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Our books on British history cover the nation's past and how various events contributed to the world in which we live today. Our English history books are ideal for any historian.

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British & Irish History

Our books on British history cover the nation's past and how various events contributed to the world in which we live today. Our English history books are ideal for any historian.

  • LBEH

    English History (Paperback)

    Robert Peal

    Hand-picked favourites
    This little Collins book covers all the key people, places and events from English history, from the Battle of Hastings and the World Wars to the rise of the Beatles and Brexit.

    Presented in an accessible format, this concise guide shows how England became what it is today and will be enjoyed by visitors to England and history enthusiasts alike!
    •   2 for £5 Offer details
      Offer only applies to products with the 2 for £5 messaging. The Book People reserves the right to remove or amend this promotion. Offer subject to stock availability. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. For UK and Euro customer use only.
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  • SPFR

    Spitfire (Hardback)

    John Nichol

    (4) Hand-picked favourites
    This brilliant hardback book provides a heartfelt tribute to one of the most magnificent flying machines of all time - the iconic Spitfire.

    Written by bestselling author and former Royal Air Force navigator John Nichol, it looks over the history of the vehicle and its various innovations and updates and contains stories and first-hand accounts from those who flew them.

    From the Spitfire's deployment during World War II to its role on the D-Day beaches, this is an accessible and high-flying account of battling pilots who had to bail out over occupied territory, aristocratic female flyers and mechanics who braved the Nazi onslaught to keep the crafts in battle-ready condition.
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  • TOBH

    The Treasures of British History (Hardback)

    Peter Snow

    Hand-picked favourites
    Peter and Dan Snow, two of Britain's most popular historians, discuss the importance of 50 key documents in this incredibly informative hardback tome.

    Presented in eye-catching style, this book finds Peter and Dan offering an authoritative commentary explaining each document's criteria for selection and an examination of their pertinent details.

    From the Magna Carta to Hitler's letter to Chamberlain agreeing he'd never go to war and the official design for the FA Cup, these documents have been researched from the collections of The National Archives, The British Museum, The British Library and the National Records of Scotland.

    A must for all history enthusiasts!
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  • Clearance
    UNIN

    Our Uninvited Guests (Hardback)

    Julie Summers

    Hand-picked favourites
    Social historian Julie Summers looks over the period during the Second World War when thousands of families had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave everything they knew and start a new life in a location where Hitler's Luftwaffe could not reach them - and the role Britain's country houses had to play in this.

    Based on extensive research and interviews, Julie conveys the problems these families faced during the early years of the conflict and examines the locations that they were sent to. She also looks at the problems and social stigmas they had to face and overcome in each different area.

    This hardback shines a light on a previously untold story from the Second World War. It looks at how people from all walks of life found themselves in these most esteemed surroundings and how the juxtaposition of splendour and opulence was at odds with their temporary residents' needs.
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  • ACKR

    Revolution (Hardback)

    Peter Ackroyd

    (1) Hand-picked favourites
    Peter Ackroyd presents the latest instalment in his History of England with Revolution, a book covering the years between 1688 and 1815.

    From William of Orange's accession following the Revolution to the Regency when England once again found itself at war with France (a war that ended with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo), this looks at life during the late Stuart and Georgian eras.

    During this time, the Bank of England and stock exchange were founded and the Church of England was fully established as the guardian of the spiritual life of the nation. Newspapers also first flourished during this era and the English novel was born. It was also a time when coffee houses, playhouses and shops began to pop up in towns and villages all across the nation.

    The industrial revolution also occurred in this period and this was a time when England transformed from a country of blue skies and farmland to one of soot and steel and coal.
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  • WHKG

    White King (Hardback)

    Leanda de Lisle

    Hand-picked favourites
    As the man in charge at the time the nation entered the Civil War, Charles I's reign is one of the most dramatic in history. However, Charles as a man was an elusive individual. He is often regarded as weak and his wife, Henrietta Maria, as spoilt but Leanda de Lisle's thoroughly researched biography reveals him to be principled and brave but also blinkered.

    Charles I is revealed to be a complex man who pays the price for bringing radical change; Henrietta Maria a warrior queen and political player as impressive as any Tudor. This book also focuses on the cousins who befriended and betrayed the royal couple - the peacocking Henry Holland, whose brother engineered the king's fall and the 'last Boleyn girl' Lucy Carlisle.

    This is an almost unbelievable story that ties in everything from populist politicians and religious war to a new media and reshaping of the nation where women vied with men for power.
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  • CHLL

    Churchill (Hardback)

    Christopher Catherwood

    Hand-picked favourites
    Leading Winston Churchill scholar Dr. Christopher Catherwood reveals what the former prime minister - a man often declared the greatest statesman to have ever lived - was like as a man in this painstakingly researched biography. It's packed with photographs and artefacts from the former PM's life.

    Drawing on archive interviews, artworks and personal notes for some of Churchill's most famous and inspiring wartime speeches, this book explores his hidden history in detail. From being homesick while at boarding school to his successes and failures (he disastrous Gallipoli campaign and his blind spot over India), it reveals him to be a powerful, colourful and remarkable character.

    This is a must-read for anyone who is fascinated in political history and those who have gained an interest in the politician after seeing John Lithgow in The Crown or Gary Oldman's Oscar-winning performance in The Darkest Hour.
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  • MPSH

    Mapping Shakespeare (Hardback)

    Jeremy Black

    Hand-picked favourites
    This visual exploration of the time in which William Shakespeare lived is filled with jaw-dropping facts and observations. It considers what The Bard was like as a man and covers the cultural changes that took place during his lifetime - 1564-1616.

    From the time of the Tudors to Elizabeth I's reign and the first of the Stuart kings, this book reflects the political changes that were reflected in his works and explains how he worked through maps and illustrations to look at how powerful people viewed their positions in the world.

    Author Jeremy Black also explores the locations of Shakespeare's plays and examines the reasons why he chose to set them in these locations.
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  • TKWR

    The King's War (Hardback)

    Mark Logue

    (1) Hand-picked favourites
    Peter Conradi and Mark Logue's follow-up to The King's Speech (which was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Colin Firth) looks at how George VI and speech therapist Lionel Logue's relationship continued to thrive after the monarch made his speech about the outbreak of war.

    Drawing on exclusive material (diaries, letters and documents) from the Logue archives, this book reveals how the therapist continued to play a vital role in the king's life from the dark days of Dunkirk through to D-Day and beyond.

    It's a fascinating portrait of two men and their respective families - the Windsors and the Logues - as they worked their way through one of the greatest challenges in Britain's history.
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  • BGYUB

    The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (Paperback)

    Anne Lister

    These remarkable diaries are a piece of lost lesbian history. Anne Lister defied the role of womanhood seen in the novels of Jane Austen: she was bold, fiercely independent, a landowner, industrialist, traveller - and lesbian. She kept extensive diaries, written partly in code, of her life and loves. The diaries have been edited by Helena Whitbread, who spent years decoding and transcribing them. '[Anne Lister's] sense of self, and self-awareness, is what makes her modern to us. She was a woman exercising conscious choice. She controlled her cash and her body. At a time when women had to marry, or be looked after by a male relative, and when all their property on marriage passed to their husband, Anne Lister not only dodged the traps of being female, she set up a liaison with another woman that enhanced her own wealth and left both of them free to live as they wished ...The diaries gave me courage' Jeanette Winterson 'Engaging, revealing, at times simply astonishing: Anne Lister's diaries are an indispensable read for anyone interested in the history of gender, sexuality, and the intimate lives of women' Sarah Waters
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  • BUMQW

    Gentleman Jack (Paperback)

    Katy Derbyshire

    The extraordinary life of history's first modern lesbian who inspired the television series Gentleman Jack Anne Lister's journals were so shocking that the first person to crack their secret code hid them behind a fake panel in his ancestral home. Anne Lister was a Regency landowner, an intrepid world traveller ... and an unabashed lover of other women. In this bold new biography, prizewinning author Angela Steidele uses the diaries to create a portrait of Anne Lister as we've never seen her before: a woman in some ways very much of her time and in others far ahead of it. Anne Lister recorded everything from the most intimate details of her numerous liaisons through to her plans to make her fortune by exploiting the coal seams under her family estate in Halifax and her reaction to the Peterloo massacre. She conducted a love life of labyrinthine complexity, all while searching for a girlfriend who could provide her with both financial security and true love. Anne Lister's rich and unconventional life is now the subject of the major BBC TV drama series Gentleman Jack.
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  • BYIGM

    On Chapel Sands (Hardback)

    Laura Cumming

    Laura Cumming's On Chapel Sands is a book of mystery and memoir.

    Two narratives run through it: the mother's childhood tale; and Cumming's own pursuit of the truth. Humble objects light up the story: a pie dish, a carved box, an old Vick's jar. Letters, tickets, recipe books, even the particular slant of a copperplate hand give vital clues. And pictures of all kinds, from paintings to photographs, open up like doors to the truth.

    Above all, Cumming discovers how to look more closely at the family album - with its curious gaps and missing persons - finding crucial answers, captured in plain sight at the click of a shutter...
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  • BIJWP

    Queen Victoria's Children (Paperback)

    John Van der Kiste

    Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort had nine children who despite their very different characters, remained a close-knit family. Inevitably, as they married into European royal families their loyalties were divided and their lives dominated by political controversy. This is not only the story of their lives in terms of world impact, but also of their own personal achievements, their individual contributions to public life in Britain and overseas and in their roles as the children of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort.
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  • BXKEW

    Spitfire (Paperback)

    John Nichol

    THE SUNDAY TIMES NON FICTION BESTSELLER 'The best book you will ever read about Britain's greatest warplane.' Patrick Bishop, bestselling author of Fighter Boys. `A rich and heartfelt tribute to this most iconic British machine. By focussing on the men (and women) who flew the Spitfire, John Nichol has brought a fresh and powerful perspective to the story. And by recording their bravery, humility, camaraderie, tragedy and sheer joy in flying their beloved Spits he has done them - and us - a valuable service' Rowland White, bestselling author of Vulcan 606 'As the RAF marks its centenary, Nichol has created a thrilling and often moving tribute to some of its greatest heroes.' Jon Dennis, Mail on Sunday magazine. 'A stirring portrait of a piece of aviation art in motion flown by the bravest of the brave. Nichol's Spitfire is still a sky-borne prima ballerina that kicks like Bruce Lee.' The Royal Air Force Times. 'A superb and compelling book. Brilliantly written with some incredible and astonishing stories; it is gripping, moving, emotional and sometimes humorous - just perfect' Squadron Leader (Ret) Clive Rowley, former Officer Commanding RAF Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight 'A superb journey through the remarkable tale of that British icon, the Spitfire. Brilliantly and engagingly written, this is the most readable story of the aircraft and her pilots that I have ever had the pleasure to read in a period spanning some forty-odd years of personal study and research. Truly stunning.' Andy Saunders, Editor, Britain at War Magazine. The perfect complementary narrative to the bestselling memoir by Geoffrey Wellum - First Light. Achtung, Spitfire! The iconic Spitfire found fame during the darkest early days of World War II. But what happened to the redoubtable fighter and its crews beyond the Battle of Britain, and why is it still so loved today? In late spring 1940, Nazi Germany's domination of Europe had looked unstoppable. With the British Isles in easy reach since the fall of France, Adolf Hitler was convinced that Great Britain would be defeated in the skies over her southern coast, confident his Messerschmitts and Heinkels would outclass anything the Royal Air Force threw at them. What Hitler hadn't planned for was the agility and resilience of a marvel of British engineering that would quickly pass into legend - the Spitfire. Bestselling author John Nichol's passionate portrait of this magnificent fighter aircraft, its many innovations and updates, and the people who flew and loved them, carries the reader beyond the dogfights over Kent and Sussex. Spanning the full global reach of the Spitfire's deployment during WWII, from Malta to North Africa and the Far East, then over the D-Day beaches, it is always accessible, effortlessly entertaining and full of extraordinary spirit. Here are edge-of-the-seat stories and heart-stopping first-hand accounts of battling pilots forced to bail out over occupied territory; of sacrifice and wartime love; of aristocratic female flyers, and of the mechanics who braved the Nazi onslaught to keep the aircraft in battle-ready condition. Nichol takes the reader on a hair-raising, nail-biting and moving wartime history of the iconic Spitfire populated by a cast of redoubtable, heroic characters that make you want to stand up and cheer.
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  • BWKYZ

    The Countess (Paperback)

    Tim Clarke

    Her charm, when she chose to use it, was legendary, even bewitching. She had enormous force of will and could, like an enchantress, bend people to her will - even against their better judgement ... One of the great beauties of Georgian society, Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey, was a woman of enormous style and spirit whose life revolved around her pleasures. Clever and witty, her charm was legendary, earning her the nickname in the contemporary press of `The Enchantress'. She glittered in an aristocratic century. However, she was also unprincipled and malevolent. After providing her husband with an heir, she duly abandoned the dull respectability of married life for the whirl of the faster set of society and a number of high-profile and scandalous affairs. Through her relationship with the Prince Regent, she enraged the country and threatened the monarchy, blackening the prince's reputation for posterity. Despite being demonised by historians and subjected to rumour and myth, this is the first biography ever written of her extraordinary and dramatic life. Tim Clarke skilfully pieces together the truth about the Countess of Jersey, and dispels many of the assumptions that, even in the highest academic circles, continue to surround her to this day, leaving us with a very intimate portrait of a life lived in defiance of social convention.
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  • AGYEI

    The Plantagenets (Paperback)

    Dan Jones

    This brilliant new book explores the lives of eight generations of the greatest kings and queens that this country has ever seen, and the worst. The Plantagenets - their story is the story of Britain. England's greatest royal dynasty, the Plantagenets, ruled over England through eight generations of kings. Their remarkable reign saw England emerge from the Dark Ages to become a highly organised kingdom that spanned a vast expanse of Europe. Plantagenet rule saw the establishment of laws and creation of artworks, monuments and tombs which survive to this day, and continue to speak of their sophistication, brutality and secrets. Dan Jones brings you a new vision of this battle-scarred history. From the Crusades, to King John's humbling over Magna Carta and the tragic reign of the last Plantagenet, Richard II - this is a blow-by-blow account of England's most thrilling age.
    • £9.19
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  • AAVTW 7 years +

    Victorian Servants, a Very Peculiar History (Hardback)

    Fiona MacDonald

    It's not all longing looks across the dining room from that high-class gentleman! Life as a Victorian servant was tough, tough, tough! Discover the bizarre and oh-so-strict rules one had to keep to when serving the dignitaries in "Victorian Servants: A Very Peculiar History". Rise up through the ranks from washerwoman to housemaid to ladies' maid and beyond, but mind you don't keep any 'followers', as boyfriends are immoral and are strictly not allowed! While you wait on hand and foot from 5.30 am to 11 pm you won't even have time to rest your own. The chamber pots are certainly not to be sniffed at, and remember if the bell rings once, you are wanted. It's hard work but it's better than the alternative: begging, returning home penniless or heading to the workhouse. You'll discover stories of suffering and household tips galore in "Victorian Servants: A Very Peculiar History"!
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  • BXYZF

    The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective (Hardback)

    Susannah Stapleton

    Maud West ran her detective agency in London for more than thirty years, having started sleuthing on behalf of society's finest in 1905. Her exploits grabbed headlines throughout the world but, beneath the public persona, she was forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world. And - as Susannah Stapleton reveals - she was a most unreliable witness to her own life. Who was Maud? And what was the reality of being a female private detective in the Golden Age of Crime? Interweaving tales from Maud West's own `casebook' with social history and extensive original research, Stapleton investigates the stories Maud West told about herself in a quest to uncover the truth. With walk-on parts by Dr Crippen and Dorothy L. Sayers, Parisian gangsters and Continental blackmailers, The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective is both a portrait of a woman ahead of her time and a deliciously salacious glimpse into the underbelly of `good society' during the first half of the twentieth century.
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  • BWLYN

    Richard I (Penguin Monarchs) (Paperback)

    Thomas Asbridge

    Richard I's reign is both controversial and seemingly contradictory. One of England's most famous medieval monarchs and a potent symbol of national identity, he barely spent six months on English soil during a ten-year reign and spoke French as his first language. Contemporaries dubbed him the 'Lionheart', reflecting a carefully cultivated reputation for bravery, prowess and knightly virtue, but this supposed paragon of chivalry butchered close to 3,000 prisoners in cold blood on a single day. And, though revered as Christian Europe's greatest crusader, his grand campaign to the Holy Land failed to recover the city of Jerusalem from Islam. Seeking to reconcile this conflicting evidence, Thomas Asbridge's incisive reappraisal of Richard I's career questions whether the Lionheart really did neglect his kingdom, considers why he devoted himself to the cause of holy war and asks how the memory of his life came to be interwoven with myth. Richard emerges as a formidable warrior-king, possessed of martial genius and a cultured intellect, yet burdened by the legacy of his dysfunctional dynasty and obsessed with the pursuit of honour and renown.
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  • BWKND

    The Hidden Horticulturists (Hardback)

    Fiona Davison

    In 2012, whilst working at the Royal Horticultural Society's library, Fiona Davison unearthed a book of handwritten notes that dated back to 1822. The notes, each carefully set out in neat copperplate writing, had been written by young gardeners in support of their application to be received into the Society's Garden. Amongst them was an entry from the young Joseph Paxton, who would go on to become one of Britain's best-known gardeners and architects. But he was far from alone in shaping the way we garden today and now, for the first time, the stories of the young, working-class men who also played a central role in the history of British horticulture can be told. Using their notes, Fiona Davison traces the stories of a selection of these forgotten gardeners whose lives would take divergent paths to create a unique history of gardening. The trail took her from Chiswick to Bolivia and uncovered tales of fraud, scandal and madness - and, of course, a large number of fabulous plants and gardens. This is a celebration of the unsung heroes of horticulture whose achievements reflect a golden moment in British gardening, and continue to influence how we garden today.
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  • BTHEY

    Queen Victoria's Matchmaking (Paperback)

    Deborah Cadbury

    A captivating exploration of the role in which Queen Victoria exerted most international power and influence: her role as matchmaking grandmother. In the late nineteenth century, Queen Victoria had over thirty surviving grandchildren. To maintain power in Europe, she hoped to manoeuvre them into dynastic marriages with royalty across the world. Yet her grandchildren often had plans of their own, fuelled by strong wills and romantic hearts. Her matchmaking plans were further complicated by tumultuous international upheavals; revolution was in the air and after her death, her most carefully laid plans fell to ruin. Queen Victoria's Matchmaking travels through the glittering palaces of Russia and Europe, weaving in scandals, political machinations and family tensions, to enthralling effect. It is at once an intimate portrait of the royal family and an examination of the conflict caused by the power, love and duty that shaped the marriages that Queen Victoria arranged. At the heart of it all is Queen Victoria herself: doting grandmother one moment, determined manipulator the next.
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  • BRJBD

    To Catch A King (Paperback)

    Charles Spencer

    How did the most wanted man in the country outwit the greatest manhunt in British history? In January 1649, King Charles I was beheaded in London outside his palace of Whitehall and Britain became a republic. When his eldest son, Charles, returned in 1651 to fight for his throne, he was crushed by the might of Cromwell's armies at the battle of Worcester. With 3,000 of his supporters lying dead and 10,000 taken prisoner, it seemed as if his dreams of power had been dashed. Surely it was a foregone conclusion that he would now be caught and follow his father to the block? At six foot two inches tall, the prince towered over his contemporaries and with dark skin inherited from his French-Italian mother, he stood out in a crowd. How would he fare on the run with Cromwell's soldiers on his tail and a vast price on his head? The next six weeks would form the most memorable and dramatic of Charles' life. Pursued relentlessly, Charles ran using disguise, deception and relying on grit, fortitude and good luck. He suffered grievously through weeks when his cause seemed hopeless. He hid in an oak tree - an event so fabled that over 400 English pubs are named Royal Oak in commemoration. Less well-known events include his witnessing a village in wild celebrations at the erroneous news of his killing; the ordeal of a medical student wrongly imprisoned because of his similarity in looks; he disguised himself as a servant and as one half of an eloping couple. Once restored to the throne as Charles II, he told the tale of his escapades to Samuel Pepys, who transcribed it all. In this gripping, action-packed, true adventure story, based on extensive archive material, Charles Spencer, bestselling author of Killers of the King, uses Pepys's account and many others to retell this epic adventure.
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  • BMSII

    Inglorious Empire (Paperback)

    Shashi Tharoor

    The Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller on India's experience of British colonialism, by the internationally-acclaimed author and diplomat Shashi Tharoor'Tharoor's impassioned polemic slices straight to the heart of the darkness that drives all empires ... laying bare the grim, and high, cost of the British Empire for its former subjects. An essential read' Financial TimesIn the eighteenth century, India's share of the world economy was as large as Europe's. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. The Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die from starvation.British imperialism justified itself as enlightened despotism for the benefit of the governed, but Shashi Tharoor takes demolishes this position, demonstrating how every supposed imperial 'gift' - from the railways to the rule of law - was designed in Britain's interests alone. He goes on to show how Britain's Industrial Revolution was founded on India's deindustrialisation, and the destruction of its textile industry.In this bold and incisive reassessment of colonialism, Tharoor exposes to devastating effect the inglorious reality of Britain's stained Indian legacy.
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  • BMMHX

    Dining with the Victorians (Paperback)

    Emma Kay

    From traditional seaside holiday treats like candy floss, ice cream and fish 'n' chips, to the British fascination for baking, the Victorian era has shaped British culinary heritage. Victoria's austere attitude after an age of Regency indulgence generated enormous cultural change. Excess and gluttony were replaced with morally upright values, and Victoria's large family became the centre of the cultural imagination, with the power to begin new traditions. If Queen Victoria's family sat down to turkey on Christmas day, so did the rest of the nation. Food was a significant part of the Victorians' lives, whether they had too much of it or not enough. The destitute were fed gruel in the workhouses - the words of Dickens's Oliver are forever imprinted on our minds: `Please, sir, I want some more.' The burgeoning street traders spilling over from the previous century devolved into a whole new culture of `mudlarks', trotter boilers and food slop traders, to name but a few. Wealthy Victorians gorged with the newly emerging trend for breakfast, lunch and tea. Public dining became de rigeur, and the outdoor `pique-nique', introduced a new way of eating. Victorians also struggled against many of these trends, with the belief that denial of food was a moral good. This was the era of educating and training in food management, combined with the old world of superstition and tradition, that changed British society forever.
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