It is a truth universally acknowledged and documented many years ago by David Cressy, that women in early modern England had far lower rates of literacy than men.
'Gold tried in the Fire'.
Katharine Hodgkin's Madness in Seventeenth-Century Autobiography is a welcome, thought-provoking contribution to our understanding of the cultural history of madness.
As P. G. Maxwell-Stuart notes in his introduction to these selections, the Malleus Maleficarum (c.1486) has elicited periodic interest throughout the last hundred years, perhaps more than it ever did in the two centuries or so of witch persecution after its first publication (p. 36).
This is an excellent book which does everything it proclaims and more. Anthony Milton is to be congratulated for his hard work, brilliant synthesis, and excellent and accessible presentation. This book is not a biography of Peter Heylyn, but we obviously learn a lot about the man as well as the writer. Nor is it an arid history of ideas divorced from context.
The campaign for the ‘People’s Charter’, a democratic movement which thrived in the decade after 1838, was probably the most important mass movement in British history. Chartism captivated contemporaries and has had a magnetic attraction for historians, generating over 100 books and articles in the last decade alone.
Duncan Bell’s book comes with an intriguing picture on its front cover: Gustave Doré’s famous 1860 depiction of a New Zealander perched on a broken arch of London Bridge sketching the ruins of St Paul’s and its environs. The image, derived from an essay by Thomas Babington Macaulay, captures much of the Victorian premonition and anxiety about empire.
Common Reading complements Collini’s Absent Minds (2006).(1) Absent Minds establishes the skeleton of intellectual life in modern Britain; and, if there is more need to put flesh and blood on a 526 page skeleton, Common Reading provides it. Collini deals with the cultural function of British intellectuals in Absent Minds.
When one is sent such an item to review one inevitably speculates why. Is one a known purveyor of hot air? Or just vulgar and unshockable?(1) Is one being set up for Max Reger’s response to a music critic? 'Ich sitze in dem kleinsten Zimmer in meinem Hause. Ich habe ihre Kritik vor mir.
Beatrice Webb wrote in her first volume of autobiography, My Apprenticeship, that the age in which she grew up was dominated by two ‘idols of the mind’, namely a belief in scientific method and ‘the consciousness of a new motive; the transference of the emotion of self-sacrificing service from God to man’ (quoted p. 249). Auguste Comte was the prophet of both of these idols.