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Our History of the 20th Century

As Told in Diaries, Journals and Letters

Extent: 464pages

Size: 234x153mm

Publication Date:

Price: £25.00

ISBN: 9781782437352

Categories: Science - History - Philosophy

About the Book

What better way to understand Britain during the twentieth century than through the eyes of those who experienced it at first hand? Travis Elborough's compilation offers brilliantly candid and intimate insights not only into the headline-grabbing events but also the domestic and personal moments of those who lived through it.

The book draws on over one hundred diarists. They include the great and the good – from Beatrice Webb to Tony Benn, from A. C. Benson to Alan Bennett, from Virginia Ironside to Hanif Kureishi – as well as many less-well-known individuals such as Gladys Langford and Kathleen Tipper, whose writings for the Mass Observation Project offer brilliant glimpses into what the man or woman on the street really made of the stuff of history at the time.

From the Easter Rising to the arrival of email, from the Boer War to New Labour, here are responses to the death of Princess Diana, the resignation of Margaret Thatcher, the Moon landing, the Beatles and much more.

Guardian Best Books of 2017, selected by David Kynaston

Praise for Travis Elborough:

‘One of Britain's finest pop culture historians.’
Guardian

‘Elborough is an English nostalgist in the mode of John Betjeman … as a cultural commentator he is a terrific companion.’
Sunday Times

‘Travis Elborough is becoming a latter-day Alan Bennett.’
Spectator

‘Elborough has the passion of a true enthusiast.’
Mail on Sunday

‘Elborough is a charming, funny and frequently fascinating guide.’
Telegraph

About the Author

Travis Elborough has co-edited two previous anthologies of diaries, A London Year and A Traveller’s Year. A freelance writer, author and cultural commentator for nearly two decades, his other books include The Long-Player Goodbye, a hymn to vinyl records; Wish You Were Here, a survey of the British beside the seaside and most recently A Walk in the Park: The Life and Times of a People’s Institution.

Reviews

  • 'Plenty to entertain, amuse, enlighten and occasionally horrify.', Guardian
  • 'This fascinating anthology tracks the 20th century through diaries, journals and letters, though mainly diaries... it opens up secret peep-holes on to some of the key events of the century, and allows us to see them from unexpected angles', Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday
  • 'a blast... a worthwhile wander through great events and small ones, and especially into great minds having small moments', Libby Purves, The Times Literary Supplement
  • 'A wonderfully curated collection of intimate diary voices
  • rich in their variousness, compelling in their impact, and cumulatively giving us a fresh and thought-provoking version of twentieth-century Britain.', David Kynaston