THE HATS THAT MADE BRITAIN
A HISTORY OF THE NATION THROUGH ITS HEADWEAR
By David Long. Hardback Book. 240 pages.
Illustrated with colour images throughout.
No doubt you have heard of a top hat, a bearskin, pith helmet or mortarboard? But what about a John Knox Bonnet, or an Atherstone Billycock, or a Wide-Awake? These and a multitude of other British headgear are discussed in this fascinating book, along with the Tam O’Shanter, the Pith Helmet, the Pork Pie and many more. Eliza Dolittle’s dustman dad wore a top hat to flout social standing but Dickens detested them; both Charlie Chaplin and John Steed of The Avengers wore a bowler; Fedoras were favoured by the women’s rights movement but also worn by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and Al Capone. Sherlock Holmes was never seen without his Deerstalker; Arthur Daley loved his Trilby and so did Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Keith Richard and more. Both Hercule Poirot and Robert Redford’s Great Gatsby sported Panamas; Lenin and Trotsky appropriated the Mariner’s Cap; Coco Chanel and Marlene Deitrich both beguiled in Cloche Hats and Jackie Kennedy adopted the Pillbox. These are just a few of the hats and headgear described in this book, all of them reflecting culture, class and social standing, though not always in traditional ways. Many of the world’s most famous hats have their origins in Britain; there were civil and religious laws requiring hats to be worn. David Long reveals how much of Britain’s social history can be understood through its headwear, and in exploring the ways in which a hat
speaks volumes about its wearer’s rank and status he tells the stories of the people beneath some of the most famous hats in history.