Radio 4's A History of Private Life

  • by Amanda Vickery, Simon Tcherniak
  • Narrated by Deborah Findlay, John Sessions, Jasmine Hyde, Jeremy Young, Madeleine Brolly
  • 6 hrs and 41 mins
  • Radio/TV Program

Publisher's Summary

An engrossing BBC Radio 4 series spanning the history of the home and domestic relationships over the past 500 years, presented by Amanda Vickery.
Professor Amanda Vickery is one of the most charismatic historians in Britain today. In A History of Private Life she reveals the intimate secrets of life at home, from the Tudor mansion to the modern bedsit.
Through letters, diaries and other first-person accounts, we hear the voices of men and women from very different backgrounds telling their stories. Men behaving badly, adulterers on the sofa, servants running amok, bashful bachelors, and glamorous widows - all are revealed in their own words, providing a revealing portrait of how these long-dead people lived day to day and illuminating the problems, pleasures, successes, and catastrophes of domestic life.
Among the actors bringing this history to life are Deborah Findlay, John Sessions, Jasmine Hyde, Jeremy Young, Simon Tcherniak, and Madeleine Brolly. The series also features songs from the 18th and 19th century specially arranged and performed by David Owen Norris, who is accompanied on keyboards by singers Gwyneth Herbert and Thomas Guthrie.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


I loved this book. The view into everyday lives of people whose experiences so closely mirror our own, but who experienced these things many years ago, is fascinating. The music expertly reinforced the mood. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes either social history or the books of Bill Bryson - his stories about ordinary people, their lives and their emotions are similar.
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- MaryB

Bite-sized glimpses into the past

This program is divided into numerous 15-minute episodes that were clearly originally broadcast one-a-day or something, so it has a very bitty feel to it. Each episode has a theme, and all are interesting, although naturally there isn't time for much depth here. The programs are intersperced with period songs and readings from diaries etc, and the whole thing is done with the professionalism you would expect from a BBC production. As a glimpse into domestic life this is brief but quite informative concerning upper and middle class life, but offers almost nothing on the lives of the masses, the poor working the fields or latterly in the growing industrial towns. As a social history then it is anything but comprehensive, but then it was never meant to be, and as an entertaining program with a few surprising nuggets of information I enjoyed this greatly.
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- Dave

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-08-2010
  • Publisher: BBC Worldwide Limited