By the mid-19th century, the British economy witnessed the beginnings of the growth in numbers of office clerks. Although an exception to the rule was the position of banking clerks, who enjoyed excellent conditions and terms of employment, many clerks were exploited in a way that would be unheard of today; and they were reluctant to form trade unions to voice their unhappiness brought about by callous and unscrupulous employers who did little to improve their employees’ working conditions and pay.
One day, around the start of World War One, a woman was walking down the street in London when she saw two girls singing. They were ‘minor actresses’, she said, out of an engagement – ie they were unemployed. With no earnings, they were being threatened with eviction from their lodgings, and busking on the street was their last chance of earning enough money to keep a roof over their heads. Of course, it wasn’t just actresses who could struggle; Londoners were facing high prices and housing issues, and according to the Reverend William Evelyn Kingsbury, who was the Honorary Assistant Secretary of the Actors Church Union, ‘London residents found it difficult to keep a roof over their heads.’ But thousands of those involved in the theatrical profession were reliant on lodgings or apartments, and, as the press noted, ‘how much difficult to keep a roof over their heads, how much more difficult the case of the young woman coming from the provinces to look for work!’
Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 8 March 1859; tragically, as a young child of four, he lost his mother when she died of Scarlet fever. His father, James Cunningham Grahame, an advocate in the Scottish courts who had taken an appointment as a sheriff-substitute in Argyllshire, was distraught and unable to cope.
Last month I looked at Hallie Rubenhold’s book about the women who were killed by an individual who has become known as ‘Jack the Ripper’, and how female victims of crime – and ordinary women in general, regardless of their involvement in crime – have tended to be sidelined by history. This month I consider female criminals, or alleged criminals, and how books and articles have covered their crimes. By reading such accounts, we get a picture of their offences, but also of their lives, their backgrounds, and the issues that they faced. We can then apply these to our own ancestors, to see what might have made someone commit crime – or have a crime committed against them. The many books about women – who over history have formed a minority of criminals compared with men – also shows us how fascinated we are by these women, and how they refused to live by society’s unwritten codes of gender behaviour and morality.
There is an important aspect of dress history that is often overlooked, falling as it does between regular clothes and military (army, navy, air force) uniforms: the civilian uniform. Essentially a standardised type of occupational dress, civilian uniforms became increasingly significant during the 19th century, growing ever more common in the early-mid 20th century and still worn today by some workers, albeit usually in more modern, modified form.
The earliest records and archaeological findings of a permanent settlement in the Truro area date from Norman times. A castle was built there in the 12th century by Richard de Lucy, Chief Justice of England in the reign of Henry II, who for his services to the court was granted land in Cornwall, including the area surrounding the confluence of the two rivers. The town grew in the shadow of the castle and was awarded borough status to further economic activity. The castle has long since disappeared – it was in ruins by 1270 and the motte was levelled in 1840. Today Truro Crown Court stands on the site.
were the culmination of months of meticulous planning and organisation. A vast army had to be trained and equipped; huge amounts of material – from tin cans to tank transporters, petrol to parachutes – had to be stockpiled, distributed and readied for transport to the beaches of Normandy; bombing missions had to reduce the enemy; fighters, minesweepers and other naval missions had to clear the English Channel; and, finally, the men had to embark and the armada had to deliver its cargo to a strict timetable under enemy fire onto a hostile shore. The hundred locations chosen for this book are a small collection of those places in Britain that were involved in the preparations for D-Day, as starting points from which the reader can discover the considerable depth of involvement required to launch the great invasion.
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