Food, Energy and the Creation of Industriousness

Work and Material Culture in Agrarian England, 1550–1780

Food, Energy and the Creation of Industriousness

Until the widespread harnessing of machine energy, food was the energy which fuelled the economy. In this groundbreaking study of agricultural labourers' diet and material standard of living, Craig Muldrew uses new empirical research to present a much fuller account of the interrelationship between consumption, living standards and work in the early modern English economy than has previously existed. The book integrates labourers into a study of the wider economy and engages with the history of food as an energy source and its importance to working life, the social complexity of family earnings, and the concept of the ‘industrious revolution'. It argues that ‘industriousness' was as much the result of ideology and labour markets as labourers' household consumption. Linking this with ideas about the social order of early modern England, the author demonstrates that bread, beer and meat were the petrol of this world, and a springboard for economic change.


 Reviews:

"With this volume Craig Muldrew advances our understanding of living standards, industriousness, and the working lives of men, women, and children in rural England." -Beverly Lemire, Journal of British Studies

"Food, Energy, and the Creation of Industriousness primarily concerns the diet, work, and income of English agricultural laborers and their families during the early modern period." -Carole Shammas, The Journal of Modern History

'With this volume Craig Muldrew advances our understanding of living standards, industriousness, and the working lives of men, women, and children in rural England.' Journal of British Studies

'Craig Muldrew's Food, Energy and the Creation of Industriousness … paints a picture of a moderately prosperous, hard-working population of wage earners, who made a decent living outside of the crisis periods of 1595–1630 and the late eighteenth century. The book has a lot to offer social and cultural historians, with a detailed examination of ordinary people's diet, of families' multiple sources of income, and of the material culture of the home.' Jane Whittle, History Workshop Journal

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