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"The sharply-observed characters and constant pricks of humour make this book seem almost as if Jane Austen had written a history of her own times." (Lucy Worsley The Times). We know the thrilling, terrible stories of the battles of the Napoleonic wars - but what of those left behind? The people on a Norfolk farm, in a Yorkshire mill, a Welsh iron foundry, an Irish village, a London bank or a Scottish mountain? The aristocrats and paupers, old and young, butchers and bakers and candlestick makers - how did the war touch their lives? Every part of Britain felt the long twenty years of war against the French: one in five families had people in the services and over 300,000 men died. As the years passed, so the bullish, flamboyant figure of Napoleon - Boney, the bogeyman - came to dominate so much that the whole long conflict was given his name. Jenny Uglow, the prize-winning author of The Lunar Men and Nature's Engraver, follows the gripping back-and-forth of the first global war, but turns the news upside down, seeing how it reached the people. Illustrated by the satires of Gillray, Rowlandson and the paintings of Turner and Constable, and combining the familiar voices of Jane Austen, Wordsworth, Scott and Byron with others lost in the crowd, In These Times delves into the archives to tell the moving story of how people lived and loved and sang and wrote, struggling through hard times and opening new horizons that would change their country for a century ahead.
The Irish famine that began in 1845 was one of the nineteenth century's greatest disasters. By its end, the island's population of eight million had shrunk by a third through starvation, disease and emigration. This is a brilliant, compassionate retelling of that awful story for a new generation - the first account for the general reader for many years and a triumphant example of narrative non-fiction at its best. The immediate cause of the famine was a bacterial infection of the potato crop on which too many the Irish poor depended. What turned a natural disaster into a human disaster was the determination of senior British officials to use relief policy as an instrument of nation - building in their oldest and most recalcitrant colony. Well-meaning civil servants were eager to modernise Irish agriculture and to improve the Irish moral character, which was utterly lacking in the virtues of the new age of triumphant capitalism. The result was a relief programme more concerned with fostering change than of saving lives. This is history that resonates powerfully with our own times.
Like its popular and acclaimed predecessor Restoration London, this book is the result of the author's passionate interest in the practical details of the everyday life of our ancestors, so often ignored in more conventional history books. Based on every possible contemporary source - diaries, almanacs, newspapers, advice books, memoirs, government papers and reports - Liza Picard examines every aspect of life in London: the streets, houses and gardens; cooking, housework, laundry and shopping; clothes and jewellery, cosmetics and hairdressing; medicine, sex, hobbies, education and etiquette; religion and popular beliefs; law and crime. This book spans the years 1740 to 1770, starting when the gin craze was gaining ground and ending when the east coast of America was still British.
Following Nelson's victory at the Nile he was feted at home. Further victories against the French raised his popularity with the public at large to fever pitch. But at court Nelson's ego and his love for Emma Hamilton, seen as little more than a whore by the courtiers surrounding George III, dogged his progress. Only in death was he finally accepted at the heart of society. Following both Nelson's exceptional career and the spirited progress of Emma, this is a story of talent and character overcoming tradition and expectation; a story of a society on the cusp of the liberal 18th and conservative 19th centuries and the fate of two people caught in the middle of the change. From Arctic ice flow to Neapolitan courtroom, from single ship actions in the dank English Channel to fleet actions in the mouth of the Nile, this is the story of a great hero, a doomed love affair and a war that stretched across the world.
In the 1760s a group of amateur experimenters met and made friends in the Midlands. Most came from humble families, all lived far from the centre of things, but they were young and their optimism was boundless: together they would change the world. Among them were the ambitious toy-maker Matthew Boulton and his partner James Watt, of steam-engine fame; the potter Josiah Wedgewood; the larger-than-life Erasmus Darwin, physician, poet, inventor and theorist of evolution (a forerunner of his grandson Charles). Later came Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen and fighting radical.;With a small band of allies they formed the Lunar Society of Birmingham (so called because it met at each full moon) and kick-started the Industrial Revolution. Blending science, art and commerce, the "Lunar Men" built canals, launched balloons, named plants, gases and minerals, changed the face of England and the china in its drawing rooms and plotted to revolutionize its soul.;This exhilarating account uncovers the friendships, political passions, love affairs, and love of knowledge (and power) that drove these extraordinary men. It echoes to the thud of pistons and the wheeze and snort of engines, and brings to life the tradesmen, artisans and tycoons who shaped and fired the modern age.
Born in 1786, by the time she was 15 years old, Harriette Wilson was well on her way to becoming Regency London's most sought-after courtesan. She counted amongst her conquests the Prince of Wales, the Lord Chancellor, and no less than four future Prime Ministers. There was hardly a young dandy in Mayfair who had not been involved with Harriette, who entranced men with her wit as much as her beauty. But when the Duke of Beaufort put a halt on the payments he had promised her, Harriette decided to avenge herself on the whole pack.
In a biography of style and energy, Frances Wilson makes use of previously unseen letters, law reports and confidential Government correspondence to reveal the true story of the sexual celebrity who blackmailed the British aristocracy and held even the king to ransom. Harriette Wilson was the most desired and the most dangerous woman in Regency London. This biography reveals for the first time the true story behind her sensational life and scandalous 'Memoirs'. When her former lovers - including much of the British aristocracy - turned against her, she knew exactly how to take revenge ...
What made Nelson so special? What individual quality led Byron rightly to celebrate Nelson's genius as 'Britannia's God of War'? Andrew Lambert demonstrates how Nelson elevated the business of naval warfare to the level of the sublime. Where his predecessors and opponents saw a particular battle as an end in itself, Nelson - even in the midst of terrifying, close-quarters action - was concerned to exploit the victory he was achieving. Nelson explores the professional, personal, intellectual and practical origins of the man's genius, to understand how the greatest warrior that Britain has ever produced transformed the art of conflict, and enabled his country to survive the challenge of total war and international isolation.
As part of the Light Division created to act as the advance guard of Wellington's army, the 95th Rifles are the first into battle and the last out. Fighting, thieving and raping their way across Europe, they are clearly no ordinary troops. The 95th are in fact the first British soldiers to take aim at their targets, to take cover when being shot at, to move tactically by fire and manoeuvre. And by the end of a six-year campaign they have not only proved themselves the toughest fighters in the army, they have also - at huge personal cost - created the modern notion of the infantryman.
We all see the Victorians as a respectable, well-mannered and sober people, yet a generation before Queen Victoria ascended the throne, the British were notorious for their boisterous pastimes, plain-speaking and drunkenness. How was it that this free-spirited and pleasure-loving people embraced the kinds of values that we know as Victorian moralism? "Decency and Disorder" is about the generation who grew up during the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars. Acclaimed young historian Ben Wilson recreates their age, and some of its most exciting figures, in this landmark history book.
Ambitious and talented people flocked to court in search of power and prestige, but Kensington Palace was also a gilded cage. While its inhabitants were cocooned in comfort and splendour, successful courtiers had level heads and cold hearts; their secrets were never safe. Among them, a Vice Chamberlain with many vices, a Maid of Honour with a secret marriage, a pushy painter, an alcoholic equerry, a Wild Boy, a penniless poet, a dwarf comedian, two mysterious turbaned Turks and any number of discarded royal mistresses. An eye-opening portrait of an enthralling group of royal servants, "Courtiers" also throws new light on the dramatic life of George II and Queen Caroline: a lover murdered, babies snatched, horrific illnesses and tearful deathbed reconciliations.
George Hudson, the eponymous Railway King - started his career with a stroke of luck, inheriting £27,000 (a fortune in 1827) from a distant relative. He invested successfully in the North Midland Railway, then formed his own Midland Railway, raising £5 million and bribing MPs along the way. But from his glory in 1845 he fell into disgrace, admitting corruption and selling land he did not own. He was eventually imprisoned in York Castle and died a broken man in 1871.;His story provides an insight into 19th-century politics and industrial progress, full of moral dilemmas and also a testimony to the growth of the railways in Britain.
The story of Old London Bridge is a turbulent and varied one, spanning over 600 years from 1176 to 1832. In every period, the bridge was the focal point for war and conflict, from early Viking raids to the Civl War. In times of peace, the bridge was thriving commercial centre and an arena for many pleasures including spectacular national ceremonies, races, pageants, jousts and regattas. Thousands lived and died in the "town on the bridge", a bustling community of merchants, craftsmen, thieves and rogues.;Many stories are intertwined with that of Old London Bridge and the author weaves them together in this social history of London. She describes each stage in the bridge's history in a detailed narrative and peppered with colourful characters - monarchs and traitors, priests and pilgrims, artists and writers.
The story of Old London Bridge is a turbulent and varied one, spanning over 600 years from 1176 to 1832. In every period, the bridge was the focal point for war and conflict, from early Viking raids to the Civl War. In times of peace, the bridge was thriving commercial centre and an arena for many pleasures including spectacular national ceremonies, races, pageants, jousts and regattas. Thousands lived and died in the "town on the bridge", a bustling community of merchants, craftsmen, thieves and rogues. Many stories are intertwined with that of Old London Bridge and the author weaves them together in this social history of London. She describes each stage in the bridge's history in a detailed narrative and peppered with colourful characters - monarchs and traitors, priests and pilgrims, artists and writers.
Between 1720 and 1751, the gin craze nearly overwhelmed London. Based on extensive research, this title follows the history of gin, or "geneva" - from its introduction from Holland after the "Glorius Revolution", to its role as the sustenance of the poor, a quick trip to oblivion in the squalid and diseased poverty of 18th-century London.;This is the story of "Madam Geneva's" rise and fall. Gin-drinkers and sellers, politicians and distillers all add their voices to this account of London's first drug craze, which takes us from the corridors of power to the cornfields of Norfolk, from the pulpits of reformers to the tenements of St Giles in the Fields.
Between 1720 and 1751, the "gin craze" nearly overwhelmed London. Based on extensive research, Patrick Dillon's book follows the history of gin, or "geneva", from its introduction from Holland after the Glorious Revolution, to its role as the sustenance of the poor - a quick trip to oblivion in the squalid and diseased poverty of 18th-century London - and later to its resurgence in the Victorian Gin Palaces and prohibition America. This is the story of Madame Geneva's rise and fall. Gin-drinkers and sellers, politicians and distillers all add their voices to Patrick Dillon's vivid account of London's first drug craze, which takes us from the corridors of power to the cornfields of Norfolk, from the pulpits of reformers to the tenements of St Giles in the Fields.
Two hundred years ago there lived a magnetic and manipulative aristocrat whose complex relationships and strong passions strike a chord with any modern woman. Georgina, Duchess of Bedford (1781-1853), had a long and happy marriage with one of the richest men in England. Yet she also kept a handsome lover over 20 years her junior - the famous artist Edwin Landseer - who adored her till the day he died.;Georgina's controversial life caused scandal even in that decadent era. She was at the centre of Regency society and mixed with leading politicians, artists and nobles of the time - from her step-son, the Prime Minister Lord John Russell, to her great rival, "Little G", the Duchess of Devonshire's daughter.;This title explores the life of this intriguing woman and the colourful world she inhabited.
Two hundred years ago there lived a magnetic and manipulative aristocrat whose complex relationships and strong passions strike a chord with any modern woman. Georgina, Duchess of Bedford (1781-1853), had a long and happy marriage with one of the richest men in England. Yet she also kept a handsome lover over twenty years her junior - the famous artist Edwin Landseer - who adored her till the day he died. Georgina's controversial life caused scandal even in that decadent era. She was at the centre of Regency society and mixed with the leading politicians, artists and nobles of the time - from her step-son, the Prime Minister Lord John Russell to her great rival, 'Little G', the Duchess of Devonshire's daughter. MISTRESS OF THE ARTS explores the life of this intriguing woman and the colourful world she inhabited. This is popular history at its absolute best - full of original sources, fascinating period detail and larger-than-life characters.
Conceived as a showcase for Britain's burgeoning manufacturing industries and the exotic products of its Empire, the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace was Britain's first national spectacle. This book examines the story of how the exhibition came into being; the key characters who made it happen (from Prince Albert, who was credited with the idea, to Thomas Cook, whose cheap railway trips ensured its accessibility to all); and the tales behind the exhibitors and exhibits themselves, from the Koh-i-noor diamond to the more quirky inventions on display - Queen Victoria was very taken with a bed that physically ejected its occupant in the morning, for example. One quarter of the British population had visited the exhibition by its close; this is the story of how it fired the imagination of the era.
Between 1846 and 1851, more than a million Irish people sailed to America. These were the famine emigrants. The world has not seen such an exodus before or since. In those five years the population of the United States grew by one-seventh. At the same time, the Irish Potato Famine claimed a million lives. The year 1996 marks the 150th anniversary of the famine and the first famine sailings. This book tells the story of the courage and determination of those who crossed the ocean in leaky, overcrowded sailing ships and forged new lives for themselves. Among them a small boy called Henry Ford and 26-year-old Patrick Kennedy, the great-grandfather of John F. Kennedy. The book traces the history of the five years of famine sailings, and includes numerous personal stories, such as that of the parish priest from County Wexford, who led 18 families across the Atlantic and from there, on up the Mississippi/Missouri to found Wexford, Iowa, where the emigrants' descendants still live today. Edward Laxton conducted five years of research in Ireland and among descendants in the United States. The book includes facsimile passenger lists, tickets, letters and other memorabilia. It also features information for Irish-Americans who wish to trace their ancestry.
'Queen Victoria had a very complicated and psychologically fascinating personality and only a very talented biographer could get to the key of her character. Fortunately in Matthew Dennison's pithy, well-researched, beautifully written and very accessible book, she has found one' Andrew Roberts In this brilliant, concise new biography Queen Victoria is shown as Britain's queen of contradictions. In her combination of regal vehemence and wifely submission; deep sentimentality and bombast; cultural imperialism and imperial compassion; fear of intellectualism and excitement at technology; romantic longing and prudishness, she became a spirit of the age to which she gave her name. Victoria embraced photography, railway travel and modern art; she resisted compulsory education for the working classes and recommended for a leading women's rights campaigner 'a good whipping'. She detested smoking and believed whole-heartedly in the health-giving properties of fresh air, strong draughts and cold. She may or may not have been amused. Melbourne and Disraeli wooed her; Peel and Palmerston infuriated her; fatally Gladstone failed to 'pet' her. She loved dancing and the opera and, in her mourning of Prince Albert, sought consolation in the poetry of Tennyson and a long exchange of letters between sovereign and Laureate. Meanwhile she reinvented the monarchy and wrestled with personal reinvention. She lived in the shadow of her mother and then under the tutelage of her husband: during her protracted widowhood she belatedly embraced self-reliance. Fresh, witty and accessible, this brilliant new book from Matthew Dennison gives a compelling assessment of Victoria's mercurial character and her impact, written with the irony, flourish and insight that this Queen and her rule so richly deserve.
The photographic team which has put this project together has scoured the country for original venues, unchanged since Shakespeare's time, to give a reconstruction of the key stages of his life and times - the bawdiness, the passion, the perils of plague, and the spectacle of public execution. All this is brought to life through colour photographs, so that the world's most successful writer is revealed as a living, breathing person.
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