Pen and Sword Books

#Review A History Of Cadbury by Diane Wordsworth @DMWordsworth #AHistoryOfCadbury #Historical #NonFiction @penswordbooks

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When John Cadbury came to Birmingham in 1824, he sold tea, coffee and drinking chocolate in a small shop on Bull Street. Drinking chocolate was considered a healthy alternative to alcohol, something Cadbury, a Quaker, was keen to encourage.

In 1879, the Cadburys moved to Bournville and created their ‘factory in a garden’ – an unprecedented move. It is now ironic that today’s Bournville is surrounded by that urban sprawl the Cadburys were so keen to get away from.

This book looks at some of the social impact this company has had since its inception, both on the chocolate and cocoa business in general and on the community at large, both within and without the firm of Cadbury.

In 2024, Cadbury’s will be celebrating 200 years of the first store opening. This is the story of how the company began, how it grew, and how they diversified in order to survive

This book is a chocolate lovers dream!! After all who doesn’t love chocolate? If there is people out there in the big wide world who choose not to like chocolate, then they are definitely not amongst my sphere…I cannot think of anything worse then disliking chocolate! How can you not like Cadbury’s Roses? Or Dairy Milk? Surely that is a mortal sin? Anyway enough of my waffling, I need to tell you about this wonderfully delicious book – a book which was consumed along with – yes, you got it; Chocolate!

So for all those – in opinion – odd people out there who have a thing against chocolate and I am not talking about people with allergies or diabetics then maybe this not be the book for you, but saying that this is all about the glorious history of the firm – and not just the sweet stuff!

The book documents the entire history of this much loved company, I think everyone has fond memories associated with Cadbury chocolate and it was fascinating to read into it’s history. From it’s small start as a tea shop in Bull Street, Birmingham set up by John Cadbury in 1824, John was from a Quaker family and he was also an advocate for temperance which is why he chose to go down the chocolate path – and aren’t we all pleased he did? His tea shop was a hit especially as he sold hot chocolate but it wasn’t until the firm was passed to his son’s that the Cadbury name was really established. His son’s Richard and George had real vision, they saw an opening in the market, they knew with a little tweaking that their business could be a success – honestly these lads had smart heads on their shoulders.

What I particularly like about this book is that Ms Wordsworth really educates the reader not just in the history of the firm itself, but with the people. From reader this it is obvious that the Cadbury’s unlike other employer’s at the time genuinely cared for their workers’, they cared about the workers needs and most important they genuinely cared for their workers health and helping them progress in life and I found that far more fascinating then the history of the business.

Ms Wordsworth does a wonderful job at walking the reader through the many changes in the Cadbury history, right from those very early days, right to Cadbury’s lofty heights and back again to now and how it has changed with being apart of Kraft. The writer has obviously done considerable research and that passion for the subject comes through her writing.

This is a great little read and highly recommend not just for those who love their chocolate but also it is a fascinating insight into a family who strove to create a business that would last throughout the years.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Rosie!

A History of Cadbury can be purchased from Amazon and Pen and Sword.

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#Review A History Of Women In Medicine; Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches? by Sinead Spearing @sineadspearing #AhistoryOfWomenInMedicine #WomensHistory @penswordbooks

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I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of this amazing book; A History of Women in History (Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches) by Sinead Spearing, so sit back grab a cuppa and let me tell you all about this brilliant book.

Witch’ is a powerful word with humble origins. Once used to describe an ancient British tribe known for its unique class of female physicians and priestesses, it grew into something grotesque, diabolical and dangerous. A History of Women in Medicine: From Physicians to Witches? reveals the untold story of forgotten female physicians, their lives, practices and subsequent demonisation as witches. Originally held in high esteem in their communities, these women used herbs and ancient psychological processes to relieve the suffering of their patients. Often travelling long distances, moving from village to village, their medical and spiritual knowledge blended the boundaries between physician and priest. These ancient healers were the antithesis of the witch figure of today; instead they were knowledgeable therapists commanding respect, gratitude and high social status.

In this pioneering work, Sinead Spearing draws on current archeological evidence, literature, folklore, case studies and original religious documentation to bring to life these forgotten healers. By doing so she exposes the elaborate conspiracy conceived by the Church to corrupt them in the eyes of the world. Turning these women from benevolent therapists into the embodiment of evil required a fabricated theology to ensure those who collected medicinal herbs or practiced healing, would be viewed by society as dealing with the devil. From this diabolical association, female healers could then be labeled witches and be justly tortured and tried in the ensuing hysteria known today as the European witch craze.

Well, what a fascinating, illuminating and at times quite harrowing book. I literally finished this in one day, I was completely hooked from the first page. I hate to say it, but before reading this I hadn’t heard of this author before – and I do feel awful for saying that. I’m very sorry, Sinead!

I was intrigued by the book the moment I spotted it and knew I had to read it and I am so pleased that I got the chance to. It is a remarkable read, I found it to be very hard-hitting and yet sensitive to those women it tells the stories of, it is a book that should be read by everyone, not just women who like me are interested in women’s history and celebrating how wonderful these women were but by all. I can guarantee there will be something within these pages that will intrigue everyone.

I really like how this is written, it not only tells the stories of these amazing women but it also highlights just what ignorance and fear can do, how when people fear or don’t understand something such what these fine women were doing or who then Ms Spearing’s voice comes through the history with such clarity that you feel her passion for the subject of which she is writing.

The book is all about the very early medicine women, or ‘cunning women’, healers and those that were basically viewed as witches; not quite people to be trusted. I loved the opening as Ms Spearing tells the story of how this book came about, all about when archaeologist found the remains of a women not buried in the grave yard but on the edge and buried with some very interesting and quite odd items. From there the book goes further in detail about who this women could have been, about the women like her from around the country doing good work healing and helping, these women who were basically the first doctors, these women who were respected one minute and the next tried for witch craft.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it is a fresh and original book that looks into a different aspect of history.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Rosie.

A History of Women in Medicine is available from  Amazon and Pen & Sword

#Review The Scandal Of George III’s Court by Catherine Curzon @MadameGilflurt #TheScandalOfGeorgeIIIsCourt #Georgian #History #NonFiction @PenSwordBooks

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I have the pleasure to share with you all my review of The Scandal Of George III’s Court by the hugely talented Catherine Curzon, grab a cup of tea and maybe a biscuit and delve into to some scandalous Georgian history.

From Windsor to Weymouth, the shadow of scandal was never too far from the walls of the House of Hanover. Did a fearsome duke really commit murder or a royal mistress sell commissions to the highest bidders, and what was the truth behind George III’s supposed secret marriage to a pretty Quaker? With everything from illegitimate children to illegal marriages, dead valets and equerries sneaking about the palace by candlelight, these eyebrow-raising tales from the reign of George III prove that the highest of births is no guarantee of good behaviour. Prepare to meet some shocking ladies, some shameless gentlemen and some politicians who really should know better. So tighten your stays, hoist up your breeches and prepare for a gallop through some of the most shocking royal scandals from the court of George III’s court. You’ll never look at a king in the same way again…

Well, this is an eye opener for sure! Whatever you originally thought of the Georgian Court will be completely shadowed by the reality of what went on within this scandalous family. And what a family, phew their exploits made me shattered just reading about them. If you think the Borgia’s were scandalous, wait until you meet the Georgians, this lot were in a league of their own.

I have been reading Catherine Curzon’s work for a few years now and I have loved every word she has written, but I am ashamed to say this is the first of her non-fiction books I have. What! How can that be? Definitely a lapse on my part, which will be rectified!

This reveals the scandals that went on though the court of King George III, and believe me this lot were a hoot. With ‘unsuitable’ marriage, a flurry of mistresses and illegitimate children popping up all over the show, secret marriages, heir sand the spares running around causing scandal at every turn plus a whiff of murder. This family was doing it all, you see this is what happens when TV hasn’t been invented yet, people get up to all sorts.

I love the way this is written, the history side is backed up with sources which are easily accessible for everyone (Check out the bibliography for a list of research sites and books which can be accessed) and then there is the notes in the back which are very illuminating and gives further background to each of the chapters. The thing that I particularly love about this, and what kept me glued and turning the pages was Ms Curzon’s incredibly entertaining writing style, there is a real wit which at times had me giggling away into my cuppa – I did get a few odd looks from the family 😉 especially while reading the ‘Carry On Cumberland’ chapter, which is one of my favourite chapters. So good!

Another of my favourite chapters, has got to be ‘Perdita And Pickle’ which is all about two Drury Lane actresses; Mary Darny Robinson and Dora Jordan – anyone who knows me or follows my posts won’t be surprised that I became completely and utterly engaged with a chapter all about two women who in all essence were regular women forging a path for themselves. I loved this chapter and getting to know these two fascinating women, especially Dora, who knew that she wasn’t an absolute beauty until you saw her legs. She chose to wear breeches – yes, I know, scandalous and you will have to read the book to find out why, but I do I like this lass.

Overall, this is a brilliant! The writing – which is of no surprise given this is Ms Curzon we are talking about, is flawless. It’s fun, engaging, ridiculously addictive and thoroughly entertaining. It’s a history lesson, but not at all like yawning though an old school lesson where the teacher drones on and you fall asleep right at the good bit, no! This is something between Horrible Histories, Time Team (Don’t judge, I know what I’m on about) and a Lucy Worsley documentary (I know wrong era, but you get the drift). This one of those books which once you start, you won’t stop until you turn the last page. When that happens you’ll feel rather out of sorts and wondering where your next Georgian Scandal fix is coming from. Do you think we should start of a GA meeting? ‘Georgians Anonymous’ for all of us who are now addicted to this rather scandalous era of British history.

Scandalously brilliant and thoroughly recommended for everyone who just loves a romp through history.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie!

The Scandal Of George III’s Court can be purchased from Amazon and Pen and Sword Books.

#Review Exploring The Lives Of Women, 1558 – 1837 by Louise Duckling, Sara Read, Felicity Roberts & Carolyn D. Williams @WSGUK #ExploringTheLivesOfWomen #WomensHistory #WomensStudiesGroup via @penswordbooks

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Exploring the Lives of Women, 1558-1837 is an engaging and lively collection of original, thought-provoking essays. Its route from Lady Jane Grey’s nine-day reign to Queen Victoria’s accession provides ample opportunities to examine complex interactions between gender, rank, and power. Yet the book’s scope extends far beyond queens: its female cast includes servants, aristocrats, literary women, opera singers, actresses, fallen women, athletes and mine workers.

The collection explores themes relating to female power and physical strength; infertility, motherhood, sexuality and exploitation; creativity and celebrity; marriage and female friendship. It draws upon a wide range of primary materials to explore diverse representations of women: illuminating accounts of real women’s lives appear alongside fictional portrayals and ideological constructions of femininity. In exploring women’s negotiations with patriarchal control, this book demonstrates how the lived experience of women did not always correspond to prescribed social and gendered norms, revealing the rich complexity of their lives.

This volume has been published to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837. The group was formed to promote research into any aspect of women’s lives as experienced or depicted within this period. The depth, range and creativity of the essays in this book reflect the myriad interests of its members.

 

This is a fascinating collection of essays that covers all aspects of women’s history and the women themselves from Lady Jane Grey to Eliza O’Neill and many, many more between, plus there are essays on women’s rights, lives, sports, intellect, novels and even sex. I was intrigued by it as soon as I saw it and it did not disappoint. If you are interested in women’s history and the more under-celebrated figures from women history then this will be the perfect book. It is a compelling, richly historic and fabulously written book which will entertain as well as educate.

I was particularly engaged with the chapter about the three ‘radical’ Mary’s; Mary Wollenstonecraft, Mary Hays and Mary Robinson now I have heard of all three, any woman who each in their own way fought for women’s rights and to educate not just women but men too. I thought this particular chapter was wonderfully written, with great insights into these fascinating women plus highly educational, I never knew that Mary Shelley was the daughter of Mary Wollenstonecraft, how amazing!

Plus, the chapter about women’s running is utterly fascinating, I never knew that between 1700 and 1749 there was a t least 68 ladies running races across the country, how fascinating is that? It was those essays that focused more on the ordinary woman such as the brave women who went down the colliery which really jumped out at me, that is one of the reasons I really connected with this book, was the fact that’s its not all about royals and aristocrats its got a lot of depth into the ordinary woman and what she faced.

For those that are more fond of novel’s and lighter historic non-fiction this may be a little heavy, but I would definitely recommend everyone to read it, and the beauty of this book is that you necessarily have to read it in order, you can very easily jump in an out and it will make a fantastic research book for anyone who writing, if you have a woman in your work in progress then I would definitely have a read of this, it will amaze you.

A great book, and one that definitely should be any woman’s bookshelf.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Rosie.

Exploring The Lives Of Women 1558 – 1837 can be purchased from Amazon and Pen & Sword.

#Review Rebel With A Cause; The Life and Times of Sarah Benett, 1850-1924, Social Reformer and Suffragette by Iain Gordan #Suffragette #100years #SarahBenett #RebelWithACause @penswordbook

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One hundred years on, it is hard to imagine the violent disruption caused by the suffragette movement. After a century of peaceful protest had brought no progress a small group of determined women took matters into their own hands and turned to direct action. By virtue of their actions the cry ‘Votes for Women’ was heard throughout the country.

One of these unlikely ‘vandals’ was a mature middle-class spinster called Sarah Bennet. After leaving home on the death of her parents, she spent a decade attempting to improve deprived workers’ conditions in the Staffordshire potteries. Realising that nothing could be achieved until women obtained the vote and could compete with men on equal terms, she moved to London aged 55. Disowned by her family she joined Mrs Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political union and became an active suffragette. Ahead of her lay verbal and physical abuse, public contempt, imprisonment and hunger strikes.

Rebel with a Cause is her extraordinary story told largely in her own words.

My View

When I got offered the chance to review this book, I literally snatched it up, I knew that this would be right up my street and I was right. This is an extraordinary book, it is told mostly through Sarah’s words from her letters, diaries and documents that have survived and it tells the story of a truly inspiring and remarkable woman who gave everything for the suffrage movement.

This book tells the story of Sarah Benett, who was one of the most unlikely militant suffragette’s, before joined the cause she was working tirelessly in the Staffordshire Potteries trying to improve the workers conditions, trying to get them the rights they deserved but unfortunately unless women had equality and more immortal the right to vote her actions came to naught. Which is when after attending a meeting and hearing Flora McKinnon Drummon – or otherwise known as ‘The General’ speak Sarah knew then that this was her calling, this was what was needed. At the age of 57, Sarah Benett became a Suffragette.

I have read so much about the Suffragette’s and what they went through to be able to put that cross on the ballot paper, but this has brought a whole new understanding and even further respect to those brave and wonderful women who gave their all for something that many women today do take for granted and we truly are indebted to them.

Iain Gordan has written an informative, brilliantly researched and compelling book that can be read and enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in the subject. His writing is powerful, thoughtful and sympathetic to the subject as well as illuminating and engaging especially with the addition of the brilliant illustrations and photographs that really work to bring the time and this woman to life.

This is definite must read, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie at Pen and Sword.

A Rebel With A cause is available from both Pen and Sword and Amazon.