‘It is time to effect a revolution in female manners’ declared the Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792 ‘– time to restore to them their lost dignity – and make them, as a part of the human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world’.(1) Mary Wollstonecraft’s legacy, which had such important ramifications for the wa
In December 2002, 400 people assembled at the Institute of Historical Research in London to attend a conference called ‘History and the media’. Its purpose was to investigate the recent and phenomenal rise of popular history, and as such it drew delegates not only from colleges, libraries and museums, but also from television studios, newsdesks and film production companies.
Public Lives: Women, Family and Society in Victorian Britain by Eleanor Gordon and Gwyneth Nair is a meticulously researched study of the lives of middle-class families in Glasgow. In particular, they focus upon the residents of twelve streets drawn from the Claremont/Woodside/Woodlands estates, situated west of the city centre.
Laura E. Nym Mayhall begins her book by re-telling the familiar story of the arrest in 1909 of Marion Wallace Dunlop, a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), which led to her imprisonment and notoriety as the ‘first hunger striker’. In doing so, she focuses on the action that led to the arrest.
Caroline M. Barron’s book on London traces the history England’s largest medieval city, including its governmental structure, relations with the crown, its economy and guilds and its physical environment.
The central theme of this book can be summed up as ‘neither electoral sociology nor linguistic turn’. Instead, its author emphasises the micro context of politics – how local social and cultural milieux shaped the reception of political ideas, and hence the fortunes of political parties.
Early and silent cinema is generally ghettoised in popular culture. Early film, British or otherwise, is mostly seen by the public on television as illustrations for documentaries and is rarely, if ever, the subject of them. Yet the study of early British cinema is the study of a still relevant, living entity.
Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars (Yale, 1992) provided a broad, compelling account of popular religion in England before and during the Reformation, and was a book which undoubtedly changed the way we think about late medieval Catholicism and the popular experience of religious change.
In spite of its intellectual, literary and comic brilliance, this book contains a dark and disturbing, but revealing, message. In some ways, my melancholy reading of Bodies Politic has inevitably been shaped by Roy's recent untimely death. Roy Porter was without doubt the finest social historian of medicine this country, or indeed the world, has produced.
Whatever happened to the history of nineteenth-century British popular culture? In the 1970s and 1980s, this was an exciting field that produced a series of invigorating and pioneering works. (1) Fulfilling the promise of E. P.