Manners: the quintessential business of being English.
Most of us know a bit about what passes for good manners - holding doors open, sending thank-you notes, no elbows on the table. We certainly know bad manners when we see them. But where has this patchwork of beliefs and behaviours come from? How did manners develop? How do they change? And why do they matter so much to us? In examining our manners, Henry Hitchings delves into the English character and investigates our notions of Englishness.
SORRY! presents an amusing, illuminating and quirky audit of English manners. From basic table manners to appropriate sexual conduct, via hospitality, chivalry, faux pas and online etiquette, Hitchings traces the history of our country's customs and courtesies. Putting under the microscope some of our most astute observers of humanity, including Jane Austen and Samuel Pepys, he uses their lives and writings to pry open the often downright peculiar secrets of the English character. Hitchings' blend of history, anthropology and personal journey helps us understand our bizarre and contested cultural baggage - and ourselves.
A writer of apparently limitless learning and intelligence, who writes works of scholarship masquerading as popular narrative non-fiction . . . the man is something else - Guardian
An excellent history, just don't read it at the dinner table . . . this insightful book will give you pause the next time you wipe your nose on the duvet or - social death! - top up your host's glass at a New Year's Eve party - The Times
Amusing and enlightening . . . he is particularly insightful in depicting the evolutionary shift manners have taken since they were first codified on paper in the Middle Ages - Financial Times
[Hitchings] is a lovely writer, full of interesting ideas and neat turns of phrase - Daily Mail
Hitchings has made a bold, entertaining and often imaginative, assault on a fundamentally impossible subject - Observer
Manners is a fascinating subject, and Hitchings handles it with all his customary wit, knowledge and elegance - Mail on Sunday
Highly entertaining and absorbing book - Daily Telegraph
Understated elegance . . . it is itself an impeccably well-mannered and deeply English product - The Spectator