“Can be used across many disciplines”

“These are a set of reference books that can be used by scholars and researchers across many disciplines and at all levels.” So writes Ken Smith in his book review of the four-volume set The Diary of Mary Hardy in Brewery History (Autumn 2013).

A story never documented in first-hand detail—until now

“From the perspective of a brewery historian, the volumes cover the expansion of the brewery from a tiny enterprise through the acquisition of property and brewing premises. A story repeated across the country but never documented in first-hand detail. There are links to other brewers whose names I recognise and to people long forgotten.”

Ken Smith, a former editor of Brewery History, the journal of the Brewery History Society, writes on pages 89–90 of issue no. 154. He considers the books to be valuable reference works for “those researching brewers or publicans, but also for those wanting to taste the life of a country brewer, his family, trade and customers”.

18th-century life described in detail

“Everything in the books describes in great detail the social, economic and financial environment common in the 18th century . . .

We do not have to tax our imaginations too much. What the author [Margaret Bird] has done with painstaking accuracy is to provide us with copious notes, presented as side bars that run parallel to the text.

So for each page we have the choice of Mary’s original words, richly annotated and explained.”

The variety of the diarist’s coverage

Ken Smith is struck by the variety of the diary entries: “Comments on simple activities, the minutiae of everyday existence, lie next to statements on the world outside Norfolk. The American and French Revolutions, presented as throwaway lines, are cheek by jowl with the more pressing needs of making a living in pre-industrial England.”

” . . . For example, on 3 April 1779 Mary’s family are recorded as having seen ‘5 felons hangd at Norwich’.”

There is more from this review on the Burnham Press website.