Stephen McGann • £20
Flesh and Blood is the story of the McGann family as told through seven maladies – diseases, wounds or ailments that have afflicted actor Stephen’s relatives over the last century and a half, and which have helped mould him into what he now perceives himself to be. It’s the story of how health, or the lack of it, fuels our collective will and informs our personal narrative. Flesh and Blood combines McGann’s passion for genealogy with an academic interest in the social dimensions of medicine – and fuses these with a lifelong exploration of drama as a way to understand what motivates human beings to do the things they do.
James Evans • £20
During the course of the 17th century nearly 400,000 people left Britain for the Americas, most of them from England. Crossing the Atlantic was a major undertaking, the voyage long and treacherous. There was little hope of returning to see the friends and family who stayed behind. Why did so many go? Emigrants casts light on this unprecedented population shift – a phenomenon that underpins the rise of modern America. Using contemporary sources including diaries, court hearings and letters, James Evans brings to light the extraordinary personal stories of the men and women who made the journey of a lifetime.
Rosemary Ashton • £25
A unique, in-depth view of Victorian London during the record-breaking summer of 1858, when residents both famous and now-forgotten endured ‘The Great Stink’ together. While 1858 in London may have been noteworthy for its broiling summer months and the related stench of the sewage-filled Thames River, the year is otherwise little remembered. And yet, historian Rosemary Ashton reveals in this compelling microhistory, 1858 was marked by significant, if unrecognized, turning points. Ashton mines Victorian letters and gossip, diaries, court records, newspapers, and other contemporary sources to uncover historically crucial moments in the lives of three protagonists – Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Disraeli. She also introduces others who gained renown in the headlines of the day, among them George Eliot, Karl Marx, William Thackeray, and Edward Bulwer Lytton.
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Barrie Trinder • £16.99
The History Press
The Ironbridge Gorge, a cradle of the Industrial Revolution, in the late 18th century was a magnet for writers, artists and industrial spies. The latest wonders of engineering and metallurgical technology were to be seen in a spectacular natural setting, where the fast-flowing Severn passed between towering cliffs of limestone, and hillsides honeycombed with mine workings amid the smoke of furnaces and the clanking of engines. Barrie Trinder, the acknowledged authority on the subject, has selected the most interesting descriptions and pictures to provide an invaluable anthology, through contemporary evidence, of the place and the people in that pioneering period, when this corner of Shropshire was changing the world.
Lucy Worsley • £25
On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, historian Lucy Worsley leads us into the rooms from which our best-loved novelist quietly changed the world. This new telling of the story of Jane’s life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the places and spaces that mattered to her. It wasn’t all country houses and ballrooms, but a life that was often a painful struggle. Jane famously lived a ‘life without incident’, but with new research and insights Lucy Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. A woman who far from being a lonely spinster in fact had at least five marriage prospects, but who in the end refused to settle for anything less than Mr Darcy.
Robert Winder • £20
It is often assumed that the national identity must be a matter of values and ideas. But in Robert Winder’s account it is a land built on a lucky set of natural ingredients: the island setting that made it maritime; the rain that fed the grass that nourished the sheep that provided the wool, and the wheat fields that provided its cakes and ale. Then came the seams of iron and coal that made it an industrial giant. Travelling the country, Winder looks for England’s hidden springs not in royal pageantry or politics, but in landscape and history.