Common People : The History of an English Family
This book is short listed for the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize 'Part detective story, part Dickensian saga, part labour history. "A thrilling and unnerving read." (Observer). "Mesmeric and deeply moving." (Daily Telegraph).
"Remarkable, haunting, full of wisdom." (The Times). Family history is a massive phenomenon of our times but what are we after when we go in search of our ancestors? Beginning with her grandparents, Alison Light moves between the present and the past, in an extraordinary series of journeys over two centuries, across Britain and beyond. Epic in scope and deep in feeling, Common People is a family history but also a new kind of public history, following the lives of the migrants who travelled the country looking for work.
Original and eloquent, it is a timely rethinking of who the English were - but ultimately it reflects on history itself, and on our constant need to know who went before us and what we owe them.