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Sorry! The English and Their Manners

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781848546660

Price: £9.99

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Most of us know a bit about what passes for good manners – holding doors open, sending thank-you notes, no elbows on the table. We certainly know bad manners when we see them. But where has this patchwork of beliefs and behaviours come from? How did manners develop? How do they change? And why do they matter so much to us?

In examining our manners, Henry Hitchings delves into the English character and investigates our notions of Englishness. Sorry! presents an amusing, illuminating and quirky audit of English manners. From basic table manners to appropriate sexual conduct, via hospitality, chivalry, faux pas and online etiquette, Hitchings traces the history of our country’s customs and courtesies.

Putting under the microscope some of our most astute observers of humanity, including Jane Austen and Samuel Pepys, he uses their lives and writings to pry open the often downright peculiar secrets of the English character. Hitchings’ blend of history, anthropology and personal journey helps us understand our bizarre and contested cultural baggage – and ourselves.


A writer of apparently limitless learning and intelligence, who writes works of scholarship masquerading as popular narrative non-fiction . . . the man is something els'
An excellent history, just don't read it at the dinner table . . . this insightful book will give you pause the next time you wipe your nose on the duvet or - social death! - top up your host's glass at a New Year's Eve party
The Times
Amusing and enlightening . . . he is particularly insightful in depicting the evolutionary shift manners have taken since they were first codified on paper in the Middle Ages
Financial Times
[Hitchings] is a lovely writer, full of interesting ideas and neat turns of phrase
Daily Mail
Hitchings has made a bold, entertaining and often imaginative assault on a fundamentally impossible subject
Manners is a fascinating subject, and Hitchings handles it with all his customary wit, knowledge and elegance
Mail on Sunday
Highly entertaining and absorbing
Daily Telegraph
Understated elegance . . . it is itself an impeccably well-mannered and deeply English product
The Spectator
Witty and sharp . . . full of diverting nuggets and anecdotes . . . elegantly written
Sunday Times
A scholarly study of English manners
Country Life
Illuminating and entertaining
Sunday Telegraph
Hitchings shares provocative opinions . . . he exhibits an appetite for confounding myths about social mores
Endlessly entertaining
Literary Review
An elegant and erudite book . . . Hitchings has an encyclopaedic mind, but like the well-mannered Englishman he is, wears his learning lightly
Very well-mannered and authoritative survey of British behaviour
Sunday Telegraph
What better book for a foreign beach than an exploration of our enduring stereotypes. This history of faux pas and foibles is ideal for broadcasting entertaining 'Did-you-knows?'
Mail on Sunday
He's terrific. He's struck the perfect balance between hard academic insight and sheer readability - and achieves both
Evening Standard
Scholarly without being heavy, and rich with acute anecdotes and diversions into social history . . . Pacy and enthusiastic, Hitchings's book entertains and enlightens
Daily Telegraph
The erudite and witty Henry Hitchings is the perfect guide through the minefield of social conventions we call manners
Mail on Sunday