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19 February 1987
The Aristocracy in England, 1660-1914 
by J.V. Beckett.
Blackwell, 512 pp., £22.50, September 1986, 0 631 13391 7
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... of furniture, tapestries, pictures, china, books and busts – loot from the Grand Tour, trophies of travel, gifts and tributes from friends and supplicants – acquired out of mixed motives of family patriotism, individual-eccentricity, group conformity to changing fashions, and the country-house inertia which stops things being thrown away. Time has ripened many aristocratic collections so that ...
7 July 1988
The Age of Empire, 1875-1914 
by E.J. Hobsbawm.
Weidenfeld, 404 pp., £15.95, October 1987, 0 297 79216 4
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... Eric Hobsbawm’s The Age of Empire occupies a special place in what has grown, without the author’s originally intending it, into the final volume of a trilogy in which Hobsbawm ‘makes sense’, on the grand scale, of the 19th century – of the world which flourished before, and led to, the catastrophe of 1914. The first two volumes of this trilogy, such is the exciting sweep of their canvas ...

Up Horn, down Corn

F.M.L. Thompson: Alternative agriculture

5 March 1998
Alternative Agriculture: A History from the Black Death to the Present Day 
by Joan Thirsk.
Oxford, 365 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 19 820662 3
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... Woad, used by Queen Boadicea’s warriors as war paint, is making a comeback on the Fens of East Anglia,’ runs a recent press report. Perhaps the reporter had already read Joan Thirsk’s new book, since he refers to the closure of the last woad factory in the region, at Parson Drove near Wisbech, ‘80 years ago’, which is a fair rendering of the 1914 demolition date given by Thirsk (who puts ...

Country Life

David Cannadine

5 November 1981
The Victorian Countryside 
edited by G.E. Mingay.
Routledge, 380 pp., £25, July 1981, 0 7100 0734 5
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... quite excellent pieces, explores the petty bourgeois world of shopkeepers, carriers and publicans, and the varied and contracting tasks of the country craftsmen. The rural proletariat (both male and female) also gets its due, and in the concluding essay, David Hey reminds us of the industrialised villages that lurked in the countryside. Here, fully revealed for the first time, is the world of the rural ...
25 July 1991
The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol I.: Regions and Communities 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 608 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25788 3
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The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol II.: People and Their Environment 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 392 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25789 1
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The Temper of the Times: British Society since World War Two 
by Bill Williamson.
Blackwell, 308 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 631 15919 3
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... and so on. The result is an increasingly diffuse school of studies which could easily break up into a mass of unrelated specialisms. The Cambridge Social History, edited in three volumes by Michael Thompson, looks very much like an ambitious attempt to restore coherence and direction. But the stated aim is the more modest one of communicating ‘the fruits of recent writing and the most recent research ...

Jam Tomorrow

F.M.L. Thompson

31 August 1989
Clichés of Urban Doom, and Other Essays 
by Ruth Glass.
Blackwell, 266 pp., £25, November 1988, 0 631 12806 9
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Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the 20th Century 
by Peter Hall.
Blackwell, 473 pp., £25, November 1988, 0 631 13444 1
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London 2001 
by Peter Hall.
Unwin Hyman, 226 pp., £17.95, January 1989, 9780044451617
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The Big Smoke: A History of Air Pollution in London since Medieval Times 
by Peter Brimblecombe.
Routledge, 185 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 415 03001 3
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New York Unbound: The City and the Politics of the Future 
edited by Peter Salins.
Blackwell, 223 pp., £35, December 1988, 1 55786 008 4
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The Idea of a Town: The Anthropology of Urban Forms in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World 
by Joseph Rykwert.
MIT, 241 pp., $15, September 1988, 0 262 68056 4
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... Time was when planning was the watchword of all radical, progressive or revolutionary opinion. Whether it was a matter of the wall-to-wall planning of the fully nationalised socialist economy, the liberal and pluralist arrangements of the welfare state with Keynesian economic management, or simply the protection and improvement of the environment, all schemes for making the world a better place to ...

Mansions in Bloom

Ruth Richardson

23 May 1991
A Paradise out of a Common Field: The Pleasures and Plenty of the Victorian Garden 
by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards.
Century, 256 pp., £16.95, May 1990, 0 7126 2209 8
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Private Gardens of London 
by Arabella Lennox-Boyd.
Weidenfeld, 224 pp., £25, September 1990, 0 297 83025 2
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The Greatest Glasshouse: The Rainforest Recreated 
edited by Sue Minter.
HMSO, 216 pp., £25, July 1990, 0 11 250035 8
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Religion and Society in a Cotswold Vale: Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, 1780-1865 
by Albion Urdank.
California, 448 pp., $47.50, May 1990, 0 520 06670 7
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... foliage and multiple plants for flowerbeds. The volume begins and ends with the Victorian country house. It is beautifully produced, but falls short of the scholarship of works in this area by F.M.L.Thompson, Mark Girouard and Brent Elliott, to which it owes a great deal. The text represents an extensive trawl of material, which is presented in the form of a verbal scrapbook covering a range of topics ...
16 February 1989
The Rise of Respectable Society: A Social History of Victorian Britain, 1830-1900 
by F.M.L. Thompson.
Fontana, 382 pp., £5.95, September 1988, 0 00 686157 1
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Victorian Things 
by Asa Briggs.
Batsford, 440 pp., £19.95, November 1988, 9780713445190
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... immediately, and between whom and themselves few objects of sympathy exist.’ This is an extraordinary and fascinating claim, with radical implications for the historiography of the period. Michael Thompson has had something of the same intuition about Victorian society, and it is one of several themes in his new book which makes this much more than the undergraduate or A-level toolkit which it might ...

Little Englander Histories

Linda Colley: Little Englandism

22 July 2010
A Mad, Bad & Dangerous People? England 1783-1846 
by Boyd Hilton.
Oxford, 757 pp., £21, June 2008, 978 0 19 921891 2
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Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld, 1780-1939 
by James Belich.
Oxford, 573 pp., £25, June 2009, 978 0 19 929727 6
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... religious, economic and scientific thought among the upper and middle classes and the clerisy. Only in the penultimate chapter do the overwhelming majority of men and women, those whom E.P. Thompson chose to style for this era the ‘English working class’, receive concentrated attention. This format allows Hilton to focus mainly on London and the Home Counties. It also shapes his prime ...

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