(Finalist for the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize) What is it that we are after when we go in search of our ancestors? Beginning with her grandparents, educator and BBC broadcaster Alison Light—also the author of Mrs. Woolf and the Servants—here moves between the present and the past in an extraordinary series of journeysand charts an extraordinary series of journeys—across Britain and beyond—made over two centuries. Epic in scope and deep in feeling, this is both a family history and a public one, following the lives of the migrants who travelled the country looking for work. As a rethinking of who the English were, the book ultimately reflects on history itself, and on our need to know who went before us and what we owe them.
"Light writes beautifully.... Common People is part memoir, part thrilling social history of the England of the Industrial Revolution, but above all a work of quiet poetry and insight into human behavior. It is full of wisdom."—Times (London)