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Friday 10 November 2023

Exciting News!

 I'm absolutely thrilled to announce that I've just signed a new contract with Pen & Sword to republish my book The Children History Forgot! The book has been out of print for some time now, and will appear under the title Young Workers of the Industrial Age: Child Labour in the 18th and 19th Centuries. 

I'll post updates on my blog nearer publication date - currently provisionally the summer of 2024. 

Meanwhile, my other Pen & Sword titles are on special offer at the moment - do take a look if you need some ideas for Christmas presents!

All images from my collection.

Monday 26 June 2023

My Top Five Picks


Gallop over to the Shepherd website, where you'll find the Top Five books I recommend for understanding the history of Jane Austen's England!

Image from the author's collection - Fashions of 1797. 

Tuesday 13 June 2023

Porcelain and Pots

My series on Jane Austen and the Industrial Revolution is still ongoing, although I haven't had time to update this blog! 

My feature in the March/April issue looked at 'canal mania', and 'Our Wedgwood Ware' is in the current issue of Jane Austen's Regency World

'The Prettiest English China' is coming up in the July/August issue, and looks at the manufacture of English porcelain in places like Worcester, Bristol and London. 

Image: Etruria. Engraving by Henry Warren, G. Greatbach, Staffordshire and Warwickshire Past and Present, Vol. III, William Mackenzie, London, c.1870. 

Friday 27 January 2023

Muslins and Mule-Spinning

Full dress for December 1798.

My latest feature for Jane Austen's Regency World (January issue) - on mule-spinning - marks the beginning of my new series on the growing mechanization of Britain's industries during Austen's era. 

The Industrial Revolution affected not just the workers who were the 'shock troops' of the Revolution, but also the way that Jane and her family - and the characters in her novels - lived.  I'm really enjoying writing this series, and I hope that you enjoy it, too! 

‘Full dress for December 1798’. The Lady’s Monthly Museum, Vol.1, Vernor & Hood, London, December 1798. Author’s collection. 
‘Mule’ for spinning cotton. Child workers ‘pieced’ together broken threads, and cleaned cotton waste from under the machine. Charles Knight, Knight’s Pictorial Gallery of Arts, Vol. 1, London Printing and Publishing Co., c.1858. Author’s collection.

Monday 19 December 2022

'A Tale of Manchester Life'

84 Plymouth Grove 

Next April, a new exhibition will open at Mrs Gaskell's House. The exhibition will explore how Gaskell depicted Manchester and its workers in her novels and short stories. 

Gaskell's writing desk. 

'Mary Barton', her first published novel, was subtitled 'A Tale of Manchester Life', and the crisis it explored in contemporary relations between mill-owners and mill-workers, and the people's terrible living conditions, made a huge impact. It roused the conscience of a nation. 

I am very much looking forward to visiting the new exhibition at 84 Plymouth Road, Manchester, next year, with its recently-opened Bronte room. (All images courtesy Elizabeth Gaskell's House). 

I hope you all have a good Christmas and New Year!

Sunday 12 June 2022

The 'Palace of Puffs'

My latest feature for Discover Your Ancestors magazine (digital edition, June) is on the 1862 International Exhibition

The landmark 1851 International Exhibition - with its glittering Crystal Palace -  was the envy of the world. Events like these became a matter of national pride. Four years later, the French held an International Exposition at Paris

In 1857, the arts were represented in Manchester's Art Treasures Exhibition, which was also an unqualified success. 

So public expectations ran high for the opening of 1862 'World's Fair' at South Kensington, London. But the project was dogged by difficulties from the beginning. And the exhibition building's design, by Captain Fowke, proved highly controversial...

Friday 4 March 2022

NFReads Interview

Do pop over to the NFReads website where you can read an interview with me (and lots of other authors!).

Obviously I would have loved to have been dressed like this for the interview - 'Carriage Dress', Ackermann's Repository, March 1816.