3 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
I cannot recall how many programmes I have seen on or about the Victorians, their successes and flaws are well documented and we still live with glimpses of their buildings and the social norms that they imposed on our society. I didn’t know much about the people of the Georgian age though, and this book intends to make people more aware of them.
Peel has chosen twelve people to show Georgian Society. Rather than pick from the aristocracy and political elite, though a couple of them do feature, we have and wide range of people. Some are well known, or in Lord Byron’s case that is more infamy, and there are others that had faded into obscurity. He uses that to show how open and permissive the society was compared to the stuffy and secretive Victorians.
I did have a few favourites from the people he featured. Anne Bonny and Mary read were pirates showed the men how to do cause havoc in the Caribbean properly. Tipu Sultan was a name that I hadn’t come across before. He was famous for keeping the entire British Empire at bay for many years.
Being an engineer, I had heard of James Watt so knew most of the story of his success in steam engines. And of course, there is Dorset’s own Mary Anning. Even though she didn’t get credit for it at the time, it was her work in finding at cataloguing the fossils that she found on the cliff of Lyme Regis that created the science of planetology. We mustn’t forget that she was poor and uneducated and still could hold her own against the learned gentlemen of Oxford University.
Overall this is a reasonable book. Peal has managed to make the history of the Georgian period relatively accessible as he explores it through the lives of twelve people. It is not a serious history book, so if you are expecting detailed analysis and scholarly prose then this might not be the book for you. It is an easy and entertaining read and he does helpfully provide a list of further reading, should you want to explore this period in history more.