Eleven full-scale book reviews of Mary Hardy and her World are featured here. A further three reviewers have compiled a six-page review article. The links lead to fuller extracts from each review.

Informal feedback from individual readers appears separately as a news item.


October 2021  |  “Their terms of reference are very wide.”

A comprehensive and very favourable review of all four volumes came out in the prestigious English Historical Review for October 2021: volume 136, issue 582, pages 1337–40.

Professor G.M. Ditchfield gives detailed comments on the usefulness of each of the “thematically-arranged companion volumes”. He applauds “the range and depth of the historical content of these volumes”.


late 2021  |  “Four volumes exploring 39 distinct topics . . . a tour de force”.

A detailed review of the first two volumes, but with observations on the others and on the Diary volumes, appears in the Agricultural History Review for 2021, Part 2: volume 69.2, pages 299–302.

Dr Susanna Wade Martins concludes that Volumes 1 and 2 “quickly dispel any notions that Georgian country life was remote, static and changeless”.


Spring 2021  |  “The story of nationwide radical change”.

The brewery and brewing historian Ken Smith analyses Volume 2 for the Brewery History Society’s journal Brewery History: no. 186, Spring 2021, pages 75–6.

“You will not just learn about the  . . . world that Mary Hardy and her family inhabit but about the country in general at a time of widespread change . . . It sets a scene of pre-industrialisation.”


February 2021  |  “An essential source book . . .; superbly produced and beautifully illustrated”.

The full set of four volumes of Mary Hardy and her World receives very favourable treatment by Dr Paul Jennings in an online review for the journal Cultural and Social History.

He summarises the study as forming “an essential source book for the economic, social, cultural, and political history of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries”.


January 2021  |  “Hardy deserves to be as well-known as Parson Woodforde.”

Professor William Gibson gives an emphatically positive assessment of both the usefulness of Mary Hardy’s record and Margaret Bird’s commentary in his book review of Volume 3 of Mary Hardy and her World in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History for January 2021.

He considers the study “a valuable and detailed portrait of religion and society in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries”.


October 2020  |  A comprehensive and very favourable set of book reviews has appeared in The Local Historian for October 2020. After a general overview, each of the four volumes of Mary Hardy and her World is examined in turn by three specialist reviewers.

Their consensus is that the books are “a joy to hold, read and use”. The journal’s long-standing editor Dr Alan Crosby opens by emphasising the scale and ambition of the Mary Hardy project:

This review article considers one of the most remarkable and ambitious historical publishing projects of recent years.

The Local Historian is the quarterly journal of the British Association for Local History. The Mary Hardy book reviews appeared in volume 50, number 4, for October 2020 and can be viewed in full by clicking on the title Mary Hardy and her World in the Reviews list on the journal’s website. The four reviews are summarised as a news item on the Burnham Press website.


19 September 2020  |  A professional indexer and book designer gives his appraisal of the detailed indexes to both sets of Mary Hardy volumes: Mary Hardy and her World 1773–1809  (2020) and The Diary of Mary Hardy 1773–1809  (2013).

Christopher Pipe’s analytical and appreciative article was published in the quarterly journal The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing, vol. 38, no. 3, September 2020.

He observes that the Mary Hardy volumes published by Burnham Press form “a grand total of 4,312 text pages (including thousands of black-and-white illustrations), plus 335 pages of appendices; there are also captions to 189 colour plates and a staggering 822 pages of index entries”.


12 August 2020  |  Two book reviews of Mary Hardy and her World have appeared in the Parson Woodforde Society Journal, volume 53, no. 2, for August 2020. The first covers all four volumes and is by the brewery and business historian Professor Richard G. Wilson.

The second concentrates on the third volume, with its special appeal for Parson Woodforde enthusiasts. The reviewer is the Venerable Dr William (Bill) Jacob, former Archdeacon of Charing Cross.

Both are full of praise for the new study, which they class as drawing on “imaginative research” and being “immensely accessible”.


19 July 2020  |  An Amazon reviewer, writing under the name Bazz, opens with these words:

“Every now and then a non-fiction work comes out that will stand the test of time (think Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, or Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne).

I think Margaret Bird’s Mary Hardy and her World is destined to join them.”


13 July 2020  |  A comprehensive four-page review was published in the Journal of the Aylsham Local History Society, volume 11, no. 9, for August 2020. By Maggie Vaughan-Lewis, the former Surrey County Archivist, it covers all four volumes. The review concludes:

“This really is a lifetime achievement, . . . giving us a unique experience of the past, through the world of Mary Hardy; we travel with, and are almost jostled by, the throng of characters in alehouses, ports, towns and breweries. The smell of malt lingers in the pages.”


13 June 2020  |  The second review in print appeared in the Newsletter of The Chapels Society (no. 74, May 2020). In a detailed review relating primarily to Volume 3, Bill Jacob, President of the society, concludes with this praise for all four volumes:

“All are beautifully produced, with many illustrations, and reflect extensive archival research and state-of-the-art scholarship in all areas with which I have any familiarity.”


29 May 2020  |  The first appeared in the Methodist Recorder of 29 May 2020. In a detailed review also relating primarily to Volume 3, Harvey Richardson, a supernumerary minister, refers to “this beautifully produced volume . . .”

“. . . the third in a four-volume set exploring and uncovering the great richness and agitation within the social, religious and economic challenges of the time.”

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Pre-publication article

Rowan Mantell highlights some intriguing features of Mary Hardy’s record:  250-year-old diary