The Best Books That Show How People In Different Periods Or Cultures Lived Their Lives

By Lindsay Allason-Jones

The Books I Picked & Why

Come, Tell Me How You Live

By Agatha Christie Mallowan

Come, Tell Me How You Live

Why this book?

The title sums up what archaeologists are trying to do when they excavate a site. In this short book, Agatha Christie provides ‘an inconsequent chronicle’ of five archaeological field seasons in Mesopotamia in the 1930s, in the course of which she gently and wittily reveals a picture of the British working abroad between the Wars – a way of working that now seems as distant as the period she was uncovering.


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Death at Wolf’s Nick: The Killing of Evelyn Foster

By Diane Janes

Death at Wolf’s Nick: The Killing of Evelyn Foster

Why this book?

Everybody who has read this extraordinary book seems to have an overwhelming urge to discuss it with other people. It tells the true story of the murder of a young woman in 1931 in northern England, a death for which no-one was ever brought to trial. This is not just an unsolved mystery but deftly reveals what life was like in a north Northumberland town in the 1930s, as well as exposing how chaotic and class ridden policing was at the time.


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Felbrigg: The Story of a House

By R W Ketton-Cremer

Felbrigg: The Story of a House

Why this book?

Although this is the story of a house from the early 17th century to the 1960s, it offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the four families who lived there in turn as they won and lost fortunes, married well and badly, and survived the events of history.


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Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South

By Shirley Abbott

Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South

Why this book?

A wittily written, powerful evocation of women’s lives in Arkansas from the 1930s to the 1980s, the history of how they got there and what made them such strong women. This is a revelation of family myth and tradition told fondly, yet with piercing pragmatism, in a way that provides insights into how we can understand women’s lives at all periods and in all places.


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Life and death in Spitalfields, 1700-1850

By Margaret Cox

Life and death in Spitalfields, 1700-1850

Why this book?

Excavations in the Crypt of Christ Church, Spitalfields, London in 1984-9 uncovered 1000 skeletons, of which 387 were in coffins with inscribed plates giving the names and ages of the deceased. A mixed team of specialists were able to analyse the bodies and follow up the documentary evidence to reveal extraordinary details of life, dentistry and funerary practices between 1729 and 1859 in this historically rich part of London.


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