Thursday, 28 January 2010
Image: Sir Thomas Lombe's silk mill, Derby, completed in 1721. Charles Knight's Pictorial Gallery of Arts, Vol.1, c.1860.
Monday, 25 January 2010
Burns’s life changed forever when his book of Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect was published in Kilmarnock in 1786. The ‘heaven-sent ploughman’ was always the subject of social controversy. During his lifetime, and in the years following his death, his private life threatened to overshadow his achievements. Did the frailties which helped make Burns a great poet hinder contemporaries’ appreciation of his work? In my latest feature for Highlander magazine, I discuss Burn’s life and loves, and his reputation as a man and poet during his lifetime and after his death.
Image: ‘O Tibbie, I Hae Seen the Day.’ Poem on Isabella Steven, daughter of a man near Lochlie (Lochlea) who owned three acres of peat moss. She consequently felt entitled to look down on the poet, then a young man.
Engraving from Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns, (William P. Nimmo & Co., 1881.)
Sunday, 17 January 2010
‘Well researched, full of interesting facts and fascinating anecdotes, and with an impressively broad overview, Wilkes has created both a rich social history and a captivating snapshot of an age of incredible change.’ Lancashire Evening Post 3.11.09
‘This well-researched book gives a detailed portrait of Cheshire society during the early years of the 19th century. From the scandals of the Prince Regent to the tumultuous threat of reform, the whole of the county is represented in the story of this one county. A fascinating account.’ Family History Monthly, January 2010.
‘A fascinating and energetic insight into the pre-Victorian period.’ Discover My Past England, January 2010.
‘Sue Wilkes paints a vivid and informative picture of Regency society... Regency Cheshire sparkles with enthralling descriptions and accounts about the everyday lives of the elite, contrasting their opulent lifestyle of assembly balls, racing, hunting and shooting, with the appalling conditions of factory workers and lowly farmers trying to make ends meet…a pleasure to read.’ Jane Odiwe.
You can read a detailed review here at Jane Austen's World – I can thoroughly recommend Vic’s blog if you are a fan of all things Regency. There is always something new to read on her website; she has done a fantastic amount of research.
An illustration from Regency Cheshire:
Ladies’ fashions, evening wear, 1810. French engraving by Camus, c.1830. Author’s collection.
Saturday, 16 January 2010
I enjoyed Michael Portillo’s visit to the Scottish Borders in Great British Railway Journeys (programme 9) but I am beginning to wonder about his presentation. Had he really never heard of the Border reivers before opening his copy of Bradshaw? Or was he just saying that as a means of engaging the viewer - by professing ignorance so he can explain the history to camera? My jaw dropped when he called the Border reivers a ‘forgotten people’ – they are the stuff of legend in the Northern counties, and are certainly not forgotten. It was fascinating watching the women munitions workers ‘doing their bit’ for the war effort, though.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
My feature for Discover My Past England this month is about tracing your cotton ancestors. Although the cotton industry is indelibly associated with Manchester and Lancashire, there were cotton mills in Cheshire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and other counties. Your local archives are good places to find company wage books or pension records; check their online catalogues first before making a special journey.
Image: Lancashire Cotton Weaving shed, early 20th C. postcard. Author’s collection.
Monday, 11 January 2010
Images: A snowy Delamere Forest, and the author’s back garden. © Sue Wilkes
Monday, 4 January 2010
Lives of the Engineers: Brindley and the Early Engineers, Samuel Smiles, (John Murray, 1874.)