Space, place and people in a middle-class Birmingham suburb
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Moseley, a small hamlet just south of Birmingham, developed into a flourishing middle-class suburb. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, Janet Berry’s ambitious research asks why and how this particular suburb grew and who was instrumental in its development. What influenced the types of houses that were built and the styles of their gardens? How did residents experience life in the new suburb? How did they create a community?
In analysing an extraordinary quantity of records, Dr Berry builds a notably nuanced portrait of a place and its people that goes beyond stereotypical images of the Victorians. The suburb was a physical, social, cultural, and psychological space where people conveyed messages about their identity; relationships, lived experiences, and responses to change are all revealed.
The economics of buying or renting accommodation in Moseley are addressed, showing what was involved in setting up a single-family home, the key marker of belonging to the middle class. Aspects of this, such as how the interiors of homes were demarcated, decorated and furnished, have not previously been considered in the context of suburban studies to any extent. Additionally, this book has a particular focus on the suburban middle-class woman, her achievements and opportunities, roles and responsibilities, both inside and outside the home.
By the first decades of the twentieth century Moseley had become part of the metropolis of Birmingham. This engaging account of the process from village to fully integrated suburb will be of particular interest to urban historians.
Janet Berry has a doctorate from the University of Birmingham for which her thesis was a study of Moseley’s development as a suburb. She has published a number of scholarly journal articles and is active in the Moseley Society. She lives in Moseley.
ISBN 978-1-912260-64-5, Sep 2023, paperback, 256pp
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