10 Oct. 2020: Mary Hardy shortlisted for East Anglian Book Awards

Two volumes of Mary Hardy and her World 1773–1809 by Margaret Bird have been shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards in separate categories.

Volume 2, subtitled Barley, beer and the working year, is one of three books shortlisted under General Non-Fiction.

Volume 4, Under sail and under arms, is one of three shortlisted under History and Tradition.

The full shortlist of the 18 titles across all six categories was first announced on 10 October 2020 in the print editions of the Eastern Daily Press (pages 38 and 39) and East Anglian Daily Times (pages 18 and 19), and by the National Centre for Writing:

East Anglian Book Awards 2020 shortlist revealed

Burnham Press are publishers of the four-volume study based around the Norfolk diarist Mary Hardy. We wish to thank Gomer Press of West Wales, who have printed and bound the books to an extremely high standard.

The covers

The front covers of the two shortlisted volumes feature Norwich School paintings of the 1820s, on view in Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery:

Mary Hardy and her World vol 2 cover

The front cover of Volume 2: detail of George Vincent’s “Trowse Meadows, near Norwich”, with (inset) Mary Hardy’s son William c.1826


Mary Hardy and her World vol 2 cover

The front cover of Volume 4: detail of Joseph Stannard’s “The River at Thorpe”. It shows the skipper and mate of a Norfolk keel chatting to their visitors atop the boat’s cargo of reed bundles

The back cover of Volume 4 shows part of a vast canvas of c.1760. Depicting Lord Townshend’s review of the Western Norfolk Battalion of Militia outside King’s Lynn, it is from the collection of his descendant, the 8th Marquess Townshend:

Mary Hardy and her World vol 2 cover

The back cover of Volume 4, with (inset) Mary Hardy in 1785

East Anglian waterways: a common thread

All four front covers of Mary Hardy and her World depict East Anglian rivers. They can be seen on the Home page.

The rivers are:

1. the Glaven, running beside the Hardys’ home in north Norfolk and powering their maltings and brewery;

2. the Tas at Trowse, close to its confluence with the Yare outside Norwich;

3. the Cam, in the hollow by the chapel at King’s College, Cambridge, manorial lords of Horstead and Coltishall where the Hardys first farmed and lived in the diary years; and

4. the Yare, the principal artery of the Broads network about which we learn so much from the diarist.

The front and back covers reflect some of the topics covered in detail in this wide-ranging study: a busy home life; the world of business, farming and manufacturing; the valiant workforce, and reliance on water power and horsepower; active, yet questing, religious observance; the influence of lords of the manor; transport by water; and the civilian response to invasion threats.

The banner at the top of this page shows the Yare at Reedham Ferry, miles downstream from Stannard’s great painting on Volume 4’s cover. The “wide East Anglian skies” celebrated in Betjeman’s verse leave an indelible memory.

People in the Hardys’ circle, across all classes, did not lead static lives. They were daily on the move, by road and water, and worked extremely long hours.

Postscript, 31 October 2020

Neither of the Mary Hardy volumes went on to win in their category. However it remains a source of pride that they were shortlisted from among more than 100 titles this year:

Results of the East Anglian Book Awards

Congratulations to the winners.

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Margaret Bird

Margaret Bird in 2016

The editor and author of the Mary Hardy volumes

You can read about the historian Margaret Bird on the link above

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