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 would wholeheartedly recommend Hilary Mantel’s two books on Cromwell (Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies), along with Lampedusa’s The Leopard, a beautifully 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).