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Fire and Water

Rosalind Mitchison, 17 October 1985

Water Power in Scotland: 1550-1870 
by John Shaw.
John Donald, 606 pp., £25, April 1984, 0 85976 072 3
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The History of the British Coal Industry. Vol. II: 1700-1830, The Industrial Revolution 
by Michael Flinn and David Stoker.
Oxford, 491 pp., £35, March 1984, 0 19 828283 4
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Industry and Ethos: Scotland 1832-1914 
by Sydney Checkland and Olive Checkland.
Arnold, 218 pp., £5.95, March 1984, 0 7131 6317 8
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The Jacobite Clans of the Great Glen: 1650-1784 
by Bruce Lenman.
Methuen, 246 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 0 413 48690 7
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The Prince and the Pretender: A Study in the Writing of History 
by A.J. Youngson.
Croom Helm, 270 pp., £16.95, April 1985, 0 7099 2908 0
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Canna: The Story of a Hebridean Island 
by J.L. Campbell.
Oxford, 323 pp., £25, December 1984, 0 19 920137 4
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... The first three of these books combine to remind us of the role of economic development in our history, and force home the fact that there can be no true separation of economic history from other histories. The dates bounding the Checklands’ volume in the New History of Scotland might seem to be ones of political significance primarily, but 1832 and 1914 mark very nearly the span of the domination of heavy industry in Scotland, the special concentration of population and skill on the Clyde, and the social developments that came from the labour requirements of coal, iron and, eventually, shipbuilding ...

Man and Wife

Rosalind Mitchison, 22 May 1986

Marriage and Love in England: Modes of Reproduction 1300-1840 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 380 pp., £19.50, January 1986, 0 631 13992 3
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For Better, For Worse: British Marriages 1600 to the Present 
by John Gillis.
Oxford, 417 pp., £19.50, February 1986, 9780195036145
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Labour and Love: Women’s Experience of Home and Family 1850-1940 
edited by Jane Lewis.
Blackwell, 274 pp., £25, February 1986, 0 631 13957 5
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... Marriage is still, despite evasive strategies by some of the young, the central decision of most people’s lives, and of the three events which structure population, the only one completely under human control. The control is not exclusively that of the leading participants: who is free to marry whom, for example, is defined by law. But for the most part the Western European marriage has been the result of a deliberate choice by two people ...

Clean Clothes

Rosalind Mitchison, 17 March 1988

Scottish Lifestyle 300 Years Ago 
by Helen Kelsall and Keith Kelsall.
John Donald, 224 pp., £10, September 1986, 0 85976 167 3
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Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850 
by Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall.
Hutchinson, 576 pp., £25, April 1987, 0 09 164700 2
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A Lasting Relationship: Parents and Children over Three Centuries 
by Linda Pollock.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 947795 25 1
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... The Kelsalls and Davidoff and Hall are worker pairs who have been looking into the family life of a restricted group over a halfcentury or so, using a wide range of the documentation generated by their subjects. Both groups studied were experiencing insecurity. The Scottish families were of landed class, made insecure by sudden changes in politics and in the control and policy of the Church; the English families a century later were of the emerging middle class, busy creating niches in the professions and in the world of manufacturing business ...

Somewhere else

Rosalind Mitchison, 19 May 1988

The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction 
by Bernard Bailyn.
Tauris, 177 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 1 85043 037 3
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Voyagers to the West: Emigration from Britain to America on the Eve of the Revolution 
by Bernard Bailyn.
Tauris, 668 pp., £29.50, April 1987, 1 85043 038 1
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Migration and Society in Early Modern England 
edited by Peter Clark and David Souden.
Hutchinson, 355 pp., £25, February 1988, 0 09 173220 4
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Gypsy-Travellers in 19th-Century Society 
by David Mayall.
Cambridge, 261 pp., £25, February 1988, 0 521 32397 5
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... The great thing to be determined was whether there was a Call from God or not.’ So wrote a missionary about his move to Australia in the 1880s. It is not a view expressed in that mysterious body of argument, migration theory, and this fact is a useful reminder of the limitations of that doctrine, which ranges from the fatuous to the sophisticated, but holds entirely to secular motivation ...

National Myths

Rosalind Mitchison, 20 November 1986

Domesday Economy: A New Approach to Anglo-Norman History 
by John McDonald and G.D. Snooks.
Oxford, 240 pp., £27.50, July 1986, 0 19 828524 8
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Scottish Literacy and the Scottish Identity: Illiteracy and Society in Scotland 
by R.A. Houston.
Cambridge, 352 pp., £27.50, December 1985, 0 521 26598 3
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A History of the Highland Clearances. Vol. II: Emigration, Protest, Reasons 
by Eric Richards.
Croom Helm, 543 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 7099 2259 0
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... These well-worn lines of Kipling’s encapsulate an enduring feature of the popular English concept of national history – its cosiness. Because of the remarkable quantity and quality of local documentary sources covering more than nine centuries, the historian of England is able to identify with them, and to throw the mantle of Victorian law-abiding domesticity over the past ...

British Facts

Rosalind Mitchison, 19 September 1985

Social Trends 15 
edited by Deo Ramprakash.
HMSO, 208 pp., £19.95, January 1985, 0 11 620102 9
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State of the World 1984: A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress toward a Sustainable Society 
by Lester Brown.
Norton, 252 pp., £7.95, December 1984, 0 393 30176 1
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The Facts of Everyday Life 
by Tony Osman.
Faber, 160 pp., £6.95, April 1985, 0 571 13513 7
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The State of the Nation: An Atlas of Britain in the Eighties 
by Stephen Fothergill and Jill Vincent, edited by Michael Kidron.
Heinemann/Pan, 128 pp., £12.50, May 1985, 0 435 35288 1
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British Social Attitudes: The 1985 Report 
edited by Roger Jowell and Sharon Witherspoon.
Gower, 260 pp., £18.50, July 1985, 9780566007385
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... These books all set out to tell us about ourselves, and to do it by quantification. Their statements are based on economic statistics, demography, official and unofficial measurements, including the measurement of opinion. Some of their conclusions will surprise, for no one reader can expect to have covered the full range of social activity. Their quality must depend on the quality of the ‘facts’ they elicit ...

Sewing furiously

Rosalind Mitchison, 7 March 1985

The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine 
by Rozsika Parker.
Women’s Press, 256 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 7043 2842 9
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Living the Fishing 
by Paul Thompson, Tony Wailey and Trevor Lummis.
Routledge, 398 pp., £13.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9508 2
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By the Sweat of their Brow: Women Workers at Victorian Coal Mines 
by Angela John.
Routledge, 247 pp., £4.95, February 1984, 0 7102 0142 7
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... Why should embroidery exist? Its aim is the enhancement of fabrics, and so it might be expected to flourish only when the manufacture of such fabrics is confined to plain products. Would there need to be embroidery on the best fabrics of the Persian world, or on the wonderful silks displayed in the Japanese exhibition of a few years back? Perhaps there would: personal or religious symbols might be demanded by persons of special status, and anyone likely to be able to afford the basic fabric would probably consider themselves special ...

Love, Loss and Family Advantage

Rosalind Mitchison, 1 September 1983

Family Forms in Historic Europe 
edited by Richard Wall.
Cambridge, 606 pp., £37.50, March 1983, 0 521 24547 8
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Servants in Husbandry in Early Modern England 
by Ann Kussmaul.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £22, December 1981, 0 521 23566 9
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The Subversive Family: An Alternative History of Love and Marriage 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Cape, 282 pp., £9.50, July 1982, 0 224 01999 6
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... Family Forms in Historic Europe is a collection of local studies from different parts of Europe, mostly based on ‘listings’: that is, on descriptions of the occupants of a local unit on a specific date, usually by household. Who is resident at any moment in a household depends on traditions of family structure, on birth, marriage and death rates, on the employment prospects of the inmates, or the needs of the family occupation, and sometimes on the active pressure of governing bodies, the landowner or the state ...

Light on a rich country

Rosalind Mitchison, 17 June 1982

The Population History of England 1541-1871: A Reconstruction 
by E.A. Wrigley and R.S. Schofield.
Edward Arnold, 779 pp., £45, October 1981, 0 7131 6264 3
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... The title of this book means what it says: it is about England, not England and Wales. The exclusion of the Celtic fringe can be explained by the very real difficulties which arise for some forms of historical reconstruction from the narrow range of Welsh surnames and the weakness of the Established Church in Wales. The work is based on the extraction of figures from parish registers, the Census, once it was established, ‘family reconstitution’ carried out for a dozen parishes, a central group of experts using sophisticated numerical methods in Cambridge and the strengths of computerisation ...

The Great Scots Education Hoax

Rosalind Mitchison, 18 October 1984

The Companion to Gaelic Scotland 
edited by Derick Thomson.
Blackwell, 363 pp., £25, December 1983, 0 631 12502 7
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Experience and Enlightenment: Socialisation for Cultural Changes in 18th-Century Scotland 
by Charles Camic.
Edinburgh, 301 pp., £20, January 1984, 0 85224 483 5
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Knee Deep in Claret: A Celebration of Wine and Scotland 
by Billy Kay and Cailean Maclean.
Mainstream, 232 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 906391 45 8
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Education and Opportunity in Victorian Scotland: Schools and Universities 
by R.D. Anderson.
Oxford, 384 pp., £25, July 1983, 0 19 822696 9
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Scotland: The Real Divide 
edited by Gordon Brown and Robin Cook.
Mainstream, 251 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 906391 18 0
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Wealth and Virtue: The Shaping of Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment 
edited by Istvan Hont and Michael Ignatieff.
Cambridge, 371 pp., £35, November 1983, 0 521 23397 6
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... Historians of any society have to learn to be wary of the accepted myths of their subject. Sometimes these bogus visions of the past are deliberately created or fostered by the governing group. Sometimes they come from an educated but perhaps unsophisticated middle class, anxious to gain historical sanction for its security and power. Sometimes these beliefs are the possession and creation of the working class ...

Scotland the Bashful

Chris Baur, 18 June 1981

... for political devolution – seemed to exhibit all the ‘protean strength’ which has fascinated Rosalind Mitchison in the collection she has edited of essays on Northern European nationalism.* Here was a community, as she points out, confirmed in its feeling of separateness and cultural integrity by institutions new and old – the modern machinery of ...

Joining them

Conrad Russell, 24 January 1985

Goodwin Wharton 
by J. Kent Clark.
Oxford, 408 pp., £15, November 1984, 0 19 212234 7
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Witchcraft and Religion 
by Christina Larner.
Blackwell, 184 pp., October 1984, 0 631 13447 6
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Lordship to Patronage: Scotland 1603-1745 
by Rosalind Mitchison.
Arnold, 198 pp., £5.95, November 1983, 0 7131 6313 5
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... show that she was attempting a genuinely comparative study of witchcraft in Europe. Like Professor Mitchison, Dr Larner saw Scotland in 1600 as having more in common with the continent of Europe than it did with its big southern neighbour, and she suggested that Scottish witchcraft cases had more in common with Continental than with English cases. This is true ...

Bullies

Jane Miller, 8 November 1979

Miss Herbert (The Suburban Wife) 
by Christina Stead.
Virago, 308 pp., £5.95
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... into the tradition of individualism, which in Sam tips so effortlessly into fascism, and which, as Rosalind Mitchison once put it, could mean permissiveness, but ‘could also mean the expression of the personality of the father at the expense of everyone else’. Too easy, because, as Christina Stead shows in this novel, there are other ...

Taking the hint

David Craig, 5 January 1989

The King’s Jaunt: George IV in Scotland, 1822 
by John Prebble.
Collins, 399 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 00 215404 8
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... with ‘care and detachment’ – unlike, apparently, the many other items in the bibliography of Rosalind Mitchison’s History of Scotland (1970, 1982) which are by civil servants and experts and therefore incapable of bias. Of course we must be alert and swallow nothing without due care. But when the scholars do manage to verify the eye-witness ...

Dismantling the class war

Paul Addison, 25 July 1991

The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol I.: Regions and Communities 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 608 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25788 3
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The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol II.: People and Their Environment 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 392 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25789 1
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The Temper of the Times: British Society since World War Two 
by Bill Williamson.
Blackwell, 308 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 631 15919 3
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... thing. Scotland and Wales are built into the brickwork in Volume One. ‘The haggis,’ writes Rosalind Mitchison, is ‘unmistakably the food of a poor nation’. In the same brisk tone she traces the distinctive features of the economic, political and religious history of Scotland up to 1850. For Christopher Smout the subsequent history of Scotland ...

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