and many were prominent in show business. In this entertaining study of one of America's most engaging and controversial groups, Lawrence McCaffrey reveals how the Irish adapted to urban life, progressing from unskilled working class to solid middle class. Denied power and influence in business and commerce, they achieved both through politics and the Catholic church. In addition to politicians and churchmen, McCaffrey discusses the roles of writers such as Finley Peter Dunne, James T. Farrell, Eugene O'Neill, J. F. Powers, Edwin O'Connor, William Kennedy, Elizabeth Cullinan, Tom Flanagan, Thomas Fleming, Jimmy Breslin, and John Gregory Dunne, as well as such film stars as Jimmy Cagney, Bing Crosby, Grace and Gene Kelly, and Spencer Tracy. McCaffrey completes the story with a look at the role of Irish nationalism in developing the personality of Irish America and in liberating Ireland from British colonialism. The result of some forty years of thinking and writing about Irish-American life, McCaffrey's Textures will appeal to scholars and general readers alike and may very well become the standard work on Irish America.
CHURCHILL AND THE JEWS covers the whole life of this greatest of Britons -- from his youth, when he was shocked by the anti-Semitism displayed during the Dreyfus Affair, to his last meeting with David Ben-Gurion in 1960, when he gave Ben-Gurion an article he had written about Moses. In the intervening years, during which Churchill cemented his place in history, his affinity with the Jews remained undimmed, even though his championing of Zionist issues and interests was often like a red rag to the bull of the British Establishment. One of those closest to Churchill once confided to the author that "Winston had one fault -- he was too fond of Jews." What does this mean? How did this fondness manifest itself? Exploring all aspects of his life and career, CHURCHILL AND THE JEWS sheds new light on a key figure of the twentieth century and how his attitudes affected not just the prosecution of the Second World War but the establishment of a Jewish state that followed it.
Covering the hilly north-west part of the county from the Cheshire border to the valley of the river Trent south of Newcastle-under-Lyme, this volume treats parishes that lie mostly on the North Staffordshire coalfield and where both coal and ironstone mining and iron-making became important, especially in the nineteenth century. A rich archive has been used to illustrate the origins of this industrial activity in the Middle Ages, when the area was characterised by scattered settlements, with an important manorial complex and a grand fourteenth-century church at Audley, a hunting lodge for the Stafford lords at Madeley, a small borough at Betley, and at Keele and Trentham religious houses which became landed estates with mansion houses after the Dissolution. In the nineteenth century Trentham gained fame for its spectacular gardens created by the immensely rich dukes of Sutherland, and Keele rose to prominence in 1950 as the site of Britain's first campus university. After coalmining ceased in the twentieth century several villages and mining hamlets acquired large housing estates, which in Trentham parish were absorbed into Stoke-on-Trent. Nigel Tringham is a Senior Lecturer in History at Keele University, with special responsibility for researching and writing the volumes of the Staffordshire Victoria County History.
In 1538 John Russell, secretary to the Council of the Welsh Marches, acquired the dissolved priory of Little Malvern, where his descendants, the Beringtons, still live. This selection from the family letters in the Worcestershire Record Office vividly illustrates the impact on Worcestershire of the Reformation and the Civil War. Among much else, it includes correspondence with Thomas Cromwell and Lord Chancellor Audley (who was John Russell's brother-in-law); Elizabethan medical prescriptions and business letters; correspondence about evading the penal laws against Catholics; a mock-heroic Latin skit on James I; a personal letter from one of the Jesuits executed at the time of the Oates Plot, and an official certificate that Little Malvern had been (unsuccessfully) searched for priests. The letters themselves are accompanied by an introduction and explanatory notes. Michael Hodgetts has written extensively on Recusant History and is an acknowledged expert on English Catholic families and their houses.
The Rise of the Elliots of Minto begins as battles between Scottish clans and reivers across the English-Scottish border continue. A Gilbert Elliot is helping a Campbell, the earl of Argyll, escape the clutches of the law. Soon afterwards, as a member of the Scottish Parliament, he prospers both socially and financially. Being made a baronet, he retires following the Treaty of Union, dying in 1718. A chronological account of the happenings of six generations of Elliots in the eighteenth century, and a dramatis personae of well over 100, completes the author's trilogy about the family commenced in 2011. Inheritance of the estate in Roxburghshire in the Borders by the second baronet is accompanied by his being made a judge, and by the expansion of his interests in music and rural affairs. Two of three successful marriages among his offspring were then to greatly influence the family's ascendancy from the gentry to the lower ranks of the aristocracy. Key to this was the eventual third baronet who became a politician and a literary patron, and his elder sister Eleanor who was to live the first part of her married life in America. Between them they had at least seventeen children, including an admiral, an army captain, the governor of New York, and a woman poet. A third union between the fourth baronet's sister and William Eden, who was a friend of Pitt the Younger, government minister and diplomat at the time of the American War of Independence, cemented the family's association with the Eden family. Although a social history of the family and several biographies or essays about two or three senior Elliots exist, little has been revealed till now about the fascinating lives of its younger members or the family in the round. The Rise of the Elliots of Minto provides a warm and perceptive glimpse into the life of a far-from-rich aristocratic family, as well as a picture of what the populace at large endured. The lid is lifted a little further on both the conventional and non-conventional in eighteenth-century society, where adventure and death were partners.
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