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Students of history are not always aware when they live through major historiographic change; shifts are sometimes only recognizable in hindsight, with accumulated divergences sharply evident against the backdrop of the field.
In 1974, David Hey published his book on Myddle in Shropshire, a study based upon his doctoral research at Leicester University. One might wonder how a proud South Yorkshireman had even heard of an insignificant North Shropshire parish, let alone decided to carry out research on it. Fortunately, his supervisor, Professor W. G.
The case of Mary Toft—the woman who gave birth to rabbits in 1726—has an enduring appeal. I remember the first time I encountered her as a final year undergraduate, both fascinated and appalled by the details of the case.
In early 1780 the rebuilding of Newgate Prison was very nearly complete. Thirty years of debating, campaigning, and planning had finally resulted in the construction of a new and improved jail, which would stand as a permanent monument to England’s commitment to prison reform.
People down on their luck fleeing to the colonies on the first available ship is a mainstay of 19th century fiction. It was a convenient way for an author to either get rid of an unnecessary character, or to bring a surprise new person into the narrative mix with dramatic effect.
Joseph Lister is perhaps the most famous man in the history of British medicine. Born in April 1827, he was a surgeon and pioneer of antiseptic operative practice. President of the Royal Society between 1895 and 1900, he was raised to the peerage in 1897.
Malleable Anatomies by Lucia Dacome presents the history of anatomical modelling in mid-18th-century Italy.
The greatest indictment of the hard-driving slave system in the 18th-century British Caribbean was that the enslaved population never achieved natural population increase (except briefly in Barbados but only by 1810). Abolitionists seized on the failure of slave populations to thrive as a sign that slavery was immoral.
The emergence of racial classification in conjunction with the Enlightenment Science of Man in the 18th century is a well-known chapter in the history of European ideas. Far less understood are the ways in which this scientific project carried into the 19th and 20th centuries, the investigation of which is Richard McMahon’s purpose in The Races of Europe.
Tom Crook has written a big book – big in scope, range, and thought. It is both an overview of the institutionalization of public health in England and an interpretation of that event as paradigmatic of the systems and practices of pervasive governance that constitute modernity.