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Material Girl – Amanda Vickery Behind Closed Doors

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The emergence of material culture as a subject for historical enquiry has brought to the fore the question of what constitute ‘proper’ sources for ‘proper’ history. Amanda Vickery’s new book Behind Closed Doors. At Home in Georgian England (a follow up to her very influential earlier work on Georgian England) combines the old and the new, utilising both an impressive array of original archival evidence as well as a kaleidoscopic range of material sources.

It is reviewed here by Helen Berry, who also points out that it is the manner in which sources are interrogated which is sometimes seen to confer authenticity on history. From this perspective resources like the Old Bailey Proceedings Online, which can substitute a search taking seconds for what might previously have been days in an archive, can be considered akin to cheating.