Focusing on the second half of the eighteenth century, a period when Britain was almost continuously at war, this book looks at different social groups, from the aristocratic elite to the labouring and criminal poor, prostitutes and petty thieves. Drawing on a range of material from personal letters to trial reports, from popular prints to love tokens, it exposes the personal cost of warfare and imperial ambition.
It also reveals the opportunities for greater self-determination that some women were able to grasp, as the responsibility for maintaining the home and bringing up children fell squarely on them in their husbands' absence. The text includes many voices from the past and throws fresh light on an under-researched aspect of women's history.
Margarette Lincoln's fascinating book is illustrated with images from the National Maritime Museum's extensive collection of oil paintings, prints and drawings.