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  • Ryan Giggs Fifty Defining Fixtures by Tony Matthews

    Ryan Giggs, OBE, was born in Cardiff on 29 November 1973 and made his senior debut for Manchester United in 1990. He became a first team regular at Old Trafford during the 1991-92 season and went on to score 168 goals in more than 960 competitive games for the club, as well as gaining 64 caps for Wales and playing in four Olympic Games matches for GB, before retiring (as a player) in 2014.

    Ryan Giggs pic 1 Ryan Giggs in action during the friend;y match between Singha All Star XI and Manchester United at Rajamangala Stadium on 13th July 2013 in Thailand (mooinblack/shutterstock.com)

    Renowned for his tireless running, ball control, ability to create chances and scoring goals, he is one of the most decorated players in British football history, and during his playing days, he helped United win 13 Premiers League titles, the FA Cup four times, the League Cup on three occasions and the Champions League twice, as well as collecting several runner’s-up prizes.

    The first footballer in history to win two consecutive PFA Young Player of the Year awards (in 1992 and 1993), he was also named PFA Player of the Year in 2009 and is the only player to score in every Premier League season, starting in 1992-93

    Chosen in the PFA Team of the Century in 2007, the Premier League Team of the Decade in 2003 and the FA Cup Team of the Century, he was, being the youngest player to represent his country (Wales) when making his debut in 1991, and he captained Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics

    Made an OBE in 2007 for his services to English football, he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2009 and in January 2011, was voted Manchester United's greatest ever player.

    Ryan Giggs pic 2 Ryan Giggs, again during the Singha All Star XI v. Manchester United friendly at Rajamangala Stadium (mooinblack/Shutterstock.com)

    After acting briefly as United’s interim manager at the end of the 2013-14 season, he was subsequently appointed as Louis van Gaal’s assistant (May 2014) and is also co-owner (with some of his former Manchester united team-mates) of non-League club, Salford City.

    Ex-Ajax Amsterdam, CF Barcelona and Holland legend Johan Cruyff said: "Eric Cantona was a great player, but he was not as good as Ryan Giggs."

    To choose fifty out of the 1,000 plus football matches Ryan has played in was mighty tough… I can tell you that for nothing. In fact, 200 who have been hard going, even 100, but to narrow it down to just fifty was nigh on impossible. But with the help of some diehard supporters I got there in the end and although I know for sure that I have upset a few people simply for not including their ‘favourite’ match, I just hope that the ones I have reported on, bring back some find memories.

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    Tony Matthew's Ryan Giggs Fifty Defining Fixtures is available for purchase now.

  • The Bristol Avon by Steve Wallis

    I am not a very good tourist. I find it difficult just to go somewhere and enjoy looking around for its own sake – I need an added purpose like taking photos to show to friends or colleagues. So writing a book about the Bristol Avon was ideal for me – between January and August of this year I got to make a series of visits to a very attractive and diverse part of the country, some of it well-known to me, some a wholly undiscovered country, and explore, make notes and take pictures.

    The Bristol Avon was also an excellent subject because it occupies a relatively small area. Though it is around eighty miles long, it flows in a something of a loop so that every point on its course is no more than fifteen miles from a spot just north-east of Bristol. So people who live near the river can explore all the places along it with relative ease, and this is something I wanted to let them know about.

    This route takes it from the rural Cotswolds around the Gloucestershire-Wiltshire border, down through the historic towns of north-west Wiltshire such as Chippenham and Bradford-on-Avon, then back north-west past the Cotswolds (and through some particularly lovely countryside) until it reaches Bath. Not far on the river flows through Bristol, after which it is named, then its final stretch has more spectacular views, especially in the Clifton Gorge.

    The more I looked, the more I realised the importance of the river to the development of the towns and cities along its route as a source of power and enabler of trade, and this is especially the case for Bristol, which owed its original existence to the river and then grew rich on trade along it and out across the Atlantic. Bristol’s links to early exploration of the New World, possibly even before the time of Columbus, was something that I found utterly fascinating.

    It was not all plain sailing, though. I was following the ‘From Source to Sea’ formula of books in this series, but found this a little difficult as there is no single agreed source for the river, just a number of streams flowing out of the Cotswolds that join together around Malmesbury. Then at the other end the river flows out into the Severn estuary at a point that may not really be the sea!

    And then there was the wait for a train. One Saturday just outside Chippenham, I found a lovely spot where a bridge crossed the river. Nearby a family of swans were swimming around, and in the distance there was a railway line. What a lovely juxtaposition between the swans and a passing train, thought I, and settled down to wait for one of the latter. Very obligingly the swans hung around, but after twenty minutes there was still no train. This seemed odd, since this was one of the main lines from London to the South-West. Fortunately I then had the sense to check train times on my phone as this told me the line was closed that day for engineering works, saving me from a much longer wait!

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    Steve Wallis' The Bristol Avon is available for purchase now.

  • An Illustrated Introduction to the Regency by Mike Rendell

    When I was asked to write An Illustrated Introduction to the Georgians I jumped at the chance. I had never written a book which was part of a series, and which had to fit in to an existing format in terms of length, number and use of images, and so on. Getting upwards of seventy images, all free of copyright, was a challenge. In effect you choose the illustrations and then write the book around them. It was fun doing the project, and when I was asked to do a follow-up, An Illustrated Introduction to the Regency”, I was delighted.

    On the other hand, I realized that I knew someone who was far more knowledgeable about certain aspects of the Regency than I could ever be – Philippa Sutcliffe. She happens to be my wife. She has always been a Regency ‘nut’ and knows a vast amount about etiquette, fashion, style and so on. I blame it on her having read far too many Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen novels when she was younger. Apparently she was so keen on the period that when she got confirmed, at the age of thirteen, she persuaded the Bishop to add “Philippa” to her name on an official form, enabling her to get a new passport. The first her parents knew about it was when the passport, bearing the name “Philippa” landed on the mat. They never once used that name for her, and I think they were happy that she didn’t choose “Arabella” or something else more fanciful.

    Anyway, I knew that doing a book on the Regency would be far easier if I had Philippa as co-author, rather than have her reading the proofs of my attempts to describe Regency life and exclaiming “No, it wasn’t like that” so I asked if she would help me co-write it.

    I must admit: I have never co-authored a book before, and it is not without its challenges! Who decides who should write which sections? Who decides how many words are allocated for each chapter? Who gets to decide if the chapter on Fashion should get an extra five hundred words, or three extra illustrations? And if a picture really does tell a thousand words does that mean that if I agree to Philippa having a picture of a natty waistcoat I could take back a thousand of her words to use to describe the Battle of Trafalgar?

    The only way to resolve such matters is to shut yourself up in a small room together, so that neither party can stomp off in high dudgeon. As it happened, we had the perfect place – a cabin on board the Braemar, where I was delivering a series of lectures on Georgian history. There in the cabin we could bicker and argue, and eventually agree, on the way the book was to be written. At times it was highly entertaining and, as there was no escape, we had no choice but to buckle down and agree. Within a few weeks the problems had been ironed out, and the book was written.

    Actually, looking back on it we both feel it was great fun, and we are delighted with the outcome. Together the two books, introducing readers to the Georgian period in general and the Regency in particular, make good companions. I hope they both “do as they say on the tin” – they are an introduction. It’s just that if I ever ask my wife to co-write anything else in the future I think I will have to do more than offer her a cruise to Spain by way of compensation. I rather think something further afield will be called for…

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    Mike Rendell and Philippa Sutcliffe's An Illustrated Introduction to the Regency is available for purchase now.

  • The Romans in 100 Facts by Jem Duducu

    In the classic comedy The Life of Brian in it the Monty Python team have the classic sketch ‘So what have the Romans ever done for us?’ In it innovations such as roads, aqueducts and schooling are raised (and then dismissed). It's the perfect summary of Rome's greatest achievement which is PR. I say this because in reality, the Romans did not invent anything on the list of ‘Roman’ achievements in the sketch.

    The single greatest thing the Romans ever did for us is make us believe they were a ‘civilising’ force for good. They had had an advantage in Western Europe as the Celtic civilisations had no real writing. The Romans then could preserve for history their side of the story, but the fact the Gauls, Picts etc couldn't write does not make them uncivilised barbarians who ‘needed’ Roman overlordship.

    The further east you go, the more obvious it is that the Romans were the young upstart civilisation. For example in terms of time we are all closer to Julius Caesar and Cleopatra then they are to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Romans could bring nothing to the table in terms of history or culture in Egypt. Similarly the Romans owed a huge debt to the Hellenic Greek culture, but that didn't stop them conquering that area either.

    The simple fact is that the arrival of the legions in a new area did not herald a peaceful takeover, but war and enslavement. Civilisations were crushed, ruling families killed; this was in no way a meeting of minds and a merging of two equal partners. Going back to The Life of Brian and indeed the real time of Jesus, the Romans had actually only recently arrived on the scene and we're still coming to grips with ruling such an ancient culture. That's one of the reasons the Romans were resented so much in Judea - and the rest as they say is history.

    With my new book "The Romans in 100 Facts" I do my best to summarise over a thousand years of Roman history in short stories about certain key people, places and battles to open up this complex and hugely important world for the casual reader. I point out their achievements but I also show the flaws and brutality of this civilisation. This is the civilisation after all that watched men fight to the death for fun and yet perfected stoic philosophy. They had a massive slave trade but also built public baths and toilets for its poor citizens. The Romans then are a fascinating series of contradictions.

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    Jem Duducu's The Romans in 100 Facts is available for purchase now.

  • Erotic Postcards of the Early Twentieth Century by Nigel Sadler

    Sometimes research takes you onto a peculiar and unexpected path. Back in 2013 I started to work on the book Ottery St Mary Through Time. During this research some of the postcards led me into looking more deeply into the First World War, resulting in the publication The First World War: The Postcard Collection. One of the postcards used in this book showed a woman dressed provocatively and had been sent to a woman from a soldier reporting he was being treated in hospital for shrapnel wounds. This seemed a rather odd image to have been sent so I looked more into it.

    Erotic Postcards - Mademosielle Magva Mademosielle Magva, c.1910 (Amberley Publishing)

    What I had found was the ‘French Postcard’ genre. This card was probably from a sequence of images in which the lady got undressed and ended with partial or full nudity. Reading several books on the First World War there was occasional, but limited reference to men collecting postcards showing naked women, and in the film ‘Mrs Henderson Presents’ she claims she wanted to show soldiers real naked women during the performances at the Windmill Theatre rather than just on the postcards like she had found in her sons possessions after he had been killed in the First World War. I had of course seen some of these postcards throughout the years but didn’t really think about their context - my curiosity had been spiked.

    I must say at this stage what I was looking into was generally not what I would term pornography. These cards don’t show obscene scenes or acts of sexual intercourse. In many cases they were produced to titillate and to push the boundaries of decency, but in my opinion they were just an extension of the old art schools using female nudes in paintings, drawings, sculptures now using the new and developing medium of photography.

    Erotic Postcards - PC Studio Paris PC Studio Paris, Series 1706 (Amberley Publishing)

    The French studios dominated this genre of postcards from the late 1800s and early 19th century. Unfortunately, as the trade in these cards was illegal, or at best frowned upon, many of the studios, photographers and models remained anonymous, or have been forgotten. There has been little research carried out on the subject and the few publications that covered the subject were mostly just collections of the postcards with little more than a brief description of the scene depicted.

    The cards are also good indicators of changing social views and of influences in the wider artistic world. The New Sculpture Movement of the 1870s introduced more realistic and artful poses than classical sculptures and opened the way for the wider range of poses taken on by the photographers in their works in the early twentieth century. Also, by 1880 studio photography had also fallen into a routine and a new movement, ‘art photography’ developed. Photographers wanted their work to be accepted as an art form. They posed models following the same rules of painting, experimenting with light and shade both in settings with objects in and where the only thing in the image was the person. One of the later champions of this approach was Julien Mandel.

    Erotic Postcards - Lucien Walery Miss Lucienne d'Armoy photographed by Lucien Waléry (1863-1935) (Amberley Publishing)

    These types of postcards can be categorised into four types: glamour, risqué, pornographic and scientific study. Glamour showed women posing completely dressed in regular clothing or undergarments. Risqué ranged from where the model had some naked skin showing to full nudity and is also often referred to as erotic. Pornographic images showed the model engaging or pretending to engage in sexual congress or explicit nude shots. Scientific images tried to change the moral compass of the image by claiming it had some scientific purpose and included ethnographic studies, art and naturism.

    It was the scientific category that caused much confusion. Colonial expansion by European countries led to a developing interest in ethnography and the colonies soon supplied a ready stream of women, mostly unwittingly, whose naked poses started to adorn the postcards. Initially they tried to make some scientific claim but it wasn’t long before photographers were posing naked ‘studies’ in studio sets with the only hint to their culture being them adorned in local clothing or jewellery.

    Naturism as a popular medium started in the 1920s and grew in Germany. Postcards showed people enjoying the outdoors naked. Technological advances along with the naturism movement led many photographers to attempt taking photographs outdoors to benefit from natural light and shade, however, many images were not true naturism but naked people outdoors.

    This book does not claim to be a definitive guide on the subject but is hoped that it will inspire others to carry on the research on this often hidden postcard genre.

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    Nigel Sadler's Erotic Postcards of the Early Twentieth Century is available for purchase now.

  • The history of the Sunderland Cottages by Michael Johnson

    Sunderland’s unique Victorian homes are examined in a new book. Architectural historian Michael Johnson has published a major study of the distinctive ‘Sunderland cottages’ that opened the door to homeownership for the town’s hardworking families. Britain’s towns and cities experienced a dramatic rise in population during the 19th century, as people came seeking work in emerging industries. In many parts of the country this created a demand for housing that exceeded the existing supply.

    Faced with the problem of housing its working people, Sunderland developed a unique form of single-storey terraced houses that came to be known as Sunderland cottages. Resembling a terraced bungalow, the Sunderland cottage became the town’s dominant housing type during the 19th century. Row upon row of distinctive single-storey dwellings were laid out in tight grid patterns to accommodate workers and their families.

    The form was favoured by the skilled workers of Sunderland's shipyards and represented an affordable housing type that provided a high degree of privacy and social status. Each had its own entrance and backyard, and many of the best examples had private gardens, enabling residents to emulate the living standards of the middle classes.

    The earliest cottages were built close to industrial sites such as Wearmouth Colliery, the shipyards, and James Hartley's glassworks in Millfield. Later examples can be found in the suburban areas of High Barnes, Seaburn, Roker and Fulwell, as transport improvements made it possible to live further from the workplace. The new housing proved extremely popular in Sunderland, providing many workers with an opportunity to escape from the slum conditions of their previous dwellings by renting or buying their home.

    Sunderland’s foremost architects were the brothers William and Thomas Ridley Milburn, who were responsible for the design of the Empire Theatre. The Milburns designed cottages in the ‘ABC streets’ in High Barnes, as well as Kitchener Street, Nora Street, Hawarden Crescent, Queen’s Crescent, Tanfield Street and Hampden Road. Joseph Potts and Son were also prolific cottage designers, providing plans for the ‘Scottish streets’ in Fulwell – Forfar, Inverness, Moray and Roxburgh Streets.

    The Sunderland cottage is now recognised as an important and distinctive approach to housing Britain's expanding urban population. Well loved by residents, the best of these houses exemplified the pride of Sunderland's elite workforce. They remain a popular housing type to this day and comprise a substantial portion of the city's housing stock.

    Michael’s book examines the development of the Sunderland cottage and its place within the town’s social and architectural history. The text is illustrated with photographs taken especially for the volume, along with building plans and archival images. The book also includes a detailed appendix that documents the building of individual streets. The Sunderland Cottage: A History of Wearside’s ‘Little Palaces’ will serve as a valuable guide for Sunderland residents eager to know more about their own homes, and anyone with an interest in Britain’s 19th and early 20th century housing.

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    Michael Johnson's The Sunderland Cottage A History of Wearside's 'Little Palaces' is available for purchase now.

  • The secret history of Chislehurst by Joanna Friel

    Secret Chislehurst - 003 Perdicaris Grave of Ion Perdicaris (Secret Chislehurst Amberley Publishing)

    What has Chislehurst and the island of St Helena got in common? Not a question often posed but one curious fact that gave rise to my writing Secret Chislehurst. Both places have empty Napoleonic tombs! The body of Napoleon Bonaparte was exhumed and reinterred at Les Invalides in Paris in 1840, nearly 20 years after the former Emperors’ death. In 1889 the body of his nephew, the last Emperor of France, Louis Napoleon III, was removed from its resting place in St Mary’s Church, Chislehurst and taken to a mausoleum at St Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough, Hampshire where it lies to this day.

    It’s a bizarre thought that the last monarch of France, his wife and his son lie on English soil and their sojourn as exiles in England created a lasting legacy on our little Kent Village.   When Amberley approached me to write Secret Chislehurst I had already enjoyed the task of producing Chislehurst Through Time for them, a book of old and new pictures, but this new ‘Secret’ series required a greater search for stories and images which accounted for my photographer getting lost on more than one occasion!

    Secret Chislehurst - 049 Nap arch Napoleonic architectural features at St Mary's Church (Secret Chislehurst Amberley Publishing)

    I thought we were on safer ground when we set out to spend the morning with Father Charles at the little Catholic Church of St Mary’s where Louis Napoleon and the Prince Imperial had originally been laid to rest amidst great pomp and ceremony, attended by the Prince of Wales, deputising for Queen Victoria. We captured our images of the tiled floor and the eagle emblazoned eaves and prepared to depart when the softly spoken priest asked if I wanted to see his toilet in the presbytery! How could I refuse, he wasn’t enquiring if I needed to use the facilities, rather he wanted me to admire the pretty secret floor; there it was, in all its glory, adorned with the left over Napoleonic tiles, complete with Imperial eagles. A secret that had to be revealed in the book.

    Secret Chislehurst - 050 Nap floor Napoleonic architectural features at St Mary's Church (Secret Chislehurst Amberley Publishing)

    The churchyard too holds secrets, the grave of the illegitimate daughter of Charles Stewart Parnell and Katherine ‘Kitty’ O’Shea, a baby that sparked a scandal and lead to the downfall of the Irish political leader. I’m often to be found in graveyards and grateful for the secrets they have revealed. I love telling the story of how President Theodore Roosevelt sent 7 warships to rescue a kidnapped Greek playboy thinking he was an American citizen. The headstone of Ion Perdicaris proudly reveals his former addresses; Trenton, New Jersey, Tangiers, Morocco and the Manor House, Chislehurst. Quite an adventure and a story worthy of the book.

    I was bemused by the fact that Amberley first listed the book as detailing the clandestine past of Chislehurst life, I changed that to covert for fear of confusing or even upsetting some of my local readers, we really don’t have spies amongst our midst, though that’s not exactly true, back in 1871 the Lord of the Manor had spies placed in a local windmill to spy on the exiled French Emperor, though they were apparently also being spied on by French courtiers placed there by the Emperor!

    All in all it’s been fascinating uncovering and telling the lesser known stories of Chislehurst’s past.

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    Joanna Friel and Adam Swaine's Secret Chislehurst is available for purchase now.

  • The Georgian Kitchen by Emma Kay

    Microsoft Word - Document1I wrote the Georgian Kitchen to tell the story of my conviction in Britain’s cooking culture forming during this period. This was a time of extraordinary change in Britain, when the country became a vastly powerful world entity; a wealthy, extravagant and culinary rich nation. Conflict, poverty and sea power led many migrants to British shores. As well as importing from all over the world and exploiting other countries of their own resources, Britain’s migrant population was already influencing the way we still eat today. The population doubled during the Georgian period and in particular large numbers of French citizens began to quickly dominate Britain’s kitchens. It became imperative for every wealthy household to employ a high ranking French cook, while the middling and labouring classes dined in the abundant inns, taverns, cook shops and street markets. The workhouses and prisons were overflowing with the poor and destitute who might look forward to a dollop of ‘hasty pudding’, mouldy bread or a potato every day – if they were lucky. Most poorer families shared a single cooking pot which would have sat in the middle of their one room accommodation, to be used for cooking, washing and as a urinal. In addition to the workhouses early philanthropy included the understanding that owners of large estates and tenured country residences would provide the poor of their parishes with a basic meal, usually of soup and benevolent soup kitchens began to flourish in some of the bigger cities by the early nineteenth century.

    There was a stark contrast between poor rural and urban living, the former reliant on self-sufficiency and few luxuries such as tea, coffee and sugar that would often require a long trip to a local market. Even the middle classes, like Jane Austen herself kept livestock. All farmer’s wives were skilled in cheese-making, brewing, preserving and curing which was a necessary seasonal routine in order to survive all year round. The Georgian era was also the one that marks the beginning of the end of large rural communities, as new technology and innovation began to broaden the scope for work and travel, with aspiring people migrating to the large towns and cities to live. By the end of the 1700s the urban cook shops, coffee houses and club culture for those men of high rank and business were already beginning to morph into early forms of restaurants and hotels. As greater emphasis was attached to the importance of food and slow developing advancements in kitchen design and contents evolved, kitchen equipment became a valuable commodity and the records of the Old Bailey during this period are full of incidents of thefts of anything from tea caddies, to silver spoons and sugar nippers. These items could be sold on at the dodgy street markets or pawned for food and clothing. The media was also awash with specialist crafted items for the kitchen and new inventions. In 1800 the average kitchen may have contained one or two pans. By 1899 they would have housed a whole set.

    As previously mentioned French cuisine, in addition to Italian confection and iced deserts dominated British culture during the Georgian age. However it is also important to reiterate that British cooking and British recipes were always included on the menu - or as the eighteenth century termed it ‘A Bill of Fare’, interspersed with European dishes. Celebrity chefs such as the great Marie-Antoine Carême, Louis Eustache Ude, Charles Francatelli, Alexis Soyer and William Jarrin are just some of the names who lived and worked in London divulging their European culinary secrets and whipping up gastronomic delights that were worthy of any of the big name celebrity chefs of today. They also all wrote prolifically about it, contributing to the new mass eighteenth and nineteenth century consumerism for recipe writing, including Mrs. James Simpson’s first Vegetarian cookery book of 1812.

    Microsoft Word - Document1Diarists and housekeepers also left their legacy of recipe writing and accounts of domestic kitchen and dining routines that were so integral to the Georgian lifestyle. The journals of James Woodforde, a simple country parson provide us with an indication of how even the humblest of middle class Georgians ate. We learn how he attends regular country dances, often into the early hours of the morning, feasting on roasted shoulder of mutton and plum pudding, followed by veal cutlets, frill’d potatoes, cold tongue, ham, cold roast beef and eggs in their shells. This was all washed down with punch, wine, beer and cider. Food is a regular theme throughout Woodforde’s diary and is a stark reflection of the importance placed upon culinary satisfaction and excess at this time. His description of one dinner he hosts for three acquaintances is quite hard to swallow (literally). The first course alone consisted of a couple of boiled chickens, a tongue, a boiled leg of mutton with capers and a batter pudding. The second course provided roasted ducks, green peas, artichokes, tarts and blancmange. And it continues - with almonds and raisins, oranges and strawberries, naturally ending with port wine. Such extravagance on a regular basis makes it so understandable that we associate poor health and obesity significantly with this period. Interesting how our own society mirrors some of this today alongside the Georgian throw away, disposable culture.

    Celebrity chefs, endless recipe books promoting the latest fad or baking craze, elitist French cuisine, a new gadget for the kitchen marketed every month, Immigration, class divide and cheap imports. We are not so different after all.

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    Emma Kay's The Georgian Kitchen is available for purchase now.

  • Dining with the Victorians by Emma Kay

    Microsoft Word - Document1Dining with the Victorians explores the narrative of the history of cooking, eating, wining and dining in this fact packed follow-up to Dining with the Georgians, my first book that defined Britain’s contemporary culinary history as being largely established in the eighteenth century. Whereas the Georgians gave us celebrity chef culture, a recipe writing mass media and a culinary consumerist society, the Victorians evolved the way Britain’s ate, largely as a consequence of increased leisure and holiday time, invention and experimentation.

    Alongside a confusing back-drop of austerity; aspiration, inherent belief in old superstitions, piety, morals, principles, social awareness, innovation and tradition, Victorian society is the closest to our own recognisable heritage, as well as representing one of the most visibly transcended periods in history. Despite philanthropy and great social change, the nineteenth century divide between rich and poor was hugely conspicuous. This is the era that saw the shift in the great French cooks of the century before moving from the estate kitchens of the wealthy, into the new Hotel and early public dining venues opening across cities and towns across the country. Tea rooms, lunching spots and dining halls catered to the rising and diligent middle classes who now often commuted long distances for work. The role for women in society was also shifting and for those middle class wives and daughters not engaged in the modern industrious workforce, they spent their new found freedom from the constraints of the home out shopping, visiting galleries and museums, parks and gardens stopping for tea and light refreshment in the abundance of new establishments catering for them. The labouring and poor capitalised on street and market trades or sought food from the sewers, mud flats and animal swill bins of the neighbouring prosperity.

    Microsoft Word - Document1 ©Museum of Kitchenalia

    Dining with the Victorians investigates the altruistic nature of nineteenth century culture, something that was evident in Georgian society, but became a burgeoning force by the late eighteen hundreds. A recognition of the cyclical nature of poverty and the need to implement real change in order to create stronger, more prosperous communities led to revolutionary widespread changes in the teaching and training of cooking and domestic health and hygiene for all. Newly established schools, colleges and centres of learning adopted the art of cookery as an essential tool for life which was rolled out for the benefit of all, particularly targeting the poor. Charitable pioneers like William Booth who invested in the soup kitchen philosophy of the century before, by providing farthing breakfasts for children on their way to school and Alexis Soyer; who spans both Georgian and Victorian eras researching and conversing with the poor, developing recipes and manufacturing affordable practical kitchen equipment, are just two names associated with this break from the past. This was also the age of advancements in science, germ theory and an awareness of wider health implications leading to new legislation concerning the adulteration of food. By the mid nineteenth century it was not uncommon to find alum in your bread, lead to colour cheese and arrowroot to thicken cream amongst many other deadly component ingredients to keep the cost of production down and the appearance of food attractive to the consumer.

    The one theme in the book that I was very keen to impart and have to a much larger extent done so when writing about the Georgians, is to emphasise Britain’s many different cultural culinary influences. As a nation with a legacy of exploration, migration, immigration, trade and Empire, this inevitably impacted on the type of food the British were eating during the Victorian age. The dominant French and Italian influences of the century before yielded German bakeries, Jewish fried fish sellers, Indian and Chinese food emporiums, American imports and a wealth of new cuisines available to a wide demographic by the late nineteenth century; not just to the wealthy classes, but for the aspiring middle and some sectors of working class society. Perhaps the greatest Victorian enthusiast of all for Indian cuisine was Queen Victoria herself, who towards the end of her life insisted on eating curry every day and had a controversial relationship with her personal Indian chef Abdul Karim, far less documented than that of the one she had with John Brown.

    Microsoft Word - Document1Given the fact that we live in a somewhat food obsessed culture where programmes like the Great British Bake Off and come Dine With Me dominate the television ratings while the likes of Mary Berry, Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (to name a few) are often hotter news than the news itself - food and the British food cultural legacy, including the extraordinary story of the evolution of the British kitchen, is a somewhat neglected and unconventional category of academic historical research. It remains a vast area of largely unchartered discovery, with just a handful of writers dedicated to its research and interpretation. My first book Dining with the Georgians and the now paperback Georgian Kitchen, explores the even less chronicled area of kitchen utensils and the early revolution in kitchen technology, labour-saving devices and methods of food preparation and production. Dining with the Victorians takes this narrative forward by charting the correlation between a changing and modernising society, alongside the astounding growth in consumer demand for the accessibility of food in public. By the eighteen eighties Britain’s Aerated Bread Company (ABC’s) were mass producing baked products off site to sell in bakeries that had chain shop stores on most high streets, food could also be bought from vending machines at train stations and consumers could sample the tastes of various different cultures; not only on the streets of port cities but by travelling on package excursions courtesy of Thomas Cook tour operators, who made copious notes on all the early group package tours regarding the nature of food served from country to country.

    I hope my continued research in this area will go some way to contributing towards the largely untold history of what has shaped Britain’s rich culinary inheritance.

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    Emma Kay's Dining with the Victorians is available for purchase now.

  • Welcome to the Amberley blog!

     

    We are delighted to be able to present our new website to you, along with our exciting new blog.

    The Amberley blog will consist of our new and forthcoming releases, interviews with our authors and regular guest posts on a variety of subjects.

    We shall have posts on the Women’s Institute which celebrates its centenary this year, the history of the railways in Britain, the legacy of Henry V, the history of British weather, the writings of Eustace Chapuys Ambassador to Henry VIII and the sinking of the Lusitania!

    Also read all about Richard III’s reinterment in Leicester Cathedral on 26th March. Our bestselling biography by David Baldwin is being updated with information on the reburial and we will have posts on the events in Leicester that week.

    Out this month:

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    Our book of the month! With 25% off during March only, read the remarkable story of a life of privilege, tragedy and danger, of a woman who so nearly became the seventh wife of Henry VIII: Henry VIII's Last Love: The Extraordinary Life of Katherine Willoughby, Lady in Waiting to the Tudors.

    ‘A gripping biography... David Baldwin is a brilliant historical detective.’ Philippa Gregory

    Plus be in with the chance of winning a copy of this fantastic book on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/amberleybooks

    Check out this fantastic article which recently appeared recently in The Times:

     

     

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    ‘Rude and feisty widow was in Henry’s mind for seventh wife.’

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    And this in this month’s BBC History Magazine:

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    ‘David Baldwin tells the story of Katherine Willoughby, a great friend of the Tudor king, who seemed set to replace Katherine Parr as his bride.’

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    To commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, this is a new biography of Henry V, the warrior king. Teresa Cole looks at the life and legacy of a king whose heroic achievements and tragic early death may truly be said to have changed the course of British history.

     

     

     

     

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    In The Family of Richard III Professor Michael Hicks, described by BBC History Magazine as ‘the greatest living expert on Richard III’, reassesses the family ties and entrails of his wayward and violent family. Includes a scathing reappraisal of the 2012 dig which claims to have discovered Richard's remains and brings into question the authenticity of the find. Chosen by The Bookseller Magazine as one of their highlights of 2015.

     

     

     

    We look forward to telling you all about our exciting titles and up-to-date news. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates including exciting reviews, articles and interviews.

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