Bill Bryson was struck one day by the thought that we devote more time to studying the battles and wars of history than to considering what history really consists of: centuries of people quietly going about their daily business. This inspired him to start a journey around his own house, an old rectory in Norfolk, considering how the ordinary things in life came to be.
"Best use of a credit"
The story of Britain from the earliest settlements in 3000BC to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. To look back at the past is to understand the present. In this vivid account of over 4,000 years of British history, Simon Schama takes us on an epic journey which encompasses the very beginnings of the nation's identity, when the first settlers landed on Orkney. From the successes and failures of the monarchy to the daily life of a Roman soldier stationed on Hadrian's Wall, Schama gives a vivid, fascinating account of the many different stories and struggles that lie behind the growth of our island nation.
The fourth and last volume in Churchill's famous account spans 1815 to 1901. It closes when the British Empire is at its peak, with a staggering one-fifth of the human race presided over by the longest reigning monarch in British history: Queen Victoria.
This is the remarkable story of the English language; from its beginnings as a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language. The Adventure of English is not only an enthralling story of power, religion, and trade, but also the story of people, and how their lives continue to change the extraordinary language that is English.
The British wars began on the morning of 23 July 1637, heralding 200 years of battles. Most were driven by religious or political conviction, as Republicans and Royalists, Catholics and Protestants, Tories and Whigs, and colonialists and natives vied for supremacy. Of the battles not fought on home territory, many took place across Europe, America, India, and also at sea. Schama's examination of this turbulent period reveals how the British people eventually united in imperial enterprise, forming 'Britannia Incorporated'.
From its dawn in the 1660s to its twilight in the 1960s, Cliveden was an emblem of elite misbehaviour and intrigue. Conceived by the Duke of Buckingham as a retreat for his scandalous affair with Anna-Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury, the house later served as the backdrop for the Profumo affair. In the 300 years between, the house was occupied by a dynasty of remarkable women each of whom left their mark on this great house.
A graphic and biting polemic that still holds a fierce political relevance and impact despite being written over half a century ago. First published in 1937 it charts George Orwell's observations of working-class life during the 1930s in the industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire. His depictions of social injustice and rising unemployment, the dangerous working conditions in the mines amid general squalor and hunger also bring together many of the ideas explored in his later works and novels.
King George V predicted that his son, Edward VIII, would destroy himself within a year of succeeding to the throne. In December 1936 he was proved right, and the world’s press revealed the king was abandoning his throne to marry Wallis Simpson. A life spent in the shadow of his charismatic elder brother left the new king, George VI, magnificently unprepared for the demands of ruling the kingdom and empire. Drawing on personal accounts from the royal archives, Deborah Cadbury uncovers the very private conflict.
Hague shows how Wilberforce, after his agonising conversion to evangelical Christianity, was able to lead a powerful tide of opinion, as MP for Hull, against the slave trade, a process which was to take up to half a century to be fully realised. Indeed, he succeeded in rallying to his cause the support in the Commons Debates of some the finest orators in Parliament, having become one of the most respected speakers of those times.
The Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers. Even in their most private moments, they were accompanied by a servant specifically appointed for the task. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed. These attendants knew the truth behind the glamorous exterior.
The English-speaking peoples comprise perhaps the greatest number of human beings sharing a common language in the world today. These people also share a common heritage. For his four-volume work, Sir Winston Churchill took as his subject these great elements in world history. Volume 1 commences in 55BC, when Julius Caesar famously "turned his gaze upon Britain" and concludes with the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
"Fascinating, well written, amazing voice acting;"
In The English and their History, the first full-length account to appear in one volume for many decades, Robert Tombs gives us the history of the English people and of how the stories they have told about themselves have shaped them, from the prehistoric 'dreamtime' through to the present day.
Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, a country house called The Firs in Buckinghamshire was requisitioned by the War Office. Sentries were posted at the entrance gates, and barbed wire was strung around the perimeter fence. To local villagers it looked like a prison camp. But the truth was far more sinister. This rambling Edwardian mansion had become home to an eccentric band of scientists, inventors and bluestockings. Their task was to build devastating new weaponry that could be used against the Nazis.
"Boys Own stuff but I loved it. .."
Timothy West reads the third and concluding volume of award-winning historian Simon Schama's compelling chronicle of the British Isles. Here he illuminates the period from 1776 to 2000 through a variety of historical themes, including Victorian advances in technology and industry, women's increasing role in society, and the burgeoning British Empire which promised civilisation and material betterment for all.
This highly entertaining BBC Radio 4 series is written and presented by Bill Bryson and based on his best-selling book, Mother Tongue. In it, he romps through the history of Britain to reveal how English became such an infuriatingly complex - but ultimately world-beating - language.
Wentworth is today a crumbling and forgotten palace in Yorkshire. Yet just 100 years ago it was the ancestral pile of the Fitzwilliams' - an aristocratic clan whose home and life were fuelled by coal mining. This is the story of their spectacular decline: of inheritance fights; rumours of a changeling and of lunacy; philandering earls; illicit love; war heroism: a tragic connection to the Kennedys'; violent deaths: mining poverty and squalor; and a class war that literally ripped apart the local landscape.
This volume of Churchill's history of the Second World War recounts the events of 1941 surrounding America's entry into the War, Hitler's march on Russia, and the alliance between Britain and America.
England, July 1540: it is one of the hottest summers on record, and the court of Henry VIII is embroiled once again in political scandal. Anne Cleves is out. Thomas Cromwell is to be executed and, in the countryside, an aristocratic teenager named Catherine Howard prepares to become fifth wife to the increasingly unpredictable monarch.
Ferguson's most revolutionary and popular work, this is a major reinterpretation of the British Empire as one of the world's greatest modernising forces. Based on the Channel Four series that will be aired simultaneously with the book, it shows on a vast canvas how the British Empire in the 19th century spearheaded real globalisation with steampower, telegraphs, guns, engineers, missionaries, and millions of settlers.
The Tudor era encompasses some of the greatest changes in our history. But while we know about the historical dramas of the times, what was life really like for a commoner? To answer this question, the renowned 'method historian' Ruth Goodman has slept, washed and cooked as the Tudors did. She is your expert guide to this fascinating era, drawing on years of practical historical study to show how our ancestors coped with everyday life, from how they slept to how they courted.
Looking out from Moon Cottage, Susan Hill records the sights and smells, the people, gardens, animals, births, festivals and deaths that mark the changing seasons in the small Oxfordshire community.
After the Second World War, many of the men and women who had worked at Bletchley Park moved on to GCHQ: the British government's new facility established to fight the KGB. The Spies of Winter explores the early years of GCHQ as it navigated its way through a tumultuous era - from the defection of the Cambridge Five and the treachery of atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs to the collapse of the British Empire and the emergence of the US as a superpower.
A groundbreaking account of what it was like to live in a Victorian body from one of our best historians, author of The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton and George Eliot: The Last Victorian. Why did the great philosophical novelist George Eliot feel so self-conscious that her right hand was larger than her left? Exactly what made Darwin grow that iconic beard in 1862, a good five years after his contemporaries had all retired their razors?