Jolabokaflod

Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

National history (UK)

Please visit our Book Bulletin 2018 crowdfunding project at CrowdPatch to buy recommendations for our Winter 2018 catalogue and to volunteer your skills, experience and contacts. All funds raised will support not-for-profit Jolabokaflod CIC’s forthcoming programme of events.

Dominion
(History of England: book 5)
Peter Ackroyd
(UK: Macmillan, @panmacmillan, 2018; USA: Thomas Dunne Books, @StMartinsPress, 2018)

The penultimate volume of Peter Ackroyd’s masterful ‘History of England’ series, Dominion begins in 1815 as national glory following the Battle of Waterloo gives way to post-war depression, spanning the last years of the Regency to the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901.

In this book, Ackroyd takes us from the accession of the profligate George IV whose government was steered by Lord Liverpool, who was firmly set against reform, to the reign of his brother, William IV, the ‘Sailor King’, whose reign saw the modernisation of the political system and the abolition of slavery.

But it was the accession of Queen Victoria, aged only eighteen, that sparked an era of enormous innovation. Technological progress – from steam railways to the first telegram – swept the nation and the finest inventions were showcased at the first Great Exhibition in 1851. The emergence of the middle classes changed the shape of society and scientific advances changed the old pieties of the Church of England, and spread secular ideas across the nation. But though intense industrialization brought boom times for the factory owners, the working classes were still subjected to poor housing, long working hours and dire poverty.

It was a time that saw a flowering of great literature, too. As the Georgian era gave way to that of Victoria, readers could delight not only in the work of Byron, Shelley and Wordsworth but also the great nineteenth-century novelists: the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, Mrs Gaskell, Thackeray, and, of course, Dickens, whose work has become synonymous with Victorian England.

Nor was Victorian expansionism confined to Britain alone. By the end of Victoria’s reign, the Queen was also an Empress and the British Empire dominated much of the globe. And, as Ackroyd shows in this richly populated, vividly told account, Britannia really did seem to rule the waves.

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Recommended by:
Danuta Kean, xxx

Bitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper and Arsenic in the Nineteenth-Century Home
Lucinda Hawksley
(UK: Thames & Hudson, @thamesandhudson, 2016; USA: Thames & Hudson, @ThamesHudsonUSA, 2016)

Bitten by Witch Fever presents facsimile samples of 275 of the most sumptuous wallpaper designs ever created by designers and printers of the age, including Christopher Dresser and [William] Morris & Co. For the first time in their history, every one of the samples shown has been laboratory tested and found to contain arsenic. Interleaved with the wallpaper sections, evocative commentary guides you through the incredible story of the manufacture, uses and effects of arsenic, and presents the heated public debate surrounding the use of deadly pigments in the sublime wallpapers of a newly industrialised world.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive Store | Waterstones | WHSmith
USA: NewPages (independents) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Hummingbird (ebooks and audiobooks)
CanadaFindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
India: Bookstores in India (independents) | Amazon | Flipkart | Goodreads | Infibeam | SapnaOnline
IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Books.ie | Dubray | Eason | Kennys Bookshop
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | Queensland Book Depot
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Paper Plus | Whitcoulls
South Africa: Bookshops (independents) | Amazon | Bargain Books | Exclusive Books
Rest of the world: Book Depository | Wordery

Recommended by:
Leena Normington

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