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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.
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.
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.
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.