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ISSN 1749-8155

Special issue - Histories of domesticity

This special issue, featuring reviews of books on the theme of domesticity and domestic living, coincides with the IHR’s 2018 Winter Conference: ‘Home: new histories of living’ (8-9 Feb 2018), for which registrations are now open.

The reviews of these 18 books appeared between 1999 and 2017. They provide historical studies of among other themes, architectural design, family life, housing policy, gender, possessions, neighbourliness, collective living, kitchens and domestic animals. Among the domestic experiences covered are those of early modern Holland, Georgian London, enlightenment Edinburgh, Weimar Munich, Soviet Moscow and post-war Harlem.

Review Date: 
11 Nov 2017

You may think you know the story of the Tudor dynasty and the steps they took in securing their power and legacy, but what most grand narratives of the Tudor monarchs do not describe is their intimate relationship with the built environment around them.

Review Date: 
2 Nov 2017

In the 200 years before the invention of steam power and the advent of the Industrial Revolution, early modern London was a coal-fired metropolis. The dirty fuel was burnt in both the hearths of individual households and in the furnaces of breweries, bakers, and glassmakers.

Review Date: 
19 Oct 2017

In contemporary understanding, a kitchen is a space which houses a heat source and appropriate utensils for preparing meals. How and why this kind of kitchen emerged in England between the 17th and mid-19th century is the story that Pennell set out to uncover.

This formidable and scholarly volume, a major contribution to urban, social and cultural history, is first and foremost a tribute to one of its co-authors, Charles McKean, the distinguished architectural historian, who sadly died when the book was being written.

Harlem and the photograph share a long, closely entangled history. Photographic images of the riots that erupted in the neighbourhood in 1935 and 1943 helped to puncture the image of Harlem as a playground for white urban adventurers, and to raise in its place the spectre of a ‘no-go’ area, a district of Manhattan sealed off from direct encounter by whites.

Review Date: 
2 May 2013

Kathleen Walker-Meikle’s book is a welcome addition to the increasing volume of research concerned with the roles animals played throughout history. This genuinely multidisciplinary subject has begun recently to attract attention, a sign that the intellectual market for animal-related topics is expanding among historians.

Review Date: 
1 Nov 2010

The revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky famously proclaimed in his suicide note, ‘the love boat has crashed against byt.’ That the banal problems of everyday life (byt) had undermined the hopes of the Revolution has since been widely inferred in evaluations of the Soviet system.

Review Date: 
1 Oct 2010

In The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884), Friedrich Engels posited a fundamental relationship between women’s property rights, on the one hand, and changes in the social and political spheres, on the other.

Review Date: 
1 Jun 2010

The Times in its editorial of 11 February 1857 opined 'It is a terrible incident of our social existence that the resources for gaining a livelihood left open to women are so few. ...

Review Date: 
30 Apr 2010

When historians of the future come to write about the historiographical preoccupations of 21st-century Britons, they surely will observe our growing obsession with consumer behaviour and material culture.

Review Date: 
31 Aug 2009

In the introduction to her long-awaited and extremely interesting study of the popular literature of Victorian interior decoration, Judith Neiswander prepares her readers – and perhaps to a certain extent herself – for their predicted negative reactions to the décor of the late 19th-century middle class home.

Review Date: 
1 Dec 2008

Leif Jerram’s Germany’s Other Modernity: Munich and the Making of Metropolis, 1895–1930 is a rich and welcome contribution to the urban history of modern Germany, a field which has, for some time now, been dominated by studies on Berlin and Hamburg. Berlin has, as Jerram puts it with little exaggeration, acquired ‘totemic status’ (p.

Review Date: 
30 Sep 2009

For various reasons housing is important to everyone and thus it has rarely been far from the centre of political debate in Britain. As the main urban land use, housing is a valuable and scarce resource, and if politics are about command over resources then housing is inescapably a political issue.

Review Date: 
30 Apr 2008

The homes of the British middle class in the third quarter of the 19th century, as depicted in contemporary photographs, were cluttered with furniture, soft furnishings and objects. Walking across a room required careful negotiation of lightweight tables that might easily topple over and spill the numerous items that decorated their surface.

Review Date: 
1 Dec 2006

Every picture tells a story. The story told by posed portraits of the family is one of change over time; family groups look different at different times. Thus the Victorian middle-class family is typically photographed in an indoor ‘domestic’ setting, its members unsmiling, connected to each other by the touch of a hand on a shoulder.

Review Date: 
1 Jun 2005

The concept of ‘separate spheres’, or the organisation of society into a private, domestic, female world and an active, public, male domain, is closely associated with Victorian society and, arguably, has had a pervasive influence upon gender relations since. Women’s sphere was that of the home, or activities closely connected with it.

Review Date: 
1 Jun 2003

I do not know whether the Italian title of this book (Vita di casa) is an allusion to Mario Praz and his autobiography La casa della vita (Milan, 1958), but it would be fitting. In that book Mario Praz guides the reader through his Roman house and tells his life during the tour.

Review Date: 
1 Oct 1999

John Tosh's book is a signal event. It celebrates the full coming of age of the history of masculinity as a recognised academic sub-discipline. If Davidoff and Hall laid the foundations in this respect, Tosh finally establishes and opens up the field.