An introduction to Burnham Press

We brought out exciting new works in 2013 and 2020: the full text of an eighteenth-century English diarist and the companion volumes describing the world she knew.

volumes of Mary Hardy and her World

The four volumes of Mary Hardy and her World 1773–1809 (published 2020) contain more than 3300 pages. They can be bought individually or—at a reduced price—as a set. Two volumes were shortlisted for a book award in October 2020. All were Highly Commended for the Thirsk Rural History Prize 2021.


We invite you to explore this site to learn more about the diarist Mary Hardy (1733–1809). She is pictured at the banner in 1785, by the French artist James Gabriel Huquier.

Are you researching your family history? Or gathering material on a range of specialist subjects in this period? You will want to read the diary of Mary Hardy and enjoy its 1300 illustrations.

The volumes of commentary, Mary Hardy and her World, have 1450 black-and-white illustrations and 190 colour plates.

Both sets of books have detailed notes on each page, informative picture captions and hundreds of pages of index.

If you just like reading about the past in some detail these books will appeal to you. You can read more under Our Readers.

Buying the books

We are the publishers. You can go straight to buying the books from or direct from us under How to buy. You can also order them from bookshops.

The Diary volumes

The Diary volumes (2013). The four hardbacks can be bought individually or—at a reduced price—as a set. The Remaining Diary of Mary Hardy, a large paperback, contains the diary entries omitted from the hardbacks. The paperback has no editorial notes or index and few illustrations

What is so special about Mary Hardy?

  •  She wrote half a million words in 36 years, yet had little formal education.
  •  Hers was a dynamic world. Her family’s life as farmers and rural manufacturers was neither static nor isolated. Until now it was a world we had only glimpsed.
  •  Mary Hardy ranges widely. Some of her coverage is unique.
  •  She is a vital source of data, of firm evidence. We read not what people thought; and rarely what they said. Instead we learn what they did.

You can read more about the published Diary and the editor Margaret Bird.


The published Diary, in terms of its content, the rarity of the source and the high standards of editing and production, earns praise from all its reviewers.

Professor Richard G. Wilson pays tribute to Mary Hardy as illuminating the uncertainties of her time, in a world of constant upheaval. Rural life was far from stable and unchanging, and her long record mirrors this world.

His analysis, and the four other book reviews published, can be found under Diary Reviews.

The early reviews for the commentary volumes Mary Hardy and her World are crammed full of superlatives. One Amazon reviewer regards the study as a classic that will stand the test of time—in the mould of Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne.

Peek inside

An American customer, Kelly McDonald of Vermont, has put together a tribute to the look of the books. Her YouTube video, which lasts just over a minute as she turns the pages, enables prospective buyers to peek inside.

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

See inside…