“The queen of living history” (Lucy Worsley) returns with an immersive account of how English women sparked a worldwide revolution—from their own kitchens.
No single invention epitomizes the Victorian era more than the black cast-iron range. Aware that the twenty-first-century has reduced it to a quaint relic, Ruth Goodman was determined to prove that the hot coal stove provided so much more than morning tea: it might even have kick-started the Industrial Revolution. Wielding the wit and passion seen in How to Be a Victorian, Goodman traces the tectonic shift from wood to coal in the mid-sixteenth century—from sooty trials and errors during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I to the totally smog-clouded reign of Queen Victoria. A pattern of innovation emerges as the women stoking these fires also stoked new global industries: from better soap to clean smudges to new ingredients for cooking. Laced with uproarious anecdotes of Goodman’s own experience managing a coal-fired household, this fascinating book shines a hot light on the power of domestic necessity.
About the Author
Ruth Goodman is the author of multiple books including How to Be a Victorian. An historian of British life, she has presented a number of BBC television series, including Tudor Monastery Farm. She lives in the United Kingdom.
Goodman offers a detailed, abundantly illustrated picture of the ways coal changed daily life for all classes throughout Great Britain, drawing from a prodigious number of sources. . . In addition, she recounts her own experiences in facsimile houses. . . An engaging history of social transformation.
— Kirkus Reviews