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Diary from the Edge 1940-1944

A wartime adolescence

Anthony Ryle

Paperback  /  £14.50  /  illus.  320 pp.   

read extracts from the diary online

Anthony Ryle, later a doctor and pioneering psychotherapist, was twelve in 1940 when he started his diary. His daily record of life at boarding school and with his family of doctors and scientists, mostly in Sussex and Cornwall, is set against the background of war seen through his direct experience, that of family and friends, and news stories of which he was an avid collector.

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"... This is a remarkable diary. I have never read another quite like it. The reader furthermore is assisted by Dr. Ryle's introduction and useful commentary. It makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in the social experience of the war, the history of the British left, the history of adolescence, or the history of the British professional upper middle-class."

—Ross McKibbin, Twentieth Century British History

“... charming and insightful testimony .… Anthony's diary offers glimpses of wartime public school life that escape official school histories…. Also recorded are moving encounters with death on the home front.

This is an absorbing and revealing story of an emergent moral consciousness, taking a critical stand on subjects like school authority, state propaganda and international relations in war. ... a moving and often wryly amusing commentary on growing up in his society and time….”

―Peter Cunningham, History of Education

a person who, by his style and literature, seems to have been a corrector of a

hedge-press in some blind alley about Little Britain ... Swift


Rye Spirits

Faith, faction and fairies in a

17th century English town

Annabel Gregory

Paperback  /  £15  /  illus.  320 pp.   

read sample chapters online

When the mayor of the godly but quarrelsome port of Rye in Sussex died suddenly in 1607, some people suspected witchcraft. These suspicions were still only loosely formulated, however, when the town clerk recorded a voluminous and inchoate dossier of evidence for the ensuing trial. This brings to life the concerns and even the speech of inhabitants—enabling the author to give a richly detailed account of life in early-modern Sussex. The women accused of witchcraft were far from the stereotype of popular legend.

Unravelling the story, however, was challenging—which may explain why it has not been published before. Only when the author delved into the pre-history of the case did a story begin to emerge. This witchcraft case—in which the mayor was both judge and prosecutor— was revealed to be one episode in a series of conflicts which periodically, over a couple of centuries, rent the town into competing factions.

The spirits of the title range from fairies playing pranks on the inhabitants of Rye, to angels announcing the impending apocalypse. They are also, perhaps, the ordinary people of Rye—independent spirits, many of whom have bit parts in this extraordinary story.

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"This fascinating and important book ..."

—Robin Briggs, University of Oxford

"... a good story and a good history, well told."

—Marion Gibson, The Seventeenth Century

"In its sheer breadth and depth and detail ... Gregory's story has a European feel to it ..."

—Malcolm Gaskill, Continuity and Change

"This highly informative book ..."

—Brian P. Levack, Journal of British Studies

"Fascinating ... skilfully composed to engage non-specialist readers and draw them into the detailed research on which it is based ... writing is clear and refreshingly informal."

—Ben Burt, anthropologist, British Museum         

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Rye Spirits - Gregory Diary from the Edge - Ryle

Roots and Branches -   
a page of writings related to our publications. Some contributed to the publications (Roots), and others developed out of them (Branches).  There are also smaller items of commentary on our blog Under the Hedge.

New on this website

  Roots and Branches:

A teenager’s thoughts on democracy, by Anthony Ryle, 1943

Writings by Prof. J.A. Ryle, advocate of a state medical        service, 1940-45

Rumbustious Protestants in 16thc Rye, Sussex

Poor, Old and Ugly?  challenging the witch stereotype

Under the Hedge Blog:

Young people’s diaries from the 1940’s

Tony Ryle’s diary MS goes to Imperial War Museum

How old were witches in early-modern England?

Anthony Ryle
1927 – 2016

How old were witches in 17thc Europe and colonial America?