The survival of Edmund Harrold's diary for the years 1712-1715 is a remarkable piece of luck for historians. Not only are such diaries for the 'middling sort' rare for this period, but few provide so candid an insight into the everyday concerns and troubles of early eighteenth century life. Providing a full transcription of the diary, with a substantial introduction and scholarly references, this edition (the first since a partial transcription in the nineteenth century) offers a unique insight into both a troubled individual, and the society in which he lived and worked. Born in 1678, Edmund Harrold seems to have worked his whole life in Manchester as a barber and wigmaker, with a sideline in book dealing. The period covered by his diary, although short, is rich in its insights into his life and thoughts. It lays open his struggles with alcohol, his attitudes to (and frequency of) marital sex, his reactions to the death of his three wives and 5 children, and his religious meditations upon these and other subjects. The diary also relates the ups and downs of his business, together with the day-to-day realities of a provincial barber, from cutting hair, to wig making, to unblocking the nipples of wet nurses (the only medical service he records performing). What emerges from the these pages is a fascinating snapshot into the social, professional and private life of an impoverished inhabitant of Manchester during a period of profound social and economic change. It is impossible to read the diary without developing some sense of empathy with this troubled man, but more than this, it puts flesh onto the bones of history, reminding us that the people we read about and study were all individuals.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Editorial method; Sample pages of the diary; The Diary of Edmund Harrold, Wgmaker of Manchester, 1712-15. Appendices: Lecture delivered by J.E. Bailey to the Manchester Literary Club, 1884; Povey extract; List of identifiable texts; Comparable diaries; Bibliography; Index.
’The case for reading his [Edmund Harrold’s] unpolished prose is that one humble but sufficiently literate eighteenth-century Mancunian has come alive.’ Northern History ’In rescuing this important diary, editing and introducing it so impressively, we owe Craig Horner a debt of thanks.’ Archives ’As a text, this diary is truly remarkable.’ Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire 'Craig Horner's recently published edition of the diary of Edmund Harrold (a Manchester wig-maker, barber and small-time bookseller) is a gift to anyone interested in ordinary life in eighteenth-century England. Horner's edition joins a growing collection of published eighteenth-century diaries, yet this diary differs significantly from the rest in both authorship and content. ... We owe a debt to Craig Horner for undertaking the painstaking editorial work necessary to bring this valuable historical document into the public domain.' History Workshop Journal