Posted by: billpurdue | May 23, 2013

Country matters

This time a couple of new books with fairly local connections. First Sheffield and steel:

100 yrs of stainlessIt was 100 years ago this year that stainless steel was discovered by one Harry Brearley, though various sources say that the ‘discovery’ or ‘invention’ wasn’t quite as clear cut as that. Several people in different parts of the world were working around that time on various types of steel that could be described as stainless. Anyway, there’s no reason why Sheffield shouldn’t celebrate this centenary and Sheffield Newspapers have produced a profusely illustrated book ‘delving into ten decades of one of the world’s most important metals’. 100 Years of Stainless Steel is edited by Nancy Fielder, priced at £20 and is available from local Waterstones shops (I found it in the Chesterfield shop). You’ll find hundreds of photos inside the book, but the cover is totally black, the title picked out in a glossier tone of black than the rest of the cover (no dust jacket), which I think is unfortunate. It doesn’t stand out on the bookshop shelves, but if the publicity is good, I don’t expect that will affect sales.


DevonshiresRoy Hattersley has another new book out – The Devonshires – the story of a family and a nation. In the past there have been several books about the dynasty, begun in the sixteenth century by the legendary Bess of Hardwick. What makes this rather different is that it doesn’t concentrate on on one or two key figures, but gathers together in one book a history of all the notable members of the family. Lucy Lethbridge, writing in the Guardian, calls it “a vivid read, crowded with characters and colour”.

Roy Hattersley will be talking about his new book at the Buxton Opera House on Friday 12th July at 10.30 am. Tickets for the talk cost £8.50 and can be obtained by phoning 0845 127 2190.


Julia BradburyAlso speaking at the Buxton Festival will be Julia Bradbury of BBC’s ‘Countryfile’ programme, but according to the website her talk is now fully booked. Her latest book is Julia Bradbury’s Wainwright Walks: Coast to Coast, describing her walk in the footsteps of Wainwright from the Irish Sea to the North Sea through three national parks. This has only just been published, although the series of TV programmes last went out in 2012. (They are no longer available in the BBC iplayer). This book, we are told, is illustrated with many photographs and some of AW’s (Wainwright’s)  line drawings.




adam's farmJulia Bradbury is one of the well known faces from the BBC Countryfile programmes  and so is Adam Henson, who fronts the regular ‘Adam’s farm’ feature in each edition. In Adam’s Farm: my life on the land’, Adam describes what life is really like on his farm and provides much of the background to what we see on ‘Countryfile’ each Sunday night on BBC1.

Adam Henson writes about life before Countryfile and how his family came to be on this particular farm. Apparently his father obtained a three generation tenancy on the farm – I always assumed that he owns the place. Amongst the trials and tribulations were the foot and mouth epidemic in 2001 and, more recently, testing his cows for TB. Then there’s Adam’s passion for rare breeds and his wonderful sheep dogs. It’s a must for ardent Countryfile fans. For more on Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park go to


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