Dr David Dymond is one of Britain's most highly respected local historians. He is a Vice President of the British Association for Local History and of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, President of the Suffolk Records Society, and an honorary fellow of the University of East Anglia.
The author of several valued books about the practice of local history, notably Researching and Writing History, his contribution to the study of local history generally, and in his adopted county of Suffolk in particular, has been immensely influential.
The essays in this Festschrift are offered as a token of esteem and affection by colleagues, friends and students of David. They consist of new research on aspects of local history from the medieval period to the twentieth century, with a particular focus on Eastern England.
Taken together, they illustrate David's philosophy of local history (that it should be ‘wide‐ranging, inclusive, integrating and interdisciplinary’).
In his introduction, Professor Mark Bailey pays tribute to the breadth and depth of David's scholarship and to his passion for teaching. These essays, in turn, aim to reflect the values that have always characterised David's approach: a focus on primary sources meticulously interrogated and a concern to avoid the pitfalls of parochialism by remaining sensitive to the wider influences upon communities.
From papers exploring aspects of medieval religion, the contributors move on to medieval trade and industry in Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire.
Two studies of the structures of local elites provide fresh insights into communities at later periods, while the final selection of essays consider fascinating and wide-ranging aspects of nineteenth- and twentieth-century commerce, society and culture.
The very varied contributions to this collection aptly reflect the breadth and depth of David Dymond's own scholarship whilst offering a rich choice of material to anyone with an interest in local history.
Dr Evelyn Lord was the course director for the University of Cambridge's Master of Studies in Local History and tutor for local history at the University of Cambridge, Institute for Continuing Education. She is an Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, and is currently chair of the Cambridgeshire Association for Local History and a member of the Cambridgeshire Records Society executive committee.
Dr Nicholas R. Amor is an honorary fellow of the University of East Anglia and the University of Suffolk and chairman of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and history.
ISBN 978-1-912260-23-2; Jan 2021; 242pp; Paperback
“The book's principal value is in setting out the range of methods, sources and approaches currently adopted by leading local and regional historians, and making these accessible to a wide readership… There is a good chronological spread of topics, with notable strength at the medieval end… [T]here is much here to interest socio-economic historians, religious historians, and local historians concerned with a sense of how people and places shape one another.” Andrew Hopper, Midland History
“I really enjoyed these succinct essays, and whilst their focus is generally on the East of England, they paint pictures that would undoubtedly be replicated in many other towns and cities across the country.” Paul Gaskell, Oxfordshire Family Historian
“The… essays in this collection… exemplify the very considerable influence that David Dymond has brought to bear on most of the authors, many of whom began their researches under the influence of David as their teacher within the MSt course that he implemented in Cambridge. All of them meet key criteria in David's frequently voiced requirements for the writing of successful local history; their essays are largely founded on the careful dissection of relevant primary sources, and they all bring to light information and develop arguments that relate to larger questions which extend the significance of their findings beyond the immediate locality in which they are grounded.” Richard Smith, Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History
“Shaping the Past has a rich diversity of content but also an overarching theme which captures the essence of the work and philosophy of its dedicatee. Here that theme, which links every contribution, is the deep-rooted and endlessly varied interaction of people and place, the relationship between human society and the environment which shapes it and which it in turn shapes. It is a worthy tribute to a great historian and a great friend.” Alan G. Crosby, Landscape History
“This book is a fitting way to commemorate the excellent work of David Dymond in many areas of local history and the inspiration that he has given to so many aspiring local historians over the years.” Hillary Walker, The Local Historian
“Both Amor and Evelyn Lord are to be congratulated for bringing this Festschrift of essays to fruition. While inevitably focused upon the east of England, thereby reflecting David Dymond’s own sphere of activity, the range of topics covered should ensure that the various essays gain a wider readership than that based in Norfolk, Suffolk and adjacent counties. The volume is a fine collection of essays and a fitting tribute to a fine scholar.” Brian Ayers, History Journal
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