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Welcome to Shire Books

Shire has a new look!

The Shire Library series has received a beautiful revamp from renowned heritage designer and author Peter Ashley. Look out for nearly 100 of the new covers appearing here and on spinners everywhere over the course of 2014, and for a limited time only you can buy 3 books for the price of 2 here on the website. Happy reading!

Posters of the First World War

The First World War, a new low in the annals of armed conflict, coincided with a golden age for the relatively new art of advertising. Striking and colourful posters were produced throughout the years 1914–18 to recruit soldiers, promote investment, keep up morale and, naturally, to vilify the enemy; prominent artists including Alfred Leete paired bold images with punchy text to maximise impact. The selection in this book offers an informative guide to the range of posters created and to how they were displayed around the nation, and explores the public’s increasing dissatisfaction with being patronised and goaded. From the iconic, commanding Your Country Needs YOU! to the anxious domestic scene of Daddy, What Did YOU Do in the War?, and including the infamous depiction of a bayoneting in Back Him Up!, this book puts the reader in the shoes of the Great War ‘man in the street’.

Stagecoach Travel

The stagecoach was the travel wonder of its age: passengers could board a fast coach and be shuttled from one end of the country to the other, stopping only in stages to hitch up fresh horses and take a little light refreshment at coaching inns. Though coaches first appeared in the sixteenth century, stagecoach travel reached its heyday between about 1750 and 1850, leading to great improvements in British roads, which in return encouraged faster and expanded services. This book details the routes, proprietors and coaching inns, the customers and why they chose to travel, and also the perils of early road travel, including highwaymen. The legacy of stagecoach travel is also explored, making this an essential introduction.

Witches and Witchcraft

Witchcraft haunts the Western imagination to this day, from Central Europe to Britain to North America. This book explores the development of witchcraft and of the belief in it (stressing the difference between the two), the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century obsession that spawned witch-hunting, the eventual decline of witchcraft, and the phenomenon’s fascinating ‘afterlife’ that has involved the Nazis’ fixation and modern treatments including Arthur Miller’s acclaimed The Crucible. Fully illustrated with historical documents and colour photographs, and expertly written by Professor David Nash, this book is the perfect introduction to a subject that is compelling, disturbing and a little-understood cultural touchstone.

Medieval Church Architecture

Britain is a treasure trove of medieval architecture. Almost every village and town in the land has a church that was built during the period, whose history is legible – to those who know how to look – in every arch, capital, roof vault, and detail of window tracery. By learning how to identify the stylistic phases that resulted from shifts in architectural fashion, it is possible to date each part of a church to within a decade or two; this book introduces all the key features of each succeeding style, from Anglo-Saxon and Norman through to the three great gothic styles, Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular. It will be indispensable to anyone who enjoys exploring medieval churches, and who wants to understand and appreciate their beauty more deeply.

Museums in Britain: A History

From global icons like the British Museum and the Ashmolean to the many hundreds of small collections to be found across the country, museums are at the very centre of our heritage. This beautifully illustrated history takes in the ‘cabinets of curiosity’ and the world-famous visitor attractions and remembers the collectors and curators – eccentrics, visionaries, looters, adventurers, scientists – and the colourful anecdotes for which we remember them. It also looks at museums in our culture and history as a whole, tracing the social shifts and trends which have affected them and of which they have been part, including the modern movement towards access, entertainment and more experimental forms of curation and display.

Humphry Repton

Humphry Repton (1752–1818) ambitiously styled himself Capability Brown’s successor: the century’s next great improver of landed property. With his rare combination of skills – he was a talented topographical sketcher with a unique ability to judge the shifting needs of his patrons – over thirty years Repton amassed an incredible four hundred commissions; his famous Red Books, illustrated to help clients visualise the potential of their properties, did much to encourage the appreciation of landscape aesthetics, especially among the rising middle classes. With colourful illustrations and detailed site investigations, this book traces Repton’s landscape designs from Picturesque wildernesses like Blaise Castle to the progressive Gardenesque style of Endsleigh in Devon. It is both a perfect visitor’s guide to the gardens and an introduction to the theory of Repton’s work.

London's Sewers

London’s sewers could be called the city’s forgotten underground: mostly unseen subterranean spaces that are of absolutely vital importance, the capital’s sewers nonetheless rarely get the same degree of attention as the Tube. Paul Dobraszczyk here outlines the fascinating history of London’s sewers from the nineteenth century onwards, using a rich variety of colour illustrations, photographs and newspaper engravings to show their development from medieval spaces to the complex, citywide network, largely constructed in the 1860s, that is still in place today. This book explores London’s sewers in history, fiction and film, including how they entice intrepid explorers into their depths, from the Victorian period to the present day.

Shire Journal

First Aid Nursing Yeomanry: The All Female Emergency Medical Care Corps of World War I

Susan Cohen

Amongst the unofficial voluntary organisations that took themselves off to the Western Front in 1914 to provide medical support were members of the all-female First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY). The corps had been founded by Warrant Officer Edward Baker, a vete...