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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.
Briony McDonagh estimates that over 10 per cent of land in Georgian Britain was owned by female landowners. Assuming her sample of 250,000 acres to be representative of broader patterns and trends, McDonagh surmises that ‘somewhere in excess of 3 million acres in England were owned by women in the later eighteenth century and more than 6 million acres in Great Britain as a whole’ (p. 27).
How fortunate are historians of that broad band of southern Somerset covered by seven topographical volumes of the Victoria County History (VCH) compared with those of most of the historic county for whom no such resource yet exists. It is the distant ideal of the complete set for Somerset that is most urgently required.
The 1870s and 1880s were formative decades in the development of Irish nationalist identity. The land and national movements mobilized the countryside on a scale not seen since the days of Daniel O’Connell. Despite a significant corpus of work being produced between the 1970s and mid 1990s, scholarship on this significant period in modern Irish history has become stagnant in recent years.
The Land Question in Britain, 1750–1950, is that rare collection of essays which is more than the sum of its parts; 14 essays by different authors, all of which connect with each other to reveal a hidden picture of a topic that has inexplicably dropped from view.
The request to review Professor James Vernon’s book brings to mind John Betjeman’s verses in the style of George R. Sims:
A gentleman should never tell, but Food in Early Modern England is published 50 years after the appearance of Joan Thirsk's first book, English Peasant Farming (1957). Between those dates, Thirsk has published, edited and contributed to a formidable list of volumes and journals.
The sesquicentenary period of the Great Irish Famine has seen a great outpouring of books, articles, newspaper features, TV and radio programmes.
This new study of the agricultural revolution is clearly the product of many years of study and research. It is closely argued, liberally illustrated with figures and tables, and tersely written and remarkably compressed. Intended primarily for students, it will repay careful reading, and re-reading, by teachers as well as students of the subject.