The complete record of Mary Hardy

The eighteenth-century diarist Mary Hardy records a man’s world seen through her eyes—in intricate detail for 36 years. 

She gives us a panorama of working and social life. Her range covers family and home, farming, brewing and running public houses. She also describes at first hand recurrent conflict over religion, politics and home defence. 

In her 500,000-word manuscript this observant countrywoman reveals the exacting, time-pressured nature of pre-mechanised labour. A toiler herself, she tells of lives of striving which never entered the official record.

The publishers

The publishers Burnham Press first brought out the full text of Mary Hardy’s unusual diary. Further volumes in this major historical undertaking describe and analyse the world she knew.

Oct. 2020: Two of these later volumes were shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards 2020.

Apr. 2021: All the Mary Hardy volumes Highly Commended for the Thirsk Prize for Rural History 2021.

The wife of a farmer and brewer, Mary Hardy’s daily entries throw light on running a business while maintaining a very active family and spiritual life. We learn about the men and women who made it possible, from working the land to supplying the public houses.

The complete diary text 

The Diary of Mary Hardy 1773–1809, edited by Margaret Bird, was published in April 2013. One reviewer judged it “One of the most consistent, enduring and revealing sources of its period”.

Four volumes of commentary

The four volumes Mary Hardy and her World 1773–1809, also by Margaret Bird, were published on 23 April 2020. They have been described as “Incredibly impressive and most readable; a gold mine for historians”.

Another historian ranks Mary Hardy among “already treasured big diaries of the eighteenth century”. You can read further Previews. The book reviews are all exceedingly favourable.


Available works

About us

Scholarship with readability and visual appeal

The publishers Burnham Press are based in the historic Surrey market town of Kingston upon Thames.

Our books are designed to be things of beauty. A delight to hold, they are filled with high-quality illustrations and explanatory notes to guide our readers along the way. Scholarship is never sacrificed, and all references to primary and secondary sources are fully cited.

“The volumes are most attractively produced. The reader-friendly marginal notes are extensive and always illuminating. The voluminous indices to each volume are superb.

Together with helpful family trees and numerous appendices they are a goldmine for genealogists as well as allowing readers of the diary to make complete sense of a succinct text.”

Professor Richard G. Wilson, on The Diary of Mary Hardy