Review of ‘The Hats that Made Britain’ by David Long

Not so long ago, you’d never dream of stepping outside without a hat. You may as well go trouserless. This eccentric book laments the decline of hat-wearing and takes a look at some of the most iconic styles, with a particular focus on their place in British history.

Each short chapter begins with a photo of a hat and then explores its origins. Many of them have a ceremonial purpose. Many of them were invented for the military. There are some really fascinating bits of history, delivered in a light-hearted and easy-read way. I found the chapters on the Imperial State Crown, the bowler hat, the policeman’s helmet, plague doctor’s hat and tricorne to be the most fascinating. Most of the featured hats are traditionally worn by men, which I suppose is a reflection of the dominance of men in British history but I suspect also reflects the author’s interest. It’s not a serious history book but is ideal for dipping into and would make a good gift for a hat lover (which as I said before, does not seem to have a special word). There are a few dreadful typos though, the worst being a mention of Charles ‘Dickins’…

Published in 2020 by The History Press.

12 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Hats that Made Britain’ by David Long”

    1. Thanks! 😀 It was quite fun for a history book. Do you wear a hat often? I wear a woolly beanie hat in autumn and winter, and a baseball cap or straw hat in summer.

  1. Sounds fun! Too bad about the typos–that really knocks a book down a peg, I think. Hard to give a book as a gift when you know there are mistakes. I do love a hat, tough I don’t have many. Especially good in summer here in very sunny Maryland.

    1. Thanks – I do mention typos when I really notice them. I’m not sure that most readers would notice or mind too much, but it’s the kind of detail I pick up on. I have 3 hats, all very practical ones.

    1. If you like hats, you can’t really go wrong with this book 😉 I quite like these niche, light-hearted history books, as I can’t really get into big histories.

    1. Sounds like you are sensible 🙂 Do you have one of those hats with the corks dangling from it? Sorry to ask but it’s what comes to mind when I think of Australia and hats!

      1. Hah! No, I don’t have a chat with dangly corks and have never seen anyone wear one unless they were on tv, but I did buy a fly/mosquito head net a few years ago when a plague of little black flies were blown into Melbourne on the hot north wind!

        1. Sounds like that head net was a must! I’m not surprised you have never seen a cork hat, they seem confined to TV and fancy dress outfits.

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