Volume 60 Issue 12 December 2010

Lynn Shepherd’s Murder at Mansfield Park (Beautiful Books, £7.99) demonstrates the astonishing fecundity of Jane Austen’s work and the ways in which it is continually being transformed, continued and evolved. After the zombies, the next mash-up direction seems to be Agatha Christie, as Shepherd grafts a country-house murder mystery onto the original novel.

A key player in the War of the Roses died on December 30th, 1460.

The farthing ceased to be legal tender on December 31st, 1960.

Has the British family undergone an unparalleled breakdown since the 1960s, as is often claimed? Pat Thane argues that there never was a golden age of domestic bliss.

‘Complex marriage’, ‘male continence’ and the selection of the perfect partner were all themes propounded by a 19th-century cult in New York State. Clive Foss explores the influence of Plato’s Republic on John Humphrey Noyes and his Perfectionist movement.

Though Protestants sought to distance themselves from Roman Catholics on the subject, angels  played a key role in Protestant culture as a means by which to understand humans and their place in the universe, explains Joad Raymond.

Detective stories captured the imaginations of the British middle classes in the 20th century. William D. Rubinstein looks at the rise of home-grown writers such as Agatha Christie, how they mirrored society and why changes in social mores eventually murdered their sales.

The historian’s desire for certainty is hard to square with the fragility of sources and their constant reworking by the profession. Casting a cold eye on the remaining evidence relating to the deaths of Edward II and Richard II, Ian Mortimer plots a way forward for his discipline.

Paul Lay selects the best of correspondence this month

Nigel Saul salutes his colleague’s achievement of 100 authored books on a wide range of historical subject matter.

Paul Lay is moved by an exhibition of tokens left by the mothers of children abandoned during the mid-18th century.

Wellington’s victories over the forces of Napoleon were critical to Britain’s ascendancy to superpower status. Peter Snow wonders why such a thrilling period of history is too often neglected.

Geoff Coyle revisits an article by Chris Wrigley, first published in History Today in 1984, examining the mining dispute of 1926,which developed into Britain’s first and, to date, only general strike.

What can the historian learn from writing fiction? Lisa Hilton, whose first novel is set in south-west France, discovered revelations about the area as well as her approach to interpreting the past.

One of the founder members of the Confederacy seceded from the US on December 20th, 1860.

As Coronation Street celebrates half a century in the nation’s living rooms, Andrew Roberts looks at why an intensely parochial television series that has wilfully refused to acknowledge change is still going strong.

Once the classical world’s dominant port, by the early 19th century the city founded by Alexander the Great was seemingly in terminal decline. But the energy and vision of the Ottoman governor Muhammad Ali restored its fortunes and, ultimately, set Egypt on the path to independence, as Philip Mansel explains.