“In a class of its own”

“Over the years I’ve read—and reviewed—many local books. But this project really is in a class of its own.”

These are the words of Trevor Heaton, the Books editor of the regional daily newspaper the Eastern Daily Press in the first book review of The Diary of Mary Hardy (Weekend supplement, 8 June 2013, page 21).

“Possibly the greatest single piece of scholarship on a Norfolk topic since Blomefield”

The review continues with a reference to the eleven-volume Topographical History of Norfolk begun by Francis Blomefield and continued by his collaborator Charles Parkin after Blomefield’s death in 1752; Parkin himself died in 1765. Trevor Heaton writes of Margaret Bird’s work:

“In fact, I would go so far as to describe it as possibly the greatest single piece of scholarship on a Norfolk topic since the Rev Francis Blomefield embarked on his monumental survey of the county in the 18th century.”

“Just the statistics are mind-boggling”

Trevor Heaton applauds Margaret Bird’s dedication to her mission of publishing the diary in full, entailing 2350 printed pages in the four-volume edition with its 1300 illustrations and 460 pages of index: “You can gather the scale of the project.”

He forecasts that, among others, “the book will be of greatest appeal to historical researchers.”

“Norfolk’s most remarkable feat of historical dedication”

Trevor Heaton is himself a published historian, and author of a new book on a nineteenth-century Norfolk scandal.

After discussing the scale of the Mary Hardy project, applauding the very high production standards and giving a transcription of two diary entries taken at random, he concludes his review with these reflections:

“Margaret Bird’s exhaustively-researched side notes tease out the meanings from these otherwise rather cryptic entries. And the author has not finished yet: four volumes of commentary and analysis will follow . . .

By the time she’s finished all that then surely the spirit of the Rev Francis . . . will have to nod its head to Norfolk’s most remarkable feat of historical dedication.”