Secondary Sources

What follows is a purely subjective list of books on historical subjects which I have read and enjoyed over the past few years. Not all of them are particularly highbrow, but I found all of them entertaining and enlightening.


Stephen Alford, The Watchers: A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I (2012)

Jane Ashelford, The Art of Dress: Clothes and Society, 1500-1914 (1998)

Jeremy Black, The British Abroad: The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century (1985)

Tim Blanning, The Triumph of Music: Composers, Musicians and Their Audiences, 1700 to the Present (2009)

Francois Boucher and Yvonne Deslandres, 20,000 Years of Fashion: The History of Costume and Personal Adornment (1998)

Deborah Cohen, Household Gods: The British and Their Possessions (2006)

L. Davidoff and C. Hall, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850 (1987)

Brian Dolan, Ladies of the Grand Tour (2001)

Niall Ferguson, Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (2012)

Orlando Figes, Natasha’s Dance: a Cultural History of Russia (2003)

Robin Fleming, Britain After Rome: The Fall and Rise, 400-1070 (2011)

Antonia Fraser, The Weaker Vessel: Woman’s Lot in Seventeenth-Century England (1984)

Julie Fromer, A Necessary Luxury: Tea in Victorian England (2008)

Simon Garfield, Our Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries of Post-War Britain (2011)

Vic Gatrell, The First Bohemians: Life and Art in London’s Golden Age (2013)

Paul Langford, Englishness Identified: Manners and Character, 1650-1850 (Oxford, 1999)

Elizabeth Langland, Nobody’s Angels: Middle-Class Women and Domestic Ideology in Victorian Culture (1995)

Thad Logan, The Victorian Parlour: A Cultural Study (2001)

Andrew Marr, A History of Modern Britain (2009)

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Jerusalem: The Biography (2012)

Marjorie Morgan, National Identities and Travel in Victorian Britain (2001)

Ian Mortimer, The Time-Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England (2009)

Ian Mortimer, The Time-Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England (2012)

Margaret Ponsonby, Stories from home: English domestic interiors, 1750-1850 (2007)

Roy Porter, London: A Social History (1994)

Eugene Rogan, The Arabs: A History (2011)

Simon Schama, The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE – 1492 (2013)

Avi Schlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (2015)

Frederick Taylor, Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany (2011)

Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800 (1991)

Keith Thomas, The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfilment in Early Modern England (2010)

Amanda Vickery, The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England (2003)

Amanda Vickery, Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England (2009)

Lucy Worsley, If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home (2012)


For those interested in historical fiction, I recommend Hilary Mantel’s two excellent books on Thomas Cromwell (Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies), along with Lampedusa’s The Leopard, an evocative tale of the declining Sicilian aristocracy during the period of Italian unification. For a lighter read, the first three books of the Outlander  series are great fun, as are most of Bernard Cornwell’s novels (his Warlord trilogy, set in fifth-century Britain, is especially good).