Biography ~ recent titles
Crusader with Compassion: Dr Walter Hadwen, Gloucester GP, 1854-1932, by Michael Till
Walter Hadwen (1854-1932) moved to Gloucester in 1896 as a family doctor at the request of the local population, to advise them following a disastrous smallpox epidemic. He engendered great loyalty from his patients and community. He fought for improvements in local housing conditions and schools. His views and popularity caused antipathy among his medical colleagues. He served his patients with understanding and sympathy but his enemies were intent on challenging his opinions. An opportunity arose to confront publicly his clinical judgement in court. He stood by his sincerely held principles which would not be shaken. His influence as an antivivisectionist and antivaccinationist were felt world-wide. He was a man of passion and conviction and, as a gifted orator, was able to convince the listener that his views were irrefutable. Michael Till was until retirement himself a GP working in the practice which continued after Hadwen’s death, and bears his name. December 2019, 192pp, ill. (some colour) paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-78-5 (also available as a hardback, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-79-2).
A Swindon Wordsmith: the Life, Times and Works of George Ewart Hobbs, by Noel Ponting and Graham Carter
So-called ‘ordinary’ working towns sometimes hide their lights under bushels, but this book aims to put the record straight, to some extent – by paying tribute to one of Swindon’s forgotten wordsmiths. George Ewart Hobbs deserves to be remembered alongside fellow Swindon writers Alfred Williams and Richard Jefferies, particularly as his works tell us so much about the times through which he lived (1883-1946). Despite working full-time, for more than half a century, as a Great Western Railway engineer, George was a prolific writer, most of his works commissioned as weekly columns in Swindon’s local paper, the Advertiser. For the first time, this book republishes a sample of his works, including articles about many of the subjects that fascinated him – religion, philosophy, astronomy, spiritualism, engineering and more. But it also includes poetry, eyewitness reports on remarkable events of the day, pioneering comic sketches and even science fiction stories. As well as this literary legacy, George Ewart Hobbs’s vivid writing provides us with a unique and brilliantly observed insight into everyday and so-called ‘ordinary’ life in Swindon, a century ago. December 2019, 426pp, ill. paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-76-1 (also available as a hardback, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-77-8).
Sidney Herbert: Too Short a Life, by R. E. Foster
Christian philanthropist and patron of Florence Nightingale, Sidney Herbert was hailed in his own times as a statesman, administrative reformer and co-founder of the modern Liberal party. Strangely neglected since his death, this biography brilliantly recaptures, through its subject, some of the many paradoxes of Victorian Britain. At once both Irish landlord and ‘one of the most worthy Wiltshiremen who ever lived’, arguably only fatal illness deprived Sidney Herbert of the keys to Downing Street. March 2019, 528pp, illustrated paperback, £16.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-69-3 (also available as a jacketed hardback, £25, ISBN 978-1-906978-70-9).
The Turbulent Quaker of Shaftesbury, John Rutter (1796-1851), by John Stuttard
Rutter was a man of many talents and achievements, a polymath who lived in Shaftesbury at a time of great change in our society. He distinguished himself – and stirred up the local community – in various ways, as author, printer, publisher, social and political reformer, public servant, philanthropist and lawyer. Central to his philosophy was his Quaker belief, and this gives the book its title. Far more than just a biography, this penetrating and revealing study holds up a mirror to politics, society and religion in a small country town, meticulously researched and drawing frequently on original sources never before seen in print. November 2018, xii, 233 pages, illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-64-8 (also available casebound, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-63-1).
The Grotto Makers: Joseph and Josiah Lane of Tisbury, by Christina Richard
This is the story of two stonemasons from a remote Wiltshire village, father and son, whose lives stretched across the Georgian period, from 1717 to 1833. They became grotto builders, men of artistic genius, acknowledged experts in their speciality, but the sort of ordinary craftsmen whose achievements are not normally recorded in the official pages of history. They were responsible for many of the mysterious, decorative, thrilling grottoes which appeared during the 18th century in English landscape gardens. From Stourhead to Fonthill, Wycombe Abbey, Wimborne St Giles, Bowood, Bowden Park, Painshill and Oatlands Park, Claremont, Castle Hill, Ascot Place, Belcombe and Norbiton House, Joseph and Josiah constructed profusely decorated brick, timber and limestone caverns, tunnels, bath houses, gambling dens and cascades. Christina Richard has pieced together the story of the lives and work of Joseph and Josiah, and has enhanced her account with imaginative descriptions of village and family life at the time for people of their station. The result is an affectionate and revealing portrait of these two extraordinary men, who contributed so much to the elegance of England’s wonderful 18th century gardens. October 2018, 200 pages, fully illustrated in colour, paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-54-9.