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Social History Books

Our Social History books cover a wide range of topics, from nineteenth and twentieth century history to the domestic, and from local history to memoirs.

Memories of Haslar:
Staff and Patients Write About Britain's
Best-Loved Hospital

compiled by Eric Birbeck and David Gary

book social history film studies publishers Memories of Haslar is packed with stories and anecdotes from patients and staff, plus over 100 photographs, many from the hospital's own archives. The stories told here span seven decades, from World War II to the day Haslar closed its doors for the last time in 2009. Some will make you laugh, and some undoubtedly will bring a tear to your eye. All will make you realise just what a special place Haslar occupies in so many people's hearts.
Illustrated paperback, £9.99, 160 pages
ISBN 978-1-911105-46-6

Too Much World: How I Survive as an Autistic Girl

by Claire Murphy

book social history film studies publishers Claire spent 30 years trying to 'fit in'. But constantly pretending to be just like everyone else placed an intolerable strain on her mental health. Then she discovered the truth: she was autistic. Autism is a gift, a blessing, if you (and the rest of society) understand, accept and manage it. But un-diagnosed and un-managed autism, or autism accompanied by mental health disorders, is a curse. You can fall through the net, desperately competing to fit into a world that was not built to accommodate you. Too Much World is a searingly honest autobiographical account of how Claire survives as an autistic girl: about friendship, mental health and the importance of empathy. It is an open door into one brain with remarkable differences. Differences that have been masked and hidden away... until now. With 15 illustrations by the author.

Illustrated square-format paperback, £10.99, 158 pages
ISBN 978-1-911105-50-3

Available exclusively from Chaplin Books from 16 February 2020. Not available more widely until 26 March.

Up Spirits

by Peter Broadbent

book social history film studies publishers Until that fateful day in 1970 when the Royal Navy abolished the rum ration, the one thing that every Royal Navy sailor could rely on was that 'Up Spirits' would be piped at approximately 11:45 each day . 'Tot-time' was the cue for plenty of banter and lamp-swinging, but also for baffling negotiations as to who might have sippers, wets, gulpers, halfers, sandy bottoms, or their share of 'Queen's'. With the same humour, affection and story-telling ability that characterised his earlier naval memoirs, including HMS Ganges Days and HMS Bermuda Days, Peter Broadbent tells the tale of his nine months as an Able Seaman on board HMS Gurkha, touring the Persian Gulf with a few detours to the Seychelles, Kenya and the Mozambique channel. Along the way he coxswains Royal Marines on a RIB to track down smugglers, pits his wits against a line-up of ultra-intelligent dolphins, persuades dozens of girls from a jam factory in Leeds to write to 'lonely sailors', is one of the transfer team that initiated the 'Beira Bucket' when used to trade its contents for desperately needed toilet paper from HMS Eskimo, and makes it to Gibraltar in time to celebrate England winning the 1966 World Cup.

Illustrated paperback, 342 pages, £10.99
ISBN 978-1-911105-40-4

I Was Rupert Murdoch's Figleaf

by John Bull

book social history film studies publishers A pale ray of sunlight seeps through a dusty stained glass window to light a shabby congregation - all kneeling, eyes closed in devout prayer: "Thank you, Lord. Thank you for saving us."

The scene is a Fleet Street pub at lunchtime - and, as yet, hardly a drop's been touched. I stand up, cross myself, dust the knees of my corduroy trousers and reach to take a grateful sip of my pint of London Pride. All around me my fellow workers are rising from their knees: men - and a few women - all known to the world as penny liars, scribbling scum, foot-in-the-door merchants, callous bastards, and reptiles. The massed hacks of the News of the World.

We are celebrating a crucial moment. Just ended is a long, bitter financial war. It has been the saving of the world's best-selling Sunday paper from the grasping hands of the monster - Robert Maxwell. And our unlikely saviour? A newcomer to the Fleet Street jungle, a raw young hayseed from the Australian outback - Rupert Murdoch.

In this lively memoir, John Bull lifts the lid on what it was really like to work on the 'News of the Screws' in its heyday, producing what the staid British Establishment called a 'torrent of filth' every Sunday - and selling four million copies a week.
Illustrated paperback, £9.99
ISBN 978-1-909183-69-8

A Singapore Fling - An AB's Far-Flung Adventure

by Peter Broadbent

book social history film studies publishers Having survived the notorious HMS Ganges and 'cut his teeth' onboard HMS Bermuda, Peter Broadbent believed that he was equipped for anything the Royal Navy could throw at him.

For 18 incident-filled months (1962-64) he 'did his bit' onboard HMS Lincoln caught up in the Malaysian Crisis, on the other side of the world. For the young sailor, this meant visiting every corner of the Far East from Singapore, Hong Kong and Osaka, to Manila, Sandakan and Lankawi. The nature of the Crisis seemed to pass him by, as he was more interested in acquiring a suntan, buying his first pair of flip-flops, exploring Bugis Street, downing bottles of Tiger, and avoiding the clutches of a girl with bad teeth known as 'Piano'. Along the way, he crossed the equator, qualified as an AB, tasted his first rum ration, manned a Kumpit Boarding Party in search of enemy vessels, and spent a week in the jungle with the Gurkhas. His return to the UK coincided with the appearance on the streets of that design classic, the mini-skirt. He had just celebrated his twentieth birthday and the girls of the United Kingdom voluntarily hoisted their hemlines in acknowledgment.

This engaging and humorous memoir, filled with colourful characters, is a worthy sequel to Peter Broadbent's previous books, HMS Ganges Days and HMS Bermuda Days, which have garnered excellent reviews.

Illustrated paperback, 318 pages, £10.99
ISBN 978-911105-00-8

The Wonder of Woolies

Memories from both sides of the counter of Britain's best-loved store
compiled by Derek Phillips with a foreword by Paul Atterbury of BBC Antiques Roadshow

book social history film studies publishers Do you remember Melba chocolate, spud guns, Embassy records, pick 'n' mix, broken biscuits, Homemaker china, Californian Poppy perfume, and Ladybird children's clothes? Then you will love the book that brings these, and many other memories, flooding back. The Wonder of Woolies is a celebration of that great British store - Woolworth's - in the words of people who worked and shopped there. In addition to memories from every corner of Britain, the book describes the rise of the '3d and 6d store' king, Frank Winfield Woolworth, and some of the dramatic events that marked Woolworth's history, such as the tragic fire at the Manchester store in 1979 and the bombing of the Deptford store in 1944.

Illustrated paperback, 164 pages, £8.99
ISBN 978-0-9553334-5-3
Read an extract of The Wonder of Woolies

The Night They Blitzed The Ritz

Memoirs of a Bomb-Alley Kid
by John Bull

book social history film studies publishers This is the Blitz story from a fresh new perspective - through the eyes of a small boy and his gang of streetwise Bomb Alley Kids. It was the worst of times for adults, thrust into the front line of the war by relentless night-bombing, with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. It was maybe the best of times for children, with every bombsite, aeroplane and wailing siren holding a promise of pleasurable terror. In this personal memoir, John Bull - a former News of the World columnist - perfectly captures the tragicomic, often farcical, events of everyday survival and the tribal stubbornness that stopped the Brits from 'chucking it in'.

Illustrated paperback, 128 pages, £8.99
ISBN 978-0-9565595-0-0
Read an extract of The Night They Blitzed The Ritz

The Smile on the Face of the Pig

Confessions of the Last Cub Reporter
by John Bull

book social history film studies publishers Murder, lurid courtroom dramas, gypsy horse fairs, eccentric admirals, child brides, and falling in love - it's all in a day's work for cub reporter John Bull. Meet a cast of characters - from the parish clerk who dresses like a French resistance fighter, complete with rifle over her shoulder, to the medium whose spirit guide (her soldier boyfriend killed in World War II) gets in touch by pinging her suspender belt. The Smile on the Face of the Pig is a cheeky exposé of life in the 1950s: crazy nights at the theatre with the old-time music-hall stars, skinny-dipping by starlight, drinking with the freebooting river-folk, and riding through the freezing night on a BSA motorbike chasing the Big Scoop that will carry him to Fleet Street, fame and fortune....

Illustrated paperback, 164 pages, £8.99
ISBN 978-0-9565595-4-8
Read an extract of The Smile on the Face of the Pig in Issue No. 1 of Inside Story

Britain's Wartime Milkmen

by Tom Phelps

book social history film studies publishers When the bombs rained down and houses were reduced to piles of rubble, the familiar figure of the milkman picking his way along the street, jaunty cap on his head, was an immensely reassuring sight. Sometimes he would place a pint on the front step of a house where the only part of the building that had survived was the doorstep itself - knowing that neighbours would find where the occupants were sheltering and make sure they got their milk. Often the 'milkman' would actually be a woman, or a young boy, or a man too old for active service, because the regular roundsman had been called up.

This fascinating book, packed with over 100 photographs and anecdotes, charts how Britain's milkmen played a key role in the nation's morale through the Great War and into the Second World War. It also shows how the industry itself went through many changes: from three deliveries a day made by 'milk pram', a heavy handcart containing large churns from which the milkman measured out the milk for customers, to the introduction of bottled milk delivered by horse-drawn carts, and finally to the electric milk-float.

Illustrated paperback, £9.99
ISBN 978-1909183-68-1

Dear Miss Landau...

The true story of the Rain Man who came in from the cold
by James Christie

book social history film studies publishers Every morning James Christie puts on a blue rugby shirt and jeans. His wardrobe is full of identical outfits. Every day he eats the same meal and drinks from the same mug. These are not ingrained habits, but survival strategies. For James, coping with new experiences feels like smashing his head through a plate glass window. The only relief comes from belting the heavy bag at the boxing club or watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He's an autistic man lost in a neuro-typical world. Differently wired. Alien. Despite a high IQ, it seems he'll spend the next 20 years cleaning toilets. But then his life takes an amazing turn - from a Glasgow tenement to a rendezvous with a Hollywood star on Sunset Boulevard. On that road trip across America, the man who feels he lacks a soul will find it. Eight time zones and 5,000 miles away, he has a date with the actress who played Drusilla, the kooky vampire who changed his life when he saw her in a Buffy episode. Drusilla has no soul either. And maybe that's the attraction. But Drusilla is fictional. The lady he'll see on Sunset is Juliet Landau. She's real, and that's a very different proposition...

Illustrated paperback, 234 pages, £8.99
ISBN 978-0-9565595-6-2
Read an extract of Dear Miss Landau in Issue No. 1 of Inside Story
Find out what BBC Radio 4 said about Dear Miss Landau in Issue No. 2 of Inside Story

Dear Miss Landau has inspired a stage musical. Click here to go to the website for the musical, and to buy the music CD with 12 songs from the show.

I Came Out Sideways: From Liverpool to Another Place

by George Porter

book social history film studies publishers George Porter was born on the fault-line, the perilous place where he lived neither in material comfort nor in abject poverty. To one side of his family's cramped home in Waterloo, were the terrors of the Liverpool slums, where they would surely end up if his father continued to bet on losers; to the other were the well-to-do who lived in council houses and had manners and ways of life that were completely alien to 'little Georgie.' His boyhood heroes were Flash Gordon, Zorro and - best of all - Popeye, and though he'd never heard of philosophy, he came to realise that Popeye's cry of 'I am what I am' was a good enough guide to getting through life. Written off by the education system for failing the eleven-plus, George spent his time kicking toe-enders against the wall of the pub and dreaming of playing alongside the great Billy Liddell, while his brother went to Grammar School to learn Latin and rugby, subjects that it was assumed that George would have no possible use for. His life changed when he joined the Boy Scouts, acquired an armful of badges, bought the militaristic propaganda wholesale, and signed up at the age of 14 to join the Army. In this witty memoir full of fascinating characters, George Porter perfectly captures the spirit of Liverpool in the aftermath of war; what it was like to be told you had your 'brains in your boots' because you couldn't recite your twelve times table; and how just one fortuitous meeting changed his life.

Paperback, 140 pages, £9.99
ISBN 978-1-909183-67-4

HMS Ganges Days: From Nozzer to Dabtoe in 386 Days

by Peter Broadbent

book social history film studies publishers When Peter Broadbent entered HMS Ganges, the toughest training establishment for young recruits to the Royal Navy, he was a naive 15-year-old Yorkshire schoolboy, entranced with the idea of seeing the world, proud of his drainpipe trousers and DA hairstyle, and eager to meet girls. In other words, he was a 'Nozzer' - a raw and unsuspecting recruit. When he emerged 386 days later it was as a prospective 'Dabtoe', not quite a fully trained Seaman, but well on the way. This funny and vivid memoir accurately captures what it was like to climb the mast, have your kit trashed, learn to swear, develop a taste for Kye and Stickies, double around the parade-ground at dead of night in your pyjamas, endlessly run up and down Laundry Hill ... and to do it all and much more while being continually barracked by a demanding Petty Officer Instructor. Along the way, Peter relished learning the Navy lingo and how to sail. He consumed platefuls of Cheese Ush, won a boxing certificate, discovered a secret stash of Playboy magazines, smoked thousands of cigarettes, and convinced girls back home that his shorn hair was in fact the very latest fashion 'down south'.

Illustrated paperback, 284 pages, £10.99
ISBN 978-1-909183-13-1
Read an extract from HMS Ganges Days in Issue No. 2 of Inside Story

Exploring the History of Lee-on-the-Solent

by John W Green and Robin A Money

book social history film studies publishers Walking around Lee-on-the-Solent provides tantalising glimpses into its past - whether it's the balconied Victorian buildings in Pier Street, the Art Deco frontages above the shops in Marine Parade West, the airfield with its gliders soaring peacefully overhead, the hovercraft museum, the sight of yachts on the sparkling waters of the Solent, or the lengthy list of names on the War Memorial. And perhaps you remember, or have heard talk of, the Tower with its ballroom and cinema, the Pier Hotel in its heyday, and the outdoor swimming pool? But what's the real story behind the history of Lee-on-the-Solent? Whether you are a resident or a visitor, you are bound to discover something new in this fascinating account. Best of all, you'll discover why you should raise a glass to John Robinson, the Victorian entrepreneur without whom Lee-on-the-Solent would surely not exist.

Illustrated paperback, 252 pages, £9.99
ISBN 978-1-909183-30-8

A Victorian Somebody: The Life of George Grossmith

by Stephen Wade

book social history film studies publishers In the 1880s, George Grossmith was the dazzling comic star of Gilbert and Sullivan's immensely popular Savoy operas. London theatregoers waited excitedly for the next production, knowing that George would be cast in the lead role of the 'patter man'. He was also many other things in his life, including Bow Street court reporter, piano entertainer for high society, and in the 1890s, with his brother Weedon, the author of the humorous classic work of fiction, The Diary of a Nobody, which has never been out of print and continues to inspire other writers. In this fascinating book, Stephen Wade tells the story of Grossmith's life, from Penny Reading entertainer to self-styled 'society clown.' A Victorian Somebody places him firmly in context, recalls the many friends and colleagues who worked with George, and puts him once again centre stage, exactly where he should be.

Illustrated paperback, £10.99
ISBN 978-1-909183-70-4

HMS Bermuda Days: an Ordinary Seaman's Log

by Peter Broadbent

book social history film studies publishers In 1961 the Royal Navy came up with a brilliant idea: why not take all its rogues, thugs and malcontents and place them on board its flagship, HMS Bermuda, where hard work and continuous exercising would keep them out of trouble? Joining this colourful crew was sixteen-year-old Peter Broadbent, fresh out of his year's training at HMS Ganges, and drafted to 'Bermadoo' to make up the ship's quota of Junior Seamen. Initially he lived a cocooned existence in the Juniors' mess, with a community of cockroaches as his closest companions, but his life changed dramatically the day he transferred to the notorious For'd Seamen's Mess. There, he grew up. In the course of his 34,000 nautical miles with Bermuda, he learned how to ammunition the ship, avoid Pompey Lil, sing the Oggie song, survive a storm, throw a perfect heaving line and count himself proud to be a 'sharp-end seaman'. On his eighteenth birthday, the entire population of Hamilton, Bermuda, along with a uniformed band and full ceremonial, enthusiastically welcomed Peter and his ship; in Stockholm he had a memorable dalliance with a local girl called Gunnel, and in Amsterdam a professional businesswoman at work in Canal Street was so impressed with his performance that, as he took his leave, she shook his hand warmly and gave him some of her business cards.

Illustrated paperback, 316 pages, £10.99
ISBN 978-1-909183-39-1

Memories of Ultra

compiled by Geoff O'Neill and Mick Laming

book social history film studies publishers When Ultra moved into its purpose-built plant on Fareham Road in 1959, there was just one factory on the site. Then, as the business grew, more and more factories were built until it became the largest television plant in Europe. At its peak, in the early 1970s, it employed over 3,000 people, turning out 14,000 mono televisions every single week. Ultra operated around the clock and new staff were constantly being recruited. Despite the overwhelming noise of machinery, the clanking of overhead conveyor belts, and the need for total concentration in order to keep pace with the fast-moving assembly lines, a huge spirit of camaraderie blossomed. Ultra became far more than just a place of work: it was more like a family. This book is packed with people's memories, anecdotes and photographs. You'll read about the Christmas parties (when the men couldn't find safe refuge even in the gents' toilets), the trips to Jersey and Mallorca, the baton-twirling Ultraettes, the variety shows, the hole in the fence where parts were smuggled out, the awarding of 'plank of the week' for stopping the line, the massed charge by the assembly girls at the end of the day … and why the man in the dark suit got a slap on the face.

Illustrated paperback, 98 pages, £9.99
Available exclusively from the publisher: not available in bookshops.

The Happiest Days of Their Lives?

Nineteenth-century education
through the eyes of those who were there

by Marion Aldis and Pam Inder

book social history film studies publishers What do you think of when you hear the phrase 'nineteenth-century schooling'? The bullies of Tom Brown's Schooldays? The cane-wielding headmaster of Dotheboys Hall in Nicholas Nickleby? Or Latin lessons, writing slates, learning-by-rote and the smell of ink? In this lively and engrossing book, Marion Aldis and Pam Inder separate the truth from the fiction by examining the diaries, letters and drawings of children and teachers from schools across the United Kingdom. The result is a vivid picture of what it was really like to be at school in the nineteenth century. Among the characters in this book are Ralphy, hopelessly unteachable but an avid collector of 'curiosities'; Miss Paraman, sadistic teacher in a Dame School; Ann, who became a bluestocking in spite of chaotic home-schooling; Gerald, who spent too much time at Harrow School on cricket and socialising; the Quaker school where both girls and boys studied algebra, chemistry and shorthand; Sarah Jane, enrolled in a lace school at the age of six; and the National Schools where children were absent during the harvest.

Illustrated paperback, 318 pages, £10.99
ISBN 978-1-911105-01-5

Fareham Revisited

by Michael Stephenson

book social history film studies publishers Fareham Revisited started out as a poem, which Michael Stephenson was inspired to write when he was reflecting on how much his home town had changed since the 1950s and 1960s. The poem and its sentiments struck a chord with so many people that he decided to write a book about Fareham that would evoke more of these memories. The book was privately published in 2004. This new revised and expanded edition will delight anyone who remembers the town in its heyday - and will also intrigue newcomers. Part-memoir and part-history, Fareham Revisited perfectly captures the allure of the shops and cafés along the 'Golden Mile', the alleyways or 'drokes', the old cottages, the market with its livestock, the coal barges at the Quay and the well-known characters, including dairy boss Tom Parker who drove around Fareham in a four-horse-power carriage, though his milkmen still used the horse-and-cart. For bus and railway enthusiasts this, too, is the perfect book, as the author casts an expert eye on the bus companies that plied their trade in Fareham, with their distinctive livery, and remembers the last days of steam trains, of which he had a privileged view, as the house in which his family lived was next to the railway line.

Illustrated A4 paperback, 232 pages, 24 black-and-white and 21 colour illustrations, £14.99

Famous Prisoners of Wormwood Scrubs

by Stephen Wade

book social history film studies publishers Wormwood Scrubs is Britain's most 'media-soaked' prison. Its celebrity inmates have provided the tabloids with many good stories, from Rolling Stone Keith Richards - banged up for drugs offences - to notorious spy George Blake, whose escape enthralled the country. It has entertained the Master of the Queen's music, Sir Michael Tippett, socialist scrapper Fred Copeman, rebellious soul Pete Doherty, influential writer Joe Orton, lifetime litigant Lord Alfred Douglas, fraudster John Stonehouse and professional con Charles Bronson. In this book, you'll read about the forgotten, as well as the famous; the plain as well as the extraordinary. It is an enthralling gallery of rogues, liars, spies, mountebanks, lovers of courtroom strife and general, all-round villains who did anything to get rich.

Illustrated paperback, 136 pages, £9.99
ISBN 978-1-909183-51-3
Read an extract of Famous Prisoners of Wormwood Scrubs in Issue No. 5 of Inside Story

Going Over the Water: Memories of the Gosport Ferry

compiled by David Gary

book social history film studies publishers The Gosport Ferry occupies a special place in people's lives. Day in, day out, it calmly plies back and forth across Portsmouth Harbour, and though the ferries themselves may have changed over the years - from steam-boats with open decks, where passengers were exposed to the elements, to the comfortable diesel craft of today with their heated saloons - they are still the source of familiar stories, handed down through the generations. This fascinating book contains dozens of those stories: of the ferry that got lost in the fog, of the man who misjudged the leap from the pontoon and ended up in the water, of the pile of bicycles on the bow, of the Dockyard matey who met the girl of his dreams on board, of seeing down into the engine-room below, and even of the dog that travelled on the first ferry every morning - on his own - to go to Portsmouth Meat Market for a bone. Many recall the 'Floating Bridge' too, and although no-one is alive today who remembers the days of the 'wherrymen' who used to row customers across the Harbour, their names and their legacy live on.

Illustrated paperback, £9.99
Available exclusively from the publisher: not available in bookshops.
Read an extract from Going Over the Water: Memories of the Gosport Ferry in Issue 10 of Inside Story

800 Days in Doha

by Penelope Gordon

book social history film studies publishers When Penelope Gordon was headhunted to go and work in Doha, Qatar, her sole experience of the Middle East had been a brief luxury break in Dubai. Her husband Lionel, a much-travelled naval officer, was more blasé about the move, but neither was quite prepared for the experience that followed. Penelope left her NHS job at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth to head up medical leadership and education in a state-of-the-art set of hospitals in Qatar - a country, she discovered, where there were no maps, where everyone drove their cars rather like they'd drive camels (fast and wildly), where many of her female staff were completely swathed in black with only their eyes visible, and where no-one expected to have to do something when there was a servant to do it for them, even if it was only pressing the 'start' button on the coffee machine. In this captivating and amusing memoir, Penelope shows how she managed to find the humour in dealing with a culture that was often baffling and opaque - and how she not only survived 800 days in Doha, but turned it into an adventure.

Paperback, 193 pages, £9.99
ISBN 978-1-911105-32-9

See a video of Penelope Gordon reading from 800 Days in Doha:

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