Category: History

Black Victorians: Hidden in History

A landmark work of revisionist history exploring and celebrating the lives of Black Victorians.

Our vision of Victorian Britain tends to the monolithic – white, imperialist, prurient, patrician. However, though until very recently overlooked in our textbooks, there was another, more diverse Britain, populated by people of colour marking achievements both ordinary and extraordinary.

In this deeply researched, dynamic and revelatory history, Woolf and Abraham reach back into the archives to recentre our attention on marginalised Black Victorians, from leading medic George Rice to protestor William Cuffay to attention-grabbing abolitionists Henry ‘Box’ Brown and Sarah Parker Remond; from pre-Raphaelite muse Fanny Eaton to composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor. Black Victorians shows how Black lives were visible, present and influential – not temporary presences but established and rooted; and how paradox and ambivalence characterised the Victorian view of race.

PRAISE FOR THE WONDERS

A promising young historian’ Stephen Fry

Nuanced and complex, Woolf deftly shows there are stories of empowerment alongside those of exploitationBBC History magazine

John Woolf’s book will dazzle you with details of extraordinary lives, long underestimated by history’ Matthew Sweet, author of Inventing the Victorians

Scheisse! We’re Going Up!

THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF A CLUB ON THE RISE AND A CITY IN FLUX. THIS IS UNION BERLIN.

No football club in the world has fans like Union Berlin. The underdogs from East Berlin have stuck it to the Stasi, built their own stadium, and even given blood to save their club. But now, they face a new and terrifying prospect: success.

Scheisse! tells the human stories behind the unexpected rise of this unique club. But it’s not just about football. Union’s tale is interwoven with a witty cultural history of contemporary Berlin that shines a light on the social issues which still define the German capital thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Scheisse! will appeal to readers who are captivated by sports biographies such as Raphael Honigstein’s Das Reboot and social history like John Kampfner’s Why The Germans Do It Better.

Vagabonds: Life on the Streets of Nineteenth-century London – by BBC New Generation Thinker 2022

Compelling, moving and unexpected portraits of London’s poor from a rising star British historian – the Dickensian city brought to real and vivid life.

Until now, our view of bustling late Georgian and Victorian London has been filtered through its great chroniclers, who did not themselves come from poverty – Dickens, Mayhew, Gustave Doré. Their visions were dazzling in their way, censorious, often theatrical. Now, for the first time, this innovative social history brilliantly – and radically – shows us the city’s most compelling period (1780–1870) at street level.

From beggars and thieves to musicians and missionaries, porters and hawkers to sex workers and street criers, Jensen unites a breadth of original research and first-hand accounts and testimonies to tell their stories in their own words. What emerges is a buzzing, cosmopolitan world of the working classes, diverse in gender, ethnicity, origin, ability and occupation – a world that challenges and fascinates us still.

Everyman’s England

A classic travelogue that brilliantly conjures 1930s Britain.

In this series of pen-portraits of England from the 1930s, Victor Canning ‘evocatively captures the pattern and colour of English life’ (The Bookseller), from Cumbria to Cornwall. Canning’s heart-warming and humorous observations of sleepy villages, pastoral scenes and busy industries are a delightful time capsule into life in England during the interwar years.  

‘What does the word England mean to you? To all of us England means something different, and yet I think there is for every man and woman some little corner which is more England than anywhere else…’

 

***PRAISE FOR EVERYMAN’S ENGLAND***

‘Wonderful… elegant, humorous, exuberant essays.’ Guardian

‘Evocatively captures the pattern and colour of English life.’ The Bookseller

‘Canning finds beauty everywhere, but never sentimentalises, and is consistently honest enough to highlight poverty and social inequality… Canning, at his very best when waxing lyrical about landscapes, offers vivid images of the English countryside…’ The Daily Mail

The History of the Occult Tarot

An essential volume for the libraries of all serious students of the Tarot.

When the Tarot was invented in Italy during the early fifteenth century, it was simply a pack of cards used for playing games. Esoteric interpretations of the pack date from late eighteenth century France, and were confined to that country for a hundred years. But today the cards are used throughout the world and not only for fortune telling – for true believers they are the key to secret knowledge and the meaning of life.

A History of the Occult Tarot is the classic work on the history of the Tarot deck and its use in occult circles. Starting with the late nineteenth century, the Decker and Dummett examine how the Tarot became the favoured divination tool of occultists, a bridge to the spirit world, and a map of the unconscious. From Theosophical to Aleister Crowley to the Order of the Golden Dawn and P.D. Ouspensky, this compelling survey of the Tarot’s history describes the many fascinating decks imagined over time as well as the secret histories of mystics.

Heath Robinson Contraptions

A new edition of the most brilliant work of one of the most inventive minds in illustration and cartoon wizardry. Heath Robinson was one of Britain’s most successful graphic artists. His work has had a huge influence on comic art in this country, but also on the image and self-image of the British. As the champion of pragmatic man, Heath Robinson presented a vision of the British as an unflappable, ingenious and slightly demented breed of inventors that persists to the present day. The British are still a nation of garage-haunting amateur engineers who will recognise the inhabitants of Heath Robinson’s world, with their pot bellies and pots of tea, archaic faces and sturdily commonsensical approach to the problems of existence. How to hunt tigers by elephant, how to get an even tan, rise with the sun or put out a chimney fire, these and many more pressing questions are answered in the pages of Contraptions. With illustrations salvaged from the family archives and commentary by Heath Robinson expert, Geoffrey Beare, "Contraptions" is the best possible introduction to the work of one of Britain’s great comic talents.

The Devil’s Guide to Hollywood

Joe Eszterhas has written some of Hollywood’s biggest hits ‘Basic Instinct’; ‘Flashdance’ and walked away with some of the largest writing cheques in the industry’s history. In ‘The Devil s Guide to Hollywood’ he reveals everything he knows about the movies the players, the personalities, the legends and screenwriting itself, revealing all that has inspired, amused and enraged him in Hollywood since his career began. Hilarious, colourful but also practical, this is required reading for anyone who s ever thought of writing for the screen, and for anyone who wants the inside story on the organised insanity of the movie business.

Britain At Play

In Britain at Play we collect the finest of William Heath Robinson’s studies of the unique British character. Here we find Britain in the garden, at the beach and on the golf course – the 9th hole played with the grim reaper, rotating sunbathing machines, a double cross tennis match ‘For economising space in local tournaments and generally gingering up the game’. Heath Robinson perfectly captures the peculiar character of the great British nation at leisure.

The Dardanelles Disaster

The British Navy’s failed attempt to capture Constantinople and secure a sea route to Russia in 1915 marked a turning point of World War I. Acclaimed naval military historian Dan van der Vat argues that the disaster at the Dardanelles not only prolonged the war for two years and brought Britain to the brink of starvation, but also led to the Russian Revolution and contributed to the rapid destabilisation of the Middle East. With a narrative rich in human drama, ‘The Dardanelles Disaster’ highlights the diplomatic clashes from Whitehall to the Hellespont, Berlin to Constantinople, and St Petersburg to the Bosporus. Van der Vat analyzes then-First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill’s response to the obstacles he faced and describes the fateful actions of the Turkish, German, and British governments throughout the Gallipoli Campaign. With detailed analysis of the battle’s events and never-before-published information on the German navy’s mine laying operations, ‘The Dardanelles Disaster’ tells a forgotten story from a fresh viewpoint, shedding light on one of World War I’s most pivotal moments – and in particular on one avoidable and monumental blunder.

The British

Classic illustrations of our national character and foibles by the celebrated and much-loved cartoonist. A fondness for laughing at our own anecdotes. An assertion of the importance of tea. A weakness for oak beams. A keen interest in the weather. A tendency to ‘become doggy’. The British haven’t changed much since the 1930s, when Pont’s first witty and hilarious observations on the national character appeared in ‘Punch’ magazine. Pont’s plump rolling-pin wielding cooks and solar-topee’d imperialists capture a distinct moment in British inter-war history, but his observations of character are timeless. In the nursery, at the opera, or in the bath, in tweed or tennis whites or bowler hat, Pont conjures distinct, complete personalities with a few strokes of his pen. Charming, idiosyncratic and – above all – wonderfully funny, this unforgettable collection will bring Pont’s extraordinary talent to a new generation of fans.