Hardyment, Christina 1946-
Hardyment, Christina 1946-
PERSONAL: Born 1946; daughter of Eiliv Odd Hauge (a writer) and Diana Hardyment; married Tom Griffith, 1969 (divorced, 1991); children; four daughters. Education: Attended Newnham College, Cambridge, 1964-67.
ADDRESSES: Home— Oxford, England. Agent— Gill Coleridge, Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN, England.
CAREER: Writer, journalist, and historian. Taught at Blackheath High School, England, for two years.
Dream Babies: Three Centuries of Good Advice on Child Care, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1983, Frances Lincoln Publishing, 2007.
The Canary-Coloured Cart: One Family’s Search for Storybook Europe, Heinemann (London, England), 1987, published as Heidi’s Alp: One Family’s Search for Storybook Europe, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 1988.
Arthur Ransome and Captain Flint’s Trunk, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1988, Frances Lincoln Publishers (London, England), 2007.
From Mangle to Microwave: The Mechanization of Household Work, Basil Blackwell (New York, NY), 1988.
Slice of Life: The British Way of Eating since 1945, BBC Books (London, England), 1995.
Perfect Parents: Baby-Care Advice Past and Present, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1995.
Behind the Scenes: Domestic Arrangements in Historic Houses, National Trust (London, England), 1997.
Literary Trails, National Trust (London, England), 2000.
Malory: The Knight Who Became King Arthur’s Chronicler, HarperCollins Publishers (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Christina Hardyment began her writing career writing about family life in a social context within the home. For example, in Home Comfort: A History of Domestic Arrangements in Association with the National Trust, Hardyment chronicles the great houses of England with a focus on how the houses were run and the people who ran them, from the kitchen help to the houses’ various owners. Writing about houses now owned by England’s National Trust, the author chronicles how domestic requirements and duties changed over the years due to modern contrivances, such as indoor plumbing, and also details how the domestic help handled common household chores and problems, such as removing stains from clothes. She also provides some common recipes of the times. A contributor to the Economist noted that “though the days of levigated hartshorn, grist, spree, limbecks and cucurbits have a period charm, [the author] is fairly unsentimental about their passing.”
In Slice of Life: The British Way of Eating since 1945, Hardyment details the development of British cuisine, writing about contributions from such notables as Elizabeth David. Writing in the New Statesman & Society, Chris Savage King noted that the author “details the sometimes ridiculous trials it took for British food and cooking to reach its current excellence.”
Hardyment turns her view to a literary topic with her book Malory: The Knight Who Became King Arthur’s Chronicler. In her biography of one of the founding father’s of English literature, the author bases much of her writing on conjecture since little is known about the details of Malory’s life. “Hardyment overcomes this by sketching out a ‘likely career’ for her subject, chronicling his training in the chivalric arts and his experience of war in France,” wrote Kathy Watson in the New Statesman. Watson went on to note, “Her description of Malory’s christening is a memorable performance, with flaming torches, flickering candles, the superstitious placing of a crust of bread under the baby’s mattress to keep witches away, and feasting and dancing.” A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that the author “has shaped an admittedly speculative life with creative, highly intelligent and persuasive guesswork.” A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted: “Camelot echoes marvelously through Hardyment’s biography, making palpable Malory’s desire for valor and honor.” In a review in the Guardian, Richard Barber wrote that “there are huge gaps in the Malory story, and Hardyment plugs these gaps by presenting speculations as to what might have been happening to him set against a picture of the society and political history of the age.” Barber also noted that “this is a book which any reader interested in the middle ages should try for themselves.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Economist, April 4, 1992, review of Home Comfort: A History of Domestic Arrangements in Association with the National Trust, p. 108.
Guardian (London, England), September 3, 2005, Richard Barber, review of Malory: The Knight Who Became King Arthur’s Chronicler.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2006, review of Malory, p. 556.
New Statesman & Society, October 27, 1995, Chris Savage King, review of Slice of Life: The British Way of Eating since 1945, p. 46.
New Statesman, September 12, 2005, Kathy Watson, review of Malory, p. 55.
Publishers Weekly, May 22, 2006, review of Malory, p. 44.
Christina Hardyment Home Page, http://www.christinahardyment.co.uk (January 21, 2007).