Social Science blog

49 posts categorized "Events"

04 April 2014

The Redress of the Past

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In this post, Tom Hulme explains more about historical pageants and a public workshop entitled ‘The Redress of the Past’ to be held in London on 8 May 2014.

The Chelsea Historical Pageant ... 1908. Book of Words.
British Library 11779.k.25

The Redress of the Past: Historical Pageants in Britain, 1905-2016, is a major AHRC-funded project, being conducted at Kings College London, the Institute of Education, and the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow. The project will uncover the full spread of the popular pageantry movement in Britain. The British Library’s collections contain many examples of pageant books, music, posters and manuscripts that show how people and communities celebrated and commemorated the past.

Pageants were often huge local community events staged by a variety of different groups for a range of purposes, from town charter commemorations and royal jubilees, to local association fundraisers or political protest. Casts consisted of thousands of locals, and thousands more spectators crowded into purpose built open-air arenas, as communities came together to perform what they saw as a shared history and identity. While the movement ebbed and flowed and declined especially following the Second World War, pageants are still occasionally held today, and have lasted as important memories for those who spectated or took part.

Greenwich Night Pageant: Pictures. British Library YD.2010.b.2955

As well as producing articles, books and oral histories on this under-researched topic we also hope to encourage popular public engagement, especially through our website and twitter - and @Pageantry_AHRC – as well as through the creation of a publically accessible database of the pageants we’ve researched. We’d like to get feedback on these aspects of the project, and so are looking for volunteers to participate in a user-group workshop. The purpose of this event is to gain opinions from various constituencies, academic and non-academic, which will then be used to further shape the form and content of the project website and database.

The event will be held at King's College London on the afternoon of 8 May 2014, beginning at 12.30, and includes lunch. If you are interested in participating, please email by Monday 28 April 2014. In the meantime please do look at our blog and follow us on twitter – we’d love to hear more from anyone who has an interest in pageantry, has watched a pageant, or even performed in one themselves.

Tom Hulme is a researcher on the AHRC-funded project 'The Redress of the Past: Historical Pageants in Britain, 1905- 2016', Kings College London Department of History. 

21 March 2014

The Annual Equality Lecture

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This year we will hold the fourth annual Equality Lecture with the British Sociological Association on the 30 May. This series has been a brilliant way for leading sociologists and social scientists to present their research on key issues in equality to a public audience. This year, we are delighted that our speaker will be Dr Tom Shakespeare, a senior lecturer in medical sociology at the University of East Anglia and disability rights advocate. Tom will be talking about ‘Enabling Equality: from disabling barriers to equal participation’ to explore what it takes to achieve equality for disabled people, in the era of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ‘welfare reform’.

Tom’s research interests centre on disability studies and bioethics and his publications include: The Sexual Politics of Disability (1996), Genetic Politics (2002) and Disability Rights and Wrongs (2006). He has worked at the World Health Organization in Geneva where he helped write and edit the World Report on Disability (WHO 2011). Tom has been involved in the disability movement for 25 years.

Jon Legge TWS head shoulders SMALL
Above: Dr Tom Shakespeare. Photograph © Jon Legge.

Last year, the speaker at this event was Professor Danielle Allen, from the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, who spoke about what is needed from society in order for an egalitarian model of politics to be successful. Her talk ‘The Art of Association: the formation of egalitarian social capital’ is available via YouTube and below:


In 2012, Professor Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford, spoke on the subject of ‘What’s so good about being more equal?’ Much of Danny’s work is available on open access via his website: Danny’s lecture is also available via YouTube.

The first speaker in the series was Professor Richard Wilkinson, Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham and co-founder of The Equality Trust, who spoke on the topic of the best-selling book (co-authored with Professor Kate Pickett) The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone'. The first lecture in the series was hugely popular and was a fantastic start to the whole series.

This year Tom's lecture will be accompanied by live subtitles provided by STAGETEXT. For more information and a link to the booking options, please visit the British Library’s What’s On pages.

Useful information

Remember that books by the speakers listed here are available via the British Library’s collections. Begin searching here and find out about how to get a reader pass here. The British Sociological Association lists their events here.

14 March 2014

Beyond Nature versus Nurture

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On the evening of 11th March we held the public event ‘Beyond Nature versus Nurture’ which examined how the field of epigenetics has enabled scientists and social scientists to gain clearer idea of how environmental factors get ‘under the skin’ to change the way genes are expressed and cells behave. The evening examined how the dichotomy of nature / nurture as two opposed explanations for human behaviour and outcomes cannot be upheld with the knowledge we now have from the life sciences and social sciences. It showed how the sciences and social sciences can usefully work together to better understand differences between individuals and groups of people. The event was part of the series of events that have been organised to support the ‘Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight’ exhibition at the British Library (free, and on until 26 May).

George Davey Smith, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Bristol, was our first speaker for the evening. He introduced the audience to the different factors which can influence the expression of genes, from events at the cellular level of the individual, to the experiences of our ancestors, which have been of particular interest to those working in epigenetics (see also Hughes’ article, below). In particular, Davey Smith described how ‘chance’ and random events in an individual’s life may account for health outcomes that could not easily be predicted by epidemiology. He talked about how the element of ‘chance’ in human life is an issue for other disciplines which aim to understand life trajectories, health and make predictions about outcome. The element of chance and unpredictability in human life seemed an optimistic line of enquiry to pursue given the constant bombardment of stories about known ‘risks’ in our press and media! George’s work has also considered the complexity of the interactions that development and environment can have on human health outcomes over a lifetime and how these factors are often hard to dissect.

Panel and Audience WEB

Above: panel and audience at 'Beyond Nature vs. Nurture' on 11 March 2014. © The British Library Board.

Nikolas Rose, Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine at King's College London, began his talk with a brief history of the nature versus nurture dichotomy, tracing the influence of this particular conceptualisation on the development of (for instance) eugenic policies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He described the lasting and negative effects of controversial concepts such as eugenics on the relationship between the life sciences and the social sciences. Yet, Rose was optimistic for the future of the relationship between the disciplines, citing developments in epigenetics and epidemiology as exciting and with considerable potential for the different disciplines to work together. He described his own recent work about the impact of urban living on the individual psyche which takes into account the external environment of the city and its impact on the internal environment of the body. This project, which immediately made me think of Georg Simmel’s, ‘The Metropolis and Mental Life’, offers potential for finding transformative ways for the life sciences and social sciences to work together.

Thus, overall, the messages of the evening were optimistic ones. Many of us left thinking about the potential for more interdisciplinary events at the British Library and were rather less concerned than we may have been before about the potential damage we have done to our bodies (thinking that we may be one of the lucky ones that ‘chance’ favours!). I was reminded to really not pay too much attention to all the press interpretations of research on ‘risk’ (a message also clear in one of our previous ‘Myths and Realities’ events), but to rather consider the evidence from well-established epidemiological research about factors that can affect health risks and outcomes (such as smoking and lung cancer). It also seemed about time to dig out those A level Biology text books, as my scientific colleague kindly told me that stochastic pretty much means ‘random’. I’m going to have to look up DNA methylation though…!

Thanks to our speakers, and to the chair, Professor Jane Elliott, Head of the Department of Quantitative Social Science, for a stimulating evening at the British Library.

Further reading

Davey Smith, George. (2012) ‘Epidemiology, epigenetics and the ‘Gloomy Prospect’: embracing randomness in population health research and practice’. International Journal of Epidemiology, 40(3) pp. 537-562. Available online:

Hughes, Virginia. (2014) ‘The Sins of the Father’. Nature. V. 507. 6 March 2014. pp. 22 – 24.

Renton, Caroline. L. & Davey Smith, George. (2012) ‘Is Epidemiology ready for epigenetics?’ International Journal of Epidemiology, 41(1) pp.5-9. Available online:

Rose, Nikolas. (2012) ‘The Human Sciences in a Biological Age’. Theory, Culture and Society, 0(0) pp. 1 – 32.

05 March 2014

Spring 2014 events

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Robert Davies, Engagement Support Officer for Social Sciences writes:

Each year the Social Sciences department at the British Library holds and hosts a wide programme of events related to the subject areas we cover: from one-day workshops, seminars and conferences aimed at academics, early-career researchers, PhD students and practitioners, to public talks and debates.

This Spring 2014, we are organising, with external partners, two major conferences and the 4th British Sociological Association/British Library Annual Equality Lecture.

On 28 April, a one-day conference ‘Portraying Ageing: Cultural Assumptions and Practical Implications’ takes place. The conference will bring together academics from across the social sciences and arts and humanities, plus policy makers and practitioners, to discuss the many ways in which age and ageing are portrayed and understood and explore how insights from research can be translated into policy and practice. We are delighted to be working with colleagues from the School of Language, Linguistics and Film, Queen Mary, University of London and the Centre for Policy on Ageing. There is a great line up of speakers and the keynote address will be given by Professor Lynne Segal, Anniversary Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies, Birkbeck and columnist at the Guardian.

On 23 May, in association with the International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University, we will be holding a one day international conference aimed at academics and postgraduate students interested in the material culture, history and globalisation of the football world cup.  For further details of the speakers and to reserve a ticket go to the ‘A Cultural History of the World Cup’ booking page on the British Library website.

This year’s British Sociological Association/British Library Annual Equality Lecture will be delivered by medical sociologist and disability rights advocate Dr Tom Shakespeare. The title of the lecture is ‘Enabling Equality: from disabling barriers to equal participation’. Dr Shakespeare will explore ‘where next for disability equality’ in the era of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ‘welfare reform’? He will examine what is needed for people with diverse disabilities to flourish and will argue that the state needs to do more than simply ‘level the playing field’. The lecture will be held on 30 May in the British Library Conference Centre.  Tickets can be obtained via the British Library What’s On pages.

During the spring we are also hosting the Social Research Association’s conference on Social Media in Social Research on 16 May (details of the programme will appear on the SRA’s events page) and one on the impact of austerity for the University of East London (on 30 May – details to be provided soon).

To keep up-to-date with the events we have in the pipeline for summer 2014, watch this space or visit the events pages on where you will also find links to podcasts and film recordings of many of our past events.

25 February 2014

My notes from a conference

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Robert Davies, Engagement Support Officer for Social Sciences at the British Library, writes:

In January, I was pleased to attend the one day conference ‘Working with Paradata, Marginalia and Fieldnotes: The Centrality of By-Products of Social Research’ at the University of Leicester.

The conference was convened by the University of Leicester, the National Centre for Research Methods (Novella Group) and the Institute of Education. The aim of the day was to provide an opportunity ‘for dialogue across disciplines and research paradigms: across the social sciences and humanities, historical and contemporary data, primary and secondary resources, quantitative and qualitative approaches’.  The programme and range of speakers truly reflected this aim.

On arrival one of my fellow delegates asked me the question:

‘So which area of interest brings you here?’

To which I responded:

‘Well, I suppose, I come at this from two directions; as a former conservator of manuscripts and printed books I understand marginalia, as an Engagement Support Officer for Social Sciences I am fascinated by how we might re-use more recent ‘secondary data’ to help understand contemporary society, but I am not sure what Paradata means.'

So what do we mean by marginalia and paradata?  To quote Henrietta O’Connor:

‘…[they are] material collected as part of, supporting or in addition to the research process.  Annotations and augmentations revealed through the analysis of original documents.  By-products, non-standard ‘data’, ephemera, letters, pictures, notes.’

Speakers and delegates went on to consider methodologies for undertaking the analysis of marginalia and field-notes (such as the application of narrative analysis); the potential ethical implications of undertaking secondary analysis of ‘historic’ surveys and following up with the subjects of those surveys; how the analysis of marginalia and field-notes can cast a light on what we understand to be ‘acceptable’ research practices at any given point and how such perceptions shift over time. It included discussion of the latest technological developments which can, and are, being used to collect paradata during large telephone and on-line surveys to understand low response and drop-out rates and to make appropriate adjustments to the surveys as they progress; how individuals may feel that data is being collected by ‘stealth’; and the potential for, and difficulties of, including cognitive and behaviour coding in surveys.

The conference concluded with an examination of the marginalia and notes of the writer Vernon Lee (Violet Paget). It examined the importance of capturing marginalia during digitisation projects and the sustainability of data which is ‘born’ digital (regardless of whether the digital content is generated through digitisation projects of ‘historic’ material or via large national household surveys).

In the spirit of the conference, to gain alternative perspectives on the day I thoroughly recommend reading Llordllama’s Research Ramblings and viewing a storify by Dr Helen Kara of the tweets posted on the day.  I hope the bibliography below may be of some use (although it is a very small selection of the books and articles available on the subjects covered during the conference).


Andrews, M.; Squire, C.; Tamboukou (editors) Doing Narrative Research, Sage, 2008.  British Library shelfmark: YC.2012.a.10037

Crone, R.; Halsey, K.; Owens, W.R.; Towheed, S. (editors) The History of Reading.  vol. 1. International perspectives, c.1500-1990. vol. 2. Evidence from the British Isles, c.1750-1950. vol. 3. Methods, strategies, tactics. British Library shelfmarks:
Volume 1 - YC.2013.a.1041; Volume 2 - YC.2013.a.1042; Volume 3 - YC.2013.a.1043

Elliott, H.; Ryan, J.; Hollway, W.  Research encounters, reflexivity and supervision, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, Issue 5, Volume 15, pp 433-444. (2012)

Gillies, V.; Edwards, R. Working with archived classic family and community studies: illuminating past and present conventions around acceptable research practice.  International Journal of Social Research Methodology, Issue 4, Volume 15, pp 321-330. (2012)

Groves, R. M.; Heeringa, S. G. Responsive design for household surveys: tools for actively controlling survey errors and costs.  Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A, Statistics in society. VOL 169; NUMBER 3, (2006),pp 439-457.

Kirgis, N.;  Lepkowski, JM. “Design and Management Strategies for Paradata Driven Responsive Design: Illustrations from the 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth,” in Improving Surveys with Paradata: Analytic Use of Process Data, Krueter, F. (editor). New York: J.W. Wiley & Sons, (2013).

O'Connor, H.; Goodwin, J. Revisiting Norbert Elias's sociology of community: learning from the Leicester re-studies. The Sociological review. VOL 60; NUMBER 3, 2012, pp 476-497.  Blackwell Publishing Ltd , 2012.

O'Connor, H.; Goodwin, J. Through the interviewer’s Lens: Representations of 1960s Households and Families in a Lost Sociological Study, Sociological Research Online, Volume 15, Issue 4, (2009).

Turner, Malgorzata New perspectives on interviewer-related error in surveys : application of survey paradata (2013), University of Southampton, Thesis available via the British Library Electronic Theses Online System (EThOS).

Other Resources

The Research Ethics Guidebook: A resource for social scientists Online 

Developing Generic Ethics Principles for Social Science: An Academy of Social Sciences Initiative on Research Ethics

UK Reading Experience Database 1450 -1945

11 February 2014

Sport in the archive – remembering London 2012

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Andrew Rackley, a collaborative doctoral student at the British Library and University of Central Lancashire writes:

I have a confession to make: I am a bit of a Luddite. I don’t really get technology. I graduated as a historian, a medieval one at that, before qualifying as an archivist. My mother was a librarian and my father a paper maker, so books are kind of 'my thing'. Of course I maintain a web-presence, I have a Twitter account, although it’s a little on the quiet side; I subscribe to Facebook, have done for a decade, not that it helps me understand quite why I do so; and I even have a smart-phone, which I’m fairly sure operates a considerable number of IQ points higher than myself. So how did I find myself at the British Library working towards a PhD entitled ‘Archiving the Games: collecting, storing and disseminating the London 2012 knowledge legacy’, a project that is principally interested in digital archives? The answer is quite simple really: I like sport.

As I write, I find it hard to disassociate myself from the excitement surrounding the opening of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Not everyone will share in my enthusiasm, the Winter Olympics sometimes feels like it’s considered the less glamorous cousin of the Summer Olympics – winter is to Eddie the Eagle as summer is to Usain Bolt – no disrespect to Eddie or the Winter Games of course; maybe it is just that the UK hasn’t had quite as much success on the snow and ice as it has the track and field. On Sunday, Great Britain secured a first medal on snow, matching the haul from Vancouver in 2010, where Team GB took home one solitary medal (albeit gold). In fact, over the twenty-one Winter Olympics to date Britain has claimed a total of twenty-three medals compared to the sixty-five obtained on home soil in 2012 alone. Beyond this, Britain has never hosted the Winter Olympics, whereas no other city has played host to the three summer Games that London has.


Above: Great Britain’s Amy Williams won gold for the Skeleton at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in 2010. By jonwick04 [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Which brings me neatly back to London, where I now find myself, still hardly able to believe that eighteen months have disappeared since waving goodbye to the Olympics. During this time, there has been a lot of talk about legacy, often about how it has not yet delivered one (see also Donavan, 2012), but little attention has been paid to the documentary residue of the Games; that body of material, both analogue and digital, that resides in our museums, libraries and archives as testament to the nation’s heritage. This is where my interest lies. This is London 2012’s knowledge legacy.

There are many issues surrounding the archiving of an occasion such as the Olympic Games, not least of which is the scale of the event. London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were just under six weeks in the execution, but over a decade in the planning, during which time a multitude of records in a great variety of formats were created. Alongside many physical records held at The National Archives, a vast amount of digital material is also available including the British Library’s Web Archive, which includes Winning Endeavours, a page devoted to digitizing images from London’s Olympic history, and the People’s Record – a website dedicated to documenting the efforts of community groups around the UK as they entered into the Olympic spirit and joined in with the Cultural Olympiad. In addition, the British Library’s Sport & Society website takes a look at the Olympics through the lens of the social sciences, suggesting many different uses to which records of sport can be put, many of which are not always obvious.

The Olympic flame may now be burning bright in Sochi, but the legacy left to London doesn’t reside solely in the stadiums, housing or participation the media constantly reminds us of. There are many stories waiting in memory institutions, in the knowledge legacy, that serve to demonstrate how important sport can be to bring people together and unite communities. The scope of the records generated by the Olympics may have presented challenges for collection and storage, but the sheer variety of content available to disseminate to researchers is what makes these records a fantastic resource.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I believe the Curling is about to start, and I do like a bit of sport.

Further information and references

For extensive collections on sport, from Eddie the Eagle to Usain Bolt to curling, please search the British Library’s catalogue here: Explore the British Library.

Donovan, T. (9 August 2012) London 2012: Olympics Job Legacy 'falls short'. BBC News.

For a Google Search on Olympics Legacy articles, click here.

About the author: Andrew Rackley is a collaborative doctoral student at the British Library and the University of Central Lancashire. His research principally focuses on how a national institution, such as the British Library, documents a Mega-Event like the Olympics, and his interests include sport and the relationship between memory and archives. Follow him on Twitter @andy_rack.


05 February 2014

World War One: old controversies and new interpretations

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Ian Cooke, Lead Curator in International Studies and Politics at the British Library - See more at:

Ian Cooke, Lead Curator in International Studies and Politics at the British Library, writes:

The controversy at the start of this year which followed Michael Gove’s comments on interpretations of the First World War reminds us that there is still much to be uncovered and re-assessed in our understanding of the War. 2014 will see the start of commemorative events across Europe, of which the British Library’s exhibition Enduring War will be part. A common feature of many of these projects – perhaps spurred by an understanding that, as we approach the centenary, so the War is passing completely from lived experience – is an attempt to understand the private experience of the War, and to collect and recapture personal and family memories.

Last week, two related online resources were launched which bring together current research on the War with access to a vast number of digitised objects. Europeana 1914- 1918 provides access to more than 400,000 digitised objects, and 660 hours of film, from galleries, libraries, archives and museums across Europe. An important part of the project had been a call for members of the public to bring personal objects and stories for recording in the Europeana database. This aspect of the project provides access to items previously unseen and also reveals the stories that we have been telling about the War within our families, adding a more personal dimension to the way that the War has been understood and remembered.

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Above: Military cemetery at Châlons-sur-Marne, June 1917 by Felix Vallotton [copyright public domain]

The British Library’s World War One website draws on the collections in Europeana 1914- 1918, and contains more than 50 articles written by historians, curators and others on a range of themes, including: civilian experience; life as a soldier; propaganda; race and empire; and representation and memory. Dr Annika Mombauer gives a timely overview of the history of the debate on the origins of the War, and how attempts to ascribe or absolve from blame have shifted with changing geopolitical conditions. The website contains over 500 images of objects, and resources for teachers in secondary schools. A useful feature of the website is the information about copyright for each of the images featured, making re-use of materials easier where permitted.

Elsewhere, digitisation of resources is being used to expand and link the knowledge that we have about the conduct of the war, and how this was experienced. The National Archives has digitised over 300,000 pages of War Diaries, and aims to have digitised a further 1 million pages by the end of the year. It is using crowdsourcing, calling on members of the public to tag names, places, activities and other information mentioned on the diaries. This information will be shared with the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War project. This project will link data between digital records such as census returns, service records and diaries to create digital life histories for more than 8 million of people across Britain and the Commonwealth.

These, and other, projects show that the centenary of the First World War will be marked by projects which seek to increase access to, and understanding of, a huge range of objects and documents that were produced by governments, commercial publishers, and, often, private individuals during the war. The creation of new digital objects offers potential for new discoveries and new links to be made between different sources.

29 November 2013

Historic Heston at the British Library

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Barley Blyton, writes:

“Why should creativity be a new thing?” The answer is: it isn’t. Yet many of us view the cooking of Heston Blumenthal – owner of The Fat Duck and Dinner - as something of a novelty. Culinary creativity, championed by chefs like Blumenthal in Britain, Adria Ferran in Spain and René Redzepi in Denmark can seem ‘space agey’ and utterly new, but when Heston started researching for his new book, Historic Heston, he stumbled upon a whole lot of ‘other Hestons’ buried in the past.

Two weeks ago, as part of the Georgians Revealed exhibition, the British Library hosted a discussion between Heston Blumenthal – one of Britain’s most acclaimed chefs and exponent of the egg and bacon ice-cream, and Ivan Day – food historian, broadcaster, writer and confectioner. Centring on Heston’s new book and using the Georgian period as the frame for their discussion, Blumenthal and Day wound their way through history and their own pasts, expertly guided by food writer and historian Bee Wilson as Chair.

Buying his first Georgian cook book at 13 in the 1960s, a time when food was in ‘a trough of despondenc’,  Day felt like he had alighted on a golden age of British gastronomy. He began collecting his pocket money to cook menus from these books (by his own admission, Day was no ordinary 13 year old!). Initial obstacles were presented by the language  ‘how does one cook a lump?’ he asked himself, ‘how does one broil a lump, grill a lump or even find a lump in the first place?’. A lump, Day later discovered, referred to lumpfish. The next challenge was his lack of eighteenth century cooking equipment – where does a 13 year old boy pick up a ‘larding needle’ on a Saturday afternoon?

WEB Heston blog pic
Above: The Cook’s and Confectioner’s Dictionary, or, the Accomplish’d Housewife’s Companion. John Nott, London, 1723. Reproduced with the kind permission of the British Library

The early Georgian cookbooks that Day had stumbled across were not written for the everyday cook but for the courts of the rich and powerful. Many were menus of aspiration and display rather than intended for daily domestic reality. Later in the century, women cookery writers like Hannah Glasse and Elizabeth Raffald began to write for middle class households making a virtue of economy and simplicity.

Any assumptions, however, that things were necessarily more basic in the past are undermined by illustrations showing the intricate presentation of jellies, pastries and pies. For the talk at the British Library, Day brought with him a small, tapered rolling pin - evidence of the delicacy of the pastries produced and the exacting thought behind the instrument. A tapered rolling pin, Day explained, can be tilted and swivelled to mark out a perfect circle. The Georgian period produced a proliferation of cutting edge kitchen equipment feeding an ‘exotic and experimental seam’ of cookery. Many of the instruments uncannily resemble some of those used by Blumenthal today – the syringes used for piping fritters into fat in the Georgian kitchen reminded Blumenthal of the equipment he uses for similar tasks.

Like Day, Blumenthal is a history enthusiast but their approaches to history differ. While Day uses historical cookery books and tools to recreate the dishes of the past, Blumenthal uses historical gastronomy to inspire new recipes. In Historic Heston source recipes are used as a springboard for the creation of new dishes. For instance, an 1826 recipe from Margaret Dods’ The Cook and Housewife’s Manual for cucumber catsup (ketchup) becomes roast scallops with pickled shallots, cucumber fluid gel and cucumber ketchup in a bergamot, borage and cucumber butter emulsion.

Rather than suffering from the particularly British condition identified by Day as ‘cultural amnesia’ Blumenthal celebrates the creativity of the past and proudly leads the flavour-full tradition forward.

Useful information

The Exhibition Georgians Revealed will run at the British Library until the 11th March 2014.

Historic Heston is published by Bloomsbury and is available in the reading rooms at the British Library, as is Bee Wilson’s recent book Consider the Fork published by Particular.

For those interested in getting a more hands-on experience of Georgian cookery, Ivan Day runs courses at his home in the Lake District and can be found at

The author of this post can be contacted by email at: