1815 was the year of Waterloo, the British victory that ended Napoleon's European ambitions and ushered in a century largely of peace for Britain. But what sort of country were Wellington's troops fighting for? And what kind of society did they return to?
Stephen Bates paints a vivid portrait of every aspect of Britain in 1815. Overseas, the bounds of Empire were expanding; while at home the population endured the chill of economic recession. As Jane Austen busied herself with the writing of Emma, John Nash designed Regent Street, Humphrey Davy patented his safety lamp for miners and Lord's cricket ground held its first match in St John's Wood, and a nervous government infiltrated dissident political movements and resorted to repressive legislation to curb free speech.
The Year In series gets to the heart of social and cultural life in the UK at key points in its history.
Stephen Bates has worked as a journalist for the BBC, the Telegraph, the Mail and, for 23 years, as political correspondent at the Guardian. He is the bestselling author of Church at War and God's Own Country.
Penny Loaves and Butter Cheap, Stephen Bate's kaleidoscopic picture of Britain in 1846 is in all good bookshops and available in ebook now.
I expected more than I got from this book, in several ways. I noticed as I was reading it that the author seemed to be getting ahead of himself - not that I expected him to stick closely to 1815 all the way through, but he only seemed to focus on the military aspects of that year, and became distracted by the radical movements and the 'year without a summer' (1816). However the last straw was when the book suddenly finished at 74% and there was a lengthy 'preview' of a book about a completely different year (1846).