World Volumes

In this four-volume edition by Margaret Bird the books may be purchased separately or as a set of four.

All are hardback, and each volume has an editorial introduction, chronology, bibliography and index. Volumes 1, 2 and 3 have appendices.

The illustrations are black and white and full colour.

The FRONT COVERS of the complete series of Mary Hardy volumes are pictured on the Home page.

You can buy the books from this website or from

The four hardback volumes of commentary

Further information about the contents of Mary Hardy and her World can be found on the links below.

The prices are for direct sales from this website:

Volume 1   ·   A working family

818 pages · hardback  |  210 x 148 mm

388 b/w illustrations · 29 figures · 54 colour plates · colour dustjacket

ISBN 978–1–9162067–1–7  |  April 2020  |  price £37.50

+ £3.50 UK post and packing

Volume 2   ·   Barley, beer and the working year

896 pages · hardback  |  210 x 148 mm

360 b/w illustrations · 81 figures · 42 colour plates · colour dustjacket

ISBN 978–1–9162067–2–4  |  April 2020  |  price £37.50    

+ £3.50 UK post and packing

Volume 3    ·   Spiritual and social forces

818 pages · hardback  |  210 x 148 mm

315 b/w illustrations · 47 figures · 38 colour plates · colour dustjacket

ISBN 978–1–9162067–3–1  |  April 2020  |  price £37.50  

+ £3.50 UK post and packing

Volume 4   ·   Under sail and under arms

800 pages · hardback  |  210 x 148 mm

391 b/w illustrations · 31 figures · 57 colour plates  · colour dustjacket

ISBN 978–1–9162067–4–8  |  April 2020 |  price £37.50    

+ £3.50 UK post and packing


3332 pages · ISBN 978–1–9162067–5–5  |  April 2020

price £130.00  + £8.00 UK post and packing 

To enquire about overseas shipping please use the Contact form.

Publication day was 23 April 2020. 


Family trees

The family trees display the extended family of the diarists Mary Hardy and Henry Raven. Volume 2 also contains the family trees of four other Norfolk brewing dynasties: Brereton of Letheringsett, and Browne, Ives and Wells of Coltishall.

The former Coltishall Free School

The Free School at Coltishall attended by Mary Hardy’s young sons. Spirited, mercurial William held his own against the master in 1779 and was supported in this by his parents. From then onwards regular formal education ceased for the nine-year-old. His chosen world was malting, brewing and estate creation

Some of the themes of this study

The World volumes have a series of themes running through them. These include:

  • Control—of the workforce, of children of the poor through Sunday schools, and of the landscape through park creation and enclosure
  • Mutual respect and interdependence within the family unit. Women and children were valued for their contribution to the success of the family concern. Widows like the brewer Rose Ives, innkeeper Elizabeth Sheppard and grocer Mary Davy, and also married women, actively ran businesses
  • Consequent lack of respect for academic education. The master of Coltishall Free School (pictured), and teachers elsewhere, had tussles with the Hardys and other parents
  • Mobility. The Hardys, their circle and their workforce were often on the move in their daily routines
  • The transcendence of the immediate confines of their lives. Relations with suppliers and customers and local papers’ provision of world news fostered outward-looking attitudes
  • Long working hours. The working day, week and year were all very long. The Hardys adjusted their mealtimes to suit working people: dinner at midday, and very late suppers
  • The change from customary relationships at work to capitalist. Financial pressures meant that time-wasting was not permitted
  • Vertical integration in a business, whereby the farmer was also a maltster, brewer and owner of public houses
  • The constant threat of debt and bankruptcy, affecting all the trades and professions recorded by Mary Hardy
  • Religious vitality, and the vigour of the pursuit of spiritual self-fulfilment

A mythical being

If the Mary Hardy volumes achieve anything, it is to be hoped they will explode the myth of “the typical Georgian parson”. Such a being never existed.

This assertion is explained in Volume 3. The Church of England clergymen of Mary Hardy’s acquaintance—forty or more—jostle on the page in a glorious miscellany. John Venn’s six-volume Alumni Cantabrigienses (published 1940–54), an invaluable companion to her diary, shows that most of her clerical circle had been sizars at Cambridge. In return for waiting upon their wealthier fellow undergraduates they paid reduced fees, as did servitors at Oxford.

These men knew the humiliations of the sizar’s garret, and understood the uncertainties and hardships suffered by their impoverished parishioners. One such was the Revd Thomas Bowman (1728–92), whose career is examined in Volume 3. An early Evangelical, he undertook a self-imposed missionary task across a 20-mile swathe from his home parish.

His engaging sermons, held in the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, show a genius for leadership and an empathy with the humblest of his scattered flock—born perhaps of his years as a sizar.

Martham church with Eve spinning

The mediaeval glass of Thomas Bowman’s church at Martham has a barefoot Eve alluringly spinning in the Garden of Eden

Committed pastors

Mary Hardy’s age predated the “squarson” (the squire–parson) in his huge rectory. The majority of parsonages, where parishes had them at all, were at the level of hovels—as the clergy despairingly told the Bishop in the visitation returns.

The use of Venn’s biographies of graduates is just one illustration of the harnessing of the secondary sources to support the diary text and enhance our understanding of its significance. It is also clear however that a good proportion of the Church of England clergy in Norfolk were not graduates. These included some of the most gifted and committed pastors, who clearly understood the needs of the poor.

The banner shows blossom time at St Nicholas, Dereham. Mary Hardy’s first-born, Raven, was christened here in 1767.

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Pre-publication article

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