Category Archives: History

Clare Rose talks to Claudia Winkleman on “The Great British Sewing Bee”

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

Reality television fans may have recently caught an episode or two of the BBC’s programme, ‘The Great British Sewing Bee,’ in which contestants compete to be named Britain’s best home sewer.

We were delighted to see that Episode 4 featured expert insight from none other than author Clare Rose, who published Making, Selling and Wearing Boys’ Clothes in Late-Victorian England with Ashgate in 2010, as part of the History of Retailing and Consumption series.

In the episode, which focuses on children’s clothing, Clare invites presenter Claudia Winkleman into the heart of her home institution, the Royal School of Needlework, to chat about little boys’ sailor suits. She explains that by the 1870s, tailors were mass-producing the outfits. They were simple to make, robust for daily wear and, importantly, a democratic fashion – every class of child, 9 out of 10 boys, wore sailor suits on a daily basis. Clare also refers to an 1897 Chas Bakers & Co. catalogue, a portion of which was used for the cover of Making, Selling and Wearing Boys’ Clothes. You can watch the episode here for a limited time (Clare appears 13 minutes in).

Making Selling and Wearing Boys Clothes in late Victorian EnglandClare’s book makes use of thousands of unpublished visual documents – including manufacturer’s designs, advertising from shop catalogues, and Dr Barnado’s Homes archives – to link the design and retailing of boys’ clothing with nineteenth-century social, cultural and economic issues. It is a significant piece of research for nineteenth-century historians, but, as this feature on the BBC proves, also ‘has many resonances for twenty-first century debates about children and the consumer market’ (Hugh Cunningham, University of Kent, UK).

Learn more about fashion, textiles and childhood in modern Britain on Clare’s website.

Richard L. Greaves Award Honourable Mention for Tim Cooper’s book: John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity

Posted by Bethany Whalley, Marketing Executive

The Nonconformist church leader and theologian, John Owen (1616-1683), and the Puritan church leader, poet and theologian Richard Baxter (1615-1691) had much in common, but their differing experiences of the English Civil War drew them into a long debate fuelled by mutual dislike.

Author Tim Cooper uses this relationship in his book John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity (Ashgate, 2011) to explore the shaping of nonconformity during the Restoration. He makes the argument that individual experience and fraught private relationships had the power to determine the future of much wider movements – and sometimes hamper their progress.

John Owen Richard Baxter and the formation of nonconformityThe book recently received an ‘Honourable Mention’ in the Richard L. Greaves Award 2013, awarded by the International John Bunyan Society for an outstanding book-length work of scholarship devoted to the history, literature, thought, practices and legacy of Anglophone Protestantism to 1700.

‘This is a dramatic and highly readable account of a poisonous feud between two thin-skinned giants of evangelical protestantism. This dual study not only gives us many new insights into the beliefs and actions of Baxter and Owen but (without taking sides) significantly deepens our understanding of the stress fractures within puritanism that led to the defeat of its hopes and expectations.’   John Morrill, University of Cambridge, UK

Tim CooperAbout the Author: Tim Cooper is Senior Lecturer in the History of Christianity in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

More about the Richard L. Greaves Award

More about John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity

The History of Learning Disability

chris-goodey1This is a guest post from Chris Goodey

A group of academics from five separate disciplines – Education, Ancient History, Social Work, English Literature, and a stray teacher of mature students (myself) – have put together a WordPress site which is based on our common interest in conceptual history but which also invites immediate engagement with politics and public affairs. The topic is intellectual disability, or learning disability, or developmental disability, or cognitive disability, or mental handicap, or mental retardation. And that’s just the current usages.

No wonder the conceptual history is deeply problematic – and therefore of deep interest to those involved. For the rest of you, perhaps not. So far. But I do assure you that if you value your status as intelligent people, you will need to know how to defend yourself against the notion that both intellectual disability and “intelligence” itself are not natural kinds but historically contingent ways in which human beings represent themselves to themselves and to each other, and no more. We can’t advise you how to defend yourselves, but at least our shocking notions will reveal the massive nature of the challenge.

My original idea was to create a personal website that would, among other things, reinforce the excellent job Ashgate had done in publishing and marketing my book A History of Intelligence and ‘Intellectual Disability’: The Shaping of Psychology in Early Modern Europe. It soon became clear, though, that a collective effort was both needed and possible, the number of people with a historical research orientation in this field being very small. Tim Stainton, Murray Simpson, Lynn Rose, Patrick McDonagh and I think we have started something that will radically alter present directions in the critical analysis of psychological concepts. WordPress seems the ideal means. Time will tell.

Chris Goodey has held teaching posts at Ruskin College, Oxford, the Open University and the University of London Institute of Education, and is currently an independent consultant working for national and local government services on learning disability in the UK. He is the author of A History of Intelligence and ‘Intellectual Disability’: The Shaping of Psychology in Early Modern Europe

Goodey case_Goodey case‘This timely, daring and challenging book… a phenomenally ambitious, interesting and reflective interdisciplinary history of ideas… assembles some convincing evidence for the processes by which changing sets of ideas, or an accident of historical contingencies, have come to shape allegedly incontrovertible universal truths. At the risk of turning a tautological phrase, this is a highly intellectual history of intellectual disability.’ Medical History

Thomas F. Mayer

Posted by Tom Gray, Publisher (Early Modern History)

It is with great sadness that Ashgate learnt of the death last month of Professor Thomas F. Mayer. As well as publishing several books with Ashgate (notably his editions of Cardinal Pole’s correspondence), Professor Mayer also established the Catholic Christendom 1300-1700 series in 2001, which he edited for over ten years. In this time the series published 36 books, and under his stewardship helped fundamentally reshape and reconceptualise the way we think about late-medieval and early-modern Catholicism. Everyone who worked with Professor Mayer here at Ashgate will miss both his incisive scholarship and dry, concise wit, and we offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

A Celebration of Life service was held 11 a.m. Sat., Feb. 1, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities in Davenport, Iowa. Professor Mayer’s obituary and a place for online condolences can be found here. Memorial donations can be directed to the World Wildlife Fund or The Nature Conservancy.

Ashgate Studies in Evangelicalism – a call for proposals

David Ceri JonesThis is a guest post from David Ceri Jones, Aberystwyth University

It with great pleasure and excitement that I can announce the launch of the ‘Ashgate Studies in Evangelicalism’, a brand new academic monograph series, to be edited by Andrew Atherstone (Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) and myself.

Our vision for the series is that it will quickly become the natural home for monographs and other works on every aspect of the history and theology of the global evangelical movement from its beginnings in the 1730s until the present day. The first two volumes which will launch the series are already commissioned. There will an Ashgate Research Companion on the History of Evangelicalism, containing over twenty chapters covering most aspects of the evangelical movement, summarising existing research, and flagging up those areas where the light of serious historical research has yet to shine. It will hopefully be a book that summarises the current state of the discipline.

A first monograph has also been accepted for publication. More details of that book will follow in due course.

So if you have a recently completely doctoral thesis, or a completed manuscript of a work on any aspect of the history or theology of the global evangelical movement then please get in touch.

Further details of the series can be found on the Ashgate webpage, here:

Visit David Ceri’s blog

Visit Andrew Atherstone’s blog

The Processes of Remembering the First World War

During the First World War centenary years, Ashgate’s blog will play host to a series of blog entries – contributed by Ashgate authors – that reflect upon the Great War’s impact upon history and culture over the last one hundred years, and explore issues raised by the latest research in war studies.

ross j wilsonThis first entry is contributed by Ross J. Wilson, author of Cultural Heritage of the Great War in Britain (2013).

With the advent of the hundredth anniversaries of the First World War, questions have been raised as to the ways in which the conflict is remembered in Britain. Over the last few decades, concerns have been expressed that media representations of the ‘mud and blood’ of the Western Front have dominated popular understandings of the war.

However, rather than assume the public passively consume film and television, perhaps it would be better to ask why particular ideas of the conflict persist? What do these visions of the past do for those who honour them today?

To answer this issue, the ‘meanings’ of the war of 1914-1918 within contemporary society across Britain can be examined. These meanings can be identified through the manner in which the conflict is still used as a mode of conveying ideas and values.

For example, expressions associated with the war, such as ‘over the top’, ‘in the trenches’ or ‘no man’s land’, punctuate everyday language, not just as a means of vivid illustration, but to communicate ideas about responsibility, blame and collective identity.

For example, dissenting groups might describe themselves as ‘in the trenches’ over government reforms or ‘in no man’s land’ after the withdrawal of funding. These concepts are employed purposefully to highlight neglect or to assign blame.

These terms are used in a wide variety of contexts in political, media and public discourse, to describe a range of issues, as the First World War is employed as a means of understanding contemporary society.

Similarly, the suffering of the troops on the battlefields has become a feature of modern British identity politics, as communities associate themselves with the trauma of the war. To state a connection to this sense of victimhood provides a point of identification.

In this sense, to bear witness to the victims of the past provides contemporary individuals with a means to highlight current fears and anxieties. Whilst most frequently associated with the memorialisation of the Ulster Volunteers in Northern Ireland, this is not a unique phenomenon.

Distinctive narratives of suffering and victimhood in the war have been utilised by Scottish, Welsh and northern English communities in recent years, as well as political groups of all persuasions, to assert their rights and interests.

The critique of the ‘popular memory’ of the First World War in Britain is an act which obscures the complex processes of remembering that occurs within groups, communities and individuals.

The First World War is a symbolic resource enabling current generations across Britain to ‘return to the trenches’, not as the result of a vapid viewing of Blackadder Goes Forth, but as a means to shape contemporary ideas, debates and identities.

Cultural Heritage of the Great War in BritainCultural Heritage of the Great War in Britain, published in the series Heritage, Culture and Identity, addresses how the war maintains a place and value within British society through the usage of phrases, references, metaphors and imagery within popular media, heritage and political discourse. Wilson explores why wider popular debate within historiography, literature, art, television and film draws upon a war fought nearly a century ago to express ideas about identity, place and politics.

Ross J. Wilson is Senior Lecturer in Modern History and Public Heritage at the University of Chichester.

Henry VIII and the Court – Lucy Worsley’s book of the year (2013)

We were delighted to learn that Lucy Worsley chose Henry VIII and the Court as her book of 2013:

‘My book of the year was ‘Henry VIII and the Court’ (Ashgate), an essay collection edited by Tom Betteridge and Suzannah Lipscomb. The 17 historians involved in the project are all working at the coalface of history, collaboratively changing our perception of the king and his world. This will be the stuff of popular history in the future: read it here first’. Lucy Worsley, The Daily Telegraph: Best books of 2013

The Journal of the Northern Renaissance liked it too:

‘The collection as a whole gives an extremely entertaining, interdisciplinary overview of the wide-ranging debates and issues surrounding the arts, politics and performances at the Henrician court… The volume extends the range of sources and paradigms through which the King and his Court should be considered. No less significant, it also appears to have fully mastered the all-important and oft-forgotten notion, to delight and instruct.’

Henry VIII and the Court: Art, Politics and Performance is edited by Thomas Betteridge and Suzannah Lipscomb.

Henry VIII and the CourtThe book showcases the very latest thinking and research on Henry and his court, and highlights how the political, religious and cultural aspects of Henry’s reign came together to create a one of the most significant and transformative periods of English history. It is genuinely interdisciplinary, drawing on literature, art history, architecture and drama.

Contributors: Suzannah Lipscomb; Thomas Betteridge; G.W. Bernard; Maria Hayward; Glenn Richardson; Elizabeth T. Hurren; Kent Rawlinson; Brett Dolman; Tatiana C. String; Ruth Ahnert; Susan Wabuda; Catherine Fletcher; Eamon Duffy; Susan Brigden; Thomas S. Freeman; Eleanor Rycroft; Peter Happé; Steven Gunn.

More information about Henry VIII and the Court: Art, Politics and Performance

A new article by Historian Iain Robertson, about land ownership in the Highlands after World War One

Posted by Fiona Dunford, Marketing Executive

History Scotland has recently published an interesting article by Iain Robertson about land ownership in the Highlands after World War One.

On 11 November, 1918 there were no doubt many Highland Scots heartily relieved that they, or their loved ones, had made it through to the end of the war. And whilst there were further tragedies waiting just round the corner for those from the Outer Hebrides and the isles of Lewis and Harris in particular, no doubt many were anticipating returning to a land made ‘fit for heroes’. In this they were largely to be thwarted…

Read the rest of the article…

Iain Robertson is author of Landscapes of Protest in the Scottish Highlands after 1914: The Later Highland Land Wars. He is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Gloucestershire, UK.


Lanscapes of Protest in the Scottish Highlands‘The so-called “Later Highland Land Wars” have long awaited systematic analysis. No longer. Robertson’s study transforms our understanding of the causes, form and consequences of agitation over the access to land in the post-1914 Scottish Highlands. Blending conceptual innovation, oral history, and subtle readings of the archive, this is a critical landmark in protest history.’    Carl Griffin, University of Sussex

‘Skilfully interrogating rich archival sources, Iain Robertson reveals the extent and significance of rural protest in Highland Scotland after 1914 – protest led by men who, having fought for their country, were now fighting for their land. This is an insightful book about landscape and power, memory and morality, politics and resistance.’   Charles W.J. Withers, University of Edinburgh

Simon Sleight on Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870–1914

Simon Sleight has spoken on ABC’s By Design Radio programme about how young people and a dynamic youth culture shaped the early development of Melbourne.

You can download the programme from the By Design web pages

Baby booms have a long history. In 1870, colonial Melbourne was ‘perspiring juvenile humanity’ with an astonishing 42 per cent of the city’s inhabitants aged 14 and under – a demographic anomaly resulting from the gold rushes of the 1850s.

Young People Public Space MelbourneSimon Sleight’s book Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870–1914 looks beyond those institutional sites so often assessed by historians of childhood, and ranges across the outdoor city to chart the relationship between a discourse about youth, youthful experience and the shaping of new urban spaces.

Play, street work, consumerism, courtship, gang-related activities and public parades are examined, and reveal a hitherto hidden layer of city life. Capturing the voices of young people as well as those of their parents, Sleight alerts us to the ways in which young people shaped the emergent metropolis by appropriating space and attempting to impress upon the city their own desires. Here in Melbourne a dynamic youth culture flourished well before the discovery of the ‘teenager’ in the mid-twentieth century; here young people and the city grew up together.

About the Author: Simon Sleight is Lecturer in Australian History at King’s College London. He is also Adjunct Research Associate with the School of Philosophical, Historical & International Studies at Monash University in Melbourne.

Review: “Marvellous Melbourne”, a precocious new world city of the late nineteenth century, is the site for this rich and acute study of how young people carved out their own spaces in the urban outdoors. Simon Sleight draws on a remarkable range of sources to illuminate the subversive perspectives of Melbourne’s youth. The book contributes to the burgeoning international scholarship on young people’s historical experiences, and is recommended reading for historians, geographers and sociologists alike.   Stuart Macintyre, University of Melbourne, Australia

More about Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870–1914

Ashgate Author, Claire Jowitt, Featured on the BBC’s Radio 4 Open Book Programme

Posted by Alyssa Berthiaume, Marketing Coordinator

Airing for the first time on Sunday, September 15 and again on Wednesday, September 18, Ashgate author, Claire Jowitt, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book Programme. Seems the acclaimed BBC may have found a bit of buried treasure in Jowitt’s swashbuckling pirate text, The Culture of Piracy, 1580–1630.

Culture of PiracyPrior to Jowitt’s invitation onto the program, her text had received numerous accolades, described as a “groundbreaking study…,”“filled with thrilling tales…,” and “skillful literary analysis…” It’s said to be “entertaining and instructive…,” “elegantly written…,” “absorbing and compulsive…”  These are the words of reputable journals: the Review of English Studies, Journal of British Studies, Year’s Work in English Studies, Sixteenth Century Journal, and Notes and Queries.  So, it’s not inconceivable that this all-star line-up of endorsements influenced the BBC to ask Jowitt for an interview.

Or perhaps, in tandem with the book’s literary accolades, it’s the revitalization of pirates through pop culture and mass media—through movies like the Pirates of the Caribbean, introducing us to new, treasuring-seeking characters like Captain Jack Sparrow; and TV shows like ABC’s Once Upon a Time, re-igniting our interest in classic notables like Captain James Hook—that piqued the BBC’s interest in pirates as foci for current nonfiction and scholarship, such as Jowitt’s text.

In either event, she was on deck alongside Neil Rennie, author of Treasure Neverland, across from popular TV and radio personality, Mariella Frostrup, to talk about pirates as actual, historical figures and not just popular media caricatures. Forstrup was on a quest for the truth about pirates. From early pirates’ significance to literature, to the modern-day motivation to glamorize these personages, Frostrup steered Jowitt and Rennie across time, taking a hard, long look at pirates.

Jowitt never veered from course.  In relevance to Frostrup’s questions, she spoke to the ambiguity of pirates throughout literature, dating as far back as third century A.D. and as current as nineteenth-century Romantic literature. Though there is much of interest to the pirate scholar and/or enthusiast to relay, listening to the actual program is far more worthwhile. Hear for yourself and listen to this enlightening interview.  I’m sure you will agree that Jowitt has marked her spot in pirate scholarship.

If you long for more adventure or a glimpse into the life of a pirate, please visit where you can enjoy reading the full introduction to Claire Jowitt’s, The Culture of Piracy, 1580–1630.


Claire Jowitt is now Professor of Renaissance English Literature at the University of Southampton. Her previous books include Voyage Drama and Gender Politics 1589–1642, Pirates? The Politics of Plunder 1550–1650 (ed.) and The Arts of Seventeenth-Century Science (co-ed.).