The Making of the English Working Class
by E.P. Thompson
Considered a definitive text for many years this book is dense, academically rigorous and utterly superb.
I needed a dictionary, wikipedia and a notebook to get myself through the first quarter but once up to speed with the authors style and concepts, it was as compelling a read as I have ever had.
This book has the advantage of being widely respected across all academic and historical fields in a manner which some of the other books I have read are not.
The Painful Plough
by Roy Palmer
The full title is ‘The Painful Plough: A Portrait of the Agricultural Labourer in the Nineteenth Century from Folksongs and Ballads and Contemporary Accounts’ which pretty much does the job.
It tells the story of Joseph Arch, a farm labourer who went on to start one of the first agricultural labourers unions and eventually to become an MP.
A superb piece of work and a huge source of inspiration for the concept of the show ‘Three Acres And A Cow’.