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Bibliography of British and Irish History updated – March 2017 – “Guide for students”


The latest update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 23 March 2018. There are 3,738 new records. Of these some 633 new records relate to Irish history while 149 deal with the history of London, 276 with the history of Scotland and 90 with the history of Wales. The overall total of records available online is now 597,689.

To help students use the Bibliography we have created a “Guide for Students” page. It includes basic material on what a bibliography is, and why you should use one, as well as a case study. We plan to add additional material in the future.


So the basic question – why use a bibliography?

You’ve been given an essay on the impact of World War I on the home front; the changing nature of motherhood; the development of royal government under Henry III; or the representation of Jews in medieval England.

Where to start? You’ll probably already been given a reading list by your tutor. This is a basic bibliography – a listing of relevant books and journal articles covering a particular subject usually listed by author name. You may very well access this listing through your local VLE or Moodle account in which case links to local library holdings, and often online text, will be included.

So there’s no reason to go “off piste” and use another bibliography is there? Well no, not really. But if you are interested in the subject and feel additional research is needed, fine. And if you want your essay to stand out from the crowd, and for your tutor to know that you’ve gone the extra mile, it really helps (and your tutor will probably appreciate reading something more original).

It’s also a good habit to explore other options so that when you come to write your dissertation or long essay you are more aware of the resources available. Also increasingly, courses are assessing students on such additional resources whether they be primary sources, bibliographies or online material. And certainly if you are preparing for any post-graduate course knowledge of additional resources is paramount.

But of course everything is supposedly on Google or Google Books/Scholar or even available in huge databases such as EBSCO or JSTOR. So you don’t need a bibliography or to search a bibliography. Right again. But try searching for the above subjects on Google; what search terms to use; how to narrow searches; or access only academic material?

Google also remembers your previous searches, your language settings, your location, what you clicked on last – all of which will skew your search results.  And let’s face it who checks pages 3 onwards for Google results?

Again try searching EBSCO or JSTOR – full of incredibly useful academic material, but again what terms to use – The Great War, First World War, World War One, World War One? How can you filter these terms? Can you focus on one particular aspect of World War I, such as the impact of war on the people in northern England? Or how many resources were published in each decade afterward? Or, can you compile an historiographical outline on a given topic?

Using Henry III of England as an example: according to Wikipedia there are 16 entries for a “Henry III” from the Duke of Bavaria to the King of Navarre. Below lists the search results for a variety of resources looking for Henry III (of England).

Henry III
“Henry III”
“Henry III” England
Specialist search
Google 60,900,000 744,000 453,000 74,000 “Henry III” England
Google Books 474,000 277,000 173,000
JSTOR 151,464 4,626 3,552 2,933 ((“Henry III”) AND disc:(history-discipline)
Copac 52,915 6007 2755 569 (Henry III, King of England 1207-1272)
Historical Abstracts (EBSCO) 262 221 28 26 (PE ” HENRY III, King of England, 1207-1272″)
International Medieval Bibliography 552 255 (default to Henry III, King of England)
BBIH 820 317 (default to Henry III, king, 1207-1272)

All searches conducted during October 2016.

From the above table it seems obvious that a search on JSTOR, Copac, Historical Abstracts, IMB and BBIH provide the student with easy access to quality academic material on a relatively manageable scale.

I’m not saying don’t use Google or other search engines; and I’m not saying an online bibliography is the one-stop shop for all your research needs, but it should certainly be the first stop. From that initial manageable listing it’s then easier to undertake your research using Google Books or better still Google Scholar.

For help in searching Google – try using some of the search options.


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From Roman villa to brutalist architecture – homes, housing and households in BBIH



Cotterstock (2) Roman villa, mosaic pavements (from E. T. Artis, The Durobrivae of Antoninus (1828)) from British History Online

To celebrate the IHR Winter Conference 2018 entitled, Home: new histories of living it seems sensible to explore the theme in the Bibliography of British and Irish History.

There is much on Roman villas and their mosaics as well as articles on their interior decoration and layout such as Classical reception rooms in Romano-British houses which argues that by the late antique period the reception facilities and associated social life and conduct were as those found in other parts of the Roman Empire.

Moving to Anglo-Saxon and Viking Britain there is coverage of household goods including toys, combs, doors and furniture. A similar pattern is followed in the medieval period with highlights including Beds and chambers in late medieval England : readings, representations and realities which claims to be the first interdisciplinary study of the cultural meanings of beds and chambers. The book uses a range of literary and visual sources, including manuscript illumination, household goods, romances, saints’ lives, plays, wills, probate inventories as well as church and civil court documents. The article Space and gender in the later medieval English house uses “The Ballad of the Tyrannical Husband,” a late fifteenth-century text, that associates men with the outdoors and women with the home and the domestic. The article also draws upon probate inventories as well as archaeological evidence and contrasts peasant and bourgeois society as shown in the physical fabric and furnishings of homes.

Probate records and inventories are a useful source for not only furnishing but also the arrangement and interior decoration of the household. The book Women’s voices in Tudor wills, 1485-1603 : authority, influence and material culture  has a chapter The dispersal of assets: undressing the house, undressing the body that looks specifically at the household arrangements including the use of the parlour as a dining room and, as women aged, a bedchamber.

Christopher Dyer’s article, Living in peasant houses in late medieval England also uses probate inventories (mainly of fifteenth-century Yorkshire) revealing the use of furniture in halls, chambers and kitchens. The use of probate records and regional history is carried over in two further works: The material culture of the tradesmen of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1545-1642 : the Durham probate record evidence and From flock to feather and harden to holland : an investigation of the beds of Nottingham through the use of probate inventories 1688-1757 (East Midland Historian, 11, 2001 p. 47-57).

Looking at influences on taste and interior decoration, the long eighteenth-century covers both oriental influence (chinoiserie) and classical influences. The oriental influences include wallpapers, tapestries and, of course, porcelain and highlights include Fashioning bluestocking conversation : Elizabeth Montagu’s Chinese room (contained in Architectural space in eighteenth-century Europe: Constructing identities and interiors) and “Luscious Colors and Glossy Paint” : The taste for China and the consumption of color in eighteenth-century England (in The materiality of color : The production, circulation, and application of dyes and pigments, 1400–1800).

There is much more on classical influences on interior decoration and design. Ranging from articles on Inigo Jones in Representations of Inigo Jones’s Banqueting House : Development of sketches and architectural symbolism and From timber to plaster : Inigo Jones’s ceiling designs and London artisans in the 1630s (London Topographical Record, 31, 2015, p. 50-62) to monographs such as,  James ‘Athenian’ Stuart 1713-1788 : the rediscovery of antiquity. 

The work of Robert Adam is discussed in Fashion and function : the decoration of the library at Kenwood in context (contained in The country house : material culture and consumption; edited by Jon Stobart and Andrew Hann). The Stobart and Hann book leads us nicely into the Victorian/Edwardian country house era made popular by the Downton Abbey effect.

Taking a slightly different tack, let’s explore the demise of the country house in Lost mansions : essays on the destruction of the country house which covers Ireland, Scotland and the Marks Hall estate in Essex. The effects of World War One are explored in The country house and the Great War : Irish and British experiences. In Ireland the demise of the “big house” was hastened by the continuing wars (the subject even warrants a page on Wikipedia). Examples of articles on the subject include, The burning of country houses in Co. Offaly during the revolutionary period, 1920-3 (in The Irish country house). Big house burnings in County Cork during the Irish Revolution, 1920–21; and The destruction of the country house in Ireland, 1879-1973 (in Lost mansions).

The ruins of Moore Hall, County Mayo, abandoned after being burnt down by the IRA in 1923 (Wikipedia)

Of course not everyone lived in country houses. The growth in philanthropy and social reform led to a concern for the living conditions of the rural and urban poor in slums. Attempts to rectify the situation included the gardens city movement, new towns, local and central government involvement, private charity including the establishment of almshouses, and the work of town planners and architects.

The title of this piece opened with Roman villas and ended with Brutalist architecture – for which we have “Group-cum-Brutalism”? Highgate Spinney, London, 1964–66, discussion of a five-story block of 30 flats designed by John Howard and Bruce Rotherham. Ben Highmore’s The art of Brutalism : rescuing hope from catastrophe in 1950s Britain not only explores the style adopted by painters, sculptors and other artists but also examines the styles influence on consumer culture and the domestic settings including the impact on the Ideal Home Exhibition.

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British History Online and the Bibliography of British and Irish History – not just British


From the titles of some of the IHR’s digital resources, you might think that they have limited geographical reach: British History Online…the Bibliography of British and Irish History. But the real world overspills geographical boundaries and the digital world even more so.

1655 engravure of the islands Amboyna (top) and Nera (bottom). National Maritime Museum, London

British History Online has much more to offer than British history, even though that is naturally the focus. Series like the Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations and the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial (which, despite the title, includes relations with China and Japan!) have an explicitly global reach. There is also the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, America and West Indies. For example, after the 1624 Amboyna Massacre, the bloody outcome of a power struggle over the spice trade between Great Britain and the Netherlands, we can read that the East Indian company agreed to distribute 1,000 copies of its account of the massacre in Dutch “to be sent over”, i.e. to what is now Indonesia, and that “there shall be set upon the front of each book the arms of this Company, in token that they avow them to be true”. Faith in the word of international corporations was clearly greater then than now.

Stamp commemorating Irish monks arriving in Iceland

The Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) also offers more internationally than its title suggests. It covers the history of British and Irish relations with the rest of the world, including the British Empire and the Commonwealth and the American Colonies. As an example, searching on Iceland brings up early medieval Irish missions there; a range of cultural relations – for instance the influence of the sagas on British and Irish literary tradition; British visitors such as the naturalist Sir Joseph Banks to Iceland; trade relations including the voyage of the “Marigold” in 1654; foreign relations during World War II and the American and British occupation of the island; and the so-called cod wars over fishing rights of the 1970s. The image below shows hotspots for BBIH’s world coverage:

Of course IHR resources are not just global in scope, they are global in audience. This opens up scholarship to the world. Those who cannot attend IHR lectures can enjoy them as videos and podcasts from anywhere in the world. Since 2009 the IHR has produced over 800 podcasts, encompassing not only its acclaimed and unique seminar series, but also one-off talks and conferences. Those who cannot attend training courses can access training online training.

British History Online has received thanks from researchers across the world for providing free access to volumes that are hard to obtain where they live and work. BBIH has subscribers all over the world including the USA, most European countries, Australia, Japan and Taiwan. The reach of IHR is truly global.

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BBIH and the occult (for History Day 2017)


As 31 October looms we all know what that means, no not Halloween, but History Day. And of course the theme this year is the occult and all things that go bump in the night. BBIH is a big supporter of History Day –  it’s well organised with lots of participants and interesting panel sessions. It also gives BBIH the opportunity to showcase research on this year’s theme – the occult and its many facets. So grab your broomstick, cauldron, and crystal ball and we’ll delve into the world of the dark arts.

Naturally BBIH has lots of material on the occult. The snapshot from the subject tree shows the range of search terms that can be used.


A search on the broader term Occult beliefs and practices brings up over 1500 entries including witchcraft trails, the devil in post-Reformation Scotland and British Intelligence and the occult in the Second World War.

The term Magic (occult), as opposed to entertainment, has nearly 300 entries covering the subject from the Roman period to imperial history with the article amulets from Roman London, the Sophie Page book, Magic in the cloister: pious motives, illicit interests, and occult approaches to the medieval universe,  a Tudor necromancer’s manual, and the West Indian obeah belief.

Of course there is much on witches and witchcraft trails, and specific places can be searched for, such as the witches of Pendle Forest as well as the clerk of the court who recorded the proceedings, Thomas Potts.

Witchcraft also features in dramas (and not only by Shakespeare), as in the case of The Witch of Edmonton by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford.  Of course, witches are often associated with the early modern period, but there are medieval examples, as in the trail of Eleanor Duchess of Gloucester in 1441, as well as more modern examples such as Helen Duncan, the last witch to be prosecuted in Britain and the “wickedest man in the world”, Aleister Crowley.

Other areas of witchcraft to be considered (apart from the usual trials) are the influence of emotions, as explored in Emotions in the history of witchcraft by Laura Kouine and Michael Ostling, which includes the chapter, Tyrannical beasts: Male witchcraft in early modern English culture. Other fruitful subjects of research may be the witches’ familiar discussed in Guardian spirits or demonic pets : the concept of the witch’s familiar in early modern England, 1530-1712 (a chapter in The animal/human boundary: historical perspectives).

Additional related topics are alchemy, as well as its associated personalities such as the mathematician, astrologer, and antiquarian John Dee, and of course spiritualism. Searching on Spiritualism and Photography (prompted by the IHR exhibition Accusations of Witchcraft featuring a photograph of the aforementioned Helen Duncan) brings up a list of useful articles.

The term “Prophecy and prediction” (which includes astrology) naturally covers religious elements, such as mysticism, but also includes dreams, politics, the influence of history, and printed media as well as personalities such as Joanna Southcott and Lady Eleanor Davies.

Whatever your research topic you’re bound to find something of interest in BBIH and at History Day 2017.

Detail of a miniature of a phoenix burning, Harley 4751 f. 45 British Library

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Bibliography of British and Irish History updated – October 2017 – Sleep, dreams and colours


An update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 4th October. 5,233 new records have been added. Some 513 new records relate to Irish history while 267 deal with the history of London, 451 with the history of Scotland and 189 with the history of Wales.  The overall total of records available online is 594,068.

We are always looking to improve our subject indexing and coverage and have added a number of new terms to the thesaurus reflecting recent developments in history. “Colours”, “Dreams”, and “Sleep” have all been added and are now searchable by “Subject tree” search in BBIH.

Sasha Handley’s book Sleep in early modern England prompted the addition of “Sleep” as an index term. While most of the references refer to literary representations (“Watching the sleeper in Macbeth) or religious aspects (“The Nyghtes Watchys”: Sleep deprivation in medieval devotional culture) there are also insights into the social aspects of sleep (Norms, forms and beds: Spatializing sleep in Victorian Britain and Sociable sleeping in early modern England, 1660–1760).

Naturally with sleep there are dreams (and nightmares). The book Dreams in early modern England: “Visions of the night” by Janine Rivière led to the addition of “Dreams” to the list of subjects. As with sleep there are literary or cultural references (Prophecies, dreams, and the plays of John Lyly, a chapter in Staging the superstitions of early modern Europe ), and religious aspects (Dreaming and emotion in early evangelical religion, a chapter in Heart religion: evangelical piety in England & Ireland, 1690-1850).

There are also medical viewpoints to dreams as in Forgotten dreams: Recalling the patient in British psychotherapy, 1945–60 and Demons of desire or symptoms of disease? Medical theories and popular experiences of the “nightmare” in premodern England (a chapter in Dreams, dreamers, and visions: the early modern Atlantic world). Intellectual views are explored in Visions, dreams, and the discernment of prophetic passion: Sense and reason in the writings of the Cambridge Platonists and John Beale, 1640–60 (a chapter in Angels of light?: sanctity and the discernment of spirits in the early modern period).

As for “Colour”, references naturally point to the aesthetics of colour in the arts including illuminated manuscripts but also to technological developments in film (Colour films in Britain: the negotiation of innovation 1900-55), television (The techno-politics of colour: Britain and the European struggle for a colour television standard) and the dyeing industry (Johann Peter Griess FRS (1829–88): Victorian brewer and synthetic dye chemist).

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Baseball…it’s just not cricket: baseball and British and Irish history


Baseball and British history – not, you think, a natural pairing. It’s then surprising to learn that there are enough references to baseball in BBIH to warrant a blog.

A woodcut from “A Little Pretty Pocket-Book” (1744) England, showing a reference to baseball

There is little on the development of the sport, unlike the lengthy discussions available on the development of football (the association not the American kind).

Highlights from the collection include the nationalistic and sneering response to the game, such as “That’s your way of playing rounders, isn’t it”? The response of the English press to American baseball tours to England, 1874-1924”. The sporting coverage is also explored in Embracing sporting news in England and America: nineteenth-century cricket and baseball news (a chapter in Anglo-American media interactions, 1850-2000).

There is some material on London including Baseball in East London before the war, British baseball and the West Ham club: history of a 1930s professional team in East London and A very peculiar practice: the London Baseball League, 1906-1911.

Picking up on imperial themes, there’s Why baseball, why cricket? Differing nationalisms, differing challenges which asks why India and Pakistan play cricket and the USA does not. A night at Delmonico’s: the Spalding baseball tour and the imagination of Empire looks at parts of the tour by Albert Spalding, particularly the contrasting results of the visits to Australia and Britain, while Similar economic histories, different industrial structures: transatlantic contrasts in the evolution of professional sports leagues contrasts the histories of the English Football League and the National Baseball League.

The issue of class is raised in “Poor man’s cricket”: baseball, class and community in south Wales c.1880-1950 which documents the origins of the sport in south Wales and its development that was said to be ‘slowly ingratiating itself into the favour of the masses’ and became part of the local popular culture.

Even more unexpected is the history of Irish involvement with baseball. As Jerrold Casway notes in his biography, Ed Delahanty in the emerald age of baseball  – “Baseball for Irish kids was a shortcut to the American dream and to self-indulgent glory and fortune”. The Irish in baseball: an early history surveys the contribution of the Irish to the American pastime and the ways in which Irish immigrants and baseball came of age together. It looks at the role of the Irish in Boston, Chicago and Baltimore. Anti-Irish job discrimination circa 1880 : evidence from major league baseball shows that Irish players outperformed non-Irish players both on average and at the margin and were generally relegated to less central positions in the field but were less likely to be hired as managers. Finally there is the chapter, “Slide, Kelly, slide” : the Irish in American baseball in New perspectives on the Irish diaspora and Glimpses of the Irish contribution to early baseball by John P. Rossi in the journal Éire-Ireland (1988).

However, it was not entirely a one-way road as the chapter by Sara Brady, Playing ‘Irish’ sport on baseball’s hallowed ground: the 1947 All-Ireland Gaelic Football Final makes clear (in After the flood: Irish America 1945-1960).

Recent additions (both due to appear in the October update) include Nine innings for the King: the day wartime London stopped for baseball, July 4, 1918 by Jim Leeke and his article Royal match: the Army-Navy service game, July 4, 1918, based on the same event, in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture. For historians and baseball fans this journal covers a wide range of topics from racism in the sport (including the Ku Klux Klan), media representation (radio and film) the various baseball tours including Japan and Taiwan and, of course, Babe Ruth.


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After 1967: homosexuality in the Bibliography of British and Irish History


It seems more than timely to write something about the LGBT community. Pride has just taken place in London; Tate Britain has an exhibition – Queer British art 1861-1967; the British Museum has Desire, love, identity exploring LGBT histories from its collection; and the Walker Art Gallery has Coming out: Art and culture 1967-2017. Even Radio 4 has produced as series on Queer Icons. And of course it’s the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which led to the partial decriminalization of male homosexuality in England, as well as the 60th anniversary of the Wolfenden Report (1957), which itself led to the 1967 Act.

Needless to say much has been written on homosexuality in British, Irish and British imperial history (BBIH has over 800 references). It seems invidious to pick out particular books or articles so I’ve gone for the easy option and picked the first 25 references from BBIH (as of July 2017).

Fortunately the list offers a wide range of topics. Different localities are represented by Mandate Palestine, the Indian North West Frontier, London (of course) and south Wales (For our common cause: Sexuality and left politics in South Wales, 1967–1985). Date coverage is equally wide-ranging from early modern England to a 1609 sea voyage to the near present. As for subjects, there are representations of gay people in literature, film and caricature, cross-dressing, AIDS, religious thought, church reactions, legal implications, psychology and disability (Libertine Sexuality and Queer-Crip Embodiment in Eighteenth-Century Britain).

As for the authors, it’s encouraging to see a number of the leading historians of gender and sexuality in the list. Harry Cocks is represented by his article Conspiracy to corrupt public morals and the ‘unlawful’ status of homosexuality in Britain after 1967 which explains the ‘partial decriminalization’ with the continued prosecution of homosexuality. Indeed his latest book, Visions of Sodom: religion, homoerotic desire, and the end of the world in England, c. 1550-1850, is just out (and just added to BBIH). There is also cultural historian Matt Cook and his discussion of AIDS in London, AIDS and the 1980s, a chapter in Sex, time and place: queer histories of London, c.1850 to the present. Also present is Lesley A. Hall and her article ‘Sentimental Follies’ or ‘Instruments of Tremendous Uplift’? Reconsidering women’s same-sex relationships in interwar Britain.

People (as subjects) to pick out from the list are (inevitably) Wilde in Oscar Wilde prefigured: queer fashioning and British caricature, 1750-1900, Francis Bacon in ‘Famous for the paint she put on her face’: London’s painted poofs and the self-fashioning of Francis Bacon (another chapter from Sex, time and place), Constance Maynard in Religion, Same-Sex Desire, and the Imagined Geographies of Empire: the case of Constance Maynard (1849–1935), and Wolfenden himself in Wolfenden’s witnesses: homosexuality in postwar Britain, as well as references to the contemporary author Alan Hollinghurst and Victorian painter Simeon Solomon.

Of course the Sexual Offences Act only applied to England and Wales. Charting the slower change in Scotland you can do no better than look at the works of  Roger Davidson and Gayle Davis.


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Embroidery, needlework and seamstresses – stitches in the fabric of history


My interest was piqued in embroidery by the book Stiching the world: embroidered maps and women’s geographical education in which Judith Tyner describes schoolgirls in Britain and the United States creating embroidered map samplers and even silk globes designed to teach the girls, not only needlework, but geography. I’ve been meaning to write something on needlework/embroidery for some time now and have been spurred on by two new references that I’ve just documented for BBIH.

The first is a chapter in the marvellous book Hardwick Hall: a great old castle of romance, entitled The embroidery and needlework of Bess of Hardwick by Emma Slocombe which charts Bess’s acquisition and creation of embroidery and needlework for the hall. The chapter is of particular importance as this period witnessed the transition of embroidery from ecclesiastic requirements to a more secular form in the interior decoration of elite houses. The book also features tapestries as well as bed coverings and drapery.

The second is En souvenir du roi Guillaume. La broderie de Bayeux by Xavier Barral I Altet which reinvestigates the embroidery adding to a long list of existing investigations.

But of course embroidery existed before Bayeux. Laura Michele Diener’s Sealed with a stitch: Embroidery and gift-giving among Anglo-Saxon women (Medieval Prosopography, 29, 2014) and Fiona Griffiths’ “Like the sister of Aaron”: medieval religious women as makers and donors of liturgical textiles show the importance of the art in Anglo-Saxon England. While Jenifer Ní Ghrádaigh’s chapter, Mere embroiderers? Women and art in early medieval Ireland extends that geographical importance.

The Victoria and Albert museum recently held an exhibition on the Opus Anglicanum: masterpieces of English medieval embroidery producing a sumptuous catalogue, English medieval embroidery : Opus Anglicanum.

Of course many such outstanding examples of embroidery are found in ecclesiastical vestments. Frank and Peter Rhodes discuss such examples looking especially at the flowers on English copes and chasubles in their article, Medieval embroidered “water flowers”.

Terry Moore-Scott discusses the Minsterworth embroidery (an embroidered panel made up from a pre-Reformation liturgical vestment) and gives a better understanding of its intriguing history and survival since the Reformation. (Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 132, 2014).

Meanwhile, Catherine Walden takes the research further and details the episcopal vestments on funerary effigies, corroborated by existing textile fragments and descriptions of garments in the inventories of churches in her chapter, ‘So lyvely in cullers and gilting’: vestments on episcopal tomb effigies in England (in Dressing the part: textiles as propaganda in the Middle Ages).

The importance of embroidery and ecclesiastical vestments continued into the early modern period as demonstrated by Sophie Holroyd’s chapter “Rich embrodered churchstuffe”: the vestments of Helena Wintour (in Catholic culture in early modern England). Helena was the daughter of Thomas Winter, one of the Gunpowder plotters. A more detailed look at her life and embroidery is contained in Plots and spangles: the embroidered vestments of Helena Wintour.

For a meticulous look at the commissioning, production, materials and significance of embroidered motifs, Cynthia Jackson documents all this in ‘Powdered with armes ymages and angels’: an early Tudor contract for embroidered vestments. She also considers the relationship between the embroiderer and the mercer and the ways in which they collaborated to produce garments for royalty, the nobility and an increasing number of wealthy citizens.

Amanda Pullan’s article ‘Informed seeing’: Reading the seventeenth-century embroidered cabinet at Milton Manor House through its historical and social contexts, examines the cabinet and its display of biblical scenes in part showing the transition from ecclesiastical to decorative use while maintaining a foothold in the religious camp.

A more categorical move from ecclesiastical to secular is demonstrated in the chapter, Polite war: Material culture of the Jacobite era, 1688-1760 (in Living with Jacobitism, 1690-1788: the three kingdoms and beyond). Here, Jennifer L. Novotny discusses the household goods and material culture, including wall hangings and samplers, of Jacobitism.

A more recent article in some ways continues the theme of Judith Tyner. Performing curiosity: re-viewing women’s domestic embroidery in seventeenth-century England, by Mary M. Brooks, describes a specific type of pictorial, decorative embroidery, usually learnt in school and practiced in the home. While an indicator of status and wealth, these “curious works” are placed within the changing concept and practice of curiosity (and education) in early modern England.

The relationship between needlework and writing (and women’s education) is explored further in Dress culture in late Victorian women’s fiction: literacy, textiles, and activism by Christine Bayles Kortsch. While examining the inextricable relationship between the material culture of dress and sewing, Kortsch documents how stitching samplers continued to be a way of acculturating girls in print literacy. She  explores nineteenth-century women’s education, sewing and needlework, mainstream fashion, alternative dress movements, and female labour in the textile industry.

The role and representation of the seamstress is provided by Lyn Mae Alexander’s Women, work, and representation: needlewomen in Victorian art and literatureUsing literary examples from Dickens and Gaskell, visual representations by Millais and others, as well as illustrations from the periodical press, she outlines the working conditions of the professional seamstress – the long hours, very small wages, isolation and helplessness, creating powerful image of working-class suffering that appealed to the sensibilities of the social reformers and helped stimulate public opinion in the need for reform.

The Seamstress; or, the White Slave of England (George W. M. Reynolds)

The rise of “art embroidery” during the nineteenth century and the developing commercial ventures as well as the significance of the embroidery business to female employment is revealed in Linda Cluckie’s The rise and fall of art needlework: its socio-economic and cultural aspects. The commercial side of embroidery mobilized activity through numerous agencies such as department stores, depots and charitable institutions. However the working conditions of the female labour is explored in such chapters entitled, Suitable employment for women; Sweated labour and the need for radical change; and Beyond the sweated trades, all indicative of those conditions.

Not all women were subjected to “sweated labour”. One such example, Matilda Pullan, made a career of needlework instructor and periodical contributor. Forced by personal circumstance, she became one of the most prolific contributors of needlework patterns, generating her own income that allowed her to become financially independent through her widowhood and spousal separation. Her life is charted in Threads of life: Matilda Marian Pullan (1819-1862), needlework instruction, and the periodical press by Marianne Van Remoortel.

I’ll end on a poignant article, Wilful design: The sampler in nineteenth-century Britain in which Chloe Flower uses the autobiographical sampler from the needle of a 17-year-old Sussex girl named Elizabeth Parker worked in 1830. It recounts Parker’s childhood experiences in domestic service, and the physical abuse and sexual assault that led her to contemplate suicide, all compressed into 46 lines of cross-stitch. The same sad life is also explored in Maureen Daly Goggin’s chapter, Stitching a Life in “Pen of Steele and Silken Inke”: Elizabeth Parker’s circa 1830 Sampler in (Women and the material culture of needlework and textiles, 1750–1950); as well as in Nigel Llewellyn’s, Elizabeth Parker’s ‘Sampler’: memory, suicide and the presence of the artist (in Material memories: Design and evocation).

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Bibliography of British and Irish History updated (June 2017) and journal coverage


An update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 20 June. 4, 455 new records have been added. Some 612 new records relate to Irish history while 237 deal with the history of London, 354 with the history of Scotland and 125 with the history of Wales. The overall total of records available online is now 588,873.

We regularly search for content relevant to the Bibliography in a large range of journals (over 780 are checked).  We also consider new journals (both in print and open access) and assess whether or not to add a new journal to the list. If any users think we have missed a new journal please contact us via the feedback form.


Recent additions have included Manuscript Studies, History of Retailing and Consumption, Cultural History, British Journal for Military History and Early Modern Women.







If you have access to the online Bibliography, you can also see journal coverage by selecting “Coverage” from the main menu on the search page, and then selecting the “Currently searched systematically for relevant material” radio button.  Note that items from journals or series that we have decided to cover only recently may not be included in the published Bibliography yet.


We expect the next update to be released in October 2017.


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“War and militarism, attitudes to” searching for war and peace in BBIH


With the ending of the Radical Voices exhibition at Senate House, the People Power: Fighting for Peace exhibition at the IWM about to begin, and the re-opening of the National Army Museum, it seems like an appropriate time to look at war in BBIH.

In the Subject tree, “War and militarism, attitudes to” is the broad term which includes, as lower terms, Militarism, Pacifism, and Anti-conscription, while Pacifism itself is a broader term for Conscientious objection and Peace Society. Thus searching for “War and militarism, attitudes to” will bring up all of these terms.

Taking a chronological approach and beginning with Anglo-Saxon England we kick off with Looking back in Anger: Wrath in Anglo-Saxon England. This article not only examines the emotion of anger using the Old English language anger vocabulary, but also looks at how religious conversion brought new attitudes to the emotional response to war, especially to an Anglo-Saxon warrior culture, where anger played a role in constructing a man’s honour and helped him excel in battle. The article uses quotes from the poem the Battle of Maldon.

Religious responses to warfare are also discussed in An Abbot, an Archbishop and the Viking Raids of 1006-7 and 1009-12 which uses Ælfric, abbot of Eynsham, and Wulfstan, archbishop of York reflections, prayer and representation in the coinage and in charter evidence. The Viking raids of 1006 are further explored in Landscape and Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England and the Viking Campaign of 1006 . This argues that certain types of place were considered particularly appropriate for the performance of violent conflict throughout this period and that these locales are recoverable through an interdisciplinary analysis of landscapes, place names and texts.

The themes of the religious response to warfare and the role of masculinity are continued in the Warrior Churchmen of Medieval England, 1000-1250 : Theory and Reality which looks at the role of Odo Bishop of Bayeux and earl of Kent, and Geoffrey bishop of Coutances. This theme is continued in the recent book, The church at war : the military activities of bishops, abbots, and other clergy in England, c.900-1200.

Covering the later medieval period we start with The Hundred Years War in literature, 1337-1600 which charts the narration of the war in English literature, from contemporary chroniclers and poets, such as Chaucer and Lydgate, to later polemicists and playwrights looking back on their medieval past. The book also includes the dramas of Shakespeare as well as anonymous chroniclers, balladeers and agonising eyewitness accounts of warfare.

The collective volume, Emotions and War : Medieval to Romantic Literature, includes the following medieval chapters, Emotional Responses to Medieval Warfare in the History of William Marshal, and Moving to War: Rhetoric and Emotion in William Worcester’s Boke of Noblesse. Another chapter moves on to the later period:  ‘I was enforced to become an eyed witnes’ : Documenting War in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, while others cover the British civil wars, the American Revolution in North Carolina, and Henry Crabb Robinson’s Letters to The Times, 1808–9 covering the Peninsular Wars.

The conflict between war and religious thought continues during the later medieval period and the Lollard view of the just war is discussed in John Wyclif on War and Peace which includes a chapter entitled, The Medieval Pacifist.

Increasingly, as one may expect, the role of chivalry comes to the fore. There is Chivalry, War and Clerical Identity : England and Normandy c. 1056-1226 in Ecclesia et Violentia : Violence Against the Church and Violence within the Church in the Middle Ages which also harks back to the involvement of the clergy; and English Writings on Chivalry and Warfare during the Hundred Years War in Soldiers, nobles and gentlemen : essays in honour of Maurice Keen.

For the early modern period we have Trauma Narratives of the English Civil War which explores the psychological impact and after effects of the war. Its main points of focus are the expressions of personal as well as collective trauma caused by this conflict. In this context, the discussion places the ways in which war experiences were narrated in relation to wider conceptualizations of traumatic damage to the mind.

The chapter Early Modern War Writing and the British Civil Wars discusses the growth of martial writing in the 16th and 17th centuries and, of course covers the Civil War. It charts the classical influences and the use of eyewitness accounts and the use of powerful language reflecting strong military command. This aspect of language is also explored in the chapter, ‘Broken Verses across a Bloodied Land’ : Violence and the Limits of Language in the English Civil War (in Aspects of Violence in Renaissance Europe).

In addition, there is Parliamentary Politics and the Politics of the Street : The London Peace Campaigns of 1642-3 which argues that Londoners were more lukewarm towards parliament and its campaign than received accounts would lead us to believe. After the battle of Edgehill people quickly lost their appetite for further conflict and an increasingly large minority campaigned actively for peace.

The role of the Quakers is also highlighted in the chapter, The “Lamb’s war” and the origins of the Quaker peace testimony, contained in The pacifist impulse in historical perspective, as well as the article The Early Quakers, the Peace Testimony and Masculinity in England, 1660–1720. The latter considers the Friends’ pacifism and its relation to masculinity, including its relation to Quaker rejections of domestic violence and to the violence of the alehouses. The article also highlights how seventeenth- and twentieth-century interpretations of pacifism differed.

Of course Quakerism, and other non-conformists, are associated with the conscientious objectors of World War I. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, for the 18th and 19th century and more especially the Napoleonic Wars are also covered in the article Christian heroes, providence, and patriotism in wartime Britain, 1793–1815.  Evangelicals sought to resolve tensions between heroism, virtue, masculinity, religiosity and war by advancing a different set of ideals, a difficult task in a highly charged patriotic society. A less salubrious view of the military is explored in Scarlet Fever: Female Enthusiasm for Men in Uniform, 1780-1815 in Britain’s Soldiers : Rethinking War and Society, 1715-1815  which outlines a ‘dangerous disorder prevalent in wartime’, principally afflicting women.

Of course much of our view of attitudes to war is coloured by  World War I and the conscientious objector. With over a thousand references it is hard to pick out a couple of books or articles. However, taking us to the most recent wars we have Going to War : British Debates from Wilberforce to Blair and The March that Shook Blair : An Oral History of 15 February 2003. The march and reactions to it are further explored in Local Press Reporting of Opposition to the 2003 Iraq War in the UK and the Case for Reconceptualizing Notions of Legitimacy and Deviance. The parliamentary ramifications are also deliberated in Challenging the Royal Prerogative : The Decision on War against Iraq in Parliamentary Debates in 2002–3.

The above is simply an outline of references available on BBIH – that’s without exploring specific wars, civil-military relations, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament or the Greenham Common peace activists.

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