Our Hidden Lives: The Everyday Diaries of a Forgotten Britain

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9780091896959: Our Hidden Lives: The Everyday Diaries of a Forgotten Britain

In 1936, anthropologist Tom Harrison, poet and journalist Charles Madge and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings set up the Mass Observation Project. The idea was simple: ordinary people would record, in diary form, the events of their everyday lives. An estimated one million pages eventually found their way to the archive - and it soon became clear this was more than anyone could digest. Today, the diaries are stored at the University of Sussex, where remarkably most remain unread. In "Our Hidden Lives", Simon Garfield has skilfully woven a tapestry of diary entries in the rarely discussed but pivotal period of 1945 to 1948. The result is a moving, intriguing, funny, at times heartbreaking book - unashamedly populist in the spirit of "Forgotten Voices" or indeed Margaret Forster's "Diary of an Ordinary Woman". "I love these diaries. They have the attraction of being stories, but REAL stories - Better than any novel." - Margaret Forster. "A lovely book. It will appeal to anyone who appreciates the richness and diversity of human experience." - Tony Benn. "Utterly engrossing, better than any kind of reality TV." - Gavin Esler. "Funny, vivid, touching, angry, thoughtful - every page is a delight. This is definitely no. 1 on my present list to give to everyone in the coming year." - Jenny Uglow, author of "The Lunar Men".

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Review:

"A lovely book. It will appeal to…anyone who appreciates the richness and diversity of human experience." -- Tony Benn

"A quite magical store of voices from another age." -- Observer

"Diaries that will rewrite our history...simple but brilliant...endlessly fascinating...poignant, shocking, informative and very funny." -- Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

"Funny, vivid, touching, angry, thoughtful – every page is a delight" -- Jenny Uglow

"I love these diaries. They have the attraction of being stories, but REAL stories…Better than any novel." -- Margaret Forster

"In the most depressed post-war years, the mass-Observation diaries of nobodies are profound with mysteries of the everyday." -- The Guardian

"The year's most readable book, a rich trove of entertainment and instruction." -- Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

"These lively, frank records will be an eye opener for today's affluent and liberated generation..." -- Gerald Kaufman, Evening Standard

I have not read a more engrossing book in years -- John Carey in The Sunday Times

These are invaluable records of quite lives, sometimes despairing, often moving, occasionally bitter, frequently prescient...occasionally they are plain funny -- Sunday Telegraph

From the Publisher:

A staggering work of popular history that uncovers the hopes and fears of post-war Britain in the 1940s

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