A new exhibition at the British Library 17 May-17 September 2013 http://www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/propaganda/index.html
This book is subtitled English Country Customs through the Ages, and is a reminder that, once upon a time, most of the people of England lived the country. The urbanisation that we recognise is a fairly modern phenomenon that really only pushed forward over the last one hundred years or so. As a result we have all but lost touch with how our ancestors lived. It was a way of life that continued for thousands of years, and proves that living off the land was a skill in itself.
First published in 1979, The Land of England is an fascinating journey through the farming working year and shows how people travelled, shopped and traded. Rather than brief descriptions, the depth of detail and understanding makes for a very interesting read. As it says in the introduction:
This is not a history book, but a ‘documentary’ about people’s life on, and from, the land in the days when most of them were country folk, and powered machines were still to come.
Old farming lore comes to life, and traditions are explained with anecdotes and illustrations. If you love books that are more in-depth, then this book cannot be recommended more.
Dorothy Hartley was one of the first to study the everyday life of working people in previous centuries. She wrote a number of social history books, The Land of England being her last.
When I decided to start this blog, I wondered what information I would find. After all, the housewife is not a straight forward subject. The average everyday woman in history has little or no recorded history. As Toni Mount writes in her book ‘Medieval Housewives and Women of the Middle Ages’
“Even when ‘peasants’ are referred to, it is the men rather than the women who get mentioned.”
In ‘Medieval Housewives’, a culmination of twenty years of research, Toni Mount has gleaned enough historical evidence to give an insight of the role of women in the middle ages and how they were viewed by law.
The general view of Medieval women has always seemed to be one of restriction to marriage and childbirth, with little or no education. And yet, in Toni’s engaging book, women had to more adaptable to their circumstance, gaining a wide range of skills. For a poor women, these skills many and were a matter of necessity to help her husband and look after her family. Even the women who had married well could find themselves in circumstance where they had to earn money, even by going into trade. Silk woman, brewer, book binder… there are a surprising amount of occupations that were considered acceptable for women.
Toni really opens up how these women lived their everyday lives. For more information take a look at Toni’s website.
The post-war housewife image is usually seen as perfectly dressed and made-up, keeping her home as neat as a pin and looking lovely when her husband returned home from work. The reality was rather different and work was far harder, as was the expectation from society. Sheila Hardy has written a book revealing the very high standards a housewife was expected to keep and how different reality was.
Molly Moran has written a book about her life as a scullery maid. You can read an excerpt here: My Decade Downstairs
The book will be published on Thursday (14th March 2013). Click image for more details.