From the best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, and Krakatoa comes a truly wonderful celebration of the English language and of its unrivaled treasure house, the Oxford English Dictionary.Writing with marvelous brio, Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language--"so vast, so sprawling, so wonderfully unwieldy"--and pays homage to the great dictionary makers, from "the irredeemably famous" Samuel Johnson to the "short, pale, smug and boastful" schoolmaster from New Hartford, Noah Webster. He then turns his unmatched talent for story-telling to the making of this most venerable of dictionaries. In this fast-paced narrative, the reader will discover lively portraits of such key figures as the brilliant but tubercular first editor Herbert Coleridge (grandson of the poet), the colorful, boisterous Frederick Furnivall (who left the project in a shambles), and James Augustus Henry Murray, who spent a half-century bringing the project to fruition. Winchester lovingly describes the nuts-and-bolts of dictionary making--how unexpectedly tricky the dictionary entry for marzipan was, or how fraternity turned out so much longer and monkey so much more ancient than anticipated--and how bondmaid was left out completely, its slips found lurking under a pile of books long after the B-volume had gone to press. We visit the ugly corrugated iron structure that Murray grandly dubbed the Scriptorium--the Scrippy or the Shed, as locals called it--and meet some of the legion of volunteers, from Fitzedward Hall, a bitter hermit obsessively devoted to the OED, to W. C. Minor, whose story is one of dangerous madness, ineluctable sadness, and ultimate redemption.
The Meaning of Everything is a scintillating account of the creation of the greatest monument ever erected to a living language. Simon Winchester's supple, vigorous prose illuminates this dauntingly ambitious project--a seventy-year odyssey to create the grandfather of all word-books, the world's unrivalled uber-dictionary.
Judith Flanders's book is laid out like a Victorian house, taking you through the story of daily life from room to room. In each space she depicts the home's furnishings and decoration: from childbirth in the master bedroom, through the scullery and kitchen, the separate male and female domains of the drawing room and the parlor, and ending in the sickroom. A rich selection from diaries, letters, advice books, magazines, and paintings fills the rooms with the people and personalities of the age. 100 illustrations, 3 8-page color inserts.
Become an active participant in three mythological stories, restored for today's reader from a rare 16th-century Druid text. A grimoire follows each story with instructions on how to reenact the lessons and replicate the rituals. These grimoires are the next best thing to viewing a magician's personal Book of Shadows, which contains knowledge specially reserved for a chosen apprentice.
Diana Mosley is the riveting tell-all biography of one of the most intriguing, enigmatic and controversial women of the twentieth century, written with her exclusive cooperation and based upon hundreds of hours of taped interviews and unprecedented access to her private papers, letters and diaries. Lady Mosley's only stipulation was that the book not be published until after her death.
Society darling Diana Mosley, born June 10, 1910, was by general consent the most beautiful and the cleverest of the six Mitford sisters. She was eighteen when she married Bryan Guinness, of the brewing dynasty, with whom she had two sons. After four years, she left him for the leader of the British Union of Fascists, Sir Oswald Mosley, an admirer of Mussolini and a notorious womanizer. It was a course of action that horrified her family and scandalized society.
In 1933 Diana took her sister Unity to Germany, where both met the new German leader, Adolf Hitler. Diana became so close to him that when she and Mosley married in 1936, the ceremony took place in the Goebbels' drawing room with Hitler as the guest of honor. She would continue to visit Hitler until a month before the outbreak of World War II, and afterwards she refused to believe in the horrors of the Holocaust. During the war the Mosleys' association with Hitler led them to be arrested and detained for three and a half years. After, they rebuilt their lives in exile, entertaining and being entertained by pre-war friends and new associates, including the Windsors. Attempts by Oswald Mosley to enter mainstream politics failed abjectly; for him at least, the message of the real world finally got through. His death devastated Diana, after their almost fifty years together. Her loyalty to him remained unquestioning, his political beliefs as sacred in death as in life.
Anne de Courcy's gripping biography reveals the mesmerizing life of a woman whose fateful choices shocked her family, friends and fellow countrymen while she remained unbowed. This is a unique window on a world and a life that are no more but are still gripping fifty years later.
The reputation of the Victorian age in England has undergone many vicissitudes, but it is now higher than ever. In this important study, Richard D. Altick moves us toward an understanding of the social, intellectual, and theological crises that Carlyle and Dickens, Tennyson and Arnold were daily struggling to solve. And the issues were many: the revolution in class structure and class attitudes; the rise of utilitarianism and the evangelical spirit; the crisis in religion, including the Oxford movement and Darwinism; the democratization of culture; the place of art and the artist in an industrial, bourgeois society; the effects of industrialism, especially on the way people live. Altick brings to the discussion of these complicated questions the lively and sensitive intelligence that his many readers have come to expect. He includes contemporary illustrations and a full reference index.
Jessica Mitford, the great muckraking journalist, was part of a legendary English aristocratic family. Her sisters included Nancy, doyenne of the 1920s London smart set and a noted novelist and biographer; Diana, wife to the English fascist chief Sir Oswald Mosley; Unity, who fell head over in heels in love with Hitler; and Deborah, later the Duchess of Devonshire. Jessica swung left and moved to America, where she took part in the civil rights movement and wrote her classic expos of the undertaking business, The American Way of Death.Hons and Rebels is the hugely entertaining tale of Mitford's upbringing, which was, as she dryly remarks, "not exactly conventional. . . Debo spent silent hours in the chicken house learning to do an exact imitation of the look of pained concentration that comes over a hen's face when it is laying an egg. . . . Unity and I made up a complete language called Boudledidge, unintelligible to any but ourselves, in which we translated various dirty songs (for safe singing in front of the grown-ups)." But Mitford found her family's world as smothering as it was singular and, determined to escape it, she eloped with Esmond Romilly, Churchill's nephew, to go fight in the Spanish Civil War. The ensuing scandal, in which a British destroyer was dispatched to recover the two truants, inspires some of Mitford's funniest, and most pointed, pages.
A family portrait, a tale of youthful folly and high-spirited adventure, a study in social history, a love story, Hons and Rebels is a delightful contribution to the autobiographer's art.
This narrative of events between the years 1173 and 1202--as recorded by Jocelin of Brakelond, a monk who lived in the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, in the region of West Suffolk--affords many unique insights into the life of a medieval religious community. It depicts the daily worship in the abbey church and the beliefs and values shared by the monks, as well as the whispered conversations, rumors, and disagreements within the cloister--and the bustling life of the market-town of Bury, just outside the abbey walls. This edition offers the first modern translation from the Latin to appear since 1949.
As ancient examples of the intersection of architecture and history, castles remain awe-inspiring today, centuries after they were built. This volume is an expanded and revised comprehensive edition of Plantagenet Somerset Fry's classic study on this subject. Fry adds recent historical and archaeological research to his definitive history of life in and around the castles of the British Isles, including evocative descriptions of everyday life, war and weapons, and sieges. How the castles were designed and built, and how this reflects changes in politics and society, is fully explained in engaging text enhanced by spectacular photographs and plans of the castles.The first part of the book is made up of thematic chapters ranging in subject from What Is a Castle? to The End of the Castle. The second part is a gazetteer -- by far the most comprehensive ever published in a single book -- that describes in great detail more than 1,350 castles in Britain and Ireland. For the tourist, scholar, or armchair explorer of castles, this is the ultimate reference book.
"Suppose that everything we think we know about the Victorians is wrong." So begins "Inventing the Victorians" by Matthew Sweet, a compact and mind-bending whirlwind tour through the soul of the nineteenth century, and a round debunking of our assumptions about it. The Victorians have been victims of the "the enormous condescension of posterity," in the historian E. P. Thompson's phrase. Locked in the drawing room, theirs was an age when, supposedly, existence was stultifying, dank, and over-furnished, and when behavior conformed so rigorously to proprieties that the repressed results put Freud into business. We think we have the Victorians pegged-as self-righteous, imperialist, racist, materialist, hypocritical and, worst of all, earnest.
Oh how wrong we are, argues Matthew Sweet in this highly entertaining, provocative, and illuminating look at our great, and great-great, grandparents. In this, the year of the centenary of Queen Victoria's death, Sweet forces us to think again about her century, entombed in our minds by Dickens, the Elephant Man, Sweeney Todd, and by images of unfettered capitalism and grinding poverty.
Sweet believes not only that we're wrong about the Victorians but profoundly indebted to them. In ways we have been slow to acknowledge, their age and our own remain closely intertwined. The Victorians invented the theme part, the shopping mall, the movies, the penny arcade, the roller coaster, the crime novel, and the sensational newspaper story. Sweet also argues that our twenty-first century smugness about how far we have evolved is misplaced. The Victorians were less racist than we are, less religious, less violent, and less intolerant. Far from being an outcaste, Oscar Wilde was a fairly typical Victorian man; the love that dared not speak its name was declared itself fairly openly. In 1868 the first international cricket match was played between an English team and an Australian team composed entirely of aborigines. The Victorians loved sensation, novelty, scandal, weekend getaways, and the latest conveniences (by 1869, there were image-capable telegraphs; in 1873 a store had a machine that dispensed milk to after-hours' shoppers). Does all this sound familiar?
As Sweet proves in this fascinating, eye-opening book, the reflection we find in the mirror of the nineteenth century is our own. We inhabit buildings built by the Victorians; some of us use their sewer system and ride on the railways they built. We dismiss them because they are the age against whom we have defined our own. In brilliant style, "Inventing the Victorians" shows how much we have been missing.