Diary Reviews

By March 2015 five full-length book reviews of The Diary of Mary Hardy had been published. All are very favourable.

The links lead to fuller extracts from each one.

1  |  6 March 2015  |  The lengthy review in a top academic journal, The English Historical Review, is by G.M. Ditchfield, Emeritus Professor of Eighteenth-Century History at the University of Kent.

“This daily record, meticulously kept over thirty-six years, of working life and entrepreneurship in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England offers one of the most consistent, enduring and revealing primary sources of its period.”


2  |  21 December 2013  |  Emeritus Professor Richard G. Wilson is the former Director of the Centre of East Anglian Studies at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and an internationally renowned brewery and business historian. In his long, analytical review for the Parson Woodforde Society Journal he highlights Mary Hardy’s world as one of struggle, hard work and “constant upheaval”.

The diarist gives us “A wonderful view of an upwardly mobile ‘middling family’.”


3  |  8 June 2013  |  Trevor Heaton is the Books editor of the regional newspaper the Eastern Daily Press. Also a published historian, he describes the new edition of The Diary of Mary Hardy as “A remarkable feat of scholarly dedication”. It is “In a class of its own.”


4  |  17 August 2013  |  Maggie Vaughan-Lewis is the former Surrey County Archivist and now a Norfolk-based historian. Writing in the Journal of the Aylsham Local History Society she refers to the “Many happy hours engrossed in the five volumes” which readers of Mary Hardy’s diary can enjoy in the company of this “Incredibly rich material.”


5  |  25 November 2013  |  Ken Smith, a former editor of Brewery History, the Journal of the Brewery History Society, writes that “The exploration will be extremely rewarding”. The Diary volumes “Can be used across many disciplines.”

Feedback from readers

In addition to the reviews there has been a flow of reactions from purchasers of the Diary volumes. You can dip into the feedback under this news item, fourteen months after publication.


Mary Hardy research wins BALH award 2015

Margaret Bird was judged the overall winner of the British Association for Local History research and publication awards in the “long articles” category. Her 15,000-word study “Supplying the beer”, first published in the Blakeney Area Historical Society’s journal The Glaven Historian (no. 14 (2014), pp. 2–29), was derived in part from the diaries of Mary Hardy and Henry Raven.

In October 2015 Dr Alan Crosby, the editor of the British Association for Local History’s quarterly, The Local Historian, gave a penetrating and admiring summary of the value of the diaries of Mary Hardy and Henry Raven for the history of rural breweries, public houses and distribution by road. The award-winning piece by Margaret Bird published in that journal proved “Deeply rewarding in its own right”.

Alan Crosby summarises the article:

“This fascinating article is a shortened version of the one which won the BALH ‘Long Article Publications Award 2015’. In it Margaret Bird, who has spent many years transcribing, analysing and contextualising the remarkable diaries of Mary Hardy (1733–1809) and her nephew Henry Raven (1777–?1825), makes a major contribution to the published history of the brewing trade and public houses in the Georgian period.

She begins by providing a summary of the family history of these brewers from North Norfolk, before taking a series of themes which emerge from the diaries: the state of the roads, the lie of the land, and itinerancy in daily life; the public houses and the breweries; the geography of supply; vertical integration within the industry, the labour force, and the livestock; work-related road accidents; the farm servants and the brewery staff, their wages and working conditions; labour discipline; and memorialising the workforce.

The article draws upon the diaries to illustrate the complexities and intricacies of managing a (by contemporary standards) large-scale enterprise in the pre-railway age, and in doing so it reveals numerous unexpected and stimulating dimensions to local historical analysis. While most local historians will not have ready access to such exceptionally rich primary sources, this article will provide many valuable insights and ideas for further research in other localities.

It is also deeply rewarding in its own right.”

(From The Local Historian (vol. 45, no. 4 (Oct. 2015), pp. 295–311)