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Suffolk Lives 1500-1998

Second Year Module

Module Leader: Vivienne Aldous

This module picks up on some of the key themes developed in the British Story strand in first year, and provides students with the opportunity to explore them in greater depth within a local context and using a biographical approach. In addition to introducing students to significant features of local Suffolk history, it will enable students to extend their knowledge and appreciation of the regional diversity and complexity of major events, processes and themes in British and international history such as the Reformation, war, industrialisation, urbanisation, empire, protest and reform.Students will be encouraged to reflect on the value of adopting a regional micro-history approach and to evaluate what it might illuminate or obscure in comparison to wider national macro approaches.This will link with the other key element of the module the biographical approach. Although the great men of history approach was largely abandoned in the wake of the rise of social history, more recent interest in micro history and cultural history has reignited interest in the study of individuals, leading to what some have termed the biographical turn.By focusing on the lives and experiences of a range of different individuals and communities within Suffolk, this module will also provide students with an opportunity to assess the merits and limitations of using the biographical approach.

The module will use a thematic structure to explore a range of key topics in British history, via a micro focus on specific individuals and communities living in or associated with Suffolk.The lives of Tudor men such as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Seckford will be used to explore social mobility, rank, education, religion and politics.Thomas Fella will provide an insight into literacy, culture and the international transmission of ideas. William Dowsing and John Winthrop will shed light on religious upheaval and conflict, non-conformity and emigration. Empire will be explored through the lives of anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Clarkson, the landowner Sir William Fowle Middleton and the Maharajah Duleep Singh. Suffolk women will be featured, including feminist pioneers Millicent Garrett Fawcett and her sister Elizabeth Garrett Anderson as well as the horse thief and convict Margaret Catchpole.The speed, impact and reach of industrialisation will be considered via the lives of Robert Ransome, Richard Garrett and others. The social costs associated with the rationalisation of agriculture will be explored through the work of the journalist and social commentator John Glyde and the testimony of lesser known figures such as the smuggler and poacher Frederick Gowing.Changes to rural society and Suffolks coastal communities will also be explored through the words and voices recorded collected by oral history pioneer George Ewart Evans.


Learning and Teaching Strategies:

The formal teaching and learning sessions of this module will be taught through a combination of lectures and interactive seminars, complemented by one-to-one tutorial discussions and feedback in office hours, as well as students own private study, preparation and reflection. Supporting resources will be made available online.The exact format of each session will depend upon the nature of the subject and the material to be used, although sessions will always be designed to encourage student participation and to support students in strengthening their skills of presentation, discussion, argument and debate, and in evaluating, interpreting and using secondary and primary sources.





Weighting %


Submission Date

Suffolk Lives



1,500 words

Week 9

Biographical Commentary


2,500 words

End of semester


Recommended introductory reading:

B.Caine, Biography and History, (London, 2010)

P.France and W.St Clair, (eds.), Mapping Lives: The Uses of Biography, (Oxford, 2004)

N.Hamilton, Biography: A Brief History, (Harvard, 2007)


Further Reading

N.B. A full updated reading list is included in a module handbook which will be provided in the first week of teaching.

P.Bance, Sovereign, Squire and Rebel: Maharajah Duleep Singh and the Heirs of a Lost Kingdom, (London, 2009)

P.Bance, The Duleep Singhs: The Photographic Album of Queen Victorias Maharajah, (London, 2004)

P.Bateson, S.M. Walters and E.A. Stow, Darwins Mentor: John Stevens Henslow 1796-1861, (Cambridge, 2009)

B.G.Blackwood, Tudor and Stuart Suffolk, (Lancaster, 2001)

J.Blatchly, John Kirbys Suffolk: His Maps and Roadbooks, (Woodbridge, 2004)

A.Bottomley, (ed.),The Southwold Dairy of James Maggs 1818-1876, (Woodbridge, 2007)

F.J.Bremer, John Winthrop: Biography as History, (New York and London, 2009).

T.Cooper, (ed.), The Journal of William Dowsing: Iconoclasm in East Anglia during the English Civil War, (Woodbridge, 2001)

G.E.Evans, The Crooked Scythe: An Anthology of Oral History (London, 1993)

J.Fiske, James Oakes Diaries 1778-1827, 2 vols., (Woodbridge, 1991)

S.Fletcher, Cardinal Wolsey: A Life in Renaissance Europe, (London, 2009)

E.Gibson Wilson, Thomas Clarkson: A Biography, (London, 1996)

J.Glyde, Suffolk in the Nineteenth Century: Physical, Social, Moral, Religious and Industrial, (Kessinger Publishing Legacy Reprints, [n.p.], 2010, [first published 1856])

J.Glynn, The Pioneering Garretts: Breaking the Barriers for Women, (London, 2008)

F.Grace, Rags and Bones: A Social History of a Working Class Community in Nineteenth-Century Ipswich, (London, 2005)

S.Hardy, (ed.), The Diary of a Suffolk Farmers Wife 1854-69, (Basingstoke, 1992)

M.Keniston Mcintosh, Poor Relief and Community in Hadleigh Suffolk 1547-1600, (Hatfield, 2013)

D.MacCulloch, Suffolk and the Tudors: Politics and Religion in an English County, 1500-1600, (Oxford, 1986)

R.Malcomson and P.Searby, (eds.), Wartime in West Suffolk, The Diary of Winifred Challis 1942-1943, (Woodbridge, 2012)

R.Malster, (ed.), The Minute Books of the Suffolk Humane Society: A Pioneer Lifesaving Organisation and the World's First Sailing Lifeboat, 1806-1892, (Woodbridge, 2013)

S.S.Sommers, Parliamentary Politics of a County and its Town: General Elections in Suffolk and Ipswich in the Eighteenth Century, (Westport CT, 2002)

M.Storey, (ed.), Two East Anglian Diaries 1641-79: Isaac Archer and William Coe, (Woodbridge, 1994)

T.Williamson, The Transformation of Rural England: Farming and the Landscape 1700-187,0 (Exeter, 2002)