New non-fiction: Smithfield: Past, Present and Future by Alec Forshaw

9780719816581Smithfield: Past, Present and Future

Famed throughout the world for its meat market, the Smithfield area of London has a long and turbulent history. Originally a ‘smooth field’ lying just beyond the City wall, over the years Smithfield has seen riots, public executions and healing. From medieval times it became a centre of industry where tanners, slaughterers, glue-makers and dyers assembled. Largely untouched by either the Great Fire of 1666 or the 1940s Blitz, its streets preserve some of London’s most ancient institutions.

In Smithfield: Past and Present, over one hundred illustrations and photographs trace the development of the area from Roman times to the present. The book records the growth of the notorious cattle market, the gaiety of the Bartholomew Fair, the history of the palace of the Bishops of Ely, medieval tournaments, crime and punishment, and the bawdy life of Cock Lane, one of London’s earliest ‘red-light’ districts.

Written by an architect and former town planner, this third edition looks at the people, history and buildings in this vibrant part of London, and considers the inevitable impact of Crossrail.

Alec Forshaw has always been interested by buildings and places. His fascination for the history and character of London life has led to him writing a number of books on the subject. As a former Conservation Officer for the Borough of Islington, he is especially well qualified to produce this third edition of Smithfield: Past and Present.

Buy your copy of Smithfield: Past, Present and Future here.

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New non-fiction: The Origins of English Surnames by Joslin Fiennes

9780719816529The Origins of English Surnames

Surnames carry the history of people in a very personal way. In England surnames were mostly established by the end of the fourteenth century – by ordinary people, for ordinary people. Uniquely, surnames describe medieval lives not captured by any other record. They tell us what these people did, where they went, what they noticed and give clues about their culture and memories.

This book examines the origins of English surnames, looking at: occupational names, locational names, or names that record places, nicknames  and personal names, names from the Continent and symbolic names.

Where genealogists and etymologists focus on single names, this book takes groups of names and explores what these say about the society that created them.

In The Origins of English Surnames you will find the English people at a key moment in history, revealing the way they spoke, the jokes they made,  and their memories of ancient cultures – all at a time when land-based feudalism was crumbling and people sought better lives.

Joslin Fiennes has an academic background in languages and economics, both of which inspired the idea of this book. She worked initially as a freelance writer in Africa before moving to the United States and becoming an economist, working on countries in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Since returning to the UK, Joslin has been a magistrate and school governor.

Buy your copy of The Origins of English Surnames here.

New non-fiction: The Bishop’s Brothels

9780719816574 The Bishop’s Brothels

Drawing on a wealth of contemporary source material, The Bishop’s Brothels is a fascinating social history of how commercial sex has been bought and sold in London for over a thousand years.

The Bankside Brothels, or ‘stewes’, were a celebrated feature of London life since Roman times. Located on the south side of the River Thames, in the Bishop of Winchester’s ‘Liberty of the Clink’, they were a highly lucrative source of revenue for the Church. In AD 1161 a royal decree ordered that these establishments be licensed and regulated. For many years they attracted the great and the not-so-good, helping to make Southwark the ‘pleasure-garden’ of London.

But who were the people of the Bankside Brothels? What living conditions did they have to endure? How did women cope with the constant threat of violence, unwanted pregnancy and venereal disease? The streets of Southwark and those who walked them are vividly brought to life in this richly researched exploration of the history of this stretch of the Thames over the centuries.

Through the stories of those who lived and worked in this fascinating part of London, we can begin to gain an understanding of a crucial but hitherto neglected aspect of the social history of England.

E. J. Burford
E.J. Burford as a popular historian who wrote several bestselling social histories that explored the lives of ordinary people in England. He died in 1997.

 

Buy your copy of The Bishop’s Brothels here.

 

New non-fiction: Gallipoli by Arthur Beecroft

9780719816543Gallipoli: A Soldier’s Story
At the start of the First World War, Arthur Beecroft was a recently qualified barrister in his twenties. Determined to enlist despite a medical condition, he volunteered for military service, first as a regular soldier, then as a despatch rider. Offered a commission in the Royal Engineers, in 1915 he saw action at Gallipoli.

Now a byword for catastrophic military disaster, the Gallipoli Campaign was the ill-conceived Allied invasion of the Dardanelles. The campaign stalled almost immediately, resulting in over half a million casualties on both sides.

Lucky to survive, several years later Beecroft wrote a detailed memoir of his experiences. Discovered by his granddaughter and now reproduced here almost exactly as it was written nearly a century ago, Beecroft’s vivid narrative takes us through those heady days of the declaration of war, enlistment, initial training, the bungled landing at Suvla Bay, and the exceptionally difficult conditions of the Gallipoli terrain. This is no mere jingoistic account. With a keen eye, Beecroft brings to life the men dogged by disease and exhaustion – ordinary soldiers who, even as they suffered the betrayal of incompetent leadership,  displayed extraordinary reserves of heroism and bravery.

Throughout this rare insight into what it was like for an ordinary ‘civilian soldier’ swept up in the fog of war, Beecroft’s authentic voice still speaks honestly to us today –  of comradeship and devotion to duty, of fear and facing death.  Now published for the first time in the centenary year of the Gallipoli Campaign, this is a soldier’s story in his own words.

Arthur Beecroft

Arthur Beecroft enlisted in 1914 and served as a Signals Officer during the Gallipoli campaign. After the First World War, he wrote several detective novels under the pen-name Arthur Salcroft, and was awarded an MBE in 1922. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard. Arthur Beecroft died peacefully in 1974.

New non-fiction title: Australia in the Great War

Australia in the Great War

Australia iaustralian the Great War is a compelling history of Australia and its people during the global conflict of 1914–1918. It charts the experiences of ordinary men and women against a backdrop of momentous events on the international stage, and shows how war helped shape an emerging Australian national identity. It spans the heady days of August 1914, when Australia responded enthusiastically to the mother country’s call for help, through the baptisms of fire at Gallipoli and on the Somme, to the dark days of Passchendaele and the remarkable battlefield performances of 1918 when the Australians were acknowledged as ‘the shock troops of the British Empire’.

Interweaving stories from the home front and the battle front, Australia in the Great War examines the lives (and deaths) of those who fought on European soil. But it also explores the lives of those left half-a-world behind: the civilians at home who watched from afar. Mothers, wives and girlfriends waited anxiously for news ‘from the front’, and local newspapers published extended commentaries on the happenings overseas. Young men were encouraged to join the colours but there was also a fierce debate on whether conscription to the armed forces should be introduced in Australia. Eventually, in 1919, Australian troops were repatriated, but they found their country much changed, and many had difficulty readjusting to civilian life. This is their story: a tale of sacrifice and bravery in a place far from home.

Philip Payton
Philip Payton is Emeritus Professor of Cornish & Australian Studies at the
University of Exeter, UK, and Adjunct Professor of History at Flinders
University in Adelaide, Australia. The author/editor of more than forty
books, he has written extensively on Australian history.

Philip spent his early childhood in Perth, Western Australia, and later studied
for his doctorate at the University of Adelaide. A former Naval officer, he
has a particular interest in military affairs. Today, he divides his time
between Cornwall and Australia.

Buy your copy of Australia in the Great War here