Thursday, 13 December 2012

MUP author shortlisted for prestigious award

The shortlist for the Longman/History Today Book Prize 2013 has been announced. The award is given for an author’s first or second work of history published between October 2011 and September 2012. The winning book will have contributed significantly to making its subject accessible and rewarding to the general reader of history. 

This year the judges this are: Jeremy Black, Professor of History at the University of Exeter; Juliet Gardiner, author of The Thirties: An Intimate History of Britain (HarperPress); Paul Lay, Editor of History Today; and Miri Rubin,  Professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London. The winner will be announced on January 9th, 2013 at the Royal Society, London.

The shortlist is:

Alun Withey, Physick and the Family: Health, Medicine and Care in Wales,1600-1750 (Manchester University Press).

Keith Lowe, Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II (Penguin/Viking).

Hannah Newton, The Sick Child in early Modern England, 1580-1720 (Oxford University Press).

Glyn Parry, The Arch Conjuror of England: John Dee (Yale University Press).

Andrew Preston, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy (Knopf).

Bill Schwarz, Memories of Empire. Vol. I The White Man’s World (Oxford University Press).

Caroline Shenton, The Day Parliament Burned Down (Oxford University Press).

Ian P. Wei, Intellectual Culture in Early Medieval Paris, c. 1100-1330 (Cambridge University Press).

Alison Winter, Memory: Fragments of a Modern History (Chicago University Press).
Thomas Wright, Circulation: William Harvey’s Revolutionary Idea (Chatto & Windus).

Ilan Danjoux takes his book on tour

MUP author, Ilan Danjoux, has been busy at the Vancouver and Calgary Jewish Book Fairs' over the last few weeks. He hosted various events, focusing on his new book Political cartoons and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ilan talked about his 'Meet the author' session at the Calgary Book Fair on YouTube last month.

The book can be purchased through The University of British Columbia Press in Canada.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Times Literary Supplement 'Book of the Year 2012'

PAUL MULDOON highlighted The End of Ulster Loyalism? as one of his  'Books of the Year 2012' in last weeks The Times Literary Supplement.
PAUL MULDOON: "I was greatly taken with Kevin Barry’s Dark Lies the Island (Cape), a collection of hilarious and, often, hair-raising short stories that range from an account of a day trip to Llandudno by a bevy of Real Alers to an unlikely take on “The Mainland Campaign” and the “nordy” world picture. One aspect of the Northern Irish milieu is also explored with admirable dexterity in Peter Shirlow’s The End of Ulster Loyalism? (Manchester University Press). 
 This is a highly fraught subject, of course, with the ongoing investigation of alleged collusion between the police and senior members of the Ulster Volunteer Force. The idea that some UVF men were police informers would not be lost on John Honeyman. Born like myself in Armagh and, like myself, a resident of Griggstown, NJ, Honeyman is reputed to have been a spy for George Washington. Honeyman, like myself, has a walk-on part in Robert Sullivan’s haunting documentary, My American Revolution (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

Friday, 16 November 2012

Call for papers: New perspectives on the gothic in the age of terror(ism): The horror? The horror!

New perspectives on the gothic in the age of terror(ism): The horror? The horror!

We are launching a call for papers for a special issue of Gothic Studies. The special edition will examine what happens to the Gothic as a literary and filmic genre along its main thematic lines in the post 9/11 era and its age of terror(ism):

• the staging of the Other (the irrational, the monstrous, the uncanny)
• the staging of death and violence (light vs. darkness, good vs. evil, tragic vs. abject)
• the staging of community and the social (including the border and the law)
• the instability of the modern subject

1. What ‘happens’ to these themes? How are they modified? altered? Has 9/11 and the pervasive sense of global terror changed our understanding of terror? What about the place of capitalism and the crisis? What images and protagonists has this new Gothic proposed in what can be called an ‘imagination’ of disaster?

2. What new fears are being addressed and represented by the Gothic, including visually within the cinema and in the recent proliferation of television series? What loss? What guilt?

3. What is the place of race and ethnicity in this epistemological landscape? Can the concepts of ‘mimicry’ (Bhabha) and ‘differAnce’ (Derrida) be used to revisit the theoretical foundations of the Gothic? Can we talk about a ‘racial Gothic’ as Leonardo Cassuto spoke of a ‘racial grotesque’?

4. The case of the Southern Gothic, and the encounter with what has been left at the margin, could be explored within the theoretical framework proposed by Kristeva in the Powers of Horror, by Anzaldúa in Borderlands or by Agamben in Homo Sacer. Can we also talk about a New Southern Gothic?

5. How does the Gothic engage with religion in our increasingly secular and yet religiously polarized world?

6. What happens to the question of ‘knowledge’?

7. How does the commercial success and mainstreaming of Gothic in the last decade affect its ability to figure terror and resistance to terror?

8. How has the Gothic responded to the constant state of war since 2001? What about the weaponization of various technologies, including video games? How have drones, Predators, Reapers and other mechanized death machines impacted the Gothic imagination?

9. How have Gothic texts outside of the US responded to the attack on the World Trade Center and America’s militarized and violent response? How does Canadian Gothic position itself in relation to the politics of post-9/11 America? What about Mexican or South American Gothic?

10. How have new technologies impacted the literary or visual Gothic? For example, the explosion of hand-held camera horror films, night vision sequences and closed-circuit video imagery?

Proposals (500 words) and brief CVs should be addressed to both editors of the volume by 1 June 2013.

Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet (University of Lausanne) and Marie Lienard-Yeterian (Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Political defections – storms of protest or political climate change?

Everyone remembers examples of political defections, the most prominent being Winston Churchill’s ‘ratting’ and ‘re-ratting’ between the Conservative Party and the Liberals. But, Churchill was by no means alone; nor was he the most prolific defector.  Over 100 MPs and former MPs defected to or from the Liberal Party in the century since 1910.
With so many individuals leaving their party for another, it raises the question whether defections are all one-off storms of protest, or whether collectively they are indicators of significant change in the political climate.

Defectors and the Liberal Party 1910 to 2010 – a study of interparty relations concludes that there are indeed patterns to defections. This new book by Dr Alun Wyburn-Powell is the first comprehensive study of political defections, covering a whole century and investigating 122 defections. There are common threads behind the reasons for defection and indicators suggesting who was likely to defect and who would remain loyal when faced with the same set of circumstances.
The first part of the book identifies the characteristics which distinguish defectors from loyalists – defectors were disproportionately male, wealthier, more militaristic, began their careers at a younger age and were likely to come from a minority religion. Paddy Ashdown proposed a theory for international spying, that it was the ‘toffs’ who defected. His theory is tested and found to hold true in politics too.
Overall, defection was found to be a career-enhancing move, resulting in a higher chance of ministerial office and a peerage. Defectors from the Liberal Party went fairly equally to the right and to the left, but those who went to the Conservatives were much happier than those who went to Labour. This reveals an underlying compatibility between the partners in the 2010 coalition, which took many commentators and even the parties themselves by surprise.
The second part of the book investigates all the individual defections, considering the personal and party implications. The reasons for all the defections are analysed. Conclusions are reached about the responsibility of individual leaders for the defections. The timing of the Liberal Party’s decline and revival is investigated, challenging the views of other historians.
The most prolific defector was not Churchill, but Edgar Granville, who lived to the age of 100 and had five defections to his name. Lloyd George was the leader who presided over the worst attrition rate of defectors. Each individual defection was the conclusion of an expert witness, the defector, on their party at a specific moment in time. Defection was rarely a comfortable experience, as is revealed in detail from the tales of each defector.
The foreword to the book is by Lord Andrew Adonis, former cabinet minister, author of Education, Education, Education and himself a defector from the Liberal Democrats to the Labour Party.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Ilan Danjoux to speak at the Jewish Book Festival, Vancouver

Ilan Danjoux, author of Political cartoons and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will speak at the Jewish Book Festival in Vancouver later this month. The festival, which runs between 24th and 26th November, brings together a host of eminent authors from across the globe, to discuss a broad range of issues.

Ilan Danjoux, a visiting professor of Israel Studies at the University of Calgary, will discuss issues his researched which was published last month.  Political Cartoons and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict examines whether political cartoons can predict the outbreak of violence. In his research, Danjoux examined over 1200 Israeli and Palestinian editorial cartoons to explore whether changes in their content anticipated the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in October of 2000.
Find out more about Ilan Danjoux's event, or click here for a full list of events taking place during the Jewish Book Festival.

Launch for Integration in Ireland

Integration in Ireland, the latest title in our New Ethnographies series, will be launch on 9th November, at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.

Dil Wickremasinghe, a journalist and presenter with the well respected Newstalk 106, will help to launch the book at the event, along with the authors Fiona Murphy and Mark Maguire.

To attend the launch, please contact

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Guardian's Tessa Hadley on a murder in the Forest of Dean that captured the nation's imagination

Sometimes life is better than fiction. Is there any novelist who could have got this extraordinary story so perfectly right, inventing it: the violence at the heart of it, the suspense, the succession of revelations, the passions so raw and inchoate that they have a mythic force? And then there's the grand sweep of the narrative, beginning in the bleak poverty of an obscure cottage in the Forest of Dean, acted out finally on the national stage.

In January 1928 Harry Pace, aged 36, died at home after two weeks of agonising abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea; he had suffered on and off for two years with gastric problems, including a spell in hospital. Harry was a quarryman on £2 a week, who supplemented his income by running a herd of sheep on common land. Leaving a wife, Beatrice, and five children, he died with the local women around his bed – Beatrice, her friend Alice, and the "uncertified midwife" who had delivered several of his children. In the inimitable idiom of the time, Alice said he "passed away peacefully with his wife's name upon his lips".

Before Harry could be buried, his mother and siblings made veiled accusations of foul play against his wife. A post-mortem was ordered, and quantities of arsenic were found in the body; the hospital doctors had always wondered whether Harry's symptoms could be caused by the arsenic in the sheep dip he regularly used (packets of Battle's dip were kept on the top shelf of a high cupboard). A preliminary CID report, however, was sceptical about the possibility of either an accident – the dose was too large – or suicide. Why would anyone poison himself excruciatingly over long months? Harry's relatives told detectives that Beatrice had "bad ways", and that Harry "was not being done right by"; they hinted at affairs with men, including Alice's husband. At the opening of the inquest in the George Inn, Coleford, a sheep marked with Harry's initials appeared at the door and Harry's sister Leah was taken with a fit of hysterics – or so the Dean Forest Guardian reported. '"One of his lambs! He loved them all," she cried. "They never come so far from home as this." A novelist writing a period piece would struggle to come up with anything so perfect. It's a poignant touch, too, that the Paces' isolated home – "showing signs of extreme poverty", the detectives said – was called Rose Cottage: someone's dream of beauty.

Trying to imagine the past, it's the language we don't get right. Translating experiences out of the idiom of another era into contemporary expression is as fraught with loss as any translation between languages. John Carter Wood's book about the Pace trial works because of his sober and scrupulous assembly of the evidence, quoting the words that were spoken and written at the time so we can feel the textures of the material for ourselves – the found poetry of precise reportage. There's a rich vein for him to mine, too: witness statements and police reports, extensive coverage in the local and national press, Beatrice's letters from prison, memoirs published by her and her daughter after the trial, and a collection in a Nottingham archive of letters from an overwhelmingly sympathetic – and female – public.

Part of Wood's focus is on what the Pace case tells us about the phenomenon of celebrity in its era. As the ugly details of Beatrice's marriage to Harry Pace emerged – he hammered her pet dog to death, he tied her to the bottom of the bed in her nightdress in the cold, he beat her until she miscarried – she was taken up by the press and the public as an icon of martyred female suffering. The newspapers tend to sententiousness and orotundity, though it's impressive how much of their outrage was directed against the casual cruelty of police procedures.

What pours from the fan letters is on the wilder side and very moving: "Night & day you have been in our thoughts & I may say how we have grieved for you during your great trouble"; "I have thought so much about you as if you were my own sister"; "I have a baby nearly two, & I realise how you must have felt leaving your dear baby behind"; "I have had many a blow from him & he has threatened my family and myself with a knife and once tried to cut my eldest daughter's throat".

Wood has the academic's virtues, the opposite of the novelist's. No invention, no effort to imagine himself inside his characters, just sober reportage, inhibited by a good historian's scruples. This isn't quite another Suspicions of Mr Whicher, he doesn't write with Kate Summerscale's bravura. But his scrupulousness makes the book a gripping read anyway – we don't need anything written up. What could be more suggestive than Elton Pace's testimony, claiming Beatrice was "always saying she wished my brother dead", and that "she wished to be rid of the mingy old bugger"? He said he saw Harry "doubled up with pain in bed" and that Beatrice had shouted, "Harry, Harry, you be dying, we shan't see you much longer". Beatrice's lawyer countered that Elton hated her because he'd "made indecent overtures to her" and attempted "an indecent assault" when rebuffed.

Salty Forester idiom and euphemistic Latinisms fight a kind of class war on the page. Wood's book performs its restorative justice, translating the Pace story back into its original language from the high-toned, sanitised official versions, or the sentimental-salacious ones in the popular press ("Her face is alight with mother's love, and her frail form bears the dignity of martyrdom.")

The Shire Hall, Gloucester, after the verdict. Photograph: John Twine/Rex Features
Harry's courtship is described in haunting passages from Beatrice's memoir, which have the ring of authenticity. "In the evenings, as it grew dark, he would whistle from the wood – two long notes, up and down, and it got so on my mind that at last I went out to him. Even when I had talked to him, he would not go away but would often spend the night sleeping in a corner of our pig-sty, so as to be near me. Every night he whistled from the wood and kept on at me to marry him. What was so strange, he hardly said anything, but just telling me to be his wife."

And then near the end of the book, just when we've almost begun to believe in the nobly martyred icon and sexual victim of the press and the fan letters, we have a wonderful glimpse of a different Beatrice, writing a love letter – more Joyce than Hardy – to the driver who had been ferrying her to the court. "I am longing to see you," she writes, "and to have a nice kiss. You know it's nice, but naughty."

It's the dark impenetrable mess of it all that's so enthrallingly real: the accusations and counter-accusations, the dirty bottles with traces of treatment for foot-rot, the sickly baby Jean, the hundreds of dolls sent by the public for little Doris, the extraordinary crowds in the Gloucester streets to see Beatrice walk free. Who knows what really happened in Rose Cottage? Only art can move through the material solidities to the truth at their heart.

The most remarkable woman in England by John Carter Wood out now.

Tessa Hadley's novel Married Love is published by Jonathan Cape.

Tessa Hadley The Guardian, Friday 26 October 2012 22.56 BST

Monday, 24 September 2012


A press release announcing the launch of Defectors and the Liberal Party 1910 to 2010, by Dr Alun Wyburn-Powell, University of Leicester. 

 A new study on political defections from Manchester University Press has identified an ‘archetype’ for someone who is likely to break political ranks. The research, published in the week of Lord Stevens’ defection to UKIP, charts a history of defections over a century.

Dr. Alun Wyburn-Powell, from the School of Historical Studies at the University of Leicester, said: “Virtually every week there are defections among local councillors and also less frequently among MEPs, MPs and Lords. Defections grab headlines, worry party leaders and can change the dynamics of Parliament. Defections have never been comprehensively studied before and are not well understood by party leaders or commentators.”

“Over the last century the most likely individuals to defect were male, wealthy, divorced, Eton-educated, from a minority religion, former senior army officers and those who entered politics early.”

“There is a pattern to defections. It is not just a random group of individuals taking one-off decisions. Among defectors, 53% defected for better prospects, 43% over policy and 3% because of personalities. Defection, on average, is a career-enhancing move – chances of ministerial office and honours are higher for defectors than for loyalists.”

“A political defection is an expert opinion on the state of the party at a particular point in time. My findings are based on a study of all 707 people who sat as a Liberal or LibDem MPs from 1910 to 2010. Of all these MPs 16% (about one in six) defected. I also studied the smaller number of MPs and former MPs who defected into the Liberals/LibDems and investigated the cases of other defectors who went straight from Labour to the Conservatives and vice-versa. Virtually all Liberal defectors to the Conservatives were happy with their move, but over half of Liberal defectors to Labour were dissatisfied.”

 Looking at the most recent defections of sitting MPs, Dr. Wyburn-Powell said: “It is the Conservatives who are suffering the most defections. This is a turn-around - for most of the last century the Conservatives were the most cohesive party and the Liberals the most likely to suffer defections.” “This pattern may well continue, if the actions of Lord Stevens and departing Conservative councillors are an indication of things to come. Some Conservative MPs are uncomfortable with the coalition and disillusioned about their own career prospects, with many Liberal Democrats occupying ministerial jobs. The coalition government’s attitude towards Europe has alienated many Conservatives and they see UKIP posing a serious threat in some constituencies. Conversely, few Liberal Democrats are defecting, which signals a change from past examples set by the party. Given the rare chance that the coalitions has presented, most Liberal Democrats find that they prefer being unpopular but in power, to being liked but ignored as a forgotten third party.”

Dr Wyburn-Powell added: “I set out to explore the reasons for defections from the Liberal Party in order to discover their role in the party’s near collapse and recovery. The reasons for, and timing of, the decline of the Liberal Party is still contested by historians. My research pinned more of the blame for outward defections on Lloyd George than on Asquith or any other leader. I suspected that there were undiscovered patterns in past defections and that they were not just a random collection of individual decisions.”

"My research reveals a long-term social compatibility between the Liberals and the Conservatives, which was not the case between the Liberals and Labour. However, in terms of policy, Labour and the LibDems are fairly compatible. It is in the interests of both these parties to work on their relationship, as they may need to form a coalition after the next election.”

“Investigating past relationships between parties can lead to a better mutual understanding and respect, which can help in the formation of a future coalition. Studying the reasons for past defections can help parties to avoid losing future defectors.”

• Dr. Wyburn-Powell’s, ‘Defectors and the Liberal Party 1910 to 2010 – A Study of Inter-party Relationships’ was released this week through Manchester University Press.

The foreword is written by Lord Adonis.

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: You can interview Dr Wyburn-Powell on 01926 885520 or

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Happy freshers' week

Happy freshers' week to all the newbie students out there. We're offering a special 10% discount on all MUP titles to help with the start of term cash flow.

To take advantage of this one-off deal, contact our distributors on +44 (0)1752 202301, or email your details to, quoting the discount code OTH308. But hurry, this discount is only available until the end 26th September.

Our new website makes it even easier to browse through our catalogue of titles, you can choose to search through specific subject areas, or our new releases.