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Daily Life in 18th Century England by Kirstin Olsen

Daily Life in 18th-Century England - Kirstin Olsen

This is a textbook, but it's a very readable one and quite interesting if you are curious about the subject, without the academic pretension or dryness that can drag works down. Chapters cover subjects such as food and drink, clothing, entertainment, politics, religion, education, race and class, family relationships, the economy, the state of science, and more. The second edition reorganizes the chapters and expands a few of them, as well as including more primary documents, but the short, clearly labeled chapters of the first edition are handy if you want to skip around and read it in bite-sized chunks.

A couple of fun facts: clocks with minute hands were a new thing in the 18th century (previously they only had hour hands), and non-poor people were mortally offended by poor people keeping dogs.

I wish I could find such cogent, detailed and accessible studies of other parts of the world during this time period, but if you're interested in England, Olsen has you covered.