Bringing the people of the past to life is a special art. The voices that reach us from distant centuries are all too often muffled and obscure, refracted through literary convention and bureaucratic formulae. To hear them, historians must attune their ears and become expert interpreters. This is what Suzannah Lipscomb attempts to do in her latest book. Based on exhaustive research in the archives of the Huguenot Church of 16th- and 17th-century Languedoc, it is an imaginative attempt to reconstruct the mental and social worlds of women who have otherwise left no discernible mark in the historical record.
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'Typical of Dickens to leave us with an unsolvable game of Cluedo. Was it John Jasper with the necktie in the cathedral, Stony Durdles with the fibula in the graveyard or Mrs Crisparkle with the arsenic in the close?'
Frances Wilson does some sleuthing.
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They 'disliked Georgian architecture because it was identified with the enclosure movement ... their preferred style was Elizabethan: half-timbered and gabled'.
Jane Ridley on the houses Edwardian Liberals built.