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Jenny Uglow grew up in Cumbria, and then Dorset. After leaving Oxford, she worked in publishing and is now an Editorial Director of Chatto and Windus, part of Random House. She reviews for radio and for the Times Literary Supplement, Sunday Times and the Guardian, and acts as historical consultant on several BBC 'classic serials', including Wives and Daughters, The Way We Live Now, Daniel Deronda, and the forthcoming Trollope adaptation He Knew He Was Right. Jenny is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, was on the Advisory Group for the Humanities of the British Library, and is Vice-President of the Gaskell Society and an Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Warwick.
Her own books include The Macmillan Dictionary of Women, now preparing its fourth edition; studies of George Eliot and Henry Fielding and the biographies Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories (1992) and Hogarth: A Life and a World (1997), both shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize, and Cultural Babbage: Time, Technology and Invention, co-edited with Francis Spufford. Her book The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future (2002), told the story of the colourful Lunar Society of Birmingham, including Matthew Boulton and James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood, Joseph Priestley and Erasmus Darwin - grandfather of Charles. Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick was published in October 2006.
Jenny is married to Steve Uglow, Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Kent: they have four children and live in Canterbury, Kent.
Coloured by Jenny Uglow's own love for plants, and brought to life in the many vivid illustrations, this book deals not only with flowery meads, grottoes and vistas, landscapes and ha-has, parks and allotments, but tells you, for example, how the Tudors made their curious knots; how housewives used herbs to stop freckles; how the suburbs dug for victory in World War II. With a brief guide to particular historic or evocative gardens open to the public, this is a book to put in your pocket when planning a summer day out - but also to read in your deckchair with a glass of cold wine, when dead-heading is simply too much.
This book is Short-listed for the Duff Cooper Prize. As the Napoleonic wars raged, what was life really like for those left at home? Award-winning social historian Jenny Uglow reveals the colourful and turbulent everyday life of Georgian Britain through the diaries, letters and records of farmers, bankers, aristocrats and mill-workers. Here, lost voices of ordinary people are combined with those of figures we know, from Austen and Byron to Turner and Constable. In These Times movingly tells the story of how people really lived in one of the most momentous and exciting periods in history.
We know the thrilling, terrible stories of the battles of the Napoleonic wars - but what of those left behind? The people on a Norfolk farm, in a Yorkshire mill, a Welsh iron foundry, an Irish village, a London bank or a Scottish mountain? The aristocrats and paupers, old and young, butchers and bakers and candlestick makers - how did the war touch their lives? Jenny Uglow, the prize-winning author of The Lunar Men and Nature's Engraver, follows the gripping back-and-forth of the first global war, but turns the news upside down, seeing how it reached the people. Illustrated by the satires of Gillray, Rowlandson and the paintings of Turner and Constable, and combining the familiar voices of Jane Austen, Wordsworth, Scott and Byron with others lost in the crowd, In These Times delves into the archives to tell the moving story of how people lived and loved and sang and wrote, struggling through hard times and opening new horizons that would change their country for a century ahead.
William Hogarth is a house-hold name across the country, his prints hang in our pubs and leap out from our history-books. He painted the great and good but also the common people. His art is comically exuberant, 'carried away by a passion for the ridiculous', as Hazlitt said. Jenny Uglow, acclaimed author of Elizabeth Gaskell, Nature's Engraver and In These Times, uncovers the man, but also the world he sprang from and the lives he pictured. He moved in the worlds of theatre, literature, journalism and politics, and found subjects for his work over the whole gamut of eighteenth century London, from street scenes to drawing rooms, and from churches to gambling halls and prisons. After striving years as an engraver and painter, Hogarth leapt into lasting fame with A Harlot's Progress and A Rake's Progress, but remained highly critical of the growing gulf between the luxurious lives of the ruling elite and the wretched poverty of the massess. William Hogarth was an artist of flamboyant, overflowing imagination, he was a satirist with an unerring eye; a painter of vibrant colour and tenderness; an ambitious professional who broke all the art-world taboos. Never content, he wanted to excel at everything - from engraving to history painting - and a note of risk runs through his life. Shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize, Hogarth: A Life and a World brings art history to life in the voices of Hogarth's own age. The result is an unforgettable portrait of a great artist and a proud, stubborn, comic, vulnerable man.
A Daily Telegraph, Times, Evening Standard, TLS and Spectator Book of the Year. Winner of the Hawthornden Prize. Edward Lear is well-loved for his 'nonsenses', from joyous limericks to great love songs, and for his wonderful natural history paintings, landscapes and travel writing. But although Lear belongs to the age of Darwin and Dickens, his genius for the absurd and his dazzling word-play make him a very modern spirit. He was also a man of great simplicity and charm - children loved him - yet his humour masked epilepsy, depression and loneliness. Jenny Uglow's beautifully illustrated biography brings us his swooping moods, passionate friendships and restless travels. Above all it shows how this uniquely gifted man lived all his life on the boundaries of disciplines and desires - an exile of the heart.
Jenny Uglow narrates the story of Walter Crane, an intriguing and most prolific figure not only in illustration, but in political culture more broadly. Uglow expertly weaves a fascinating study of how Crane's art and politics developed from his childhood love of Pre-Raphaelite painting to the influences of Morris and William Blake on the journals, books, banners, pamphlets and postcards he went on to create as he forged a new style for the international socialist movement. Comprising a staggering range of visual material, Crane's images became a symbolic code that leapt over linguistic boundaries. This book is a brilliant record of an artist who blended styles and influences like no one before him.
As children, learning to read, we look first at the illustrations - but how do these tell their stories differently to the words? Words & Pictures explores this question through three encounters between writers and artists. It looks at how artists have responded to two great, contrasting works, Paradise Lost and Pilgrim's Progress; at Hogarth and Fielding, great innovators, sharing common aims; and at Wordsworth and Bewick, a poet and engraver, both working separately, but both imbued with the spirit of their age. A brief coda turns to a fourth relationship: writers and artists who collaborate from the start, like Dickens and Phiz, and Lewis Carroll and Tenniel. Sometimes amusing, sometimes moving, this is a book to pore over and enjoy. The visions it considers link daily life to the universal, the passionate and the sublime.
Acclaimed historian Jenny Uglow brings us a fascinating and beautifully illustrated biography of Edward Lear, full of the colour of the age. Edward Lear lived a vivid, fascinating, energetic life, but confessed, 'I hardly enjoy any one thing on earth while it is present.' He was a man in a hurry, 'running about on railroads' from London to country estates and boarding steamships to Italy, Corfu, India and Palestine. He is still loved for his 'nonsenses', from startling, joyous limericks to great love songs like 'The Owl and the Pussy Cat' and 'The Dong with a Luminous Nose', and he is famous, too, for his brilliant natural history paintings, landscapes and travel writing. But although Lear belongs solidly in the age of Darwin and Dickens - he gave Queen Victoria drawing lessons, and his many friends included Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelite painters - his genius for the absurd and his dazzling word-play make him a very modern spirit. He speaks to us today. Lear was a man of great simplicity and charm: children adored him, yet his humour masked epilepsy, depression and loneliness. Jenny Uglow's beautifully illustrated biography, full of the colour of the age, brings us his swooping moods, passionate friendships and restless travels/ Above all it shows how this uniquely gifted man lived all his life on the boundaries of rules and structures, disciplines and desires - an exile of the heart.
Edward Lear's poems follow and break the rules. They abide by the logic of syntax, the linking of rhyme and the dance of rhythm, and these 'nonsenses' are full of joy - yet set against darkness. Where do these human-like animals and birds and these odd adventures - some gentle, some violent, some musical, some wild - come from? His many drawings that accompany his verse are almost hyper-real, as if he wants to free the creatures from the page. They exist nowhere else in literature, springing only from Lear's imagination. Lear lived all his life on the borders of rules and structures, of disciplines and desires. He vowed to ignore politics yet trembled with passionate sympathies. He depended on patrons and moved in establishment circles, yet he never belonged among them and mocked imperial attitudes. He loved men yet dreamed of marriage - but remained, it seems, celibate, wrapped in himself. Even in his family he was marginal, at once accepted and rejected. Surrounded by friends, he was alone. If we follow him across land and sea - to Italy, Greece and Albania, to The Levant and Egypt and India - and to the borderlands of spirit and self, art and desire, can we see, in the end, if the nonsense makes sense? This is what Jenny Uglow has set sail to find out.
The Pinecone is set in the village of Wreay, near Carlisle, where a masterpiece in Victorian architecture stands - the strangest and most magical church in England. This vivid, original book tells the story of its builder, Sarah Losh, strong-willed and passionate, an architect and an intellectual who dumbfounded critics with her genius and originality. Born into an old Cumbrian family, heiress to an industrial fortune, Sarah combined a zest for progress with a love of the past. The church is Losh's masterpiece, richly decorated with symbolic carvings there are images of ammonites, scarabs and poppies, and everywhere there are pinecones, her signature in stone. The church is a dramatic rendering of the power of myth and the great natural cycles of life and death and rebirth. The Pinecone is also the story of Sarah's radical family, friends of Wordsworth and Coleridge; of the love between sisters and the life of a village; of the struggle of the weavers, the coming of the railways, the findings of geology and the fate of a young northern soldier in the Afghan war. Above all, though, it is about the joy of making and the skill of local, unsung craftsmen. Award-winning Jenny Uglow (author of The Lunar Men, Nature's Engraver and In These Times) crafts this moving story of a beautiful and ornate church, a pioneering and imaginative woman, and the changing life of a small northern village in the face of the Industrial Revolution.
Charles II was thirty when he crossed the Channel in fine May weather in 1660. His Restoration was greeted with maypoles and bonfires, like spring after long years of Cromwell's rule. But there was no going back, no way he could 'restore' the old. Certainty had vanished. The divinity of kingship fled with his father's beheading. 'Honour' was now a word tossed around in duels. 'Providence' could no longer be trusted. As the country was rocked by plague, fire and war, people searched for new ideas by which to live. Exactly ten years later Charles II would stand again on the shore at Dover, laying the greatest bet of his life in a secret deal with his cousin, Louis XIV. The Restoration decade was one of experiment: from the science of the Royal Society to the startling role of credit and risk, from the shocking licence of the court to the failed attempts at toleration of different beliefs. Negotiating all these, Charles II, the 'slippery sovereign', played odds and took chances, dissembling and manipulating his followers. The theatres were restored, but the king was the supreme actor. Yet while his grandeur, his court and his colourful sex life were on display, his true intentions lay hidden. A Gambling Man is a portrait of Charles II, exploring his elusive nature through the lens of these ten vital years - and a portrait of a vibrant, violent, pulsing world, racked with plague, fire and war, in which the risks the king took forged the fate of the nation, on the brink of the modern world.
One of the most brilliant writers of her day, George Eliot (1819-1880) was also one of the most talked about. Intellectual and independent, she had the strength to defy polite society with her highly unorthodox private life, so why did she deny her fictional characters the same opportunities?
Thomas Bewick wrote A History of British Birds at the end of the eighteenth century, just as Britain fell in love with nature. This was one of the wildlife books that marked the moment, the first 'field-guide' for ordinary people, illustrated by woodcuts of astonishing accuracy and beauty. But it was far more than that, for in the vivid vignettes scattered through the book Bewick drew the life of the country people of the North East - a world already vanishing under the threat of enclosures. In Nature's Engraver: The life of Thomas Bewick, Jenny Uglow tells the story of the farmer's son from Tyneside who revolutionised wood-engraving and influenced book illustration for a century to come. It is a story of violent change, radical politics, lost ways of life and the beauty of the wild - a journey to the beginning of our lasting obsession with the natural world. Nature's Engraver won the National Arts Writers Award in 2007. Jenny Uglow is the author of, among others, A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Samuel Johnson Prize, Lunar Men and In These Times. 'The most perfect historian imaginable' Peter Ackroyd
Led by Erasmus Darwin, the Lunar Society of Birmingham was formed from a group of amateur experimenters, tradesmen and artisans who met and made friends in the Midlands in the 1760s. Most came from humble families, all lived far from the centre of things, but they were young and their optimism was boundless: together they would change the world. Among them were the ambitious toy-maker Matthew Boulton and his partner James Watt, of steam-engine fame; the potter Josiah Wedgwood; the larger-than-life Erasmus Darwin, physician, poet, inventor and theorist of evolution (a forerunner of his grandson Charles Darwin). Later came Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen and fighting radical. Led by Erasmus Darwin they joined a small band of allies, formed the Lunar Society of Birmingham (so called because it met at each full moon) and kick-started the Industrial Revolution. Blending science, art, and commerce, the Lunar Men built canals, launched balloons, named plants, gases and minerals, changed the face of England and the china in its drawing rooms, and plotted to revolutionise its soul. Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men is a vivid and swarming group portrait that brings to life the friendships, political passions, love affairs, and love of knowledge (and power) that drove these extraordinary men. It echoes the thud of pistons and the wheeze and snort of engines, and brings to life the tradesmen, artisans, and tycoons who shaped and fired the modern age. Winner of the PEN Hessel-Tiltman prize for history, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography, The Lunar Men captures the creation of the modern world with lucid intelligence, sympathy and wisdom. Jenny Uglow is also the prize-winning author of Nature's Engraver, Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories and most recently, In These Times.
Winner of the Portico Prize Shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography of the Year High-spirited, witty and passionate, Elizabeth Gaskell wrote some of the most enduring novels of the Victorian age, including Mary Barton, North and South and Wives and Daughters. This biography traces Elizabeth's youth in rural Knutsford, her married years in the tension-ridden city of Manchester and her wide network of friends in London, Europe and America. Standing as a figure caught up in the religious and political radicalism of nineteenth century Britain, the book looks at how Elizabeth observed, from her Manchester home, the brutal but transforming impact of industry, enjoying a social and family life, but distracted by her need to write down the truth of what she saw. In this widely acclaimed biography, Elizabeth Gaskell emerges as an artist of unrecognized complexity, shrewdly observing the political, religious and feminist arguments of nineteenth century Britain, with enjoyment, passion and wit. Jenny Uglow is the bestselling author of Nature's Engraver, which won the National Arts Writers Award, and A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Samuel Johnson Prize. Her most recent books include Nature's Engraver, the story of Thomas Bewick, and In These Times, a history of the home front during the Napoleonic Wars.
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