Desirable Dwellings – Introduction

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I understand that students of some courses in history and design history at the University of Central Lancashire are currently referred to my two books on housing in Preston in the 19th century, Vanished Dwellings (1990) and Deadly Dwellings (1993). These were conceived as the first and the third parts in a series of three small books, the first being about courtyard cottages and handloom weavers’ housing in the earlier 19th century and the third about working class housing and public health from about 1840 to 1914. The second book, i.e. the middle one in the complete series, about middle-class housing in the first half of the 19th century, was written at about the same time as the others, and had actually reached the stage of typographic design before Deadly Dwellings was published, but for various reasons (mainly economic) l was unable to publish it myself.

What has happened now is that an American academic publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press, or rather its satellite “The Center for American Places”, suggested publishing all three as a single volume. I naturally pointed out that Preston is not (or not yet) an American Place, but that did not seem to bother them over much. So they sent me a contract for that purpose, and – after a few minutes of reflection on the honour and glory of being published in America, l blushingly signed it. One of the results of this is that I am now contractually prevented from publishing elsewhere anything which might compete with the forthcoming massive tome; and another is that it will not appear for at least two years (and when it does it will obviously be more expensive than its separate parts are, or would have been) It seems (to me) to be a pity that students at the university should be denied access to such an instructive and elegantly written work for so long, so I have decided that the fairest thing I can do in the circumstances is to make a copy of the existing pages of the unpublished (and uncompleted) second book, and arrange for it to be available in the library while I work on finishing the combined version

I apologise, of course, for its present condition, especially the total lack of the 90-odd promised illustrations. But this may have certain practical advantages, such as making it much cheaper to photocopy relevant passages, and encouraging the keenest readers to go out and look at the places for themselves

Also, some readers might like to know that a copy of my Lancaster University MLitt. thesis, “Social and Political Leadership in Preston, 1820-1860”, is already available in the university library.

Nigel Morgan
November 1995

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