Saturday, 29 March 2014

Daniel O'Neill: Smoking, Advertising and Consumer Culture 1960 - 1980

How did the marketing strategies of British cigarette companies change as the dangers of smoking became better known? What difference did voluntary codes and self-regulation make? And how many packets would you have to smoke to get a free rubber dinghy? Daniel O'Neill has (some) of the answers for you in this episode.


Dan studied history at the University of Sheffield both for his undergraduate and Master’s degrees, specialising in post-war British history. He is the current holder of a Collaborative Doctoral Award organised by the University of Nottingham and Nottingham City Council Museums and Galleries. His PhD is on the changes cigarette marketing went through in the face of the smoking and health issue, and is titled ‘Promoting Player’s: Smoking, Advertising and Consumer Culture 1960-1980’. Broadly, his research interests cover twentieth-century social and cultural history, but more specifically they include:

  • The history of advertising
  • The history of tobacco and public health
  • Leisure and sport history
  • Gender history and the history of domesticity
  • The history of broadcasting and the media

Recommended reading:

  • Matthew Hilton, Smoking in British popular culture 1800-2000 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000)
  • Virginia Berridge, Marketing Health: Smoking and the Discourse of Public Health in Britain, 1945-2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • Penny Tinkler, Smoke Signals: Women, Smoking and Visual Culture in Britain (Oxford: Berg, 2006)
  • Sean Nixon, Hard Sell: Advertising, Affluence and Transatlantic Relations, c. 1951-69 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013)
By Hans Rudi Erdt (1883-1925) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Advertisement for the short-lived Mahala-Problem company, Berlin.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Robbie Rudge: Royalists in Defeat

How did Royalists cope following the defeat of their cause in the British Civil War? What made it into their letters, diaries and scrapbooks? And how did they prevent their letters from giving the recipients smallpox? Plus forged passports, suspiciously tired horses, and why a good camera can be a historian's best friend.



Further information on Robbie's research will be posted here when he next emerges from the archives... In the meantime, here's a link to Volume 7 of Edward, Lord Clarendon's History of the Grand Rebellion, which contains additional illustrations and extracts from the Clarendon papers mentioned in the episode.
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A very Victorian view of the Civil War: W.F. Yeames' 'And when did you last see your father?'.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Ben Wilcock: Luxury Goods in England’s Pre-Industrial North West

Why can't Liverpool and Manchester be friends? Why were eighteenth-century adverts soooo looooong? How is Ben staying so chipper as he writes up his thesis? All this and more in the pilot episode of 1066 Wasn't All That!


Ben has just entered his writing-up year at the University of Manchester under the supervision of Professor Hannah Barker. His title is, "The Supply and Demand of High-End Consumer Goods in the North West, c.1720-1785".

"Primarily focused on pre-industrial Manchester and Liverpool, my research explores the eighteenth-century history of the cities’ commercialism. I am interested in the way towns developed to accommodate increasing populations with expanding tastes; how suppliers operated in new luxury markets; and how and why consumers spent their money. I challenge existing ideas of provincial emulation, and my thesis argues that more sophisticated analyses of provincial towns is necessary for a fuller understanding of Britain’s commercial history."

His aims for the year are to complete on time and to double his twitter following, so help him with the latter and hinder him in the former by following him here!

His recommendations for those interested in the topic are Neil McKendrick (et al.) The Birth of a Consumer Society, and Amanda Vickery’s Behind Closed Doors.



Thursday, 20 December 2012

Into the unknown.

History isn't about learning what happened. It doesn't tell us who we are, where we're going or the best way to get there. Studying history is about starting out with a clear idea of how the past looked, and gradually circling away from it until it becomes unrecognisable. It's about uncertainty, misconception and the unmappable vastness of the human condition. Researching history sends you so far down the rabbit hole that you're no longer sure which way is up and you start to wonder if the whole thing is the product of someone's sleep-deprived imagination. It's probably yours. History, examined properly, is never the shape you want it to be, and that's why it's so endlessly fascinating.

At some point in the future - I don't quite know when - there will be audio files on this blog. Each will consist of an interview with a PhD student or shiny new researcher, who will tell you things they don't know yet. They won't tell you a story about how the past became the present and you won't learn many answers for the history round on your pub quiz. You will, however, be led a little way into their world of tunnels and roots and buried rooms and hear their enthusiasm for the unknown. You may hopefully be inspired to do some digging yourself.