The Young Oxford History Of Britain & Ireland (OUP 1996)- A Real Life Review



I have gaps in my historical knowledge.  It’s likely that most of us educated in England would admit that.  At school I studied certain periods of history (some more than once).  I went on to study History at college but the eras largely overlapped with what I had done at school, leaving gaps of time about which I knew very little.  And I’ll admit that my knowledge of Scottish, Welsh and Irish history is even sparser.  This 500 page book is written for a young audience (although not that young, given the demands it makes on the reader, so probably early/mid-teens).  It seemed to offer an ideal overview of British and Irish history.  The general editor is Professor Kenneth O Morgan and it has been put together by five authors with distinguished historical backgrounds.  It spans from the time when the land mass which became Britain and Ireland was still joined to looking ahead to what the new Millennium might bring.  The text is generously broken up with pictures, photos, maps and diagrams.

On reading it I can confirm that it provided me with a good overview and showed me how our history fits together.  Obviously, given its scope and audience it’s all rather fleeting.  I can’t claim to be that more knowledgeable about the periods I knew less about (Medieval and The Georgians, for example), but what is impressive is the range of subjects covered both within the text and through the illustrations.  Photos, portraits, diagrams and maps are used very effectively and they do enrich the text and can often give little snippets of information not included elsewhere.  At the back there is a list of the English Royal Line Of Succession and Scottish Kings  & Queens (I was largely unfamiliar with this particular list) and UK Prime Ministers up to, because of the publication of the book, John Major.  Obviously, this type of book dates easily but twenty-one years on it does not seem jarring.  Here, the vast scope and range of the book is to its benefit.

The index looks pretty comprehensive and this would most likely provide most readers’ introduction to the text.  I’ve read it from cover to cover, but probably most would dip in and out.  This is going to last me a little while, until once again I start chiding myself about how little I know about the country in which I live and then I’ll no doubt seek out something similar.


The Young Oxford History Of Britain and Ireland was published by the Oxford University Press in  1996.

4 thoughts on “The Young Oxford History Of Britain & Ireland (OUP 1996)- A Real Life Review

  1. Kay Carter

    History was my favourite subject. At junior school we learned about the Battle of Hastings and then we did the Tudors and Stuart. As 10 year olds our class teacher had the brilliant idea of the whole year having a Tudor supper. We sought out recipes from the time, yuk. But the school cook had a way of adapting recipes so we thought we were eating the real thing. It was held in the school hall in the evening and we had to go in costume. There is a photo of myself and Karen somewhere. My nan made my dress, it was a dress that had belonged to my great aunt, pale blue satin, she only wore it once. My headress was made from curtain netting. Karen’s mum was a seamstress and I’m pretty sure her dress was emerald green. Sallyann’s dad was a butcher and donated a pigs head for the middle of the table. I had my mums wooden bread board as a plate. It was terrific. I still like history and learning what life was like in days gone by.


    1. Fabulous memory, Kay! I love it when history is really brought alive- see how memorable that day was. When I was a Head, the Year 3’s used to have a Roman Day, the downside being that I had to spend the day in a toga which was not the easiest thing to wear when you are trying to run a school!


      1. Kay Carter

        That sounds like fun. A roman day. A fascinating period of history. The Romans were so innovative. If only we had road builders of roman calibre these days.

        Liked by 1 person

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