Our heartiest congratulations to Alison Light whose beautiful book, COMMON PEOPLE, has reached the Samuel Johnson Prize shortlist!
Family history is a massive phenomenon of our times but what are we after when we go in search of our ancestors? Beginning with her grandparents, Alison Light moves between the present and the past in an extraordinary series of journeys over two centuries, across Britain and beyond. Needlemakers, sailors, servants, bricklayers - how is the historian to understand the lives of those forbears who left few traces except the barest record: no diaries, letters, or possessions, and sometimes not even a grave? Or the suffering of those individuals deemed paupers, like her great-grandmother, born in the workhouse and dying in an asylum? Epic in scope and deep in feeling, Common People is a family history but also a new kind of public history, following the lives of the migrants who travelled the country looking for work. Original and eloquent, it is a timely rethinking of who the English were - but ultimately it reflects on history itself and on our constant need to know who went before us and what we owe them.
The winner will be announced on 4th November.
Read further in The Independent