The farming year in 18th-century Sussex

You may (or may not) already know this, but researching the long 18th century in 2023 is rarely a life-affirming, paradigm-shifting conversation over wine with Plato in the groves of academe. It is seldom, even, a couple of tins of warm lager on the train home after guesting on an episode of Start the Week. It is sometimes, though, sitting in an archive transcribing the traces of long-vanished lives, conscious of the passing of time, quietly excited but still wondering if any of this actually matters, whether the partial recovery of someone else’s life really is the fullest way of living your own. Reading Ian Marchant’s deeply moving new book