On November the 11th, History Today magazine released an online poll for the most influential historian, and most influential history book of the last 60 years. Those nominated for the most influential historian are the famous white male historians of the 20th century, and the books all ‘big picture’ take on Europe or Russia, or historical theory. Most of them have influenced each other, either positively or negatively, with some such as Fernand Braudel and Hugh Trevor-Roper, or E.H. Carr and Richard J. Evans adhering to the same schools of thought. It’s not that they aren’t great or influential historians or books, but…..where are the historians who’ve explored the previously dim corners of social or domestic history? Where are the women? Where are the books that get you by the throat and drag you through time?
For me, they aren’t on that list, and it seemed so for a lot of others. So, the Georgian London blog is hosting an alternative Favourite Historian and Favourite History Book poll. There’s no antagonism, I’m just curious to see what the nominations will bring. There’s no specific period or specific area of study. I’m not looking to make an all female list either, I just want your nominations for the historian and the book that has influenced you. If you only want to nominate in one category, that’s fine too.
Please put your nominations in the comments here, and I’ll add them in as we go along, or you can tweet me with the hastags #FavoriteHistorian and #FavoriteHistoryBook (I’ll check on both English and American spellings, so don’t sweat it too much, but the Broadside is archiving the American spelling), or email lucy at georgian london dot com. The lists so far (and I’m still compiling), in no particular order, look like this.
- Natalie Zemon Davis
- Robert Burke
- John Grenville
- Robert Scribner
- Lyndal Roper
- Joan Wallach Scott
- Linda Colley
- Sheila Fitzpatrick
- David Kynaston
- Dror Wahrman
- Raphael Samuel
- AJP Taylor
- Christopher Hill
- Richard J. Evans
- Pietro Corsi
- Ronald Syme
- Roy Porter < It took a long time, people!
- Samuel Eliot Morison
- Alvin Jackson
- R.F. Foster
- Marianne Elliot
- Mike Duncan
- Margo Todd
- E.P. Thompson
- Mary Beard
- Eric Hobsbawm
- Howard Zinn
- Dorothy George
- Amanda Vickery
- Eric Grove
- Charles Boxer
- N.A.M. Roger
- Pat Thane
- Stephen Nissenbaum
- John Dower
- Peter Bailey
- Jackson Lears
Favourite History Book
- The Family, Sex and Marriage by Lawrence Stone
- Life in the English Country House by Mark Giruoard
- The Origins of the Second World War by AJP Taylor
- Theatres of Memory and Island Stories by Raphael Samuel <A popular dark horse
- History of the Revolution in England, 1688 by Sir James Mackintosh
- Gender and the Politics of History by Joan Wallach Scott
- The Return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis
- Roman Revolution by Ronald Syme
- Web of Empire by Alison Game
- The Making of the Modern Self by Dror Wahrman
- The Prospect Before Her by Olwen Hufton <Getting a lot of votes
- Imagine Communities by Benedict Anderson
- New Towns of the Middle Ages by M.W. Beresford
- Engage the Enemy More Closely by Corelli Barnett
- The Friend by Alan Bray
- Building the Devil’s Empire by Shannon Dawdy
- Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer
- Thinking With Demons by Stuart Clark
- The Columbian Exchange by Alfred Crosby
- Edge of Empire by Maya Jasanoff
- The Open Empire: China to 1600 by Valerie Hansen
- The Fall of the Roman Empire by Peter Heather
- Ecclesiastical History of the English People, by Bede
- The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain by N.A.M Roger
- Our Island Story by Henrietta Marshall
- Ireland: A History by Robert Kee
In 1769, Eleanor (sometimes Elinor) Coade arrived in Lambeth from Lyme Regis, bringing with her one of Georgian London’s forgotten wonders: Coade stone, or as she called it Lithodipyra. She had been born in 1733 to a family of ceramicists, and to a father who couldn’t stay solvent. He died in 1769 and in the same year, she and her mother, also Eleanor arrived in Narrow Wall, Lambeth, taking over an artificial stone foundry from one David Picot who retired or left the business two years later.
There had been a history of artificial stone being made in the area, with Richard Holt being a pioneer from 1720 onwards, but the Coades had a secret. Their stone was finer and more durable than anyone else’s. They made it to a secret formula, which they guarded during their lifetimes. The younger Eleanor Coade was the brains behind the formula and she took on the term ‘Mrs’, although she never married.
Coade soon became the stone to have, due to their imaginative and life-like modelling. Their sculptors were drawn from not only Britain but also some of the talented foreigners working in London at the time, such as John de Vaere who would later work for Wedgwood. You could commission what you want, or choose from their catalogue, now in the British Museum.
Coade is an incredibly durable fake stone and it stays clean and isn’t eaten by pollution. These things were not necessarily so important when it was made, but it could be made into very fine decoration, which was perfect when the Adam brothers began to decorate London in the 1770s and 1780s. An unmarried woman with her own business, Eleanor Coade would go on to become the Georgian London’s greatest ceramic artist. She took on her cousin John Sealy as a partner in 1799, by which time she would have been ready to retire. She died in Camberwell in 1821, a devout Baptist and the recipe for the stone died with her but the secret ingredient has since been identified: ground ceramic.
Amongst London’s extant Coade is the castrated lion on the south side of Westminster Bridge, the Twining’s tea shop front and Captain Bligh’s tomb in St Mary’s Churchyard, Lambeth.