Institute of Historical Research

Stephen Mullen
October 28, 2022

This important book assesses the size and nature of Caribbean slavery’s economic impact in British society. The Glasgow Sugar Aristocracy, a grouping of West India merchants and planters, became active before the emancipation of chattel slavery in the British West Indies in 1834. Many acquired nationally significant fortunes, and their investments percolated into the Scottish economy and wider society. At its core, the book traces the development of merchant capital and poses several interrelated questions during an era of rapid transformation, namely, what impact the private investments of West India merchants and colonial adventurers had on metropolitan society and the economy, as well as the wider effects of such commerce on...

Edited by Stijn van Rossem and Ulrich Tiedau
September 29, 2022

Pieter Geyl (1887—1966) remains one of the most internationally renowned Dutch historians of the twentieth century, but also one of the most controversial. Having come to the UK as a journalist, he started his academic career at the University of London in the aftermath of World War I (1919) and played an important role in the early days of the Institute of Historical Research. Known in this time for his re-interpretation of the 16th-century Dutch Revolt against the Habsburgs, that challenged existing historiographies of both Belgium and the Netherlands but was also linked to his political activism in favour of the Flemish movement in Belgium, Geyl left his stamp on the British perception of Low Countries history before moving back to...

Pamela J. Fisher
September 20, 2022

This publication, the fourth VCH Short from Leicestershire, tells the history of Lutterworth, a small market town in the south-west of the county. John Wyclif was the town’s rector from 1374 until his death in 1384, and the ongoing impact of his controversial writings so concerned the Church that his bones were disinterred and desecrated in 1428 on the instructions of the Pope. Lutterworth was also the birthplace of the jet engine, which was developed by Sir Frank Whittle between 1937 and 1942 in a disused foundry building in the town.  

The evolution and development of Lutterworth from small beginnings before the Norman Conquest to the challenges posed today by its position as a key location for the modern...

Leo Shipp
August 31, 2022

The office of the poet laureate of Britain was a highly prominent, relevant and respectable institution throughout the long eighteenth century. First instituted for John Dryden in 1668, the laureateship developed from an honorific into a functionary office with a settled position in court (c.1689–1715), and was bestowed upon Robert Southey in 1813, whose tenure eventually transformed the office. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this book examines the office’s institutional changes and public reception, the mechanics of each laureate’s appointment, and the works produced by the laureates before and after their appointments. It argues that the laureateship played a key part in some of the most vital trends in eighteenth-...

Edited by Peter Collinge and Louise Falcini
August 29, 2022

The Old Poor Law in England and Wales, administered by the local parish, dispensed benefits to paupers providing a uniquely comprehensive, pre-modern system of relief. Remaining in force until 1834, the law provided goods and services to keep the poor alive.

Combining short- and long-form articles and essays, Providing for the Poor brings together academics and practitioners from across disciplines to re-examine the micro-politics of poverty in the long eighteenth century through the eyes of the poor, their providers and enablers. From the providence of the parochial sixpence given in order to move a beggar on, to coercive marriages, plebeian clothing and the much broader implications of vagrancy towards the end of the...

Penelope J. Corfield and Tim Hitchcock
May 18, 2022

Writing history is an art and a craft. This handbook supports research students and independent scholars by showing how the historical profession works and how to participate in its vibrant community of scholars. It outlines techniques to help design large-scale research projects, demonstrates the difference between quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and provides advice on bringing projects to a positive conclusion. This friendly guide is frank about the pains and pleasures of sticking with a long-term project, and explains how to present original research to wider audiences, including the appropriate use of social media, the art of public lecturing and strategies for publication.

Written by esteemed historians...

Sarah Fox
April 13, 2022

This fascinating new book radically rewrites all that we know about eighteenth-century childbirth by placing women’s voices at the centre of the story. From quickening through to confinement, giving caudle, delivery and lying-in, birth was once a complex ritual that involved entire communities. Drawing on an extensive and under-researched body of materials, such as letters, diaries and recipe books, this book offers critical new perspectives on the history of the family and community. It explores the rituals of childbirth, from birthing clothing to the foods traditionally eaten before and after birth, and also how a woman’s relationship with her family, husband, friends and neighbours changed...

Charlotte Berry
February 15, 2022

The Margins of Late Medieval London is a powerful study of medieval London’s urban fringe. Seeking to unpack the complexity of urban life in the medieval age, this volume offers a detailed and novel approach to understanding London beyond its institutional structures. Using a combination of experimental digital, quantitative and qualitative methodologies, the volume casts new light on urban life at the level of the neighbourhood and considers the differences in economy, society and sociability which existed in different areas of a vibrant premodern city. It focuses on the dynamism and mobility that shaped city life, integrating the experiences of London’s poor and migrant communities and how they found...

Simon P. Newman
February 1, 2022

Freedom Seekers: Escaping from Slavery in Restoration London reveals the hidden stories of enslaved and bound people who attempted to escape from captivity in England’s capital.

In 1655 White Londoners began advertising in the English-speaking world’s first newspapers for enslaved people who had escaped. Based on the advertisements placed in these newspapers by masters and enslavers offering rewards for so-called runaways, this book brings to light for the first time the history of slavery in England as revealed in the stories of resistance by enslaved workers. Featuring a series of case-studies of individual "freedom-seekers", this book explores the nature and significance of escape attempts as well as...

Patrick Salmon
December 6, 2021

Herbert Butterfield (1900–1979) was one of the earliest and strongest critics of what he saw as the British government’s attempts to control the past through the writing of so-called, ‘official histories’. His famous diatribe against the 'pitfalls' of government-mandated history first appeared in 1949, at a time when the British government was engaged in publishing official histories and diplomatic documents on an unprecedented scale following the Second World War. But why was Butterfield so hostile to official history, and why do his views still matter today?

Written by one of the few historians employed by the British government, this important new book details how successive governments have applied a selective approach...

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