The Domestic Revolution
By Ruth Goodman
Rated: 4 stars ****
The Domestic Revolution takes readers to the 16th Century, where fascinating change is afoot. The Domestic Revolution is the start of the Industrial Revolution to accomodate changing desires. This Domestic Revolution firmly places changing times right into the home in a relatable way. Think history isn’t for you? Think again, The Domestic Revolution shows the progression of life and it is relatable to what we have today in an accessible style.
The book is already praised by her fellow historian – Lucy Worsley.
I thank Love Book Tours for inviting me onto the blog tour and for providing a beautiful hardback copy.
Follow down to the blurb and full review for more about the book and more of my thoughts on it.
About the Author
For the first time, shows how the Industrial Revolution truly began in the kitchen – a revolution run by women|Told with Ruth’s inimitable wit, passion and commitment to revealing the nitty-gritty of life across three centuries of extraordinary change, from the Elizabethan to the Victorian age|A TV regular, Ruth has appeared on some of BBC 2’s most successful shows, including, Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, Tudor Monastery Farm, Inside the Food Factory and most recently Full Steam Ahead, as well as being a regular expert presenter on The One Show|The critically acclaimed author of How to Be a Victorian, How to be a Tudor and How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain
A large black cast iron range glowing hot, the kettle steaming on top, provider of everything from bath water and clean socks to morning tea: it’s a nostalgic icon of a Victorian way of life. But it is far more than that. In this book, social historian and TV presenter Ruth Goodman tells the story of how the development of the coal-fired domestic range fundamentally changed not just our domestic comforts, but our world.
The revolution began as far back as the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, when London began the switch from wood to coal as its domestic fuel – a full 200 years before any other city. It would be this domestic demand for more coal that would lead to the expansion of mining, engineering, construction and industry: the Domestic Revolution kick-started, pushed and fuelled the Industrial Revolution.
There were other radical shifts. Coal cooking was to change not just how we cooked but what we cooked (causing major swings in diet), how we washed (first our laundry and then our bodies) and how we decorated (spurring the wallpaper industry). It also defined the nature of women’s and men’s working lives, pushing women more firmly into the domestic sphere. It transformed our landscape and environment (by the time of Elizabeth’s death in 1603, London’s air was as polluted as that of modern Beijing). Even tea drinking can be brought back to coal in the home, with all its ramifications for the shape of the empire and modern world economics.
Taken together, these shifts in our day-to-day practices started something big, something unprecedented, something that was exported across the globe and helped create the world we live in today.
The Domestic Revolution takes readers through the midsts of time and how the excavation and use of coal had a real impact in shaping lives and expanding what could be achieved in the home. It was a real game changer when it came to, not just how homes could be heated and how people could bathe but also in how and what could be cooked. In our homes today, it may be hard to believe, especially for younger generations who have perhaps not experienced a coal fire etc, but this was a vast change in technological advancements and improvements to what industry could do and for what people in the home could do, especially where women were concerned.
There were advancements in soap-making and it shows that, even though humans now know that coal can’t last forever (it is worth bearing in mind that in the 16th century, this and the effects were not known, it was instead an exciting development), the things we do see today, may not have come into being may not have ever happened and we may not use what we do today as the technologies wouldn’t exist. So, as far as the book goes, it does make you think about the world today, but also reminds us that this was a big deal and much needed thing for many advancements of today. It was one that was brought about by ordinary people as well as the more wealthy that changed the landscape and has some positives and some negatives to it, as argued out in the book. There was a Domestic Revolution afoot and people wanted change and it sowed some of the seeds for the Industrial Revolution to be able to accomodate people’s desires, as illustrated in this beautifully bound book.
It makes for a fascinating book that can be easily dipped in and out of or read all at once. It’s fairly easy-going in style, once it gets going after a bit of a sluggish start. I guess, like the Industrial Revolution, nothing happens overnight. It makes you think that every time there is change in energy supplies, there will be pros and cons. Every sentence contains a dollop of information. It is well laid-out where the text is and the pictures are to convey and back up the written word.It is clearly well-researched and there is a huge bibliography that accompanies it at the back of the book.